“We now have an economy in which five banks control over 50 percent of the entire banking industry, four or five corporations own most of the mainstream media, and the top one percent of families hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth than any time since 1930. This sort of concentration of wealth and power is a classic setup for the failure of a democratic republic and the stifling of organic economic growth.” - Jesse –http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/
Source: Barry Ritholtz
“All of the old-timers knew that subprime mortgages were what we called neutron loans — they killed the people and left the houses.” - Louis S. Barnes, 58, a partner at Boulder West, a mortgage banking firm in Lafayette, Colo
Borrow-short lend-long strategies have caused more pain and grief than nearly any play in the book. They are virtually guaranteed to blow up given enough time if the duration mismatch and leverage is too great.
For those who do not know what I am describing, a couple examples below will help explain. The first example is a look at "cost of funds" and guaranteed profits that banks can make. It is not a borrow-short lend-long strategy but will morph into such a scheme as I vary the parameters.
Inquiring minds investigating Citigroup’s cost of funds note that Citigroup 5 year CDs yield a mere 1.5%. For this example, Citigroup’s cost of funds is 1.5%, the rate it pays depositors. Here are a few snips from Citi’s website.
Who said there are no guarantees in life?
Some things in life are a sure thing. Like a Citibank CD, which offers a guaranteed—and highly competitive—interest rate. You also get a wide range of terms, from 3 months to 5 years.
Citigroup has the gall to brag about "guarantees in life" when the "guarantee" in question is a complete ripoff. It’s a ripoff because 5-year US treasuries currently yield 2.35%.
Anyone buying CDs at less than the treasury yield rate is a fool.
Rates at Bank of America, Northern Trust, JPMorgan Chase
I will tie this together shortly, but first make note that the Northern Trust, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase offer even lower 5-Year CD rates.
Here are some rates courtesy of Bankrate.Com as of 2011-02-15.
According to Bankrate, national average for 5 year CDs is 1.61% and the rock bottom low is .95%. The site average is 1.98% and the top yielding 5-year CD yields 2.75%. Thus Citigroup’s claim of competitive rates is absurd.
Although Bank of America makes no such claims, its CD rate is priced so preposterously low, that Bank of America must not even want to deal with them. Alternatively, B of A has an incredibly large pool of moronic depositors begging to be ripped off.
Guaranteed Free Money
Anyone buying 5-year CDs from Citigroup, Bank of America, Northern Trust, or JPMorgan Chase is giving those banks a shot at guaranteed free money.
All those banks have to do is take that money and invest in 5-year US treasuries to have a guaranteed profit. Here are the reasons…
Let’s be clear here: A year ago, Assange said he had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive. More recently, he’s said that WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose evidence of an “ecosystem of corruption” at a big US bank. He expects the disclosures to cause resignations. There’s a widespread expectations that Bank of America is the target, even though Assange has been coy about that.
But one thing that’s highly unlikely is that Assange is making this up.
It’s possible everyone is wrong in connecting the dots here. Maybe the new megaleak has nothing to do with Bank of America. It’s also possible that Assange is over-confident in the importance of his information.
Bill Black, who will soon, together with Neil Barofsky, be a guaranteed shoe-in for the POTUS/VP position (both as independents, of course), was on the Ratigan show today, following on his op-ed from last week (here and here) calling for the long-overdue nationalization of Bank of America, and discussing the rampant fraud at the heart of mortgage gate. And contrary to ongoing lowball estimates from the like of JPM and Goldman, Black provides numbers about the bank liability that are simply stunning: "Credit Suisse says that by 2006 49% of all mortgage originations were liars loans. When independent folks study fraud, it is in the 80-90% fraud range. That means there were millions of acts of fraud. Those loan frauds occurred because the banks created incentive structure for the loan brokers to bring them the absolute worst of the worst loans, and to lie on the application forms… These frauds came from the banks, and they propagated through the system through a series of echo epidemics…This fraud spread through the system and that’s why we have a crisis in foreclosures. This stems from the underlying fraud by the lenders in mortgage loans to the tune of well over a million cases a year by 2005."
