Following our earlier discussion of the echo-boom in housing, David Stockman appeared on Yahoo's Daily Ticker with Lauren Lyster to pour come much-needed cold water 'reality' onto the hopes of an increasingly sheep-like investing public. Homebuilder stocks up 100%-plus simply reflects that "we are in a bubble once again." The former CBO Director added that "in a world of medicated money by the central bank, things aren't what they appear to be," as he explained there is "no real organic sustainable recovery."
In the same way as any and every risk-asset in the world, the price of yield-providing CMBS (commercial mortgage backed securities) have risen to post-crisis highs in the last few months. These are some of the epicentric deals from the crisis that now trade close to par once again. However, the last month or so has not seen CMBS prices push higher with stocks and it appears, as the FT notes, that the reason is becoming clear in the post-holiday-shopping period. CMBS cash-flow streams are set to drop considerably as up to 15 per cent of the country’s suburban retail centres forecast to close over the next five years in the face of online competition. Retail is regarded as an especially risky component of CMBS as a mall can go downhill if an important tenant shuts its store because other tenants are usually able to renegotiate their leases if a traffic-driving anchor tenant leaves. That can have severe consequences for CMBS exposed to the mortgage on the property.
It was just a matter of time before the most powerful crony capitalist bank in America decided to join the housing trade. Making money running the food stamp program just wasn’t enough for Your Crony Highness Jamie Dimon and company, it’s time to join his financial oligarch brothers in the bidding war to corner the housing market and become your overlord. That way they can control how you eat (food stamps) and where you sleep. It’s become very clear what the large financial interests in these United States are attempting. Funnel all the low interest crony American money, with a dash of Chinese laundered money, into the “housing recovery.”
Earlier today the US Treasury released its latest Borrowing Estimates for Q1 and Q2 of calendar 2013. In brief: in the ended quarter, the Treasury borrowed some $297 billion, $9 billion more than the $288 billion previously predicted. One reason for this miss is the build up of cash in the quarter which ended at $93 billion instead of the $60 billion initially expected. However the extra cash buffer will be used in Q1, in which Treasury now expects to burn some $63 billion instead of the $30 billion forecast before, ending the quarter with $30 billion in cash. To get there, Treasury will need to raise some $331 billion in debt in January through March, just shy of the prior estimate of $342 billion in funding need in this quarter. And since the US debt to the penny counter has been stopped since the debt ceiling breach, and is still at the December 31, 2012 debt limit of $16.432 billion, this means we now know, approximately, that US debt on March 31, 2013 will be $16,763,730,050,569.10, give or take a dime, or said otherwise, assuming a generous 1% sequential growth in Q1 GDP, a 105% debt/GDP in two months.
While it was relatively well-known (or expected) that YUM's China business was hurting (after its PR snafu), this is considerably worse than expected (hoped for). Revenues and earning met considerably lowered expectations but the outlook is drastically slashed:
*YUM SEES CHINA COMP SALES JAN AND FEB COMBINED DOWN 25% :YUM US
*YUM! SAYS CHINA DIVISION JAN. EST. COMP SALES FELL 37% :YUM US
which leaves them expecting *YUM SEES YR ADJ. EPS DOWN MID-SINGLE DIGITS VS $3.25, EST $3.57. But there's always hope...* YUM! SEES KFC CHINA COMP SALES POSITIVE IN 4Q :YUM US. The stock is down 8% after-hours (for now). The question is - of course - WWJCD?
Following Europe's worst day in months, the US stock markets saw the biggest drop of 2013 today. For those shunning the brief period, aside from 12/28 swings, this is the worst drop in the S&P 500 futures since early November on a relatively high volume day. EUR's weakness was a major driver (just as it was on the way up) jawboned by various CEOs and leaders and pressured down to almost a 1.34 handle (down over 1% against the USD as JPY gained 0.6% against the USD). Treasury yields clattered lower - to Friday's lows - and credit markets remained much less exuberant (as stocks played catch-down). Gold was relatively bid even as the USD gained, testing up to $1675. Homebuilders continue to slip lower and with AAPL's ongoing demise, there was no OPEX/month-end pump to save Tech and implicitly the rest of the market. HY Bond ETFs and synthetics remain weak but selling is thin in bond-land - it seems everyone knows that the cash market can't stand a herd heading for the exit all at once. VIX jumped a considerable 1.75 vols to 14.65% - its highest close of the year.
