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Guest Post: You Want To Fix The U.S. Economy? Here's A Start

A simple 8-point plan would restore both the banking and the real estate sectors, and end the political dominance of the parasitic "too big to fail" banks. Craven politicos and clueless Federal Reserve economists are always bleating about how they want to fix the U.S. economy and restore "aggregate demand." OK, here's how to start...

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Senators Warn China That Escalations In South China Seas Threaten US "National Interests", China Likely To Retaliate

Just because China was already delighted with Obama's reception of the Dalai Lama, here come John McCain and John Kerry warning China to mind it territorial waters, because apparently US national interests are threatened. Per the FT: “We are concerned that a series of naval incidents in recent months has raised tensions in the region,” said John Kerry, the Democratic chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, and John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate. “If appropriate steps are not taken to calm the situation, future incidents could escalate, jeopardising the vital national interests of the United States.” The logical follow up is glairngly obvious but here it is: "China is likely to see the comments as a provocation as they echo remarks by Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, last year that infuriated Beijing. Speaking at the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) in Hanoi last July, Mrs Clinton angered Beijing by saying the US had “a national interest in freedom of navigation . . . in the South China Sea." What is surprising is that the US is dumb enough to bait China with such provocations as the US Treasury market is now, more than at any other point in the past 3 years, reliant on Chinese bond purchases. And for all those who claim that China has no other alternative where to recycle its trade surplus dollars, we bring you exhibit i) the EURUSD, where China sells dollars and buys euros, and ii) Eurozone bonds over the past months, which it has been gobbling up ravenously. So yes: it does have alternatives, and it may very well make a rather forceful statement to that extent.

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Soros Goes To 75% Cash As Fed No Longer Telegraphing Trades

Earlier today we saw what happens to investment banks when the Fed no longer clearly telegraphs its intentions vis-a-vis which asset has to be frontran (see Goldman post earlier). It is not just banks. In the absence of the Fed semaphore, it turns out even such "legendary" hedge funds as Soros' $25 billion Quantum are about as clueless as everyone else. Bloomberg reports that "the fund is about 75 percent in cash as it waits for better opportunities, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the firm is private." The reason: "“I find the current situation much more baffling and much less predictable than I did at the time of the height of the financial crisis,” Soros, 80, said in April at a conference at Bretton Woods organized by his Institute for New Economic Thinking. “The markets are inherently unstable. There is no immediate collapse, nor no immediate solution." But, but... what about relative and fundamental value, pair, cap and M&A arb? What about long-term investment opportunities in the growth of the world? What about arbing the so-called business cycle? Are none of those strategies worthy of investment? Or has ubiquitous central planning made the only profitable trade simply frontrunning the Fed's beta wave with as much leverage as possible? What's that you say? Yes? Thank you, the defense of formerly fair and efficient markets rests.

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Watch The MurdochGate Hearing Live In UK Parliament

Update: RTRS-Man threw white plate with foam on Rupert murdoch's face, Wendi hit him back

Live from the UK Parliament's culture, media and sport committee, here are Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks explaining why hacking people's phones may not have been the best idea ever.

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Visualizing Goldman's Epic Meltdown

No point in discussing Goldman's abysmal earnings. Here is the chart that says it all.

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Frontrunning: July 19

  • Moody's suggests U.S. eliminate debt ceiling (Reuters)
  • ECB weighing eurozone default options (FT)
  • Debt Deal Search Intensifies (WSJ)
  • Obama struggles to get Wall Street funding (FT)
  • Euro Zone Sees 3 Options For Private Role in Greece (Reuters)
  • Germany Says It's Confident EU to Reach Agreement on Second Greek Bailout (Bloomberg)
  • ECB's Mersch-Inflation risks to upside, eyeing developments‎ (Reuters)
  • Lockhart: Fed could keep rates low "much longer" (Reuters)
  • Greece Seeks Advisers for Privatization (WSJ) - there's always Goldman

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Greek Bonds Collapse As ECB's Nowotny Announces Bank Will Compromise, Agree To "Temporary" Greek Default

Wonder why the Greek 2 Year bond just plunged, sending its yield to a laughable all time high 39.09% (a 312 bps move today alone)? Wonder no more. According to the ECB's Ewald Novotny the central bank has folded to German demands, and will now allow a "temporary" Greek default. Of course, what happens next will be a complete freeze in capital markets (see the chart below which shows borrowings on the ECB's Main Refinancing Operation while itis still available) but who cares: the central planners think they have it all under control.