Furthermore, Black points out the glaringly obvious, that the Fed should not be in charge of any investigation into mortgage fraud, due to its "massive" conflict of interest, to the tune of $1.5 trillion in MBS/agencies held on the Fed’s books, which would be immediately null and voided if rampant MBS fraud is indeed uncovered. Which is precisely why the entitlement of the Fed as supreme regulator (as inspired by the financial generosity of the Wall Street lobby) as part of Frank-Dodd was the one single most destructive decision ever made, and equivalent in many ways with electing America’s very own tyrannical despot, whose only interest is making the multi billionaires, into trillionaires, and leaving everyone else in the cold through the eliminating of the savings class and the destruction of the reserve currency.
And it goes much further… to the very top of the US ruling oligarchy in fact. Which is why, as we have claimed from day one, nothing less than a complete reset of the entire kleptocratic system…
The current market rally is not based on a self-sustained typical economic recovery, but on blind faith that the Fed can pull out a magic wand and cure everything with another round of quantitative easing (QE2). As we pointed out last week, this a desperate attempt by the Fed to try non-conventional means to get the economy going again after a massive dose of conventional measures resulted in failure. The members of the FOMC know this, but with further fiscal measures off the table, they are aware that they are the only game in town. The Fed’s acknowledgement that the economy is in trouble is again highlighted by the latest Beige Book released yesterday. The following are some excerpts from the report:
“National economic activity continued to rise, albeit at a modest pace..consumer spending was steady to up slightly, but consumers remained price-sensitive, and purchases were mostly limited to necessities and non-discretionary items..Housing markets remained weak..Most reports suggested overall home sales were sluggish or declining..Home inventories were elevated or rising..Conditions in the commercial real estate market were subdued, and construction was expected to remain weak.Reports suggested that rental rates continued to decline for most commercial property types..industry contacts appeared to believe that the commercial real estate and construction sectors would remain weak for some time..Hiring remained limited, with many firms reluctant to add to permanent payrolls, given economic softness..Future capital spending plans appeared to be limited”
So there you have an outline of the anemic economic picture in the Fed’s own words. To be sure, they indicated some strong points as well. But the weakness in consumer spending, housing, capital expenditures, commercial real estate and employment pretty much accounts for some 85% of the overall economy.
In addition some of the major problems that worried the market earlier have not really gone away. The sovereign debt problems of the weaker EU nations have been papered over without being solved and are still lingering just beneath the surface. The looming currency wars that were shoved down the road by the recent G-20 meeting are also a major threat to the global economy.
Furthermore the Chinese housing bubble previously highlighted by bearish investor Jim Chanos and others has now appeared on the front page of the New York Times. A new district of the city of Ordos,…
Short Term Market Condition: Oversold (short term bullish)
Short Term Trend: Neutral
Just about everyone has heard about or read “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in which he describes how unexpected, highly improbable events can have massive impact.
I think that recent developments in U.S. financial markets could be a “black turkey,” larger, more destructive and uglier than any black swan ever could be.
In recent days, a “black swan” event, or even worse, a potential “black turkey” event has surfaced that is just beginning to impact financial markets and could have far reaching effects going forward.
I’m talking about “Foreclosuregate” or the “robo signing” scandal that has been rocking financial markets over the past several days and that this action could be just the beginning of a major unforeseen, black swan event.
Of course the details are still murky but the Attorneys General in all 50 states have launched an investigation to see if false documents and forged signatures were used in their foreclosure procedures.
All the big names could be involved, including Ally Financial, Bank of America and JP Morgan, among others, and the ramifications could be huge as this situation could throw the whole foreclosure process into question and uncertainty.
