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How To Identify Economic Zombies

Economics is not a difficult subject, unless you try to learn it from an economist. Common sense is all that is required to be a good economist. Unfortunately, in order to get your union card, you must pretend to have none. Belief in fairy tales like more spending and “free lunches” is also necessary. But that is of little import in regard to the title – How to identify economic zombies... The test to determine whether you or your friends are zombies is simple. Answer the following question: How would you live if debt/credit were outlawed?

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How Credit Suisse Helped Thousands Of Americans Avoid Paying Taxes

Just when the latest wave of litigation against banks seemed to be calming down with one after another fraudclosure-related settlement (which have cost JPM alone some $30 billion in the past four years), here comes the Senate Permanent Subcommittee chaired by Carl "Shitty Deal" Levin, and blows up the peace of Zurich's nighttime air with a bombshell of a 175-page report which put Switzerland's second largest bank, Credit Suisse, front and center in a brand news tax evasion scandal... not that there is anything inherently wrong with that: the last thing the US government needs is to be enabled to be even bigger, plus any money the Treasury needs, the Fed will simply print on its behalf. However, it is considered illegal, at least in polite company. And so among the accusations listed in the report, seen by FT, is that "Credit Suisse made false claims in US visa applications, conducted business with clients in secret elevators and shredded documents to help more than 22,000 American customers avoid US taxes, according to a scathing report by a US congressional committee.

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Will We Never Learn? 1840's Gold Rush Edition

1840's Gold Rush or 2014 Dot-Com 2.0?

"Despite the amazingly high cost of living and the extraordinary opportunities fr frittering away money, everyone in early San Francisco was supremely confident that he would soon be able to return home with an incalculable amount of [wealth]...

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Meanwhile, On The Main Square In Sevastopol: Live Webcast

... The Russians are staking out their claim, after those ships which we wrote about and docked at the main Crimean port, have unloaded their cargo.

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Howard Davies On The Banks That Ate The Economy

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney surprised his audience at a conference late last year by speculating that banking assets in London could grow to more than nine times Britain’s GDP by 2050. These may be reasonable assumptions, but the estimate was deeply unsettling to many. Hosting a huge financial center, with outsize domestic banks, can be costly to taxpayers. In Iceland and Ireland, banks outgrew their governments’ ability to support them when needed. The result was disastrous. Quite apart from the potential bailout costs, some argue that financial hypertrophy harms the real economy by syphoning off talent and resources that could better be deployed elsewhere.

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Caption Contest: Bitcoinless

Take an exchange named for "Magic: The Gathering", add some "currency" which in its most tangible form is an electron fluctuating between 0 and 1, and you get this...

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WTF Chart Of The Day: VIX Smackdown Edition

Today's pump-and-dump that failed to hold the S&P 500 in the green for 2014 was an almost perfect deja vu all over again of yesterday's. However, today saw a very rapid after-hours 6 point melt-up in S&P 500 futures thanks to a WTF-inspiring collapse in VIX (from 14.4% to 13.7%!!)

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Eating Our Seed Corn: How Much Of Our "Growth" Is From One-Time Cashouts?

Retirement funds, home equity, family assets--these are the financial equivalent of seed corn. Once they're cashed out and spent, they cannot be replaced. So how much of the recent "growth" in GDP results from our consumption of seed corn? It is difficult to find any data on this, something which is unsurprising as the data would reveal the entire "recovery" story as a grandiose illusion: we as a nation are consuming our seed corn in great gulps, and there will be precious little left in a decade to pass down to the next generation. We face not just an impoverishment in consumption but in expectations and generational assets.

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Pump... And Dump

Despite a late-day (very sudden) shellacking in silver, commodities rallied with gold pressing up towards Sept 2013 levels (over $1340). Treasury bonds rallied all day to end near the low yields of the day (-3 to 4bps from Friday). The USD's early losses were unwound as the US day-session continued to leave the greenback modestly lower on the week. And that leaves us with stocks... in almost the exact same pattern as yesterday (except with an overall downward bias) the US open sparked some JPY selling which sent stocks careening to highs only for the European close to smash that hope to smithereens and send stocks limping lacklustrously lower  into the close (recoupling with JPY and Credit). All indices closed red with Trannies underperforming and the S&P (yet again) unable to hold a green year-to-date close.

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China's Corporate Debt Hits Record $12 Trillion

Chinese non-financial companies held total outstanding bank borrowing and bond debt of about $12 trillion at the end of last year - equal to over 120 percent of GDP - according to Standard & Poor's estimates.

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The Good, Bad, & Ugly Of The US Economy

Sometimes one just needs to step back and think, as opposed to getting caught in the eye-twitching idiocy of the JPY-driven ticks in the US equity market day-in and day-out. The following 3 charts may just be that wake-up call that all is not quite as rosy as we are being told and that hope is not a strategy...

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JPM Reports Market Revenue Plunges 15% From Year Earlier, Fixed Income Activity Tumbles

JPMorgan may have had zero trading loss days in 2013 but 2014 is not shaping up well for Jamie Dimon's firm. Just out from Reuters and BBG, which is reporting what the firm just announced at its investor day:


And if the company feels compelled to report this now, one can only imagine what ridiculous addbacks JPM will have to do on earnings day: we can certainly expect at least $2 billion in loan loss reserves releases to make up for a reality that firmtly refuses to comply with Ph.D. economist models. And what is really funny, is that judging by the stock reaction, it is almost as if the algos don't know that nobody trades bonds when it snows outside. Duh.

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Chart Of The Day: JPMorgan's $30 Billion In Legal Fees And Expenses Since 2010 (And Why The New Compliance Officer Just Quit)

The number: since 2010 JPM has paid a mindblowing $29.8 billion in "one-time, non-recurring" legal fees, charges, settlements, and otherwise expenses that in theory at least should not be part of its ongoing business operations.... but are.

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El-Erian To Gross "I'm Tired Of Cleaning Up Your Shit"

Bill Gross, by his own admission, is a demanding boss; but as the WSJ reports, one day last June (amid the bond sell-off), things went a little turbo (leading to Mohamed El-Erian's recent resignation):

Gross: "I have a 41-year track record of investing excellence... What do you have?"

El-Erian: "I'm tired of cleaning up your shit."

While careful to deny that El-Erian's departure had anything to do with 'friction' although even Mr.Gross admits he can be difficult to work with,"sometimes people will say 'Gross is too challenging,' and maybe so. I would say if you think I'm challenging now, you should have seen me 20 years ago."

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Indirect Bidders Show Strong Appetite For 2 Year Bond Auction

Today's auction of $32 billion in near-cash equivalent 2 Year paper was hardly remarkable. The yield was a somnolent 0.34%, pricing through the 0.343% When Issued courtesy of a strong bid in bonds all day (ignoring the ongoing idiocy of the stock market), below last month's 0.38% and just modestly above the 0.32% average, which means that despite all the posturing, few are actually expecting the Fed to do much to short-end rates in the next two years. The Bid to Cover did post a bounce to 3.605, above last month's 3.30, and above the trailing 12 month average which was also 3.30. Perhaps the only thing of note was that the Indirect bid jumped from 28.5% to 34.3%, the highest since June's 35.83% and well above the 24.7% average, and with Directs taking down 19.3%, it meant that Dealers were stuck with just 46.4%, below the 52.3% 12MMA and the lowest since October.

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