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.
The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends is out today. The March update for February came in at 91.3, down 2.7 points from the previous month's 94.1, ending a three-month string of improvement. Today's headline number has slumped to the 12.1 percentile in this series. Since its initial recovery following its Great Recession trough, this index has been stuck in an extremely volatile range for the past three years. Since January of 2011, it has repeatedly bumped a ceiling around the 94.5 level and then retreated.
Silver is spiking this morning (up over 2.3%) by its most in almost a month as the losses suffered post-Putin's press-conference are now largely retraced. Gold has broken back above pre-Putin levels and is trading back above $1,350 (holding above its 1-year average). Bonds, stocks, and the USD are all relatively flat this morning leaving one wondering whether the catalyst for this move is related to the Ukraine-gold rumors although we noted Swiss 2Y rates dropping once again as safe-havens are bid.
The EPI had an interesting chart and comments in its report The Vast Majority of the 5.8 Million Missing Workers Are Under Age 55. Since the start of the Great Recession over six years ago, labor force participation has dropped significantly. Most of the drop—roughly three-quarters—was due to the lack of job opportunities in the Great Recession and its aftermath. There are now 5.8 million workers who are not in the labor force but who would be if job opportunities were strong.
It is possible that some of these missing workers who are at or near retirement age have given up hope of...
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals (OTC: BAYRY) and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an Amgen subsidiary (Nasdaq: AMGN), today announced that a Phase 3 trial evaluating the investigational use of NEXAVAR® (sorafenib) tablets as an adjuvant treatment for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver cancer, who had no detectable disease after surgical resection or local ablation, did not meet its primary endpoint of improving recurrence-free survival. The safety findings were consistent with the known profile of sorafenib. Data from this study will be submitted for presentation at an upcoming scientific congress.
"While the primary endpoint of this adjuvant trial was not met, Bayer and Onyx remain de...
Today was the beginning of “spring break” for the market. At least it seemed that way with a very low trading volume of only 600M shares on the NYSE. Either the college crowd does more trading than we imagined or parents are taking the week off as well.
The market barely woke up for the session with the S&P 500 down 0.05% and the NASDAQ down 0.03%. However, the DJI must have gotten extra sleep this weekend as it was up 0.21%. Small caps took a bigger hit with the Russell 2000 dropping nearly 0.50% percent. There was nothing major in the news other than a disappointing trading figure from China. Indeed, the whole week will only include a meager four major economic reports with Wholesale Inventories tomorrow, Retail Sales and Jobless Claims on Thursday, and Producer Price In...
The dramatic moves in fuel cell related stocks continues this week, with shares in Plug Power (Ticker: PLUG), FuelCell Energy (Ticker: FCEL) and Ballard Power Systems (Ticker: BLDP) beginning the trading week with explosive gains ahead of FuelCell Energy’s first-quarter earnings report after the closing bell, and following on the heels of a large order from Walmart for Plug Power, which the company confirmed in a press release on February 26th.
Shares in PLUG rose as much as 38% to touch $11.41 this afternoon, marking a near 150% move to the upside in the price of the underlying since Monday morning of last week when the stock opened at $4.60....
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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...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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