In this article, Peter Schiff discusses the practical problems with a government’s abrogation of contract and property rights for some "contrived greater good." That is deeply disturbing enough but it goes further. Our Constitution gave specific powers to different branches of government to hold the powers of government in check. The loss of these checks and balances goes beyond the financial world "twilight zone" horrors unfolding before us now, it undermines the entire structure of our governance. – Ilene
“Crony capitalism” is a term often applied to foreign nations where government interference circumvents market forces. The practice is widely associated with tin-pot dictators and second-rate economies. In such a system, support for the ruling regime is the best and only path to economic success. Who you know supersedes what you know, and favoritism trumps the rule of law. Unfortunately, this week’s events demonstrate that the phrase now more aptly describes our own country.
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Chrysler’s secured creditors based on the government’s argument that the needs of other stakeholders outweighed those of a few creditors. In this case, the Administration concluded the interests of the United Auto Workers outweighed the interests of the Indiana teachers and firemen whose pension fund sued to block the restructuring. Given the enormous financial support that the UAW poured into the Obama campaign, such partiality is hardly surprising.
When making their investment in Chrysler just a few months ago, the Indiana pension fund agreed to commit capital because of the specific assurances received from the company. In allowing this sham bankruptcy to be crammed through the courts, we have shredded the vital principal of the rule of law, and have become a nation of men, rather than one of laws.
The risk that legal contracts can now be arbitrarily set aside will make investors think twice before committing capital to distressed corporations. Oftentimes enforcing contracts imposes hardships. That’s precisely why we have contracts.
Without absolute faith that deals will be honored, it will be extremely difficult for U.S. companies to borrow money. This will be particularly true for those companies already struggling with too much debt. Without the ability to issue secured debt,…
The latest casualty in the synthetic CDO/subprime implosion is the State of Wisconsin’s Kenosha Unified School District. Although seeing how the school district has launched an all out lawsuit against StifelNicolaus, and more specifically its then-SVP David Noack, as well as RBC, for selling them synthetic CDOs as “riskless,” in which the school districts ended up investing $200 million, this one could be tricky – is it the schools’ fault for not doing any homework before investing essentially all their OPEB offsets into some credit-bubble-peak zany scheme, or Stifel’s for taking advantage of gullible investors and misrepresenting associated risks.
Some of the main highlights from the lawsuit:
When questioned by the Plaintiffs about the make-up of the underlying collateral, and the potential existence of any sub-prime debt, Noack contacted Deb Pederson of RBC Global with that inquiry. Ms. Pederson assured Noack that the CDO had no direct exposure to sub-prime debt in the portfolio. Noack then represented to Plaintiffs that there was no sub-prime debt in the portfolio. This representation on the part of Ms. Pederson was materially false and known by her to be false at the time it was made, in circumstances where she well knew the information would be communicated to Plaintiffs, and that Plaintiffs would rely on it.
Regarding the nature of the CDO investments and their attendant risks, Defendants and their agents, including Pederson, Noack and Brewer, made numerous false representations to each of the School Districts, including but not limited to, misrepresentations that used the following words or words to that effect:
• “On the investment side, we’re sticking to AA/AAA.” • “These are safe AA/AAA type investments.” • “It’s a AA rated investment [and . . .] meets statute prior to new rules that allow you to invest in anything, so we’re staying on the conservative side.” • “It takes 20 out of these 100 companies to default
What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it
1. Financial markets have stabilized – largely because people believe that the government will not allow Citigroup to fail. We have effectively nationalized any banking system losses, but we’ll let bank executives enjoy the full benefits of the upside. How much shareholders participate remains to be seen; there will be no effective reining in of insider compensation (my version; Joe Nocera’s view). For more on how we got here, see the Frontline documentary that airs on Tuesday and Paul Solman’s explainer wrap up.
2. The real economy begins to bottom out, although unemployment will not peak for a while and could stay high for several years. Longer term growth prospects remain uncertain – has consumer behavior really changed; if finance doesn’t drive growth, what will; is the budget deficit under control or not (note: most of the guarantees extended to banks and other financial institutions are not scored in the budget)?
3. More broadly, there is sophisticated window dressing in the pipeline but no real reform on any issue central to (a) how the banking system operates, or (b) more broadly, how hubris in finance led us into this crisis. The financial sector lobbies appear stronger than ever. The administration ducked the early fights that set the tone (credit cards, bankruptcy, even cap and trade); it’s hard to see them making much progress on anything – with the possible exception of healthcare.
4. The consensus from conventional macroeconomics is that there can’t be significant inflation with unemployment so high, and the Fed will not tighten before late 2010. The financial markets beg to differ – presumably worrying, in part, about easy credit leading to dollar depreciation, higher import prices, and potential commodity price inflation worldwide. In all recent showdowns with standard macro models recently, the markets’ view of reality has prevailed. My advice: pay close attention to oil prices.
