Bank of America

Is Uncle Sam The Biggest Enabler Of Private Equity Jobs "Offshoring"?

Lately, it has become particularly fashionable to bash private equity, especially among those workers in the employ of the state. The argument, in as much as capitalism can be summarized in one sentence, is that PE firms issue excess leverage, making bankruptcy inevitable (apparently those who buy the debt are unaware they will never get their money back), all the while cutting headcount to maximize cash flow (apparently the same PE firms don't realize that their investment will have the greatest terminal value to buyer if it has the highest possible growth potential, which means revenue and cashflow, which means proper CapEx investment, which means streamlined income statement, which means more efficient workers generating more profits, not less). The narrative ultimately culminates with some variation on a the theme that PE firms are responsible for offshoring jobs. While any of the above may be debated, and usually is especially by those who have absolutely no understanding of finance, one thing is certain: when it comes to bashing PE, America's public workers should be the last to have anything negative to say about Private Equity, and the capital markets in general. Why? Because when it comes to fulfilling those promises of a comfortable retirement with pensions and benefits paying out in perpetuity, always indexed for inflation, and otherwise fulfilling impossible dreams, who do America's public pension fund administrators go to? The very same private equity firms that have suddenly become outcast number 1.

How Bank Of America Destroyed Football

As the NFL torments it players, coaches, and viewers by playing hardball over 'real' referee earnings, the truth of Monday's blown call is coming out. Courtesy of American Banker, we now know that the referee at the center of the most controversial call of the season so far is in fact a vice president for small-business banking at Bank of America in California. Lance Easley - previously at Wells Fargo, has worked at BofA since June 2011 - (we assume) moonlighting as a referee in the Santa Barbara area (officiating high school and junior college football and basketball games). Well done Lance, you have managed to move from the most-hated occupation (bankster) to the most-hated individual (outside of Seattle) in one weekend. Is it any wonder Small Business confidence and uncertainty is so high?

With $1.6 Trillion In FDIC Deposit Insurance Expiring, Are Negative Bill Rates Set To Become The New Normal?

As we noted on several occasions in the past ten days, as a result of QE3 and its imminent transformation to QE4, which will merely be the current monetization configuration but without the sterilization of new long-term bond purchases, the Fed's balance sheet is expected to grow by over $2 trillion in the next two years. This also means that the matched liability on the Fed's balance sheet, reserves and deposits, will grow by a like amount. So far so good. However, as Bank of America points out today, there may be a small glitch: as a reminder on December 31, 2012 expires the FDIC's unlimited insurance on noninterest-bearing transaction accounts at which point it will revert back to $250,000. Currently there is about $1.6 trillion in deposits that fall under this umbrella, or essentially the entire amount in new deposit liabilities that will have to be created as a result of QEternity. The question is what those account holders will do, and how will the exit of deposits, once those holding them realize they no longer are government credit risk and instead are unsecured bank credit risk, impact the need to ramp up deposit building. One very possible consequence: negative bill rates as far as the eye can see.

The Fed Now Owns 27% Of All Duration, Rising At Over 10% Per Year

When it comes to diving trends in the Fed's take over of the Treasury market, there are those who haven't got the faintest clue about what is going on, such as Paul Krugman, who naively looks (as Bernanke expects all economists to) at the simple total notional of securities held by the Fed and concludes that the Fed is not doing anything to adjust fixed income risk-preference, and then there are those who grasp that when it comes to defining risk exposure in the bond market, and therefore in equities, all that matters is duration, expressed in terms of ten-year equivalents. Sadly, this is a data set that not every CTRL-V major or Nobel prize winner (in order of insight) can grab from the St. Louis Fed - it is however available to those who know where to look. And as the chart below shows, even as the Fed's balance sheet has remained flat in notional terms, its Ten Year equivalent exposure has soared, rising by 50% during Operation Twist alone, from $900 billion to $1.313 trillion. What this means in practical terms, as Stone McCarthy summarizes, is that the Fed now owns 27.05% of the entire inventory in outstanding ten-year equivalents. This leaves less than 75% of the market in private hands.

Bank Of America To Fire 16,000 By Year End

Curious why nearly 4 years ago to the day Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson told Ken Lewis to purchase Merrill Lynch "or else" (but to make sure everyone gets paid their bonuses bright and early with no cuts)? It certainly had to do with the stock price and preserving the wealth of the shareholders. It had little to do with making the company viable in the long run, unfortunately, as the just announced news of a massive tsunami of 16,000 imminent terminations at the company confirms. All BofA did then was to take on dead weight at gunpoint, which it now has to shed. It also shows that despite rumors to the contrary the US economy is not getting better, the US financial system is not getting stronger, faith in capital markets is not returning (based on future staffing needs at banks), US tax revenues by the highest earners will go down, and the closed loop that is a procyclical economic move will just get worse as there are fewer service providers providing financial services, in the process taking out less consumer debt to keep the GDP "growing." What will also happen by January 1, 2013 is that BofA will no longer be America's largest employer, with the total headcount of 260,000 at year end being the lowest since 2008, and smaller than JPM, Citi and Wells.

