- Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Putin warns of consequences (Reuters)
- Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up' (AP)
- Vienna Banks Bemoan Russia Sanctions Testing Cold War Neutrality (BBG)
- GE’s $57 Billion Cash Overseas Said to Fuel Alstom Deal (BBG)
- GM posts lower first-quarter profit after recall costs (Reuters)
- Apple Stock Split Removes Obstacle to Inclusion in Dow (BBG)
- U.S. regulators to propose new net neutrality rules in May (Reuters)
- The ice breaks; fiscal talks set (The Hill); Ryan steps up to shape a deal (The Hill), as predicted here yesterday
- Republicans consider short-term U.S. debt ceiling increase (Reuters)
- Shutdown Standoff Shows Signs of a Thaw (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Clients in Cash as Schwab’s Options Hedge Default (BBG)
- Mitch McConnell, Senate GOP search for way out (Politico)
- Meredith Whitney Winds Down Brokerage Unit After Setting Up Fund (BBG)
- Washington Budget Chaos Keeps Fed Rates Low for Longer (BBG)
- Chinese Premier Outlines US Debt Concerns (FT)
- Saudis brace for 'nightmare' of U.S.-Iran rapprochement (Reuters)
- Obama Urges Action on Yellen’s Fed Nomination (Reuters)
- Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan Freed After Kidnap (WSJ)
Earlier it was Bank of America reporting a perfect trading quarter, with profitability on 60 out of 60 trading days, and now it is JPMorgan's turn. Moments ago, Jamie Dimon's firm filed a 10Q in which, among other things, it announced than in the quarter ended March 31, it was profitable on 63 out of 63 trading days and had one day in which it gained more than $200 million, or said simply another case of trading perfection unmatched anywhere in the known universe except perhaps by sellers of newsletters on Twitter. It was not immediately clear why JPM got a freebie of three extra profitable trading days in the quarter compared to BofA, although we suspect Jamie Dimon's presidential cufflinks may have something to do with it. What is clear is that the probability of one firm trading without error for an entire quarter, let alone two (and soon more as other banks file their 10-Qs) is slim to quite slim. Although not nearly as slim as whoever the hot chick is on Dancing with the Stars this season, which we are confident is the only thing the bulk of the population cares about. For everyone else, there's E(rror free)-trade.
- Bundesbank cuts growth outlook as crisis bites (Reuters)
- Strong quake hits off Japan near Fukushima disaster zone (Reuters)
- Greece to Buy Debt It Already Owns to Reach Target (BBG)
- Draghi’s Go-to ECB Seen Risking Credibility Through Overload (BBG)
- Judge urges Apple and Samsung ‘peace’ (FT) ... Alas only the US government has a Magic Money Tree; others need profit
- Fed Exit Plan May Be Redrawn as Assets Near $3 Trillion (BBG)... make that $5 trillion this time in 2014
- Level Global, SAC Fund Managers Ruled Co-Conspirators (BBG)
- Egypt demonstrators reject Mursi call for dialogue (Reuters)
- Japanese Dealerships in China Retrench in Wake of Dispute (BBG)
- Apparel factory fire reveals big brands' shadowy supply chainsa (Reuters)
- Republican Defectors Weigh Deal on Tax-Rate Increase (BBG)
The antics of the world's most cartoonish CEO, that would be NFLX' Reed Hastings of course, who once upon a time posted on Seeking Alpha telling naysayers not to short him, bro, (only to continue sell his company's stock even as NFLX proceeded to use corporate money to buyback its own stock in the $200+ area), before promptly collapsing to multi-year lows, has finally been called to task by none other than that other most cartoonish of organizations: the SEC, which is now desperate to clean up its image as the bulk of the most coopted personnel are jumping ship, and will likely end up in various Wall Street companies.
As ever, it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly why gold and all precious metals fell in price. Interestingly, oil fell by even more - NYMEX crude was down by 1% and was down by more than 1.7% at one stage. The CME Group, which operates the U.S. COMEX gold futures market, said Wednesday's plunge in gold was not the consequence of a "fat finger" or a human error. The trading wasn’t even fast enough to trigger a pause on Globex, said CME. One thing that we can say for certain was that there was massive, concentrated selling as the New York stock markets opened with some 35,000 lots sold which is equivalent to 3.5 million ounces and saw the price fall from $1,735/oz to $1,711/oz between 0825 and 0830 EST. One sell order alone was believed to be 24 tonnes or 770,000 troy ounces. Incredibly there was 35% daily volume in just 60 seconds. The selling, like all peculiar, counter intuitive, sharp sell offs in recent months, was COMEX driven with COMEX contracts slammed leading to further stop loss selling. The selling may have been by speculative players on the COMEX. It may have been algo or computer trading driven or tech selling – although this is less likely. Informed commentators questioned the nature of the selling as a large institutional COMEX trading entity would normally gradually sell a position of this size in order to maximise profit.
