So much for any Scottish referendum vote "surprise": the people came, they voted, and they decided to stay in the 307-year-old union by a far wider margin, some 55% to 45%, than most polls had forecast, even as 3.6 million votes, a record 85% turnout, expressed their opinion. The gloating began shortly thereafter, first and foremost by David Cameron who said "There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people." Queen Elizabeth II, who is at her Scottish castle in Balmoral, is expected to make a rare comment on Friday. But while a No vote was where the smart betting money was ahead of the vote anyway, and is thus hardly a surprise, the most curious thing overnight was the complete roundtrip of cable, which was bought on the rumor and then sold off on the news, roundtripping by nearly 200 pips.
Ukraine accused Russia on Thursday of mounting an invasion in the southeast of the country in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels. Ukraine's security and defense council said the border town of Novoazovsk and other parts of Ukraine's south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces who together with rebels were staging a counter-offensive. "A counter-offensive by Russian troops and separatist units is continuing in south-east Ukraine," the council said in a post on Twitter. ... and then everything was promptly denied: CORRECTED-UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT POROSHENKO SAYS RUSSIAN TROOPS HAVE BEEN BROUGHT INTO UKRAINE (NOT 'RUSSIAN MILITARY INVASION HAS TAKEN PLACE')
Pope Francis, who until now has had an aura of pacifism "above all else", if now and then bashing the occasional banker for creating record wealth disparity around the globe, just shattered his reputation of a man of peace at all costs, and moments ago endorsed the use of force in Iraq to stop Islamic militants from attacking religious minorities. He added that ays the international community — and not just one country — should decide how to intervene. He did not clarify just which superpower the last statement was a direct jab against.
Curious what (long) positions hedge funds bought, sold, initiated or liquidated in the second quarter? Then the following summary, courtesy of RanSquawk is for you. And while these 13F reports are far less relevant than they used to be when central-planning wasn't the rule of the land, keep a close eye on these most frequently mentioned stocks: AAPL, DG, AAL, MNK, FB, PCLN, GM, VZ, AGN, AIG, DTV, CMCSA, WMB, QCOM, APC, and CBS.
- Second Ebola patient to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers (BBG)
- Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion (Reuters)
- Apple Buybacks Pay Most Ever as CEOs Spend $211 Billion (BBG)
- DeMark Says Sell China Stocks Now After World’s Best Gain (BBG)
- Investors Stung by Losses After Exiting Struggling Property Fund in China (WSJ)
- B.A. in BTFD: MIT May Consider Granting Degrees in Less Than Four Years (BBG)
- Too late, money's already been spent: GPIF Needs Overhaul Before Asset Changes, Shiozaki Says (BBG)
- Oh look, another "truce": Israel withdraws troops, 72-hour Gaza truce begins (Reuters)
"there are a number of tech stocks that are caught up in a smaller version of the 1999-2000 internet bubble, and as we mentioned, we created a bubble basket to short them. At this year’s Sohn Investment Conference in May, David presented athenahealth (ATHN), a healthcare IT company, as an example of a bubble basket stock. In response to our assertion that the shares are absurdly overvalued, CEO Jonathan Bush summed things up perfectly a few days after the conference when he told Bloomberg TV, “And those who buy our stock should not be sort of bottom [line] watching value investors. They should be people who dream of a health care cloud.” At Greenlight, dreams do not form the basis of investment theses."
Forget all the talk about "dots", "6 months", or any other prognostication from the Fed's new leadership about what will happen in the near and not so near future. For the real answer prepare to shelve out the usual fee of $250,000 for an hour with the Chairsatan, or read Reuters' account of what others who have done so, have learned. The answer is a stunner. "At least one guest left a New York restaurant with the impression Bernanke, 60, does not expect the federal funds rate, the Fed's main benchmark interest rate, to rise back to its long-term average of around 4 percent in Bernanke's lifetime. "Shocking when he said this," the guest scribbled in his notes. "Is that really true?" he scribbled at another point, according to the notes reviewed by Reuters."
