Goldman Sachs and the London Metal Exchange have had a case brought against them both in a court in the US regarding anti-competitive behavior in aluminum storage, with a monopolistic effect thrown in for good measure.
Over two years after Zero Hedge first accused Goldman and JPMorgan of becoming monopolists in the commodity warehousing business (see "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel"), and two weeks after the NYT's reminder the world of just this leading to the latest Kangaroo Court congressional hearing on the matter, which may or may not have resulted in JPMorgan announcing it would exit the physical commodities business, the long overdue legal fight began this Friday when lead plaintiff Superior Extrusion sued Goldman and London Metal Exchange owner HKEx for engaging in "anticompetitive and monopolistic behaviour in the warehousing market in connection with aluminium prices" and accusing the firms of violating the Sherman anti-trust act. Precisely what Zero Hedge said, some 26 months ago.
In a nutshell:
- Relatively low unemployment rates for the “Western Leaders” aren’t just an artifact of recent strength in, say, energy production and commodities. These states have consistently outperformed the rest of the country.
- Abysmally high unemployment rates for the “Eastern Super-laggards” have also persisted for over two decades, exceeding all other parts of the country.
- The “Northern Coastal and Great Lakes Laggards” and “Western Laggards and Southeast” fall somewhere between the other two regions, but always favoring the southern states over the northern states.
Not surprisingly, California, Nevada and Florida are more volatile than the other regions, cycling well above and then back toward the Western Leaders in each of the past two decades. Also, the unemployment problems in California and Nevada have been consistently worse than Florida’s unemployment. These trends may or may not persist in coming years. But if your goal is to anticipate the next Stockton, San Bernardino or Detroit, watch the unemployment data closely and pay particular attention to the cities listed here.
Imagine there was a time when bottled water didn't exist in our catalog of popular commodities. Perhaps the trend started in 1976 when the chic French sparkling water, Perrier made its introduction. There it was seductively bottled in its emerald green glass amongst the era of disco and the spectacle of excesses... who could resist right?! What could be more decadent than to package, sell and consume what most consider (in the western world) a common human right easily supplied through a home faucet! It’s absurd that the cost of designer water is at a "280,000% markup" to your tap water and it's reaching record heights in consumption.
When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, the city's demands for a Federal bailout promptly rose to the surface and then just as promptly dissipated following a polite but stern rejection by the president, almost too fast and without any fight, according to some. Or maybe that is only how it appeared. According to the NYT, Detroit's advisors may be looking at a completely different source of Federal "assistance" - a much more indirect one, even if at the end of the day, it is taxpayers who end up footing the bill. Obamacare.
Munis are the most decentralized and still the most "good old boy" part of the Capital Markets. Relationships are paramount in the municipal markets, and in non-competitive situations, who you know often trumps what you know in doing business. Municipals are a unique space. For many years people and institutions paid less attention than they should to the financial statements of municipalities. Detroit is now teaching us several lessons and you can feel the sand shifting yet again. General Obligation bonds no longer have the first call on assets. The psychology of the Municipal market is also shifting in the sand. It was once a widely held belief that the State would stand behind any large Municipal credit in its domain. Detroit is proving this to be an inaccurate observation. There was even the notion that if the Municipal credit was large and systemic enough that the Federal government might step in to help. Detroit is exemplifying that this was a second mistake in thinking. We are now learning that each Municipal credit is a stand-alone situation which is a break from the traditional thinking of days past.
If you want to frighten Baby Boomers, just show them the list of statistics in this article. The United States is headed for a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and people are woefully unprepared for it. At this point, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen for almost the next 20 years. The number of senior citizens in America is projected to more than double during the first half of this century, and some absolutely enormous financial promises have been made to them. So will we be able to keep those promises to the hordes of American workers that are rapidly approaching retirement? Of course not. The pension nightmare that is at the heart of the horrific financial crisis in Detroit is just the tip of the iceberg of the coming retirement crisis that will shake America to the core.
When Standard & Poors is not engaged in "Puffery" (a defense which admits "our entire business model is worthless") it pretends to analyze credits and assign ratings, usually with both humorous and systematically catastrophic results. Just as it has done in the chart below. In the aftermath of the Detroit filing, one may be interested to see just how the rating agency, which had Greece rated at "A" months before the Eurozone's bananaest-republic member had its first bailout, evaluated America's various states since the start of the 21st century through 2012. Among the best: Florida. Worst: California. Michigan, whose main city just went bankrupt: AA-. And with countless cross-default provisions and collateral waterfalls upon a multi-notch downgrade, one can be certain that as reality finally comes to the muni space with roughly a 3 years delay, that this too will have a happy ending.
