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.
- Earthquake Sends Kiwis Screaming From Wellington Buildings (BBG)
- China quake death toll more than doubles to 54, hundreds hurt (Reuters)
- In 2011, Michigan Gov. Snyder said bankruptcy wasn't an option for Detroit. Two years later, he changed his mind (WSJ)
- GlaxoSmithKline says Chinese laws might have been violated (FT)
- SEC Tries Last Ditch Move to Put SAC’s Cohen Out of Business (BBG)
- Detroit’s Bankruptcy Reveals Dysfunction Common in Cities (BBG)
- Obama to start new offensive on economy (FT)
- As WTI and Brent reunite, Gulf of Mexico faces squeeze, not glut (Reuters)
- Extended Stay Files for Public Offering (WSJ)
- Apple Developer Website Hacked: Developer Names, Addresses May Have Been Taken (MacRumors)
- Treasuries Not Safe Enough as Foreign Purchase Pace Slows (BBG)
The following story from Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil should be familiar to anyone who i) wanted to get rich quick; ii) wasn't too willing to read the small print, and iii) put their faith in a TBTF bank. Or simply watches South Park. Jon recounts the story of "Philip L. Ramatlhware, an immigrant from Botswana who went to a Citigroup branch in downtown Philadelphia one day five years ago to open a regular bank account. He was 48 years old at the time and disabled, after being hurt in an accident as a passenger on a Greyhound bus. In April 2008, he received $225,000 in a settlement for his injuries, part of which went to pay legal fees. He was holding the settlement check when he walked into the branch. Immediately he was referred to a broker for a “financial consultation,” according to an arbitration claim he filed against Citigroup. The broker assured him the money would be invested in “guaranteed” funds and that he could have access to them whenever the need arose, the complaint said. Ramatlhware gave him $150,000 to invest. The broker put $5,000 into a bank certificate of deposit, bought a $133,000 variable annuity and invested the rest in a series of mutual funds. Less than six months later, Ramatlhware had lost $40,000, according to the complaint."
It is so sad to watch one of America's greatest cities die a horrible death. Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States. Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about. Detroit is only just the beginning. When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before. All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading. We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically. We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is "normal", but an extremely painful "adjustment" is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it. So don't laugh at Detroit. The economic pain that Detroit is experiencing will be coming to your area of the country soon enough.
Amid the furore of Sunday morning political programming, Detroit Mayor Bing and Michigan Governor Snyder have been quite vocal. Bing made it clear that "a lot of negotiations will go into fixing our city," and when asked whether he will seek a Federal bailout, he responded, "not yet." The decisions following this huge bankruptcy are likely to be precedent-setting as Bing noted that more than 100 urban US cities "are having the same problems we're having." As the WSJ reports, Bing warned, "We may be one of the first. We are the largest. But we absolutely will not be the last. And so we have got to set a benchmark in terms how to fix our cities." Snyder was a little more hopeful that salvation will come from above as he stated that while "I don't view that as the right answer... if the federal government wants to [bail us out], that’s their option."
It's good to see that as more of the US spirals into chaos, someone still has a sarcastic sense of humor. For those who missed it, in the Kevyn Odd statement listing the primary reason for the bankruptcy of Detroit, this was the punchline: "For years, the City has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed and deferred paying certain obligations to make ends meet. The City is insolvent." In other words, a pure pyramid scheme whose final can kicking day has finally come. Which perhaps explains why the just appointed Judge to preside over the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history is none other than Judge Steven Rhodes, 64, who just happens to be the co-author of "The Ponzi Book: A Legal Resource for Unraveling Ponzi Schemes." In other words, if there is anyone qualified to oversee the biggest Ponzi scheme collapse to date in US public sector history, it would be Judge Rhodes. We can only hope, however, that he leaves some time in his busy schedule over the next several years, for that other, biggest of all Ponzi schemes, the United States of America.
Congress: "Is it fair to say that Wall Street has benefited more [from QE] than Main Street has?"
Bernanke: "I don't think so... I want to emphasize that we're very focused on Main Street... Our low interest rates have created a lot of ability to buy automobiles..."
