Bank of America
A serious deflationary bust is in the making...
Nowhere is this new "glamour" bubble more visible than in the divergence between these "sexy" names built up on nothing but hype, or as David Einhorn would call them "story" stocks, and good old "resource" companies: those engaging in such "old economy" activities as energy and materials.
Investors are dumping billions of dollars worth of gold, commodities and emerging market assets in a wave of "capitulation" selling, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said today as reported by Reuters.
- Greek PM keeps lid on party rebellion to pass bailout vote (Reuters)
- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Remains Popular Despite Tough Bailout Deal (WSJ)
- Beijing's stock rescue has $800 billion bark, small market bite (Reuters)
- Capital exodus from China reaches $800bn as crisis deepens (Telegraph)
- Why Investors Shy Away From China’s $6.4 Trillion Bond Market (WSJ)
- Oil Rigs Left Idling Turn Caribbean Into Expensive Parking Lot (BBG)
- Bank of America replaces CFO in management shake-up (Reuters)
- The Financial Buzz? Pearson to sell Financial Times (Reuters)
We always keep a weather eye on the state of retail investing in the U.S. There is, of course, the old saw that this batch of buyers doesn’t get involved until the top; therefore, it makes sense to see if they are getting too “Bulled up”. Then there is the fact that retail “Cult” stocks can hold premium valuations far longer than those without such sponsorship.
If yesterday's market action was boring, today has been a virtual carbon copy which started with the usual early Chinese selloff levitating into a mildly positive close, with the SHCOMP closing just above the psychological 4,000 level: the next big hurdle will be 4058, the 38.2% Fib correction of the recent fall. In the US equity futures are currently unchanged ahead of a day in which there is no macro economic data but lots of corporate earnings led by Microsoft, Verizon, UTX and of course Apple. Most importantly, some modest USD weakness overnight (DXY -0.1%) has helped the commodity complex, with gold rebounding from overnight lows, while crude has at least stopped the recent carnage which sent WTI below $50.
With yesterday's appearance what seems like the first Iran oil tanker to set sail post-nuke-deal, Haaretz reports that Iran has been hiding millions of barrels of oil it never reported to the United States or in the world oil market, according to a company that has developed sophisticated maritime tracking technology. With the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, Iran denies it’s storing oil at sea, despite reports that surfaced in The New York Times as early as 2012; but Ami Daniel, Windward founder and cochairman, shows "the Iranians are taking huge, 280-meter-long ships and filling them with oil, to sit at sea and wait. Because the sanctions allow for production of only three million barrels a day, they began storing the remainder... oil tankers have been sitting in the Gulf for anywhere between three and six months, just waiting for orders."
However, after seeing that QE has not caused inflation or triggered a dollar collapse in the last five years, it is not clear why people would wake up one morning and decide to panic.
It wasn't just the massive litigation provision that hinted it may not be all smooth sailing for the hedge fund that has spawned more central bankers in recent years than any other: the company (which unlike all other banks on Wall Street has been adding headcount and now has 34,900 employees) took only $3.8 billion in compensation benefit accruals in the quarter, which means that its LTM comp divided by the total number of employees, or average compensation per banker, dropped once again, this time to $373,181 - the lowest number in three years.
And so the 2015 season of the Greek drama is coming to a close following last night's vote in Greek parliament to vote the country into even more austerity than was the case before Syriza was voted into power with promises of removing all austerity, even with Europe - which formally admits Greece is unsustainable in its current debt configuration - now terminally split on how to proceed, with Germany's finmin still calling for a "temporary Grexit", the IMF demanding massive debt haircuts, while the rest of Europe (and not so happy if one is Finnish or Dutch) just happy to kick the can for the third time.
If yesterday's JPM results were largely a story of contracting trading revenues offset by a decline in expenses, then in many ways today's Bank of America results mimicked what Jamie Dimon did in the second quarter. Moments ago BofA reported that in a quarter in which it repurchased $775 million in stock, it generated $5.3 billion in net income, or $0.45 per share, above the $0.36 declining consensus estimate as a result of a $1.9 billion drop in non-interest expenses, even as FICC trading revenue tumbled just as it did for JPM and Jefferies, sliding 9% Y/Y, offset by a rise in equity trading courtesy of China.
Just when the Chinese plunge protection team (and "arrest shortie" task force) seemed to be finally getting "malicious selling" under control, first we saw a crack yesterday when the composite broke the surge of the past three days as a result of yet another spike in margin debt funded purchases, but it was last night's reminder that "good news is bad news" that really confused the stock trading farmers and grandmas, which goalseeked Chinese economic "data" beat across the board, with Q2 GDP coming solidly above expectations at 7.0%, and retail sales and industrial production both beating, but in the process raising doubts that the PBOC will continue supporting stocks.
After failing to criminally prosecute any of the financial firms responsible for the market collapse in 2008, former Attorney General Eric Holder is returning to Covington & Burling, a corporate law firm known for serving Wall Street clients. The move completes one of the more troubling trips through the revolving door for a cabinet secretary. Holder worked at Covington from 2001 right up to being sworn in as attorney general in Feburary 2009. And Covington literally kept an office empty for him, awaiting his return. When the firm moved to a new building last year, it kept an 11th-story corner office reserved for Holder.
When it comes to Greece, and Europe in general, "hope" continues to remain the driving strategy. As Bloomberg's Richard Breslow summarizes this morning, "if you were looking for a word to describe the general feeling of equity markets today, you might well pick hopeful. U.S. equity futures opened higher and have been up all day. European bourses opened cautiously higher as they await word, any word, from the European finance ministers or more importantly, Chancellor Merkel. Equity markets will continue to be very reactive to European headlines, but so far, no news has been taken as a reason for hope." Which incidentally, has been the general investment case for the past 6 years: "hope" that central banks know what they are doing.
The time to negotiate the Greek referendum this Sunday has come and gone and at this point, one can only sit and wait as the vote results start trickling in on Sunday evening. And, as Goldman's Huw Pill prudently observes, the outcome of Sunday's Greek referendum is uncertain. "Regardless of the outcome, Greece will continue to face substantial economic dislocation in the shorter term." What is interesting is that Goldman says "Greece will ultimately remain in the Euro area even in the event of a ‘No’ vote."