The raw economic truths from the Street. What's the difference between your common street thug or hustler and the K Street/Wall Steet/Central Banker? Read this to find out...
For the second consecutive day futures have drifted lower following a drubbing in the Nikkei which was down nearly 3% to just above 14K (time to start talking about the failure of Abenomics again despite National CPI posting the first positive print of 0.2% in forever and rising at the fastest pace in 5 years) and the Shanghai Composite which dropped to just above 2000 once again, after PBOC governor Zhou saying that China has big economic downward pressure and further reiterated prudent monetary policy will be pursued. This is despite Hilsenrath's latest puff piece which pushed the market into the green in yesterday's last hour of trading and despite initial optimism which saw stocks open higher following forecast-beating EU earnings gradually easing and heading into the North American open stocks are now little changed. It may be up to the WSJ mouhtpiece to provide today's 3pm catalyst to BTFATH, or else it will be up to the circular and HFT-early released UMichigan confidence index to surge/plunge in order to push stocks on any red flashing news is good news.
First we had Schordinger markets in which value is either zero or whatever the Fed says it is; then we got Schrodinger economies when China was both expanding and contracting at the same time; now we have Schrodinger military coups which are both a coup and not a coup, at least as far as the US is concerned. According to AP: "The Obama administration will tell lawmakers Thursday that it won't declare Egypt's government overthrow a coup, U.S. officials said." So why will the US claim the obvious military overthrow of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood was a "democratic" process? Simple: it will allow the United States "to continue providing $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to the Arab world's most populous country." And why will the US continue providing Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual military aid? Simple: so Egypt can continue buying more Made In Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to spread the Nobel Peace Prize winner's diplomatic agenda in the middle east. Because one must always think of the children GDP.
Moments ago, an unlikely grouping between a 33-year old Republican, Rep-Justin Amash, and an 84-year old Democrat, Rep-John Conyers, resulted in a House vote, that if passed, would have suspended the NSA's "indiscriminate collection of phone records" and effectively ended the program's statutory authority. Yet despite significant lobbying by the White House, security experts and representative on both sides of the aisle, the vote came within a startlingly close 12 votes of passage. A majority of Democrats, 111, voted for Amash's amendment despite the full court press while 83 Democrats voted no. The GOP vote was 94-134. That the vote did not pass is not surprising. However, that it came to just 12 votes of passage is the stunning development and shows a sea change of how Congress approaches both personal privacy and the broader implications of the Patriot Act. All of it thanks to the action of one man who at last check was still stuck in the transit terminal in Moscow.
The judge has decided to over-rule both objections and that nothing with regard the Chapter 9 process is held up.
- *DETROIT JUDGE OVERRULES OBJECTIONS CLAIMING BANKRUPTCY INVALID
- *DETROIT JUDGE SAYS HE HAS POWER TO GRANT GOVERNOR SUIT IMMUNITY
- *DETROIT BANKRUPTCY FILING IS VALID, FEDERAL JUDGE RULES
- *DETROIT BANKRUPTCY ELIGIBILITY TO BE DECIDED IN FEDERAL COURT
Now, we proceed to the Federal eligibility hearing (whether the city is eligible to proceed with Chapter 9). Remember this took almost a year with Stockton, CA. For now, Unions 0 - Orr 1 but it seems like neither side will be a winner when this is all over (which makes sense as while there is the law and the Obama-law, there is simply no money). The current plan (for now rejected by creditors) means a 90% loss for muni-worker retirees, 81% loss for unsecured creditors, and a 75% loss for secured creditors.
With the Detroit bankruptcy hearing under way (constitutional crises notwithstanding), we thought it useful to cut through the rhetoric, break-down the mutally-assured-destruction barriers, and peer into the cold-hard facts as the city looks to restructure its $18 billion in debt.
With earnings season in full swing as some 20% of the S&P is expected to report, the quieter macro picture moves to the backburner especially with the Fed now silent for a long time. Looking at key central banks events, at the Turkey central bank meeting this week, Goldman expects that the bank is more likely to deliver a moderately hawkish “surprise” and hike the lending rate by 100bp to 7.5% (7.0% for primary dealers), and leave the key policy (1-week repo) and the borrowing rates unchanged at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Among the other central bank meetings this week, benchmark rates are expected to remain unchanged in New Zealand, Philippines and Colombia, in line with consensus, while a 25bp cut is expected to be announced at the Hungary MPC meeting.