Special Situations

Lord Rothschild: "This Is The Greatest Experiment In Monetary Policy In The History Of The World"

"The six months under review have seen central bankers continuing what is surely the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world. We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30% of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale."

Something Unexpected Happened When A Distressed Credit Fund Tried To Liquidate

In May 2015, Warwick's European Distressed & Special Situations Credit Fund liquidated after investors submitted redemption requests amounting to 90% of the fund’s assets. But something unexpected happened" "the problem" as HFA writes, is that "the fund’s remaining assets — encompassing debt and equity positions in Fitness First, New Gulf Resources, Oasis Holdings and Punch Taverns — are too illiquid to be sold."

"The Bankers Have Gone Through This Before. They Know How It Ends, And It’s Not Pretty"

Oil companies have sold $61.5 billion in stocks and bonds since January as oil prices have tumbled. However, the fees geneated are a tiny fraction of the bank's real exposure to the energy sector, at over $150 billion. So have the banks learned their lesson?  "The bankers have gone through this before,” says Oscar Gruss’s Meyer. “They know how it works out in the end, and it’s not pretty." Then again, perhaps banks are just sailing on an ocean of liquidity allowing them to postpone the day of Mark to Market reckoning, especially since this time, everyone is in it together....

On The Looming Wall Of Chinese Defaults, Restructuring Firm Warns "You Know It's Coming"

The news this week of China's largest corporate bankruptcy - Haixin Iron & Steel Group - amid crashing iron ore and steel prices was followed by analysts noting it "will be followed by others," as the major flaw of producers of iron ore, the most traded commodity after oil, is they tend to be "over-bullish." Distressed debt funds are starting to circle in preparation for what they expect to be a bloodbath as Bloomberg reports, bad debts in China are well underestimated because authorities persist in propping up weak companies and bailing out local investors, according to DAC Management, "we've yet to see it because if you look at corporate defaults, they keep getting covered by the government. At some point, they can’t cover every single one." Most worryingly though, as KPMG points out, "when you see restructuring advisers getting hired by SOEs... you know it's coming."

Lessons In Investment Warfare

There is a war being conducted out there in the financial markets. A war between debtors and creditors, between governments and taxpayers, between banks and depositors, between the errors of the past and the hopes of the future. How can investors end up on the winning side ? History would seem to have the answers. We would argue today that central bank bubble-blowing has made the entire market high-risk, with a broad consensus that with interest rates at 300-year lows and bonds hysterically overpriced and facing the prospect of interest rate rises to boot, stocks are now "the only game in town". If history is any guide, the identity of the losers seems to be self-evident.

How Phil Falcone Won The Battle Against Goldman, But Lost The War (Or How Not To Manipulate Bonds)

As part of the SEC's consent order with Harbinger's Phil Falcone, we learned that in addition to the previously well-known stuff Falcone was engaging in (using the fund as his taxpaying piggybank, giving preferential gating terms to "friends and family", etc), perhaps what really scuttled the once legendary hedge fund manager is what ended up being an outright war with Goldman, when back in 2006 Harbinger tried to not only take the other side of a short bet put on by Goldman, but literally squeezed Goldman and its clients into absolutely misery with the result millions in profit to Falcone and unknown losses to Goldie. And as one knows, you never fight Goldman and win, without ultimately losing everything.

Frontrunning: June 18

  • Obama Says Bernanke Fed Term Lasting ‘Longer Than He Wanted’ (Bloomberg)
  • Merkel Critical Of Japan's Credit Policy In Meeting With Abe (Nikkei)
  • China Wrestles With Banks' Pleas for Cash (WSJ)
  • Biggest protests in 20 years sweep Brazil (Brazil)
  • Pena Nieto Confident 75-Year Pemex Oil Monopoly to End This Year (Bloomberg)
  • G8 leaders seek common ground on tax (FT)
  • Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure (Reuters)
  • Former Trader Is Charged in U.K. Libor Probe (WSJ) - yup: it was all one 33 year old trader's fault
  • Draghi Says ECB Has ‘Open Mind’ on Non-Standard Measures (BBG)
  • Loeb Raises His Sony Stake, Drive for Entertainment IPO (WSJ)