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Posts Tagged ‘Capital Markets’

Twilight of the Übermenschen

Courtesy of The Epicurean Dealmaker

Are you shooting at me?

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

Beware of the pursuit of the Superhuman: it leads to an indiscriminate contempt for the Human.

— George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

* * *

Steven Davidoff opens a recent piece at The New York Times DealBook blog with the following words:

Reputation is dead on Wall Street.

This is powerful language. What does he mean?

Well, for one thing he means that the reputations of individual investment banks are no longer coterminous with the reputations of their executives and employees. He ascribes this to the tremendous growth in scale and complexity of financial markets over the past three decades:

Today’s Wall Street is not the Wall Street of 1907 when J.P. Morgan single-handedly used his reputation and wallet to stem a running financial panic.

Until the 1980s,… Wall Street was made up of traditional partnerships. These were small groups of investment bankers who represented companies in offering and selling securities and occasionally acquisitions. These bankers put their individual reputations on the line, because there were so few of them. Morgan Stanley, for example, had only 31 partners in 1970 and fewer than 1,000 employees.

But this began to change in the 1980s. Trading markets became much more sophisticated, and trading and brokerage became the investment banks’ primary business. This is a technology game. The better the technology, the better the trading and brokerage operation. Individuals became less important.

The growth of more complex capital markets and a global economy also created much larger financial institutions. Morgan Stanley now has more than 62,000 employees. These banks could use their assets and position to compete in the market for finance and trading. Again, individuals were less important as size dominated. A client now trades or does business with a bank based on its positions or ability to make a market or loan. The executive at the bank executing the transaction is unimportant.

In one respect, this is true. Lazard is no longer Felix Rohatyn. Goldman Sachs is no longer Sidney Weinberg. The


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Tavakoli: Biggest Fraud in the History of the Capital Markets

Tavakoli: Biggest Fraud in the History of the Capital Markets

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

newjanpic.jpg

Washington Post
‘This is the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets’
By Ezra Klein
10/8/2010 

Janet Tavakoli is the founder and president of Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc. She sounded some of the earliest warnings on the structured finance market, leading the University of Chicago to profile her as a "Structured Success," and Business Week to call her "The Cassandra of Credit Derivatives." We spoke this afternoon about the turmoil in the housing market, and an edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Ezra Klein: What’s happening here? Why are we suddenly faced with a crisis that wasn’t apparent two weeks ago?

Janet Tavakoli: This is the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets. And it’s not something that happened last week. It happened when these loans were originated, in some cases years ago. Loans have representations and warranties that have to be met. In the past, you had a certain period of time, 60 to 90 days, where you sort through these loans and, if they’re bad, you kick them back. If the documentation wasn’t correct, you’d kick it back. If you found the incomes of the buyers had been overstated, or the houses had been appraised at twice their worth, you’d kick it back. But that didn’t happen here. And it turned out there were loan files that were missing required documentation. Part of putting the deal together is that the securitization professional, and in this case that’s banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, has to watch for this stuff. It’s called perfecting the security interest, and it’s not optional. 

EK: And how much danger are the banks themselves in?

JT: When we had the financial crisis, the first thing the banks did was run to Congress and ask for accounting relief. They asked to be able to avoid pricing this stuff at the price where people would buy them. So no one can tell you the size of the hole in these balance sheets. We’ve thrown a lot of money at it. TARP was just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve given them guarantees on debts, low-cost funding from the Fed. But a lot of these mortgages just cannot be saved. Had we acknowledged this problem in 2005, we could’ve cleaned it up


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On Reflexivity & Animal Spirits: What Moves the Market from Here?

Kent Thune’s wonderful blog The Financial Philosopher is not just a financial site, it’s a "learning experience."  I highly recommend that you visit him and read some of his latest inspirational articles, such as Get Busy Livin’ or Get Busy Dyin’To Embrace Death is to Embrace Life, and Entrepreneurs: Use Your Delusion, Sell the Illusion. – Ilene

On Reflexivity & Animal Spirits: What Moves the Market from Here?

ITAR-TASS 02: IRKUTSK REGION, RUSSIA. NOVEMBER 30, 2008. Early twentieth century German pendulum clock with a statuette of Mnemosyne, Greek goddess of memory, on display at the Clock Museum, Angarsk, Irkutsk Region, Russia. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Nikolai Ryutin) Photo via Newscom

Courtesy of Kent Thune, at The Financial Philosopher

Are capital markets leading economic indicators or do they provide fuel for a growing economy? Or is it both? Isn’t the function of capital markets to raise capital for the financing of corporate and government operations through the sale of securities (stocks and bonds)?

If the stock market is rising, would this not then create the economic condition it is "predicting" as an economic indicator? In the absence of government stimulus, might financial markets save themselves? If so, how? Can financial markets rise spontaneously or do they require a fundamental boost or outside stimulation?

