- As scandals mount, White House springs into damage control (Reuters)
- Glencore Xstrata chairman ousted in surprise coup (Reuters), former BP CEO Tony Hayward appointed as interim chairman (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Chase asks Bloomberg for data records (Telegraph)
- Platts Retains Energy Trader Confidence Amid Price-Fix Probe (BBG)
- Syrian Internet service comes back online (PCWorld)
- Japan Q1 growth hits 3.5% on Abe impact although fall in business investment clouds optimism for recovery (FT)
- Soros Joins Gold-Stake Cuts Before Bear Market Drop (BBG)
- Factory Ceiling Collapses in Cambodia (WSJ)
- Sony’s $100 Billion Lost Decade Supports Loeb Breakup (BBG)
- Snags await favourite for Federal Reserve job (FT)
- James Bond’s Pinewood Turned Down on $300 Million Plan (BBG)
- U.S. Bulks Up to Combat Iran (WSJ)
- Taking sides in Syria is hard choice for Israel (Reuters)
- Gold Traders Most Bearish in Three Years After Drop (BBG)
- It's a Hard Job Predicting Payrolls Number (WSJ)
- EU economies to breach deficit limits as economic picture darkens (FT)
- IBM Says U.S. Justice Investigating Bribery Allegations (BBG)
- At Texas fertilizer plant, a history of theft, tampering (Reuters)
- SAC Sets Plan to Dock Pay in Cases of Wrongdoing (WSJ) - "in case of"?
- EU to propose duties on Chinese solar panels (Reuters)
- Billionaire Kaiser Exploiting Charity Loophole With Boats (BBG)
- SEC Zeroing In on 'Prime' Funds (WSJ)
- Apple Avoids $9.2 Billion in Taxes With Debt Deal (BBG)
- China April official services PMI at 54.5 vs 55.6 in March (Reuters)
The topic of Illinois' various insolvent pension systems is not news to regular Zero Hedge readers. One needs but to recall our articles from mid/late 2010: "61% Underfunded Illinois Teachers Pension Fund Goes For Broke, Becomes Next AIG-In-Waiting By Selling Billions In CDS", "Illinois' Pension Fund Death Spiral Revisited: "10 Years Of Money Left" or "Illinois Teachers' Retirement System Enters The Death Spiral: AIG Wannabe's Go-For-Broke Strategy Fails As Pension Fund Begins Liquidations" in which we clearly explained how the state's teachers pension fund was systematically doing everything in its power to mask its massive underfunding, and the fact that it was rapidly running out of money. The retiremnet fund, in turn, took things very personally, prompting Dave Urbanek, Public Information Officer at the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS), to write an impassioned response to Zero Hedge denying all allegations. Today, over two years after the above news, the SEC finally concluded their analysis of one part of the massively underfunded Illinois Pension system and found the Illinois failed to inform investors about the impact of problems with its pension funding schedule as the state offered and sold more than $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds from 2005 to early 2009. The SEC also said Illinois failed to disclose that it had underfunded the state's pension obligations, increasing the risk to its overall financial condition.
No single drop of water ever believes it is responsible for the flood. I do know that it is incredibly satisfying to take action. What is the saying? Knowledge without action is insanity.
Last night, the NASDAQ announced that Facebook (FB) will replace Infosys (INFY) in the NASDAQ-100 index. This change will become effective next Tuesday, December 11, after market close. This is merely the first swap in what is an annual Index reconstitution tradition for the tech-heavy, IPO-error prone index: next Friday, December 14, the NASDAQ will announce the official full list of new entrants and exit-ants from the index, which will take place on December 21, which usually serves as a technical buying boost for the new members, while those companies kicked out see substantial selling pressure as index funds no longer have to own the names. Below we present an analysis by Deutsche Bank's Bo Huang who lists, in order of conviction the names most likely to benefit (additions), and be punished (removals), from the reconstitution. The names likely most likely to benefit: Kraft Foods, Regeneron, Libery Media, Analog Devices, Catamaran and Equinix. On the other hand, those holding Netflix, Apollo Group, Warner Chilcott, Green Mountain Coffee, Electronic Arts, Flextronics, or the recent Lazarus, until a month ago left for dead, Research in Motion, may want to quietly sell their holdings. They will likely have a better re-entry point after next Friday's announcement and prompt reallocation.
Exxon Mobil is no longer the world's number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. We mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia's state-controlled oil company. With TNK-BP in its hands, Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4 million barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia's resource-full president. Gazprom in control of Europe's gas, Rosneft in control of its oil. A red hand stretching out from Russia to strangle the supremacy of the West and pave the way for a new world order– one with Russia at the helm. It is not as far-fetched as it might seem – or as you might want it to be. Or imagine this: Russia could join OPEC.
The majority of Americans seem OK with just waddling through life, accepting the lies and misinformation blasted from the boob tube and their various iGadgets by their owners, gorging themselves to death on Twinkies and Cheetos, paying 15% interest on their $10,000 rolling credit card balance, and growing ever more dependent on the welfare/warfare state to provide and protect them from accepting personal responsibility for their lives. A minority of critical thinking people have chosen to question everything they see and hear being spewed at us by the propagandist mainstream media. What do 'we, the people' want? As it seems the entitlement “free shit” mentality permeates our culture. The question is whether we will stand idly by, fiddling with our gadgets, tweeting about Honey Boo Boo, or will we regain our sense of duty to the future generations of this country.
On ECB Q&A: Yawn! Can’t always be a rainmaker and light fireworks every month.
Take-aways? None really.
