Morgan Stanley

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Largest LBO Ever Prepares For Largest Non-Financial Bankruptcy In 30 Years





If there was one deal that epitomized the last credit bubble, aside from the Blackstone IPO of course, it was the ginormous, $45 billion 2007 LBO of TXU, now Energy Future Holdings. And while the tide for the New Abnormal credit bubble has yet to expose its megalevered monoliths swimming fully naked, as for now corporations have opted for graduated semi-MBOs in the form of ever larger stock buybacks (although as rates rise this too day of reckoning is coming), the time to pay the piper for the last credit-fuelled binge has arrived and inevitable bankruptcy of this landmark deal is now just days away. From the WSJ: "Energy Future Holdings Corp. has begun sounding out banks for financing to help it operate during expected bankruptcy proceedings, which could come as soon as November for the Texas power producer."

 


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What Has Your Equity Hedge Fund Manager Done For You Lately?





Still paying your 2-and-20, despite Stanley Druckenmiller's surprise that you would, for someone to pick stocks for you? Perhaps a glance at the following 3 charts will awaken the animal investing spirits in some (or just a 'fold' from many). This is what happens when there is only one economic market-driving factor (cough Fed cough) and too many coat-tail-clinging hedge fund managers (and newsletter writers) chasing too few real alpha opportunities. The correlation between the S&P 500 and hedge fund returns has never been higher and is approaching 1, excess return (alpha) is near its all-time lows, and, sadly, there is an extremely high correlation between styles and tilts. All your hedge fund alpha are belong to Ben.

 


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Friday 13th Markets Jolted By News Summers Appointment Coming As Early As Next Week





Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,”  pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?

 


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Verizon Launches $49 Billion Largest Bond Deal Ever; Postpones Europe Investor Meetings





Smashing the previous record $17 billion deal from Apple which is doing so badly (in yield and spread terms), Verizon - in order to fund the mega deal with Vodafone - is launching an 8-part $49 billion deal done at what appear reasonable spread levels (though spreads are dramatically wider than a month ago as one would expect for such a releveraging). With the bulk of the deal ($36 billion) maturing 7 years or longer, it would appear that (and desk chatter confirms) demand was relatively high and BofAML also notes that Verizon will now have a huge $69 to $79 billion of index-eligible bonds. This will make Verizon the 4th largest issuer in the US high-grade market index, right up their with Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Amid all this exuberance though, something odd popped up:

  • *VERIZON POSTPONES EUROPE INVESTOR MEETINGS ABOUT VODAFONE DEAL

Reuters is reporting that with a $101 billion order book already, it appears they had no ned to shop the deal in Europe. Amazing what ZIRP repression will do...

 

 


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Hank "World Should Prepare For New Financial Crisis" Paulson Versus Jim "0% Chance" Gorman





Five years after the financial crisis former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says "the world shouold prepare for a new financial crisis" in tomorrow's Handelsblatt newspaper. His view, based on the "unacceptable" nature of too-big-to-fail banks and the lack of reform of the GSEs and the shadow-banking industry, stands in direct opposition to the leader of one of those TBTF banks. James 'not Jim' Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, told Charlie Rose last week that "the probability of [it] happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine." Who would you trust?

 


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Futures Drift Sideways On Lack Of Syria, Liquidity Clarity





As macro news continues to trickle in better than expected, the latest batch being benign (if completely fake) Chinese inflation data (CPI 2.6%, Exp. 2.6%, Last 2.7%) and trade data released overnight which saw ahigher than expected trade balance ($28.5bn vs Exp. $20.0; as exports rose from 5.1% to 7.2%, and imports dipped from 10.9% to 7.0%, missing expectations), markets remain confused: is good news better or does it mean even more global liquidity will be pulled.  As a result, the release of an encouraging set of macroeconomic data from China failed to have a meaningful impact on the sentiment in Europe this morning and instead stocks traded lower, with the Spanish IBEX-35 index underperforming after Madrid lost out to Tokyo to win rights to host 2020 Olympic Games. Even though the news buoyed USD/JPY overnight, the pair faced downside pressure stemming from interest rate differential flows amid better bid USTs. The price action in the US curve was partly driven by the latest article from a prolific Fed watcher Jon Hilsenrath who said many Fed officials are undecided on whether to scale back bond purchases in September. Hilsenrath added that the Fed could wait or reduce the programme by a small amount at the upcoming meeting. Going forward, there are no major macroeconomic data releases scheduled for the second half of the session, but Fed’s Williams is due to speak.

 


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John McCain's Wall Street-Funded "Battflefield Earth"





Perhaps the 77 year-old republican senator should stick to online poker. Because if the war hawk was in charge of US foreign policy, World War III would be a distant memory. Courtesy of The Burning Platform, the chart below lists of countries where John McCain has not called for military intervention. It is, in a word, large.