5. Emerging markets are increasingly viewed as having “decoupled” from the US/European malaise. This idea was wrong in early 2008, when it gained consensus status; this time around, it is probably setting
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:
1. We have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average. In part, that’s because the number of people in prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000 today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same as that of other countries.
2. We have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone, from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against tobacco.
3. We have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment.
It’s now broadly acknowledged that the drug war approach has failed.
MP: Note the "War on Drugs" is actually a war against generally peaceful American citizens who decide to buy, sell or ingest drugs that are somewhat arbitrarily considered to be illegal by government officials, e.g. cannabis sativa, an annual, dioecious flowering herb that grows naturally all over the world.
The leveraged loan market got accustomed to big numbers over the past decade. There’s $3.6 trillion, the amount of leveraged loans made since 2000, according to Thomson Reuters’ Loan Pricing Corp. There’s 735-fold, the amount of growth between 2003 and 2007 in the volume of collateralized loan obligations — the funds that helped fuel the loan market’s surge after the tech and telecom bust of 2001. And there’s $375 billion, the amount of bank debt used to fund leveraged buyouts completed between 2005 and 2007.
But right now, the leveraged loan market is fixated on one number: $430 billion, the amount in leveraged loans due to mature between 2012 and 2014. Despite the big numbers of the past, this might be simply too big. Indeed, the $430 billion figure is already worrying lenders, borrowers and loan-market investors alike as they struggle with the possibility that a large portion of those loans will neither be repaid nor refinanced, raising the specter of a wave of defaults among the debt-fueled LBO borrowers of 2005 through 2007.
As one executive at a private equity firm describes it, the availability of so much cheap debt profoundly affected how sponsors did business because it encouraged them to change their focus. "The PE firms were not investing in specific industries," he says. "They were investing in the capital markets."
This strategy was predicated on faith that loans could be continually refinanced, that exit options in the form of the equity markets or mergers and acquisitions fueled by more financing would be easily available and lead to profits that justified the outsized risk the sponsors were taking. There was also the belief that an ever-expanding economy would allow companies to keep increasing their Ebitda and pay down debt. The strategy had more than a few similarities with the one used by people who borrowed in increasing amounts to finance home purchases and hoped for either a quick flip or continually rising prices that would make debt more manageable.
The article discusses various ways that this debt can be paid back, but I am inclined
Except for bankruptcy attorneys, most want the massive spike in foreclosures to end. However, it is impossible to wish foreclosures away or for that matter legislate them away. Unfortunately, economic illiterates do not understand the dynamics.
California is imposing a 90-day moratorium on housing foreclosures under a new law that takes effect Monday.
The law is expected to make lenders try harder to keep borrowers in their homes. Loan companies must prove they tried to modify the delinquent loans before they can begin foreclosing.
But supporters acknowledge the California Foreclosure Prevention Act won’t stop thousands of foreclosures from eventually happening. There have been more than 365,000 foreclosures in California since early 2007, with many more already scheduled.
This bill is no more likely to work than a bill declaring poverty to be illegal or the sky to be green.
Home prices will bottom when they bottom, unemployment will bottom when it bottoms, and foreclosures will stop when they stop. Those are simple economic facts.
The 90 day extension gives anyone sitting on the edge of walking away as well as those wanting a reduction in principle an incentive to stop paying their mortgage, safe and secure in the fact they cannot be thrown out of their house for another 90 days.
This bill is pure idiocy and will not stop a single foreclosure. Instead, the bill will increase late pays and foreclosures. It’s an exercise of sheer stupidity.
There’s interesting chatter in the “Dow Theory” community as to whether we’re experiencing a non-confirmation in the Industrials and Transports currently – namely, the Industrials are at a new high for 2009 and are above the 200 day SMA while the Transports are not. Let’s take a look at both.
Dow Jones Industrial Index:
One may also ask the question “Is there a ‘Three Push’ Reversal pattern forming in the Dow Jones?” It would appear so, with three consolidating ‘pushes’ or impulses up that have formed on three lower highs in the 3/10 Momentum Oscillator. That alone is a serious non-confirmation of higher prices.
We also see a volume divergence setting in underneath price, with volume in the Dow Jones Index (1.1 Billion today) reaching a level that is clearly below the recent average – more importantly is the “trailing off.”
One can also see the multitude of ‘dojis’ (often known for their ‘reversal’ signal) that have formed over the last two weeks – that is showing signs of serious indecision.
In terms of Dow Theory, the Industrials have made a new high and have risen above their 200 day Simple Moving Average which is classically bullish… but the Transports Index has not.
