Commercial Real Estate
A week ago when we presented the missing link in the "all cash" housing recovery, namely laundered, embezzled or simply stolen off-shore sourced cash parked in the US real estate market which takes advantage of the NAR's generous anti-money laundering provision exemption, we asked what we thought would be a rhetorical question: "just how far will Preet Bharara take this, and comparable such future actions?" Turns out the answer is quite a bit farther, and higher. And not only that, but instead of just targeting residential real estate, the US attorney in Manhattan, is now focusing on commercial real estate as well. As CNN reported moments ago, the US government has seized an iconic midtown Manhattan skyscraper, one where none other than Ivan Boesky plotted his insider trading schemes in the 1980s, that prosecutors claim is secretly owned and controlled by the Iranian government. The skyscraper in question is 650 Fifth Avenue, also known as the Piaget building.
There is still no official public schedule for the Kansas City Fed's annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, anticipated to begin on Thursday. However, as we noted previously, the schedule will not include a keynote address from a high-ranking Federal Reserve official. Furthermore, as Goldman notes, in contrast to tradition, Chairman Bernanke will not be in attendance (Yellen will but Summer won't). However, Jackson Hole has historically been an event where the latest thinking on monetary policy has been debated by academics and central bankers, and this year will be no different. Perhaps, Goldman points out, most interestingly, some of the research to be presented finds that MBS purchases had a disproportionate effect on depressing MBS yields, while Treasury purchases did not seem to have a similar benefit - perhaps hinting at the form the 'taper' will take.
On the surface, there is nothing spectacular about the weekend news that JPMorgan is seeking to sell its 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza office building. After all, the former headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank, located deep in the heart of the financial district and which was built by its then chairman David Rockefeller, is a remnant to another time - a time when banking was about providing loans, not about managing and trading assets which has become the realm of Midtown New York, and since JPM already has extensive Midtown exposure with its offices at 270, 270 and 245 Park, the 1 CMP building always stood out as a bit of a sore thumb. Of course, as Zero Hedge readers first learned, the big surprise is literally below the surface, some 90 feet below street level to be exact, where the formerly secret JPM gold vault is located, which also happens to be the biggest commercial gold vault in the world.
This week's biggest news is not the Non-Farm Payrolls, or the European Central Bank or even Portugal's government falling. No - this week's big deal is the openness with which the Federal Reserve is preparing a major margin call on the too-big-to-fail banks in the US. This has been a long time coming since the introduction of the Dodd-Frank law back in 2010 but it is a game changer. Remember all macro paradigm shifts come from policy impulses, often mistakes. Is the Fed about to given the whole banking industry a major margin call?
- Turmoil Exposes Global Risks (WSJ)
- China Money Rates Retreat After PBOC Said to Inject Cash (BBG)
- Fed Seen by Economists Trimming QE in September, 2014 End (BBG)
- Booz Allen, the World's Most Profitable Spy Organization (BBG)
- Abe’s Arrows of Growth Dulled by Japan’s Three Principles (BBG)
- China steps back from severe cash crunch (FT)
- Smog at Hazardous as Singapore, Jakarta Spar Over Fires (BBG)
- U.S. Weighs Doubling Leverage Standard for Biggest Banks (BBG)
- Obama Says Bernanke Fed Term Lasting ‘Longer Than He Wanted’ (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Critical Of Japan's Credit Policy In Meeting With Abe (Nikkei)
- China Wrestles With Banks' Pleas for Cash (WSJ)
- Biggest protests in 20 years sweep Brazil (Brazil)
- Pena Nieto Confident 75-Year Pemex Oil Monopoly to End This Year (Bloomberg)
- G8 leaders seek common ground on tax (FT)
- Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure (Reuters)
- Former Trader Is Charged in U.K. Libor Probe (WSJ) - yup: it was all one 33 year old trader's fault
- Draghi Says ECB Has ‘Open Mind’ on Non-Standard Measures (BBG)
- Loeb Raises His Sony Stake, Drive for Entertainment IPO (WSJ)
Socialist Paradise: Homeless Frenchmen Squat In Vacant Office Buildings While City Hall Enacts "Eminent Domain"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/11/2013 14:16 -0500
it appears the memo about the glorious housing recovery has bypassed the socialist paradise of France. Either that, or the concept of shared property is so advanced there, and the costs of evicting squatters so high, that all a homeless Parisian needs in order to have four walls and a roof above their heads is to find an empty office building and claim it as their own. Which is precisely what is happening. And while squatting is not a unique phenomenon to any paradise, socialist or otherwise, when a group of 16 Parisian families decided to take over a vacant 4-story building, have decided to put a little signature touch: they telegraphed their presence far and wide by placing repeated food orders so the neighbors could see the "comings-and-goings" of the delivery man (supposedly justifying their squatting), but actually went so far as to invite the French housing minister. And got her support! Socialist utopia indeed.