Russia Ministry of Finance is ready to greenlight a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of dollar-denominated transactions. Governmental sources believe that the Russian banking sector is "ready to handle the increased number of ruble-denominated transactions". According to the Prime news agency, on April 24th the government organized a special meeting dedicated to finding a solution for getting rid of the US dollar in Russian export operations. Top level experts from the energy sector, banks and governmental agencies were summoned and a number of measures were proposed as a response for American sanctions against Russia.
"I got to ask [Bernanke] all these questions that had been on my mind for a very long period of time, right? And then on the other side, it was like sort of frightening because the answers weren’t any better than I thought that they might be." - David Einhorn
- Both sides bury dead as Ukraine slides towards war (Reuters)
- Dollar wilts to 6 1/2-month low; shares drift (Reuters)
- Draghi Grapples With Money Markets Signaling Recovery Too Early (BBG)
- Foreign wristslaps: Credit Suisse Nears Record Tax Plea: Credit Suisse Settlement Expected to Exceed $1 Billion (WSJ)
- OECD joins IMF in cutting global growth forecast, demanding moar QE from ECB (WSJ)
- Three Bankers Bolster Blankfein as Goldman Trading Sinks (BBG)
- Strong performance from eurozone services sector (FT)
- OECD Cuts Forecast for 2014 Global Growth; Urges ECB Action (WSJ)
- Elite Colleges Don't Buy Happiness for Graduates (WSJ)
- How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore -- and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions (BBG)
From 110 slides of Ackman-inspired Fannie Mae bullishness to Tudor-Jones "Central Bank Viagra", and from Jim Grant's "Buy Gazprom because it's the worst-managed company in the world" to Jeff Gundlach's housing recovery bearishness and "never seeing 1.5 million home starts ever again"... there was a little here for every bull, dick, and harry at the Ira Sohn conference. Perhaps noted behavioral psychologist said its best though: "be careful about the quality of advice you get."
- Fed’s Fisher Says Economy Strengthening as Payrolls Rise (BBG)
- Russia Knows Europe Sanctions Ineffective With Tax Havens (BBG)
- EU Cuts Euro-Area Growth Outlook as Inflation Seen Slower (BBG)
- U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’ (BBG)
- Portugal exits bailout without safety net of credit line (Euronews)
- Puzzled Malaysian Air Searchers Ponder What to Try Now (BBG)
- Barclays, Credit Suisse Battle Banker Exodus, Legal Woes (BBG)
- Germany says euro level not an issue for politicians (Reuters)
- Alibaba-Sized Hole Blown in Nasdaq 100 Amid New Stock (BBG)
- Obamacare to save large corporations hundreds of billions (The Hill)
- 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)
A curious finding emerged in the latest 13F by Soros Fund Management, the family office investment vehicle managing the personal wealth of George Soros. Actually, two curious findings: the first was that the disclosed Assets Under Management as of December 31, 2013 rose to a record $11.8 billion (this excludes netting and margin, and whatever one-time positions Soros may have gotten an SEC exemption to not disclose: for a recent instance of this, see Greenlight Capital's Micron fiasco, and the subsequent lawsuit of Seeking Alpha which led to the breach of David Einhorn's holdings confidentiality). The second one is that the "Soros put", a legacy hedge position that the 83-year old has been rolling over every quarter since 2010, just rose to a record $1.3 billion or the notional equivalent of some 7.09 million SPY-equivalent shares. Since this was an increase of 154% Q/Q this has some people concerned that the author of 'reflexivity' and the founder of "open societies" may be anticipating some major market downside.
By now most are aware that the primary reason there was EPS growth last year was the relentless buying back of their own stock by corporate treasurers, accounting for 75% of the increase in S&P500 earnings per share even as revenues stagnated for the second year in a row and actual earnings growth was comatose at best. At $500 billion in net stock buybacks in 2013, this was an immense amount of bidding power, equal to half of the Fed's entire annual liquidity injection. And while EPS was artificially boosted by an allocation of capital that most would say is the least efficient in terms of future growth (remember when companies spent on capital expenditures to fund long-term growth, not satisfy activist shareholders?) the only good thing that could be said about the second highest annual corporate buyback in history was that companies still saw their stocks as cheap: after all, not even the most aggressive of CFOs would greenlight a massive buyback campaign if they expected their stock to plunge. That is no longer the case.