While the law has been something the US government and General Motors have been willing to 'bend' or break in the past (absolute priority 'shifts' in bankruptcy), we suspect this latest move by Mary Barra's new GM will do more PR damage. Simply put, as many suspected given Barra's testimony and comments in the past, Reuters reports that General Motors Co will ask a bankruptcy court to block any litigation of the alleged deaths associated with the ignition switch problem since they are related to the automaker's pre-2009 bankruptcy. Of course, as we noted here, the Feds are probing the company over whether they knowingly committed bankruptcy fraud.
The woman at the center of the IRS-Tea-Party-Targeting debacle is back in the limelight once again as the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-14 to formally ask the Justice Department to investigate the ex-IRS official. As Fox notes, this appears to be an escalation by the Republicans to confront Lerner over her role in the agency's controversial practice of singling out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny. On another front, a separate committee will vote Thursday on whether to hold her in contempt of Congress for twice refusing to testify on the scandal. Democrats called the move "unprecedented." The question, of course, is just how more 'da fifs' can she plead.
And all it took for the FBI, the SEC and now the DOJ to figure out the casino was rigged all along, was for a Michael Lewis book to do their job for them.
- DOJ PROBING HIGH SPEED TRADING FOR INSIDER TRADING: REUTERS
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirms Justice Department investigation into high-frequency trading. http://t.co/ERuwcHcGLt
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) April 4, 2014
Suleyman Aslan is the CEO of Turkey's second largest bank; so imagine how shocked police were when, as Bloomberg reports, they raided his home and found $4.5 million cash stashed in shoeboxes and bookshelves. When asked why the funds weren't deposited at the bank he ran, he said that would mean declaring their origin and registering them officially...something he clearly preferred not to do. Add to this a massive 44% surge in non-monetary gold exports (and who knows how much gold smuggled - once again preferring not to explain its origin) and it appears increasingly clear 'wealth' is being extricated from the increasingly totalitarian nation before confiscations begin following the 'successful' elections this weekend for the ruling AKP party.
- GM enters harsh spotlight as Congress hearings begin (Reuters)
- Facebook's Zuckerberg earns $3.3bn through share options (BBC)
- Sheryl Sandberg has sold more than half her stake in FaceBook (FT)
- Chinese Dragnet Entangles Family of Former Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang (WSJ)
- NHTSA chief: GM did not share critical information with U.S. agency (Reuters)
- Citigroup uncovered rogue trading in Mexico, fired two bond traders (Reuters)
- Corporate America’s overseas cash pile rises to $947bn (FT)
- Thai anti-government protester killed, rekindling political crisis (Reuters)
- China Milk Thirst Hands U.S. Dairies Record 2014 Profits (BBG)
- Caterpillar accused of ‘shifting’ profits (FT)
- New iPhone 6 screens to enter production as early as May (Reuters)
In the WSJ’s February 24th exposé of the turmoil at the helm of Pimco, we saw a curious bit about tension at “the Beach” increasing in the summer of 2013. During this period, according to the Journal, conflict between then co-CIOs Bill Gross and Mohamed E-Erian became apparent to staff, and Gross restricted trading at the firm. We wanted to see what insights a quantitative analysis of Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTRX) could offer about the summer and Total Return’s recent performance, a topic of increasing scrutiny amongst the investment community.
Not a week seems to pass without some banker or trader committing suicide. Today we get news of the latest such tragic event with news that 28-year old Kenneth Bellando, a former JPMorgan banker, current employee of Levy Capital, and brother of a top chief investment officer of JPM, jumped to his death from his 6th floor East Side apartment on March 12.
What You DON'T KNOW About CIA Fight with Congress
With surveillance and online privacy now front-and-center in many people's minds, the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival is hosting a "Virtual Conversation with Edward Snowden" this morning focused on the impact of the NSA's spying efforts on the technology community, and the ways in which technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance. Hear directly from Snowden about his beliefs on what the tech community can and must do to secure the private data of the billions of people who rely on the tools and services that we build.
CIA Spies On Senate Intelligence Committee In Effort to Block Senate Report On Disastrous CIA Torture ProgramSubmitted by George Washington on 03/05/2014 13:09 -0400
CIA Goes to EXTREME Lengths to Cover Up Its Illegal and Counter-Productive Acts
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized. What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.
In addition to the already noted fireworks out of China, where the Yuan saw the biggest daily plunge since 2008 and the ongoing and very rapid newsflow out of the Ukraine, focus this morning was very much of the latest Eurozone CPI data, which despite matching previous low levels, came in above expectations and in turn resulted in an aggressive unwind of short-EUR bets as market participants were forced to re-asses the likelihood of more easing by the ECB. Still, even though the Euribor curve bear steepened and Bunds came under significant selling pressure, the EONIA forward curve remained inverted, signifying that there is still a degree of apprehension over what is unarguably very low inflation data.
Missed today's follow up Janet Yellen testimony before the Senate Banking Committee? Don't worry: you didn't miss much, all the bases were covered including winter weather during the winter, the Fed's complete cluelessness about what "full employment" means (because the definition changed thoroughly from December 2012 when it was 6.5%), what the "quantitative" definition of quantitive easing is (Yellen has no idea), why the Fed isn't subject to a haircut on its MBS holdings while all the other banks have to suffer under the intolerable Basel III 15% haircut (something to do with illiquidity of MBS, and specifically - something to do with the fact that the Fed has soaked up more than all net issuance of MBS in the past year, but don't worry - the Fed is on top of it), and, of course, Bitcoin. For everything else, here is Goldman's post-mortem of Yellen's Day Two testimony.
Two weeks ago, Janet Yellen's testimony to the Senate, following her remarks to the House, were delayed due to inclement weather. Now that it is no longer snowing, she is back behind the mic at the Senate Banking Committee, where she will deliver the same identical prepared remarks as she did last time, but obviously with a different Q&A. Watch it live here.
Three unlucky attempts in a row to retake the S&P 500 all time high may have been all we get, at least for now, because the fourth one is shaping up to be rather problematic following events out of the Crimean in the past three hours where the Ukraine situation has gone from bad to worse, and have dragged the all important risk indicator, the USDJPY, below 102.000 once again. As a result, global stock futures have fallen from the European open this morning, with the DAX future well below 9600 to mark levels not seen since last Thursday. Escalated tensions in the Ukraine have raised concerns of the spillover effects to Western Europe and Russia, as a Russian flag is lifted by occupying gunmen in the Crimean (Southern Ukrainian peninsula) parliament, prompting an emergency session of Crimean lawmakers to discuss the fate of the region. This, allied with reports of the mobilisation of Russian jets on the Western border has weighed on risk sentiment, sending the German 10yr yield to July 2013 lows.