But those Shanghai office towers across the river in Pudong were already standing empty a decade ago – not that you would know from any contemporary reporting. Former Prime Minister Rhu Rongji publicly pleaded with provincial bureaucrats to stop fabricating figures because it made it impossible for him to know what was going on.
Beer, wine, mood, and San Francisco real estate –with more predictive power than is allowed by law.
From Kyle Bass / Dylan Grice prognostications on Japan as poster-boy for the end-results of a desperate central bank / government cabal to Richard Koo's perception of the land of the rising sun as a great example of how to get out of a depressionary funk, no one can argue with the facts that Japan's debt situation and total lack of financial flexibility is a ticking debt-bomb (with a fuse varying from 3 months to infinity given market participants' pricing implications). McKinsey provides some clarifying perspective on the Lessons from Japan today suggesting the country provides a 'cautionary tale for economies today'. Noting that neither the public nor the private sectors made the structural changed that would enable growth (a theme often discussed here) with public debt having grown steadily as economic stimulus efforts continue. But, as they note, the price - two decades of slow growth - has been high, and the final resolution of Japan's enormous public debt has yet to come.
Nowhere in S&P’s statement about “global economic and financial crisis”, did it clarify that sovereigns were hit due to backing their largest national banks (and international, US ones) which engaged in half a decade of leveraged speculation. But here’s how it worked: 1) Big banks funneled speculative capital, and their own, into local areas, using real estate and other collateral as fodder for securitized deals with derivative touches. 2) They lost money on these bets, and on the borrowing incurred to leverage them. 3) The losses ate their capital. 4) The capital markets soured against them in mutual bank distrust so they couldn’t raise more money to cover their bets as before. 5) So, their borrowing costs rose which made it more difficult for them to back their bets or purchase their own government’s debt. 6) This decreased demand for government debt, which drove up the cost of that debt, which transformed into additional country expenses. 7) Countries had to turn to bailouts to keep banks happy and plush with enough capital. 8) In return for bailouts and cheap lending, governments sacrificed citizens. 9) As citizens lost jobs and countries lost assets to subsidize the international speculation wave, their economies weakened further. 10) S&P (and every political leader) downplayed this chain of events.... The die has been cast. Central entities like the Fed, ECB, and IMF perpetuate strategies that further undermine economies, through emergency loan facilities and bailouts, with rating agency downgrades spurring them on. Governments attempt to raise money at harsher terms PLUS repay the bailouts that caused those terms to be higher. Banks hoard cheap money which doesn’t help populations, exacerbating the damaging economic effects. Unfortunately, this won't end any time soon.
The reason I don’t write about markets so much anymore is because I don’t believe there are markets any longer. Sure there are flashing prices on the screens for various assets and those can be addicting to look at on a daily basis, but I think these “markets” are now merely a mechanism for government propaganda and a method to ultimately fleece more money from the uniformed masses that play in it by the casino operators and their puppets in government. It’s basically a hologram. I have alluded to this in recent interviews, but I myself feel extremely uncomfortable being involved at this point in a way I have never felt before. For now, I am still willing to play the game with some of my own capital but I fear I may regret this decision and that the smart thing would be to pull out completely and go entirely into hard assets as well as real estate abroad. This game is not safe. By definition, the longer the period of tension building the more explosive the release will be when it ultimately happens. This period has already been going on for almost five months with only minor releases so I think we are already staring down the barrel of something horrific. Should they actually succeed and delaying the release until after the election I expect the release scenario to be downright cataclysmic. Should they succeed to delay it that far I hope I am wise enough to pull the remainder of my assets out of this casino beforehand and get entirely physical.
