RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 23/08/11
The Virginia earthquake may have been memorable but it will have absolutely no impact on the economy. As for Hurricane Irene, that is another matter: if indeed it impacts the eastern seaboard as heavily as some expect, we would not want to be long insurance companies. For those who want an unorthodox perspective of the Hurricane, NASA will be conducting a flyover at 4:05 pm EDT/8:05 pm GMT, with the Space Station. The live stream can be seen here.
Following Obama's departure for a much needed vacation the day the market had its most recent 400+ point drop, it was somewhat expected that that the general public will not be too happy with the president. Sure enough, according to Gallup which traditionally has the most representative polls (in this case 1500 random strangers, +/- 3% margin of error) the president's approval rating has just taken out last week's record low of 39% and was at 38% in the past few days. Obviously those disapproving hit an all time high of 54%. We are confident that Obama is well aware of this disturbing trend in popular opinion. What we have no clue about is what he will do to reverse it.
The Keynesians had their chance. They controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress. A Keynesian runs the Federal Reserve. They implemented everything they proposed. The $862 billion porkulus program, the $700 billion TARP program, home buyer tax credits, energy efficiency credits, loan modification programs, zero interest rates, QE1 and QE2. They increased social welfare transfers for Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans by $600 billion since 2007, a 35% increase in four years. No one has foiled their plans. The Tea Party didn’t really exist until 2010. They didn’t lose the House until November 2010. They cannot blame the Tea Party extremists, but they do. The Keynesians have successfully increased Federal spending by $1.1 trillion, or 41% since 2007, and are running deficits exceeding 10% of GDP, but they call the Tea Party extremists. Domestic investment is still 9% below 2008 levels as the Federal government has crowded out the small businesses that create the jobs in this country. And now the Keynesians declare we need more stimulus, more programs, more debt, more quantitative easing and lower interest rates. It just wasn’t enough the first time. None of the Keynesian solutions worked during this crisis, just as they didn’t work during the Great Depression. The solution was simple, yet painful. The banking system needed to be saved, not the banks. The bad debt needed to be purged from the system. Wall Street criminals needed to be prosecuted. Bondholders and stockholders needed bear the losses from their foolish investments. Saving and investment in the country needed to be encouraged, while borrowing and consuming needed to be discouraged. Our leaders have failed to lead.
Who knew: all it takes to get some semblance of volume in the market is for a quake shaking the entire Eastern seaboard and pervasive evacuations of New York skyscrapers (incidentally, the NYMEX was evacuated).
And so even the ground in Manhattan is shaking. Now... who is the lucky one to pull the short straw and check up on Indian Point? In other news, we are now long continental plates and short granite bedrock.
In the aftermath of Bank of America's direct answer to Henry Blodget, and indirect response to Zero Hedge, we would like to counter with some additional attempts to bring clarity, and hopefully closure, to the extremely (and regrettably) opaque situation that the bank and its investors (not to mention employees) find themselves in, and which has so far cost Bank of America about $80 billion in market capitalization. Indeed, as Bank Of America has noted, "The mortgage analysis was provided by a hedge fund that has acknowledged it will benefit if our stock price declines" - we fail to see how this is a credible defense: one simple case study reminds us that David Einhorn was publicly short Allied Capital and Lehman Brothers, yet his thesis was absolutely spot on, and the financial institutions in question ended up in bankruptcy. We offer Bank of America the chance to respond to two simple questions, which should eliminate the specter of a litigation induced liquidity crunch. As for the prospect of bank insolvency, we are confident that the reinstatement of Mark to Market any minute now will provide sufficient color on that particular issue.
By expecting the government to provide for them, people who have been rioting across Europe (and even stealing and looting) are really no different from the unfortunate youth who accosted me here in Manila today. All of them expect a free ride by demanding handouts from others. This is no way to prosperity. Indeed, it’s the way to bankruptcy. When the pie-takers begin to significantly outnumber the pie-makers, there simply isn’t enough to go around anymore, and the mob becomes violent. This is where we are right now, and it’s going to take many, many years to get out of the hole the world has dug for itself. People need to be taught from an early age that no one owes them anything in life… and that character traits such as curiosity, hard-work, honesty, thrift, innovation, ingenuity and, above all, self-reliance are to be commended. Unfortunately, with the leadership and role models we have in the world today, this is likely to prove an uphill struggle.
Today's auction of $35 billion in 2 Year bonds was supremely forgettable aside from the yield, which once again was at an all time low, well inside of Libor, at 0.222% (to be expected since all bills for the next 3 months are yield negative rates), 1 bp inside of the When Issued of 0.23%. Even the internals were very boring, Directs, Indirects and Dealers all came on top of averages, with takedown ratios of 15.88%, 31.64% and 52.51%, and the Bid To Cover at 3.44, just wide of the LTM average of 3.38. All in all, a completely unremrkable way for Investors to park cash in what is the new equivalent of 4 Week Bills.
Bank Of America Scrambles To Defend Itself From Henry Blodget's Allegations It Is Massively UndercapitalizedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2011 - 12:35
Early this morning, Henry Blodget penned a post titled "Here's Why Bank Of America's Stock Is Collapsing Again" in which he used Zero Hedge data among other, to determine that the capital shortfall for the bank is between $100 and $200 billion. It took BAC exactly 6 hours to retort. Below is the full statement.
Since nothing can be taken at face value or believed in Libya any more, here, without any commentary, is a live video stream direct from Tripoli, where rebels are now said to have entered the Gadaffi compound, via RT.
The Founders never intended that we simply sit around and wait for “officials” to save us. We must work both in the public and in the private arenas. We certainly don’t have time to wait for lawmakers to find their sanity or their honor, and so, in many respects we must walk away from the rigged game entirely, and take matters into our own hands. This means first and foremost decoupling from the broken mainstream financial system, and building networks for Alternative Markets as well as for mutual defense in the event of disaster. First steps towards this end include relocating away from areas with a high potential for danger. Of course, in any region, prepping with food storage, survival gear, and a personal garden is essential. Ideally, your neighbors should also be aware, prepared, and already involved in food production and barter. You should strive to build such robust community wherever you are (even if in the city), but country settings definitely offer greater opportunity. Rule #1: Go where the food is! Regardless of the state you live in, get out of the city and into a rural area.
That today's just completed 4 Week auction was not surprising: it closed at 0.000% - after all where is that money going to go: Bank of America? Gold (don't answer that)? Spam? What is surprising is that when it comes to preserving copious amounts of cash, investors are willing to bid up the entire Bill curve not just overnight, but well over two months. That's right - as seen on the second chart below, the entire curve is now negative through November!
A snapshot of the US Afternoon Briefing covering Stocks, Bonds, FX, etc.
Since our subscription to the HSBC HF tracker appears to have expired, we now rely on Bloomberg Brief's for hedge fund performance update. And what an ugly update it is, especially for members of the old groupthink guard, led by Pershing Square's Bill Ackman. To wit: "William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP dropped by 6.7 percent in the first half of August to drop year-to-date returns to -10.57 percent, according to HSBC Private Bank data." And while we know of the scorched earth currently happening on the 50th floor of 1251 Avenue of the Americas, another big time hedge fund, Owl Creek, is getting pummeled behind the scenes: "Owl Creek Asset Management LP’s $4.8 billion offshore fund was down 9.3 percent in the first 12 days of August, according to HSBC Private Bank data. The fund, managed by Jeffrey Altman, is down 9.16 percent year-to-date through Aug. 12."