When it comes to the opinions of financial pundits and "experts", most can be chucked into the garbage heap of groupthink and consensus. However, one person whose opinion stands out is Elliott Management's Paul Singer. One of the most successful hedge fund managers has consistently stood against the grain of conventional wisdom over the past three decades and been handsomely reward, which is why his opinion is certainly one worth noting. Singer, together with Martin Wolf and several other panelists will be speaking at 45 minutes past the hour on a panel discussing one of the most pressing topics nearly 6 years after the Bear Stearns collapse: "Are Markets Safer Now." Watch their thoughts on the matter in the session live below.
Bitcoin Catches Attention Of Goldman Sachs (And Walmart, And Cisco): Goldman Director Joins Bitcoin StartupSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/28/2013 12:14 -0400
When Bitcoin fans were hoping for fast track adoption by the mainstream, catching the attention of the all-seeing eye of Sauron Goldman Sachs was probably low on their list of action items. Yet that is precisely what they got with the arrival of a Goldman Sachs board member Michele Burns, who recently joined the board of Boston-based Bitcoin payment processing system startup Circle Internet Financial. As Fortune reports "Circle launched earlier this year, and was founded by Jeremy Allaire, who has led other Internet start-ups, but recently has become a Bitcoin evangelist. The company got $9 million in funding from a number of venture capitalist firms. Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel and an early backer of Facebook (FB), is also on Circle's board, as is Raj Date, who recently left a top post at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Circle declined to comment about Burns. Two sources with knowledge of her move confirmed it."
Rebellious Fed head Lacker fired at “implicit guarantees” to bail out bank creditors. Covered liabilities, the size of US GDP.
"We see Detroit as the “coming attraction” to a significant number of municipal insolvencies in the months and years to come."
First it was the JCPetanic, then the JCPanic, then it became the JCPandemonium, and moments ago, the situation at the doomed retailer was downgraded once again, this time simply to JCPathetic, as the cash-burning, slow motion circus crash lurches from farce to farce, the latest news being that in a long overdue move, Bill Ackman has thrown in the towel on JCPenney and has resigned from the board. Does this mean Ackman will next be offloading his nearly 40 million JCP shares next, and just who will buy them if that is the case, we shall find out shortly. Also, maybe the company can provide an update on what is really important: its nearly (or maybe it is now more than) $2 million per day cash burn rate.
Here’s what happens next...
"Both before and after the appointment of an emergency manager, many talented individuals have put enormous energy into attempting to avoid this outcome. I knew from the outset that it would be difficult to reverse 60 years of decline in which promises were made that did not reflect the reality of the ability to deliver on those promises. I very much hoped those efforts would succeed without resorting to bankruptcy. Unfortunately, they have not. We must face the fact that the City cannot and is not paying its debts as they become due, and is insolvent..... I know we share a concern for the public employees who gave years of service to the City and now fear for their financial future in retirement, and I am confident that all of the City's creditors will be treated fairly in this process. "
Richard D. Snyder Governor, State of Michigan
Dare 'Ye Test the Analysis To Ascertain It's Virility? Madness, I say! Sheer, Utter Madness! In other words - SYSTEMIC RISK is here, NOW!
A mere nine months after we first discussed the inevitability of Stockton, CA.'s bankruptcy, a judge has ordered today that the city will now become the most populous in the US to be declared bankrupt.
- *STOCKTON CREDITORS DIDN'T NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH, JUDGE SAYS
Creditors are pushing to get the city out of bankruptcy but the judge states that "by any measure" the city was insolvent. So, in summary, yeah, it was broke years ago, it still is broke - despite the best efforts by the Central Planning Reserve to reflate the same housing bubble that was the primary reason for the city's insolvency in the first place. Only this time, it's official!
When you hear Republican politicians pointing figures at Jon Corzine for his “alleged” acts of fraud in the MF Global collapse, ask them why they changed the bankruptcy code in 2005 to allow such acts of fraud to go unpunished.