Back In May 2009 Zero Hedge was the only website to post (following a NYT Dealbook takedown for reasons unknown) the lament of one, now former, Deutsche Bank employee and whistleblower, Deepak Moorjani, who made it very clear that going all the way back to 2006, Deutsche Bank was allegedly fabricating data, and misleading investors about its commercial real estate holdings, courtesy of a lax regulatory strcuture and the "lack of a system of checks and balances". To wit: "At Deutsche Bank, I consider our poor results to be a “management debacle,” a natural outcome of unfettered risk-taking, poor incentive structures and the lack of a system of checks and balances. In my opinion, we took too much risk, failed to manage this risk and broke too many laws and regulations. For more than two years, I have been working internally to improve the inadequate governance structures and lax internal controls within Deutsche Bank. I joined the firm in 2006 in one of its foreign subsidiaries, and my due diligence revealed management failures as well as inconsistencies between our internal actions and our external statements. Beginning in late 2006, my conclusions were disseminated internally on a number of occasions, and while not always eloquently stated, my concerns were honest. Unfortunately, raising concerns internally is like trying to clap with one hand. The firm retaliated, and this raises the question: Is it possible to question management’s performance without being marginalized, even when this marginalization might be a violation of law?" The story was promptly drowned, despite our attempts to make it very clear just what practices the bank was engaging in in the follow up exclusive titled "One Whistleblower's Fight Against Goliath Over the Definition of Risk." Today, the questionably legal practices by Deutsche Bank are once again brought to the forefront with the Propublica article of former WSJ journalist Carrick Mollenkamp titled "Deutsche Analyst Sounded Alarm When Asked to Alter Numbers." This is the second time a pseudo-whistleblower has spoken out against an endemic culture of fraud at the German bank in two years. And nobody cares of course, for obvious reasons - the Zen-like tranquility of the status quo may never be disturbed, or else the endless crime and corruption lurking in the shadows will be exposed for all to see.
- The Fed's HFT price manipulation code stolen? U.S. Charges Programmer With Stealing Code (Reuters)
- One million homeowners may get mortgage writedowns: U.S. (Reuters)
- In MF Global, JPMorgan again at center of a financial failure (Reuters)
- China's Money Rates Slump After PBOC Injects Money (Reuters)
- Athens closes in on bondholder pact (FT) - or not
- Hedge Funds May Sue Greece If Loss Forced (NYT)
- China Said to Weigh Easing Constraints on Banks as Growth Slows (Bloomberg) - But wasn't a rate cut already priced in on Monday?
- Obama Under Attack Over Keystone Rejection (FT)
- Chinese Economy Heads for Soft Landing in 2012 (China Daily) - don't really expect "China Daily" to tell you otherwise
- Brazil Cuts Interest Rates Further to 10.5% (FT)
- India to Launch $35bn of Public Investments (FT)
Bank Of America Beats EPS Estimates, Misses Net Of One Time Items, Reports Could Be Underaccrued By Up To $5 BillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/19/2012 08:36 -0400
The just reported Bank of America top and bottom line numbers were better than expected, coming in at $24.89 billion compared to estimates of $24.5 billion, and EPS of $0.18 vs $0.15. The actual Net Income number number was $2.0 billion and $2.7 billion pre tax. So far so good. But a quick skim through the presentation (attached below), indicates that the $0.18 number may be grossly inflated. Because when one excludes the various selected one time items highlighted in the quarter, which are as follows: Gain on sale of CCB shares-$2.9; Gains on exchanges of trust preferred securities - $1.2; Gains on sales of debt securities - $1.2; Representations and warranties provision - ($0.3); DVA on trading liabilities- ($0.5); Goodwill impairment - ($0.6); Fair value adjustment on structured liabilities - ($0.8); Mortgage-related litigation expense ($1.5), all of which it appears are part of the pretax number, the final EPS comes in at a much less impressive $1.3 billion pre tax, which at the company's indicated tax rate, would have been $1.0 billion after tax, or $0.10 EPS, a notable miss. Which likely means that the Revenue "beat" on an apples to apples basis would also have to be pro forma'ing a bunch of items, and likely would be a miss. But for that we will need to go through the several hundred page 10-Q, something which management is hoping the machines which will send its stock much higher in the pre-market session, will never do. Another notable item is that for the first time in a long time, the company's average deposit balances declined by 1.2% in Q4 from Q3, from $422.3 billion to $417.1 billion (as the rate on deposits fell from 0.25% to 0.23%). Not a good trend, but certainly to be expected following the snafu with the company's electronic banking website last quarter. Also troubling is that in Q4, the company's Home Equity Non-Performing Assets increase for the first time in years, from $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion: it seems the improvement in housing has plateaued. Finally, and most troubling, is that BAC reported that "Estimated range of possible loss related to non-GSE representations and warranties exposure could be up to $5B over existing accruals at December 31, 2011." The reason: a surge in New Claims in Q4 "primarily related to repurchase requests received from trustees on private-label securitization transactions not included in the BNY Mellon settlement." Which means another $5 billion out of Net Income due to underreserving. Because how much did BAC provision for Reps and Warranties in Q4? Why a 'whopping' $263 million. And how much is the potential full notional value of underreserved contingent liabilities? Why $755 billion only.