Following our most recent discussion of David Tepper's apparently 'now' bearish bias to financials (based on his $400mm BWIC), it appears that his latest "balls to the wall" thesis is not playing out so well. The S&P 500 just touched the key 1491.50 'Tepper Balls'-Day highs... meanwhile VIX has jumped by the most this year from Friday's lows...
These days one has to laugh with the Japanese, as the temptation to laugh at them is just so high. Because, sadly, the endless barrage of negative developments surrounding the "Land of the Rising Sun" may soon require a constitutional amendment replacing that key adjective to "Setting." And while everyone knows that Japan's economy is the Keynesian voodoo religion's event horizon laughing stock, caught between a 30 year deflationary implosion which is the only permissive factor allowing it to sustain interest payments on a 235% debt/GDP mountain, and a banking, debt and funding crisis should the government "succeed" in generating inflation, it is the intangibles that will be the proverbial straw that breaks this particular camel's back. Intangibles, such as 2011's tsunami and Fukushima explosion, which have made sure that every piece of domestic sushi will be pre self-cooked for generations. Yet glowing in the dark may have just been the beginning: now Japan also has a toxic, photochemical smog problem to boot.
Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General who claimed that prosecuting banks for crimes poses a risk to the financial sector and so corrupt bankers are “too big to jail” has lost his job. But the man who put him there, and who is ultimately responsible for the policy — the Attorney General himself — is here to stay. Fundamentally, Obama’s continued support for Holder illustrates that Obama is still committed to the policy of holding financiers to a lesser standard of justice than other citizens. The big banks continue to ride roughshod over the American people with the complicity of the political class.
Egan-Jones may have been barred from rating sovereigns for 18 months due to missing a comma here or there in its NRSRO application (when everyone knows this was merely retribution for downgrading the US ahead of all the other rating agencies), but now the time has come for that other rating agency which dared to follow in EJ's footsteps and downgrade the US of AmericaAA+ in August 2011 to be punished: Standard & Poors. Moments ago we learned that federal and state prosecutors will five civil charges against S&P for its mortgage bond ratings during the housing crisis.
As the world's economic powers squabble over the intricacies of cause and effect in a vicious cycle of currency devaluation and domestic economic defense; it appears, NYTimes reports, that the US is leading the way in another direction. A secret legal review on the use of America’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad - i.e. if we 'suspect' someone is going to hack us, we can hack them. In what appears to be Stuxnet's bigger (and scarier) brother,one official noted, "there are levels of cyberwarfare that are far more aggressive than anything that has been used or recommended to be done." New policies will also govern how the intelligence agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs of potential attacks on the United States and, if the president approves, attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive code - even if there is no declared war. Cyberweaponry is the newest and perhaps most complex arms race under way, based in Cyber Command at The Pentagon, with the unspoken question being, ‘What are we going to do about China?’
Now that Europe is clearly unfixed once more, it is time to shift attention back to broke Greece where as we showed yesterday things are certainly back to the "new normal" with 24 hour strikes again on the daily agenda. And just to keep it real, Greek police reported that the new Greek Finance Minister received a care package with just two contents earlier today: a bullet and a death threat.
While we may not all need to turn to meth labs for our income, it would appear the exuberant wealth creation of the last month or so is up against a tough place here - as credit has been warning all of January. S&P 500 futures are testing critical support here for the 5th time in 5 days, EURUSD is breaking below key support levels, and the decoupling with Europe is very concerning (as opposed to cleanest dirty shirt) as one only needs to look at last year to see that... Dow 14,000 and S&P 1,500 have been lost for now - get back to work Mr. Bernanke...