In the world of finance theory, a credible suggestion that you are being forced to raise cash at exorbitant rates or are internally valuing your assets sharply below where the market appears to value them is traditionally a death sentence for your share price. The reasons for this are straight forward enough: Investors hate desperation but not as much as they hate making an asset play and being wrong on the value of the assets.
Then there is InterOil.
A Cairns, Australia- and Houston, Tx-based oil and gas producer that has been touting in one form or another a potentially epic find in the wilds of Papua New Guinea for more than a decade now, it recently raised cash at exorbitant rates and appears to be internally valuing its assets way below what the market appears to think they are worth.
The story is none too complicated: InterOil, a company whose shares are seemingly made of titanium, is paying rates for cash that only credit cards aimed at those with bad credit can obtain. Better still, the person pulling InterOil’s eyeballs out is its long-time sponsor and key investor, Clarion Finanz AG and its controversial chief, CarloCivelli.
[Civelli’s record as a broker, investor and promoter of a series of often troubled energy enterprises drives skeptics somewhere north of berserk. He and InterOil have loudly proclaimed that he is little more than an investor and advisor, although the power dynamics of this picture would seem to indicate otherwise. When having your company feted at the NYSE, it is customary to have the CEO or the company’s founder/guiding spirit ring the bell at the opening. Civelli, in the picture, is the one reaching over to ring the opening bell.]
To call InterOil a battleground stock is to be droll. The dispute over the proper level of its valuation and prospects in every sense of the word is analogous to the sanguinary trench combat of the First World War’s Western Front. Short-sellers, critics and investigative reporters raise more and more questions about management disclosures and candor but the stock continues to enjoy robust support. To follow through on…
China’s property bubble is now on the verge of collapse. Transaction volumes are significantly down and declining volume is how property bubbles always burst. In simple terms, the pool of greater fools eventually runs out.
In China’s case, the pool of fools is heavily involved in "loan shark" schemes where speculators hope property values rise fast enough to cover the interest.
In this article we will show how the ponzi shark loan scheme works and why we think the regime in China will fall. Our research is based on sources INSIDE CHINA
This is how this Ponzi scheme works:
Local officials, [required by] the government to produce double digit GDP growth numbers, give real estate developers permits to build housing projects in return for bribes. They also get bribes in return for allowing the shark loan companies to operate under their jurisdiction. Some of them are active partners in shark loan businesses. Every scheme has a ring leader whose job is to collect money from all the participants in the Ponzi scheme. When some of these Ponzi schemes blow up, the party leaders always get bailed out first.
Most of the funds that are collected in this classic Ponzi finance go to local land purchases and real estate development. Part of the funds are used in order to pay back the rolling loan. The short term interest rate in this black market is very high and ranges between 20%-150% annual rate. The sources of the Ponzi funds are diverse, as ordinary citizens, banks with corrupted bank officials, and state enterprises play the game.
A reader wrote to us this email two weeks ago, which triggered our in depth research:
“My hometown is Zhejiang, now I live in shanghai, my sister pledged her home to bank, she lived in Hangzhou, she bought her home around 500,0000rmb five years ago, now her home worth 2 million RMB, so she can get huge loan from bank, she gave this loan to a shark loan company with 30% return every year, she has been doing and living on this for 4 years, she is a middle school
Barry Ritholtz and Dean Baker discuss a concept I’ve advanced – effectively Fannie and Freddie (or as we call them around here, FanFredron) are being run for loss to create a false housing economy via subsidization. They do put forth an additional point that I have not harped on as much: one added benefit of this ‘policy’ is our financial oligarchs win…. again.
If we ever do get back to a world where the private sector is truly a part of financing the housing market it is going to be mighty interesting to see what true mortgage rates will settle at, now that ‘strategic default’ is part of the American lexicon. The higher risks involved will create an increase in costs to every future mortgage due to this exciting new fad. But with government now supporting some 95%+ of all financing this is an issue that won’t face us for many years. Thankfully the government does not price in any risk and gleefully backs mortgages of almost any kind (still). Until some far in the future reform date, more below market rates offered by the 2 institutions that can gladly lose money forever – ponzi style.