Capital markets have many functions and their participants have numerous objectives; however, we may simplify them all into two basic categorical functions: 1) Passive and 2) Active. Depending upon economic conditions and variables, capital markets can play one or both rolls. Consider recent comments by George Soros (Hat tip to Captain Jack):

…financial markets do not play a purely passive role; they can also affect the so-called fundamentals they are supposed to reflect. These two functions that financial markets perform work in opposite directions. In the passive or cognitive function, the fundamentals are supposed to determine market prices. In the active or manipulative function market, prices find ways of influencing the fundamentals. When both functions operate at the same time, they interfere with each other. The supposedly independent variable of one function is the dependent variable of the other, so that neither function has a truly independent variable. As a result, neither market prices nor the underlying reality is fully determined. Both suffer from an element of uncertainty that cannot be quantified. I call the interaction between the two functions reflexivity…

Mr. Soros’ idea of reflexivity asserts, as he says, "that financial markets do not necessarily tend toward equilibrium; they can…
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Seeking Solutions In An Uncertain World

Seeking Solutions In An Uncertain World

Courtesy of Todd Harrison of Minyanville

“We used to play for silver, now we play for life; ones for sport and one’s for blood at the point of a knife.” --Grateful Dead

Statue of liberty collage

We live in interesting times. During the last two years, a financial virus spawned and infected the economic and social spheres as a matter of course.

This isn’t just about money anymore. Our civil liberties, the foundation of free market capitalism and the quality of life for future generations are dynamically shifting as we traverse our current course. (See: The Short Sale of American Icons)

I once offered that Shock & Awe was a tipping point through a historical lens; as Baghdad blew-up on CNN, I somberly sensed America would never be the same. That’s not a political statement — we don’t know what would have been if we didn’t invade — it’s simply an observation. Almost overnight, world empathy turned to global condemnation.

If we’ve learned anything through these years, it’s that unintended consequences tend to come full circle. Whether it’s the moral hazard of bailing out some banks, the gargantuan profits of a chosen few — Goldman Sachs (GS), JP Morgan (JPM), Bank America (BAC), Morgan Stanley (MS), Wells Fargo (WFC) — the caveats of percolating protectionism, or the growing chasm of social and geopolitical discord, times they are a-changin’ and it’s freaking people out.

As speculators are vilified and hedge funds are perceived as acceptable casualties of war, financial fatigue will evolve in kind. We’ve already seen the burnout manifest in trading volume — upwards of 70% of the flow are the robots — and we’ve witnessed it in financial media, with reported ratings of some of CNBC’s marquee shows down as much as 25% year-over-year. (See: The War on Capitalism)

art of warSun-tzu once said, “If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight and if not, split and reevaluate.” As we navigate this socioeconomic maelstrom, an increasing number of people are weighing their options…
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The Shanghai market isn’t really predicting anything

The Shanghai market isn’t really predicting anything

Courtesy of Michael Pettis 

A man looks at an electronic board at a brokerage house in Shanghai

It has not been a good year for the Shanghai stock market.  Since its closing peak at 6092 in October 2007, the closing high in the past year or so on Shanghai’s SSE composite was 3471, on August 4 last year.  Since then the market has been pretty bleak.  The SSE Composite finished 2009 by dropping nearly 6% from that high, to close at 3277.

This year things got only worse.  By May 20 the market had dropped a further 22% to close at 2556, and then bounced around for the past ten days closing yesterday at 2568.  In my May 12 blog entry, I finished the piece by saying “Last Friday the SSE Composite closed at 2688.  I bet it is much higher by the end of the summer.” 

Obviously my timing was off.  Within a week of my prediction the market had managed to lose another 132 points.  I still believe that the market will be higher by the end of this summer, and that within weeks we will see moves by the regulators to prop it up.  With all the liquidity sloshing around, all we need is a reasonable period off stability before the market comes roaring back, I suspect.

So am I predicting a strong economy?  Not really.  It is tempting to read falling stock prices as an indication that Chinese investors believe that the economy is poised to slow dramatically, and if the market surges, that Chinese growth is back, but we should be very cautious about how we interpret the meaning of the gyrations in Chinese stocks. 

We’re used to thinking about stock markets as expected-cash-flow discounting machines, and we assume that stock price levels generally represent the market’s best estimate of future growth prospects, but this is not always the case, and it is certainly not the case in China.  I am often asked to comment on big price moves on the Chinese stock markets and what they mean about growth expectations, but I usually try to caution people from reading too much meaning into the market.

