"What Bernanke is to the Treasury market, Iksil is to the derivatives market"
Blythe Masters On The Blogosphere, Silver Manipulation, Gold-Axed Clients And Doing The "Wrong" ThingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/05/2012 13:53 -0500
For all those who have long been curious what the precious metals "queen" thinks about allegations involving her and her fimr in gold and silver manipulation, how JPMorgan is positioned in the precious metals market, and how she views the fringe elements of media, as well as JPMorgan's ethical limitations to engaging in 'wrong' behavior, the answers are all here.
Back in May of last year, just after the now historic silver slamdown of "Silver Sunday" on May 1, 2011, when the metal imploded by nearly 20% in the span of seconds, a move that some considered 'normal', primarily the CFTC, we presented the extended biopic of the infamous "Silverfinger": Bunker Hunt, who attempted to corner the silver market, and succeeded, if only briefly (and they say Playboy has no good articles). Today, courtesy of Grant Williams, we have dredged up the following clip from the archives, which is a 10 minute overview of just how there is really nothing new ever in the silver market, bringing up memories of Silver Thursday, March 27, 1980, and raising questions whether last year the move in precious metals was not due to the same attempt to corner the silver and gold markets as happened 30 years prior. A far more important question perhaps is how was it that tried a redux of the Hunt brothers (and Warren Buffett of course), and when will someone take their place next?
Today, the metals space is abuzz with a CFTC "comment letter" posted on its website by an alleged "current JPM employee." There is only one problem - this letter is either a complete fraud or simply a total mockery, as it provides absolutely nothing new, and merely regurgitates existing manipulation claims already out in the public domain, and backed by precisely zero evidence. How about attaching a signed trade confirm, or a daily internal P&L report, or even a blotter entry? No? Because they don't exist? Needless to say, anyone can submit such an alleged insider letter, and since there is no name associated to it, we would advise everyone to merely enjoy this a prank attempt. Unfortunately, what more such repeated faux "whistleblower letters", which are likely forthcoming, from other "current JPM employees" will do is simply dilute the effect of any real such disclosure that may come in the future. For that purpose, we strongly caution anyone who considers submitting such disinformation attempts from doing so as it will merely impair and discourage any just intent of validated and justified whistleblowing, either at JPM or elsewhere.
And not because his Rule doesn't have teeth.
Bloomberg's Trish Regan (yes, she is no longer at CNBC), has just announced that the bank which earlier announced it is shutting down its catastrophic prop trading desk (at which point shreholders let out a sigh of relief), has proceeded with slashing banker pay by 30% for overall comp and some bonuses by as much as 70%. This follows earlier announcements by Bank of America and Morgan Stanley which earlier said they would limit cash bonuses to $150K for senior positions. At the end of the day, the biggest losers are secondary, non-financial New York jobs (supposedly there are some: rat exterminators; strippers; limo drivers; food spitters also known as waiters?) as each banker jobs indirectly supports up to 3 downstream jobs. In other words between layoffs and comp cutting, the immediate impact will likely be to leave New York City, which is the farthest point on the economic procyclical receiving end, with hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Which incidentally, to the bizarro crazy scientists at the BLS, means that initial claims are about to go negative (with the traditional upward revision in the following week).
Analyst surveys have now risen to the level of fact, as we all know. Thus Bloomberg and other news outlets feature detailed reports about the opinions of the Sell Side community as though these musings were burned into stone tablets with the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Despite the recent humiliating defeat for the TBTF bank proposal to establish debit fees, the bailed out banks are still somehow supposed to make money now that their prop trading desks can no longer mimic hedge funds and trade ahead of flow or on "expert network" inside information (and old school revenue generation like advisory and underwriting is just too much work). So what do they do? Why nickel and dime clients to death. As the following interactive graphic from the Pew Trust demonstrates, in a recent example where it was caught red-handed, Wells Fargo literally tried to nickel and dime a client (who subsequently sued) to death, by shifting the order of debit transactions in a way that maximized the penalty fee, ignoring the actual chronological order. In other words, banks have a "malicious" algorithm designed to maximize client pain, while ignoring actual sequence of events. The net result an overdraft balance that is 4 times higher than what it would have been if proper temporal sequence had been followed. And that is why banks are desperate to pickpocket their clients: because once news of such practices is made public, everyone should pull their money. That they still don't is quite incomprehensible.
Why do Banks remain such lousy investments?
- Is the revenue model fundamentally broken?
- Is the capital model fundamentally broken?
- Is the risk model fundamentally broken?
- Is the compensation model fundamentally broken?
- None of the above?
- All of the above?
Do I REALLY have to give you the answers to these questions?
