Bank of America
Earlier today Bank of America released a presentation and a conference call in which the firm's head of China equity strategy David Cui spoke about the dreaded "China Hard Landing" or the event that would kill all decoupling dreams for ever and ever, and probably lead to a world depression. It seems that the latest down move in the market is being partially attributed to just this notification finally making the rounds as can be seen in the note below: "BofAML’s David Cui is the Markets’ #1 rated China Strategist according to the 2011 Institutional Investor All-China Survey. While he is not responsible for our China GDP forecast, he sees significant Chinese specific financial market risks that could trigger lower than expected Chinese growth. He sees that those financial market risks as having increased considerably. He will expand on this on the call, but he sees these financial stresses as having a very high probability of triggering lower than expected growth. That lower growth could well be sub 7%, and therefore by Chinese market standards would be termed a “hard landing”, clearly a HUGE issue for all global markets." Granted this is not news to those who have been following the Chinese situation (as fringe blogs have been for over a year), but the market does tend to have a habit of being about 12-18 months behind the curve. Here is what Bank of America had to say...
Yesterday's downgrade of BAC was potentially problematic for credit markets. I am less concerned about the holding company downgrade. Downgrading the bank to A2 from Aa3 could become problematic. That is the entity most derivative counterparties will face. A2 is still fine, but I suspect many counterparties will be having meetings over the next few days to discuss how comfortable they are facing BAC as a derivative counterparty. It might be wrong, and unnecessary, but it is something that will be occurring. BAC should be doing everything in their power to address this potential risk immediately. The risk of ratings downgrades to a bank is twofold. On a basic level, it may reduce the flows they see as counterparties prefer to trade with higher rated entities for their derivative trades. That is manageable. The bigger, and far more problematic issue, will be if firms cut their lines to that bank. This would cause banks to unwind or assign existing trades, or to buy protection on the downgraded banks to "hedge their hedge". Protection buying would drive their spread higher (if this was all exchange traded, it wouldn't be an issue). Unwinds could force the bank to raise some cash. Most hedge funds will have one way collateral agreements with banks, so that on any positive mark to market, they are posting collateral to the bank, which the bank can typically use "rehypothecate". Hedge funds will unwind or assign profitable trades, which will force the bank to return collateral to the hedge fund. It is a subtle, but painful, way for a bank to experience a run. It happened with Bear and with Lehman.
Time for another bath. This time metaphorical. And based on Moody's downgrade methodology, a Citi downgrade is imminent. "The downgrades result from a decrease in the probability that the US government would support the bank, if needed. Moody's believes that the government is likely to continue to provide some level of support to systemically important financial institutions. However, it is also more likely now than during the financial crisis to allow a large bank to fail should it become financially troubled, as the risks of contagion become less acute. Moody's is therefore lowering the amount of support it incorporates into Bank of America's ratings to levels reflected prior to the crisis."
When it comes to playing the endspiel for Bank of America, there are two binary outcomes: A) either the stock goes to zero in a slow, painful bleed, accompanied by periodic mega squeezes on headlines such as Buffett taking another bath; or B) the stock surges following some substantial government bail out and a quick and painless resolution of the mortgage putback litigation, the robosigning debacle, and somehow the bank finds a way to make money in an environment in which the 2s10s is about to tumble to record lows following the "Torque." As is well known, our personal belief is that all signs point to A) however with limited upside (one can only double their money by shorting) and a constant threat of short squeezes (hence unlimited downside), especially with the stock as depressed as it is and in this massively rigged and centrally planned market, puts a perpetual damper for those who wish to short the name to death. Which brings up an interest tangent: is there a way to profit from the collapse in Bank of America in a mirror image situation, i.e., with unlimited upside and limited downside? The answer is yes, and it very well may be in the form of MBIA, where as we indicate below, the upside may not only unlimited semantically, but practically as well, courtesy of shades of that most epic moves of 2008: that of the short squeeze in Volkswagen stock. Is there a chance that MBIA, with its 27 million short interest, and its 98% long institutional ownership could be the next Volkswagen? Perhaps. Read on.
Bank Of America To Pay $930,000 Restitution To Whistleblower Who Was Fired For Reporting Fraud At CountrywideSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/14/2011 14:27 -0500
We hardly needed confirmation that a) Bank of America is a den of criminals and thieves, that b) its toxic $1.3 trillion mortgage division, better known as Countrywide, is an even scarier and more putrid den of criminals and thieves, and that c) it retaliates against anyone who dares to remind the bank that there are such things as laws, and the aforementioned criminals and thieves actually have to follow these. Yet this is precisely what we just got after the Department of Labor said that it must pay $930,000 to an employee who led internal probes of abuses at its Countrywide Financial unit and was fired in violation of whistleblower protections. Bloomberg reports "the employee, who also must be reinstated, had claimed that people who tried to report fraud to Countrywide’s employee- relations department suffered persistent retaliation, the agency said today in a statement. He was fired after Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America’s 2008 purchase of Countrywide, according to the statement." So is it possible that the general public can now get the documentation that said whistleblower was fired for attempting to bring to his retaliating superiors' attention? And just how damaging will this development be to a bank which is already embroiled in litigation with virtually every single entity that has every transacted in mortgages both in America, and now abroad?
