So now that Vikram Pandit has exited stage right from the CEO position at Citigroup, a number of people have asked me about the Zombie Dance Queen.
Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside. Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.
- Japan grapples with own fiscal cliff (Bloomberg)
- Japan Protests After Four Chinese Vessels Enter Disputed Waters (Bloomberg)
- Asian Stocks Rise as Exporters Gain on China, U.S. Data (Bloomberg)
- An obsolete Hilsenrath speaks: Fed Keeps Rates Low, Says Growth Is Moderate (WSJ)
- ECB Said to Push Spain’s Bankia to Swap Junior Debt for Shares (Bloomberg)
- Spain’s Bad Bank Seen as Too Big to Work (Bloomberg)
- China postpones Japan anniversary events (China Daily)
- Carney Says Rate Increase ‘Less Imminent’ on Economy Risk (Bloomberg)
- Credit Suisse to Cut More Costs as Quarterly Profit Falls (Bloomberg)
- Obama offers a glimpse of his second-term priorities (Reuters)
- Draghi defends bond-buying programme (FT)
There was a time when the announcement of lawsuits against Bank of America for the fraudulent mortgage practices of the worst M&A acquisition of all time - Countrywide Financial - sent the stock of BAC plunging. Now, it has become a daily thing and any incremental news barely cause a budget in the stock. One just needs to look at the surging Reps and Warranties claims against the bank (most recently in the latest Q3 earnings report) for improper mortgage conduct in the past to get a sense that very soon the firm's entire market cap will be less than the liability and litigation reserve it will need to establish against the avalanche of lawsuits we predicted back in October 2010. The litigation against the bank now is so large, that it will soon have to pull its TBTF get out of bankruptcy card just to avoid being sued to death in a 1000 legal paper cuts. This explains why the just announced latest lawsuit against BAC by the NY District Attorney, seeking $1 billion or so, for fraudulent loan-origination practices barely caused a stir in the stock.
By now everyone knows that as part of QEternity, Uncle Ben is currently monetizing $40 billion in MBS per month, a number which as we first forecast hours after its announcement and which everyone is now piling on to reaffirm, will rise to $85 billion in outright, unsterilized monetization beginning January 1, 2013 (as anything less would be seen as impllicit tightening in a market which now needs $85 billion in Fed Flow monthly simply not to collapse). This is fungible money which is going solely to benefit the banks, whose reserves with the Fed swell, and which proceeds can be used for virtually any purpose - from buying MBS (which they are doing) to 300x P/E stocks like AMZN - but not to be lent out to those desperately seeking loans? Why: one simple reason - the banks are already mired in legacy litigation from loans made during the last housing bubble (just see the hundreds of mortgage-related lawsuits Bank of Countrywide Lynch is a defendant in and you will get a sense of how bad it is) and the last thing they need is a repeat of that. And while the Fed has only one monetary easing pathway, which always goes through the banks, we wish to demonstrate to our readers what, in a thought experiment ignoring all the obvious practical considerations, the equivalent benefit to the general population would be if instead of being held by the banks and used to make the rich even richer, this money would bypass the banking syndicate and go straight to the US job seeker...
Bank Of America Gimmicks Continue - Chargeoffs Soar To Highest In A Year, As Loan Loss Release SurgesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2012 08:24 -0400
When one combs through the usual hodge podge of purposefully distracting headline bullets in Bank of America's quarterly release one as usual ends up with a sorry picture. Here are the key numbers: Noninterest income for the firm, traditionally about half of total revenues in addition to Net Interest Income, has continued to decline, and slid fo $10.5 billion, down from $12.4 billion in Q2 and down from $18.0 billion in Q3 2011. The other side: Total Interest Income (before expenses) also has continued to decline, and dropped to $13.976 billion from $13.992 billion a quarter ago, and down from $15.853 billion a year earlier. These numbers are hard to fudge. The number that is very easy to fudge is the Net Income (and per share) line, which was reported at $340 MM or $0.00 in diluted earnings per share after dividends. What helped substantially here is the following: while the firm booked a provision for credit losses of just $1.774 bilion, in line with Q2 and half of the $3.4 billion in Q3, 2011, what more than offset this was the surge in reserve reduction which soared to the highest in years at $2.348 billion, up from $1.853 billion in Q2 and way up from the $1.679 billion in Q3 2011. What is even more paradoxical is that despite what Moynihan is saying about an improvement in the housing market, the bank's total chargeoffs rose to the highest in a year, at $4.122 billion, up from $3.626 billion in Q2, and the highest since Q4 2011. The result is that the Net charge off ratio also spiked to the highest in a year, at 1.86%.
