- Noooo, they lied to us, this can't be: Europe's Bank Stress Tests Minimized Debt Risk (WSJ)
- Captain obvious headline of the day: Strong Yuan Would Hurt China: Economists (Reuters)
- Captain obvious headline runner up: Greece Default Risk Is `Substantial,' Pimco's Bosomworth Says (Bloomberg)
- Peter Orzsag shows why he got out of Dodge: "In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether." (NYT)
- French unions test Sarkozy in pensions strike (Reuters)
- The Obama Economy: How trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus produced a 1.6% recovery (WSJ Editorial)
- Get ready for anti-incumbent wave (WSJ)
- GDP plus change in debt - and the US flow of funds (Steve Keen)
Why The Fourth Branch Of The US Government Needs To Be Abolished, And Why "Authority" Should Never Be TrustedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/05/2010 11:01 -0400
Yesterday we presented Dylan Grice's thoughts on why economists and their opinions should be summarily dismissed as nothing but mere noise on the steep downward slope of a series of failed "authoritarian" policy decisions, which seek to validate one false choice after another, by presenting a hypothetical and fallacious counter-outcome as a certain reality (just consider the "apocalypse" we would be living in if Goldman had failed: of course, there is no justification for this except for what Bernanke et al claim is the one true alternative reality based on nothing but their own conflicted interests), which does nothing but discredit the "science" of economics more and more with each passing day. Yet in the grand scheme of things economists are merely pawns in the hands of the landed elite: the financial system set only on perpetuating the status quo of capital and wealth reallocation from the lower classes onto itself (until there is eventually nothing left), and a government whose only prerogative is to usurp ever more control and authority, until the entire system is one of central planning in economics, social affairs, religion, and every aspect of people's daily lives, all the while pretending to operate under the guise of a democracy, which, at least in America, died long ago. Today, we present the observations of Bill Buckler from his Privateer report, which picks up where Grice left off and demonstrates why one must not only never rely on economists but on form of "authority" in general. Putting it all together is Buckler's close analysis at the glue that makes it all possible: the Federal Reserve, also known as the fourth branch of government, and the entity that provides the endless funding for all of the system's failed policies. As Buckler points out, any reversion to a system that follows the constitutional precepts of the founding fathers will need to do away with the Fed first and foremost, as "the issue is not the political will of the US government to go on spending beyond its means, it is the political will of the rest of the world to go on accepting the unworkable global system indefinitely. They will not do it." In other words, in the step leading up to the last and most important defection in the global prisoner's dilemma, it is up to the American people to take the necessary step to restore the systemic balance (which will happen regardless eventually, only in a far more violent fashion). Everything else that happens on a day to day basis is completely irrelevant.
The Great Global Macro Experiment, BoomBust Cycles, and the Refusal to See the Truth: Bubble Economics in the Mainstream MediaSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 09/01/2010 11:19 -0400
Those who feel that CRE is a good buy now due to cap rate spreads over treasury yields are ignoring a) that treasuries are most likely in a bubble and b) this thesis if applied last year when spreads were even higher would have lost you a lot of money. Just because something costs less than it did when it was very expensive doesn't mean it is cheap. Being less broke then extremely broke still means that your broke, doesn't it???
The FCIC's daily mouthful-and-a-half matine titled "Too Big to Fail: Expectations and Impact of Extraordinary Government Intervention and the role of Systemic Risk in the Financial CrisisThe Role of Derivatives in the Financial Crisis" (price of admission: free, if entrance before the S&P rises by 3% on weaker than expected Chinese, European and US data) starring Dick Fuld and co-starring a bunch of corrupt politicians is now playing. There is no expectation of Fuld fictional love interest Erin Calan appearring at least until the sequel. For all those who are sick and tired of watching the [AUDJPY|gold] take all stops to the [upside|downside], tune in to today's theatrical pastiche at the following link.
