Ferguson, Baltimore, Ferguson (again), Milwaukee, Charlotte. Much has been made by the media of the recent riots that have taken place across America. Which begs the question: Are these riots passing occurrences or, like a series of smaller seismic events, a forewarning of much larger mass civil unrest to come? For the answers, we take a quick trip back in time.
The outlook for the US economy is deteriorating, yet the Fed is trying to raise overnight rates to keep unseen inflation from rising. Success in its strategy could force consumption lower, unemployment higher, and exacerbate real output contraction. The market, however, should not underestimate the Fed’s power based on its apparent incompetence.
Nothing says panic-buy a retail stock like the shuttering of 100 stores (14%) but that is what Macy's is doing. With a loss of $1 billion in revenues from the store closures,it seems like an odd reaction to the decline in sales that CEO Terry Lundgren has blamed on "abnormal weather patterns."
The Fed's latest Senior Loan Officer Survey for July 2016 showed that banks continued to tighten standards on commercial loans in 2016 for both commercial and industrial (C&I) and commercial real estate (CRE). This was the fourth straight quarter of tighter standards: something that has never happened outside of a recession.
Desperate, or Distracted? Elon Musk's Tesla has offered to acquire Elon Musk's cousin's SolarCity for 0.122 to 0.133 Tesla shares. Tesla shares are tumbling on the news, as perhaps they read the five reasons why SolarCity pain is only just beginning? As Herb Greenberg asked, "is this even legal?"
For those who need a quick and easy recap of all the main events that took place in the oil and gas services sector, here it is courtesy of Credit Suisse's James Wicklung who present the various "things we've learned this week."
We have argued the inevitability of Fed-administered hyperinflation, prompted by a global slowdown and its negative impact on the ability to service and repay systemic debt. One of the most politically expedient avenues policy makers could take would be to inflate the debt away in real terms through coordinated currency devaluations against gold, the only monetize-able asset on most central bank balance sheets. To do so they would create new base money with which to purchase gold at pre-arranged fixed exchange prices, which would raise the general price levels in their currencies and across the world to levels that diminish the relative burden of debt repayment (while not sacrificing debt covenants). The odds of this occurring seem to have risen, judging by the gold prices.
While the warning flags are raging in Illinois and Connecticut, JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest states that New Jersey's problems are "not mathematically solvable." The stunning admission from a status-quo-sustaining bank that is “very focused on the total indebtedness of US states," should be worrisome enough but as Cembalest explains the answer to a debt problem is not always piling up more debt - "when debt reaches a certain level, the can kicking is over and difficult decisions need to be made;" the issue is to address the root of the problem, which can be a delicate and at times politically incorrect topic.
As of today, we now have three consecutive quarters of tightening lending standards. In fact, based on the latest survey, net lending standards tightened even more than during Q4 as shown in the chart below, and are now the tightest on net since the financial crisis. Needless to say, if a recession and a default cycle has always followed two quarters of tighter lending conditions, three quarters does not make it better.
One week ago, we warned that "Valeant Lenders Demand Two Pounds Of Flesh For Covenant Waivers", a function of Valeant having virtually no leverage. Well, while Valeant proudly announced it had obtained a covenant waiver from its lenders late last week, it appears not everyone was onboard with the plan, and as a result moments ago Valeant stock crashed (below $30) after hours as major bond investor Centerbridge has notified the company that it intends to call a default event, presumably on annual report delays breaking covenants.