Reports that the housing sector is recovering has generated more than a little irrational exuberance among investors regarding financials.
The State of New York should be seeking the removal of Bank of New York (BK) as custodian with respect to all RMBS trusts operated pursuant to NY law and immediately file a claim on behalf of all investors against BK for negligence.
Back in October of 2010, when we first exposed Bank of America as massively underreserved for putback, Rep and Warrant and various other forms of litigation, we predicted that once the precedent is set for ever escalating litigation against transgressions banks committed in the Old Normal (the biggest of which was the worst M&A deal of all time: BofA buying Countrywide and with it hundreds of billions in contingent liabilities), very soon banks would be swamped with a tsunami of litigation. And after all, it's only "fair" - the banking industry would not exist if its wasn't for the Fed and government's bailout and backstop of tens of trillions in liabilities at the peak. Now it's time for some "wealth redistribution" - only instead of said government-funded wealth tricking down to the common man, the only social group set to benefit are America's lawyers. Fast forward two years to October 2012, and what we predicted is precisely what has happened. As the chart below shows various "environment charges" aka charges related to mortgage put-backs, legal and foreclosure related issues, have soared to a record 16% of pre-provision earnings. As Goldman calculates, this is reducing EPS and returns by an average 17%! Where it this "profit" going? Mostly to various class cation suit organizing law firms and to pay for $800/hour legal retainers.
So, Jamie, you still think that Bear Stearns is not material to JPM investors?
Whereas earlier today we presented one of the most exhaustive presentations on the state of the student debt bubble, one question that has always evaded greater scrutiny has been the very critical default rate for student borrowers: a number which few if any lenders and colleges openly disclose for fears the general public would comprehend not only the true extent of the student loan bubble, but that it has now burst. This is a question that we specifically posed a month ago when we asked "As HELOC delinquency rates hit a record, are student loans next?" Ironically in that same earlier post we showed a chart of default rates for federal loan borrowers that while rising was still not too troubling: as it turns out the reason why its was low is it was made using fudged data that drastically misrepresented the seriousness of the situation, dramatically undercutting the amount of bad debt in the system. Luckily, this is a question that has now been answered, courtesy of the Department of Education, which today for the first time ever released official three-year, or much more thorough than the heretofore standard two-year benchmark, federal student loan cohort default rates. The number, for all colleges, stood at a stunning 13.4% for the 2009 cohort. And while it is impossible using historical data to extrapolate with precision what the current consolidated federal student loan default rate is, we do know that there is now $914 billion in federal student loans (which also was mysteriously revised over 50% higher by the Fed just a month ago). Using simple inference, all else equal (and all else has certainly deteriorated), there is now at least $122 billion in federal student loan defaults. And surging every day.
Ladies and gentlemen: meet the new subprime.
More bailouts and QE, until Beethoven writes the 10th Symphony.
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.
Global financial markets are awash in hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives. By some estimates, the total amount exceeds one quadrillion. Derivatives played a central role in the 2008 credit crisis, as they had a brutal multiplying effect on the magnitude of the carnage. As a bad asset was written down, oftentimes there were derivative contracts written against it that resulted in total losses 10x greater than the initial write-down. But what exactly are derivatives? How do they work? And have we learned to treat these "weapons of mass financial destruction" (as Warren Buffet colorfully coined them) any more carefully in the aftermath of the global financial crisis? Not really, claims Janet Tavakoli, the danger behind derivatives doesn't lie in their existence, she stresses, but when abused, derivatives can create massive damages. So at the root of the "derivatives problem" is control fraud - the rampant unchecked criminal action by influential players on Wall Street.
We know top-line numbers were a disappointment in Q2; but the long-only AUM-defending commission-takers will remind you that 'stocks are cheap', '...valuation...', 'money on the the sidelines', and on the surface there was a 6.9% increase in EPS from Q2 2011 (growthy and as UBS notes - anything but anemic). But, like every good story, the truth is darker under the surface; looking at earnings growth (i.e., without the impact of shrinking share counts) excluding prior-period Financial sector writedowns, we see an outright earnings contraction. Further, consensus estimates are calling for EPS growth to go negative in 3Q12 - falling to $25.07 from $25.65 - which will make two quarters in a row of negative earnings growth - what we would consider an earnings recession.