Merrill

Merrill

Frontrunning: Friday 13

  • Presidential Task Force Recommends Overhaul of NSA Surveillance Tactics (WSJ)
  • Monte Paschi's Largest Shareholder Says It Will Vote Against $4.1 Billion Capital Increase (WSJ)
  • SAC Reconsiders Industry Relationships—and Its Name (WSJ)
  • Icahn’s Apple Push Criticized by Calpers as ‘Johnny Come Lately’  (BBG)
  • In Yemen, al Qaeda gains sympathy amid U.S. drone strikes (Reuters)
  • Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission (AP)
  • In China, Western Companies Cut Jobs as Growth Ebbs (WSJ)
  • U.S. lays out steps to smooth Obamacare coverage for January (Reuters)
  • Las Vegas Sands Said to Drop $35 Billion Spanish Casino Proposal (BBG)
  • Twitter Reverts Changes To Blocking Functionality After Strong Negative User Feedback (TechCrunch)

Frontrunning: December 12

  • J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $1 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe Related to Madoff (WSJ)
  • Ford board aims to pin down CEO Mulally's plans (Reuters)
  • Raising Minimum Wage Is a Bad Way to Help People (BBG)
  • Japan Lawmakers Demand Speedy Pension Reform (WSJ)
  • EU reaches landmark deal on failed banks (FT)
  • In which Hilsenrath repeats what we said in August: Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates (WSJ)
  • Senators Vow to Add to Iran Economic Sanctions in 2014 (BBG)
  • Centerbridge in $3.3bn LightSquared bid (FT)
  • Banks, Agencies Draw Battle Lines Over 'Volcker Rule' (WSJ)

Frontrunning: December 11

  • Wall Street Exhales as Volcker Rule Seen Sparing Market-Making (Bloomberg)
  • GM to End Manufacturing Down Under, Citing Costs (WSJ)
  • U.S. budget deal could usher in new era of cooperation (Reuters)
  • Ukraine Police Back Off After Failing to Stop Protest (WSJ)
  • First Walmart, now Costco misses (AP)
  • Dan Fuss Joins Bill Gross Shunning Long-Term Debt Before Taper (BBG)
  • China New Yuan Loans Higher Than Expected (WSJ)
  • China bitcoin arbitrage ends as traders work around capital controls (Reuters)
  • Blackstone’s Hilton Joins Ranks of Biggest Deal Paydays (BBG)

Frontrunning: December 10

  • U.S. set to adopt Volcker rule to curb bank trading gambles (Reuters) After vote, lawsuits likely next hurdle for Volcker rule (Reuters)
  • U.S. Congress budget talks could produce Tuesday deal, aides say (Reuters)
  • Wealthy Go Frugal This Holiday Amid Uneven U.S. Recovery (BBG)
  • Tearful Thai PM urges protesters to take part in election (Reuters)
  • Fed’s Bullard Sees Higher QE Taper Odds as Labor Market Improves (BBG)
  • Coeure Says ECB Would Offer More LTROs Only When Banks Can Lend (BBG)
  • Inside China's Super-Sterile Chicken Farms (WSJ)
  • Mandela Service Rivals JFK’s as Leaders Meet in South Africa (BBG)
  • China data defy slowdown forecasts (FT), and of course the word is "data"
  • Cold, ice grip U.S. as more snow to blanket East (Reuters)

As Credit Bubble Grows, Junk Bond Underwriting Fees Drop To Record Low

Technically, "High Yield" is no longer the appropriate name for the riskiest credit issuance since the average coupon has declined to where Investment Grade used to trade in the years before the New Normal. It is therefore only appropriate that as part and parcel of this record high yield bond issuance surge levering the riskiest companies to the gills with low interest debt, that there is also a scramble between underwriters to become as competitive as possible. And, sure enough, as Bloomberg Brief reports, "the underwriting fees disclosed to Bloomberg on U.S. junk bond deals average 1.276 percent for the year to date, the lowest since our records began. The prior low was set in 2008, when fees averaged 1.4 percent." 2008... that was when the last credit bubble burst on unprecedented demand for junk bonds: we are confident the bubble apologists will find some other metric with which to convince everyone that reality, and the Fed's Stein, have it all wrong.

Frontrunning: December 5

  • Apple, China Mobile Sign Deal to Offer iPhone (WSJ)
  • Japan approves $182 billion economic package, doubts remain (Reuters)
  • Volcker Rule Won't Allow Banks to Use 'Portfolio Hedging' (WSJ)
  • He went, he saw, he achieved nothing: Biden's Trip to Beijing Leaves China Air-Zone Rift Open (WSJ)
  • Britain announces sharp upward revision to growth forecasts (Reuters)
  • U.S. Airlines to Mortgage-Backed Debt Top List of Best ’14 Bets (BBG)
  • Thaksin's homecoming hopes dashed as Thai crisis reignites (Reuters)
  • Age of Austerity Nearing End May Boost Global Economy (BBG) - or it may expose that it was just corruption and incompetence at fault all along
  • China aims to establish network of high-level FTAs (China Daily)

