- 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)
Herbalife shares are soaring this morning. The reason, it seems, is unclear; but Bill Ackman's appearance on Bloomberg TV to press his shorts a little more may just have emboldened those looking to squeeze the asset manager:
- *ACKMAN: HERBALIFE LONGS DID PRETTY GOOD JOB OF SHORT SQUEEZING
- *ACKMAN SAYS HE'S LOST $400M TO $500M ON HERBALIFE SHORT
- *ACKMAN SAYS `LOTS OF WAYS WE CAN BE SUCCESSFUL' ON HLF
- *ACKMAN SAYS HE'LL TAKE HERBALIFE BET 'TO THE END OF THE EARTH'
Ackman added that he "skeptical" of Icahn's long-term interest, and "puzzled" by Stiritz' motivations. It seems - other than fear-mongering - the stock is rising on the basis Ackman has nothing new to add...
- Philippines Left Reeling in Wake of Storm (WSJ)
- Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures (RTRS)
- Race to Bottom Resumes as Central Bankers Ease Anew (BBG)
- U.S. Postal Service to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays (LA Times)
- Obama Stocks Among Best After Re-Election as Rally Tested (BBG)
- Health-Law Rollout Weighs on Obama's Ratings, Agenda (WSJ)
- Twitter in Celebrity Spat With Facebook as Rivalry Builds (BBG)
- Iran deputy industry minister shot dead (AFP)
- Financier of Taliban-linked group shot dead in Pakistan (RTRS)
- Obama: The Lonely Guy (Vanity Fair)
- Budget deficit priorities people: U.S. NSA spied on 60 million Spanish phone calls in a month (Reuters)
- Stuck in countless scandals, Obama does what he does best: speak. Obama To Speak At Installation Of FBI Director James Comey (TPM)
- Five killed as car ploughs into crowd in Beijing's Tiananmen Square (Reuters)
- U.K. Storm Brings Power Cuts, Snarls Transport in South (BBG)
- China Signals ‘Unprecedented’ Policy Changes on Agenda at Plenum (BBG)
- Sandy's Legacy: Higher Home Prices (WSJ)
- Merkel Enters Concrete SPD Talks as Finance Post Looms (BBG)
- Keep arming those Syrian al-qaeda rebels: Car bombs kill scores in Baghdad, in sign of crisis in Iraq (WaPo)
- J.P. Morgan's Mortgage Troubles Ran Deep (WSJ)
- Detroit’s public library contains story of city’s decline (FT)
- Argentina elections: President loses in Buenos Aires province (BBC)
- Phone-hacking: trial of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks to begin (Guardian)
Quick: which BRIC nation has the highest consumer loan default rate?
If you said China, India or Russia, you are wrong. Actually, if you said China you are probably right, but since absolutely all economic "data" in China is worthless, manipulated propaganda, only a retrospective post-mortem after the Chinese credit, housing, commodity, consumption bubbles have all burst will we know the answer. So excluding China, which country's consumers after a multi-year shopping spree funded entirely on credit, are suddenly suffering the epic hangover of soaring non-performing loans as they suddenly find themselves unable to even pay the interest on the debt? Just ask former billionaire Eike Batista whose OGX oil corporation is days away from filing bankruptcy. The answer, with 5.6% of all loans in default, above Russia, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and India, is Brazil.
Crashing luxury sales in China is a hard-to-swallow concept for the industry.
- Fed likely to reduce bond buying, pass policy milestone (Reuters)
- Fall in Home Loans Pushing Fed Away From Taper in Mortgage Bonds (BBG)
- Russia says U.N. report on Syria attack preconceived, political (Reuters)
- China House Price Surge Raises Prospect of Steps to Cool Market (FT)
- Cyprus Plans to Complete End of All Capital Controls... some time in 2014 (FT)
- GOP Reworks Budget Terms (WSJ)
- U.S. Navy was warned that Washington shooter 'heard voices' (Reuters)
- Berlusconi Impeachment Vote Looms (WSJ)
- Ageing could weaken central banks, spur rate volatility (Reuters)
European recovery propaganda may be humming (for the latest proof see today's German ZEW sentiment index which soared from 42.0 to 49.0 matching the all time high in the Dax), but when it comes to the actual economy - that place where commerce is conducted and where supply and demand curves intersect, the situation has never been worse. And not only unemployment which is at a persistently record high for the Eurozone, but actual transactions, in this case in the form of car sales. As AP reports, for the first eight months of the year, passenger car sales in the European Union were off 5.2% to 7.84 million compared with the same period last year, the European Auto Manufacturers' Association said Tuesday. That's the lowest January-August figure since the group started keeping track in 1990.
