Bank of America
Since it's not Tuesday (the only day that matters for stocks, of course), call it opposite, or rather stop hunt take out, day. First, it was the BOJ which, as we warned previously, would disappoint and not boost QE (sorry SocGen which had expected an increase in monetization today, and now expects nothing more from the BOJ until year end), which sent the USDJPY sliding, only to see the pair make up all the BOJ announcement losses and then some; and then it was Europe, where first German retail sales cratered, printing at -1.9%, down from 2.0% and on expectations of a 1.7% print, and then Eurozone inflation once again missed estimates, and while rising from the abysmal 0.5% in March printed at only 0.7% - hardly the runaway inflation stuff Draghi is praying for. What happened then: EURUSD tumbled then promptly rebounded a la the flash crash, and at last check was trading near the high of the day.
First-quarter growth in almost all Chinese provinces was below their annual targets, according to local media, with the most concerning data from resource-dependent and manufacturing-heavy provinces suffered the sharpest economic slowdown in the first quarter as the government pushed to tackle excessive factory capacity and pollution. As Reuters reports, the fastest growth regions are Chongqing, Guizhou and Tianjin and all saw growth drop significantly. Specific provinces affected by the government's reforms include Inner Mongolia, which provides one third of the coal supply in the country, saw GDP growth drop to 7.3% in Q1 from 9.9% a year earlier; Shanxi, a major coal producing province, which saw growth tumble to to only 5.5%; and Hebei province, the nation's top steel producer, collapsed to only 4.2% in the first quarter of 2014 from 8.2% in the previous quarter. It seems the sum of the parts is anything but the same as the whole.
Earlier today the EBA published its common methodology and scenario for the 2014 EUwide bank stress test. The adverse scenario covers the period 2014 to 2016 and at least on the surface is generally tougher than the adverse scenarios in previous similar exercises, resulting in a severe negative deviation of EU GDP growth of 7% from its baseline level by 2016. So far so good. But where the whole thing disintegrates into yet another sham spectacle confirming just how insolvent European banking truly is, is one simple observation: not even under the adverse scenario does the ECB contemplate the possibility of deflation!
- EU regulators unveil details of bank stress tests (FT)
- Just use NSAfari: U.S., UK advise avoiding Internet Explorer until bug fixed (Reuters)
- China’s Income Inequality Surpasses U.S., Posing Risk for Xi (BBG)
- US races to refuel infrastructure fund as revenue dries up (FT)
- New Era Dawns at Nokia as Company Appoints CEO, Plans $1.4 Billion Special Dividend, Share-Repurchase Program (WSJ)
- Obama reassures allies, but doubts over 'pivot' to Asia persist (Reuters)
- Dissent at SEC over bank waivers (FT)
- U.S. Banks to Help Authorities with Tax Evasion Probe (WSJ)
- U.S., Europe Impose New Sanctions on Russia (WSJ)
- Why the U.S. Is Targeting the Business Empire of a Putin Ally (BBG)
- Euro-Area April Economic Confidence Unexpectedly Declines (BBG)
- Bitcoin traders settle class actions over failed Mt. Gox exchange (Reut
It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees. Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”
Last month, Bank of America made a lot of noise about how they were going to buy back up to $5 billion worth of common shares. As CEO Brian Moynihan stated, “We have simplified our company and we have more than adequate capital to support our strategic plans. We are well positioned to return excess capital to our shareholders.” Needless to say, investors cheered the announcement, and BofA’s stock price rose nicely as a result. Fast forward 45 days… and boy what a difference reality makes. Remember the lessons from Cyprus: last March, people went to bed on a Friday night thinking everything was just fine. The next morning they woke up to find that their entire banking system was insolvent and that the government had frozen their accounts. Bottom line, just because they tell you the money’s there doesn’t mean the money’s there. Just because they tell you they’re well capitalized doesn’t mean they’re well capitalized.
Yellen is evidently aware that stocks are bubbling. As Fed Chairman she cannot admit it (no Central Banker will ever say the markets are in a bubble), but the signs that she is aware of this are present.
Pending Home Sales provided some hope for the serial extrapolators this morning as month over month saw a 3.4% gain (against expectations of a 1% pop) for the first sequential rise in 7 months (led by the South and West - which were largelty unaffected by the weather). NAR appears happy to state that there are no more weather factors and it's business as usual. This is the 6th month in a row of negative year over year comps for pending home sales.