"For years, the City has spent more than it takes in and has borrowed and deferred paying certain obligations to make ends meet. The City is insolvent" - Kevin Orr
While in the past President Obama has been more that willing to throw good money after bad and "refuse to let Detroit go bankrupt," it seems when push comes to shove - under the intense scrutiny of a nation awash in scandal, a drastically bifurcated congress - that despite the imploring from local congressmen for "moar" already - that the savior of the city will not this time ride to the rescue on his white horse. In a statement, the White House said they "are monitoring the situation in Detroit closely," with no hint - just as they have made clear for months - of any sort of Federal bailout. As USA Today notes, the federal government provided federal loans to prevent New York City from declaring bankruptcy during the 1970s. But times have changed; the federal government has debt and financial problems of its own, and a Detroit bailout could run into significant opposition in Congress and cause serious damage in the Muni market.
With little going on today besides the just reported GE earnings, which beat consensus EPS expectations of $0.35 by the smallest possible increment but, as expected, missed consensus revenue of $35.56 printing at $35.12, and both the Japanese (which experienced a 500 point drop in minutes overnight) and Chinese (which closed below 2000 again) markets sliding, it is perhaps better to summarize the day that just was: Detroit City files for bankruptcy (send in Detroika!), Moody's take the US off negative outlook, Google and Microsoft miss on earnings and the S&P 500 hits a new record high. As DB says, the above certainly made for an eventful close to the US session after what was a fairly dull second day of testimony and Q&A for Bernanke. He has said all that can be said for now and we're left waiting for the data. And the earnings data so far has been abysmal if mostly on the top line, with corporate revenues now assured to double dip and decline for the second quarter in a row. And if the tech bellwethers all of which have been major disappointments to date and have guided down, are an indication of what is coming, Q3 may and will be even worse.
The "coming economic collapse" has already been happening. You see, the truth is that the economic collapse is not a single event. It has already started, it is happening right now, and it will accelerate during the years ahead. The statistics in this article show very clearly that the U.S. economy has fallen dramatically over the past ten years or so. The mainstream media will continue to scoff knowingly, "An economic collapse is never going to happen. We can consume far more wealth than we produce forever. We can pile up gigantic mountains of debt forever. There is no way that the party is over. In fact, the party is just getting started. Woo-hoo!"Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming. Just open your eyes and look at the facts...
Four years ago he bailed out the city's automotive industry, and a whole lot of union votes. Moments ago, Obama was just called in again, this time to bail out the entire city. "Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA), a leader of the Congressional Urban Caucus, sent a letter to President Obama today calling on the Administration to lend a helping hand to Detroit, Michigan following the news that the city has filed for bankruptcy." So will the president play favorites? Or will the municipal bailout begin where the private sector bailout ended? And since bailouts tend to be contagious, if and when Obama does "lend a helping hand" to Detroit, paid for by all US taxpayers, which city, or rather cities, will demand the same treatment? And how long until other people's money finally runs out?
Here’s what happens next...
"Both before and after the appointment of an emergency manager, many talented individuals have put enormous energy into attempting to avoid this outcome. I knew from the outset that it would be difficult to reverse 60 years of decline in which promises were made that did not reflect the reality of the ability to deliver on those promises. I very much hoped those efforts would succeed without resorting to bankruptcy. Unfortunately, they have not. We must face the fact that the City cannot and is not paying its debts as they become due, and is insolvent..... I know we share a concern for the public employees who gave years of service to the City and now fear for their financial future in retirement, and I am confident that all of the City's creditors will be treated fairly in this process. "
Richard D. Snyder Governor, State of Michigan
Following Barclays' fine of $453 million by FERC for manipulating electric energy prices in California (and other other Western markets), it seems the price of infamy is weighing heavy on Blythe Masters' overlords at JPMorgan in yet another derivative debacle for the "I invented CDS" queen. As we discussed in great detail here, FERC's investigations into JPMorgan's actions saw them pursuing actions against the firm and Ms. Masters. In recent weeks settlement rumors have been heard and now as the NYTimes reports, it appears - in light of last year's PR and P&L 'London Whale' disaster - the best-CEO-in-the-entire-world-so-there is preparing to settle to the tune of $500 million to keep Blythe out of jail. To settle Ms. Masters' alleged “manipulative schemes” that transformed “money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers,” and then her giving “false and misleading statements” under oath, must mean she has some serious dirt on Jamie (and his fortress balance sheet and best-in-class risk management).