Efficient Market Proponent Senator Kaufman Endorses Prop Trading Ban, 99 Other Senators Have No Idea What Prop Trading IsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2010 13:46 -0500
"Separating core banking franchise from speculative activities, imposing tighter leverage requirements and examining the complicated relationships between high frequency traders and banks constitute critical steps toward ensuring our financial markets are strong and stable.
By adopting these common-sense proposals, we can go a long way toward stabilizing our economy, restoring confidence in our markets and protecting the American people from a future bailout.
America cannot afford another financial meltdown and the American people are looking to Congress to ensure that that does not happen." - Ted Kaufman
"Compared with where we were in late 2008 and early 2009, financial markets have stabilized, and the prospect of a collapse of the financial system and a second Great Depression now seems extremely remote...What is fundamentally at issue here is not “turf,” but rather how we as a nation can best ensure that we never again re-live the events of the past few years—that the legitimate public interests associated with a safe, efficient and impartial banking and financial system are well served." - Fmr Goldman Chief US Economist Bill Dudley (and current New York Fed President)
- JP Morgan Chase & Co: 51.50, last 46.3 +5.25
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc: 104.50, last 100.5 +4.00
- Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc: 114.50, last 105.5 +9.00
- Morgan Stanley: 119.50, last 113.5 +6.00
Spreads were broadly wider in the US as all the indices deteriorated. IG trades 14.3bps tight (rich) to its 50d moving average, which is a Z-Score of -1.5s.d.. At 79.25bps, IG has closed tighter on only 5 days so far this year (268 trading days). The last five days have seen IG flat to its 50d moving average.
Indices generally outperformed intrinsics with skews widening in general as IG's skew decompressed as the index beat intrinsics, HVOL outperformed but widened the skew, ExHVOL outperformed but narrowed the skew, HY outperformed but narrowed the skew.
"As we sit here today, Wall Street continues to exploit a policy of government-sponsored giveaways and secrecy to pay themselves billions. Record-setting bonuses due to banks like Goldman Sachs as early next week. Yet instead of acting as our cop, Secretary Tim Geithner has become central to what may be a cover-up of the greatest theft in U.S. history. Here is the evidence." - Dylan Ratigan
It's going to be pretty hard extracting your metatarsus from your anus this time around. I mean, everyone makes mistakes with taxes, but the multi-billion dollar back door bailout that you tried to hide via EMAIL???!!! Come on, guys. If you're not smarter than that then you definitely won't be able to solve this financial situation thingy... Unless he knew absolutely nothing about the biggest bailout in the history of his country - under his watch, that is.
When Henry Paulson publishes his long-awaited memoirs, the one section that will be of most interest to readers, will be the former Goldmanite and Secretary of the Treasury's recollection of what, in his opinion, was the most unpredictable and dire consequence of letting Lehman fail (letting his former employer become the number one undisputed Fixed Income trading entity in the world was quite predictable... plus we doubt it will be a major topic of discussion in Hank's book). We would venture to guess that the Reserve money market fund breaking the buck will be at the very top of the list, as the ensuing "run on the electronic bank" was precisely the 21st century equivalent of what happened to banks in physical form, during the early days of the Geat Depression. Had the lack of confidence in the system persisted for a few more hours, the entire financial world would have likely collapsed, as was so vividly recalled by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, once a barrage of electronic cash withdrawal requests depleted this primary spoke of the entire shadow economy. Ironically, money market funds are supposed to be the stalwart of safety and security among the plethora of global investment alternatives: one need only to look at their returns to see what the presumed composition of their investments is. A case in point, Fidelity's $137 billion Cash Reserves fund has a return of 0.61% YTD, truly nothing to write home about, and a return that would have been easily beaten putting one's money in Treasury Bonds. This is not surprising, as the primary purpose of money markets is to provide virtually instantaneous access to a portfolio of practically risk-free investment alternatives: a typical investor in a money market seeks minute investment risk, no volatility, and instantaneous liquidity, or redeemability. These are the three pillars upon which the entire $3.3 trillion money market industry is based.
