The NYT Exposes The Criminal Money-Laundering Underworld Supporting Manhattan's Luxury Housing BubbleSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/07/2015 16:02 -0400
“We like the money,” said Raymond Baker, the president of Global Financial Integrity, a Washington nonprofit that tracks the illicit flow of money. “It’s that simple. We like the money that comes into our accounts, and we are not nearly as judgmental about it as we should be”... Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program in 2013, shortly before leaving office: “If we could get every billionaire around the world to move here, it would be a godsend.”
"Most Shorted" stocks are now comfortably green on the year after the last 4 days have seen the biggest short squeeze in 15 months. Today alone, "most shorted" stocks are up 1.8%. Welcome to the new normal dash for trash on hopes that Greece is "fixed", Q€ "works", and despite dismal US macro data, it will be the economic engine of the world...
It is no secret that January was a bad month for bulls: it was in fact the worst start to the year in years, especially following that surprising last day selloff, which took the YTD drop as of January 30 to an unheard of, at least under global central-planning, -3.1%. It wasn't just the broader market: some of the more marquee hedge funds names also found it a tough time to navigate the transition of global easing away from the Fed to the ECB even as other central banks like the SNB lost all credibility, such as Fortress, Third Point, Perry, Maverick, Brevan Howard and various others, all of which had negative returns for the majority of the month based on HSBC data. But it wasn't all bad news: in fact, as the table below shows, the January outperformers generated higher relative returns than the worst funds of the month,
As the new Greek government begins 'reforming' the previous administration's austerity reforms and travels the length and breadth of Europe pitching its "we don't want more loans, we want debt reduction" ultimatum, Greek judges back at home have had their own moment of clarity in the new normal. The Greek Court of Auditors ruled on Monday that a decision by the previous government to cut the pensions of judges retroactively from August 2012 was unconstitutional and in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights... Well played judges.
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Amid 'turmoiling' stock markets on Friday, CNBC's Simon Hobbs summed up the status quo's thinking on the new Greek leadership when he noted, somewhat angrily and shocked, "The Greeks are not even trying to reassure the markets," seeming to have entirely forgotten (and who can blame him in this new normal the world has been force-fed for 6 years) that political leaders are elected for the good of the people (by the people) not for the markets. Yesterday saw the clearest example yet of Europe's anger that the Greeks may choose their own path as opposed to following the EU's non-sovereign leadership's demands when the most uncomfortable moment ever caught on tape - the moment when Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem (he of the "template" foot in mouth disease) stood up at the end of the EU-Greece press conference, awkwardly shook hands with Greece's new finance minister, and whispered..."you have just killed the Troika," to which Varoufakis responded... "wow!"
According to the NY Fed, 177 tons of gold have been withdawn from its vault in 2014; according to foreign central banks, at least 207 tons of gold were withdrawn from the NY Fed in 2014.
Did a Fed intern make a very glaring math error or is something else going on?
With NIRP raging in the Eurozone and over €1.5 trillion in European government bonds trading with negative yields, many were wondering when any of this perverted bond generosity will spill over to other debtors, not just Europe's insolvent governments (who can only print negative interest debt because of the ECB's backstop that it will buy any piece of garbage for sale in the doomed monetary union). In fact just earlier today we, rhetorically, asked a logical - in as much as nothing is logical in the new normal - question: "Who will offer the first negative rate mortgage." Little did we know that just minutes after our tweet, we would learn that at least one place is already paying homeowners to take out a mortgage. That's right - the negative rate mortgage is now a reality.
It was less than 24 hours after we posted that either oil will double from here allowing energy companies to grow into a normal P/E multiple, or energy stocks will have to crash by over 40% for the ridiculous 23x to return to its normal, long-term average of 13.6x. Moments ago energy giant Chevron admitted that not only does it not see oil doubling any time soon, but that energy prices are almost certain to go far lower from here, and as a result the company decided that after buying back $5 billion of its shares in 2014, i.e., buying high and higher before the stock crashes may not be the best use of dwindling cash flow, and as a result has just suspended its stock buyback program of the rest of 2015. Yes, energy giant Chevron just ended its buyback!
The Treasury-created market has benefited a few savvy investors, while saddling taxpayers with a loss. The Treasury, which has held 185 auctions to date, said it has raised about $3 billion on TARP investments that were originally valued at $3.8 billion, for a loss of $800 million at the auctions. The Treasury “set up this market where investors could come in quickly and flip and profit,” said Christy Romero, TARP’s special inspector general, in an interview. Three private funds have won almost half the shares available at auction, often netting either a profit on paper or on the resale, according to SIGTARP. “As a banker I was happy, but as a taxpayer I was not at all happy,” said Chief Financial Officer Donald Boyer. “The discount came out of taxpayers’ pockets.”
The energy market in a nutshell: Either energy sector earnings have to surge by 70%, implying a near doubling of oil prices to $88, for the forward P/E multiple to return to normal, or the Energy sector prices have to crash from 549 today to 323, where it would trade down to its historic forward P/E multiple, suggesting a price drop of over 40%!
While all the algos are programmed and set to scan today's FOMC statement for whether both "patient" and "considerable time" are still there (as it did last time when it supposedly sent a pseudo-hawkish message while telling Virtu and Getco to buy, buy, buy), the market is torn between the trends observed in recent days: on one hand finally succumbing to the adverse impact of USD strength, which overnight also saw the Singapore Dollar admit defeat in the ongoing currency wars, is crushing both revenues and EPS, as well as outlooks, for the bulk of US companies, even as millennials - long since given up on buying a house - allocate their meager savings to the annual incarnation of Apple's flagship product as seen in yesterday's record, blowout numbers by AAPL which is up 8% in the premarket and sending Nasdaq futures soaring compared to the stagnant DJIA or S&P. And then there is Europe where the mood is decidedly sour this morning, with Greece imploding on fears Tsipras really means business and concerns the Greek "virus" may spread to other peripheral nations whose bonds have also seen a lack of a bond bid this morning.
There is no reason to assume that this time will be different. These boom-bust sequences will continue until the economy is structurally undermined to such an extent that monetary intervention cannot even create the illusory prosperity of a capital-consuming boom anymore. The bankers applauding Draghi’s actions today will come to rue them tomorrow.
After first falling ill and being hospitalized in December, Saudi Arabia officials have announced:
*SAUDI ARABIAN KING ABDULLAH DIES, CROWN PRINCE SALMAN SUCCEEDS: STATE TV
As we noted previously when considering this possibility, "a new King can do (almost) anything he wants, including changing oil policy." 79-year-old Crown Prince Salman has been named succesor (and has his own health issues - reportedly suffering from Dementia). Oil prices popped around 80c on the news.