by ilene - August 18th, 2010 10:49 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
OK now I have officially had enough with this settlement bullsh*t. The state of New Jersey is allowed to lie about pension funding and defraud investors, and isn’t even levied a penalty? That’s not a slap on the wrist, it’s a slap in all of our faces.
Basically all it means for NJ is that they can’t sell these crap bonds anymore. Way to regulate, you lazy, toothless **cks. Now what about the idiots who invested in this crap? Throw them on the pile with the rest of New Jersey’s creditors?
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the State of New Jersey of securities fraud on Wednesday for telling the bond markets that it was properly funding state workers’ pensions when it was not, The New York Times’s Mary Williams Walsh reports.
As a result, the S.E.C. said in a cease-and-desist order, investors bought more than $26 billion worth of New Jersey’s bonds, without understanding the severity of the state’s financial troubles. New Jersey, the S.E.C. said, has agreed to accept the order, without admitting or denying the finding. The agency did not impose a financial penalty.
Wednesday’s action was the first time the federal agency has accused a state with violating securities laws. The S.E.C.’s powers of enforcement against the states are tightly limited by states’-rights concerns and constitutional law, and it has standing to get involved only when there is a clear-cut case of fraud.
“The State of New Jersey didn’t give its municipal investors a fair shake, withholding and misrepresenting pertinent information about its financial situation,” Robert Khuzami, director of the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, said in a statement. The cease-and-desist order named only the State of New Jersey, and not the financial institutions that helped it issue the bonds. Its largest bond underwriters during the period in question include Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital.
Well who cares, even if they did name banks by name it’s not like they’d actually DO anything about it, right? Maybe they priced in a few million extra when they last settled with EACH of those banks for financial misdeeds.
Morgan Stanley On Why The US Will Not Be Japan, And Why Treasuries Are Extremely Rich (Yet Pitches A 6:1 Hedge In Case Of Error)
by ilene - August 8th, 2010 9:14 pm
Morgan Stanley On Why The US Will Not Be Japan, And Why Treasuries Are Extremely Rich (Yet Pitches A 6:1 Deflation Hedge)
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
We previously presented a piece by SocGen’s Albert Edwards that claimed that there is nothing now but to sit back, relax, and watch as the US becomes another Japan, as asset prices tumble, gripped by the vortex of relentless deflation. Sure enough, the one biggest bear on Treasuries for the past year, Morgan Stanley, is quick to come out with a piece titled: "Are We Turning Japanese, We Don’t Think So." Of course, with the 10 Year trading at the tightest level in years, the 2 Year at record tights, and the firm’s all out bet on curve steepening an outright disaster, the question of just how much credibility the firm has left with clients is debatable.
Below is Jim Caron’s brief overview of why Edwards and all those who see a deflationary tide sweeping the US are wrong. Yet, in what seems a first, Morgan Stanley presents two possible trades for those with access to the CMS and swaption market, in the very off case, that deflation does ultimately win.
Morgan Stanley’s rebuttal of the "Japan is coming" case:
There are many arguments that suggest the US is going the way of Japan, and while UST yield valuations may appear expensive, a regime shift has occurred and we should use the deflation experience of Japan as a guideline. We respect this point of view, and our colleagues in Japan provide some compelling charts.
In Exhibit 3 we show how the richening in the JGB 5y led to a significant flattening of the curve. Ultimately CPI turned negative and Japan did in fact move into a period of deflation. It makes sense for the 5y to outperform, as investors believed in a low rate and inflation regime for an extended period. Most money is managed 5 years and in, which thus makes the 5y point so attractive in low rate regimes because it represents the greatest opportunity for money managers to own duration, yield and return. The same is happening in the US as the 5y point is richening extensively as investors seem to be surrendering to a low rate and low return environment. But this may be premature.
Note that it took ~2-years before the
by ilene - June 28th, 2010 5:17 pm
The Financial Reform Bill, which I’ve nicknamed The Let’s Not Allow Our Largest Donors To Embarrass Us Again Act of 2010, is not a total failure, but it fails miserably to address perhaps the worst part of the crisis - Too Big To Fail.