Yet new regulations proposed by the administration, and specifically by the ever-incompetent Securities and Exchange Commission, seek to pull one of these three core pillars from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal in the overhaul of money market regulation suggests that money market fund managers will have the option to "suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets." You read that right: this does not refer to the charter of procyclical, leveraged, risk-ridden, transsexual (allegedly) portfolio manager-infested hedge funds like SAC, Citadel, Glenview or even Bridgewater (which in light of ADIA's latest batch of problems, may well be wishing this was in fact the case), but the heart of heretofore assumed safest and most liquid of investment options: Money Market funds, which account for nearly 40% of all investment company assets. The next time there is a market crash, and you try to withdraw what you thought was "absolutely" safe money, a back office person will get back to you saying, "Sorry - your money is now frozen. Bank runs have become illegal." This is precisely the regulation now proposed by the administration. In essence, the entire US capital market is now a hedge fund, where even presumably the safest investment tranche can be locked out from within your control when the ubiquitous "extraordinary circumstances" arise. The second the game of constant offer-lifting ends, and money markets are exposed for the ponzi investment proxies they are, courtesy of their massive holdings of Treasury Bills, Reverse Repos, Commercial Paper, Agency Paper, CD, finance company MTNs and, of course, other money markets, and you decide to take your money out, well - sorry, you are out of luck. It's the law.
As the 'naughties' come to a somewhat anti-climactic close, it is important for those of us in the investment community to take stock of what new lessons have been learned, what immutable laws have been reinforced, and what changes in policy, strategy and execution need to occur in order to avoid a repeat of the booms and busts of the last decade.
For some reason Zero Hedge is prone to take a great deal of heat (both directly radiated and reflected) whenever we opine on the (rather obvious to us) prospect that interest rates might actually (quelle surprise) rise in this environment. Today, rather than engage in "we told you so" gloating, or endure the repetitive pleadings of commentators that this or that Treasury auction was really a success if you just look a little deeper at the figures, we'll just quote Bloomberg quoting other fixed income observers on today's auction of two years, in an article "ambiguously" titled "U.S. 2-Year Yields Highest Since October After $44 Billion Sale."
As much as you hate gold bugs saying "I told you so"... they were right... at least these last 10 years (absent JPMorgan shorting gold in tried and true fashion down to $250 tomorrow).
"When I asked Ken Lewis, Bank of America’s CEO, about why he had not disclosed the mounting losses to shareholders before the shareholder vote, he told this Committee that he relied on the advice of counsel. Protecting shareholders is often, in the final instance, the practical responsibility of corporate General Counsels and their outside counsel. The Subcommittee’s investigative findings demand the question, “Where were the lawyers?” The glaring omissions and inaccurate financial data in the critical November 12 Forecast
make Bank of America’s decision not to disclose to shareholders unsupportable. Furthermore, the flaws in the forecast document were so obvious that they should have alerted the attorneys to the necessity of a reasonable investigation before making a decision on Bank of America’s legal duties to disclose. The apparent fact that they did not mount such an investigation makes the decision not to disclose Merrill’s losses to shareholders an egregious violation of securities laws." - Dennis Kucinich
While the recent Goldman announcement may sound good to some, it entirely misses the point of the outrage of the many who actually realize what is going on. Further, it fails to go far enough. What Goldman needs to do is to go back to its partnership days where it was their capital at risk (all of it) and not the shareholders.
Ken Lewis may think everyone has forgotten about him... But we haven't. Tomorrow's hearing before the House Oversight Committee will see the SEC's Robert Khuzami field questions about BofA's "criminal" acquisition of Merrill, which according to Dennis Kucinich represented an "egregious violation of securities laws." Consider it an appetizer ahead of the full blown jury trial before one Judge Jed Rakoff, coming soon to a publicly accessible courtroom near you.
Several months ago Zero Hedge did an exhaustive study of relative contributions to GDP by consumer class decile: the conclusion was that even though it accounts for a mere 10% of US population, the ultra rich are responsible for over 40% of consumption in the US (yes David Bianco, that ever critical 70% of GDP, get over it). Of course, they end up being taxed for the privilege of consuming so much, but that's irrelevant for this post. What is, however, is a recent GALLUP poll which proves that Rosenberg's theme of "new normal frugality" is now entrenched in the consumer's psyche, and not just among the lower- and middle-classed, but, most surprisingly, in the higher income brackets as well. In November the richest Americans reported a 14% drop in average daily discretionary spending to $117. This is a far cry, and 30% off, from the peak of $185/day report in April of 2008. It also represents a disappointing downward inflection from October 2009, when hopes prevailed that upper income spending would once again take off courtesy of 33 Liberty.
Considering it was just a year ago when we were jolted into this banking-induced recession, you can imagine my astonishment when I read this recent Forbes headline:
“Dubai's Failure Exposes A U.S. Advantage
The well-regulated U.S. financial sector has a lot to show for itself.”