Three investment strategies

To see why, it is probably useful to understand how investors make trading decisions.  This blog entry is going to be a pretty abstract piece on how I think about the underlying dynamics of a well-functioning capital market, and how these…
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Dylan Ratigan’s Explanation For The Crash

Dylan Ratigan’s Explanation For The Crash

Courtesy of Zero Hedge 

…the former Fast Money lead man is actually pretty spot on. And for all you retail investors who think this market is anything but a two-tiered playground built now exclusively for Wall Street to fleece you every single day, our advice is to get the hell out. Everyone else already is… Except of course for the banks and the various 3-3,000 man quant operations, which are the only market participants left. We hope they cannibalize whatever is left of each other and blow themselves all up in the process. Whatever is left will have infinitely more credibility than the busted mockery of capital markets we have now. 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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An Independent Look into JP Morgan

An Independent Look into JP Morgan

Reggie MiddletonCourtesy of Reggie Middleton’s Boom Bust Blog

The JP Morgan forensic preview is now available. Remember, this is not subscription material, but a "public preview" of the material to come. I thought non-subscribers would be interested in knowing what my opinion of the country’s most respected bank was. There is some interesting stuff here, and the subscription analysis will have even more (in terms of data, analysis and valuation). As we have all been aware, the markets have been totally ignoring valuation for about two quarters now. It remains to be seen how long that continues.

Click graph to enlarge

image001.png, JP Morgan Notional Derivatives

Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM’s derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008).

JP Morgan cartoonWe all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don’t we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know  who". Now, I am not saying JPM is about to collapse, since it is one of the anointed ones chosen by the government and guaranteed not to fail – unlike Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and it is (after all) investment grade rated. Who would you put your faith in, the big ratings agencies or your favorite blogger? Then again, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a chicken??? I’ll leave the rest up for my readers to decide. 

This public preview is the culmination of several investigative posts that I have made that have led me to look more closely into the big money center banks. It all started with a hunch that JPM wasn’t…
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Chart School

Moving Averages: Month-End Preview

Courtesy of Doug Short.

Here is an advance preview of the monthly moving averages I track after the close of the last business day of the month. At this point, before the open on the last day of the month, three S&P 500 strategies are now signaling "invested" -- unchanged from last month. Two of the five of the Ivy Portfolio ETFs, Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU) and PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking (DBC), are signal "cash" -- also unchanged from last month.

If a position is less than 2% from a signal, it is highlighted in yellow.


Note: My inclusion of the S&P 500 index updates is intended to illustrate a popular moving moving-average timing strategy. The index signals also give...



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Zero Hedge

Meet Loretta Lynch - Obama's Attorney General Nominee Who Might Be Even Worse than Eric Holder

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

On matters of policy, Ms. Lynch called capital punishment “an effective penalty” and said she disagreed with Mr. Obama’s statements that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol. She called the National Security Agency’s collection of American phone records “certainly constitutional, and effective.”

– From the New York Times article: ...



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Phil's Favorites

Greece Will Not Accept Bailout Extension or Deal With "Rottenly Constructed" Troika; Mish's Game Theory Math

Courtesy of Mish.

Greece Will No Longer Deal with ‘Troika’

It now strongly appears as if Greece, Germany, and the nannycrats in Brussels are all on one hell of a collision course. Both sides have dug in, and the war of words has escalated in all corners.

For example, please consider Greece Will No Longer Deal with ‘Troika’, Yanis Varoufakis Says
Greece will no longer co-operate with the “troika” of international lenders that has overseen its four-year bailout programme, the country’s finance minister said.

Yanis Varoufakis also said Greece would not accept an extension of its EU bailout, which expires at the end of February, and without which Greek banks could be shut off from European Centr...



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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Sabrient

In the News: An ETF Rush to Bet on Insiders

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

(ETFTrends.com by Todd Shriber): "Betting on insider buying is again proving to be an efficacious strategy as the Direxion All Cap Insider Sentiment Shares (NYSEArca: KNOW) has been noticeably less bad than the S&P 500 to start 2015. Add to that, investors are warming to the merits of KNOW's insider sentiment strategy." [Editor's note: KNOW tracks the Sabrient Multi-cap Insider/Analyst Quant-Weighted Index (SBRQAM)]. Read article

...

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Market Shadows

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

Courtesy of Paul Price

Suppose you had the technical ability and raw materials to print up counterfeit dollars, euros or yen that were identical to the real things. Assume you could spend them as fast as you could create them with no fear of any repercussions.

Would you prudently print up only as much fresh currency as you needed for your current lifestyle? Would you create just a bit more than that to help relatives or those in need?

It is most likely you’d have your printing press running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Becoming the richest person in the world would confer great power upon you.

You could rationalize this action because you plan to use the money for good purposes. Imagine the warm feeling you’d get by giving every person in America one million do...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of January 26th, 2015

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Digital Currencies

Jitters After Bitcoin Exchange Suspends Services

So as I was saying yesterday (Bitcoin: The Biggest Clown Show In History?), Bitcoin has several obstacles on the path to potential success as an alternative currency. But I forgot to mention hacking and theft at Bitcoin exchanges and other technical problems. This is related to the lack of government backing and the fact that the value of Bitcoins is based entirely on confidence.  

Jitters After Bitcoin Exchange Suspends Services 

By 



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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

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...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

...

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Option Review

SPX Call Spread Eyes Fresh Record Highs By Year End

Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...



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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

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 jennifersurovy@yahoo.com 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.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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