Charles Schumer

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Frontrunning: February 19





  • Ukraine leader denounces coup bid, West weighs sanctions (Reuters)
  • Time to buy Imodium calls: Kuroda Easing Doomed as Yen Seen Missing 120 Level (BBG)
  • Teens Disappear From U.S. Workforce (BBG)
  • Fed Sets Rules for Foreign Banks (WSJ)
  • Quant Funds Feel Investor Bite After Underperforming (BBG)
  • China Probes Qualcomm, InterDigital Over Monopoly Concerns (WSJ)
  • Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces  (LATimes)
  • SEC Gains Power to Take Profit Made From Insider Trading (BBG)
 


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Guest Post: Bitcoin - Revolution Or Trap?





In 2008, a mysterious person or group using the apparent pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled a new digital currency called Bitcoin that appeared to solve some of its predecessors’ problems. As Bitcoin rose in value the number of high-profile crimes and crashes rose apace. Throughout that boom and bust, Bitcoin retained a core user base that saw its possibilities and worked to overcome its flaws by developing point-of-sale hardware and online merchant services while lessening its dependence on a small number of exchanges. And then, just when the outside world had stopped paying attention, Bitcoin recovered. From under $20 at the beginning of 2013 it rose to $240, crashed to below $100, and then in one dramatic arc soared to more than $1,000. In early 2014 Bitcoin’s market value exceeded $10 billion and the number of merchants willing to accept it was soaring. The market appears to have spoken: Bitcoin is for real.

 


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Why Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program Failed (Spoiler Alert: Thank Bank Of America et al)





Back when the Executive and Congress at least pretended not to abdicate all power to the Fed, one of the centerpiece programs designed to boost the housing market for the benefit of the poor (as opposed to letting Ben Bernanke make marginal US housing a rental industry owned by a handful of private equity firms and hedge funds), was Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, which attempted to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers’ mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners would be given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. The program was a disaster as of the 3 million foreclosures that were targeted for modification in 2009, only 905,663 mods have been successful nearly five years later - a tiny 13% of the 6.9 million who applied (still, numbers which Obamacare would be delighted to achieve). Part of the reason: the program's reliance on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward. But there was much more. For the definitive explanation of everything else that went wrong, we go to Bloomberg's Hugh Son whose masterpiece released today explains how and why once again the banks - and especially one of them - won, and everyone else lost.

 


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WaPo's Modest Proposal: Dictator Obama





"It’s time to put that power back where it belongs," explains Jonathan Zimmerman in today's Washington Post, "Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves." The 22nd Amendment, limiting the Presidential term, according to Zimmerman, reflected "a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people." Of course, in the increasingly 'entitled' America, it would only cost a few hundred million to bribe all the newly downgraded Middle-to-Lower class Americans with Obamaphones in order to finally get a "dictatorial democracy" by indirectly funding the lower common denominator with $400 in free money every election cycle.

 


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Chuck Schumer's "Bottom Line": Don't Hurt The Stocks





We commend Senator Schumer for being the first Senator to openly step up and admit that the worst case scenario in the whole Congressional 3D IMAX farce is not about keeping the economy afloat, is not about preserving jobs, but merely keeping the stock market at or near its all time highs:

  • Schumer Says He Worries About Monday Stock Drop on Default Risk. "This is playing with fire," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., tells reporters. Says he worried whether “the stock market will go down

For those confused, Schumer has merely admitted what the vast majority of the Senate, where two thirds are millionaires, and nearly half the House, think: don't you dare let the manipulated precious, which at last check was just 1% below its all time Fed-balance sheet derived highs, drop.

 


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Futures Sell Off As Shutdown Enters Week Two





Overnight trading over the past week has been a bipolar affair based on algo sentiment about what is coming out of D.C. But which the last session was optimistic for some inexplicable reason that a deal on both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling out of DC was imminent, today any optimism is gone in the aftermath of the latest comments by Boehner on ABC, in which he implied that a US default is not unavoidable and that it would be used as more political capital, as it would be once again blamed on Obama for not resuming negotiations. As a result both global equities and US futures are down sharpy in overnight trading. And since the government shutdown, better known as a retroactively paid vacation, for everyone but the Pentagon (whose 400,000 workers have been recalled from furlough) continues it means zero government economic statistics in today's session with the only macro data being the Fed-sourced consumer credit report at 3 pm. This week also marks the unofficial start of the Q3 reporting season in the US with Alcoa doing the usual opening honous after the US closing bell tomorrow. JPMorgan’s and Wells Fargo’s results on Friday are the other main ones to watch to see just how much in reserves are released to pretend that banks are still making money.  As usual, expect disinformation leaks that send the market sharply higher throughout the day, which however will only make the final outcome that much more painful, because as during every US government crisis in the past, stocks have to plunge so they can soar again.