It turns out the topic of today's much expected conference call originating at 72 Cummings Point Road Stamford, is what many already knew yesterday, namely that the SEC has warned SAC that after years and years of pursuits, the enforcer is finally getting close in for the kill, and has sent a Wells Notice, usually a first step before civil charges are filed.
- SAC SAID TO TELL CLIENTS IT GOT WELLS NOTICE FROM SEC LAST WEEK
The notice will be filed against the holdco, implying Cohen himself will be implicated, instead of just the CR Intrinsic OpCo where Martoma worker. Usually the SEC does not file Wells Notices without sufficient backing, so this may finally get interesting. But we are not holding our breath. One needs to simply recall how the SEC bungled its CDS insider trading case vs Millennium and Deutsche to see how the endgame here could well be another epic humiliation for the soon to be Schapro-less regulator.
A warning by the SEC in mid-March 2011 regarding repo-to-maturity trades suggests otherwise.
Looks like the SEC is not done with Goldman Sachs, already the subject of the largest civil fine levied by the SEC on a Wall Street firm, aside for that whole Robosettlement farce of course - which still is not available to the general public, and is back for more wristslaps. Per Reuters: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission notified Goldman Sachs Group Inc that it may file a civil case against the bank related to a $1.3 billion offering of subprime mortgage securities, Goldman said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. Goldman received the "Wells notice" on Feb. 24 related to the bond deal, which was underwritten by Goldman in 2006, according to the 10-K filing. A Wells notice indicates that SEC staff plans to recommend that the Commission take legal action, and gives a recipient a chance to mount a defense. The bank said it will be making a submission to SEC staff "and intends to engage in a dialogue" with them to address their concerns." Our only question is how will Goldman pin this one entirely on Fabrice Tourre who may or may not be still in the employ of the 200 West headquartered firm.
CFTC Comissioner Runs From Questions, Admits SEC Should be “Looked Into”
Just because Solyndra was not enough of a humiliation for the president, not to mention MF Global where inquiring minds are wondering when the president and vice-president will refund any and all campaign donations received by Jon Comminglerzine, here comes the next public fiasco for the administration, as the broader public shifts its attention to LightSquared by way of owner Harbinger capital, and its flamboyant head (and wife) - Phil Falcone. As has been just released in an SEC filing, Harbinger has received a Wells Notice from the SEC. Now in a time long, long ago, or about three years ago, before market criminality and manipulation became wholly endorsed by the US government, getting a Wells Notice was a death sentence for any hedge fund. Alas, it still is: "The Wells Notices state that the staff intends to recommend or is considering recommending that the Commission file civil injunctive actions against HCP, Harbinger Capital Partners Offshore Manager, LLC, Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations GP, LLC, Mr. Falcone, Mr. Asali, and Ms. Roger alleging violations of the federal securities laws’ anti-fraud provisions in connection with matters previously disclosed and an additional matter regarding the circumstances and disclosure related to agreements with certain fund investors." And whether the Wells Notice is merely an inquiry into Falcone previous shady hedge fund-dipping practices described here, or a preamble to a full blown public spectacle-cum-humiliation on Harbinger's LightSquared remains to be seen. One thing is certain: Mrs Falcone will milk the newly found notoriety to its full extend, prenup firmly in gold-braceleted hand.
While the president makes yet more speeches about how the time to leave the past behind us is now (while newly scapegoating Europe for the economic catastrophe), the sniping war against S&P continues, only this time with a twist. According to the FT, the SEC has asked the rating agency to disclose who at the company knew about the downgrade, "as part of a preliminary look into potential insider trading." The funny thing is that while the answer will be everyone, even in that case the SEC will end up doing nothing as it always 'does' (pun intended), and the whole process is nothing but a sham to humiliate the rating agency. "The inquiry was made by the SEC’s examination staff, which has oversight of credit rating firms, one person familiar with the matter said. The exam staff can make referrals to the SEC’s enforcement division if it believes any laws have been violated, but the inquiry might not result in a referral....Proving someone leaked information about the downgrade, or traded ahead of it, could be challenging. Many traders anticipated the downgrade and bets could occur across numerous securities or currencies without inside information. In a traditional insider trading case, there is often a more predictable correlation between a company’s stock price and a particular development." Of course the next question is what is the null hypothesis: that leakees would buy or sell bonds based on the info? Because the natural response would be to dump treasuries even as the real outcome was a plunge in equities and a scramble to safe one-ply paper. So is PIMCO about to be charged with insder trading for having sold 10 Years even though in reality the spread tightened by a record 60 bps in the following week?
