There was a time when Jamie Dimon liked everyone to believe that his JPMorgan had a "fortress balance sheet", that he was disgusted when the US government "forced" a bailout on it, and that no matter what the market threw its way it would be just fine, thanks. Then the London Whale came, saw, and promptly blew up the "fortress" lie. But while JPM's precarious balance sheet was no surprise to anyone (holding over $50 trillion in gross notional derivatives will make fragile fools of the best of us), what has become a bigger problem for Dimon is that slowly but surely JPM has not only become a bigger litigation magnet than Bank of America, but questions are now emerging if all of the firm's recent success wasn't merely due to crime. Crime of the kind that "nobody accept or denies guilt" of course - i.e., completely victimless. Except for all the fines and settlements. Here is a summary of JPM's recent exorbitant and seemingly endless fines.
We take a new look at Japan from the 1980s to today in order to decipher what “Abenomics” might do to this fragile nation. We argue that moving Japan from its current stable, but unsustainable equilibrium, through activist monetary policy risk a run on the sovereign. We present part I and part II here today. We hope you enjoy it.
If our leaders could have recognized the signs ahead of time, do you think that they could have prevented the financial crisis of 2008? That is a very timely question, because so many of the warning signs that we saw just before and during the last financial crisis are popping up again. Many of the things that are happening right now in the stock market, the bond market, the real estate market and in the overall economic data are eerily similar to what we witnessed back in 2008 and 2009. It is almost as if we are being forced to watch some kind of a perverse replay of previous events, only this time our economy and our financial system are much weaker than they were the last time around. We have been living so far above our means for so long that most of us actually think that our current economic situation is "normal."
Based on media reports over the past few weeks, there are two clear front-runners in the competition to be named Ben Bernanke’s successor as Fed chairman. Current Vice Chair Janet Yellen sits in one corner, former Treasury Secretary and National Economic Council (NEC) Director Larry Summers in the other corner, and pundits are actively placing their bets. Yellen is "soft-spoken, even-tempered, 100% mainstream academic economist who boils the world down to simplistic concepts," so similarities between Bernanke and Yellen are far stronger than the differences. A hand off from one to the other would be about as eventful as a rainy day in Seattle. Compared to Yellen, Summers has a longer history as a heavyweight policymaker but as Charles Ferguson wrote, “rarely has one individual embodied so much of what is wrong with economics, with academe, and indeed with the American economy." And that’s what it seems to be coming down to: a choice between a yawn and a hiss. Why not appoint someone with a track record of getting things right, you ask? Well, that would require a culture of accountability in the White House. Does anyone remember when we last had that?
If we analyze inflation by these two metrics (purchasing power - which declines as real income stagnates and prices rise - and by exposure to real costs), we find the middle class is increasingly exposed to skyrocketing real-world prices. Pundits in the top 5% have the luxury of pontificating on the accuracy of the CPI while those protected by government subsidies and coverage have the luxury of wondering what all the fuss is about. Only those 100% exposed to the real costs experience the full fury of actual inflation.
We need to think about lessening the economic “skin-in-the-game” for RMBS and focusing anew on enforcing US securities laws...
Fed Economist Fired for Investigating Suspicious 9-11 Cash Transfers; and Steve Keen Exposes Financial FallaciesSubmitted by EB on 07/25/2013 07:23 -0400
Tens of billions in cold, hard cash was shuffled around just prior to 9-11 by none other than the Fed itself, then the Fed economist who exposed it was fired.
In every era, there are certain people and institutions that are held in the highest public regard as they embody the prevailing values of society. Not that long ago, Albert Einstein was a major public figure and was widely revered. Can you name a scientist that commands a similar presence today? Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value. Money is power. And history has shown that power is never ceded spontaneously or willingly. But the stability of this parasitical system begins to weaken quickly when the lifeblood it depends on begins to dry up. And that's when things can begin to go south in a hurry
Several days after Schrodinger's Egyptian coup, which is both a particle and a wave, but certainly not a coup in the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood-backing Obama administration, the Pentagon decided that it would go ahead and proceed with a previously planned sale of several F-16 fighter jets to the country, even though it was unclear just who the recipient would be: the revolutionary forces or the previous administration. Moments ago AP reported that this sale has now been "delayed" for reasons unknown.