Dow Jones Transportation Index:
Again, while the Dow recently formed new highs for 2009, the Transports could neither break above their May highs nor its 200 day simple moving average.
A negative momentum divergence has also formed as well as a negative volume divergence.
I could have easily titled this post “Major Sell Signal in the Dow Jones Index” but I dare not be so bold, given the ability of the market to rise against a negative fundamental and technical backdrop.
From a chart (technical) standpoint, the chart is literally screaming “sell signal,” but still we operate in a world of probabilities and stranger things have happened, so do continue to guard your risk and do your own analysis for additional insights.
"No one realized how bad the economy was. The projections, in fact, turned out to be worse. But we took the mainstream model as to what we thought — and everyone else thought — the unemployment rate would be."
"Everyone guessed wrong at the time the estimate was made about what the state of the economy was at the moment this was passed."
"The bottom line is that jobs are being created that would not have been there before."
"Can I claim credit that all of that’s due to the recovery package? No. But it clearly has had an impact."
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Apache Corporation (NYSE, Nasdaq: APA) and its subsidiaries today announced an agreement to sell producing oil and gas assets in the Deep Basin area of western Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, for $374 million.
Incremental to Apache's earlier $2 billion share re-purchase announcement, the company plans to use the proceeds of this transaction to buy back Apache common shares under the 30-million-share repurchase program that was authorized by Apache's Board of Directors in 2013.
Apache is selling primarily dry gas-producing properties comprising 622,600 gross acres (328,400 net acres) in the Ojay, Noel and Wapiti areas in Alberta and British Columbia. In the Wapiti area, Apache will retain 100 percent of its working interest in horizons below the Cre...
As I suspected it might, the stock market bounced strongly last week. Weakness the prior week was due in part to traders exiting positions for vacation during the holiday-shortened week, protecting big capital gains, cashing out to pay taxes on capital gains, and “delta hedging” on put options. However, I’m not convinced that the pullback was sufficient to create the great buying opportunity -- but it was sure a tradable bounce.
Among the ten U.S. business sectors, the big winner last week was Energy, which was up about +4.5%. Also, Financial and Industrial were each up about +3%. Defensive sector Utilities still stands alone as the year-to-date leader, up about +11%, while Energy’s strong performance last week has it in second place, up about +5% YTD. Healthcare has been the big loser as i...
On Monday, Greenwald and other journalists at The Guardian and The Washington Post were awarded the Pulitzer for their reporting on the National Security Agency. The big question as the awards approached was whether the Pulitzer Prize committee would recognize their work, and they did just that.
On Sunday's "Reliable Sources," Greenwald told Stelter...
“However, both indexes are at or near MAJOR support levels. That means that we are ‘in the zone’ for a bounce of some sort in the next couple of days.” And a bounce is exactly what we got: But as you can see even with last week’s bounce, we are still locked in a downtrend. As we look ahead to next week, should we break out of the downtrend to the upside, we’ll want to take advantage of buying stocks doing the same. And should we remain in a downtrend, we want to short stocks that are also locked in downtrends. As we’ve said before: Success in the market comes from trading stocks in tandem with the indexes. Should the markets break higher, then FF is an excellent long side candidate: Here we have a leading stock that like the Nasdaq is in a min...
Brave souls who write about stocks always subject themselves to potential embarrassment if they take a stand on the future movement of their selected company. Including both a price target and a time horizon makes you accountable if things don’t go as predicted.
For that reason many media pundits much prefer to explain what’s already happened rather than sticking their necks out. They would rather justify the (supposed) reason...
In the days before the Geneva "de-escalation" conference (and coincidentally, days after the secret visit of CIA director Brennan to Kiev), the top story across western media was the "undisputed" proof that east-Ukraine, populated by "terrorist separatists", is preparing to unleash a neo-nazi wave against local jews, when a leaflet was unveiled, beckoning the Jewish population to register and declare their assets.
Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (Ticker: CMG) opened higher on Thursday morning, rising more than 6.0% to $589.00, after the restaurant operator reported better than expected first-quarter sales ahead of the opening bell. But, the stock began to falter just before lunchtime on concerns the burrito-maker will increase menu prices for the first time in three years. The price of Chipotle’s shares have since fallen into negative territory and currently trade down 3.5% on the session at $532.89 as of 1:50 p.m. ET.
[Facebook] The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process.
The authorisation from Ireland’s central bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow ...
I just wanted to be sure you saw this. There’s a ‘live’ training webinar this Thursday, March 27th at Noon or 9:00 pm ET.
If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Steve Jobs all got together in a room with the task of building a tremendously accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.
Well, I hate to break it to you though… they never got around to building it, but my friends at Market Tamer did.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
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