"Jesse Litvak arranged trades for customers as part of his job as a managing director on the MBS desk at Jefferies. Litvak would buy a MBS from one customer and sell it to another customer, but on many occasions he lied about the price at which his firm had bought the MBS so he could re-sell it to the other customer at a higher price and keep more money for the firm. On other occasions, Litvak misled purchasers by creating a fictional seller to purport that he was arranging a MBS trade between customers when in reality he was just selling MBS out of his firm’s inventory at a higher price. Because MBS are generally illiquid and difficult to price, it is particularly important for brokers to provide honest and accurate information. The SEC alleges that Litvak generated more than $2.7 million in additional revenue for Jefferies through his deceit. His misconduct helped him improve his own standing at the firm, as his bonuses were determined in part by the amount of revenue he generated for the firm."
Prior to the crisis, the 29 largest global banks benefitted from just over one notch of uplift from the ratings agencies due to expectations of state support. Today, those same global leviathans benefit from around three notches of implied support. Expectations of state support have risen threefold since the crisis began. This translates into a large implicit subsidy to the world’s biggest banks in the form of lower funding costs and higher profits. Prior to the crisis, this amounted to tens of billions of dollars each year. Today, it is hundreds of billions. Too-big-to-fail is far from gone.
That precious metals are not the best friends of central banks, whose sole provenance is in creating, and lately massively diluting, faith-based fiat currency is no secret, especially not after the recent snafu involving the Bundesbank and its shocking gold repatriation announcement which came in direct refutation of its public statements just 2 months earlier about faith in the NY Fed this, and bashing of a "phantom debate" on the safety of gold reserves that. Yet it was not gold gold, silver or even tungsten that was the object of derision in an amusing paper released by the ECB in early November titled "Virtual Currency Schemes", which we profiled at the time, but rather the decentralized electronic currency BitCoin, which was supposed to highlight what, in the eyes of the Draghi-led Frankfurt institutions, is nothing but a Ponzi scheme. Why the ECB suddenly felt threatened so much by Bitcoin, it felt an imperative to issue a 55 page paper decrying such electronic currencies we will never know. What we do know, however, courtesy of a reminder by Bloomberg's Max Raskin, is that since the publication of said paper, the value of Bitcoin as tracked by the Mtgox exchange, has soared some 40% in just under three months, from a "fiat equivalent value" of $13 to a most recent closing price of $18.50, and has doubled in the past 12 months alone.
A billion folks in the west would be quietly applauding....
Two months ago we demonstrated one of the biggest paradoxes of the current iteration of the US welfare state, in which a single mom earning gross income of $29,000 has the same disposable income after all net benefits as a worker who has gross income of $69,000. The same logic is applicable to all those who instead of working, opt to receive foodstamps, disability payments, and the occasional Obama phone, all the while dropping out of the labor force and making the BLS' job of indicating a dropping unemployment rate a little easier. And while the US is fully intent on converting an ever rising portion of the population into these "comfortably poor" zombies who no longer have any marketable skills, and are completely unqualified to be competitive in an increasingly more specialized workforce, one place where such welfare handouts will no longer be tolerated is Japan, of all places. As Japan Times reports, "welfare benefits will be slashed by ¥74 billion over a three-year period starting from fiscal 2013, after a government panel found that some people are making more on the dole than the average low-income person who is not spends on living costs, it was learned Sunday." We await with eager amusement as this attempt to impose austerity on the comfortably poor takes place in the US next. Considering there was nearly a revolution in California a few weeks back when EBT cards malfunctioned for a few brief hours, the outcome of a comparable belt-tightening in the US would have truly hilarious, not to mention lethal, consequences.
Everyone knows that for the better part of the past year Apple was the world's biggest company by market cap. Most also know that AAPL aggressively uses all legal tax loopholes to pay as little State and Federal tax as possible, despite being one of the world's most profitable companies. Many know, courtesy of our exclusive from September, that Apple also is the holding company for Braeburn Capital: a firm which with a few exceptions, also happens to be among the world's largest hedge funds, whose function is to manage Apple's massive cash hoard with virtually zero reporting requirements, and whose obligation is to make sure that AAPL's cash gets laundered legally and efficiently in a way that complies with prerogative #1: avoid paying taxes. What few if any know, is that as part of its cash management obligations, Braeburn, and AAPL by extension, has conducted a mindboggling $600 billion worth of gross notional trades in just the past four years, consisting of buying and selling assorted unknown securities, or some $250 billion in 2012 alone: a grand total which represents some $1 billion per working day on average, and which puts the net turnover of some 99% of all hedge funds to shame! Finally, what nobody knows, except for the recipients of course, is just how much in trade commissions AAPL has paid on these hundreds of billions in trades to the brokering banks, many (or maybe all) of which may have found this commission revenue facilitating AAPL having a "Buy" recommendation: a rating shared by 52, or 83% of the raters, despite the company's wiping out of one year in capital gains in a few short months.
Anonymous Hacks Department Of Justice, Threatens To Release Secret DOJ Information, Warns "There Will Be Chaos"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/27/2013 12:19 -0500
Nearly two years ago, the hacktivist group Anonymous made waves around the fringes of financial media by announcing "Operation Empire State Rebelion" whose goal was to "engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience until Ben Bernanke steps down and the Primary Dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy effective immediately." Needless to say nothing came out of it, and OperationESR was promptly forgotten as Anonymous had apparently met its match in the face of the Fed and the Primary Dealers. Now, in the aftermath of the Aaron Swartz suicide which has put the entire hacking community on high alert, Anonymous is back with yet another campaign, this one titled "Operation Last Resort", which was revealed to the public when Anonymous took control of the website for the the US Sentencing Commission for nearly one full day from Friday afternoon until Saturday evening, using it as a venue from which to distribute a massive 1.3 GB encrypted file titled Warhead-US-DOJ-LEA-2013.AES256 which may contain secret information sourced from the Department of Justice (hence the files contained are named after SCOTUS justices) and which Anonymous threatens to release unless massive reforms take place at the DOJ - reforms which will certainly never see the light of day, meaning Anonymous will have no choice but to make the contents of said file public.
