Did Facebook really just buy a company at THESE Valuations?
We’ve chronicled the saga of “buy-to-rent” for well over a year now. From some of its most exuberant phases to its now epic retreat (investment firm property purchases are now down 70% year-to-date). It seems as if the pullback of private equity and hedge funds from this asset class is even more brutal in certain regions, with Blackstone now reporting its purchases in California down a staggering 90% this year. Not to worry, we're quite certain unemployed and deeply indebted recent college graduates will soon pick up the slack due to the anticipated resurgence of subprime lending.
In the middle of 2012, to much yield chasing fanfare, China launched a private-placement market for high-yield bonds focusing on China's small and medium companies, that in a liquidity glutted world promptly found a bevy of willing buyers, mostly using other people's money. Less than two years later, the first of many pipers has come demanding payment, when overnight Xuzhou Zhongsen Tonghao New Board Co., a privately held Chinese building materials company, failed to pay interest on high-yield bonds, according to the 21st Century Business Herald.
Japanese real estate stocks were broadly speaking the worst global equity performers in the first quarter of 2014 along with broad weakness in Russia and China (note US consumer discretionary was the 25th worst equity index in the world). At the other end of the spectrum, the quarter belonged to everything Middle-Eastern with Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, and Qatar all soaring (along with - somewhat remarkably) Greece, Portugal, and Italy...
London’s cobbled and quaint streets are no longer paved with gold as their fictitious character, Dick Whittington might have once believed in fairytale land. But, they certainly do attract the golden billionaire boys from around the world these days as London gets to the top position in the places to have a pad; but you don’t necessarily need to live there!
Being a kleptocratic crook in China is now becoming a higher risk proposition.
One of the evils of massive over-financialization is that it enables Wall Street to scalp vast “rents” from the Main Street economy. These zero sum extractions not only bloat the paper wealth of the 1% but also fund a parasitic bubble finance infrastructure that would largely not exist in a world of free market finance and honest money. The infrastructure of bubble finance can be likened to the illegal drug cartels. In that dystopic world, the immense revenue “surplus” from the 1000-fold elevation of drug prices owing to government enforced scarcity finances a giant but uneconomic apparatus of sourcing, transportation, wholesaling, distribution, corruption, coercion, murder and mayhem that would not even exist in a free market. The latter would only need LTL trucking lines and $900 vending machines. In this context, the sprawling empire known as Bloomberg LP is the Juarez Cartel of bubble finance.
Overnight, UK property consultancy Knight Frank reported that London property prices rose 7.5% annually, modestly slowing from 8.1% in March 2013, and 11.3% March 2012. Slowing you say? Not really, and certainly not at the high end: "London sales over £1 million accounted for 22% of the £4.7 billion total in the 2012/13 tax year, while sales over £2 million made a 15% contribution. Transaction volumes in both price brackets represent less than 2% and 1% of the total, respectively" Knight Frank reported. But really putting it into perspective is the observation that on the 5 year anniversary of the centrally planned, HFT-rigged market ramp, London real estate prices have risen by a stunning 68% in the 5 years since March 2009.
- US, Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock (AP)
- Russian forces 'gradually withdrawing' from Ukraine border (AFP)
- Turkish PM Erdogan tells enemies they will pay price after poll (Reuters)
- And Goldman arrives: Credit markets open to Argentina for first time in years (Reuters)
- Regulators Twice Failed to Open GM Probes (WSJ)
- Bad loan writedowns soar at China banks (FT)
- Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
- Euro zone inflation drops to lowest since 2009 (Reuters)
- Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years (Reuters)
It is supremely ironic that those who wish to withdraw or minimize their interactions with the Ponzi might actually feed it on the way out. This alone speaks volumes towards how dysfunctional and truly unsustainable it is.
Widening income disparity has been a feature of many advanced and developing economies for the past few years and has myriad investment implications. As we noted yesterday, the USA is at levels of income disparity not seen since the roaring 20s (and by some counts worse) but how does that stack up to the rest of the world? Fed fans will be proud to say that once again USA in Number 1... in global income inequality.
Just a few short weeks ago we reported on the unusual suicide, due to self-inflicted nail-gun wounds, of Richard Talley, CEO of Denver-based American Title Services. The death of the 57-year-old banker was accompanied by the fact that his firm was under investigation by the insurance regulators, and now, as The Denver Post reports, state prosecutors launched a criminal investigation and a grand jury over more than $2 million missing from escrow accounts. As part of that inquiry, investigators have seized about 100 boxes of documents and about 60 computers as records suggest the seemingly successful title business had serious financial problems. Talley's wife, Cheryl, who owns the other 60% of the firm has not commented.
- Crimea Resolution Backed by U.S. Barely Gets UN Majority (BBG)
- Russian Buildup Stokes Worries (WSJ)
- As reported here first: China’s Developers Face Shakeout as Easy Money Ends (BBG)
- U.S. House Poised to Clear Sanctions Called Putin Warning (BBG)
- Bitcoin Prices Plunge on Report PBOC Orders Accounts Shut (BBG)
- Search for lost Malaysian jet shifts significantly after new lead (Reuters)
- Russian fund taps China and Middle East (FT)
- Long battle looms between U.S. college, athletes seeking to unionize (Reuters)
- Official warns EU-US trade deal at risk over investor cases (FT)
- New iPhone likely out in September, Nikkei daily says (AFP)
Over the past month, we have explained in detail not only how the Chinese credit collapse and massive carry unwind will look like in theory, but shown various instances how, in practice, the world's greatest debt bubble is starting to burst. One thing we have not commented on was how actual trade pathways - far more critical to offshore counterparts than merely credit tremors within the mainland - would be impacted once the nascent liquidity crisis spread. Today, we find the answer courtesy of the WSJ which reports that for the first time in the current Chinese liquidity crunch, Chinese importers, for now just those of soybeans and rubber but soon most other products, "are backing out of deals, adding to a wide range of evidence showing rising financial stress in the world's second-biggest economy."
The entire capital market structure has become mispriced.