Overnight trading started with Asian markets continuing where yesterday's S&P 500 fizzle ended, wishing Summers could withdraw from Fed running again, as both the Nikkei and SHCOMP were well lower by the close. Perhaps all the easy multiple-expanding, headline-driven money is made, or perhaps economic fundamentals will finally start having to justify a 17x multiple on the S&P (a good is good regime for those who may be too young, or old, to remember), but overnight US futures were dull, and no doubt anticipating today's start of the "Most important FOMC meeting ever", which concludes tomorrow with an announcement by the Fed of what and how much (if any) tapering it will commence with an eye toward halting QE next summer, although more realistically what will happen is an Untaper being announced before then. While the start of the FOMC meeting is the main event, today we get CPI, TIC flows and the NAHB housing market index. Today's POMO is another modest $1.25-$1.75 billion in the long-end sector.
While Carl Icahn admits 'modest' defeat on the Dell deal, he remains neck deep in Herbalife, and as we illustrated back in February, and warned earlier in January, it seems someone is betting right alongside him on a massive short-squeeze - a la Volkswagen. It would appear, someone decided that today was the day to buy 1000 lots (100,000 shares) of Jan 2014 $105 calls (implying an expectation of a 65% surge in price from here) and funded that by selling 1000 lots of the Jan 2014 $95 calls. Whether this is a hedge for Ackman (fearing the worst) or someone betting on an 'event' across the one-year anniversary of Ackman's big bet is unclear. One thing is for sure, if this pays off, we will see more tweets from the man himself...
The chart below, which we are quite speechless to comment on, shows the market cap of TSLA, which will sell 35,000 cars in 2013 and must sell between 500,000 and 3,000,000 cars by 2022 to grow into its valuation (as explained before), compared to some other car companies such as Fiat, Porsche, GM, Ford and Volkswagen. So yes: Tesla may be double the market cap of Fiat, but it is less than 20% the size of Volkswagen, so there is obviously much upside still.
It just keeps going form bad to worse for William Ackman. The so-called retail expert tried to diffuse the situation today by announcing a massive $2 billion position in Airgas, only for Herbalife to go right back front and center, following news moments ago from CNBC that none other than George Soros has taken a long stake in Herbalife, and not just any stake but a "top 3" position. We haven't done the math but the float out there must be getting dangerously low for Ackman: low enough to where the Volkswagen scenario we predicted in early January (just as we predicted the imminent epic short squeeze) may finally come in play as there is not enough float to cover Ackman's short, and certainly not when the longs decide to pull all the borrow. If and when the Ackman margin calls hit, we hope that Soros will accept shares of Airgas as deliverable. In the meantime, the stock is up 173% since December, or when we said to go long following Whitney Tilson's "short."
When the S&P, always so conveniently ahead of the curve, yesterday revised its forecast for Europe from growth in the second half of 2013 to 2014 one couldn't help but golf clap, as well as wonder if they finally started looking at the fundamental depressionary reality on the ground instead of the rating agency's infamous "models." A depressionary reality confirmed by the latest car sales number for May which just hit a fresh 20 year low.
Back in 2008, Volkswagen briefly became the most expensive stock in the world on what would become the case study of an epic short squeeze when following some (malicious) capital structure drama, the short interest became greater than the total outstanding float, sending the stock up 500% in a few short weeks. German billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide as a result. We may be in for a redux, courtesy of yet another car company: Tesla, whose most recent short interest as of 41.5%, has led to a surge in the stock price of nearly 300% in the past few weeks, and which covering rampage shows no signs of abating. Will Volkstesla be the new Volkswagen?
It was exactly two months since Icahn last issued a 13D in Herbalife, at which time he reported that he owned 15.5% of the company, following yet another stock buying spree. Moments ago, the billionaire, set on a mission to crucify Bill Ackman, updated his latest holdings in HLF stock with another 13D filing, which shows that on March 8 and May 3, his various funds added another 934 thousand shares, bringing his total ownership of Herbalife to 16.48%, or 16,966,485 shares and rising. Obviously the recent earnings report, which hiked the company's year end outlook, has hardly dented Icahn's enthusiasm for inciting either a short covering spree, or for eventually going ahead and tendering (or going hostile, using zero cost debt of course courtesy of a Jefferies highly confident letter) for whatever shares he doesn't already own.