Archive

May 6th, 2014

Making $400,000 Per Hour, The Best Paid Hedge Fund Manager In 2013 Was...

When it comes to returns, 2013 will be best remembered as the fifth consecutive year in which the S&P 500, lead by Chief Risk Officer and Portfolio Manager Ben Bernanke (replaced by Janet Yellen in 2014 following a bumper 30%+ year), outperformed about 90% of all hedge funds, which as the recent beta blow up has shown, have virtually no original "alpha" ideas, and all merely piggyback on the same high beta "greater fool", hedge fund hotel trades and/or lever on beta as much as their Prime Broker will allow them (in many cases quite a lot). And yet, hedge fund investors were perfectly happy to keep handing over 20% of their upside and paying a 2% management fee when they could have generated the same returns for free by simply buying the SPY ETF. How happy? According to a just released ranking by Institutional Investor magazine, The 25 top earners of 2013 raked in a total of $21.15 billion.

Now This Is A Growth Industry

As Fiat unveils its grand five-year plan, it is clear where the car maker sees the real growth in the world...

  • *MASERATI TARGETS 75,000 SALES IN 2018 FROM 15,400 IN 2013
  • *MASERATI TARGETS EU6B REVENUE IN 2018 FROM EU1.7B IN 2013

Now that is growth!! Welcome to the new normal (or more likely the most massive mis-signaled mal-investment boom ever created) Extrapolating recent growth in Maserati sales would make even Birinyi proud.

Consumer Spending In April Identical To February And March, Gallup Finds

So much for the post-cold-weather, pent-up demand stoked spending spree as human beings emerge from hibernation and buy-buy-buy all the food/iPads/clothes/cars they did not buy during the stormy first quarter... First, Goldman confirms that retail sales actually fell 2%, and then, more broadly, Gallup confirms that Americans' reports of daily spending in April averaged $88, virtually the same as in March ($87) and February ($87). Keep praying to the god of hockey-sticks that the now grossly revised down GDP for Q1 is merely setting the US up for the mother of all v-shaped recoveries (or not)...

The Cossacks Are Coming

Following the Ukraine government's most recent retaliatory escalation, which saw the death of some 50 people in Odessa on Friday, everyone has been waiting to see how the Kremlin would respond. For now while Putin appears to be merely biding his time until the various referendum votes take place in east Ukraine, quite confident they will have the same outcome as the Crimean vote to join Russia, thus giving him a legitimate basis to annex further Ukraine regions, some "independent" military units, according to local press, appear to be making their way into Ukraine: Cossacks, that roving group of militants (and sometimes mercenaries) who have been so instrumental in shaping the history of both Ukraine and Russia.

A Stumped Deutsche Bank Has 11 Reasons (Or "Excuses") Why Everyone Is Buying Treasurys

Many are perplexed by the 'strength' in Treasuries as yields collapse despite a headline payroll print propagandized (choosing to be non-believers in the bond-market's all-knowing eye). As Deutsche Bank notes, for well established reasons, a multi-decade Pavlovian response to much stronger than expected US data has been higher Treasury yields, which usually provides some USD lift. Last Friday, this plainly did not work, which proved extremely costly for many in the trading community. At a minimum Pavlov’s dog choked, but is Pavlov’s dog dead? The short answer is no, but Pavlov’s dog may have taken off the summer.

Q1 GDP Cut To -0.6% At Goldman, -0.8% At JPMorgan

Update: JPM just jumped on the bandwagon and cut Q1 GDP to -0.8% from -0.4%. Don't worry: it snowed.

The US "recovery" is starting to feel more and more recessionary by the day. As we warned after we reported the trade deficit, it was only a matter of time before the Q1 GDP cuts came. And come they did, first from Barclays, and now from Goldman, which just doubled its GDP forecast loss for the past quarter from -0.3% to -0.6%.

Al Qaeda Has A New Target: Saudi Arabia Says "Major Terrorist Plot" Foiled

With Syria (and its Al Qaeda-funded "rebels") having taken a back seat in geopolitical developments, some wondered what are all those heavily armed mercenaries doing. The answer emerged moments ago when Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry said Tuesday it had thwarted a major plot by a militant group with links to extremist elements in Syria and Yemen, arresting 62 suspected members.