Today’s selloff appeared to be what could be the first salvo in a bloody war as PIMCO, Blackrock and the New York Federal Reserve went to Bank of America with a demand for $47 billion of mortgage repurchases. These entities are all huge players with similar interests and to have them square off against each other is certainly an unexpected event.
Bank of America will fight this, of course, but the “black turkey” here is that nobody knows how large the liability or how far reaching the claims might go if “robo signing” spreads.
JP Morgan estimates liabilities of as high as $120 Billion but if the $47 Billion at Bank of America is accurate, total industry liabilities could be much higher.
And here’s where the “black turkey” really could really get ugly. As we know, the market hates uncertainty…
The mortgage fraud cost estimates for banks are a bit like QB Ryan Leaf - all over the place and without any accuracy whatsoever.
We’re hearing estimates of anywhere from a few hundred million bucks to as much as $200 billion! And in the meantime, Bank of America ($BAC) is telling us that they’ve found nothing wrong in their foreclosure process and that after halting all activity in 50 states, they are now back in business in half the country.
There are currently 7 million foreclosures in the housing market that need to be worked through and any delay will be costly for large lenders like B of A.
Should the states or the courts decide that many of these securitized mortgage-backed bonds are structured fraudulently (no one knows which mortgage is owned by whom), there is a possibility that the banks may have to buy them back due to a clause on most of this paper called the Put-Back.
In the absence of anything even resembling a consensus on how big the costs of mortgage put-backs may be, the temptation is to simply say, Who Cares? Well, I’ll tell you who cares…
For starters, how about hedge fund manager John Paulson? With a stake in Bank of America of 167 million shares, Mr. Paulson has about 2 billion reasons to care about how big their put-back exposure is.
Mutual fund monster Bruce Berkowitz (Fairholme) has about 667 million reasons to give a damn (54 million shares held).
Hedgie David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, no slouch himself in the "reflation trade", has about 337 million reasons to care (27 million shares).
These three investors make up the Triumvirate of the Reflationista Trade. These are the ultimate Don’t-Fight-The-Fed-ers.
That they are all in the same trade, BAC, is not a surprise – it is the quintessential call option on housing and employment. But they may not have bargained for the foreclosure mess that has hit the media with the gale-force wind of 2007′s sub-prime storm. Whether or not this particular storm blows over – or spills over – is very much of interest to Paulson, Berkowitz and Tepper, make no mistake.
The news had a significant impact on the market because of the parties involved in suing Bank of America. The loans were originated by CountryWide, which had been acquired by BofA. It is ironic that Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo just settled with the SEC admitting no wrongdoing and merely paid a fine which was a small percentage of his financial gains.
It is nothing new for bondholders and the common people to sue some of the big Wall Street Banks for fraud.
But when the plaintiffs include some of the most important financial institutions in the country the market has to sit up and take notice.
It’s nice to see some outrage being expressed, even if it is among the privileged few. Watching Bloomberg television was particularly difficult today as the apologetics and cheerleading for the financial sector among its guests and newspeople is almost shameless.
Pacific Investment Management Co., BlackRock Inc. and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are seeking to force Bank of America Corp. to repurchase soured mortgages packaged into $47 billion of bonds by its Countrywide Financial Corp. unit, people familiar with the matter said.
A group of bondholders wrote a letter to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the debt’s trustee, citing alleged failures by Countrywide to service loans properly, their lawyer said yesterday in a statement that didn’t name the firms. The New York Fed acquired mortgage debt through its 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.
Investors are stepping up efforts to recoup losses on mortgage bonds, which plummeted in value amid the worst slump in home prices since the 1930s. Last month, BNY Mellon declined to investigate mortgage files in response to a demand from the bondholder group, which has since expanded. Countrywide’s servicing failures, including insufficient record keeping, may open the door for investors to seek repurchases by bypassing the trustee, said Kathy Patrick, their lawyer at Gibbs & Bruns LLP.
ZeroHedge obtained an internal memo from Wells Fargo detailing the banks new procedures to handle what may be a flood of repurchase requests, as end investors use fraud allegations and sloppy paperwork to demand refunds on the mortgages they bought from the bank.
