Merrill Lynch

The Bull, Bear, And Secular Case From BofAML

While consensus forecasts for next year continuing to be muddle-through mediocrity with a crashtastic defensive bias, BofA Merrill Lynch provides a very succinct outline of the bullish, bearish, and interestingly secular cases for risk assets going forward. The cross-asset class implications are noteworthy and provide an excellent jumping off point for asset allocation decisions. We are not sure the seeming knife-catching perspective of "buying humiliation and selling hubris" will work out, but one thing is for sure, with this volatility, relative-value remains the critical alpha as beta chops everyone up. Once again the bull case relies heavily on government printing presses and the bear case on the reality of debt saturation breaking through.

Cheap Macro Hedges And How VIX Has Always Been A Poor Early Warning Signal

We have time and again pointed to the warning signals being sent from credit markets, FX volatility skews, and equity option volatility technicals (skews and implied correlation) but while the mainstream media is behooven to watching every tick in the 'fear index', the 'simple' VIX has consistently underpriced risk in the face of danger. Furthermore, this implicit optimism, leaves equity options among the cheapest macro hedges across asset classes currently (especially relative to FX, Rates, and Credit). FX options offer the next cheapest hedge with credit already notably stressed. BAML's research group finds Nikkei (Japan), Nifty (India), and ASX200 (AUS) puts attractive as global macro (crash beta) hedges with Copper, IG, and HY credit the least attractive at current levels. So the next time you hear the VIX is up or down or sideways, treat it with the contemporaneous weighting it deserves (or potentially discount its eternal optimism entirely) and remember that while VIX is frequently cited, the availability bias needs to be suppressed when investing.

Guest Post: Psychopathic Economics 101

Psychopaths flew financial weapons of mass destruction (derivatives) into the twin towers of our economy, the housing market and the stock market.  Ten trillion dollars of wealth imploded in a cloud of dust. Ninety-nine percent of the economic experts – financial planners, economists, economic professors, brokers, and investors – missed the largest bubble in history as well as the systemic risk that the bubble posed. The National Board of Economic Research (NBER) (who is responsible for declaring a recession) was 9 months late calling the worst recession since the Great Depression.

RickAckerman's picture

Our good friend Doug B., a financial advisor based in Boulder, CO, has done well for his clients by keeping them heavily weighted in bonds. In the essay below, he explains why he intends to stick with this strategy even though many of his peers expect a rebounding stock market to outperform fixed-incomes in the years ahead.  For Baby Boomers in particular, the deflationary trend that buttresses Doug’s strategy holds stark implications.

Bank Of America Desperately Does Not Need The Cash...But Will Take It; Sells Remainder Of China Construction Bank Stake

The bank that never, ever needs capital, but will dilute the living daylights out of anyone to get it, and will sell all of its actually valuable assets as soon as a buyer materializes, has just gone ahead and proven its critics right yet again. Several minutes ago Brian Moynihan's rotting carcass of toxic Countrwide Financial mortgages, which has some negligible banking businesses on the side, just announced it would sell about 10.4 billion common shares of China Construction Bank Corp through private transactions with a group of investors. The purposes of the follow up CCB disposition - to pump about $2.9 billion in additional Tier 1 common capital at Bank of America. And with this the easy disposition targets are gone. Next up: just how will Bank of America be able to spin off Merrill. Have fun with all those CDS successor issues. And once that phase is over, the debate over just how Bank of America will spin the hundreds of billions of legacy CFC contingency liabilities off into an "asbestos" trust will resume.

Guest Post: Bad Moon Rising

It seems like history is accelerating. Momentous events have been occurring regularly since 2007. Our political and financial leaders are blindsided on a daily basis by each new crisis. The majority of the American public continues to be apathetic, willfully ignorant, and constantly absorbed by their array of electronic gadgets and mindless drivel spewed at them by media conglomerates. Rather than think critically, most Americans allow left wing and right wing mainstream media to formulate their opinions for them through their propaganda and misinformation operations. Linear thinkers, who make up the majority of the political, social, media and financial elite in this country, believe the world progresses and moves ever forward. In reality, the world operates in a cyclical fashion, with generations throughout history reacting to events in a predictable manner based upon their stage in life. The reason the world has turned so chaotic, angry and fraught with danger since 2007 is because we have entered another Fourth Turning. Strauss & Howe have been able to document a fourfold cycle of generational types and recurring mood eras in American history back 500 years. They have also documented the same phenomenon in other countries.

Reggie Middleton's picture

Here is video outlining precisely how MF would collapse due to Fed policy, made at the beginning of the year! This wasn't hard to see coming. How many of you are willing to bet that MF Global will NOT be the Lehman of 2011? Let me rundown a few hard, painful and accurate observations that you guys who fell for that rough ass bear market rally might have overlooked.

Guest Post: Ten Reasons Not To Bank On (Or With) Bank Of America

There is no shortage of hatred for the biggest banks. Indeed, the Occupy Wall Street movement is leading a national revolution against these byzantine, powerful Goliaths for the economic devastation they have caused. This makes it difficult to choose the worst of the bunch. That said, a strong case can be made that Bank of America deserves the title of the nation's most despised bank. Here are ten reasons to take your money out of Bank of America - and park it at a credit union or community bank near you. (And yes, that may be near impossible if you have a mortgage with them, as refinancing away from any big bank nowadays is a nightmare.)

Guest Post: Waiting For Lehman

We have good reason to be waiting for Lehman—our current situation is simple and stark: Sovereign nations and individual citizens are over-indebted—to the point where they cannot pay back what they owe. We all know that this overindebtedness at the sovereign and individual level is going to end, and end badly: Worse than 2008.  So along with everyone else, I’ve been waiting for Lehman—and fruitlessly trying to guess which will be the Lehman-like event this time around. Will it be the bankruptcy of Dexia? BofA? UniCredit or SocGen or one of the Spanish banks? Will it be a war in the Middle East? Bad producer index numbers from China? A fart by a day-trader in Uzbekistan?

When will Lehman arrive!?!?

But lately, my thinking has changed: Like the characters in Godot, I think that we’re waiting in vain. The Lehman-like event will never arrive because it won’t be allowed to arrive. So this miserable slog we are going through will continue—indefinitely. (Yeah, I know: Sucks to be us.)