Just weeks after the Fed signed off on CCAR and ackowledged how great the US banking system is, Bank of America (after being slapped with another $13bn RMBS suit demand) has ackowledged things are not quite as risy as they appeared.
BOFA HAD INCORRECT ADJUSTMENT ON TREATMENT OF SOME NOTES; BOFA SUSPENDS CAPITAL ACTION PLAN ON CHANGE IN CAPITAL RATIOS
BAC SEES REVISED CAPITAL ACTIONS LESS THAN PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED; BAC WILL ENGAGE THIRD PARTY TO REVIEW PROCESSES
So no buyback boost... no dividend boost... The question now is - how do we (or The Fed) trust any of the numbers?
- U.S. Plans to Hit Putin Inner Circle With New Sanctions (BBG)
- Russian Billions Scattered Abroad Show Trail to Putin Circle (BBG)
- GE’s Alstom Bid Gains Steam as Hollande Said Not Opposed (BBG)
- Russia-West tensions pressure stocks, buoy oil prices (Reuters)
- Toyota Said to Plan to Move U.S. Sales Office to Texas (BBG)
- Egyptian court seeks death sentence for Brotherhood leader, 682 supporters (Reuters)
- Greece warned of 14.9 billion euro financing gap (FT)
- Comcast to shed 3.9 million subscribers to ease cable deal (Reuters)
- Big U.S. Banks Make Swaps a Foreign Affair (WSJ)
This eruption of late cycle bubble finance hardly needs comment. Below are highlights from a Bloomberg Story detailing the recent surge of leveraged recaps by the big LBO operators. These maneuvers amount to piling more debt on already heavily leveraged companies, but not to fund Capex or new products, technology or process improvements that might give these debt mules an outside chance of survival over time. No, the freshly borrowed cash from a leveraged recap often does not even leave the closing conference room - it just gets recycled out as a dividend to the LBO sponsors who otherwise hold a tiny sliver of equity at the bottom of the capital structure. This is financial strip-mining pure and simple - and is a by-product of the Fed’s insane repression of interest rates.
Bonds, Gold, and JPY are bid this morning as US equity futures are fading fast. The Dow and S&P futures are now back below pre-AAPL/FB levels and Nasdaq futures falling fast. Gold is back above $1300 (up over $30 from yesterday's pre-Putin lows). Treasuries, led by the long-end, are rallying as safe-haven bids appear across the whole complex. 30Y yields are down to 3.53 - the lowest since July. JPY is bid once again as USDJPY tests back to the crucial 102 level.
- Russia raises interest rates to 7.5% (FT)
- Shanghai to Allow Raw Material Exchanges in Trade Zone (BBG)
- US, Japan Fail to Clinch Trade Deal (WSJ)
- 'We don't have a magic wand', says ECB's Constancio (Reuters)
- Tokyo Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1992 (BBG)
- Demand for Home Loans Plunges (WSJ)
- EU banks urged to grasp chance to raise capital (FT)
The chart below, which summarizes 5 years of Fed "forward guidance" on that most critical of variables - the Fed Funds rate - proves two things:i) there is nothing worse in this world than being a Fed Funds, or Eurodollar, trader, considering 5 years of forecasts have been systematically destroyed by a Fed which has failed time and time and time again to stimulate the economy enough to push it away from ZIRP (and why any hope for the first rate hike in mid-2015 are idiotic), and ii) when it comes to central planning, the economists that now openly control the bond and stock market and increasingly more of global capital flows, have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings perversely, since it is their actions that have made the required outcome - a self-sustaining, economic recovery - impossible.
In February, we highlighted the fact that subprime loans were about to make a return: Subprime Mortgages are Back…This Time Marketed as “Second Chance Purchase Programs.” In that article, we posited that with the “all cash” private equity shops and hedge funds no longer able to make good returns through buying new homes to rent, these investors would need some sucker to sell to in order to realize a return (Blackstone’s purchases have plunged 70% recently). That sucker, as always, will be the retail muppets, and those muppets will be lured in through subprime. This is now starting to happen in earnest. "We're sorry, but on what sort of bizarro crackhead planet is putting 3% down toward an asset mean you are “buying it.” ... The Truman Show rolls on..."