Over the past two years, one of the most salient topics of discussion has been America's collapse into a Chinese state of economic disclosure - limited, opaque, and, at worst, fraudulent. Due to Zero Hedge's extremely "eclectic" selection of readers who are professionals in a variety of industries, we would like to take the opportunity to hear from all of you on what the true state of the US economy is where you are - be it (un)employment, inventories, overall business conditions, moods, general supply and demand, etc. Consider it an objective, crowd-sourced, non-manipulated business perspective.
Even as the Lehman scapegoating campaign is on in full force, there is little doubt that the man who somehow was in the middle of virtually everything, was not Dick Fuld, or any of the bevy of rotating Lehman CFOs, but Lehman's very much under the radar Global Product Controller, Gerard Reilly. Reilly was the point man on Repo 105, the point person for E&Y's "investigation" into the Matthew Lee whistleblower campaign, Lehman's Level 2 and Level 3 asset valuation, the brain behind the idea to spin off Lehman's commercial real estate business, Lehman's Archstone investment, and likely so much more. Reilly stayed on at Lehman, solid as a rock, even as the CFO's above him rotated one after another. Tragically, on December 29, 2008, a 44-year old Gerald [sic] Reilly died while skiing alone on New York's Whiteface mountain, while on a trip with his wife, 4 small children, and two other families.
"Given the volatile sideways nature of the marketplace, the S&P 500 has the
potential to be above 1,400 points and below 900 points at least one more time
over the next 3 to 6 years. To date we have witnessed two bear markets with
gyrations of approximately 47% and 56%, and would expect at least one more bear
market to arrive before it may be safe to fully venture out unprotected in the woods
again." - Sprott Opportunities Hedge Fund
Bernanke's ludicrous monetary policy has forced financial companies to relever to mid-2000 levels. A recent CLO has broken the 12 month quiet period in the structured finance universe, and finally made it all too clear that bankers and asset managers have no idea what to do with all the free extra money lying around, earning nothing on the short end of the curve. Furthermore, with rampant M&A rumors every day (of which 90% are patently false) private equity must be getting nervous. As we all know, with great free money comes great irresponsibility to do really dumb things, better known as LBOs. We analyze the imminent tidal wave of going private deals, which, if Bernanke keeps ZIRP for another year as is widely expected, is just around the corner, and that the record TXU LBO of 2007 will be promptly surpassed, in both size and idiocy. Oh well, if you can't beat them, join them. We present some of the most profitable ways to play the LBO wave of 2010, and no, it does not mean tracking down Moody's Deep Shah and buying stocks 24 hours ahead of the announcement, in expectation of a 20% pop.
The current system and the global imbalancing act is going to change. The nature of that change is unclear. Comparing similar pasts to the present and extrapolating future effects is one approach. However, such mean reversion doesn’t work along an established time frame. What can be counted on is that unsustainable phenomenon like current account imbalances, negative savings rates, seeming infinite asset price appreciation will change. One way or another, falling savings rates and rising deficits become rising savings and falling deficits.
Goldman's Chief European strategist is starting to sound less and less confident that all shall be well. The same can not be said for his ebullient (and still employed) colleague Jim O'Neill, whose answer to everything is "BRIC." Anyway, here are Erik Nielsen's latest (and increasingly more skeptical) summary views on the Greek bailout. By the way, the IMF shotgun approach to "helping" any and every member country is to peg its currency to something and establishing a currency board. The IMF simply does not know how to do anything else. So how the hell can the IMF operate in the context of a monetary union?
Chris Dodd Asks Department Of Justice To Probe Lehman's Repo 105 And Other Firms' Shady Accounting PracticesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2010 - 16:34
"We must work tirelessly to reduce the incidence of financial fraud in order to restore trust and confidence in the financial markets. A task force investigation and taking appropriate Federal actions in these matters will contribute to these goals."
Sincerely Christopher J. Dodd Chairman
The most recent CFTC committment of traders report indicates that as of March 16 net speculative euro short positions got clobbered in the past week, and declined by nearly 40%, from the all time record bearish -74,551 to -46,341. Comparably for the Yen, In the yen, of per March 16, speculative accounts had a net long of +15,197 contracts, another 40% decline from of the prior weeks's +26,288. On March 16, the euro closed $1.3769 compared to Friday's closing levels of $1.3534. In the meantime it was discovered that Europe won't be bailing out Greece after all, so all you speculators who closed out your shorts in anticipation of a squeeze: better luck next time.
Federated's David Tice Is Not A Fan Of Bernanke-Manufactured, Free Money Driven, Bear Market Bounces, Sees "Huge" Potential For DeclineSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2010 - 14:34
Federated Investors' David Tice has a thing or two to say about the rally - "We've been the beneficiary of a massive credit bubble that we've not yet worked off the excesses... This secular bear market will not bottom until we get back until we get back below book value." In a portion of the interview not caught by the Bloomberg clip below, Tice says that the decline potential for the market is "huge." Don't tell that to the algos whose one and only program for the past month and a half is Buy.The.Dips.
Second Circuit Tells Fed If It Wants To Maintain Its Secrecy It Better Get Congress To Change America's LawsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2010 - 13:31
Key selection from the Second Circuit's Fed FOIA appeal:
The requirement of disclosure under FOIA and its proper limits are matters of congressional policy. The statute as written by Congress sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it. If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.
In other words: if the Fed wants to maintain its strict secrecy, it better get Congress to change the laws immediately. Of course, if that happens it will become very clear who controls not just the fiscal and monetary destiny of America, its executive control (via the recently institued bilateral decision making of who apoints who - the President of the United States <-> The President of the FRBNY, and vice versa ), but also the legislative. As for the judicial, we will know definitively when the Supreme Court overturns this decision. In other words, the Federal Reserve is about to become the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court (not to mention Wall Street) all rolled into one.
In Prior Week Money Markets Recorded Biggest Outflow Since Collapse Of Lehman At $60 Billion, Or 2.2% Of AssetsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2010 - 12:19
Well, the administration finally succeeded in getting everyone to join it in going all in on the Ponzi. In the prior week, money market funds record a humongous $60 billion outflow, or a whopping 2.2% of all assets. This follows a $30 billion outflow in the prior week, and is the single biggest outflow since the fall of Lehman ($144 Billion, when money markets needed a Federal guarantee to be saved). Joe Sixpack has thrown the dice and its has fallen on pyramid scheme. The chase for yield (who cares about return of capital, return on capital rules), continues in the high yield arena as well: after 2 $1 billion outflows a month ago, it is now smooth sailing. Lipper estimated that for the week ended March 17, HY funds saw an inflow of $597 million, a small decline from the $795 million in the week prior and and $314 in the week before. As for High Grade - fughettabboutit - last week was a record 54th consecutive week of inflows into HG (nevermind that foreigners sold the greatest amount of corporate bonds on record in January), at $1.3 billion. And the biggest loser - why equities as usual, which "explains" why credit is at two week lows even as stocks push all time records. For logic there is Math 101. For everything else there is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
From Bloomberg: "The Federal Reserve must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest ever U.S. government bailout, a federal appeals court said." Next step for the Fed weasels - petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to completely trample America's constitution. In the meantime, Mark Pittman smiles from above as Satan reevaluates the amend and extend provisions of his affirmative covenants with the Fed.