Two months ago, to much fanfare by the progressive community, HHS, if not Dr. Jonathan Gruber, were delighted to report that as of August 15, Obamacare enrollment had hit 7.3 million sign ups, well above the 7.0 million goal. Then a week ago we learned that "projection mistakes were made" after the "Obama administration revised its estimate for Obamacare enrollment, now saying - with the bruising midterms safely in the rearview mirror - that it expects some 9.9 million people to have coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges in 2015, millions fewer than outside experts predicted." Fast forward to today when moments ago Bloomberg reported, that "the Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups."
In the first of three interviews with Merryn Somerset Webb, Hugh Hendry, manager of the Eclectica Fund, talks about what it takes to be a good hedge fund manager – and how he learned to stop worrying and love central banks. As he notes, the world is "guilty of the misconstruing of a bull market in equities, for what is actually the ongoing degradation in the soundness of the fiat monetary system."
Success in investing, in other words, comes not from over-reach, in straining to make the winning shot, but simply through the avoidance of easy errors. There is now a grave risk that an overzealous commitment to benchmarking is about to lead hundreds of billions of dollars of invested capital off a cliff. When a sufficient number of elephants start charging inelegantly towards the door, not all of them will make it through unscathed.
Meet the next piece of work...
"Solutions to the world's problems are not produced in a meeting between Bill Gates and George Soros... Renewal has to come from below... Limiting the influence [of the richest] is of the utmost importance... so that today's upper-class, high-finance capitalism can once again revert to being a capitalism of the real economy and the societal center."
The short answer, of course, is "nothing" - Congress, or the presidency, have been irrelevant ever since the Fed fully took over the US some time in late 2008. Since then, it has been the role of the central printer of the US, working on behalf of the US banking syndicate, to "get to work", and cover up the fact that Congress, its make up, or its decisions, are now inconsequential. Still, there are those whose job is to overanalyze everything, and those, whose ideological persuasion, is to believe that what there is a difference between the "left" and the "right." Still, since someone has to pay attention to the proceedings in the most farcical and polarized, if only for public consumption purposes, Congress in history may as well present what The Hill thinks will happen. Here are the five areas to watch.
When it comes to Ebola, the story that the government is telling us just keeps on changing. At first, government officials were claiming that it was very difficult to spread the Ebola virus. Some of them were even comparing it to HIV. We were given the impression that we had to have “direct contact” with someone else’s body fluids in order to have any chance of catching the virus. But of course that is not true at all. Now authorities are admitting that Ebola is “aerostable”, that it can be “spread through droplets”, and that it can remain on surfaces for up to 50 days. That is far different information than we have been getting up until this point.
- CDC says returning Ebola medical workers should not be quarantined (Reuters)
- Sweden’s central bank cuts rates to zero (FT)
- Hacking Trail Leads to Russia, Experts Say (WSJ)
- Discount-Hunting Shoppers Threaten Stores’ Holiday Cheer (BBG)
- Apple CEO fires back as retailers block Pay (Reuters)
- Repeat after us: all China data is fake - China Fake Invoice Evidence Mounts as HK Figures Diverge (BBG)
- FX Traders’ Facebook Chats Said to Be Sought in EU Probe (BBG)
- Euro Outflows at Record Pace as ECB Promotes Exodus (BBG)
- Apple boosts R&D spending in new product hunt (FT)
Yesterday, in a periodic repeat of what he says every 6 or so months, Jamie Dimon - devoid of other things to worry about - warned once again about the dangers hidden within the shadow banking system (the last time he warned about the exact same thing was in April of this year). The throat cancer patient and JPM CEO was speaking at the Institute of International Finance membership meeting in Washington, D.C., and delivered a mostly upbeat message: in fact when he said that the industry was "very close to resolving too big to fail" we couldn't help but wonder if JPM would spin off Chase or Bear Stearns first. However, when he was asked what keeps him up at night, he said non-bank lending poses a danger "because no one is paying attention to it." He said the system is "huge" and "growing." Dimon is right that the problem is huge and growing: according to the IMF which just two days earlier released an exhaustive report on the topic, shadow banking (which does not include the $600 trillion in notional mostly interest rate swap derivatives) amounts to over $70 trillion globally.
Virtually every country in the world spends more money than they collect in taxes, but no group of countries has done a better job at this than those that formed the Euro-zone. This collective group has so much debt, that a recent study by the BIS concluded it would take 20 consecutive years of surpluses to simply bring debt loads back to levels previously reached prior to the current crisis. Considering that this has never happened before, we have little confidence that this type of spending constraint can be accepted and implemented by any of the respective governments. Every market has a release valve, and for Europe it will be the bond market. The beginning of the end, so to speak, really starts when social unrest reaches a new level. It’s at that point confidence rapidly declines and so too will the European bond market.
The dramatic rise in support for Scottish independence is nowhere more evident than in GBPUSD implied volatility, which has soared to 3-year highs as The Guardian reports a further poll showing next week's referendum is on a knife-edge with a gap of just 1 percentage point between yes and no. As one 'Yes Scotland' representative noted, "This new Scotland could be less than a fortnight away. But we must not be complacent. The scaremongering, dissembling and misrepresentation of the no campaign will be ramped up as we approach polling day." Of course, Scotland is not the only EU nation seeking separation, as we illustrate below, and as Goldman Sachs notes, there could be a broader impact on the risk premium across Europe as Scottish independence leads to other calls for more regional autonomy.
Think CDS were the scourge of humanity, think again. As Pension360 reports, several Wall Street firms are selling securities backed by longevity risk - the risk that retirees receiving benefits will live longer than expected (and thus incur a higher cost on their retirement plan). As Ted Ballantine notes, 'no one ever said Wall Street wasn't creative'; but one wonders just how the banks are mitigating this risk...
Simply put, the reason why Mario Draghi's impressively-pitched ABS 'stimulus' QE-lite plan won't help can be summed up in 2 words "unencumbered assets." There is simply a lack of the right quality collateral, that has not already been swapped with the ECB (or delevered off balance sheets), for this to make a difference. However, as Bloomberg reports, the plan will not even get that far.. because the market for these assets is incapable of supporting this size of buying. As one major ABS asset manager notes, it takes him about three months to buy 1 billion euros of these securities, "the number that's circulating the market is 500 billion euros, but where is he going to get it from?" Add to that the report from Die Welt that The ECB lacks sufficient expertise for ABS purchases, and as another major European ABS manager concludes, "I don't see either a capital relief for banks or the banks giving more credit to the real economy." Still, it's fun to believe Draghi's promises, right?
Since the inception of Obamacare, Humana up more than 440% because just as cereal manufacturers decrease their costs by putting less cereal in the same box, health insurers have raised the deductibles and co-insurance.
It was in June of 2011 when we reported that Bank Of America agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle mortgage (mis)representation suit, where we said the bank was "about to part with more money than it has earned since 2008 in what will soon be the biggest financial settlement in the industry." Fast forward 3 years later when Bank of America once again makes history with its latest, and literally greatest, mortgage settlement with the US government, putting all of its MBS transgressions in the past, and which will cost the bank some $16.65 billion (of which, however, some $7 billion will be "consumer relief" and the remainder likely tax-deductible), a new record, and allow the bank to continue adding back "one-time, non-recurring" litigation charges to its adjusted, non-GAAP bottom line, thus once again "beating expectations".