Bank of America
The better tone in risk markets is largely being driven by encouraging economic data from the US and Europe, which as a result saw Bunds trade in negative territory. Of note, ECB’s Liikanen has said that inflation is not a particular concern in Europe, adding that the ECB has never said that there is an interest rate floor. On the other hand, Gilts are being supported by comments from BoE’s Fisher, as well as less than impressive GDP report. Nevertheless, EUR/USD took out touted barrier at the 1.3400 level earlier in the session, while USD/JPY is trading in close proximity to an intraday option expiry at 80.60.
- U.S. Postal Service to Cut 35,000 Jobs as Plants Are Shut (BBG) -Expect one whopper of a seasonal adjustment to compensate
- European Banks May Tap ECB for $629 Billion Cash (Bloomberg) - EURUSD surging as all ECB easing now priced in; Fed is next
- Madrid presses EU to ease deficit targets (FT)
- Greek Parliament Approves Debt Write-Down (WSJ)
- Mentor of Central Bankers Fischer Rues Complacency as Economy Accelerates (Bloomberg)
- Draghi Takes Tough Line on Austerity (WSJ)
- European Banks Hit by Losses (WSJ)
- Moody's: won't take ratings action on Japan on Friday (Reuters)
- Athens told to change spending and taxes (FT)
Why Is Social Media Censoring Criticism of the Government?
We wish we had good news, but we are not going to lie: This is the worst possible news for any gold bull out there.
- German president resigns in blow to Merkel (Reuters)
- China central bank in gold-buying push (FT)
- Germany Seeks to Avoid Two-Step Vote on Greek Aid, Lawmakers Say (Bloomberg)
- Eurozone central bankers and the taboo subject of losses (FT)
- Bernanke: Low Rates Good for Banks in Long Run (WSJ)
- Cameron and Sarkozy to test rapport at talks (FT)
- Chinese Enterprises encouraged to invest in US Midwest (China Daily)
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have reduced their use of "mark-to-market" accounting (WSJ)
- Regulators to raise trigger for rules on derivatives (FT)
Now everybody's bank bashing, of course the reason to bash the banks is 4 years old, despite Bove-like analysis to the contrary. I will discuss this on CNBC for a FULL HOUR tomorrow from 12 pm to 1pm.
Hubris is at the heart of this. Everyone says this cannot happen – we won’t allow it. Says who? The EU says: if it is written in an agreement, it must be totally correct, unchangeable, and followed at all costs. New realities can’t intervene and no slippage is allowed. Why the Germans are so sure that they know the future is beyond me. They are fallible too, but they won’t admit it, and the Greeks can’t make them budge. Haven’t they looked around? Santorini has a different economic and social cost structure than Wiesbaden. Humanity (and common sense) seems totally lacking in the negotiations with the Greeks and a violent backlash would be totally understandable. Why the countries that have been fattening up their current account surpluses selling products to Greeks, whom they should have known were basically broke – just as they always have been – should be paid 100% on the euro is beyond me. Major losses should apply not only to sovereign borrowings but also to accounts receivable for cars, electronics, and other consumer goods. The market has not opened its eyes to the impact this Greek unraveling will have. The Eurozone will be mortally wounded and the world will suffer a significant recession – maybe as deep as 2008. European banks will lose much of their capital base and many should be bankrupt, but just as in the Lehman aftermath, the governments will try to save the banks and the banks’ bondholders, solvent or not. As the bank appetite for Eurozone sovereign paper will be decimated, austerity will probably follow shortly, followed by deflation and uncontrollable money creation. The European recession should be one for the record books.
- Europe Demands More Greek Budget Controls in Bid to Forge Rescue (Bloomberg)
- Moody's Warns May Downgrade 17 Global Banks, Securities Firms (Reuters)
- Officials at Fed Split on More Bond Buys (Hilsenrath)
- Greek deal delays pressure periphery (Reuters)
- Talk, but No Action, to Break US Grip on World Bank Job (Reuters)
- Greek Rhetoric Turns Into Battle of Wills (FT)
- Greece Seeks Monday Bailout Deal, EU Questions Remain (Reuters)
- US Lawmakers Announce Payroll Tax-Cut Deal (Reuters)
- China Leader-In-Waiting Xi Woos and Warns US (Reuters)
- China's FDI falls 0.3% in Jan (Reuters)
Last week we discussed the gradual unraveling of a topic we had been following for the past 3 years, namely the brazen and criminal manipulation in the Libor market, which directly and indirectly impacts a stunning $350 trillion worth of securities (and thus, their implied risk, and hence, prices). Today we are delighted to learn that the retribution against these banks who have been artificially representing to the market that they are in better condition than in reality (courtesy of Libor's "strict" self-reporting approach), are beginning to see lawsuits filed against them, with Schwab merely the latest out of the gate. And just as fraudclosure was the litigation topic of 2010 and 2011, sit down and watch as Li(E)borgate explodes into the biggest litigation pain for banks, with litigation expenses that could easily surpass both the robosigning scandal (and its robo-settlement) and the escalating banks Reps and Warranties scandal. Because as recent evidence confirms, there are likely emails proving manipulation exists black on white, as discussed last week. Which means that the case of Schwab, noted last summer by Reuters, is about to become a pandemic.
