Posts Tagged ‘ratings agencies’

The Silver Curtain

The Silver Curtain

Courtesy of Marla Singer, Zero Hedge 

On the 5th of March in 1946, in Fulton Missouri, at Westminster College, Winston Churchill delivered an address (since christened the "Sinews of Peace") lamenting the burgeoning power and influence being slowly but surely gathered up by the Soviet Union.  Perhaps the address will be familiar to some of you owing to its most famous passage:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone — Greece with its immortal glories — is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation.

Ironic, as I will address, that he should mention Greece.

Much less well known perhaps is this later passage:

Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement. What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.1

The "Iron Curtain" came, of course, to signify the cavernous ideological, and eventually concretely physical, divide between East and West.  It took some 43 years before it was lifted once more, first and haltingly, in the form of the removal of Hungary’s border fence in mid-1989 and then, of course, finally via the fall of the Berlin Wall in November that same year.

Not to be compared with a production of Italian Opera, the Iron Curtain did not describe a sudden, smooth, abrupt descent over the stages of Eastern Europe.  Quite the contrary, its drop was in stutters of discrete, fractional lowerings, such that it was a full fifteen years after Churchill used the term before its ultimate expression, the Berlin Wall, was finally…
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Is That A Cop Investigating Big Banks?

Is That A Cop Investigating Big Banks?

Thinkstock Single Image Set

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker 

If so, it’s about damn time…

May 13 (Bloomberg) — U.S. prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are cooperating in a preliminary criminal probe into whether banks misled investors about their participation in mortgage-bond deals, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The list is a who’s who of the big banks.  JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Citigroup, Goldman, Morgan Stanley. 

All in all eight banks are being scrutinized by both the toothless SEC but more-importantly Andrew Cuomo, who wields a fairly nasty set of powers through NY’s Martin Act.

Cuomo is investigating whether Goldman, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Credit Agricole SA, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch misled rating companies to obtain higher ratings, the New York Times said. Cuomo issued subpoenas on Wednesday, the newspaper reported.

Hmmmm… now that’s a good sign. 

We know from the public data flow, including testimony before the Congress, that firms did use their knowledge of rating agency models to "tailor" submissions. Whether this rises to the level of intentional deception for the purpose of gaming the system remains to be determined, but that this sort of thing happened isn’t conjecture – it’s admitted fact.

"Changes to prevent it from happening again" are insufficient.  Those who were defrauded, if they indeed were, are entitled not only to recompense but to criminal sanction against wrong-doers as a means of dissuading firms and individuals from doing it again.

I’ll believe this is real when I see handcuffs come out. 


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The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain (folks)

The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain (folks)

Courtesy of Joshua M. Brown, The Reformed Broker  

How backwards does a modern nation have to be for a 20% unemployment number to be even remotely tolerable?

I’m always fascinated with democracies that choose to embrace a form of quasi-communism after watching every single one of these experiments toppled – from Russia to Latin America to Asia.

When will they learn?  22% unemployment?  25%?  30%?  Must the people be boiling and eating shoe leather before the marxist regime is finally dismantled?

In Spain’s case, apparently.

The timing of the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombing couldn’t have been worse…3 days later, a nationwide legislative election was held in which the Socialist Party, under current Prime Minister Zapatero, pulled off a major upset.  The socialists carried the vote as cowardly citizens ran from the previous ruling party which had been tough on terror, essentially performing the script that the Islamo-Fascists had written for them.

Immediately following the election, Zapatero let the populace of Spain know that there would be no coalition government, that the Socialist Party would be using its perceived mandate to take the country hard-left.

The trouble with this large-scale adoption of big government was that it began just prior to a meltdown.  Within just a few years, the global real estate bubble began its descent into hell.  The Spanish had gorged on mortgages and buildings with the best of us, levering up to a median…
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Market Manipulation, Systemic Risk and Fraud, Pure and Simple, And It Continues Today

Market Manipulation, Systemic Risk and Fraud, Pure and Simple, And It Continues Today

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

This article by the Financial Times should remove any doubt in anyone’s mind that Goldman Sachs was willfully selling fraudulent financial instruments. It appears that they were working in conjunction with Ratings Agencies, Mortgage Origination Firms, and Hedge Funds to cheat investors.

"Cheat" means to circumvent or distort the normal price discovery process through misrepresentation, price manipulation, and omissions and distortion of key data.

Carl Levin summarized the situation in his opening statement this morning in tying together various Congressional hearings and investigations into aspects of the recent financial crisis and the underlying frauds. It sounds remarkably like the frauds that Enron had so recently inflicted on the American public.

In particular, Congressman Levin gave a good description of the key role that derivatives played in this control fraud.

"Of special concern was Goldman’s marketing of what are known as “synthetic” financial instruments. Ordinarily, the financial risk in a market, and hence the risk to the economy at large, is limited because the assets traded are finite. There are only so many houses, mortgages, shares of stock, bushels of corn or barrels of oil in which to invest.

But a synthetic instrument has no real assets. It is simply a bet on the performance of the assets it references. That means the number of synthetic instruments is limitless, and so is the risk they present to the economy. Synthetic structures referencing high-risk mortgages garnered hefty fees for Goldman Sachs and other investment banks. They assumed an ever-larger share of the financial markets, and contributed greatly to the severity of the crisis by magnifying the amount of risk in the system.

Increasingly, synthetics became bets made by people who had no interest in the referenced assets. Synthetics became the chips in a giant casino, one that created no economic growth even when it thrived, and then helped throttle the economy when the casino collapsed."

