Frontrunning: May 21

  • Once-Unthinkable Criminal Pleas by U.S. Banks Get Investor ‘Meh’ (BBG)
  • The E-Mail That Helped Catch Barclays: ‘ISDAfix Is Manipulated’ (BBG)
  • CFTC Said Preparing ISDAfix Probe Talks in Weeks: Credit Markets (BBG)
  • Islamic State takes control of Syria's Palmyra in westward advance (Reuters)
  • Tensions High as Greece Gets Smallest Aid Rise Yet (BBG)
  • The Rise of the $50,000 Rental (BBG)
  • U.S. says South China Sea reclamations stoke instability (Reuters)
  • First Hanergy Now Goldin: Hong Kong Stocks Drop Like Stones (BBG)

Google Apologizes For "Nigger House" Search Result

"Do no evil..." that is part from the racist stuff, would appear to be Google's new meme as The Guardian reports the somewhat unbelievable fact that searches which include the racist slur “nigger” were shown to find the White House in Google Maps. “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologise for any offence this may have caused. Our teams are working to fix this issue quickly,” a Google spokesperson said, claiming that it had been experiencing “escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months”.

Frontrunning: May 19

  • China’s Record Capital Outflows Spark Financial Stability Fears (FT)
  • U.K. Inflation Falls Below Zero for First Time Since 1960 (BBG)
  • Islamic State Solidifies Foothold in Libya to Expand Reach (WSJ)
  • Judge sentences 11 Afghan police over lynching of woman in Kabul (Reuters)
  • The $18 Trillion Global Economic Boost If Everything Went Right (BBG)
  • Eurozone Prices Confirmed Flat Year-on-Year in April, Core Inflation Inches Higher (Reuters)
  • Greek Finances to Stagger On Longer Than You Think (BBG)
  • Athens sees EU deal soon, Greeks' approval of government stance dwindles (Reuters)

Walmart Sales, Comps Miss; Operating Income Tumbles; Runs Out Of Scapegoats

In what may be the most cryptic press release from Walmart yet, the company just issued an 8-K which consisted all of 5 bullet points, a few charts, and precious little else. Perhaps the reason for the pithy transmission is that WMT had nothing good to say: Revenue declined from $115 billion to $114.8 billion, missing expectations of a jump to $116.2 billion, EPS also missed at $1.03, vs $1.05 expected, operating income tumbled 8.3% from $6.2 billion to $5.7 billion, and finally comp store sales also missed at 1.0%, below the 1.5% expected. With these results, anyone would be short and to the point.

Carl Icahn Would Like Tim Cook To Buyback Some More Of His AAPL Shares

Here are the cliff notes of the Icahn letter:

  1. Uncle Carl and his two analysts remain convinced they know how to run AAPL better than its CEO and his thousands of employees.
  2. Uncle Carl and his two analysts have built up a massive stake in AAPL shares which however they can't get out of in this illiquid market without tipping the market they are selling - a tip which would promptly send the stock plunging - and as a result have come to the only buyer who is big enough to buy all of Icahn's shares without destabilizing the market: the company itself.

Frontrunning: May 18

  • Tsipras Endgame Nears as Greek Bank Collateral Evaporates (BBG)
  • Shi'ite forces ordered to deploy after fall of Iraqi city (Reuters)
  • Ratings agency Fitch to downgrade many European banks (Reuters)
  • Bubble Blowing to Continue So Long as Yellen Isn’t Raising Rates (BBG)
  • Greece's Debt Battle Exposes Deeper Eurozone Flaws (WSJ)
  • Obama to set new limits on police use of military equipment (Reuters)
  • China April home prices fuel hopes of bottoming out, but long road to recovery (Reuters)
  • Hedge Funds Close Doors, Facing Low Returns and Investor Scrutiny (NYT)
  • ASIC's Greg Medcraft 'quite worried' about Sydney, Melbourne house prices (Fin Review)

Jim Rogers On The Coming Water Wars

"Water is one of the great opportunities of our times. If you look at the world there are some huge shortages developing in some parts but there is also a lot of water in other parts, just in the wrong place – like water in Siberia for instance, which is not where most people are. There are going to be wars in the Middle East over oil east of the Red Sea, but west of that there will be wars over water since there are serious water problems in that region." Jim Rogers:

Continued Weak Consumer Spending "Puzzles" BofA

"We are left puzzled by the weak April consumer spending data - we expected the consumer to be a tailwind for growth in this year, offsetting the drag from weaker investment and manufacturing... If consumer spending does not accelerate, we will have to question our forecast for GDP growth to accelerate back above 3.0% in the second half of the year."

Canaries In The Coal Mine, Part 1: Tech High-Flyers Fall To Earth

Bull markets don’t end all at once. Generally a few egregiously-overvalued sectors blow up first and are dismissed by most observers as aberrations. Instead, they turn out to be a sign of things to come. In the previous decade’s bubble it was subprime housing that led the way, while being initially characterized by experts as too small to matter. Click here for Ben Bernanke’s ongoing attempts to convince the world to relax and ignore housing’s problems. This time around we of course won’t know until after the fact which sector is the canary in the coal mine. But these epic fails in the bubbly social media/online marketplace region of tech certainly look like viable candidates.

Armed Robbery In Midtown Manhattan Jewelry Store, Shots Fired

New York's thieves are getting bolder. After years without any violent crime in that mecca of hedge funds, midtown east, moments ago the NYC Scanner reported that there was an armed robbery in a jewelry store at 510 Madison where shots were fired (seemingly unaware that NYC is a gun free zone) and while 1 suspect was in custody two are still outstanding.

Chinese Saturation Reached: World's Largest Smartphone Market Suffers First Drop In 6 Years

Less than two years ago, the number of smartphone shipments in China soared by roughly 100% year over year, rising over 80 million for the first time. Fast forward to Q1 of 2015 when according to IDC, the Chinese smartphone market - the largest in the world since 2011 when it overtook the US - has not only reached maturity but is now also fully saturated and as a result smartphone shipments suffered their first Y/Y decline, dropping 4.3% on an annual basis. As IDC notes, "this is the first time in six years that the China smartphone market declined YoY as the market continues to mature." Worse, on a quarter over quarter basis, the market contracted 8% on the back of a large inventory buildup at the end of last year.

Frontrunning: May 11

  • Full picture of Clinton charities' foreign government funding remains elusive (Reuters)
  • Greece Readies for Another Week of Deadlines (BBG)
  • Greece says deal will be 'difficult' at Eurogroup meeting (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia’s Rulers Snub Arab Summit, Clouding U.S. Bid for Iran Deal (WSJ)
  • Saudi Aramco Said to Plan Spending $80 Billion Overseas (BBG)
  • The $900 Billion Influx That’s Wreaking Havoc in U.S. Bills (BBG)
  • Cameron rules out another Scottish independence vote (Reuters)
  • Banks Prep Defense for Anti-Wall Street Campaigns (WSJ)

Free Trade Is Plutocratic Propaganda

In 2003, Kevin Flanagan was an information technology employee at Bank of America. They told him he was being replaced with foreign labor, and he was ordered to train his replacement. After he completed his assignment, he was laid off. Then he went to the parking lot and shot himselfThat's "free trade."