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85% Of Bank Of America's "Net Income" Comes From Reserve Release And MSR Adjustment, Capitalization Ratios Plunge

Another horrendous quarter for Bank of America. While the company reported an adjusted EPS of $0.33 which shockingly came at the "at the high end of the prior guidance on June 29, 2011 when the company said net income excluding mortgage items and other selected items would be between $0.28 and $0.33 per share" the truth is that of the $5.6 billion in adjusted pretax net income, $3.3 billion was the result of credit loss releases. In other words 59% of the firm's "adjusted EPS" came from an accounting treatment and the CFO's interpretation of improving credit trends. As for the balance: another $1.5 billion came from a write-down in Mortgage Servicing Rights or another accounting gimmick. So take away the reserve release and MSRs, and one gets an EPS number that is 86% lower than the disclosed or about $0.05. The problem is that on an andjusted basis, the EPS was ($0.90) or a loss of $12.6 billion pre tax, driven by the previously disclosed settlements and a surge in provisions for Rep and Warranty settlements to $14 billion. Keep in mind this number will be far, far higher when all the Countrywide litigation is said and done. After all, the firm itself said that  the "Estimated range of possible loss related to non-GSE representations and warranties exposure could be up to $5B over existing accruals at June 30, 2011. This estimate does not include reasonably possible litigation losses." So what about litigation losses? Well at $1.9 billion this was a huge surge from the $0.8 billion in Q1 and $0.6 billion Q4 2010. This number will also only go up as everyone and the kitchen sink sues Bank of America. And while one can play accounting games to paint the EPS tape, the cash that leaves the company is all too real: the firm's Common Equity Ratio plunged from 9.42% in Q1 to 9.09% in Q2, the lowest since Q2 2010, and the result was a plunge in the firm's (very much meaningless courtesy of Mark to Market being illegal - thank you FASB) Book Value per Share to $20.29: the lowest in well... ever since the firm's bailout by the US taxpayer.

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Today's Economic Data Docket - Housing Starts, Many European Headlines

Housing starts and permits for June. As usual, the key driver will be Europe-based headlines. There is a tiny POMO closing at 11 am.

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Gold to Correct After Front Page Financial Times Article? Gold in 2011 Vs The 1970’s And 1979

Gold has fallen in most currencies today and is trading at USD 1,603, EUR 1,130, GBP 995 and CHF 1,315 per ounce. Gold is 0.3% higher in Swiss francs again today after the last two weeks of deepening turmoil saw gold rise in the Swiss franc. Many market participants are expecting a correction in gold at the psychological level of $1,600/oz. This is quite possible given corrections often take place after reaching record round number highs. Also, corrections tend to happen when there is a lot of noise in the press and media. Gold’s record high in all currencies is front page news in the Financial Times today which would make any contrarian nervous that the recent move is overdone. However, coverage remains very muted in much of the non specialist financial press – many of whom barely covered or did not even mention the new record gold highs. Gold at $1,603/oz is only 2.5% above the recent record nominal price seen on April 29th at $1,563.70/oz. Thus, gold has had a two month correction and consolidation prior to reaching the new nominal highs over $1,600/oz. Therefore, it is quite possible that gold targets the next psychological level of $1,700/oz, prior to any meaningful correction. Higher prices in euros and pounds are especially likely, prior to a correction. It is worth remembering that in the 1970’s gold bull market, gold had annual appreciation of some 30% per annum and had moves of over 73% in 1973 and 66% in 1974 (see table above). Gold only went parabolic in 1979 when it rose by over 140%.

