On the President’s first day in office on January 21, 2009, he issued an Open Government memo promising the American people a new era of transparency. On March 19, 2009, under the President’s orders, the Attorney General’s office issued detailed guidelines on how Federal agencies were to respond going forward to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The guidelines instructed the agencies as follows:
“The key frame of reference for this new mind set is the purpose behind the FOIA. The statute is designed to open agency activity to the light of day. As the Supreme Court has declared: ‘FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know what their Government is up to.’ NARA v. Favish, 541 U.S. 157, 171 (2004) (quoting U.S. Dep’t of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 773 (1989)…The President’s FOIA Memoranda directly links transparency with accountability which, in turn, is a requirement of a democracy. The President recognized the FOIA as ‘the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring open Government.’ Agency personnel, therefore, should keep the purpose of the FOIA — ensuring an open Government — foremost in their mind.”
It pains me to inform you, Mr. President, but the Treasury Department, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and Securities and Exchange Commission (the trio that has been variously distracted minting trillions in currency, trading cash for trash with Wall Street, surfing for porn, or mishandling multiple voluminous tips on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme) have misplaced your memo or, as many suspect, take their marching orders not from you but from Wall Street — perhaps because they perceive that this is where you take your orders too.
On October 6, 2010, I filed three FOIA requests with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). I had come by information that the official government report on the stock market’s “Flash Crash” of May 6, 2010 was materially wrong and I wanted to buttress my investigative report to the public with documents the SEC had obtained or compiled in conducting its investigation.
I followed the SEC’s FOIA instructions and emailed the requests to firstname.lastname@example.org as instructed by the web site, asking for a small amount of very…
In early March I turned quite bullish for the first time in 2009. My reasoning behind the bullishness was relatively simple. The market had overshot the mean to the downside and psychology was far too negative. This created a market that was like a loaded spring. All it needed was a catalyst. That catalyst came in the form of the M2M rumors. In other words, the government was going to directly intervene in the market and stop the bleeding. What resulted over the ensuing months was even larger than I ever could have expected.
At the end of March I began referring to the rally as the “government run rally”. Although the actual underlying fundamentals were not improving, the government had created a series of events and catalysts that forced the shorts out of positions and changed the psychology of the market:
The last of these well crafted maneuvers were the capital raises and the stress tests. This series of events created a foundation for a market bottom and helped form the most important portion of the current rally in stocks. It would sound conspiratorial if it weren’t entirely true. What has ensued since has confounded even the most veteran of traders. The market has continued higher in a nearly straight line.
There is no doubt that the economy has rebounded sharply from the days of ISM 35 and GDP -6%. The overshoot to the downside was extreme to say the least, but what is less clear is why the market has rallied an astounding 60% off its bottom and effectively priced in 20%+ earnings growth and 4% GDP going forward when the real underlying problems that caused this entire mess are still apparent. We have simply implemented the failed Bank of Japan policies of the 90’s combined with the failed bank policies of Maestro Greenspan – crank up the printing press, turn on the liquidity spigot, implement quantitative easing and let the banks earn their way out of their problems. It sounds great in theory, but Greenspan’s policies failed miserably as did the Bank of Japan’s. Neither approach proactively attacked the root of the problems. The results speak for themselves.
Mr. Bernanke has declared an end to the recession, but we continue to…
As Zero Hedge reported previously, Florida bank BankUnited was put on dodecatuple secret probation under a "prompt corrective action directive" on April 18th to find a buyer within 20 days or face imminent shutdown. 20 days came and went, and the bank is still standing "strong," unshutdown, and unpurchased. At first glance it would seem ultimatums by the Office of Thrift Supervision carry markedly less weight than those conveyed by the "three stooges" of the U.S. Treasury Dept, the Fed and the FDIC.
A Dow Jones article sheds some light on the lack of action in this soon to be receivership. Allegedly the three likely emerging bidders for BKUNA include some of the most usual suspects imaginable: one is a consortium of Toronto Dominion Bank and… Goldman Sachs, in which the split would be: branches and deposits go to TD, while GS gets to keep all the juicy distressed assets, that subsequently will experience a miraculous short squeeze and be sold at a "bargain" to investors at just over par (the last bit is some superfluous musing on the part of this author).
The second presumed bidder – no surprise there – it is perma-acquisitive JC Flowers. As to the latter it is unclear whether it is more shocking that the former PE legend has not learned his lesson with investing in "value" financial propositions, or that he still has any capital left at all to invest in the first place.
And the last group is the Keiser Soze of the lot – a triumvirate of Wilbur Ross, Blackstone and NY kickback scandal tainted Carlyle Group.