At $4 Trillion A Day, And At 50x Leverage, FX Trading Volume (and Risk) Dwarfs That Of Equities And TreasuriesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/31/2010 23:50 -0400
If one looks around and wonders where the speculators have gone (the carbon-based variety, not the feedback-loop creating, binary terrorists) look no further than the FX market, which according to the latest BIS data, has hit $4 trillion in daily notional volume (20% higher than the $3.3 trillion in 2007), nearly quadruple the combined U.S. stock and Treasury trading, which in April averaged about $134 billion a
day (down from a daily average of $148 billion in 2007) and $456 billion (down from an average
of $570 billion for all of 2007), respectively. This amounts to nearly one quadrillion in total dollar transaction volume per year. There are two main reasons for the exodus from other products, and for ongoing cloning of the "Japanese housewife" phenomenon: the ongoing migration away from the bizarre daily moves in stocks, which are now traded almost exclusively by robots, or other frontrunning machines (see Schwab daily 52 week low), and the ridiculous leverage allowed in FX margin accounts. Just today, the CFTC announced that after the proposed 10-to-1 retail FX transaction leverage was shot down by "dealers, lawmakers in Congress and others who
feared it could push investors into overseas markets with less
protection", instead Gary Gensler's goons decided to keep all the habitual gamblers in house, and give them virtually unlimited leverage, or, as the case may be: 50 times. Recall that Bear and Lehman just needed 30x leverage to blow themselves up, and that happened with the FRBNY and the SEC both supervising. So let's see: $4 trillion...50x retail leverage...no regulation...this will surely end well.
In today’s world of trillion dollar bailouts, $2-4 billion doesn’t sound like much, so let’s give some perspective here… in its golden days, Lehman Brother’s market cap was roughly $47 billion. So you’re talking about bets equal to an amount between five and 10% of its market cap. Not exactly chump change.
And Lehman had no idea where it was or how much it really owed.
Mind you, we’re only addressing Lehman’s options and futures derivatives, we’re completely ignoring its mortgage backed securities, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), and other Level 3 assets. Options and futures are literally the “tip of the iceberg,” the most visible portion of the behemoth that was Lehman’s off balance sheet derivative issues. After all, these are regulated securities unlike most derivatives.
In an indication of just how good "redundancy" record keeping is within the financial industry, Bloomberg discloses that according to testimony by Barclays' Elizabeth James, a director of
Barclays’s futures business, in bankruptcy court, Lehman Brothers basically had no idea whatsoever how big its derivative book was within a +/- range of $2 billion. In addition to robts running wild and jeopardizing flash crashes on a daily basis, this should certainly restore some credibility to the market. “Lehman’s books were in such a mess that I don’t think
they knew where they were.” She said she received an e-mail from former Barclays
trading executive Stephen King saying Lehman had “absolutely no
idea” if it had sold $2 billion more options than it had
bought, or whether it owned $4 billion more than it had sold. Just lovely.
CLSA's Mike Mayo has taken his fight with Citi management one step further, after releasing a note to clients titled "A Matter of Trust" in which he said: "We believe that Citigroup’s financial targets can encourage short-term excesses over long-term prudence. Citi has an aggressive financial target of 5% asset growth when so much of its past problems stem from excessive asset growth." Fox Business reports that according to the often times contrarian analyst the "big bank can't be trusted to provide investors with accurate disclosure about its financial condition or future plans to make money, and that the firm is setting the stage for future problems similar to those that nearly caused the bank to fail two years ago, prompting a massive government bailout."
Mark Pittman Smiles After Appeals Court Refuses To Review Fed Attempt To Stop Bailout Disclosure; Supreme Court Now On DeckSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/23/2010 14:13 -0400
It appears that the Fed is heading for its biggest legal confrontation ever. After, as Bloomberg reports, the U.S. appeals court refused to reconsider a ruling that requires the Federal Reserve Board to disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have failed without the largest U.S. government bailout, the one last resort to preserve the secrecy interests of the Clearing House Association which is basically the formal name for all the banks that have received Fed handouts in some form or another over the years, is now the Supreme Court of the United States. And should the SCOTUS go ahead and vote alongside the administration (in this case the Fed), as it did in the Chrysler case, the fallout could well be dramatic as it once again becomes clear that the one entity truly in control of this once-great country is a group of middle aged men, which conducts all of its decision-making in strict secrecy, and whose every decision is predicated upon the perpetuation of the ever more failed Keynesian status quo.
