Game Over, Radioshack LBO Rumors, Game Over

The day every sane investor has been waiting for is here - today marks the end of the Radioschack LBO rumors. After 3 years, 4 months, 50 days. 8 hours and 44 seconds (give or take) of hourly rumormongering that the increasingly irrelevant electronics retailer was supposed to be bought "any given day now" at a 10x+ EBITDA multiple by each and every PE firm in the universe, and with allegedly intelligent investors falling for it each and every time, it appears the end is here. Incidentally, according to preliminary calculations, a dedicated investor that would have done nothing but short RSH on every rumor spike would have returned about an 80% CAGR over the past 3 years. Couple this with selling RSH CDS and the ROI would have been the highest recorded in human history. From Reuters: "Blackstone Group and TPG Capital are unlikely to continue to pursue a possible bid for RadioShack Corp (RSH.N), two sources familiar with the situation said on Monday. Bain Capital had been interested earlier but is no longer in the auction, sources previously told Reuters." And with this, an entire section of rumor disseminators at the NY Post will suddenly find themselves praying Congress passes the unemployment extension bill later today.

Morning Gold Fix: July 19, 2010

The first Gold backed Currency was announced last week. This is the road to ruin for the Dollar as global reserve currency: Slow incremental acceptance of alternatives form seemingly meaningless areas of the world. Ranks break first where there is little to lose by change. Last in places that cannot afford it.

European Weekly Outlook

From Goldman's Ben Broadbent. Apparently the weather in Chiswick was not sufficiently balmy for your regularly scheduled update.

Potential Second Spill Found Near BP Blown Out Oil Well, As BP Evaluates Potential Break Up Opportunities

In case you missed George Wahsington's update, here it is straight from the AP horse's mouth. And, if this story is true, we can only hope one is not long BP stock or short the CDS. Logically, all this occurs as the Sunday Times reports that BP has "started canvassing shareholders about a restructuring in the wake of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill which could include a break up of the business."

The Next Leg Of Eurocrisis 2010? The Hungary Wolfpack Cometh As IMF, EU Cancel $25 Billion Rescue Loan Access

In the most surprising news of the weekend (so far), the IMF and the EU effectively suspended Hungary's access to the remaining funds in a $25 billion rescue loan package created in 2008 to prevent a financial meltdown of the country. The timing of this development is most extraordinary, as only a month ago Hungary served as ground zero for yet another scare that pushed European sovereign bond spreads to new records. The reason given for this dramatic, and very destabilizing action is that the nation must "take tough action to meet targets for cutting its budget deficit." Ostensibly Greece continuing to lie about its own economic deterioration is a necessary and sufficient condition for escalating IMF lauding. Yet, with Europe set to announce results of its Stress Test kabuki next week, the last thing the continent needs is a real liquidity crisis (or the threat thereof) to counteract the smooth talking bureaucrats dead set into hypnotizing the union into "all is well" submission ("and when I snap my fingers, the debt-to-GDP ratio will be back to 10%"). To quote "Brace yourself for Monday, folks!"

Weekly Credit Summary

Spreads closed considerably wider today, with the biggest close-to-close widening since 6/22, as HY dramatically underperformed (pushing back above 600bps for the first time since 7/7) with the macro fears that we have been discussing crystallized and micro issues seem to be turning the same way.

Dismal confidence data along with more worrisome in-/de-flation data set the early tone and stocks and spreads pushed quickly lower (wider) out of the gate. The eight day rally that we have seen, and we have been vociferous in our view of what caused this and what was under the surface, was an exact mirror of the rally a month ago in credit. The swing from wides to tights from 6/10 to 6/21 (8 trading days) was 132 to 104.125 (which was the swing tights since 5/10's 95bps). The recent swing from 7/1 wides to 7/13 tights (126.755 to 106.5) was also over 8 trading days and the same pattern of index outperformance of intrinsics was very evident - which supports our thesis of macro hedge unwinds and underlying selling.

Barclays Sees European Banks Needing Over $100 Billion In Capital After Stress Tests

Barclays analyst Jeffrey Meli has issued a report "European bank stress tests: A preview" in which he estimates that if properly executed, the Stress Test, whose results are to be announced on July 23, will require an infusion of €85 billion to replenish capital levels. Specifically, quantifying the amount of capital needed would include €36 billion for Spanish cajas, a number far greater than expected to date, €34 billion for the German landesbanks, €8.6 billion for Greek banks and €6 billion for Portuguese banks. Meli concludes: "Spreads have rallied over the past two weeks, suggesting the bar is no longer set so low that any disclosure whatsoever will cause a rally." So all those who plan on buying the news - beware.