Here’s the gist:
Wells Fargo receives a deficiency notice or demand from the investor. Typically, Wells Fargo has 60 days to resolve the issue.
Wells Fargo notifies the Seller and provides supporting documentation when available. At this time, the Seller is given twenty-one calendar days to provide an explanation, facts or documentation to demonstrate that the mortgage loan complies with the requirements. If the Seller does not respond within 14 days of the initial notice, Wells Fargo will follow up with the Seller.
Wells Fargo will begin internal research (concurrently with Step 2) to resolve the loan issues. During this process, Wells Fargo will determine if there is a missing document and if the document can be located.
For all other issues, Wells Fargo will perform research to
I think it was almost two years ago that I was in Cyprus. Cyprus had just come through its crisis and was still in shell shock. I was there to get a feel for what it was like, and a number of my readers had courteously arranged for me to meet with all sorts of people and do a few presentations. A local group arranged for me to speak at the lecture hall of the Central Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia.
There were about 50 people in the room. I was busily working on Code Red at the time and had money flows, quantitative easing, and currency wars at the front of my brain. As part of my presentation, I talked about how countries would seek to use currency devaluation in order to gain an advantage over other countries – that we were getting ready to enter an era of currency wars, which would be dis...
Last week two prominent Ukrainian opposition figures were gunned down in broad daylight. They join as many as ten others who have been killed or committed suicide under suspicious circumstances just this year. These individuals have one important thing in common: they were either part of or friendly with the Yanukovych government, which a US-backed coup overthrew last year. They include members of the Ukrainian parliament and former chief editors of major opposition new...
It was a good response from buyers to push markets higher through the day. However, the gains didn't really change the larger picture where markets remain range bound. In the case of the S&P, bulls really need a break of 2120 to bring confidence back to buyers. The S&P is also enjoying the start of a relative performance advantage against the Russell 2000. It's early days, but today was a good start. The Nasdaq closed the 'breakdown gap,' but it hasn't yet done enough to challenge the March 'bull trap.' The Nasdaq also enjoys a relative advantage against the S&P. This might be the index to lead out tomorrow. ...
Google has had a disappointing year when comparing it to the S&P 500 and other tech stocks. As you can see above, it has under performed the Nasdaq 100 index by nearly 19% and it has lagged the broad market by more than 10% in the past year.
Did Google create a double top over the past year, prior to this under performance? The jury is out on this question at this time.
This under performance by Google now has it testing a support line that dates back to its IPO price over a decade ago.
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As we get into the heart of earnings season and anticipate the GDP report for Q1, the investor spotlight has been taken off the Federal Reserve and timing of its first interest rate hike, at least temporarily. Even though Q1 economic growth will undoubtedly look weak, the future remains bright for the U.S economy – even though many multinationals will struggle with top-line growth due to the strong dollar – and any near-term selloff resulting from weak economic or earnings news should be bought yet again in expectation of better results for the balance of the year. High sector correlations remain a concern, reflectin...
As noted earlier, with equities now a barren wasteland of volume (and liquidity), the last remaining HFT master (of whale order frontrunning)has been forced to go to those asset classes where organic flow is still abundant such as FX, courtesy of central banks engaged in global currency wars. However, HFTs rea...
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
In my last post (Part 1 of this article), I looked at alternative ETFs that could be used as hedges against the corrections that we have seen during that long 2 year bull run. Looking at the results, it seems that for short (less than a month) corrections, a VIX ETF like VXX could actually be a viable candidate to hedge or speculate on the way down. Another alternative ETF was TMF, a long Treasuries ETF which banks on the fact that when markets go down, money tends to pack into treasuries viewed as safe instruments. In some cases, TMF even outperformed the usual hedging instruments like leveraged ETFs. There could of course be other factors at play since some of 2014 corrections were related to geopolitical events which are certain...
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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