Ten days ago we posted extended thoughts on the upcoming US demographic crunch, paraphrasing observations by Goldman Sachs, which speculated that with ever more individuals leaving the "prime-savers" demographic bracket, those aged 35-69, the (already meager) temptation to save in the US will decrease substantially going forward. Goldman was primarily focused on the implications this phase shift implies for future US Current Account deficits. Today David Rosenberg begins to tackle the US demographic issues from his own perspective, with his preliminary conclusions, as expected, not validating any optimistic perspectives before the US economy: "starting next year, this key age cohort for both the economy and the markets will begin to decline — according to official forecasts, each and every year to 2021. The last time we saw sustained declines in this part of the population was from 1975-83, which was an awful time for both the economy (except for that very last year when the negative growth rate in this age segment was drawing to a close) as the S&P 500, in real terms, was as flat as pancake and real per capita income barely expanded."
Fox Biz' Charlie Gasparino reports that the SEC has likely issued Wells Noticed to former Lehman executives. It is unclear who they are but between Fuld, Callan, and Gregory, one can be sure that at least one of the three will be involved. Charlie also says the executives are trying to prevent the SEC from filing formal allegations. However, in light of the huge slap to the face for the SEC after the Repo 105 disclosure, we doubt Schapiro's farm will be amenable to yet another bust, like the Goldman and BofA settlements.
Are Dick Fuld's days in non-captivity numbered? After the Repo 105 criminal disclosure came and went, most have forgotten about the last ditch attempt by Lehman to misrepresent its balance sheet (with or without the complicity of E&Y) as it was collapsing into insolvency. That may soon be ending. Charlie Gasparino, via Dow Jones, has the (fluid) scoop.
We are at a crossroads and even experts are baffled as to what awaits us. Before you jump to any simple conclusions, read this comment very carefully.
Apparently what is good enough for Greenlight, SAC, Citadel and Goldman, is not quite up to snuff for Och-Ziff. The 7 West 57th-based, $25.6 billion AUM, hedge fund believes that it should be exempt from responding in an ongoing investigation by the bankrupt Lehman estate, which is probing the abovementioned hedge funds whether they engaged in rumormongering that may have brought down Lehman Brothers. And Lehman is unhappy: in a filing from the Lehman bankruptcy docket, the state claims that "Och-Ziff, one of the world's largest hedge funds, was involved with, or has information that pertains to, the "short-and distort" efforts." If this is indeed true, it is not very surprising that "Och-Ziff has already begun stonewalling to attempt to prevent this information from seeing the light of day by interposing frivolous and dilatory objections to the Debtors' Rule 2004 Subpoena." As the Lehman examination has already proven to be a gold mine for illegal practices conducted by Wall Street, we would not be surprised if the most recent 2004 investigation uncovers some new and even more shocking results. To be sure, Zero Hedge has never been a fan of the "short selling raid" theory - fair value can and always will find a way to creep up to the surface, unless of course it doesn't exist in the first place, like in Lehman's case. Additionally, funds would have to be extra stupid to keep written evidence of this kind of complicit and illegal activity. Which is why Och-Ziff's response is perplexing. And if the estate had credible reason to pursue Och-Ziff, we can only imagine the same must be true about Greenlight, SAC, Citadel and Goldman. Suddenly the Lehman bankruptcy case became interesting all over again.
Main Street's Boycott Of Capital Markets Succeeding: Barclays First Casualty, To Fire Hundreds Due To Plunge In Market ActivitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/10/2010 18:36 -0400
For the longest time it was consensus thought that only Wall Street could fuck Main Street. The ride is now turning. After what the FT reports was a 16% decline in fixed income, currencies and commodities trading
revenues for Q2, coupled with advisory revenues down 17%, the bank is now "planning to cut up to several hundred employees following a sharp fall in market activity in the second quarter. Sources close to the bank say that the job losses, which could be announced as early as Wednesday, will be spread across BarCap’s sales and trading staff as well as its back office support functions." Too bad the SEC has not, and will not realize that its only function is to restore the faith of the retail investors in the credibility of the capital markets. Yes, the same retail investor who both on margin and in total has always been the primary driver of stocks. Alas that has not happened and tens of thousands of Wall Streets will soon feel the wrath of Main Street as the boycott of stocks by the broader population comes to fruition, allowing the former "strategists" to experience just how real the difference between the U-3 and U-6 rate is first hand.