Goldman Sachs On How To Navigate The Slowdown

Remember when a week ago the world was slowing down? Apparently all it takes to forget reality is for Europe to sweep the fact that its banks are insolvent under the rug courtesy of a systematic farce conducted by the very system the banks are part of, rendered even more "credible" since as of today it appears no banks will fail the stress test. On the US earnings front, a materials company beating reduced expectations and a chip maker having just record the best quarter in its history (what growth next for Intel: 80% margins? 90%? every household in China buying an i7 980 for their 7th toaster in their 5th house?), even as global trade is paradoxically stalling following an all time record month for Chinese trade? Americans may be unemployed and homeless but they sure like their iPads and their fast PCs. Either way, to remind readers that despite the latest market run up on no actual positive economic data, here is Dominic Wilson, Director of Global Macro & Markets Research at Goldman, with advice to clients on how to navigate the "slowdown."

Berlin Pushing For European Bankruptcy Framework With Provision For State Sovereignty Give Up

The big news out of Europe this morning, and the reason for the drag on the euro is an article in Der Spiegel, "Merkel's rules for bankruptcy" according to which Germany is now actively (and very secretly) pushing for a plan outlining a set of insolvency rules, which would require that private investors bear a portion of the rescue burden, and much more importantly, would see at least a partial give up in state sovereignty, where a new insolvency trustee (the "Berlin Club", which we fail to see at least for now, how it differs from the Paris Club) would take implicit control over and override a default nation's treasury, in essence pushing the bankrupt country into a form of Feudal vassal state-cum-reparations subservience. Welcome to financial warfare in the post-globalization period.

Morning Gold Fix: July 12, 2010

Gold gained some ground Friday, opening at 1198.5 and closing at 1209.8, its highest close of the week. The trend seems to be reversing this morning however, as it is down slightly this morning. Also, Part 3 of the Gold/ Comex Arb - The EFP and Pot-Odds

A Glance At The Start Of Earnings Season, And Yet Another Asset Price Decoupling

Tomorrow the Q2 earnings season kicks off, with Alcoa as usual leading the parade. The chart below shows all the S&P stocks that report in the coming week. The key day will be Friday when GE, BofA and Citi all report together. With earnings still expected to post healthy gains over Q2 of last year, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to report the same type of blow out bottom line outperformance that was seen earlier in the year on continuing cost cutting, which is still accompanied by merely tepid revenue growth. If anyone is so confused as to why corporations continue to hoard cash, the record high margins may be a good place to start. CEO are not stupid and know all about the reversion to the mean phenomenon, and are stockpiling cash precisely for that, and for the imminent increase in corporate taxes, whose recent collapse has been a primary reason for the cash stockpile (a topic we discussed first about 3 months ago). Tangentially, for readers who trade across asset classes, in addition to the recurring FX-risk decoupling seen between the carry pair of choice, another notable observation is the recent decoupling between stocks and IG bonds, as represented by the on the run IG CDS index.

Do Hedge Funds Trade On Insider Information?

A very interesting research paper currently in publication by a team from York University headed by Nadia Massoud asks "Do Hedge Funds Trade on Private Information? Evidence from Syndicated Lending and Short-Selling" and analyzes whether or not hedge funds actively trade in the public securities of companies that had approached said hedge funds with private, capital structure specific (in this case loan syndication and amendment) information. The paper focuses on the period between 2005 and 2007, when the first wave of second- and third-lien debt that had been issued by crappy companies to hedge funds, was starting to become impaired and led to wave after wave of covenant and other bank loan amendments, designed to allow the borrower some breathing room. Massoud also tracks whether or not in the days preceding the public announcement of a covenant amendment, traditionally seen as a sign of weakness by any borrower company, there was a spike in short-selling activity by hedge funds, courtesy of an interval between January 2nd 2005 to July 6th 2007, when RegSHO had made public extensive detail on equity short-selling data (why this is no longer the case one has to ask the corrupt SEC, but that is a question for after the next 10,000 point Dow flash crash when the SEC's headquarters will finally be surrounded by rioting former investors who have had enough). The paper finds conclusive evidence that companies that come to lenders in hopes of amending syndicated credit facilities do indeed see aggressive shorting of their stock into the days preceding the formal announcement, implying that there is obviously material non-public information abuse and frontrunning. Here, the authors of the paper however, make a blatantly wrong assumption that this frontrunning originates almost exclusively from within the hedge funds that had been approached with the material non-public disclosure of weakness. We are happy to demonstrate that not only is that not necessarily the case, but to explain why certain sections of FT holding company Pearson can charge over $100,000 a year for premium subscription to their content by rich hedge fund subscribers, thereby once again creating a very tiered information market. We speak of course of Pearson niche media subsidiary