From 1998 to 2013, Barclays and Deutsche Bank sold 199 basket options to hedge funds which used them to conduct more than $100 billion in trades. The subcommittee focused on options involving two of the largest basket option users, Renaissance Technology Corp. LLC (“RenTec”) and George Weiss Associates. The hedge funds often exercised the options shortly after the one-year mark and claimed the trading profits were eligible for the lower income tax rate that applies to long-term capital gains on assets held for at least a year. RenTec claimed it could treat the trading profits as long term gains, even though it executed an average of 26 to 39 million trades per year and held many positions for mere seconds. Data provided by the participants indicates that basket options produced about $34 billion in trading profits for RenTec alone, and more than $1 billion in financing and trading fees for the two banks.
The death toll among Palestinians from the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip reached over 500 on Monday, Gaza health officials said, as the two sides counted their dead following the bloodiest day of fighting so far in the two-week campaign. CBS reports the officials said some 3,150 Palestinians had been wounded. The IDF just announced 7 Israeli soldiers were killed today, raising the Israeli death toll to 25 (including 2 civilians). A glance at the stunning images below beggars belief that world equity markets (and Israel's) are shrugging at this escalating violence. We assume they 'believe' in the power of John Kerry.
Fool me once, shame on you; fly civilians over a war-zone twice, shame on Malaysian Airlines. In what is perhaps the most incredulous news of today (aside from Kerry's belief that he will make a difference in Gaza) is, as BNO reports, a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to London flew over Syria on Sunday... The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other organizations have warned airlines for more than a year to avoid the entire country. “Information from the International Civil Aviation Organization and open source reports of surface-to-air missile firings,” the FAA said in a notice last year, describing the risk to civilian flights as “significant.” Of course, avoiding the world's ever-increasing warring nations is not easy - perhaps it is time to consider trans-polar travel...
Moments ago it announced that while it is far "too late" to cancel the transaction of the first warship which will be delivered in October, regardless of how much farther European sanctions escalate, France would be willing to cancel the sale of the second Russian Mistral ship should sanctions be raised. Why? Because Russia still has not paid for said ship. Of course, keep in mind that this is the same France which was already punished to the tune of $9 billion a few weeks ago when the US slapped a record fine on BNP, and which resulted in a statement by none other than the head of the French central bank (issued on the US independence day) that the BNP case would merely encourage "diversification" away from the dollar.
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
Moments ago Netflix reported Q2 Revenue and EPS which were precisely in line with Wall Street estimates, at $1.34 billion and $1.15 EPS. None of this mattered, because just like Amazon, nobody cares about where NFLX is now, everyone is much more focused on where it will be at some indefinite point in the future, with an emphasis on what many believe is virtually unlimited subscriber growth both in the US, but primarily, in the international market. Here is what NFLX reported to its subs growth.
Equity prices tumbled early on - giving up all Friday's gains - before rampaging phoenix-like (thanks to an AUDJPY driven short squeeze) back to 'unch' after rumors of ceasefire discussions in Israel rolled around trading desks. Oil - it appears - was looking at the death-toll (and the fact that Hamas can only accept a deal that denies Israel's existence) and soared back towards $105 (its 2nd biggest day in over a month) notably divergent from stocks. The Russell 2000 was the laggard all day (ramped the most of the lows on the squeeze) and Trannies the leader. Since the MH17 headlines hit, the Nasdaq is the only index green, Treasury yields are -4bps, and oil up almost $4. The USD ended the day unch, 30Y Yield -2.5bps, gold, silver, and copper up modestly, and VIX up 0.5 vols at 12.7. Stocks closed on the weak side.
Russia is mounting a major publicity campaign in Europe for its proposed South Stream gas pipeline in an apparent effort to reassure its EU customers that they can rely on Russian gas for the indefinite future.
Paul Krugman reads the latest long-term forecast from the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and he likes what he sees. Even though the chart below is the CBO’s projections for the growth of federal debt, described by CBO as "a path that would ultimately be unsustainable," Krugman nonetheless offers a rosy commentary...
In awfully familiar sense of deja vu, at 1300ET on the dot, "most shorted" stocks were ignited into a vertical short squeeze by a rampfest in AUDJPY... the only problem... credit markets are not playing along... Trannies are the best performers (almost back to unch) with Russell lagging (though ramping most aggressively).
It is no secret that the gist of western thinking has been that sanctions against Russia would pressure its economy enough to force Putin to finally crawl to the negotiating table, tail between his legs, and beg for western forgiveness. Call it the law of unintended consequences striking once again, because while Russia's economy continues to hum along (if only for now, something that can't be said about Ukraine's) and has forced the Kremlin to seek a variety of deals with China to avoid western isolationism, one other country may have been crippled far faster than Russia: Germany.
Police are still investigating the tragic death of 39-year-old Goldman Sachs Managing Director Nicholas Valtz this weekend. As Bloomberg reports, Valtz, a "novice kiteboarder," was found dead yesterday by family members who went searching for him after he didn’t return from a kiteboarding outing. While there is no accusation of suicide in this case, it sadly brings the number of young financial services executives deaths to 16 this year.
Quelling some conspiracies - though we are sure more will come on 'tampering' - the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak issued a statement confirming it has reached an agreement on the MH17 investigation...
MALAYSIA SAYS BLACK BOXES TO BE HANDED OVER TO MALAYSIAN TEAM
Of course, this means the "credibility" of the latest YouTube clip from Ukraine, which "supposedly" revealed that the "rebels" were instructed by Moscow to hide the black boxes will be severly questioned, or would be if there was anyone out there still questioning anything in the relentless propaganda barrage. Actually scratch that: said clip will now promptly disappear from social networks, period.
The actual state of employment in the U.S. is likely far weaker than the economic statistics currently suggest. If this is indeed the case, it creates a potential for policy mistakes that could have negative consequences to both the economy and the financial markets.
It appears Texas Governor Rick Perry has grown weary waiting on the President to dictate the next steps in the immigration debacle and taken things into his own hands. As The Monitor reports, an internal memo from another state official’s office said the governor planned to call about 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Rio Grande Valley - at a cost of about $12 million per month. State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa exclaimed, "all these politicians coming down to border, they don't care about solving the problem, they just want to make a political point." However, state officials were careful to point out that "this is not a militarization of the border." Nope, not all...