Lately, the parasitic, price manipulative "Office Space"-inspired HFT practice known as "spoofing" has been consistently in the news: a week ago, it was the third largest futures broker, Newedge, who made headlines following a "record" FINRA handslap. Then yesterday, a Red Bank, NJ-based HFT shop called Panther Energy Trading, and its sole owner Michael Coscia were fined $4.5 million and got a 1 year ban from the industry for engaging in the same activity. "Panther, based in Red Bank, New Jersey, and Coscia used a computer algorithm that placed and quickly canceled bids and offers in futures contracts for commodities including oil, metals, interest rates and foreign currencies. Panther and Coscia engaged in spoofing from August 8, 2011, to October 18, 2011, related to 18 futures contracts. The firm accumulated $1.4 million in profits by using the algorithm." While none of this is fundamentally new to any of our readers, we are happy to report that in conjunction with Nanex, we can now present documentary evidence of the Panther algo in action.
Dow Jones industrial staple Caterpillar, better known as CAT, has made these pages quite often in the past few months for all the wrong reasons: be it due to operational weakness ("CAT Misses Across The Board, Slashes Sales And Profit Outlook"), weak top line growth ("Collapse In Caterpillar North American Sales Not Helping Bernanke's "Recovery") or simply gross management negligence ("Caterpillar Punked By Chinese Fraud, To Write Off Half Of Q4 Earnings"). It got so bad that none other than China permabear Jim Chanos declared Caterpillar his "best short idea" last week. However, CAT's troubles are far more than just China related as today's June dealer retail sales showed, which which posting a modest 'increase' in North American sales (from -16% to -10%), the weakness has returned to Asia where sales resumed sliding from -14% to -21%, in Latin America where growth plunged from 22% to 9%, in the ROW where sales dropped from -2% to -8%, all of it resulting in yet another downward inflection point in world sales from -7% (which had been a four month high) to -8%. But why bore with words when one picture should suffice. So what is the future for CAT? According to a new report released by @VolSlinger, things may get far worse in the coming months. So bad, in fact, that based on his analysis, which has a price target of $28 for the stock, there is some 67% upside to a short position.
Day after day 'positive' anecdotal data points are latched on to by a self-confirming media (and plethora of talking heads and asset-gatherers) unable to see anything but their 'it's all good in the long-term' thesis. The truth is, as Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes, there’s no way to assess last week’s economic data as anything other than poor. Chinese GDP continued to deteriorate, U.S. core retail sales and the index of leading economic indicators for June were flat, industrial production was at the same level as in March, and housing, the lone oasis of prosperity, slowed as new starts plunged nearly 10 percent from the previous month. Toss in the city of Detroit filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and the tone of America’s economic outlook took a decisive turn for the worse. Of course, this is all good for stocks is our new (ab)normal reality of single-factor Fed-liquidity-driven mass hypnosis.
The Innovator’s Dilemma strikes again, this time with the news that the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy protection. As a business term, ConvergEx's Nick Colas reminds us that the “Dilemma” describes how successful companies fall from grace because they ignore new competition with disruptive technologies at the low end of their markets. In a world that increasingly revolves around intellectual capital (a.k.a. people), government at all levels needs to think about how they do not fall prey to the same error. As for Detroit, any lasting solution likely needs far more government intervention than is currently possible. And so to where Detroit goes from here, we’ll borrow from another business paradigm that parses all solutions to troubled operations into three buckets: "Fix, Close or Sell." In summary, Detroit’s failures are certainly of its own making. The way forward will need leadership that is unavailable locally.
These are truly horrible forecasts coming after the brutal downward revision for the first quarter (from 2.4% to 1.8%). And when you consider that growth is slowing like this while the Fed is running QE 3 and QE 4, then it becomes quite clear that the Fed is fast running out of out of evidence that QE accomplishes much of anything.
By now even the most confused establishment Keynesian economists agree that when it comes to economic "growth", what is really being measured are liabilities (i.e., credit) in the financial system. This is seen most vividly when comparing the near dollar-for-dollar match between US GDP, which stood at $16 trillion as of Q1 and total liabilities in the US financial system which were just over $15.5 trillion in the same period. What, however, few if any economists will analyze or admit, and neither will financial pundits, is the asset matching of these bank liabilities: after all since there is no loan demand (and creation) those trillions in deposits have to go somewhere - they "go" into Fed reserves (technically it is the reserves creating deposits but that is the topic of a different article). It is here that we can discern directly just what the contribution of the Fed to US GDP, or economic growth.