Investment Grade

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Exposed: The Real Market Manipulator Behind The Flash Crash





"To find the real source of the system's excessive fragility, the regulators will need to look much closer to home... The Federal Reserve remains the largest market manipulator ever, and the desperate yield-chasing, hair-trigger markets that it created were the primary cause of that crash and the inevitable ones yet to come."

 
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GE Shakes Up Corporate Credit Market





"[GE] said it doesn’t expect its GE Capital unit to sell new long-term debt for at least five years, effectively eliminating one of the biggest corporate issuers at a time when firms around the globe are tapping the market at a record clip…"

 
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Human Bond Traders Barely Show Up To Work As Machines Take Control





"A slow start to the week has become customary, as Monday appears to have become the new Friday," Barclays says, noting that the humans simply aren't trading in a credit market where opportunities are scarce. Meanwhile, the robots do not rest, and on the Monday they simultaneously decide that some random data point or unduly hawkish/dovish soundbite out of an FOMC voter is cause for all the algos to chase down the same rabbit hole sending ripples through a fixed income market devoid of any real liquidity, the humans will be in for a rude awakening when they get to work on Tuesday morning.

 
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7 Years Later The "Very Serious People" Finally Ask: Was QE Worth It?





"The policy actions that cause financial repression entail a number of unintended consequences. These include potential asset price bubbles, convergence in asset allocation strategies of otherwise heterogeneous financial market participants and an increase in economic inequality. With regards to the latter, the impact of foregone interest income for households and long-term investors is substantial. At the same time, the equity rally has predominantly benefited society’s wealthiest." The hit to US savers: nearly a half trillion.

 
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After Viacom's "Shocker", These Companies Are Most At Risk Of Early Terminating Their Stock Buyback Programs





Yesterday afternoon Viacom revealed that as part of its "Strategic Realignment to Create Efficiencies and Drive Long-Term Growth" it would do something which the market loathes: it would stop its buybacks. Specifically it said that "Viacom will temporarily pause share purchases under its current $20 billion stock repurchase program in order to stay within its target leverage ratio." What Viacom meant was that just like IBM, its net debt ratio had likewise soared in the past several years, and had reached a level where the Baa2/BBB-rated company was on the verge of being cut to junk status. So is Viacom a harbinger for the broader market, a market which as we reported previously only, had a tremendous month of February only because of a record $100 billion in announced stock buybacks? The answer: a resounding yes.

 
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The Economic Wall Dead Ahead Is Hidden Behind False Signs Of "Recovery"





This morning I had left the TV mistakenly tuned to CNBC with the sound on - and unavoidably caught another bullish strategist jawing about the US economy’s awesome strength. This one was peddling as exhibit #1 the recent surge in C&I loans, arguing that it is a sure sign that business is gearing up for a post-winter boom. In this case, like most of the blizzard of bullish factoids spewed out each day on bubble vision, the purported business lending boom is not all that.

 
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BofA's Modest Proposal For Greece: "A Negative Shock May Be Necessary"





Either Greece will stop trying to save the failed past and look into the future, treating the crisis and the adjustment program as opportunities to finally implement urgently needed reforms, or the country will be eventually forced to exit the euro, in our view.  Economics 101 teaches us that an economy can survive within a monetary union only if it has fiscal policy room and structural flexibility to respond to asymmetric shocks. In our view, Greece had none and has none. We see no solution for Greece within the Eurozone without reforms.

 
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Thousands Of Layoffs Coming After Buffett Merges Heinz With Kraft, Creating 5th Largest Food Company In The World





Another day, another mega-M&A deal taking advantage of abnormally low bond rates, this time however not involving biotechs or a specialty pharma seeking to purchase a debt-free balance sheet, but one involving the Oracle of Omaha himself, and his Heinz investment, which will merge with Kraft Foods whose market cap was over $40 billion this morning on the news of the merger, and create the third largest food and beverage company in the US, and 5th largest in  the world.  And while the resulting company will certainly be a food giant, here is the rationale behind the deal and the punchline for American workers: "significant synergy opportunities." Translation: thousands of layoffs imminent.

 
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Oil Junk Bonds Cost Investors Billions





"The debt borne by the oil and gas sector has increased two and a half times over, from roughly $1 trillion in 2006 to around $2.5 trillion in 2014. As the price of oil is a proxy for the value of the underlying assets that underpin that debt, its recent decline may have caused significant financial strains and induced retrenchment by the sector as a whole. If the adjustment takes the form of increased current or future sales of oil, it may amplify the fall in the oil price.

 
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Dollar Demand = Global Economy Has Skidded Over The Cliff





Borrowing in USD was risk-on; buying USD is risk-off. As the real global economy slips into recession, risk-on trades in USD-denominated debt are blowing up and those seeking risk-off liquidity and safe yields are scrambling for USD-denominated assets. Add all this up and we have to conclude that, in terms of demand for USD--you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

 
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Options Market Signals 2007-Like Crash Risk, Goldman Warns





An epic decoupling in the cost of put protection and S&P earnings multiples may be a bad omen for stocks as Goldman suggests a "substantial market correction may be on the horizon." 

 
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GM Authorizes $5 Billion Stock Buyback, Will Return All Cash Over $20 Billion To Shareholders





Doubting if the growth ahead of GM is now over, and the great post-bankruptcy "success story" is rapidly fading as the company has been pushed to resort to the kind of financial engineering which has pushed the S&P higher for all of 2014, and follows a record month of stock buyback announcements? Then doubt no more: moments ago GM announced it is authorizing an immediate $5 billion stock buyback, and plans to return all cash above a $20 billion floor to shareholders.

 
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A Black Swan Lands In Southern Austria: The Ripple Effects Of "Mini-Greece Going Off In The Heartland Of Europe"





Austria’s decision to wind down Heta Asset Resolution AG sent ripples through the financial system, causing credit rating downgrades in Austria and bank losses in Germany: "It’s a mini-Greece going off in the heartlands of Europe." Here are some of the consequences, and delightful ironies, of a completely unexpected black swan landing in the south of Austria.

 
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