The economy as we know it is facing a lethal confluence of four critical factors - the fall-out from the biggest debt bubble in history; a disastrous experiment with globalisation; the massaging of data to the point where economic trends are obscured; and, most important of all, the approach of an energy-returns cliff-edge. Through technology, through culture and through economic and political change, society is more short-term in nature now than at any time in recorded history. This acceleration towards ever-greater immediacy has blinded society to a series of fundamental economic trends which, if not anticipated and tackled well in advance, could have devastating effects. The relentless shortening of media, social and political horizons has resulted in the establishment of self-destructive economic patterns which now threaten to undermine economic viability.
How many European Union officials does it take to change a light bulb?
None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its condition is improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are an illusional spin from the American media. Illuminating European rooms is hard work. That light bulb has served honorably, and any commentary not approved by the EU undermines the lighting effort. From the 'obvious 'encouragement' given to Europe's banks to pay back exceptionally cheap LTRO loans early to the world's addiction for freshly printed money and propaganda.The world seems devoid of politicians that sensibly lead though they have been quite adept at spending past what can be afforded. The worlds’ central banks have been left to pick up the bills.
Italian Scandal Widens As Italy's Third Largest Bank Set To Get Third Bailout In 3 Years; Draghi, Monti ImplicatedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2013 12:09 -0500
While little has been said in the mainstream western press about the ongoing fiasco surrounding Siena's Banca Monte dei Pasci, Italy's third largest bank and the world's oldest which may get its third bailout in three years - or even be nationalized - as soon as today, for fears that it may break the thin veneer of "recovery" in the European financial system, the situation on the ground in Italy is getting more serious by the minute, and will have implications on both next month's general election, on Mario Monti, on Silvio Berlusconi, on frontrunner for the Prime Minister post Pier Luigi Bersani, and reach as far up as the head of the ECB - Mario Draghi.
There has been some confusion about the quality of the ongoing Q4 earnings season, which has seen some 47% of the S&P 500 companies report to date (and with 53% still left things can certainly change). The confusion apparently is that this has been a "good" earning season so far. Nothing could be further from the truth, and as Goldman shows in its midterm Q4 earnings report, the reality, not spin, is that earnings are tracking at $24.03, or some 6% below the consensus estimate at the start of earnings season of $25.51. This revised number, which could well drop even more from here, means that Q4 earnings will post a minuscule 1% growth in EPS year over year compared to Q4 of 2011 when Europe was imploding, and when the world's central banks had to arrange a global bailout to prevent yet another Armageddon.
Europe has now officially become the Schrodinger continent, demanding both sides of the economic coin so to speak, and is stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place (or "a cake and eating it"). On one hand it wants to telegraph its financial system is getting stronger, and doesn't need trillions in implicit and explicit ECB backstops, on the other it needs a liquidity buffer against an economy that, especially in the periphary, is rapidly deteriorating (Spanish bad debt just hit a new all time high while Italian bad loans rose by 16.7% in one year as more and more assets become impaired). On one hand it wants a strong currency to avoid any doubt that there is redenomination risk, on the other it desperately needs a weak currency to spur exports out of the Eurozone (as Spain showed when the EUR plunged in 2012, however that weak currency is now a distant memory and it is now seriously weighing on exports). On the one hand Europe wants to show its banks have solidarity with one another and will support each other, on the other those banks that are in a stronger position can't wait to shed the stigma of being associated with the weak banks (in this case by accepting LTRO bailouts).
Ours is a dysfunctional debt-based Empire that buys the complicity of its debt-serfs with entitlement bread and circuses. The road to debt-serfdom is paved by the banks and enforced by the Central State. If there is any point that is lost on ideologues, Progressive and Conservative alike, it is this: the first-order servitude and second-order tyranny of debt-serfdom can only occur if the banks' power is extended and protected by an expansive Central State.
At this point it has gotten painfully tedious, and the one phrase to describe trading is - Same Pattern Different Day. With equity futures closing decidedly weak on earnings reality after US market close, the slowly, steady overnight ramp seen every single day for the past month has returned as always, this time on yet another largely expected German confidence indicator beat (following the just as irrationally exuberant ZEW some time ago, and yesterday's far better than expected PMI), this time the IFO Business Climate, which printed at 104.2, on expectations of 103 and up from 102.4. This was driven by both the current assessment rising from 107.1 to 108 and the Expectations rising from 97.9 to 100.5. Naturally, all confidence indicators will be skewed in a way to prevent the market from doubting for a second that Germany may actually succumb to the same recession that has gripped all other European countries (which Germany is an inch away from after its negative Q4 GDP). In other words: there is hope. As for reality, UK Q4 GDP came in at -0.3% on expectations of a far lower drop to -0.1%, and down from the olympics-boosted 0.9% in Q3. The UK certainly can't wait for Mark Carney to come and show them how cable devaluation is really done, cause this time it will be different, if only it wasn't different for everyone else.
Reconciling Opposites ...