Three weeks after the formation of his company which "plans to" (as opposed to "is doing") "buy underdeveloped land and rill shale wells," 27-year-old Mark Hiduke raised $100 million from a local private equity firm. Makes perfect sense of course - especially after Dubai's 31x over-subscribed IPO for a firm with no operations - but perhaps the following sums it all up... "These guys are going to be the poster children of self-made oil and gas tycoons... or they could be the poster children of how too much money is chasing deals." Indeed...
It is not too early to ask how the present US business cycle expansion, already more than five years old, will end. The history of the last great US monetary experiment in “quantitative easing” (QE) from 1934-7 suggests that the end could be violent. Autumn 1937 featured one of the largest New York stock market crashes ever accompanied by the descent of the US economy into the notorious Roosevelt Recession. As we noted previously - it's never different this time...
The Bitcoin space is heating up so quickly that not only are hundreds of millions of dollars being funneling into startups, PayPal has introduced a product that actually undercuts Bitcoin payment processors! Uh Oh Visa/Mastercard! Margin compression, here we come!
The days of Bernanke's "non-Giffen good" speech circuit may come to an end far sooner than the ex-Chairsatan wishes: "UBS and Goldman Sachs considered his fees too high." Others were quick to point out the obvious:"You can spend $250,000 for Bernanke’s time at a private dinner, or you could just sit down and read what people like Janet Yellen and Mark Carney have to say," David Rosenberg said"... Indeed, this is one deflation which we are confident the Fed Chairman wishes he was 100% certain he could stop in 15 minutes. Sadly, like in the case of everything else relating to Bernanke, when paying for smoke and mirrors it is only a matter of time before everyone, even the uber-richer poseurs, realize that the product they are buying is nothing but a cheap commodity.
Bitcoin's competitive environ is already prompting a race towards negative margin, and despite such VCs have dumped nearly $100 million in 3 companies in as many months. Here's what I see coming down the pike...
After losing $4 billion as both a lender and equity-holder, Deutsche Bank has decided now is the time to sell The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The lucky buyer of the 3000-room hotel and casino... none other than America's largest landlord - Blackstone Group. The formerly biggest "buy-to-rent" private equity firm is paying $1.7 billion for the Vegas hotspot after having piled $3.5 billion into property across the city and other parts of Nevada. It is ironic that it was Steve Wynn, another Vegas magnate, who recently noted just how great times were for the 'big guy' seeking cheap financing (and, unfortunately, just how bad it was for the average joe).
- Bank of England sees 'no housing bubble' (Independent)
- ‘If the euro falls, Europe falls’ (FT)
- India's pro-business Modi storms to historic election win (Reuters)
- Global Growth Worries Climb (WSJ)
- Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director (Reuters)
- Blackstone Goes All In After the Flop (WSJ)
- SAC's Steinberg loses bid for insider trading acquittal (Reuters)
- Beats Satan: Republicans Paint Reid as Bogeyman in 2014 Senate Races (BBG)
- Tech Firms, Small Startups Object to Paying for Internet 'Fast Lanes' (WSJ) - but they just provide liquidity
- U.S. Warns Russia of Sanctions as Ukraine Troops Advance (BBG)
- Major U.S. hedge funds sold 'momentum' Internet names in first-quarter (Reuters)
Embargos as a rule rarely achieve their intended goal of overthrowing governments. Instead, embargos tend to deprive the poor of basic necessities, enrich government cronies while giving the government an excuse for why their economic policies are failing.
Francine Lacqua (Interviewer): Jim, you also have this new book out, right, saying "The Death of Money" and this basically argues that if a number of things come together, we could have financial warfare, deflation, hyperinflation, market collapse. And yet the markets are merrily going along. Are we in a fictitious world?
Mr. Bowden, who heads the SEC’s examinations unit, speaking at a private equity conference, explained that “more than 50 percent of private equity firms it has audited have engaged in serious infractions of securities laws.” What is so incredible about the talk, is that while Bowden goes into details of shady practice after shady practice, he ultimately admits that the SEC isn’t being particularly aggressive with the private equity industry because “we believe that most people in the industry are trying to do the right thing, to help their clients, to grow their business, and to provide for their owners and employees.” What the SEC is basically admitting, is that private equity firms are also “too big to regulate” and, of course, “too big to jail.”
- EU Court: Google Must Remove Certain Links on Request (WSJ), people have right to be forgotten on Internet (Reuters)
- Harsh weather: German Investor Confidence Drops for Fifth Straight Month (BBG)
- More harsh weather: China Slowdown Deepens (BBG)
- Harsh weather as far as the eye can see: China’s New Credit Declines (BBG)
- "Alien" artist, surrealist H.R. Giger dies aged 74 (Reuters)
- Pfizer urges AstraZeneca to talk as UK lawmakers slam offer (Reuters)
- Property sector slowdown adds to China fears (FT)
- Russia says EU sanctions will hurt Ukraine peace efforts (Reuters)
- U.S. Considers Relaxing Crude Oil Export Restrictions (WSJ)
The "Shiller P/E" is much in the news of late, and, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas suggests, with good reason. It shows that U.S. equity valuations are pushing towards crash-worthy levels. This measure of long term earnings power to current price is currently at 25.3x, or close to 2 standard deviations away from its long run median of 15.9x. As Colas concludes, the writing is on the wall and we must all read it. Future returns are likely going to be lower. Competition for investor capital will get even tougher. That’s what the Shiller P/E says, and it is worth listening.
- Hillary and Me: The 2008 campaign was a nightmare. Will 2016 be as bad? (Politico)
- What Timothy Geithner Really Thinks (NYT)
- Rebels declare victory in east Ukraine self-rule vote (Reuters)
- Race for AIG's Top Job Has Two Favorites (WSJ)
- America on the Move Becomes Stay-at-Home Nation for Millennials (BBG)
- Old, Fired at IBM: Trendsetter Offers Workers Arbitration (BBG)
- Bad luck Jonathan: Pressure Mounts on Nigerian President (WSJ)
- Iran leader slams West's 'stupid' missile stance before talks (Reuters)
- Conchita Wurst of Austria Wins Eurovision Song Contest (WSJ)
- Greek Finance Ministry expects Q1 GDP contraction of less than 1.5 pct (Kathimerini)
After a job well done by a public servant, and by a job well done we of course mean facilitating the transfer of middle class, taxpayer wealth to private bank accounts, it is customary to reward them with a comfortable job in the same bank as repayment. This is also known as the revolving-door phenomenon and is the norm in US "regulation" (the epitome of career development by any SEC employee or US Treasury Secretary is to be hired by a Too Big To Fail Bank or private equity firm) and generally, politics. But not only US. Bloomberg reports that it is just as prevalent in Europe:
- Vittorio Grilli joins JPMorgan as chairman of corporate and investment bank in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
- Grilli will report to Daniel Pinto
- JPMorgan announces Grilli hire in memo to staff, obtained by Bloomberg News
Because when the time comes to bailout the likes of JPMorgan, again, it will certainly help to have connected former "public servants" like Grilli on board of course. Rinse. Repeat.
... To the astonishment of almost everyone in the room, Angela Merkel began to cry. “Das ist nicht fair.” That is not fair, the German chancellor said angrily, tears welling in her eyes. “Ich bringe mich nicht selbst um.” I am not going to commit suicide. For those who witnessed the breakdown in a small conference room in the French seaside resort of Cannes, it was shocking enough to watch Europe’s most powerful and emotionally controlled leader brought to tears....