The man whose fund is a pale shadow of his once invincible self, especially around the time he could tell Goldman which securities to short for him, with hapless and gullible Euros on the other side (but, hey, Goldman makes a market) continues to be the laughing stock of the market, following the latest 13F (with $13.9 billion AUM compared to $20.7 billion as Sept 30) release by Paulson. And considering the complete lack of liquidity in the market in Q4 (which is only getting worse now), the portfolio unwind of Paulson's holdings explains some very acute securities moves in November and December of 2011. Particularly the collapse in gold, which contrary to what economist Ph.D.s will tell you, was not due to technicals, or fundamentals, but due to Paulson dumping another 20% of his GLD, which is now just $2.6 billion as a share class, compared to $4.6 billion as of June 30, we for one can't wait for him to dump it all so that there is no more "Paulson overhang" in gold. Of course since this is a gold share class, it won't happen as long as Paulson & Co survives, but one can dream. What is far more laughable is that in the fourth quarter, Paulson dumped his entire Bank of America common stake (of which he had 64 million shares), his entire Citi common of 25 million shares (worth $627 million at Sept 30) and more than half of both his Capital One and SunTrust stakes, which went from $880 million to $401 million, and from $546 million to $210 million. He also cut almost his entire stake in Wells Fargo which went from $575 million to $96 million. That sure is some conviction in the always appropriately named "Recovery Fund." It is oddly ironic that precisely these stocks are the ones that have soared in Q1 as the Paulson overhang has been lifted.
While the star of multibillionaire Bill Gross may or may not be fading (the jury is still out on what the final outcome will be for the man who so far alone among his peers has dared to point out the lunacy in the Fed's actions), that of his far smaller and nimbler peer Jeff Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital has been rising rapidly, and at last check has his fund's AUMs at over $25 billion, a doubling in a few short months. Gundlach is conducting his periodic webcast live at 4:15pm Eastern (i.e., now) at the link below. Anyone can join in. And by the title of the presentaiton, it promises to be quite interesting. Click on the following Link for webcast or the image below.
The defining soundbite from the call Q&A: Regarding Bank of America - "It is wise to avoid banks. Not surprised BAC has gone up - just like NFLX - just like Italian bonds. Reduce risk right now, including, Bank of America."
These January jobs numbers make the Obama administration look good, at least relative to how it’s looked in the previous 12 months. However, they’re not reflecting as positively on two of Obama’s primary support groups: Wall Street and the US Federal Reserve.
It seems like it was only yesterday [technically it was September] that David Bianco "departed" his latest employee, Bank of America, where he landed following his "departure" from UBS back in 2007. Today, courtesy of Business Insider we learn that following an extended garden leave, or just a rather choppy job market, Bianco his finally found a new happy place: right in the cave of joy and happiness, also known as Deutsche Bank (aka the bank whose assets are about 80% of German GDP and which recently 'magically' recapitalized itself). Here he will be joined by the two other pillars of perspicacity - Binky Chadha and Joe LaVorgna. What to expect? Who knows - but lots of twisted humor is certainly in store. For the sake of simplicity we present some of the salient soundbites from Bianco and his colleagues over the past 5 years.
Most people read the headlines (and heard Obama tell us) today that the federal government and 49 state attorneys general reached a $25bn agreement with the five largest mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. It seems that many people are unclear on what the implications of the various aspects of the settlement are and so we present Bank of America's concise summary of the costs, commitments, penalties, and scope of the long-awaited agreement. Theoretically this by no means closes the book on bank litigation liabilities, as BofA discusses, but we note very mixed performance post the settlement announcement (which admittedly seemed well telegraphed) as WFC rallied modestly (+0.2% from the 10amET announcement), with Citi (-1.2% from the announcement), BofA (-0.85%), and JPM (-0.4%) underperforming.
Just over a week ago we highlighted the desperate plight of cash-strapped California. With a $3.3bn short-term 'hole', they were looking for cash-management solutions under every rock and hard place they could find. Today we hear that California joins the Obama bank foreclosure settlement enabling $18bn of bank-funded cash (implicitly via Federal Reserve/Government coffers) can flow to the left coast. Los Angeles alone will receive $4bn which while eventually wending its way down to the consumer (to be spent and implicitly spurring further economic activity or perhaps more likely to pay down other debt in this balance sheet recessionary environment), as Bloomberg asks, "Why should a taxpayer in Houston or Wichita bail out irresponsible California homeowners, banks and the state’s public employees’ retirement fund?" To add to California's 'aid', BofA has become the first bank to sign up for the 'Keep your Home' program where Federal dollars are given to banks to encourage them to reduce mortgage balances on struggling (over-levered and perhaps once greedy) California homeowners. Certainly it is a happy coincidence that perhaps a short-term cash crisis could be band-aided in the Golden State by this well-timed joining of California to the settlement.