 


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Frontrunning: September 4





  • Yes: Support Builds in Congress for U.S. Strike Against Syria (WSJ)
  • No: Boehner backs Obama on Syria, but House leaning toward ‘no’ (The Hill)
  • U.S. Congress fight over Syria pits establishment versus upstarts (Reuters)
  • Wednesday humor: Japan’s Abe Says Fukushima Will Be Resolved Before 2020 Olympics (BBG)
  • Bank of Japan to Consider Further Easing if Sales Tax Hike Goes Ahead (Reuters)
  • S&P accuses U.S. Justice Department of filing $5 billion lawsuit against it in "retaliation" for the company's downgrade of America's debt in 2011 (WSJ)
  • German Candidates Spar Over Records (WSJ)
  • Emerging Nations Save $2.9 Trillion Reserves in Rout (BBG)
  • Split Congress Mulls Denial of Military Force Request (BBG)
  • Sharp Fall in Overseas Investment By Chinese Firms (WSJ)
  • Jorge Lemann: He Is...the World's Most Interesting Billionaire (BusinessWeek)
  • Why Amazon Is on a Warehouse Building Spree (BW)
 


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It's A Syria's Market





Today's morning summary is a carbon copy of yesterday's. Some things happened, China continues to make up data to fit its current policy outlook, things in Europe continue to go bump in the night ever louder as we approach the German election despite reflexive diffusion indices - this time Service PMIs - desperately signalling a surge in confidence, Italy has just reminded everyone it is a big political basket case as Berlusconi is said to consider withdrawing his support for the Letta government and calling for elections this year, and so on, but it is still all about Syria. Last night the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has agreed on a resolution on using military force against Syria. The resolution would limit the duration of any US military action in Syria to 60 days, with a 30-day extension possible if Obama determines it is necessary to meet the goals of the resolution. In other words, a "surgical strike" lasting a minimum of 90 days, and then with indefinite additional extensions tacked on. Yet judging by the modest drop in crude and gold, the market may need more than just fighting words at this point to push to th next level of risk aversion.

 


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Verizon Seals Second Largest M&A Deal In History





Vodafone is to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon for $130bn in cash and stock, subject to regulatory approvals, comprising $61.4bn in cash and assumption of net liabilities, $60.2bn in stock (within a $47-51 per share collar), $5bn in a VZ loan note and $3.5bn ascribed to VZ’s 23.1% stake in Vodafone Italy. As the WSJ reports, this is the second-largest ever behind another Vodafone deal - the $172 billion acquisition of Mannesmann AG in 1999 (which is somewhat ironic in its largesse and timing). The cash component - nearly twice the state budget of Verizon Wireless's New Jersey home - is by far the largest amount of cash ever deployed in an acquisition and will be financed by 4 $15 billion 'bridge loans', "until more permanent financing can be found over the next 12 to 18 months." Of course, we assume investors will be over-subscribing to the higher-leveraged firm's bonds (just like they did with AAPL but 4 times bigger!)

 


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Equity Futures Storm Out Of The Gate, Trade At Session Highs





Equity futures stormed out of the gate on initial relief that a Syria attack may be avoided, which sent oil and the PM complex flash crashing lower. However, overnight, sentiment shifted that the Syrian escalation is at best delayed and as a result Brent regained all losses, with the precious metals also largely unchanged from Friday's close. Futures on the other hand, were perfectly happy to rise on the transitory Syrian risk moderation reduction, and then continue rising when Syria returned to the forefront, this time prodded higher by PMI exuberance out of China and Europe. How credible such manufacturing data remains to be seen. A surging USDJPY was also rather helpful, with the pair breaching 99.00 stops to the upside shortly after the European PMI data printed. And with the cash US market closed, and electronic equity trade halted at 10:30 Central, it is unlikely that concerns about all those "other" things that will define September, will seep in and it is likely the HFTs will push equities to session highs before reopening for the Tuesday trading.

 


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New Week Starts With Another Full Market Halt





Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.

 


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Slower Asian Growth + Weaker Funding Conditions = ?





The challenge to the world's credit cycle comes from both ends. An increasingly sluggish growth outlook creates downward pressures on earnings and internal cash generation. The slowdown is fairly widespread. In addition, the cost of funding is on the rise. Downside skews begin to emerge in the later stages of a cycle when leverage has already increased and the cycle turns more adverse, and that is happening in Asia right now.  This is critical in our current benign default environment because the combination of highly leveraged firms, slowing GDP and rising real rates was exactly what created the spike in defaults in 2007-2009 (that only the largest monetary policy bailout in history was capable of kicking down the road).

 


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Frontrunning: August 23





  • Lew warns Congress to strike debt ceiling deal (FT)
  • Central-Bank Moves Blur the View (WSJ)
  • Brazil, Indonesia launch measures to shore up their currencies (FT)
  • More mainstream media reminded about Fukushima - Radioactive ground water under Fukushima nears sea (AP)
  • Fukushima inspectors 'careless', Japan agency says, as nuclear crisis grows (Reuters)
  • New York Banker Arrested on Rape Charges in East Hampton (NYT)
  • This time they mean business, for real: CFTC Moves to Rein In High-Speed Traders (WSJ)
  • Britain operates secret monitoring station in Middle East (Reuters)
  • Moody’s considers downgrading top US banks (FT)
  • China's Bo calls wife mad after she testifies against him (Reuters)
  • JPMorgan Sub-New Normal Growth Seen Vexing Next Fed Chief (BBG)
  • SEC calls for cooling-off period for more staff (Reuters)
 


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