As the one year anniversary of the MF Global Bankruptcy is upon us, the WSJ has now joined the NY Times in writing a ‘woe is me’ piece on behalf of Jon Corzine. The WSJ continues bemoaning the pitiable situation of “restlessness and frustration” of the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former Governor of New Jersey, and former Senator from New Jersey who apparently isn’t content with being “confident about the likelihood that he will avoid any criminal charges related to MF Global.” Corzine is still estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars despite presiding over the failure of the largest non-bank commodity broker where $1.6 billion in customer money was stolen. I cry for him, I really do... Trying to portray Corzine as being focused on mundane things like finding a job rather than worried about doing jail time for his obvious crimes appears to be another prong of Corzine’s attorneys’ use of the Chewbacca Defense, along with saying that the fraud charges “Make No Sense,” because the money “Vaporized” and he had no motive since he had a de minimis portion of his net worth invested in MF Global stock. However, proving Corzine committed fraud and perjury would be relatively simple for any motivated prosecutor. Since the Department of Justice clearly is not motivated to prosecute Corzine after he bundled $500,000+ in campaign contributions to their boss, I provide this quick and easy guide for any ambitious state prosecutor to bring charges themselves:
Firm That Brought You Holo-Tupac Dies Less Than A Year After IPOing, Taking Millions In Taxpayer Subsidies With ItSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2012 19:23 -0400
Most people know that during this year's Coachella festival, Tupac made a surprising appearance, if not in the flesh for obvious reasons, then in hologram form. What fewer people know is that the firm that created Holo-Tupac is special effects producer Digital Domain Media, which after years of failed attempts to do so, finally went public in November with Roth Capital as underwriter (there is now an Urban Dictionary definition for 'Rothed') at a price of $8.50 (well below the preliminary range of $10-12/share) and at a time when its burn rate was well above 50% of revenues, and which filed for bankruptcy hours ago. In other words, the company destroyed over $400 million in market cap in under 10 months. What is known by very few is that this is yet another public equity disaster of this administration: as filed in the bankruptcy Affidavit, "the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs and stimulate Florida’s economy. As of the Petition Date, the Company had contracted to receive a total of approximately $135 million in such government stimulus financing, including $19.9 million in tax credits. This financing consists of cash grants, land grants, low-interest financing, and tax incentives." In other words, in addition to the government's remarkable track record in the alternative energy field, public equity is now in the digital movie studio subsidization business. End result: bankruptcy, of a publicly funded company, shortly after IPO and sadly the realization that US capital markets are now so broken that the combination of private and public funding can sustain a company for less than one year.
Many local governments across the US face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over years. Increasingly, as a last resort, some have filed for bankruptcy. There have been 26 municipal bankruptcy filings since 2010 and the pace is clustering, as Governing.com is keeping track. As Citi's George Friedlander noted (and we discussed here), technicals (net flows) are still dominant and dragging yields lower and spreads tighter; in spite of contagion fears from cities with clear economic problems (specifically those in CA with severe housing price collapses) and also general fund debt that is not secured by a G.O. pledge. However, with the August 'cliff' in redemptions clearly not priced in yet - as fear has driven momentum into bonds recently - we fear more than a few will be wrong-footed when the net flow shifts.
The natural and sad end to every fraud: liquidation (and even sadder for the10-25K creditors of the company who will get nothing as a result of this liquidation proceedings).
While this morning saw a rumor of junior bank bondholder haircuts (and burden-sharing) rapidly denied by Spain's de Guindos, it appears the country's smarter individuals are realizing that perhaps a 'bail-in' (a la Citigroup in 2009) is the better way to go than an unending 'bailout' when it comes to the problem banking system. The bigger issue is not the insufficiency of the loan but the fact that such a relatively small loan was impossible for the sovereign to raise itself as no private investors believe their solvency - implying Spain has reached its debt saturation point. Neither government nor taxpayers can afford to take on more debt (which is what the bailout is). The solution, a precedent set by the good ol' USofA with the Citi preferreds, is to cram-up bond-holders. A compulsory debt-for-equity swap for the subordinated and senior unsecured liabilities, "whereby investors bear the vast majority of the cost of their own mistakes, without liquidating the banks and without pushing the Spanish economy into bankruptcy" may initially cause some turmoil in the interbank lending markets (which would need to be supported by the ECB in the interim as it is already). It would be extremely painful for shareholders (who will see massive dilution) and bondholders (arguably rightfully so) but would offer 'real' hope for improving market belief in solvency.