Lehman

Boring Overnight Session Redeemed By Latest Japanese Lie; Egypt Death Toll Soars

In a session that has been painfully boring so far (yet which should pick up with CPI, jobless claims, industrial production and the NY Empire Fed on deck, as well as Wal-Mart earnings which will no doubt reflect the continuing disappointing retail plight) perhaps the only notable news was that Japan - the nation that brought you "Fukushima is contained" - was caught in yet another lie. Recall that the upside catalyst (and source of Yen weakness) two days ago was what we classified then as "paradoxical news" that Japan would cut corporate taxes in a move that somehow would offset the upcoming consumption tax hike. Turns out that, as our gut sense indicated, this was merely yet another BS trial balloon out of Japan, which admitted overnight that the entire report was a lie.

While Others Sell, Landlord Blackstone Doubles Down On Rentals With Biggest Purchase In Two Years

The last time a big financial firm rushed into buying rental exposure (just as others were quietly leaving the sector in droves and when the ingenious Wall Street was coming up with such derivatives as Rent-Backed Securities to dump their exposure to dumb yield-starved Germans and Asians), it had a very unhappy ending for the buyer. That transaction of course was Lehman Brothers' rushed acquisition of landlord Archstone, which as many have noted over the years, was a big contributor to the Lehman bankruptcy once the rental payments dried up. But then again, as others have pointed out, Lehman was so deep in its real estate exposure by then it really had no choice but to keep doubling down all the way to the bitter end. Which may explain why while most other brand name hedge funds and P/E firms are now cashing out of the US housing market whose second bubble may already have peaked (only last night Goldman said that "On house prices, we have started to see the first signs of deceleration and expect a slowdown"), Blackstone, which is now the US' largest landlord, is digging in its heels and is not letting go. In fact, it is adding to its exposure - as the WSJ reported overnight, Blackstone has invested another $1 billion to purchase GE's stake in 80 apartment complexes amounting to 30,000 apartment units, located in Dallas, Atlanta and other parts of Texas and the Southeast.

Gold Collateral Situation: "It's Very Complicated"

... what has been different about the current negative GOFO episode is that while in the past GOFO spiked negative and promptly reverted to normal, short-end GOFO rates (1-3 Month) have been negative now for the longest period on record: 25 consecutive work days. And it's only getting worse: after the 6 Month GOFO rate also slid below 0% in mid-July, only to recover positive for the next two weeks, as of today it has again turned negative for the second day in a row while the short-end procurement situation has gone from bad to worse.

David Stockman: Hedge Funds, Prime Brokers, And The Whirligig of Wall Street Finance

As David Stockman, Reagan's infamous Budget Director, writes in his bestseller, The Great Deformation: The Corruption Of Capitalism In America – "the last thing hedge funds do is hedge."  The hedge fund complex is "not so much a conventional industry as it is a giant moveable trade": Wall Street trading desks frequently morph into independent hedge fund partnerships, and senior hedge funds often sire “cubs” and then sons of cubs. The protean ability of this arrangement to spawn, fund, and replicate successful momentum trades cannot be overstated, and has "generated trillions of permanent momentum-chasing capital." Ultimately, he warns, "apologists for the Fed’s evisceration of the capital markets could not see... they had unleashed the financial furies in the violent momentum trading modus operandi of the hedge fund casino."

The Lie Must Go On: BLS "Catches" BLS At Misrepresenting 2013 Job Gains By Over 40%

In April, according to JOLTS, there were 108K job additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 199K or 84% more than per JOLTS
In May, according to JOLTS, there were 109K jobs additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 176K or 62% more than per JOLTS
In June, according to JOLTS, there were 120K jobs additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 188K or 57% more than per JOLTS
Adding across for all of 2013, JOLTS would have us know that only 837K jobs were added (or 140K per month average). Compare this to the 1,185K new jobs according to the Establishment Survey (198K per month average).

-> A 42% difference!

Guest Post: Trying To Stay Sane In An Insane World - Part 2

This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.

Guest Post: Still Waiting

We do not inhabit a “normal” economy. We live in a financialised world in which our banks cannot be trusted, our politicians cannot be trusted, our money cannot be trusted, and – not least thanks to ongoing spasms of QE and expectations of much more of the same – our markets cannot be trusted. At some point (though the timing is impossible to predict), asset markets that cannot be pumped artificially any higher will start moving, under the forces of inevitable gravitation, lower.