Moody's Leaked Again: Told Nancy Pelosi Will "Probably Not" Downgrade US Weeks Ago; Did Her Multi-Millionaire Investor Husband Know Too?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/02/2011 20:30 -0400
Moody's reputation for leaking inside information is well-known: after all it was one of its own employees, Deep "Throat" Shah, who leaked to infamous hedge fund Galleon information of upcoming LBOs. But at least that wasn't information originating from Moody's: the world's most incompetent rating agency was merely a conduit. Yet we were little surprised to learn that the firm that facilitated the housing bubble, and where such apparatchiks as Mark Zandi reside, informed none other than House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi that it likely wouldn't downgrade the US debt as long as several weeks ago. Per Dow Jones: "Moody's earlier Thursday took the unusual step of warning that it might place the U.S. government's debt rating under review for a possible downgrade. The agency said the review would come if Congress doesn't make progress on raising the country's debt ceiling. Pelosi said she was alerted to the Moody's report just after House Democrats met with President Barack Obama at the White House. She said a few weeks ago she was in New York and the head of Moody's told her that it "would probably not downgrade, so this is interesting news today," she said. "But the fact is we cannot default" on the debt." We are relieved to learn that the head of Moody's, a firm which only last summer received a Wells Notice from the SEC, in an investigation which was promptly scuttled by powerful and rich people, takes its responsibility of protecting material, non-public information with such passion. Yet it is the topic of another leak of non-public information, and not Moody's criminal incompetence, that bothers us. Because as we noted last week, it is now proven scientifically that members of both Congress and Senate (especially democrats), tend to trade a littel too much on inside information. And even if not Ms. Pelosi, who precisely will guarantee us that Ms Pelosi's husband, multi-millionaire Paul Pelosi who just happens to be the owner of Financial Leasing Services, Inc., a San Francisco, California-based real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm, did not procure the Moody's inside information courtesy of wagging tongues at Moody's and in his wife's mouth, and then proceed to trade accordingly. Alas, with the regulator in charge being the same one who let the whole Moody's investigation get deadended in record time, we are not hopeful of getting any information or justice. Ever.
Grassley Steps Up SAC Insider Trading Inqury: Demands SEC Information On How Regulator Resolved Steve Cohen FINRA ReferralsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/24/2011 11:45 -0400
It looks like the SAC investigation is about to go to the very top. As we reported over the weekend, Senator Chuck Grassley recently commenced an investigation into at least 20 trades, both stocks and options, at SAC Capital, that may implicate the billionaire with the zamboni in insider trading (despite a very spirited defense that Mr. Cohen is a true humanitarian at, heart having recently purchased none other than the NY Mets, evidence of his civic duty) and lead to an insider trading conviction that would make the Raj Raj affair pale in comparison. Of course, any investigation of SAC would draw many parallels to Madoff, where it would appear impossible that any potential insider trading over the years occurred without the regulator's knowledge. Hence, in a new letter to the SEC, the senator has made it clear that he is now investigating whether or not SEC pursued and/or resolved any of the numerous Finra referrals regarding SAC. Grassley is also seeking: "how the number of referrals over this timeframe compares to similarly situated firms, [and] whether a Wells Notice was ever drafted with regard to SAC Capital related to any of these referrals or related to any other matter (if so, please provide a copy of any Draft or Final Wells Notice)." We expect to discover the answer to the last question to be exactly zero. We also expect that various district attorneys will suddenly jump at the opportunity to earn a few political brownie points now that they smell some very nutritious blood in the water.
And while the general public frets over the latest geopolitical disasters, the SEC proves Rahm Emanuel correct once again, and letting no disaster go to waste, man-made or natural, the world's most incompetent (but massively underpaid, or so they claim) regulator is preparing to let Dick Fuld completely off the hook for last spring's stunning Repo 105 report by Anton Valukas, whose findings even the bankruptcy expert said were probably cause for civil lawsuits. The WSJ reports: "In recent months, Securities and Exchange Commission officials have grown increasingly doubtful they can prove that Lehman violated U.S. laws by using an accounting maneuver to move as much as $50 billion in assets off its balance sheet, which made it appear that the securities firm had reduced its debt levels....After zeroing in last summer on the battered real-estate portfolio and an accounting move known as Repo 105, SEC officials have grown more worried they could lose a court battle if they bring civil charges that allege Lehman investors were duped by company executives. The key stumbling block: The accounting move, while controversial, isn't necessarily illegal." Oh no, illegal it is. The problem is that should the SEC actually pursue it and win, that act would open up the floodgates for hundreds of lawsuits against everyone from Bank of America and Citi, which have also disclosed they used comparable tactics to misrepresent the true status of their books, to shady accounts like Ernst & Young, all the way to FASB at the very top of the corruption pyramid. And with hundreds of millions if not billions in legal fees about to be paid out if the fraudclosure back door settlement fails, the SEC simply can not allow the pursuit of justice to threaten the viability of America's only national interest: that of its criminal banking syndicate.