The government’s health insurance website is quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing Internet data for performance and marketing... but it's for your own good - The Obama administration says HealthCare.gov’s connections to data firms were intended to help improve the consumer experience.
"The second quarter is going to be devastating for the service companies," warns Conway Mackenzie - the largest U.S. restructuring firm - adding that, despite slashing thousands of jobs, delaying (or scrapping) billions in capex amid the prolonged rout in oil prices, "there are certainly companies that are going to die." As Bloomberg reports, oil drillers will begin collapsing under the weight of lower crude prices during the second quarter and energy explorers who employ them will shortly follow with oilfield-service providers are facing a "double-whammy." As we noted here, there are more than a few candidates for this 'death' list as it appears increasingly clear that what was considered an "unambiguously good" narrative for the nation is anything but...
Over a month ago we presented a ranking of "America's most levered energy companies." Since then they have all, without exception gotten clobbered, not only in their publicly traded stock but also their debt. Today, long after the liquidation whirlwind has left junk bond owners dazed and confused, Goldman catches up, and lays out a matrix of shale companies sorted not only by leveraged (they see 2.5x as the cutoff; we used 4.0x) but also by shale asset quality. From there, it also lays out the various opportunities, if any, available to the management teams in the resultant 4 quadrants. Readers will be most interested in the "restructuring/bankruptcy" option, most applicable for Group 4, because these are the names which, all else equal, will file for bankruptcy first.
Why not take 24hrs to strategically think through the surrounded man-hunt operation. Slowly mechanically rolling up a shop's street level security gate? You can't be serious!
Just when you thought it was all over... Having bounced post-CBR intervention and somewhat stabilized, the re-collapse in crude oil prices and continued weakness in Russian macro data provided just the impetus for a re-plunge in the Ruble (back above 63.5/USD) and surge in Russian bond yields (back to 14%). While Russian stocks are also retesting towards recent lows, it is Russian CDS that is the most telling as it closed to day at 595bps - the widest since March 2009. While these violent gyrations are new for recent history, they are not a new phenomenon, but are quite characteristic of the country’s financial history.
In 1991, the Cold War between the US and the USSR ended, as, economically, the USSR had run its course. Since that time, the US has had the ability to back off on armaments and to strengthen itself economically, to become even more powerful as the world’s present empire. But, of course, that’s not what they did. Instead, they went headlong in the direction of becoming a more highly armed, more fascist state. Along the way, they became extremely reckless with their economy, following a Keynesian model that contributed to the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen.
Fasten your seatbelts; 2015 will be a whirlwind pitting China, Russia and Iran against what I have described as the Empire of Chaos.
Less drilling will not only lead to a loss of jobs for oil workers, but the services that pop up around drilling sites – restaurants, bars, construction, and more – are feeling the slowdown as well. States like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have seen their economies boom over the last few years as oil production surged. But the sector is now deflating, leaving gashes in employment rolls and state budgets. With such extensive dependence on oil for prosperity in these states, the pain will mount if oil prices stay low.
We will readily admit that one cannot know with certainty whether the bubble in risk assets will become bigger. However, it seems to us that avoiding a big drawdown may actually be more important than gunning for whatever gains remain. We don’t think it is a good idea to simply “take the blue pill” and rely on the idea that the effects of the money illusion will last a lot longer. It is possible, but it becomes less and less likely the higher asset prices go and the more money supply growth slows down. If no-one can say when, then the “blue pill” strategy has a major weakness. It means that things could just as easily go haywire next week as next year.
Hot on the heels of his Xmas Poem, 50-year NYSE veteran Art Cashin, UBS Director of Floor Operations, has unveiled his New Year's Poem summarizing the year behind and looking at the year ahead. From ISIS to The Ice Bucket Challenge and from Joan Rivers' death to Kim Jung Un's life, Cashin covers it all...
Fast forward to today when we are about to learn that Newton's third law of Keynesian economics states that every boom, has an equal and opposite bust. Which brings us to Texas, the one state that more than any other, has benefited over the past 5 years from the Shale miracle. And now with crude sinking by the day, it is time to unwind all those gains, and give back all those jobs. Did we mention: highly compensated, very well-paying jobs, not the restaurant, clerical, waiter, retail, part-time minimum-wage jobs the "recovery" has been flooded with. Here is JPM's Michael Feroli explaining why Houston suddenly has a very big problem.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."