Bank of America
While the downward Q4 GDP revisions were inevitable courtesy of the government shutdown scapegoat (making a joke out of the sellside exuberance in late 2012 which had seen 3% growth some time around now,) starting first at Goldman, and shortly after at JPM both of which cut their Q4 GDP forecasts by 0.5% to 2.0%, we had yet to see the persistent bullish bias spill over into 2014. That just changed following an overnight cut by Bank of America of Q1 2014 growth estimates from 3.3% to 2.8%. Certainly, this is the first of many as once again optimism proves unjustified. But who can blame it: after all there will have been "only" 5 years of QE, and the Fed's balance sheet will be only $4 trillion at December 31, 2013, implying a S&P of 1800.
If there is anything the market has shown in the past 16 days of government shutdown, which is set to reopen this morning in grandiose fashion following last night's 10 pm'th hour vote in the House, is that it no longer needs Washington not only to function but to ramp higher. All it needs is the Fed, which in turn needs an unlimited debt issuance capacity by the US Treasury which it can monetize indefinitely, which is why the debt ceiling was always the far more pressing issue. In other words, the good news is that the can has been kicked, and now the government workers (who will need about a week to get up to speed), can resume releasing various government data showing just how much 5 years of now-open ended QE have impaired the US economy, and why as a result, even more years of unlimited QE are in stock (because in a Keynesian world, what caused the problem is obviously what will fix it). The bad news: the whole charade will be repeated in three months. More importantly, with futures no longer having the hopium bogey on the horizon, namely the always last minute debt deal, they have finally sold off on the back of a weaker USD. It is unclear if the reason for this has more to do with climbing the wall of shorters which is now gone at least until February when the soap opera returns, or what for now, has been an absolutely abysmal Q3 earnings season. Luckily, in a centrally-planned world, plunging stocks is bullish for stocks, as it means even more Fed intervention, and so on ad inf.
On the surface, the latest Q3 bank numbers to come out of Bank of America today, were not quite as bad as those previously reported by the other TBTFs, namely JPM, Wells and Citi. At a (massively adjuste4d) EPS of $0.20, this was just 1 cent below the expected $0.21, even as net revenue of $21.74 billion missed expectations of $21.95 billion. So far so good. At least so good until one realizes that of the $5.1 billion in pretax income, some 1.4 billion, or over a quarter, was from the usual accounting magic well of gimmicks: loan loss reserve releases! In fact, the $1.391 billion in reserve reduction driven by $1.7 billion in charge offs offset by a tiny $0.3 billion in provisions, was the highest reserve release in the past year, only lower than last Q3's $2.3 billion, when the bank - just like today - was in desperate need of any source of fake earnings. Why? Because the bank's loan origination group, just like all other banks', cratered, and saw non-interest income in its real estate services division implode by $1.5 billion to just $844 million. So much for whatever housing recovery the rose-colored glasses ones had envisioned...
It's gotten beyond silly: with less than a day to go until the first X-Date, beyond which if Jack Lew is correct (he isn't) all hell will break loose if the US doesn't have a debt deal in place, stocks couldn't care less, Bills continue to sell off, carry traders only care how big the central banks' balance sheets are, all news are generally shunned and yet stocks have soared 600 DJIA points on Harry Reid's relentless optimism a deal will get done, even though so far none has. Today, as we observed on Monday, we expect more of the same: stocks and futures will ignore the reality that the midnight hour will come and go with no deal in place, but will continue to explode higher as Harry Reid's latest set of "optimism" headlines hits the tape in low volume trading. We expect the first big hope rally around POMO time, then shortly after Senate comes back in Session, around noon. Then for good measure, another one just before market close. Why not: it's not like the "market" even pretend to be one anymore. Keep an eye on today's 4-Week bill auction before noon. It should be a far bigger doozy than yesterday's longer-dated bills.
Over-burdensome regulation and massive liability exposure is stifling business and creativity, slowing the flow of capital globally and stagnating economic growth.
Despite the ongoing antics in Washington the market remains less than 5 points (at the time of this writing) from its all-time closing high. If the markets were concerned about economics, fundamentals or potential default; stock prices would be significantly lower. The reality is that as long as the Federal Reserve remains convicted to its accommodative policies the argument for rationality is trumped by the delusions of Mo' Money. We have seen these "Teflon" markets before - do we really need to remind you what happens to a Teflon pan when you finally scratch the surface? In the meantime here are 5 things to ponder as the week progresses...
Stunning Facts that Your History, Economics and Business Teachers Never Learned ...