 


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Frontrunning: September 19





  • Bernanke Resets Policy by Doing Nothing as Markets Soar (BBG)
  • Stocks Jump to Five-Year High as Metals Rally on Fed (BBG)
  • Centre-left bigwig says hard to stay allied with Berlusconi (ANSA)
  • J.P. Morgan 'Whale' Fine Put at Over $900 Million (WSJ)
  • Banks’ $10 Billion Sweet Spot Sets Off Buying Spree for Lenders (BBG)
  • Time to taper? Not if you look at bank loans (Reuters)
  • Mortgage Lending Reaches 5-Year High (WSJ) ... and then plunges as Fed gives "all clear" for a few months
  • Yellen Chances Grow as Obama Aides Test Senate Support (BBG)
 


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US Markets Closed On Fifth Anniversary Of Jerome Kerviel Day





To some, today is Martin Luther King day and as a result the US markets are closed, especially since today is also the day when Obama celebrates his second inauguration with Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor at his side (hopefully not on the taxpayers' dime). To others, January 21 is nothing more than the anniversary of the real beginning of the end, when five years ago a little known SocGen trader named Jerome Kerviel could no longer hide his massive futures positions and was forced to unwind them, sending global indices plunging resulting in the biggest single day drop in the Dax (-7.2%), and punking the Fed into an unannounced 75 bps cut. Luckily, today such cataclysmic unwinds are impossible as the market is priced perfectly efficiently, without central bank intervention, price transparency is ubiquitous and the Volcker rule has made prop trading by banks, funded by Fed reserves (which are nothing more than the monetization of excess budget deficits) and excess deposits, impossible.

 


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Reid "Unable To Come Up With Counteroffer... Apart On Some Pretty Big Issues", Hands Over Negotiations To Biden





The second update of the day is here, and this one is far less jovial and optimistic than that coming from the seemingly quite cluless Lindsey Graham:

  • REID SAYS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO COME UP WITH COUNTEROFFER
  • REID SAYS `WE'RE APART ON SOME PRETTY BIG ISSUES'
  • REID SAYS `I WISH THEM WELL' REGARDING MCCONNELL-BIDEN TALKS
  • MCCONNELL SAYS HE CALLED BIDEN TO TRY TO `JUMP START' TALKS

Nothing like the fate of the nation in the hands of Joe Biden, who may or may not still be laughing.

 


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China Fires Back At US Senate Which May Have Just Started The Sino-US Currency Wars





A few hours ago, the maniac simians at the Senate finally did it and fired the first round in the great US-China currency war, after they took aim at one of China's core economic policies, voting to move forward with a bill designed to press Beijing to let its currency rise in value in the hope of creating U.S. jobs. As Reuters reports, "Senators voted 79-19 to open a week of Senate debate on the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011, which would allow the U.S. government to slap countervailing duties on products from countries found to be subsidizing their exports by undervaluing their currencies. Monday's strong green light for debate on the bill bolsters prospects it will clear the Democrat-run Senate later this week, but prospects for action in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are murky. If the bill did clear both chambers, it would present President Barack Obama with a tough decision on whether to sign the popular legislation into law and risk a trade war with Beijing, or veto it to pursue a more diplomatic approach." The response has been quick and severe: "China's foreign ministry said it "adamantly opposes" a bill pushed by the U.S. Senate that will allow the United States to impose duties on countries that undervalue their currencies." And just because China is now certain that the US will continue with its provocative posture, most recently demonstrated by the vocal response in the latest US-Taiwan military escalation, we would not be surprised at all to find China Daily report that China has accidentally sold a few billions in US government bonds... just because.

 


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Round Up Of This Morning's Key Political Soundbites





With a debt ceiling deal now a given and purely a matter of dotting i's and crossing t's, potentially pending a several day debt "breathing room" extension to be approved by Obama, whose TV appearance we expect shortly to provide a conclusion to this "grand compromise" farce, here are some of the key soundbites from the three primary constituents as of their media appearances this morning.

 


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