The bill doesn’t really address the Hexopoly of Too Big To Fail Banks. I’m also calling theseThe Systemic Six.
The big six banks (Goldie, Morgan, JP, B of A, Wells and Citi) will be limited in their hedge fund investments and trading activity, but not very limited. The interconnectedness, however, is unchanged, and this is the very crux of the matter.
Citi was saved to prevent it from dragging Wells down, Wachovia, Merrill, Morgan were all "assisted" to prevent Goldman and JPMorgan Chase from going down, and on and on. We were told that the dominoes were already falling after Lehman and so emergency measures (bailouts) were necessary.
And for arguments sake, let’s say this was true at the time or was the best option to prevent the Depression. OK, fine. But so why doesn’t the new legislation address that and seek a change for the fact that these six banks (and others) can cause such a massive chain reaction? It’s a shocking gap in the provisions of the bill.
And don’t even get me started on the Fannie and Freddie omission (consider those cans kicked down the road). If Finance Reform were a wedding, Fannie and Freddie would be placed at the farthest table from the action, over by the kitchen doors like the ugly cousins of the banks that they truly are.
Oh well, maybe we’ll get it right after the next economic evisceration. For now, The Hexopoly orThe Systemic Six are here to stay.
by ilene - June 22nd, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Andy Kessler
Even a win in the World Cup soccer tournament won’t save Europe. Nor will the G-20 meeting in Toronto this week. With Grecian urns, Irish eyes, Spanish flies, and Portuguese waterdogs all up to their eyeballs in debt, it’s only a matter of time before the whole venture implodes. Even after an almost trillion dollar bailout across Europe, Moody’s Investors Service last week downgraded Greece’s debt from A3 to Ba1--junk bonds.
We’ve seen this movie before—in 2008, when it was banks, not countries, reeling out of economic control. Once you recognize this pattern—desperate nations behaving just as the desperate banks did—the next 12 months of news will all make sense. Here is a handy guide.
Greece is clearly Bear Stearns. They’ve taken on too much debt, used derivatives created by Goldman Sachs to put off payment well into the future, and aren’t generating enough tax revenue to pay for their bloated expenses. The cost of Greece’s debt financing is skyrocketing, now 8 percent higher than the benchmark German bund. Either Athens defaults, causing more firebombs to be tossed and even larger riots in the streets, or the European Union arranges a takeover by deep-pocketed Germany.
Germany is the JP Morgan of this story. It will provide a lowball 200 billion Euros to Greece and then end up paying 1000 billion, reminiscent of JP Morgan offering $2 and then paying $10 for Bear Stearns. Now wait a second, I can hear you complain, countries can’t merge like companies.
Of course they can, it happens all the time—though usually when tanks roll. Ask Poland. Or Hungary. In this case, Germany won’t legally own Greece, but in reality, it will absolutely be in charge of fixing Greece’s mess. My sense is the Germans will be quite good at tax collection and not so strong at dismantling the welfare state. But Greek debt will be resolved and maybe the Euro will even rally.
But it won’t be over quite yet. That’s because sadly, Spain is Lehman Brothers. With 22 percent unemployment, and loaded with debt and deteriorating real estate prices, who is going to save it? Tongues will wag that defaulting on debts will teach a lesson to countries that live beyond their means. As a huge exporter,…
by ilene - May 14th, 2010 2:08 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
- Everyone is making a big fuss over the fact that four U.S. banks went 61 days in a row without any losses. Well, the better question in this environment is how did any bank manage to not make a profit on all 61 days? These big banks are borrowing from the Fed for nothing and can effectively sell low risk bonds back to the government for a 3%+ annualized gain. This is a no-brainer when it comes to making money. If you’re a big bank you’re just laddering into a massive fixed income portfolio without almost no risk. The confusion or misrepresentations made by many regarding this “phenomenal performance” is that these firms are just sitting around “trading” the Nasdaq 100 like Joe Schmo does at home. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. These firms make most of their “trading” revenues by playing market maker or “trading” in these low risk fixed income markets. They’re essentially just pairing buyers and sellers and scraping a fee off inbeteween. Yes, there are other higher risk portions of their portfolios, but for the most part these firms are just vacuuming money up from off the NYSE floor at every twist and turn. It should shock no one that the big banks are making profits. A better question for the Morgan Stanley’s and Goldman Sachs’s of the world might be why they still have their bank holding company status? Allowing these firms to borrow from the Fed at 0% is a slap in the face to every other hard working financial firm.