This is also a good description of the basis of the emerging scandal in the silver market, and other commodity markets such as those that Enron manipulated, in which synthetic bets are being used to manipulate price, and improbable sales are being misrepresented under the cover of secrecy and opaque markets as…
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Most Wall Street Banks Using Lehman Style Accounting Trickery Enabled by the Fed to Hide Their Risk

Most Wall Street Banks Using Lehman Style Accounting Trickery Enabled by the Fed to Hide Their Risk

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.

WSJ
Big Banks Mask Risk Levels
By KATE KELLY, TOM MCGINTY and DAN FITZPATRICK
April 9, 2010

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


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ValueWalk

Turkmenistan: With Money In Short Supply, Cash-Free Seen As Answer

By EurasiaNet. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Turkmenistan has a plan to fix its ever-troubled domestic currency, the manat – and that plan is to dispense with cash as much as possible.

The desire to go cash-free is being spun as a nod to economic modernization, although all available evidence points to the move being motivated by a stubborn liquidity crisis that shows no sign of abating.

Etereuti / PixabayTurkmenistan

At a regular end-of-week government meeting, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on March 24 listened to one of his deputy prime ministers provide an update on planned improvements to the banking system.

Byashimmyrat Hojamammedov, the Cabinet’s point-man...



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Zero Hedge

Artist's Impression Of GOP Obamacare Repeal Negotiations

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Mis-stakes were made...

Source: MichaelPRamirez.com

...

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Phil's Favorites

Investors Underperforming Their Own Investments

 

Investors Underperforming Their Own Investments

Courtesy of 

If a financial advisor could just accomplish one thing for clients – help them capture more of the returns that their own investments offer, then he or she has done something extremely worthy and valuable. This requires difficult work though: It’s easier to promise a client that they’ll be able to avoid drawdowns than it is to convince a client why they must learn to tolerate them. Every advisor’s client yearns to be able to say “My guy got me out” at the country club.

Steve Russolillo looks at the well-known phenomenon in which investors systematically underperform ...



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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

These Charts Show Alarm Bells Ringing on the Trump Trade (Bloomberg)

Investors on Monday further unwound trades initiated in November resting on the idea that the election of Donald Trump and a Republican Congress meant smooth passage of an agenda that featured business-friendly tax cuts and regulatory changes.

U.S. equity futures at six-week low after Trump healthcare setback (Reuters)

U.S. equity index futures fell to a six-week low on Sunday in a sign Wall Street would start the week defensively after Republicans pulled legislation to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system in a...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of March 27th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stocks and Bonds; Critical change of direction in play?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Since the summer of 2016, stocks have done very well and bonds have been thumped, as rates have risen sharply. Is it time for these trends to take a break? Below compares the performance of the S&P 500, with the popular bond ETF TLT over the past 9-months.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

The performance spread between stocks and bonds over the past 9-months is a big one! Rare to see the spread between the two...



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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Mar 26, 2017

Courtesy of Blain.

Tuesday’s long overdue >1% selloff in the S&P 500 broke a very long and rare streak in the S&P 500.   The S&P 500?s streak without a 1% down day was the longest since May 18, 1995!  A marginal close lower Monday was followed by a 1.2% drop Tuesday (the NASDAQ fell 1.8% that day).

“I think that investors are kind of starting to discount the likelihood of the immediacy of [President Donald Trump’s] policies and the enthusiasm has come off the boil as a lot of his policies got mired in the legislative process,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. “Investors are not throwing in the towel but they are resetting their expectations.”

According to Bespoke, there have been only 11 instances since 1928 where the S&P 500...



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Members' Corner

More Natterings

Courtesy of The Nattering Naybob

[Click on the titles for the full articles.]

A Quick $20 Trick?

Summary

Discussion, critique and analysis of the potential impacts on equity, bond, commodity, capital and asset markets regarding the following:

  • Last time out, Sinbad The Sailor, QuickLogic.
  • GlobalFoundries, Jha, Smartron and cricket.
  • Quick money, fungible, demographics, QUIK focus.

Last Time Out

Monetary policy is just one form of policy that effects capital,...



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Tumbles Below Gold As China Tightens Regulations

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Having rebounded rapidly from the ETF-decision disappointment, Bitcoin suffered another major setback overnight as Chinese regulators are circulating new guidelines that, if enacted, would require exchanges to verify the identity of clients and adhere to banking regulations.

A New York startup called Chainalysis estimated that roughly $2 billion of bitcoin moved out of China in 2016.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the move to regulate bitcoin exchanges brings assurance that Chinese authorities will tolerate some level of trading, after months of uncertainty. A draft of the guidelines also indicates th...



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Mapping The Market

Congress begins rolling back Obama's broadband privacy rules

Courtesy of Jean Luc

I am trying to remember who on this board said that people wanted to Trump because they want their freedom back. Well….

Congress begins rolling back Obama's broadband privacy rules

By Daniel Cooper, Endgadget

ISPs will soon be able to sell your most private data without your consent.

As expected, Republicans in Congress have begun the process of rolling back the FCC's broadband privacy rules which prevent excessive surveillance. Arizona Republican Jeff Flake introduced a resolution to scrub the rules, using Congress' powers to invalidate recently-approved federal regulations. Reuters reports that the move has broad support, with 34 other names throwing their weight behind the res...



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Promotions

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Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

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Biotech

The Medicines Company: Insider Buying

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

I'm seeing huge insider buying in the biotech company The Medicines Company (MDCO). The price has already moved up around 7%, but these buys are significant, in the millions of dollars range. ~ Ilene

 

 

 

Insider transaction table and buying vs. selling graphic above from insidercow.com.

Chart below from Yahoo.com

...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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