Never in a million years did we think we’d ever use an article by Andrew Ross Sorkin as the basis of a blog post, but here we are. While probably entirely unintentional, his article serves to further solidify as accurate the prevailing notion across America that former head of the New York Federal Reserve and Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is nothing more than an addled, crony, bureaucratic banker cabin boy. Simply put, "Geithner is so bad, he actually makes Larry Summers look good."
- Omnicom, Publicis call off proposed $35 billion merger (Reuters)
- Apple in talks for $3.2bn Beats deal (FT)
- Alibaba IPO Grew Out of ’80s Chaos and Guy From Goldman (BBG)
- Nigeria's president at WEF pledges to free kidnapped girls (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Joins Wells Fargo in Rolling Out Jumbo Offerings (BBG)
- It's 1999 all over again: Young Bankers Fed Up With 90-Hour Weeks Move to Startups (BBG)
- ECB stimulus talk knocks euro, peripheral yields (Reuters)
- Deutsche Bank Currency Crown Lost to Citigroup on Volatility (BBG)
- London Taxis Plan 10,000-Car Protest Against Uber App Use (BBG)
- Pfizer Holders Could Face Tax Hit in a Deal for AstraZeneca (WSJ)
It has been a very quiet session so far, and despite the slow-mo levitation in the USDJPY, its impact on US equity futures has been minimal if not negative. In fact, following yesterday's latest late day tumble, which Goldman summarized as follows, "Equities tried and failed again to break 1885, it continues to be the level that we can’t escape"... it would appear we are increasingly changing the trading regime, and as Guy Haselmann explained simply, markets are slowly but surely coming to the realization that the Fed's crutches are being taken away (that they may well return following a 20%, 30%, or more drop in the S&P is a different matter entirely) and that the economy will not grow fast enough to make up for this. Perhaps the most notable "event" is the sheer avalanche of banks pushing up their forecasts for an ECB rate cut (and or QE start) to June following Draghi's yesterday comments. And so the 1 month countdown begins until the end of forward guidance, or until the ECB "shatters" its credibility as expained yesteday.
- Alibaba files for what may be biggest tech IPO (Reuters)
- Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank (BBG)
- Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments (WSJ)
- Thai court orders Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as PM (Guardian)
- German industry orders fell 2.8% in March, the biggest drop in one and a half years (RTE)
- Ukraine Bulls Scatter as Death Toll Mounts (BBG)
- China Property Slump Adds Danger to Local Finances (BBG)
- Stein Says Fed May See Bouts of Volatility as It Approaches Exit (BBG)
Wall Street is back in the business of lending money at the Fed’s gifted rate of zero plus a modest 80 basis point spread - so that the fast money can buy CLO paper on 9 to 1 leverage. There is your triple shuffle. It didn’t work out last time, but that doesn’t matter because the game is obvious. After enough buying on Wall Street’s triple leverage, junk loan prices might temporarily rebound. Then the brokers will put out the call to retail: The junk loan asset class is rebounding - its time to come back. For the final shearing, that is!
Citadel's head of Execution Services (cough HFT cough) Jamil Nazarali, proclaimed Monday that small investors have never been so fortunate and said, with regard to Michael Lewis' now infamous book Flash Boys, "The most important thing that the market can do is stop... pointing fingers at everyone else." Citadel, who allegedly provides the NY Fed's VIX trading capabilities, are among the very largest high-frequency traders in the market (and the most levered), so one would surely expect that Citadel would like us all to stop pointing fingers at them. As Bloomberg reports, Nazarali said yesterday during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, "things are much better today than they were 10 to 15 years ago." For him, yeah.
The bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings, aka TXU, aka the largest LBO ever has been long in coming. As we previewed it most recently in September of last year, "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... 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." It turned out it was more like months away, but it finally arrived, and moments ago, TXU finally succumbed to (lack of) cash flow reality, when it filed for a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday morning after months of negotiations with creditors aimed at speeding the restructuring of the private-equity backed utility's debt load of more than $40 billion. While it is unclear just how much total debt the company will ultimately restructure, it is likely that the final number will be greater than Enron's, making this also the largest ever non-financial bankruptcy in history.
It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees. Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”
Last month, Bank of America made a lot of noise about how they were going to buy back up to $5 billion worth of common shares. As CEO Brian Moynihan stated, “We have simplified our company and we have more than adequate capital to support our strategic plans. We are well positioned to return excess capital to our shareholders.” Needless to say, investors cheered the announcement, and BofA’s stock price rose nicely as a result. Fast forward 45 days… and boy what a difference reality makes. Remember the lessons from Cyprus: last March, people went to bed on a Friday night thinking everything was just fine. The next morning they woke up to find that their entire banking system was insolvent and that the government had frozen their accounts. Bottom line, just because they tell you the money’s there doesn’t mean the money’s there. Just because they tell you they’re well capitalized doesn’t mean they’re well capitalized.
- U.S. Plans to Hit Putin Inner Circle With New Sanctions (BBG)
- Russian Billions Scattered Abroad Show Trail to Putin Circle (BBG)
- GE’s Alstom Bid Gains Steam as Hollande Said Not Opposed (BBG)
- Russia-West tensions pressure stocks, buoy oil prices (Reuters)
- Toyota Said to Plan to Move U.S. Sales Office to Texas (BBG)
- Egyptian court seeks death sentence for Brotherhood leader, 682 supporters (Reuters)
- Greece warned of 14.9 billion euro financing gap (FT)
- Comcast to shed 3.9 million subscribers to ease cable deal (Reuters)
- Big U.S. Banks Make Swaps a Foreign Affair (WSJ)
The similarities between 2007 and 2014 continue to pile up. And you know what they say - if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. Just like seven years ago, the stock market has soared to all-time high after all-time high. Just like seven years ago, the authorities are telling us that there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, just like seven years ago, a housing bubble is imploding and another great economic crisis is rapidly approaching.
An explanation of how fractional reserve banking infringes on everyone’s freedom.
The surge in volume on the anti-HFT equity trading platform IEX - of Flash Boys and TV-fight-night fame - makes it very easy to see how the buy-side (which the US retail investor is one small part of) clearly prefers an un-rigged place to find willing sellers (or buyers). Relatively light regulation and high volumes make the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign-exchange market a prime target for high-frequency traders. More than 35% of spot currency volume in October was by speed traders, up from 9% five years earlier, but just as in equity markets, there are speculators and there are natural buyers and sellers in FX markets (looking to hedge payments and receipts from real business for example). As Bloomberg reports, a currency-dealing platform known as ParFX, established in 2011, offers a transparent marketplace and subjects orders to random pauses of about 20 to 80 milliseconds, and "is the industry’s effort to heal itself."
- Putin Doesn't Rule Out Sending Troops (WSJ)
- Japan Cuts Economic View on Tax Rise (WSJ)
- No "harsh weather" in Chipotle restaurants where comp store sales rose 13.4% (PR)
- No sanctions for you: EU sanctions push on Russia falters amid big business lobbying (FT)
- Consumer Spending on Health Care Jumps as Obamacare Takes Hold (BBG)
- China Seen Cracking on Property Controls (BBG)
- Google, IBM results raise questions about other tech-sector companies (Reuters)
- California city evacuation lifted after military ordnance found (Reuters)
- For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad (WSJ)
We believe Fed’s actions would be more appropriately described as permitted cancerous beliefs to spread throughout the financial system, thereby killing Democratic Capitalism which is the basis of the capital markets.