Frontrunning: September 20

  • Obama, Romney tiptoe around housing morass as they woo voters (Reuters) ... just as ZH expected
  • Poll Finds Obama in Better Shape Than Any Nominee Since Clinton (Bloomberg)
  • Romney on Offense, Says Obama Can’t Help Middle Class (Bloomberg)
  • Fed’s Fisher Says U.S. Inflation Expectations Rising (Bloomberg)
  • Citigroup Warns Irish Investors to Plan for Losses (Bloomberg)
  • Central Banks Flex Muscles (WSJ)
  • China says U.S. auto trade complaint driven by election race (Reuters)
  • Brussels sidesteps China trade dispute (FT)
  • How misstep over trading fractions wounded ICAP's EBS (Reuters)
  • Ex-CME programmer pleads guilty to trade secret theft (Reuters)
  • Income squeeze will persist, says BoE (FT)
  • South African miners return to work, unrest rumbles on (Reuters)

Perspectives On Gold's "Parabolic" Catch-Up Phase

Since 2007 our analysis has suggested the likelihood of economic outcomes that most have considered unlikely: significant and ongoing monetary inflation, policy-administered currency devaluation, substantial global price inflation, and an eventual change in how the forty year old global monetary system is structured. Most observers have viewed such outlooks as tail events – highly unlikely, unworthy of serious consideration or a long way off. We remain resolute, and believe last week’s movements in Frankfurt and Washington towards perpetual quantitative easing confirmed and accelerated the validity of our outlook. With QBAMCO's view that $15,000 - $19,000 Gold is possible, timing of the catch-up phase is impossible - though they suspect last week's events may be the catalyst that begins to raise public awareness of the link between monetary inflation and price inflation.

BofA Sees Fed Assets Surpassing $5 Trillion By End Of 2014... Leading To $3350 Gold And $190 Crude

Yesterday, when we first presented our calculation of what the Fed's balance sheet would look like through the end of 2013, some were confused why we assumed that the Fed would continue monetizing the long-end beyond the end of 2012. Simple: in its statement, the FOMC said that "If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the Committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate until such improvement is achieved in a context of price stability." Therefore, the only question is by what point the labor market would have improved sufficiently to satisfy the Fed with its "improvement" (all else equal, which however - and here's looking at you inflation - will not be). Conservatively, we assumed that it would take at the lest until December 2014 for unemployment to cross the Fed's "all clear threshold." As it turns out we were optimistic. Bank of America's Priya Misra has just released an analysis which is identical to ours in all other respects, except for when the latest QE version would end. BofA's take: "We do not believe there will be “substantial” improvement in the labor market for the next 1.5-2 years and foresee the Fed buying Treasuries after the end of Operation Twist." What does this mean for total Fed purchases? Again, simple. Add $1 trillion to the Zero Hedge total of $4TRN. In other words, Bank of America just predicted at least 2 years and change of constant monetization, which would send the Fed's balance sheet to grand total of just over $5,000,000,000,000 as the Fed adds another $2.2 trillion MBS and Treasury notional to the current total of $2.8 trillion.

Grand Theft Auto: FOMC City - Bank Robbers Throw Cash Out Of Volvo In South Los Angeles

Once upon a time we thought that literally throwing cash out of rapidly moving objects was a privilege strictly reserved for Fed chairmen. Not any more. Moments ago, a car chase in South Los Angeles went horribly right, when two bank thieves who managed to find a Bank of America branch which actually had cash in it, and robbed it, proceeded to throw cash out of the moving car as it was being chased by a cohort of cops. Since the getaway car happened to be a Volvo, they naturally failed to get away, but not before they became local Robin Hood-type heroes to the massive gathering of gawkers all of whom would appear gainfully employed if only they were not just standing there, doing nothing, and hoping to steal the already stolen money in a major LA intersection at 11:30 am local time on a Wednesday. At least we now have the first two joint candidates to take over the BOE's soon to be vacant governorship.

Frontrunning: September 12

  • Germany Can Ratify ESM Fund With Conditions, Court Rules (Bloomberg)
  • Obama Discusses Iran Nuclear Threat With Netanyahu (Bloomberg)
  • Stocks, Euro Gain as Court Allows ESM; Irish Bonds Climb (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. cautions Japan, China over escalating islands row (Reuters)
  • Draghi alone cannot save the euro (FT)
  • 'New York Post' Runs Boldest Anti-Obama Ad Yet (Bloomberg)
  • Another urban legend: Fish Oil Pills Don’t Fix Heart Ills in 24-Year Data Review (Bloomberg)
  • Troika Says Portugal’s Program is ‘On Track’ (Bloomberg)
  • Russia Wants to Steer Clear of 'Gas War' (WSJ)
  • U.S. Said Set to Target First Non-Bank Firms for Scrutiny (Bloomberg)
  • Wen Says China’s Policy Strength Will Secure Growth Targets (Bloomberg)
  • UK faces clash with Brussels on City (FT)

Iran Gold Imports From Turkey Surge To $8 Billion YTD As Gold Increasingly Used As Currency

Central bank demand internationally continues and demand for gold in the increasingly volatile Middle East remains robust as seen in data from the Istanbul Gold Exchange. It showed that Turkey’s gold imports were 11.3 metric tons last month alone. Silver imports were 6.7 tons, the data show. Much of these imports may be destined for Iran where imports have surged an astonishing 2,700% in just one year – from $21 million to $6.2 billion. In the first seven months of this year, Turkey's exports to Iran have also skyrocketed to $8 billion, up from $2 billion in the same period last year. And it is widely believed that the major portion of the increase, which is $6 billion, stems from the export of gold. There is speculation that the Iranian central bank is buying gold and that they may be accepting gold in payment for oil and gas in order to bypass western sanctions.  Turkey is paying for the oil and natural gas it is importing from Iran in gold, Turkish opposition deputies have claimed, drawing attention to the enormous increase in Turkey's gold exports to Iran in 2012.  “Gold is being used as an instrument for payment. Under the guise of exportation, gold is being sent to Iran in exchange for oil,” Sinan Aygün, a deputy from the Republican People's Party (CHP), has told Turkish daily Today's Zaman.