Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Futures Higher As Lowest German IFO Since April 2013 Prompts More Demands For ECB QE

If yesterday the bombardment, no pun intended, of bad news from around the globe was too much even for Mahwah's vacuum tubes to spin as bullish - for stocks - news, then tonight's macro economic updates have so far been hardly as bombastic, with the only real news of the day has Germany's IFO Business Climate reading, which dropped from 106.3 to 105.8, declining for the 5th month in a row, missing expectations, and printing at the lowest level of since April 2013! (More from Goldman below) Net result: Bunds yields were once again pushed in the sub-1% category, even if stocks today are higher because the European data is "so bad it means the ECB has no choice but to do (public instead of just private) QE" blah blah blah.

Frontrunning: September 4

  • Global stocks bounce on sign ECB could launch ABS program (Reuters)
  • Putin unveils Ukraine ceasefire plan, France halts warship (Reuters)
  • Poroshenko Flummoxes Investors With About-Face on Truce (BBG)
  • No Free Lunch for Companies as IRS Weighs Meal Tax Rules (BBG)
  • Turkey Struggles to Halt Islamic State 'Jihadist Highway' (WSJ)
  • Lego Becomes World's Largest Toy Maker on Movie Success (WSJ)
  • U.N. says $600 million needed to tackle Ebola as deaths top 1,900 (Reuters)
  • Goldman Sachs Named 'Stabilization Agent' for Alibaba Stock Offering (WSJ)

"A Printer And A Prayer" - The Three Problems With The Fed "Liquidity Coverage Ratio" Plan

Today we learned that as part of the domestic "macroprudential" effort to ensure firms don't run out of cash in a crisis, the so-called Liquidity Coverage Ratio, US regulators said banks likely will have to raise an additional $100 billion to satisfy the new requirement, the WSJ reported. The disclosure is part of the final draft of the so-called Liquidity Coverage Ratio, released by the Fed earlier today, and which was promptly passed on a 5-0 vote Wednesday that will subject big U.S. banks for the first time to so-called "liquidity" requirements. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency adopted the rules later in the day.  On the surface, this is all great macroprudential news: forcing banks to hold even more "high quality collateral" is a great idea, to minimize the amount of money taxpayers will have to fork over when the system crashes once again as it certainly will thanks to the unprecedented Fed micromanaging interventions over the past6 years. There are just three problems...

5 Things To Ponder: Under The Surface

This week was very busy with economic data. For the most part, the majority of the data came basically inline with expectations. However, the internals of the various reports were much less encouraging. The most noteworthy report, and the least important from an investment standpoint, was the monthly employment report which came in at 288,000 jobs for the month. As with the bulk of other reports, the more important details were lost to the headlines... full-time employment relative to the working age population has remained primarily stagnant since the financial crisis and actually fell in the latest month. This is a key reason why economic growth continues to struggle.

Subprime 2.0 Spreads To Cars: OCC Warns Of Auto-Loan Risks

It would appear that the exuberance over today's better-than-expected car sales data should be tempered significantly. Confirming our warnings, as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) explains, across the industry, auto lenders are pursuing growth by lengthening terms, increasing advance rates, and originating loans to borrowers with lower credit scores. With average loan-to-value rates above 100%, they have an ominous warning: "risk in auto-lending is beginning to emerge." We are sure this will be dismissed (just as the BIS' warning has been), but with surging charge-offs and increased repackaging (CLOs), and banks holding a lot of this debt, this 'bubble-financing' has all the ingredients for subprime 2.0 contagion.

Repackaged Junk Has Never Smelled So Sweet: JPM Forecasts Record $100 Billion In 2014 CLO Issuance

If the Fed is looking for definitive proof of bubble euphoria it should look no further than the CLO market: according to Bloomberg, so far in 2014, more than $46 billion of collateralized loan obligations have been raised, after $82 billion were sold in all of 2013. As a result of this epic dash for repackaged trash, JPMorgan boosted its annual forecast for CLO issuance from $70 billion to as much as $100 billion, which means 2014 may end up as the biggest year on record. We assume it is with great irony that Bloomberg summarizes: "The business of bundling junk-rated corporate loans into top-rated securities is booming like never before after the implementation of regulation aimed at making the financial system safer."

Frontrunning: May 14

  • Vietnam mobs set fire to foreign factories in anti-China riots (Reuters)
  • Recession-Baby Millennials Scarred by U.S. Downturn Spurn Stocks (BBG)
  • U.S. Agents Start Hunting for Sanctioned Russians’ ‘Shiny Toys’ (BBG)
  • Russia moves to oust US from International Space Station (FT)
  • China Central Bank Calls for Faster Home Lending in Slump (BBG)
  • Geithner Must Give S&P Documents in U.S. Fraud Suit (BBG)
  • Samsung's 'crown prince' in focus as father hospitalized (Reuters)
  • Yahoo buys mobile 'self-destruct' messaging app Blink only to shut it down (Reuters)
  • Goldman’s Twitter banker joins hedge fund (FT)
  • Keyword being "unexpectedly": Sony Unexpectedly Forecasts Loss Amid PC Restructuring Costs (BBG)

Guest Post: Suspicious Deaths Of Bankers Are Now Classified As "Trade Secrets" By Federal Regulator

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.”

Equity Futures Languish Unchanged Ahead Of FOMC Minutes

The positive sentiment stemming from a positive close on Wall Street and saw Shanghai Comp (+0.33%), Hang Seng (+1.09%) trade higher, failed to support the Nikkei 225 (-2.10%), which underperformed its peers and finished in the red amid JPY strength as BoJ's Kuroda failed to hint on more easing. Stocks in Europe (Eurostoxx50 +0.32%) traded higher since the open, with Bunds also under pressure amid the reversal in sentiment.
Alcoa kicked off earnings season yesterday, with shares up 3% in after-market hours. Focus now turns to the release of the FOMC meeting minutes.

"The Vampire Squid Strikes Again"- Matt Taibbi Takes On Blythe Masters And The Banker Commodity Cartel

The story of how JPMorgan, Goldman and the rest of the Too Big To Fails and Prosecutes, cornered, monopolized and became a full-blown cartel - with the Fed's explicit blessing - in the physical commodity market is nothing new to regular readers: to those new to this story, we suggest reading of our story from June 2011 (over two and a half years ago),  "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel As They Slowly Recreate De Beers' Diamond Monopoly." That, or Matt Taibbi's latest article written in his usual florid and accessible style, in which he explains how the "Vampire Squid strikes again" courtesy of the "loophole that destroyed the world" to wit: "it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is "complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally." Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?... Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination."

Live Hearing On Financial Stability And Data Security

Moments ago, the Senate Banking Committee started a hearing on the topic of "Financial Stability And Data Security." We assume the topic discussed will be financial stability, the highly diluted final version of the Volcker Rule, Dodd Drank, the London Whale, and other things legislators have no understanding of. As such it will be a complete waste of time, and the only thing that can possibly force anyone to fix the broken system is the next systemic crash, one which the central banks, already all in with their bailout efforts, will be unable to resolve.

5 Things To Ponder: Random Thoughts Edition

This past week we read some very diverse articles, which, hopefully, will stimulate your grey matter over the weekend as you indulge in melted artifical cheese, processed fillers, and copious amounts of artificial colorings and flavors during the Super Bowl showdown (assuming you did not order any of the party packs). With everybody hoping that someone else is going to pull them out of the quicksand - who is left to do the pulling?