In a world devoid for the past two weeks and certainly for foreseeable future of most US economic data (this week we get no CPI, Industrial Production and New Home Sales among others), markets are now reliant on China for an indication of how the economy is doing, which is why this weekend's weaker than expected Chinese exports (ignoring the fact that China trade data is largely made up) and higher than expected consumer price inflation (driven by higher vegetable prices), even as new yuan loans soared to CNY787 billion, well above the CNY675 billion estimate despite broader M2 slowing from 14.7% in August to 14.2% in September, means the Chinese economy is once again in a vice and following the summer's liquidity driven boost, is set to roll over. Which in turn means that once again the PBOC is flying blind: unable to inject more liquidity without risking broader inflation, while most indicators are already rolling over. In short, ugly and certainly rolling over Chinese economic indicators for the market to mull over on Columbus day, even though all this will be promptly forgotten once the Washington debt ceiling song and dance resumes and the now traditional 10:30 am surge grips the algotrons as the latest set of "imminent deal" rumors is unleashed.
Over four years ago when we discussed the high frequency predator traders feasting on the signals of others, few believed it possible (and fewer still comprehended it). Today there is another potential disruptor in US equity market microstructure, the transformation of noise to signal from the overwhelming drivel of a Twitter stream. Macro signals (the hashcrash in April when AP's account was hacked and this week's Israeli military tweet misunderstanding) have had dramatic effects on the market but individual stock trading success remains elusive. “You have to be happy with a lot of noise in your data,” one advocate notes, but, as the FT notes, a recent PhD study concluded, "The proponents of this idea really do exaggerate it... I’m not saying there’s nothing here, but I’m not saying you can print money either."
Why Bankers Don't Like Reggie: How Many "One Time" Items Do We Need To Make An Item No Longer "One Time"?Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 10/11/2013 10:37 -0400
Only in the realm of US bank earnings can a 4x occurance be credibly accepted as "one time"! I can feel the hate already...
UPDATE: The Day in Washington in 2 minutes added
In what can at best be described as a "fluid" situation, one in which according to initial press reports the White House and the GOP couldn't even compromise on what had actually been said, it seems that while both sides are eager to move on with the debt ceiling extension, the GOP is still hoping in trying to preserve some political capital, of which it will be left with virtually nil if it caves to every last demand by the democrats, namely "reopen the government and then we can negotiate" losing all leverage in the process. And a loss of all capital and leverage is precisely what the GOP will "achieve" according to Politico, which clarified that "House Republicans told Obama that they could reopen the federal government by early next week if the president and Senate Democrats agree to their debt-ceiling proposal" - a proposal which Obama has already said he would accept. In other words, full capitulation by Boehner appears imminent. Politico adds: "President Barack Obama and House Republicans clashed in a meeting Thursday afternoon over how soon the government can be reopened, even as the GOP offered to lift the debt limit for six weeks, according to sources familiar with the session. Aides will continue the discussion through the night to see if they could find common ground on how to move forward on the debt limit and government funding."
Here's where we stand...
As Warren Buffet openly states that he believes that a default on US debt will be catastrophic and that lawmakers in Congress need to get their act together and get the federal government back to work by passing the budget we might well wonder if it’s just for show or if he really believes that.
Late last night, Paul Ryan wrote a WSJ op-ed titled "Here's How We Can End This Stalemate" in which some believe he provided the framework for what a possible fig leaf offering on the government shutdown and debt ceiling compromise could look like. While on the surface this may be grounds for optimism, the reality is that Ryan, whose entire proposal is based on the assumption that Obama is willing to negotiate which for now he has shown repeatedly he won't, merely fell back to his traditional "grand bargain" talking point made so clear during the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. What Ryan does suggest is yet another angle to a common bargaining position, one which would be certainly more palatable to Obama: because in order to get both parties happy and reach a compromise, all that would happen is for various long-term assumptions would be changed, with zero actual, real current impact - something politicians are good at, because it does not generate an adverse impact during their tenure (afterwards, it becomes someone else's problem).
- Hilsenrath: Tense Negotiations Inside the Fed Produced Muddled Signals to Markets (WSJ)
- Biggest US Foreign Creditors Show Concern on Default Risk (BBG)
- Shutdown Costs at $1.6 Billion With $160 Million Each Day (BBG)
- What default? Republicans downplay impact of U.S. debt limit (Reuters)
- Top Bankers Warn on U.S. Debt Proposal (WSJ)
- India to stick with austerity despite looming election (Reuters)
- Japan's Current-Account Surplus Plunges (WSJ)
- Amazon Wins Ruling for $600 Million CIA Cloud Contract (BBG)
- German Factory Orders Unexpectedly Fall on Weak Recovery (BBG)
- Britain's Higgs, Belgium's Englert win 2013 physics Nobel prize (Reuters)
- Supreme Owner Made a Billionaire Feeding U.S. War Machine (BBG)