Institutional Investors

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Jim Bianco Explains Why QE Failed, And Why The ECB Is Making The Same Mistake As The Fed

"Today, if you own an asset, say stocks or a home, and it went up in price, you do not perceive it as permanent. You fear it could go back down and you spend none of that money. You are not going to alter your investment decisions or your business decisions. That is why the QE-programs did not work. The goal of the Fed was to push up asset prices. With that in mind, they do not want asset prices to go down because they think it will create a reverse wealth effect. QE has been all about pushing up markets and they are not going to throw that to the wind.... By pushing up asset prices ECB president Draghi is going to make the same mistake as the Fed."

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Ukraine, Neocons And Neonazis

There’s simply a very strong feeling, if not conviction, in the western media, that they’ve won the propaganda battle. But two portraits of US girl power in Ukraine from the Guardian and Bloomberg that appeared over the past two days are just unbelievbable. Victoria Nuland and Natalie Jaresko should not be praised by the western media, they should be taken apart bone by bone, because the roles they play are far too shady to stand up to our alleged democratic principles.

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IMF Paper Introduces A New Financial Soundbite: Presenting "Rational Bubble-Riding"

According to IMF researcher Brad Jones, who wrote "Asset Bubbles: Re-thinking Policy for the Age of Asset Management", the "business risk of asset managers acts as strong motivation for institutional herding and "rational bubble-riding." This is a critical observation, and one which suggests that the mere groupthink of massive asset managers is what leads to not only herding, lack of originality and the "hedge fund hotel" phenomenon, but also to recurring and ever greater asset bubbles. As Jones further writes, "subdued leverage is not a sufficient condition for financial stability—if systemic risk, and activity in the wider economy, is shaped importantly by large shifts in risk premia owing to the "rational herding" motivations of asset managers."

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Asset Managers Or Asset Gatherers?

There’s a fairly easy way to tell if a firm is a marketing firm or an investment firm. Do you see its advertising on buses, cabs and posters? Do they have a practically limitless range of funds? This is not to denigrate marketing firms entirely. But as the financial markets lurch between unprecedented bouts of bad policy, and achieve valuations that we strongly suspect are unlikely to persist, it may be worthwhile to consider the motives of the people charged with managing your money. Are they asset managers, or asset gatherers?

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The End Of Guitar Center (And An Irrational Addiction To Growth & The Scourge Of Unregulated Structured Finance)

The fact is, the die is cast. In a couple of weeks, Guitar Center will need to report its Christmas performance to its bondholders. If things do not look good, its bonds will be ripped apart like RadioShack’s. Here’s what this really means: it’s the end of big box retail, an irrational addiction to growth, and the scourge of unregulated structured finance. For a few years, unwise urban planning and unregulated banks created a new bubble in the American suburbs. The objective truth is that the growth of the last decade was financed by banking fraud, and that financial trickery of this sort only fools people in the short-term. Eventually, you must have a product people demand, sold by competent people who care about the business, financed in a way that makes sense.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syriza?

Rather than be a problem, Syriza may well be a solution, if it plays its cards right, but that still leaves politicians and investors denominating Tsipras et al as a problem, if not a menace. The world’s major banks got rich off the back of the Greek population at large, and when their wagers got so absurd they collapsed, the banks saw to it that their losses were transferred to European -and American – taxpayers. And those taxpayers are now told to vent their anger at 'those cheating, lazy Greeks'. The Troika, the EU, the IMF, and the banks whose sock puppets they have chosen to be, are a predatory force that has come a long way towards wiping Greece off the map. And that’s what Syriza has set out to remediate. And for that, they deserve, and probably will need, our unmitigated support.

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Occupied By Wall Street – The Latest TARP Taxpayer Screw-Job Is Revealed

The Treasury-created market has benefited a few savvy investors, while saddling taxpayers with a loss. The Treasury, which has held 185 auctions to date, said it has raised about $3 billion on TARP investments that were originally valued at $3.8 billion, for a loss of $800 million at the auctions. The Treasury “set up this market where investors could come in quickly and flip and profit,” said Christy Romero, TARP’s special inspector general, in an interview. Three private funds have won almost half the shares available at auction, often netting either a profit on paper or on the resale, according to SIGTARP.  “As a banker I was happy, but as a taxpayer I was not at all happy,” said Chief Financial Officer Donald Boyer. “The discount came out of taxpayers’ pockets.” 