NYSE Short Interest Soars To Highest Since July 2009; Is An Epic Squeeze Forming In Bank Of America Shares?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/13/2011 15:55 -0500
While two weeks ago the notable feature in the NYSE short interest update was that it had grown by a whopping 1 billion shares, or the most in over two years, this week's highlighted feature is that in the second half of August evil "speculators" did not relent in their negative bias, and brought the total NYSE Group short interest to a two year high or 14.9 billion shares, a 484 million share increase from the prior week, and the highest since July 2009 when the market still was unaware that central planning was the name of the game, and being short actually meant taking on the Chief Printing Officer head on (and fewer still realized that being long gold was the only effective way to "fight the Fed"). And just like last week when we speculated that we can "expect some even more furious short covering sprees to send the S&P much higher on an intraday basis" courtesy of this massive short interest overhang (which will without doubt be used by stock custodians to create a rally if and when needed, just like back in March of 2009, by making recalling shorts in every name), the probability of a massive "face off" rally grows as more and more join the ranks of those believing that the US capital market still plays by the rules. Newsflash: it does not. And anyone trading stocks, on either the long or short side, is guaranteed to lose.
The irony could.not.possibly.be.any.damn.funnier; Just as Sgt. Obama had the not so lonely unemployed club band huddled around him to tell America to "PASS THIS BILL", literally that very minute Bank of America released a statement it is sacking 30,000. Because Banana republic is so 2010, we are now officially an Onion republic.
It was only a matter of time. A few weeks after every money losing firm in the US and the kitchen sink disclosed it would sue Bank of America in an accelerating attempt to salvage something through litigation, the worst case scenario for Brian Moynhian just got real. As of minutes ago, Norway's Government Pension Fund, which is another name for its Sovereign Wealth Fund, has just announced it is suing Bank of America for mortgage fraud. Not only that but it is also going after Countrywide, obviously, but far more importantly, is also suing KPGM, the auditor on the Countrywide transaction, and, drumroll, ole' Agent Orange himself. If US bank analysts were busy quantifying the damages from every bank in the US suing BofA, just wait until the calculation is expanded to included every firm that bought mortgages from Bank of America... ever...in the entire world.
Oddly enough, just two years after hiring Sallie Krawcheck from Citi, BofA has just made her into the first sacrificial scapegoat. Odder still, is that Lehman also fired a women scapegoat a few weeks before it filed for bankruptcy. Coincidence? Find out when Brian Moynihan is fired in a few short weeks.
And so it begins:
- FHFA Sues Barclays over mortgage securities over losses for $4.9 billion: RTRS
- FHFA Sues Merrill Lynch Bank of Americal over mortgage securities over losses for $30.85 billion: RTRS
Put a fork in Bank of Countrywide Lynch.
Trust Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil to put two and two together, and to remember that everything new is just well forgotten old. In this case Bank of America. And we are not talking comparisons to Lehman (or even SocGen) - those are boring. No, it is much more fun to compare the insolvent bank to another world con, in this case WorldCom. As Weil reminds us, the news that Moynihan's last stand was considering a tracking stock reported earlier by the WSJ, as a means to demonstrate to the Fed its "viability", is nothing short of the comparison of WorldCom's last ditch in kind method, which none other than a WorldCom director likened to, well, horseshit.
Wikileaks Releases Entire 65 Gigabyte Uncensored Cablegate Archive (With Or Without Bank Of America Disclosure)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2011 21:04 -0500
Looks like Wikileaks is not waiting to see how litigation with the Guardian turns out and is set on doing all it can to bring the world to the brink of, what's that word again, oh yes, war. And a free Zero Hedge hat to the first guy or gal (the latter gets a choice of ZH thong instead) to discover whatever it is that Wiki may or may not have had on Bank of America. Something tells us not many people will be sleeping at the Department of State tonight.
We have had a nice run here on (BAC), posting a profit of 20% in just one week. The stock market is now at the top end of a one month range, so I am going to cut back some risk. The big gainers are always the first to go on the chopping block.
We have had a great 130 point rally off of the August 8 capitulation low. The market is getting artificially ramped up to overbought levels by month end window dressing, as portfolio seek to hide the damage caused by the worst month in the equity market in ten years.
- FDIC OBJECTS TO BANK OF AMERICA MORTGAGE-BOND ACCORD
- THE REASON FOR THE OBJECTION IS THAT THE FDIC DOES NOT HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO EVALUATE THE SETTLEMENT
Time to sell the other half of that China Constricution Bank stake... And Merrill... and Countrywide (goodluck), and pretty much anything else that is not nailed down. But don't worry: it's a liquidity, not a capital issue, or something. In other news, the Buffett "Eureka alert" is on BathCon 1.
Bank Of America Sells 13.1 Billion Shares In China Construction Bank, Raises Another $8.3 Billion "It Does Not Need"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2011 08:48 -0500
Bank Of America continues to desperately raise firesale capital (which it most certainly does not need).
- BANK OF AMERICA AGREES TO SELL 13.1B SHRS OF CHINA CONSTRUCTION
- BANK OF AMERICA SEES SALE GENERATING $8.3B PROCEEDS
- BANK OF AMERICA KEEPS 5% STAKE IN CCB
- BOFA SEES CUTTING RISK-WEIGHTED ASSETS BY ABOUT $16.1B BASEL
- BOFA SEES SALE GENERATING ABOUT $3.5B ADDED TIER 1 CAPITAL
- BOFA SEES GAIN $3.3B ON SALE
In summary: That's $13.3 billion in new capital in the past week that BofA promises it does not need. At all. As for the buyers: the same sovereign wealth funds that just bailed out the Greek banking sector for a few more days.