- Bondsquawk pointed out this morning that the LIBOR OIS spread continues to widen. According to Prospects Daily:
“Dollar money-market rates to highest levels since August. The cost of inter-bank borrowing for three-month dollar funds increased to the highest level in almost nine months, as the IMF/EU’s $1 trillion financial plan for Europe failed to boost confidence sufficiently in commercial banks to step up their lending. The three-month London interbank offered rate, or LIBOR, for dollar funds increased to 0.43% this morning from 0.423% yesterday, the most since August 17, according to the British Bankers’ Association. Meanwhile, the three-month rate for euro, or EURIBOR, fell to 0.624% today from 0.628% yesterday, after soaring to 0.634% last week. Notably, EURIBOR established fresh lows each trading day over January 2010 to date. The
JPMorgan Joins “Perfect 10″ Club With Flawless Trading Quarter, Morgan Stanley Loses Money On Just 4 Days
by ilene - May 11th, 2010 4:25 pm
JPMorgan Joins "Perfect 10" Club With Flawless Trading Quarter, Morgan Stanley Loses Money On Just 4 Days
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
Yesterday we discussed the statistically impossible trading desk results of Goldman Sachs, which reported in its 10Q that it lost money on exactly 0 days last quarter, and was profitable on 63 out of 63 days. Today we find that the rape and pillage of the middle class was not isolated to Goldman, and that JP Morgan also had a flawless quarter. And if the odds of Goldman making 63 out of 63 are virtually impossible in any universe in which risk goes hand in hand with return (but in those in which monopolies are encouraged and bailed out), the coincidence of the two main firms that control the world having a perfect track record is impossible2. And since things in reality tend to be zero sum, when everyone makes money, someone may be tempted to ask the question, just who is losing money? And the answer, dear taxpayers, and [Goldman|JPMorgan] clients, is you.
On this background, the performance by Morgan Stanley in which the firm disclosed a massive 4 loss days (granted in the smallest possible bucket), is downright pathetic. If MS, unlike GS and JPM, is unable to rape and pillage the middle class and its clients with impunity, it surely deserves to not be bailed out the next time the market implodes.
And going down the investment bank foodchain we end up with Jefferies, whose trading performance this quarter was deplorable not only compared to the above mentioned fine examples of perfection, but its own performance in Q1 2009.
And for those who want to laugh long and hard, here is the simply hilarious defense that Goldman’s Gary Cohn came up with to defend his firm’s prop trading monopolistic bonanza. Via Bloomberg:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s infrequent sales and trading losses are evidence that the division doesn’t depend on proprietary trading to generate revenue, President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn said.
“There is often speculation that proprietary trading revenues drive our outperformance in these businesses,” Cohn said today at a financial services conference hosted by UBS
by ilene - April 23rd, 2010 11:34 pm
Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
Mr. Obama’s speech at the Cooper Union today was remarkably unsatisfying. It seemed to be given from weakness, and almost obsequious as the American President politely asked his largest campaign contributors to please stop flouting the law, defrauding the people and their customers, and spending millions per day lobbying the Congress to buy changes in the reform legislation to provide them with the ‘right regulators’ of their choice and convenient loopholes to render it ineffective.
The reform making its way through the Congress is unlikely to be effective given the process in place, despite the political kabuki dancebeing conducted by the Congress and the Banks.
The solution is to put simple and effective regulations in the hand of stronger, independent, ad highly capable regulators to bear on the financial services industry, and to understand that the regulations must evolve with a dynamicly evolving business. The idea that you can erect some impregnable and unchanging Maginot line against bank fraud is laughable, a farce.