Last week we heard from Nomura's bearded bear as Bob Janjuah restated his less-then-optimistic scenario for the global economy. Today his partner-in-crime, Kevin Gaynor, takes on the bullish consensus cognoscenti's three mutually supportive themes in his usual skeptical manner. While he respects the market's potential view that fundamentals, flow, valuation, and sentiment seem aligned for meaningful outperformance, it seems actual positioning does not reflect this (yet). Taking on each of the three bullish threads (EM policy shift as inflation slows, ECB has done and will do more QE, and US decoupling), the strategist teases out the reality and what is priced in as he does not see this as the March-2009-equivalent 'big-one' in rerisking (warranting concerns on chasing here).
While his diagnosis of the balance sheet recessionary outbreak that is sweeping global economies (including China now he fears) is a useful framework for understanding ZIRP's (and monetary stimulus broadly) general inability to create a sustainable recovery, his one-size-fits-all government-borrow-and-spend to infinity (fiscal deficits during balance sheet recessions are good deficits) solution is perhaps becoming (just as he said it would) politically impossible to implement. In his latest missive, the Nomura economist does not hold back with the blame-bazooka for the mess we are in and face in 2012. Initially criticizing US and now European bankers and politicians for not recognizing the balance sheet recession, Koo takes to task the ECB and European governments (for implementing LTRO which simply papers over the cracks without solving the underlying problem of the real economy suggesting bank capital injections should be implemented immediately), then unloads on the EBA's 9% Tier 1 capital by June 2012 decision, and ends with a significant dressing-down of the Western ratings agencies (and their 'ignorance of economic realities'). While believing that Greece is the lone profligate nation in Europe, he concludes that Germany should spend-it-or-send-it (to the EFSF) as capital flight flows end up at Berlin's gates. Given he had the holidays to unwind, we sense a growing level of frustration in the thoughtful economist's calm demeanor as he realizes his prescription is being ignored (for better or worse) and what this means for a global economy (facing deflationary deleveraging and debt minimization) - "It appears as though the world economy will remain under the spell of the housing bubble collapse that began in 2007 for some time yet" and it will be a "miracle if Europe does not experience a full-blown credit contraction."
Standard Chartered Does Not See A "Quick Move To Further Loosening" In China, Despite Property CorrectionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/18/2012 00:01 -0400
There were two reasons for today's big initial market move: one was the realization that the next LTRO could be massive to quite massive (further confirmed by a report that the ECB is now seeking a "Plan B"), the second one was that, somehow, even though China's economy came in quite better than expected, and much better than whispered, the market made up its mind that the PBoC is now well on its way to significant easing even though inflation actually came in hotter than expected, and virtually every sector of the economy, except for housing, is still reeling from Bernanke's inflationary exports. While we already discussed the first matter extensively earlier, we now present some thoughts from Standard Chartered, one of the most China-focused banks, to debunk the second, which in a note to clients earlier summarized "what the economy is really doing and where it is going" as follows: "If anything, today’s data is another reason not to expect a quick move to further loosening. The economy is slowing, but not dramatically – so far." This was subsequently validated by an editorial in the China Securities Journal which said there was no reason to cut interest rates in Q1, thereby once again confirming that the market, which in its global Bernanke put pursuit of interpreting every piece of news as good news, and as evidence of imminent Central Bank intervention, has once again gotten ahead of itself. And as the Fed will be the first to admit, this type of "monetary frontrunning" ironically make the very intervention far less likely, due to a weaker political basis to justify market intervention, while risking another surge in inflation for which it is the politicians, not the "independent" central banks, who are held accountable.
So, who're you gonna believe, your NYC broker or your lyin' eyes???? Another Reggie Middleton "I told 'ya so" exclusive...
A failure of the NYC public school system featuring my daughter. For those that don't see the link between herd mentaility education and investing, my 5 year old son predicted the housing crash, Goldman's analysts and Bernanke didn't. 'Nuff said!
I continue to believe that the large difference between the valuation of WFC and C is actually about right and is a function of the high-risk business model at C. Say what you want about the piles of cash, Dick Bove, C has a gross yield on lending assets that is more than 350bp above the industry average, a function of a subprime internal default target for the average customer. This is a deliberate business model choice and one that, frankly, makes it hard for me to justify buying C.