US Tries To Wrest Control Of Hostess Liquidation As Management Seeks To Pay $1.75 Million In "Incentive" BonusesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/19/2012 18:07 -0400
The Hostess bankruptcy liquidation, the result of a bungled negotiation between the company, its equity sponsors, its striking workers, and the labor union, over what has been defined as unsustainable benefits and pension benefits, is rapidly becoming a Ding Ding farce. The latest news in what promises to be an epic Chapter 22 fight is that the judge, pressured by various impaired stakeholders, among which none other than the US trustee, is that the bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain has ordered the company and its unions to seek private mediation to attempt averting what the company has already said is an inevitable unwind of operations. More to the point, and as we predicted on Friday, if there is an outright purchase of the company, it will be a standalone entity, without its unions: Hostess will draw strategic buyers and private-equity investors for its brands, Rayburn said, without naming potential bidders. The company is “more attractive” to buyers without the unions, he said. In other words, if the Union had hoped that their workers would be retained by the purchasing entity, their dreams just got shattered. But while the Union may be sad, it is about to add another emotion to its arsenal: blind fury. Because it is here that things get truly surreal. As the US Trustee, a Justice Department official responsible for protecting creditors, disclosed, as part of the winddown of Hostess, wants to pay as much as $1.75 million in incentive bonuses to 19 senior managers during the liquidation.
Unwilling to sacrifice their sovereignty at the altar of the ECB's contingent OMT (and unable to wrench 'help' from their previously colonized friends in Latin America; it seems Rajoy and friends are more than willing to sacrifice their actual land... and citizenship in order to maintain their 'independence'. Reuters reports that Spain is considering offering rich investors from countries such as Russia and China the right to settle in return for them buying up property in the stagnant housing sector. For buying property worth as little as $200,000, wealthy foreigners could be offered a residency permit, the country's commerce secretary said on Monday. This is the same nation with near 11% loan delinquencies, greater-than-50% youth unemployment, and a bad-bank loaded with heavily discounted real-estate assets that are still too expensive to encourage investors, and an ever-present devaluation risk hanging over its paralyzed economy. We wonder how the other nations of the EU will feel about Spain 'diluting' the citizen-asset pool with this new non-tax-paying, non-labor-utilizing 'wealth'. How long before Greece sells plots on Santorini (w/passport)?
After hours shots fired, with Moody's hitting the long overdue one notch gong on France:
- MOODY'S DOWNGRADES FRANCE'S GOVT BOND RATING TO Aa1 FROM Aaa
- FRANCE MAINTAINS NEGATIVE OUTLOOK BY MOODY'S
Euro tumbling. In other news, UK: AAA/Aaa; France: AA+/Aa1... Let the flame wars begin
The days just prior to the end of the third quarter now appear like a million years away, and a hundred S&P point away, but they were marked by one notable thing: the price of AAPL hit an all time high just days before the quarter ended. Which is why we read with great interest the quarterly Hedge Fund tracker update by David Kostin, which has been aggregating the popularity of the most prominent hedge fund-beloved names, and which as readers are well aware, has for the past two years been primarily one name: AAPL. And yet, even with the stock price hitting a lifetime high of over $700/share, which in turn would have assumed even more momentum chasers should have jumped in, June 30 saw the world's most popular hedge fund hotel in history rise by just one tenant for the entire quarter, as the number of Hedge Funds owning the stock, rose to a new record, but by the tiniest of increments: from 230, as of June 30, to 231, on September 30. It is thus safe to say that with barely any incremental holders jumping in when the stock was rising to its all time highs, the recent weakness is only and purely a function of the rising trajectory in hedge fund tenants at Hotel AAPL-fornia finally having been broken, as first one then more holders quietly slip out of the world's biggest hedge fund hotel in the quiet of the night while the receptionist is still taking a bathroom break. The only question is how many. That is an answer we will have in mid-February when the December 13Fs are released.
Over the past year there have been many articles published about the decoupling of the U.S. economy from the the Eurozone. The belief was based on the simple fact that the Eurozone was facing a debt crisis, combined with austerity measures, which the U.S. would avoid. While there have been brief moments where the U.S. looked like it could stand on its own in the past - the drag from a global slowdown proved too strong to withstand. This time, as expected, appears to be no different.