One of the problems with QE is that the Fed is forcing people to buy riskier investments than they otherwise would have. The immorality of their actions aside, they create a significant psychological mismatch between assets and their holders. Stocks are in weak hands, insuring one great stampede for the chairs when the music stops.
Chaos Theory turns 50 years old this year, celebrating half a century of flapping butterfly wings in Brazil creating tornadoes in Texas. That most famous example is especially appropriate, since it was a meteorologist named Edward Lorenz who first outlined why seemingly consistent and knowable systems can still go wildly wrong. As it turns out, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas reminds us, small errors in measurement or observation at the start of a time series can significantly change how things look at the end. In the current low volatility, one-variable central bank driven global equity markets, Chaos Theory may seem a quaint relic of past crises. However, its central lesson – that complex interrelated systems create unexpected outcomes from seemingly benign inputs – is still relevant. Students of economics like to think of their discipline as scientific, just like physics or other hard sciences. They would do well to embrace the intellectual honesty neatly encapsulated by the central lessons of Chaos Theory. The problem is that current market price action - that slow steady grind higher - indicates marginal buyers don’t fret very much about the future. No matter how little we really know about it.
- PBOC Says China Shouldn’t Be ’Blindly Optimistic’ on Inflation (BBG)
- Foreigners Buying Half of London New Homes Prop Up Building (BBG) - first they come for the foreign deposits, then for the real assets...
- Investors Rediscovering Margin Debt (WSJ) - well, yes: it is at record highs
- China issues new rules targeting wealth management fund pools (RTRS)
- Navy $37 Billion Ships Seen Unsuitable Have 2-Year Window (BBG)
- New York may have to drop claims against BofA over Merrill (RTRS)
- FBI Rejects Boston Police Stance in Spat Over Terror Data (BBG)
- In eastern Syria oil smugglers benefit from chaos (RTRS)
"Inflation is a state of affairs in which there is too much money," Jim Grant notes in this Bloomberg TV interview, however, "It's not too much money chasing too few goods," he corrects the misnomer, "the thing this money chases is variable." Whether it is Iowa farmland, housing, stocks, or bonds, central banks are stuffing us with it. Yes, equities are high, but Grant explains, "beneath the surface of things or not so far beneath the surface of things," it is not at all good, adding that, "Central bank 'original sin'," is akin to Revolutionary France, and he shows no concerns over Gold's recent dip, noting "a general fatigue animus towards gold," that seems predicated on more confidence in central bankers; to Grant, "that confidence is utterly misplaced!"
Subdued headline inflation hides the inimitable rise of prices across the country; but ConvergEx's Nick Colas examines the pace of inflation in four large cities across the US – Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. All are home to multitudes of urban working professionals, share the same currency and have similar macro economies, though, Colas notes, the trend of price increases varies considerably (particularly with regards to NYC vs. the rest). The cost of living is up in all four cities since 2008. Incomes, too, are generally higher – although not in New York, likely a result of the Big Apple’s unique micro economy. Comparatively, New Yorkers have experienced the steepest price increases in transportation (higher cab and subway fares give this category a boost) and groceries, meanwhile rent, dinners out and cocktails continue to be more and more costly. So what gives? Rising inflation despite lower incomes? The answer lies in the tug of war between less cash pay on Wall Street and a very active foreign investment market that is driving up real estate prices.
Ever since JCP entered the death watch with its absolutely abysmal 2012 year end results which saw the firm report something like negative $1.5 billion in Free Cash Flow (frankly we stopped counting there), and just ahead of the heavy inventory rebuild season so just as net working capital would demand another billion or so in cash, much has happened at the company.
- Finally the MSM catches up to reality: Workers Stuck in Disability Stunt Economic Recovery (WSJ)
- China opens Aussie dollar direct trading (FT)
- National Bank and Eurobank Fall as Merger Halted (BBG)
- Why Making Europe German Won’t Fix the Crisis - The Bulgarian case study (BBG)
- Nikkei hits new highs as yen slides (FT)
- Housing Prices Are on a Tear, Thanks to the Fed (WSJ)
- Why is Moody's exempt from justice, or the "Big Question in U.S. vs. S&P" (WSJ)
- Central banks move into riskier assets (FT)
- N. Korea May Conduct Joint Missile-Nuclear Tests, South Says (BBG)
- North Korea Pulls Workers From Factories It Runs With South (NYT)
- Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles (Reuters)
- IPO Bankers Become Frogs in Hot Water Amid China Market Halt (BBG)
- Portugal Seeks New Cuts to Stay on Course (WSJ)
Housing is recovering. The Fed has your back. The consumer is healthy. All things that would suggest the commercial-mortgage bond business should be on the cusp of a renaissance. So the question is - what did Brett Ersoff and John Herman see, seven short days after being promoted to run the UBS real-estate finance division, that made them depart the venerable Swiss firm with the paintball sized Stamford trading floor?