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The Visual Story Of The Biggest Fraud In Gold Mining History

This infographic documents the rise and fall of Bre-X.

From initial private offerings at 30 cents a share, Bre-X stock climbed to more than $250 on the open market. Near the peak of Bre-X share prices, major banks and media were on board:

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Frontrunning: January 20

  • Obama to focus on middle class in State of Union address (Reuters) - all 4 of them?
  • European Stocks Buoyed by ECB Hopes (WSJ)
  • China's 2014 economic growth misses target, hits 24-year low (Reuters)
  • Federer on Swiss Franc Shock: "Does It Mean I've Got to Win Now?" (BBG)
  • First-time buyers help Christie’s reach record sales (FT)
  • So it was the NSA? U.S. Spies Tapped North Korean Computers Prior to Sony Hack (BBG)
  • Why Chinese Developer Kaisa's Default Risk Has Money Managers Spooked (BBG)
  • Morgan Stanley Misses Estimates on Drop in Bond-Trading Revenue (BBG)
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About That "Strong" Dollar

At the moment, the US dollar is choice. This isn’t necessarily a vote of confidence for the dollar. It’s more like a vote against all the others. If big institutional investors must choose between bankrupt America and bankrupt Europe, right now they choose America. But this is a decision that can and will be changed in an instant. Just look at the Swiss franc...

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Blast From The (Recent) Past: Jim Grant Nails The SNB Decision

"we venture that the SNB will sooner or later be forced to permit the franc to appreciate and thus to enrich the holders of low-priced, three-year call options on the Swiss/euro exchange rate. It's a long shot, to be sure--the options are cheap for a reason--but we judge that the prospective reward is worth the obvious risk." - Jim Grant, Sept 14th, 2014

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Wednesday Humor: Maxine Waters Takes On HFT Rigging And Broken Markets

Yesterday was a bad day for the HFT lobby, after not one but two incidents which exposed the high frequency parasites doing what they do best, and perhaps only: rigging markets.  And since it would be laughable if its wan't tragic, we decided to make it even more laughable, by noting that none other than intellectual titan in the House of Representatives, Maxine Waters, had a few choice words to say about the latest HFT rigging busts. That's right: Maxine Waters now opines on market microstructure issues.


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When Even Bloomberg Makes Fun Of China's Stock Bubble

"I'm not sure how long this rally will last," warns one Chinese securities analyst, but adds, Chinese investors "tend to ignore important fundamentals" anyway. When even mainstream media is reporting on the epic farce that is the explosion of retail interest in Chinese stocks (and the concomittant surge in stock prices), perhaps it is time for the 'greater fool' to pull back a little. Perhaps the 'exuberance' is best summed up by the following from a security guard for Beijing's subway system, "low-priced stocks are less risky - big drops won’t result in huge losses for me - I don’t know much about investing, but the stocks my friends recommended have been soaring." Trade accordingly...

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Do You Pay Rent To Blackstone: This Is Where Wall Street Is America's Landlord

The short answer is in parts of Seattle, Charlotte, Phoenix, Atlanta, Tampa, Cincinnati, Raleigh, N.C., Houston, Denver, Columbus, Ohio, Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., Raleigh, N.C., Chicago, and Winston-Salem, N.C. Among the 2,490 zip codes nationwide with at least one single family purchase by the top four institutional investors between January 2012 and October 2014, the top 50 zip codes with the highest percentage of purchases by the four largest institutional investors were in those metro areas. “The institutional investors kick-started the housing recovery by buying homes in bulk at the lowest point and holding them as rentals,” said Chris Pollinger, senior vice president of sales at First Team Real Estate, covering the Southern California market. Los Angeles County was among the top 10 for most purchases by institutional investors over the past three years, with 6,152. “As the market continues to climb, we expect these investors to start to sell off their inventory to capture the gains made in the past couple of years.”

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