As William K. Black disclosed in his testimony the other day, the regulators always had the power to shut down the frauds, and to resolve the financial crisis without having to give away billions. They lacked the will, and the motivation.
You want to wipe that smirk off Lloyd Blankfein’s face? Nominate Eliot Spitzer or Elizabeth Warren to be the head of the SEC, or the CFTC, and provide them with a adequate budget and a staff of financial experts and a few experienced prosectors.
Even with strong regulations, unless you have capable and motivated regulators, there are always ways to evade the rules, especially if they are complex and provide exceptions. The simpler they are, the stronger the regulations will be, provided they are flexible enough to be amended and expanded efficiently to match the changing and dynamic nature of the industry that they are overseeing.
This is not that difficult, and these jokers are not that smart, although part of their con is to paint themselves as the smartest, the best, and practically unstoppable.
The root of the US financial crisis is always and everywhere regulatory capture, political cronyism, and fraud. It really is that simple.
by ilene - April 9th, 2010 12:27 pm
Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
This analysis from the Wall Street Journal indicates that most of the big US Banks are engaging in the same kind of repo accounting at the end of the quarter that Lehman Brothers was doing to hide their financial instability until deteriorating credit conditions and liquidity problems made them precipitously collapse, as all ponzi schemes and financial frauds do when the truth becomes known.
The basic exercise is to hold big leverage and dodgy debt, but swap it off your books with the Fed at the end of each quarter for a short period of time when you have to report your holdings.
This could easily be corrected by requiring banks to report four week averages of their holdings for example, rather than a snapshot when they can hide their true risk profiles so easily, compliments of that protector of consumers and investors, the Fed.
This is nothing new to us. Many of us have noted this sort of accounting trickery and market manipulation at key events especially at end of quarter.
It is facilitated by the Federal Reserve, and FASB, and the agencies.
"Their Fraud doth rarely falter, and is subsidized, instead,
for none dare call it bank fraud, if it’s sanctioned by the Fed."
(apologies to Ovid)
The US is Lehman Brothers on a scale writ large. And when it is exposed by some series of events, the implosion could be more sudden than any can imagine. But in the meantime the US is still the ‘superpower’ of the world’s financial system, through its currency, its banks, and its ratings agencies.
Quarter-End Loan Figures Sit 42% Below Peak, Then Rise as New Period Progresses; SEC Review
Major banks have masked their risk levels in the past five quarters by temporarily lowering their debt just before reporting it to the public, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A group of 18 banks—which includes Goldman Sachs
by ilene - April 1st, 2010 1:25 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
The ECRI has been adamant that the decline in the growth rate of their Weekly Leading Indicator will not result in a double dip (see here for more). They say the year over year growth is simply coming off of record highs as opposed to signaling a significant slow-down. But the slow-down in growth rate in recent weeks could have different implications for equity investors. Recent research from Morgan Stanley found that the decline in leading indicators is one more notch in the case against higher stock prices (see here for the full report).
Based on the study, which goes back over 30 years, the equity markets are down 80% of the time 6 months after a peak in the WLI growth rate. Taking a longer perspective, however, the ECRI is likely correct in their optimistic outlook. 12 months following a peak the equity markets have been generally higher. According to this the bull market might well be intact, but near-term risks remain:
by ilene - March 17th, 2010 5:19 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
It wasn’t easy to find in this sea of bulls, but there is actually a bank out there that is not full-blown bullish following the huge rally of the last month. Morgan
Morgan Stanley says these two risks could overshadow the market in the coming weeks as investors adjust their portfolios to account for the large discrepancy between bulls/bears and risk assets versus lower risk assets. According to Morgan Stanley the put/call ratio represents overly bullish sentiment levels that are historically followed by sell-offs. In addition, the sign of excessive risk can be best seen in the run-up in the small cap vs. large cap ratio. Risk assets, represented by the Russell here, have surged to their highest ratio in terms of large caps in the last 12 months:
Source: Morgan Stanley