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 Asian session had set up for big losses, but markets were able to defend against such losses even if finishing with a lower close.
The S&P tagged the January low, but it's hard to see it holding out if there's another challenge on 1,810.
The Nasdaq was able to register a higher close (although below the prior day's close). It probably did enough to negate what is normally a bearish black candlestick, but bulls won't have any confidence until the bearish channel is broken.
1) Phil gives his outlook for U.S. markets and the US economic economy. Canada may be heading into a recession because the energy is sector dead for years, at least, but the U.S. economy is slowly improving. What is the basis of Phil's 5% rule? Watch the video.
2) Phil explains why oil demand is falling globally and what the implications are for energy-rich economies like Canada. Hint: The TSX (Canada's oil weighted index) is not going to recover. Oil is not going to recover. Oil's not a thing anymore - like wagon wheels. This is why the Saudis aren't holding back on selling their oil. Canada is due for some painful adjustments.
3) Natural gas - Phil gives the details of his option...
MRC Global Inc. (NYSE: MRC) announced Wednesday, that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its U.S. OCTG business to Sooner Pipe, LLC, a subsidiary of Marubeni-Itochu Tubulars America, Inc., for $48 million, subject to certain adjustments. MRC Global's U.S. OCTG sales were approximately $305 million in 2015. As a result of the expected sale, a pre-tax charge of approximately $5.0 million is expected to be recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions.
Andrew R. Lane, MRC Global's chairman, president and chief executive officer, stated, "The divestiture of our OCTG product line is the culmination of our strategy to reduce our exposure to upstream drilling volatility and to foc...
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Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
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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