(Amazing fact I heard the other day, Fannie Mae has lost more money the past 2 years than it made the previous 30 years. Chew on that for a moment before you move onto the next paragraph. Thankfully there is no such thing as a clawback in corporate America.)
First, Let’s Kill the Angels
Equal Choice, Equal Access, Equal Opportunity
Some Quick Thoughts on Goldman
La Jolla and Dallas
When you draft a 1,300-page "financial reform" bill, various special interests get language tucked into the bill to help their agendas. However, the unintended consequences can be devastating. And the financial reform bill has more than a few such items. Today, we look briefly at a few innocent paragraphs that could simply kill the job-creation engine of the US. I know that a few Congressmen and even more staffers read my letter, so I hope that someone can fix this.The Wall Street Journal today noted that the bill, while flawed, keeps getting better with each revision. Let’s hope that’s the case here.
Then I’ll comment on the Goldman Sachs indictment. As we all know, there is never just one cockroach. This could be a much bigger story, and understanding some of the details may help you. As an aside, I was writing in late 2006 about the very Collateralized Debt Obligations that are now front and center. There is both more and less to the story than has come out so far. And I’ll speculate about how all this could have happened. Let’s jump right in.
First, Let’s Kill the Angels
I wrote about the Dodd bill and its problems last week. But a new problem has surfaced that has major implications for the US economy and our ability to grow it. For all intents and purposes, the bill will utterly devastate angel investing in the US. And as we will see, that is not hyperbole. For a Congress and administration that purports to be all about jobs, this section of the bill makes less than no sense. It is a job and innovation killer of the first order.
First, let’s look at a very important part of the US economic machine, the angel investing network. An angel investor, or angel (also known as a business angel or informal investor) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital.
Angels typically invest their own funds, unlike venture capitalists, who manage the…
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 email@example.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.
The ruble and other currencies do not compete against the dollar. They are dollar derivatives.
The dollar is headed to ruin, but that doesn’t mean that any other paper currency can replace it. The others will fail first.
The dollar will fail last.
The failure of the dollar, and the transition to gold happens to be the theme of an event The Gold Standard: Both Good and Necessary, in New York on Nov 1. There hasn’t been a real recovery from the crisis of 2008, and there won’t be until we return to the use of g...
Sellers were going to make an appearance at some point and today was the day they paid a visit. Whether a larger pullback emerges will depend on events over the coming days, but today's selling did emerge at some natural attack points for shorts.
The S&P finished with a 'bearish cloud cover,' but it did manage to hold declining resistance turned support, and the 20-day MA has entered the fray as an area for bears to work. But this wasn't the most bearish of the indices, and today's finish actually gives bulls a long play tomorrow (for a bounce off support). Technicals also suggest a bounce.
While the S&P may give bulls something tomorrow, th...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
When forecasting investment returns, many individuals make the mistake of simply extrapolating recent returns into the future. Bull markets lead investors to expect higher future returns, and bear markets lead them to expected lower future returns. But the price you pay for an asset also has a great impact on future returns. Consider the following evidence:
The average historical P/E ratio for the market has been around 15. A study covering the period from 1926 through the second quarter of 1999 found that an investor buying stocks when the market traded at P/E ratios of between 14 and 16 e...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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What do falling energy prices mean for the US consumer? Sober Look writes a brief yet thorough overview of the consequences of the correction in the price of crude oil. There are good aspects, particularly for the consumer, bad aspects, and out-right ugly possibilities. For more on this subject, read James Hamilton's How will Saudi Arabia respond to lower oil prices? In previous eras, Saudi Arabia would tighten the supply to help increase prices, but in this "game of chicken," the rules m...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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