As the new bid deadline has been extended until next Tuesday, although it seems like that day will also come and go with no fireworks. Another propagating rumor is that neither of the bidders is inclined to see the economic green shoots or mustard seeds, and would rather have the bank be put into receivership first (read: GSE woodshedding approach) before any formal action is taken. While this is bad news for any existing equity holders in the "not too big to fail" Florida bank, receivership for the roughly $14 billion company will be fabulous news for any of the three potential bidders who, in a WaMuesque, FDIC-orchestrated…
Judicial Watch, which lucked out majorly on a FOIA request to the Treasury, has received several hundred pages of stunning revelations, among which are that Hank Paulson essentially used the same tactics that he used on Ken Lewis on a group of nine bankers at the October 13 meeting which apportioned government investments to the various "critical" banking institutions. The major disclosure was captured in a memo called CEO Talking Points, which delineates the continuous use of strongarming tactics by not just Paulson, but by Tim Geithner, and Sheila Bair, who were also present at the meetings. According to one of the Talking Points:
“If a capital infusion is not appealing, you should be aware that your regulator will require it in any circumstance. We don’t believe it is tenable to opt out because doing so would leave you vulnerable and exposed.”
Among the banking CEOs who were forced into a pre-envisioned arrangement were:
Ken Lewis (BofA)
Vik Pandit (Citi)
Lloyd Blankfein (GS)
Jamie Dimon (JPM)
John Thain (ML)
Robert Kelley (BONY)
Ronald Logue (SS)
John Mack (MS)
Richard Kovacevich (WFC)
Among the key disclosures obtained by Judicial Watch are:
"CEO Talking Points" used by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson confirming that the nine bank CEOs present at the October 13 meeting had no choice but to accede to the government’s demands for equity stakes and the resulting government control. The talking points emphasize that "if a capital infusion is not appealing, you should be aware your regulator will require it in any circumstance." Suggested edits of the "talking points" by Tim Geithner, then-New York Fed President, were withheld by the Obama Treasury Department.
Email documenting that, on the very day of the meeting, the Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary and other top Treasury staff did not know the names of any of the banks that would be in attendance.
Email showing Treasury officials wanted to use the Secret Service to help keep the press away from the CEOs arriving at the meeting.
Over the weekend, we mocked the WSJ for glorifying the US "wage recovery" by focusing on the "scarcity" of waiter and bartender jobs ("there is fierce competition" for restaurant workers the WSJ said), a concept well-explored on these pages: we have shown repeatedly that soaring number of waiters and bartenders have been the "backbone", so to say, of the US job recovery in recent years (alongside energy workers but th...
People in California complain their flooring is making them sick. The complaints have one source in common, Lumber Liquidators laminate flooring from China with toxic levels of Formaldehyde, up to 20 times the maximum amount in one test. US manufactured flooring does not have the same defects.
Summary: The Sentier Research monthly median household income data series is now available for January. The nominal median household income was down $49 month-over-month but up $1,672 year-over-year. That's a -0.1% MoM loss but a 3.2% YoY gain. Adjusted for inflation, the numbers were up $321 MoM and $1773 YoY. The real numbers equate to a 0.6% monthly increase and a 3.4% yearly increase, thanks to -0.68% MoM drop in the Consumer Price Index.
In real dollar terms, the median annual income is 4.6% lower ($2,600) than its interim high in January 2008 but well off its low in August 2011.
Background on Sentier Research
The traditional source of household income data is the Census Bureau, which publishes annual household income data in mid-September for ...
Despite low trading volume, a strong dollar, mixed economic and earnings reports, paralyzing weather conditions throughout much of the U.S., and ominous global news events, stocks continue to march ever higher. The world remains on edge about potential Black Swan events from the likes of Russia, Greece, or ISIS (or lone wolf extremists). Moreover, the economic recovery of the U.S. may be feeling the pull of the proverbial ball-and-chain from the rest of the world’s economies. Nevertheless, awash in investable cash, global investors see few choices better than U.S. equities.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then ...
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Chris Kimble's chart for KOL shows a recently beaten down ETF struggling to pull itself up from the ashes. As the chart shows, KOL has recently drifted down to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008-9.
Bouncing or recovering with energy in general, coal prices appear to have stabilized in the short-term. Reflecting coal prices, KOL has traded between $13.45 and $19.75 during the past year. Bouncing from lows, KOL traded around 2% higher yesterday from $14.26 to $14.48 on high volume. It traded another 3.6% higher in after hours to $15, possibly related to ...
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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...
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...
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.
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