- Romney dominates presidential debate (FT)
- What Romney’s Debate Victory Means (Bloomberg)
- Obama Lead Shrinks in Two Battlegrounds (WSJ)
- "Everything will fall apart unless the Spanish conditions are extremely tough" German policy-maker (Telegraph)
- Draghi Stares at Spain as Brinkmanship Keeps ECB Waiting (Bloomberg)
- RBS facing loss after Spanish property firm collapse (Telegraph)
- Burdened by Old Mortgages, Banks Are Slow to Lend Now (WSJ)
- The Woman Who Took the Fall for JPMorgan Chase (NYT)
- European Banks Told to Hold On to $258 Billion of Fresh Capital (Bloomberg)
- Europe Weighs More Sanctions as Iran’s Currency Plummets (Bloomberg)
This is looking more and more like a modem-day depression. After all, last month alone, 85,000 Americans signed on for Social Security disability cheques, which exceeded the 80,000 net new jobs that were created: and a record 46 million Americans or 14.8% of the population (also a record) are in the Food Stamp program (participation averaged 7.9% from 1970 to 2000, by way of contrast) — enrollment has risen an average of over 400,000 per month over the past four years. A record share of 41% pay zero national incomes tax as well (58 million), a share that has doubled over the past two decades. Increasingly, the U.S. is following in the footsteps of Europe of becoming a nation of dependants. Meanwhile, policy stimulus, whether traditional or non-conventional, are still falling well short of generating self-sustaining economic growth.
Another weekend, another stunner in local European elections, this time as Merkel's CDU gets a record low vote in the state elections of Germany's most populous state North Rhein-Westphalia. According to a preliminary projections by ARD, the breakdown is as follows:
- CDU: 26%
- Pirates: 7.5%
- FDP: 8.5%
Good news: no neo-nazis. Bad news: record defeat for the Chancellor. And the bext news for twitter fans: Angela_D_Merkel ist aus. Hannelore Kraft: in.
As I look out past the near horizon of this time, and this nation, I see considerable potential for a revitalization of that which is best in humanity. I see a population that strives for independence. I see a return to the entrepreneurial spirit of discovery. I see unhindered freedom of thought and action feeding a fire of creativity that inspires us to unimaginable heights. I see new expression given license not just by the masses, but by structures of a government which truly follows the will of the common man, and not the will of an elite few. I see America breathing full, eyes wide open and alive. However, this potential future would have to come at a considerable cost. America has so strayed from its founding roots that it now hungers; starving for lack of nutrients from its natural soil. As with all other catastrophic societies of the past, we have been manipulated and conned into overlooking and over-rationalizing astonishing injustice and in some cases, unmitigated evil. I frankly don’t know what else to call it. There are some acts of malevolence that go beyond human weakness and inadequacy and reach into realms of calculation that are so cold, so soulless, there is simply no other way to describe them. These actions and attitudes tend to run rampant in dying nations but are rarely singled out and criticized by those in the midst of the great fall. Each begins with the loss of particular principles and inherent morals that are normally prized under more healthy circumstances, but are despised in times of chaos and uncertainty.
While we just noted the insanity of chaotic market shifts in the face of the broad market's lackluster performance, Nic Colas, of ConvergeX Group, goes one step further. Dismantling the 592 point rally in the archaic (yet seemingly so important to mom and pop) Dow, Nic shows that the majority of this move was simply thanks to just two stocks (IBM and MCD). The 5.1% outperformance of the Dow, in the face of the S&P's blank, is the seventh year of the last twelve (we suppose thanks to the lower financial exposure) but the weighting scheme seems to be so rife for 'help' - especially with blue-chip names so easy to defend for every long-only manager in the world, that it seems we should all thank Mr. Buffett for another good year on the Dow. On a less tin-foil-hat basis, Nic points out that confidence in the business models of the Dow names may have something to do with the remarkably sanguine perspective the sell side has on the earnings predictability of the companies in the index.
In the past week, almost every single sellside bank and their mother has released a report on "what happens to the US if there is a [default|debt extension|compromise|zombie apocalypse (if one believes Tim Geithner)]. Sure enough, here is Credit Suisse with its three scenarios. This is notable as it presents the binary outcomes for the stock markets as a result of what develops in Congress. The scenarios are: i) debt ceiling extension (market up 3%); ii) debt ceiling not extended (market down 15%); iii) default (market plummets by at least 30%). Of course, if there is really is a default it is game over for equity markets but that is a moot point. Either way, any report that has zero mention of the word gold when contemplating the impact of a US default goes straight into the garbage. Such as this one.
Well it looks like the rich have taken the tax cuts and used the money to buy 'necessities' at Tiffany's rather than hiring people. Weren't the tax cut extensions necessary for hiring? It really looks like that money went straight to little blue boxes. Does Kraft Mac'n Cheeses still come in dark blue boxes? Maybe we aren't separated into rich and poor, just which shade of blue box you can afford?
It is hard to find anything encouraging about the numbers out today. For the past 4 months now, the NFP has added 752k jobs. 610k of those have been birth/death jobs. If you do year to date, it's not as bad since January saw a large negative birth/death adjustment. I am concerned about the validity of the birth/death model. We have gone through such unprecedented changes in the economy I find it hard to believe that the model is calibrated well.
I still like being short IYR, SPG, VNO on the back of the move in CMBX. I am digging deeper into corporate credit, but 2 worrying signals are there. Recent new issues seem to be struggling. Even GOOG is wider. The indices are also starting to trade fairly cheap to fair value. This combination is rarely good so selling LQD (on spread basis) and HYG while collecting more details for this analysis.