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Schizophrenic Sentiment Turns Positive Following Another Potential European Bond Market Intervention, "Strong" Greek, Spanish Auctions

Following last week's blatant secondary bond market intervention ahead of Italy's two auctions which even Willem Buiter predicted would need central bank intervention (ECB, but any would work), we were waiting to see if the ECB would announce an increase in its bond purchasing activity via the SMP for the week the passed. It did not. Which leaves just one culprit to explain the dramatic moves ahead of bond auctions (which naturally set the mood and allowed the primary issuance to proceed smoothly and not bring down the euro). China. And we venture to assume that it was China again who started buying bonds in the secondary market ahead of today's 4:30 am and 5:00 am issuance of €4.5 billion in 12 and 18 month bills and €1.25 billion in Greek 3 month bills, which resulted in the 10 year tightening -7bps to 1550; after it hit 1564bps earlier today, highest since at least 1998, while Italy's 10-yr yield over bunds tightened -22bps to 310bps vs yesterday’s 332bps, the highest since 1996. Yes this was before the auctions on no good news, and happened just as gold hit an all time high of just under $1610. Sure enough, following this sudden spike in buying interest, the auctions priced tremendously, and have resulted in a major shift in market sentiment in the past 3 hours, leading to a surge in Italian financial stocks, a jump in the EUR and thus a spike in futures.

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RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 19/07/11

A snapshot of the European Morning Briefing covering Stocks, Bonds, FX, etc.
Market Recaps to help improve your Trading and Global knowledge

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Developed World Default Risk In Race To Top After German, UK CDS Surge By 50% In Two Weeks

Many associate exploding CDS as a feature of backward third world countries, or, as they are better known these days, PIIGS. It may thus come as a surprise to most that the default risk of not only the US, which we reported had recently hid a multi year high, but especially Germany and the UK have surged by well over 50% in the past month. In fact, Germany, by most objective evaluations, an economy that is far more resilient and productive than America's, has in the past 3 days seen its CDS surge to a level 10 basis points wide of the US. And if not the actual economy, what then? Why such monstrosities as Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, which as reported previously have caused many to doubt are as viable as the stress tests represents, and whose combined asset bases are well over the total GDP of Germany. As the for the UK, after trading at around 55 bps for months, the spread has jumped to nearly 80 bps. So as Sigma X indicated earlier that it may now be time to shift attention to the UK, have the vigilantes already succeeded in penetrating all the way to the very core of the Eurozone? Or, courtesy of ISDA's criminal abdication of its responsibilities by pre-determining that no development in the future of Greece would be an event of default, perhaps the only natural response now is to buy protection on those names which have not blown out to ridiculous (read 600 bps or wider) spreads. Which, however, is very bad news for the Eurozone core, as going forward investors will simply hedge peripheral cash risk with core synthetic: a process which will result in the eventual wipe out of both instruments. But that's precisely what happens when the CDS administrator and "regulator" decides to play ball with the central planners instead of the siding with market participants: unintended escalating consequences galore.

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Guest Post: Doing The Global Currency Shuffle

In mainstream financial circles, the concept of a global currency is often spoken of only with an air of caution. It is approached always in hypothetical terms. It is whispered of as some far off dream; a socio-economic moon landing in the far reaches of fiscal space. Perhaps in 2015, or 2020, or maybe 2050, but certainly never just over the horizon, or right around the corner posing as an innocuous trade asset created over 40 years ago and used only on rare occasions. Unfortunately, the development of a centralized global security representing the creation of a supranational economic body is much closer than many would care to admit…

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Goldman's FX Team Generates 40% Annualized Loss For Clients Per Its Latest Disastrous Recommendation

And another humiliating notch on Goldman's "client facing" FX team's bedpost... And another win for the firm's prop desk.

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