US Retail Investors (Alone) 'Rotate' All-In

With revenues fading, profit margins collapsing, and only financial institutions' entire lack of transparency providing any lift in EPS, the 'great rotation' continues to provide enough cognitive dissonance to sink a boat for the asset-gatherers. The trouble, as we showed previously, is this 'rotation' is dominated by US retail investors (more specifically non-US domiciled and non-retail investors are rotating away from US equities). The US retail investor has shifted in a great-rotationary manner by the greatest amount since Feb 2000 - just as the last great bubble burst. US equities are the 3rd most over-crowded speculative long asset in the world after Crude Oil and the Brazilian Real. It seems the Fed is getting just what it wants but, just as Kyle Bass warned, "investors should be really careful doing what the central bankers want them to do."

From Less Repo, To Less Collateral Transformation, To Less Quantiative Easing In One Shadowy Step

First it was the TBAC's May presentation "Availability of High Quality Collateral" piggybacking on reasoning presented previously by Credit Suisse. Then JPM's resident "flow and liquidity" expert Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou rang the bell on regulatory changes to shadow banking and how they would impact the repo market and collateral availability (and transformation) in an adverse fashion. Now, it is the turn of Barclays' own repo chief Joseph Abate to highlight a topic we have discussed since 2009: the ongoing contraction in quality collateral as a result of transformations in shadow banking and the Fed's extraction of quality collateral from traditional liquidity conduits (i.e., QE's monetization of bonds). To wit: "Several recent regulatory proposals will increase the pressure on banks to reduce assets that carry low risk weights. Repurchase agreements are a large source of banks’ low-risk assets, and we expect banks to reduce their matched book operations in response to these proposals."

Sleepy Week Opens Without Now Traditional Overnight Futures Levitation

Compared to last week's macro-event juggernaut, this week will be an absolute bore, although with a bevy of Fed speakers on deck - both good and bad cops - there will be more than enough catalysts to preserve the "upward channel" scramble in the S&P and the zero volume levitation to new all time daily highs despite the lack of daily bad news. Speaking of Fed speakers, we have Fisher today, Evans’ tomorrow followed by both Plosser and Pianalto on Wednesday.  The key overnight data point was the continuation of July PMIs out of Europe, this time focusing on the service industry. As Goldman summarizes, the Final Euro area Composite PMI for July came in at 50.5, marginally above the Flash reading and consensus expectations (50.4). Relative to the June final reading, this was a sold 1.8pt increase, and building on consecutive increases in the past three months, the July Euro area PMI stands 4.0pts above the March print. Solid increases were observed across all of the EMU4 in July, most notably Italy. The July reading is the highest Euro area PMI level observed since July 2011.

Guest Post: Enron Redux – Have We Learned Anything?

Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?

Doubling Down On All-In: Spot The (Somewhat) Odd One Out

Today's broad "rewriting of history" GDP revision is set to "boost" US GDP by about 3% cumulatively (or about the size of Belgium's economy) and shave off 1-2% from US GDP. That's great. For the sake of the world, however, we hope that the rest of the developed (and less than developed) world's countries promptly follow in America's footsteps and fudge their own numbers post haste because things are rapidly getting out of hand, as the following chart conveniently reminds. Nowhere is this more so than in Japan, where as has been the case now for almost a year, Goldman Sachs, the central bank and local government (in order of decisionmaking importance) have all doubled down on their "all in" bet that the only thing that fixes recorder debt is moar recordest debt.

Lakshman Achuthan: The US Entered Recession Last Year And "Is Worse Than Japan In the 90s"

Despite Tom Keene's best efforts to appear fair-and-balanced, this brief interview on Bloomberg TV places ECRI's Lakshman Achuthan in the uncomfortable position of destroying every propagandized 'fact' that the mainstream media is entrusted with disseminating to the Pavlovian investing community. From recessions with job growth ("a US recession began in 2012") to the wealth divide and from GDP revisions to job quality differentials, Achuthan warns the US is becoming Japan, "U.S. growth over the last five years is weaker than Japan during the Lost Decades." Keene's insistence that things are on-the-up (though admitting that Achuthan's call on the decline in growth was correct) is met with the rhetorical question, "you wouldn't have four years of zero-interest rate policy and quantitative easing if everything was okay."