Bank of America

Frontrunning: July 9

  • Euro zone fragmenting faster than EU can act (Reuters)
  • Wall Streeters Lose $2 Billion in 401(k) Bet on Own Firms (Bloomberg)
  • Eurozone crisis will last for 20 years (FT)
  • Chuckie Evans: "Please suh, can I have some moah" (Reuters)
  • Quote stuffing and book sales: Amazon ‘robo-pricing’ sparks fears (FT)
  • Situation in Egypt getting worse by the minute: Egypt parliament set to meet, defying army (Reuters)
  • Chinese goalseek-o-tron speaks: China’s inflation eased to a 29-month low (Bloomberg)
  • A contrarian view: "Barclays and the BoE have probably saved the financial system" (FT)
  • Flawed analysis: Dealers Declining Bernanke Twist Invitation (BBG) - Actually as shown here, ST Bond holdings have soared as dealers buy what Fed sells: more here
  • Obama team targets Romney over taxes, Republicans cry foul (Reuters)
  • And all shall be well: Brussels to act over Libor scandal (FT)
  • Bank of England's Tucker to testify on rate rigging row (Reuters)

Shhh... Don't Tell Anyone; Central Banks Manipulate Rates

It should come as no surprise to anyone that major commercial banks manipulate Libor submissions for their own benefit. As Jefferies David Zervos writes this weekend, money-center commercial banks did not want the “truth” of market prices to determine their loan rates. Rather, they wanted an oligopolistically controlled subjective survey rate to be the basis for their lending businesses. When there are only 16 players – a “gentlemen’s agreement” is relatively easy to formulate. That is the way business has been transacted in the broader OTC lending markets for nearly 30 years. The most bizarre thing to come out of the Barclays scandal, Zervos goes on to say, is the attack on the Bank of England and Paul Tucker. Is it really a scandal that central bank officials tried to affect interest rates? Absolutely NOT! That’s what they do for a living. Central bankers try to influence rates directly and indirectly EVERY day. That is their job. Congresses and Parliaments have given central banks monopoly power in the printing of money and the management of interest rate policy. These same law makers did not endow 16 commercial banks with oligopoly power to collude on the rate setting process in their privately created, over the counter, publicly backstopped marketplaces.

Tuesday Humor: "Citi Today Is A Different Bank Than It Was Before The Crisis"

The FDIC decided to wait with its dose of pre-holiday humor until after the Barclays fixing for today's market close turned out to be spot on. And by that we mean that official release of the US banks' "living will" statements, which as far as we know is about the most worthless exercise ever conducted, and about the dumbest thing to be conceived by that very undynamic duo of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Because last we checked, the treatment of living wills in bankruptcy court, where all these firms will end up eventually anyway, is... non-existent. But the real fun is when one actually reads this indicative statement from Citigroup: "Citi is today a fundamentally different institution than it was before the crisis." And that's where we stopped. Because it is banks wasting their time (and taxpayer bailout money) on gibberish like this instead of analyzing the risk inherent in their prop positions that guarantees the next CIO-like blow up will not be just $5 billion but far, far more, and will certainly prove that living wills when one has to equitize tens of billions in unsecured debt are worth exactly didely squat.

Guest Post: The Great LIBOR Bank Heist of 2008?

Here’s a really wild hypothesis: if the LIBOR rate was under manipulation in 2008, is it not possible that the inter-bank lending rate spike (and resultant credit freeze) was at least partly a product of manipulation by the banking cartel? Could the manipulators have purposely exacerbated the freeze, to get a bigger and quicker bailout? After all, the banking system sucked $29 trillion out of the taxpayer following 2008. That’s a pretty big payoff. LIBOR profoundly affects credit availability — and the bailouts were directly designed to combat a freeze in credit availability. If market participants were manipulating or rigging LIBOR, they were manipulating a variable directly tied to the bailouts.

June Global PMI Summary: Euro Area Slowdown Is Beginning To Impact The Rest Of The World

The sea of red just got even redder as Japan, Korea, Norway, South Africa and Taiwan all dropped below 50, i.e., into contraction territory. From Bank of America: "Overnight and early this morning, a bevy of global manufacturing PMI reports were released. This provides us with an early reading on the state of manufacturing. Out of the 24 countries reporting so far, 10 saw month-over-month improvements in their manufacturing PMIs, while fourteen countries saw their PMIs worsen in June. Seventeen of the manufacturing PMIs were below the 50 breakeven level that divides expansion (+50) from contraction (+50). A majority of the below-50 PMI indices are located in the Euro area. The ongoing  sovereign debt and banking crisis continues to weigh on the region’s economic activity and sentiment. The Euro area slowdown is beginning to impact the rest of the world."

Is The Bank Of England About To Be Dragged Into Lie-borgate, And Which US Bank Is Next

While the Lieborgate scandal gathers steam not so much because of people's comprehension of just what is at stake here (nothing less than the fair value of $350 trillion in interest-rate sensitive products as explained in February), but simply courtesy of several very vivid emails which mention expensive bottles of champagne, once again proving that when it comes to interacting with the outside world, banks see nothing but rows of clueless muppets until caught red-handed (at which point they use big words, and speak confidently), the BBC's Robert Peston brings an unexpected actor into the fray: the English Central Bank and specifically Paul Tucker, the man who, unless Goldman's-cum-Canada's Mark Carney or Goldman's Jim O'Neill step up, will replace Mervyn King as head of the BOE.

Previewing The Supreme Court Decision(s)

We posted this on Monday. With the SCOTUS ruling due out in minutes, here again is a preview of the various permutations that can come out today, and their impact on capital markets: "BofA outlines five possible scenarios and their potential impact across the healthcare sectors. They base the likelihood of their scenarios on a review of the March oral arguments, previous circuit court decisions, as well as surveys of legal experts and former Supreme Court clerks. Everything you need to know about the possible outcomes and actions to take."

The Obamacare Outcome Matrix

With the Supreme Court likely to announce its decision on the constitutionality of Health Care Reform Law this Thursday, BofA outlines five possible scenarios and their potential impact across the healthcare sectors. They base the likelihood of their scenarios on a review of the March oral arguments, previous circuit court decisions, as well as surveys of legal experts and former Supreme Court clerks. Everything you need to know about the possible outcomes and actions to take.