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Frontrunning: May 18





  • Tsipras Endgame Nears as Greek Bank Collateral Evaporates (BBG)
  • Shi'ite forces ordered to deploy after fall of Iraqi city (Reuters)
  • Ratings agency Fitch to downgrade many European banks (Reuters)
  • Bubble Blowing to Continue So Long as Yellen Isn’t Raising Rates (BBG)
  • Greece's Debt Battle Exposes Deeper Eurozone Flaws (WSJ)
  • Obama to set new limits on police use of military equipment (Reuters)
  • China April home prices fuel hopes of bottoming out, but long road to recovery (Reuters)
  • Hedge Funds Close Doors, Facing Low Returns and Investor Scrutiny (NYT)
  • ASIC's Greg Medcraft 'quite worried' about Sydney, Melbourne house prices (Fin Review)
 
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How China's Banks Hide Trillions In Credit Risk: Full Frontal





According to Fitch, nearly 40% of credit in China is outside bank loans, meaning that between forced roll-overs, the practice of carrying channel loans as "investments" and "receivables", inconsistent application of loan classification norms, and the dramatic increase in off balance sheet financing, the 'real' ratio of non-performing loans to total loans is likey far higher than the headline number.

 
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Chicago "Junking" Triggers $2.2 Billion Payment, Deepening Financial Crisis





Following an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that struck down a pension reform plan aimed at closing a $100 billion funding gap, Moody's downgrades Chicago to junk, giving the city the dubious distinction of being the only major city "in recent history" to carry such a low rating other than Detroit. Chicago now faces accelerated payments to creditors of more than $2 billion.

 
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Here We Go Again: Verizon To Buy AOL Marking Another Tech Bubble Top





The last time AOL was involved in a mega merger was January 2000, when AOL acquired Time Warner for $182 billion in what was the mega deal of the last tech bubble, creating a $350 billion behemoth. Fast forward 15 years and here is AOL again in yet another period-defining if far, far smaller transaction once again, when moments ago Verizon announced that it would acquire AOL for $50/share, a deal value of $4 .4billion. And with that the golden age of digital (and in many cases robotic) content, has now been top-ticked.

 

 
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Almost Half Of US States Are Officially Broke





At least 22 states are facing budget shortfalls thanks to a combination of fiscal mismanagement and falling oil prices. The negative impact on the public sector has been dramatic suggesting that in the event of a sustained economic downturn, citizens' patience for austerity could wear thin leading to political instability and social unrest. 

 
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China's Banks Obscure Credit Risk, Face "Insolvency" In Property Downturn, Fitch Says





As data on non-performing loans at Chinese banks shows the biggest sequential increase on record in Q1, Fitch wonders if perhaps the data actually obscures a far larger problem. Official figures on China's NPLs are obscured by a number of factors and may be grossly understated the ratings agency suggests. Furthermore, Fitch says "a protracted downturn in property markets could threaten the solvency of Chinese banks, given their modest loss-absorption capacity."

 
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Frontrunning: May 11





  • Full picture of Clinton charities' foreign government funding remains elusive (Reuters)
  • Greece Readies for Another Week of Deadlines (BBG)
  • Greece says deal will be 'difficult' at Eurogroup meeting (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia’s Rulers Snub Arab Summit, Clouding U.S. Bid for Iran Deal (WSJ)
  • Saudi Aramco Said to Plan Spending $80 Billion Overseas (BBG)
  • The $900 Billion Influx That’s Wreaking Havoc in U.S. Bills (BBG)
  • Cameron rules out another Scottish independence vote (Reuters)
  • Banks Prep Defense for Anti-Wall Street Campaigns (WSJ)
 
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3 Things: Trade, Confidence & Momentum





The market is currently engaged in the longest bull run in history without a 10% correction. The decline in momentum, the weakness in economic underpinnings and lack of Central Bank interventions (not to mention the threat of an increase in overnight lending rates) certainly provide the necessary ingredients for a sharper than expected correction this summer.

 
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US Economic Confidence Crashes Most Since July To Lowest Since December





Despite record-er stock prices, weather excuses for current economic weakness, and The Fed promising that growth is here and everything will be awesome, it appears the message has not reached the US Consumer. Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index plunged 9 points last week (the largest week-to-week drop since last July) to its lowest weekly score since December. The main driver was a collapse of hope as 'outlook' fell to November lows.

 
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Sanctions & Saber Rattling Doesn't Stop The US From Importing Russian Petroleum





Americans might be quite surprised to know that even with all the U.S. Government sanctions and threats of war with Russia, America still imports a significant amount of petroleum from the former communist country. How much petroleum does the United States import from Russia? Actually, a lot more when we focus on net imports...

 
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Myth Or Reality: "Sell In May"





There is little advantage to be gained by being aggressively allocated during the summer months. However, in reality, there are few individuals that can maintain a strict discipline of only investing during seasonally strong periods consistently. Also, time frames of when you start and when you need your capital for retirement make HUGE differences in actual performance. However, a willful disregard of "risk" will inherently lead to the destruction of the two most precious and finite assets that all investors possess – capital and time.

 
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"Oh It's Gonna Blow Up Tonight" - Baltimore In Turmoil After Latest Gun 'Incident'





And just as things in Baltimore were quieting down...

 
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Why Is This A Circle?





We thought that at least the federal government would be interested in keeping the employment dream alive for the millions of students to whom it has loaned hundreds of billions of dollars in tuition money, which is why we assume this graphic is simply the result of someone making a very poor design choice...

 
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