Who would have thought that doing away with your prop trading unit would have consequences? Surely not Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag or anyone who read his response to Zero Hedge from December 2009 in which he made the argument that Goldman's prop trading unit is largely irrelevant to the firm. Alas, as the last quarter showed, it was. A lot. $2.5 billion worth. Net result: GS stock is now trading at imminent MBO levels, and more importantly, there is no joy in bankerville:
- GOLDMAN NAMES SMALLEST CLASS OF MANAGING DIRECTORS SINCE 2008
- GOLDMAN SACHS PROMOTES 261 EMPLOYEES TO MANAGING DIRECTOR
However as the video below proves, it still does, and always will, feel good to be a banker.
I said it in the past and was proven correct twice. It happened again, big time - and is now incontrovertible. Contrary to popular belief, Squids can't trade!
Even with the Dodd-Frank financial reform, from a market perspective, there are still issues within the structure of the current banking operation that are not adequately addressed.
Goldman Reports Massive $0.84 Loss Per Share, Prop Trading Loss Of $2.5 Billion, Comp Accrual Of $358,713 Per EmployeeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/18/2011 06:39 -0500
Topline bloodbath Summary: Net revenues in Investment Banking were $781 million, 33% lower than the third quarter of 2010 and 46% lower than the second quarter of 2011. Net revenues in Financial Advisory were $523 million, up slightly from the third quarter of 2010. Net revenues in the firm’s Underwriting business were $258 million, 61% lower than the third quarter of 2010. Net revenues in both equity underwriting and debt underwriting were significantly lower than the third quarter of 2010, reflecting a significant decline in industry-wide activity. The firm’s investment banking transaction backlog increased compared with the end of the second quarter of 2011. Net revenues in Institutional Client Services were $4.06 billion, 13% lower than the third quarter of 2010 and 16% higher than the second quarter of 2011. Net revenues in Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Client Execution were $1.73 billion, 36% lower than the third quarter of 2010. And so on. As for the number everyone in #OWS is looking for, "The accrual for compensation and benefits expenses (including salaries, estimated year-end discretionary compensation, amortization of equity awards and other items such as benefits) was $1.58 billion for the third quarter of 2011, a 59% decline compared with the third quarter of 2010. The ratio of compensation and benefits to net revenues for the first nine mo nths of 2011 was 44.0%. Total staff levels decreased 4% compared with the end of the second quarter of 2011." In a nutshell: for the first time in probably since the Lehman crisis, Goldman reported a massive loss in its prop trading division of $2.5 billion, and also based on LTM accured comp benefits and the total staff at period end of 34,200, average compensation amounted to $358,713/employee.
SocGen Asia Strategist Has Near Fit On Bloomberg TV After Making It Clear That It's All The Blogosphere's FaultSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2011 09:58 -0500
SocGen's Todd Martin, who is the bank's Asia equity strategist, appeared on Bloomberg earlier today to discuss the Volcker Rule and prop trading, against which the anonymous blogosphere had some very "strong views" back in 2009 before anyone had even considered prop trading. Sure enough, prop trading ended a few months later with the adoption of the Volcker Rule. Somehow, the topic of the Volcker rule shifted to the topic of whether or not Morgan Stanley is exposed to France, and its insolvent banks (ahem), and who is to blame. Take a wild guess on Mr. Martin's opinion in the matter: "For example one blog just a week ago, had a very, very strong view against Morgan Stanley. They quoted Sanford Bernstein who actually was telling people to buy the stock. And then they were quoting Gross Exposures not Net, and then concluding that Morgan Stanley had to go down and be dismembered [sic]. Now I have a serious problem with this.... If I get regulated why isn't this place regulated. It's also very dangerous because they are using psudonames [sic] and we don't know who they are. They could be the guy on the street. They could be a hedge fund dangling out information. It could be the head of a prop desk. Thing is it is supposed to be regulated. And they get their revenues from trading platforms on US soil. And I don't think it's fair. And I think the US should go and take a look and regulate the blogosphere. I think it's really, really out of control." In other words: it is all the blogosphere's fault.
As long-term readers recall, the observation of Goldman's dominant presence in the NYSE's weekly program trading reports by Zero Hedge back in early 2009 was one of the key drivers that set in motion the backlash against algorithmic trading and HFT which back in 2009 was the pinnacle of fringe topics and has since become a daily talking point and market scapegoat du jour on days when stocks are down (but never up). It also drew attention to Goldman's prop trading division which Zero Hedge was the first and only vocal opponent of, and has since been demolished courtesy of the Volcker Rule, an event which both Moody's and Alliance Bernstein now say could cost the bank dearly in top and bottom line, yet which Goldman told us on the record "represents approximately 10% of this year’s reported net revenue." Guess it was more, huh... Yet the same NYSE weekly program trading update indicates that Goldman, up until now a monolith in NYSE program trading, has just lost its crown in that field as well. The new king. A firm called Latour Trading, which in the last week traded 484.6 million shares in principal strategies. Which begs the question: just who is this Latour Trading which dares to upstage the firm that does god's work on earth. Alas, their website has been less than forthright. Inquiring minds certainly want to know.