Ratings Agencies

Guest Post: Did Capitalism Fail?

Until six days before Lehman Brothers collapsed five years ago, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s maintained the firm’s investment-grade rating of “A.” Moody’s waited even longer, downgrading Lehman one business day before it collapsed. How could reputable ratings agencies – and investment banks – misjudge things so badly? Regulators, bankers, and ratings agencies bear much of the blame for the crisis. But the near-meltdown was not so much a failure of capitalism as it was a failure of contemporary economic models’ understanding of the role and functioning of financial markets – and, more broadly, instability – in capitalist economies. Yet the mainstream of the economics profession insists that such mechanistic models retain validity.

If This Guy Is What The Future Of America Looks Like, We Are In Big Trouble

Recently, Fox News interviewed a self-described beach bum named Jason Greenslate who was very open about the fact that he has no problem sponging off of all the rest of us.  When he was asked if he ever had any interest in actually getting a job, his response was "not whatsoever".  Instead, he says that his job is to "make sure the sun's up and the girls are out" and he would rather spend his days partying.  Of course every American should be free to live their own lives as they see fit, but the problem is that Jason Greenslate is using food stamps to help support his lifestyle. Of course the vast majority of those enrolled in the food stamp program are not like this. But there are also those such as Jason Greenslate that are openly abusing the system and making it more difficult for those that actually need the help to get it. Sadly, he is a product of the system that he was raised in.

Third Day In A Row Of Early Futures Weakness Set To Give Way To Low-Volume Levitation

Hopes that Kuroda would say something substantial, material and beneficial to the "three arrow" wealth effect (about Japan's sales tax) last night were promptly dashed when the BOJ head came, spoke, and went, with the USDJPY sliding to a new monthly low, which in turn saw the Nikkei tumble another nearly 500 points. China didn't help either, where the Shanghai Composite also closed below 2000 wiping out a few weeks of gains on artificial hopes that the PBOC would step in with a bailout package, as attention turned to the reported announcement that an update of local government debt could double the size of China's non-performing loans, and what's worse, that the PBOC was ok with that. Asian negativity was offset by the European open, where fundamentals are irrelevant (especially on the one year anniversary of Draghi FX Advisors LLC "whatever it takes to buy the EURUSD" speech) and renewed M&A sentiment buoyed algos to generate enough buying momentum to send more momentum algos buying and so on. As for the US, futures are indicating weakness for the third day in a row but hardly anyone is fooled following two consecutive days of green closes on melt ups "from the lows": expect another rerun of the now traditional Friday ramp, where a 150 DJIA loss was wiped out during the day for a pre-programmed just green closing print.

Independence Day Overnight Market Summary

Given the US holiday, markets are likely to be thin today but there are some big news stories floating around at the moment.  If the fast and furious events from the past few days in a revolutionary Egypt bear a striking resemblance to what happened in the spring of 2011, it is because they are strikingly comparable. Only this time, following the ouster of yet another US-supported "leader" by the US-supported military, the country's CDS has normalized at a level that is roughly double where it was two years ago as the implicit backing of the US looks increasingly shaky, following what was yet another bungled foreign policy venture by the Obama administration. But for now, the people are celebrating, just as they did in 2011. One wonders what happens between now and the next coup, somewhere two years (or less) hence. For now focus merely on who controls the Suez - after all that is really all that matters for the US. The other major story of yesterday, Portugal, continues to be in limbo,

GoldCore's picture

"Well you know if you look at the last 13 years it was up 12 out of 13 and this year isn't even over yet, so I would say its responded pretty well.  But you might say well yeah what about in the last year why hasn’t it? Well, markets do these things they go up sharply and sometimes they take a rest.  But the long term is something you can get a handle on, but I was never very good on short term, whether it’s the stock market or whatever, or what government will do, they are just all over the place.

Peak Collateral

Peak collateral is just a notion - one we have discussed in detail many times (most recently here). The notion that at the time we want yield and growth we are running out of collateral which is supposed to underpin the high yielding assets and loans. Such a shortage would cause the ponzi-like growth that is necessary to sustain a bubble, to stall and then implode. We think our lords and rulers know this and have decided that it must not be allowed. And this – the need for collateral – is the reason for the endless QE. If this is even close to the mark, then recent murmurings about the Fed tailing off its bond buying will prove to be hollow. The Fed will quickly find it cannot exit QE without precipitating precisely the disorderly collapse, to which it was supposed to be  the solution.

Thanks Ben Bernanke: Using A Shotgun As Down Payment For A Car

Thanks to the Fed's ZIRP, the investing world is on a constant reach for yield; and due to the fact that the last bubble of investor largesse (ignoring leverage and reality) was not 'punished' but in fact 'bailed-out', participants in the financial markets learned nothing. Just as the last crisis was formed on the back of an insatiable mortgage-backed security market desperate for new loans (any loans) of increasingly dubious quality to securitize, so this time it is subprime auto loans that have taken over. As a Reuters review of court records shows, subprime auto lenders are showing up in a lot of personal bankruptcy filings. At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers are surging - up 18% in 2012 YoY, to 6.6 million borrowers. Subprime auto lending is just one of several mini-bubbles the bond-buying program has created across a range of assets; "it's the same sort of thing we saw in 2007, people get driven to do riskier and riskier things." Of course, with auto production having been the backbone of so many macro data points that are used to 'show' the real economy recovering (despite the channel-stuffing), now that the growth in auto-sales are stalling, it is for the subprime originators "under extreme pressure to hit goals" in their boiler-room-like dealings to extend loans (at ever higher rates) and securitize while the Fed 'music' is still playing. It seems we truly never learn.