Frontrunning: December 4

  • EU Fines Financial Institutions Over Fixing Key Benchmarks (Reuters)
  • Euro-Area Economic Growth Slows as Exports, Consumption Cool (BBG) - someone has a very loose definition of growth
  • Ukraine Officials Scour Globe for Cash as Protests Build (BBG)
  • Oops: Franklin Boosted Ukraine Bet to $6 Billion as Selloff Began (BBG)
  • Japan Plans 18.6 Trillion Yen Economic Package to Support Growth (BBG) - or about 2 months of POMO
  • How Peugeot and France ran out of gas (Reuters)
  • Iran threatens to trigger oil price war (FT)
  • Abe Vows to Pass Secrecy Law That Hurts Cabinet’s Popularity (BBG)
  • Brazil economy turns in worst quarter for 5 years (FT)
  • Australia’s Slowdown Suggests RBA May Need to Do More (BBG)
  • Biden calls for trust with China amid airspace dispute (Reuters)

Frontrunning: December 3

  • With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
  • Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
  • Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
  • Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
  • Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
  • Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
  • Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
  • Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
  • Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
  • Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
  • In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)

Frontrunning: December 2

  • America’s Role as Consumer of Last Resort Goes Missing (BBG)
  • Holiday sales sag despite blitz of deals (WSJ)
  • Abe Support Falls Below 50% for First Time Amid Secrecy Drive (BBG)
  • U.S. airlines give China flight plans for defense zone (Reuters), while Japan: no change to airlines' notification policy when flying in East China Sea zone (Reuters)
  • Thai protesters seek to topple PM after clashes (Reuters)
  • Hilton Seeks as Much as $2.4 Billion in Biggest Hotel IPO (BBG)
  • Biden on delicate mission to defuse tensions in East Asia (Reuters)
  • Fed eyes financial system weak link (WSJ)
  • Pentagon in line of fire in US budget war (FT)
  • China’s monetary squeeze collides with housing bubble (FT)

Frontrunning: November 29

  • So much for the euphoria: Stores open early on Thanksgiving but shoppers in no rush (Reuters)
  • Get to work Mr. Chairwoman: Do-Nothing Congress Dithers on Budget as Deadline Nears (BBG)
  • FX to Libor Probes Leave U.K. Traders Looking for Lawyers (BBG)
  • Protesters Briefly Storm Thai Army Headquarters (WSJ)
  • Berlusconi accused of bribing witnesses in prostitution trial (Reuters)
  • Japan Price Gauge Rises Most Since ’98 in Boost to Abe (BBG)
  • S&P downgrades Netherlands’ AAA credit rating (FT)
  • GrainCorp Verdict Clouds Australia Open-For-Business Pledge (BBG)
  • Hertz Fix in Dollar Thrifty Deal Fails as Insider Warned (BBG)
  • Narrow Budget Agreement Comes Into View (WSJ)

Frontrunning: November 27

  • Winter storm lashes eastern U.S., threatens Thanksgiving travel (Reuters)
  • Fed Reveals New Concerns About Long-Term U.S. Slowdown (BBG)
  • Private equity keeps $789bn of powder dry (FT) - because they are "selling everything that is not nailed down"
  • Merkel and SPD clinch coalition deal two months after vote (Reuters)
  • Japan approves new state secrecy bill to combat leaks (BBC)
  • CLOs are the new black: Volatile Loan Securities Are Luring Fund Managers Again (WSJ)
  • Health website deadline nears (WSJ)
  • Norway Debates $800 Billion Wealth Fund’s Investment Options (BBG)
  • Set of global trade deals stalls (WSJ)
  • Berlusconi To Learn Fate In Senate  (Sky)
  • Silvio Berlusconi withdraws support from Italy’s government (FT)

Margin Debt Soars To New Record; Investor Net Worth Hits Record Low

The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...

Frontrunning: November 26

  • M&A Mystery: Why Are Takeover Prices Plummeting? (WSJ)
  • Hedge-Fund Fight Club Traded Illegal Tips Not Punches (BBG)
  • Speed Traders Meet Nightmare on Elm Street With Nanex (BBG)
  • A new wave of U.S. mortgage trouble threatens (Reuters)
  • Penny Lane: Gitmo's other secret CIA facility (AP)
  • US hardens threat to leave Afghanistan with no troops (WSJ)
  • Russian Prison Stuns Captain of Greenpeace’s Bombed Ship (BBG)
  • ECB's Weidmann Warns Central Banks Might Be Too Dominated by Fiscal Concerns (WSJ)
  • China Air Move Splits Japan as Carriers Obey New Rules (BBG)
  • Inside the Breakup of the Pritzker Empire (WSJ)

Frontrunning: November 25

  • Washington turns bond market upside (FT)
  • China Air-Zone Move Expands Field of Islands Spat With Japan (BBG); Japan rejects China claim on airspace over disputed islands (FT)
  • 'Great Satan' meets 'Axis of Evil' and strikes a deal (Reuters)
  • Iran Pact Faces Stiff Opposition (WSJ)
  • Allies Fear a US Pullback in Mideast (WSJ)
  • India to resume paying Iran in Euros (Economic Times)
  • At 'Business Insider,' it's time to sell (USA Today)
  • More ECB currency war jawboning: ECB’s Hansson Says Rate Cut Options Not Fully Exhausted (BBG)
  • Spy World Links Plus Obama Ties Stoke Concern About NSA Review (BBG)
  • A disunited Europe will struggle even to disintegrate (FT)