Stocks Give Up Monday's Gains (But It's Still A Tuesday)

Spanish (and now Italian - for the first time) bond yields are below 3% as Japanese investors pile into any and everything non-Japanese, dragging US Treasury yields lower - and thus US equities lower. JPY strength, however, has dragged USDJPY down towards 101.50 which means US equity futures have lost all of yesterday's gains. Of course, this weakness is merely proming the pump for another run at 102, igniting momentum for moar all-time-high dip buying and an 8th green Tuesday close in a row... (or not this time?) Gold is flat but silver and oil are moving higher.

Twitter Tumbles 50% From Recent All Time Highs

Despite being told for weeks that the always efficient US equity market had "priced in" the end of Twitter's lock-up period, it seems (surprise) that it hadn't. Yesterday, some Twitter insiders were promising they would hang on to their stock now that the selling lock up has been lifted. Judging by today's price action, where TWTR is down another 7%, and is down over 50% from its all time high hit in late December, they lied.

And The First Thing Ukraine Will Buy With IMF Money Is...

A month ago, it was alleged, that Ukraine - under cover of night - loaded its gold reserves onto a plane and shipped them off (for safekeeping) in the US, as the potential price of 'liberation'. So how ironic that, given the massive gas debts that Ukraine owes to Russia (and prepayments pending), and sizable bond maturities pending, the first thing that Ukraine's National Bank governor will be buying with his freshly minted loan from the IMF is... buy a billion dollars of gold.

March Trade Deficit Worse Than Expected; Decline From February Due To Winter Olympic Royalties End

And just like that Q1 GDP may have turned even more negative, after the March trade deficit ended up being worse than the $40.0 billion expected, printing at $40.4 billion. However, the one offset may be that the February deficit was revised from $42.3 billion to $41.9 billion, in effect being a wash to the Q1 GDP number, which as most already know, is set to be -0.4% at the first revision. Among the reasons for the (smaller than expected) decline in the deficit was a "decrease in imports of services mainly accounted for by a decrease in royalties and license fees, which in February included payments for the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympic Games." For once (not so) harsh weather (in USSR 2.0) was a boost to the economy.

The Destabilizing Truth: Only The Wealthy Can Afford A Middle Class Lifestyle

The "middle class" has atrophied into the 10% of households just below the top 10%. The truth is painfully obvious: a middle class lifestyle is unaffordable to all but the top 20%. This reality is destabilizing to the current arrangement, i.e. debt-based consumerism a.k.a. neofeudal state-cartel capitalism, so it is actively suppressed by the officially sanctioned narrative: that middle class status is attainable by almost every household with two earners (a mere $50,000 annual household income makes one middle class) and middle class wealth is increasing.

Barclays' FICC Slaughtered: Revenue Plummets 41% In Q1

So much for the Lehman effect: five years after Barclays acquired Lehman's only valuable asset - its North American brokerage personnel - in a liquidation firesale, the benefits have all but disappeared (confirmed further by the most recent departure of such prominent ex-Lehmanites as Paul Parker, Larry Wiesenck and of course, Skip McGee). Case in point: today's announced earnings, in which we found that Lehman's pre-tax profits slid 5% to £1.69 billion. However, looking at the bottom line, which reflected benefits from cost cuts and loan loss reserve releases, not to mention an "accounting gain on Barclays debt" would surely miss the big picture, which was that the bank's Investment Banking revenue was down 28% £2.49 billion. However the punchline was that core driver of New Normal bank revenues: FICC, which was slaughtered by an unprecedented 41% to to £1.23 billion, coming far worse than even the most dire analyst estimates.

Frontrunning: May 6

  • Both sides bury dead as Ukraine slides towards war (Reuters)
  • Dollar wilts to 6 1/2-month low; shares drift (Reuters)
  • Draghi Grapples With Money Markets Signaling Recovery Too Early (BBG)
  • Foreign wristslaps: Credit Suisse Nears Record Tax Plea: Credit Suisse Settlement Expected to Exceed $1 Billion (WSJ)
  • OECD joins IMF in cutting global growth forecast, demanding moar QE from ECB  (WSJ)
  • Three Bankers Bolster Blankfein as Goldman Trading Sinks (BBG)
  • Strong performance from eurozone services sector (FT)
  • OECD Cuts Forecast for 2014 Global Growth; Urges ECB Action (WSJ)
  • Elite Colleges Don't Buy Happiness for Graduates (WSJ)
  • How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore -- and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions (BBG)