Today's market summary from Goldman about sums it up:
Though a convincing explanation might be hard to come by, equities posted a serious rally today. Tech leads as those stocks hardest hit of late also bounce the most. This means AAPL adds over 7% on the day. Here’s a fun fact: from Friday’s low to today’s high AAPL rallied over 12% – or about 58bn in market cap. A rally always feels good but that type of volatility is hard to reconcile with a healthy market.
One question for Goldman: what's a "healthy" "market"?
In 1936, the US government began circulating a series of pamphlets to explain its brand new Social Security program, plus the associated taxes. Initially, the Social Security tax was set at 2%. The government promised it would rise to 3% in 1949, with no additional increases EVER: "[F]inally, beginning in 1949. . . you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each dollar you earn, up to $3,000 a year. That is the most you will ever pay." In 1949, the tax rose to 3% as scheduled. But it only took five years for the government to break its promise. Politicians routinely make bold promises about tax policy... and they almost always end up being lies. Perhaps most dangerously, politicians fail to understand that raising tax rates does NOT actually increase government tax revenue.
"With EUR now at 1.2773 versus 1.2816 just before the announcement there is probably more downside till the kneejerk reaction is out of the way. But on the whole it seems likely that this more reflects an already existing reality than new information for the market so the downside should be relatively limited, and nothing that could not be cured by an aggressive Fed indication on balance sheet expansion."
It seems the bond market was onto something today in its lack of exuberance. Following the after-hours FrAAnce downgrade, which very conveniently happened 2 minutes after the ES quiet period started, EURUSD has tumbled giving the day-session's gains back and retraced back to where Treasuries ended the day. This would infer S&P futures open down notably - around 1370-75 (note 1377 was closing VWAP and may be support).
Presenting 74 seconds of pure Krugmanism from the mouth of the man himself - Keynes 1939 (pre-war) radio address on the beginning of The Grand Experiment...
Best day in 5 months for stocks. AAPL jumping to one-week highs with its 2nd biggest low to high swing in 3 years. Wherever you look, the worst came first and so the talking heads re-appeared saying the worst is over and all is rainbows, unicorns, and mountains are once again molehills. Unfortunately, while ETFs were smashed higher (HYG biggest move in a year on 2nd largest volume ever back above its 200DMA, VXX crushed -9%), risk assets broadly speaking were not playing along with Treasuries especially drifting lower in yield from the European close (and EURUSD) as stocks surged to the highs of the day. Commodities soared with Oil leading the way - though post-Europe everything flattened and leaked lower. VIX collapsed 1.2vols to end just above 15% (notably ahead of stocks relatively speaking) but equity volume on the day was dismally low as S&P 500 futures broke back above the 200DMA amid larger than average trade size.
On the block of Hazelwood Road in Memphis, Tennessee, where Rebecca Black used to live, 17 out of 30 parcels have either been completely reclaimed by nature or have houses that sit empty. Five of the 15 parcels on her side of the street were abandoned after the recession ended, public records show. Many of the deserted properties are still legally owned by the mortgage borrowers. Nine of the properties are behind on taxes owed to the city or county governments, or both, public records show.
Today's AAPL move, on no news, is as of this moment a $35+ move in one trading session, or a $30+ billion market cap move in one trading session, and a nearly $60 move from the Friday lows. As the histogram below shows, in absolute terms, this is the second largest intraday move up in the stock in the past two years, and a 4 sigma move for a stock which has moved 7% on a 1.7% standard deviation, for no other reason than the "stock is oversold" or whatever other narrative those who put narratives to stock moves have ascribed to it today. And with HFT's determining valuation based on momentum, RSI, Bollinger bands, and other meaningless New Normal technicals, we have just gone from massively oversold, to massively-er overbought.
They do it every time – i.e., they buy more junk debt than ever at precisely the riskiest points in the cycle. Naturally this can go swimmingly for a good while, but as a general rule of thumb it is far better to buy such risky paper when the compensation one gets for taking the risk is actually adequate. In spite of investors' bitter experiences with such exuberance, the cycle repeats over and over again. The driving force behind it is the central bank's easy money policy - which brings the sugar highs of today, but also the hangovers and steep losses of tomorrow. The markets have seen this movie before – long ago.