Archive for 2009

The Biggest Rip Off Ever?

The Perils of Securitization

The Biggest Rip Off Ever?

By MIKE WHITNEY at CounterPunch 

Is it possible to make hundreds of billions of dollars in profits on securities that are backed by nothing more than cyber-entries into a loan book?

It’s not only possible; it’s been done. And now the scoundrels who cashed in on the swindle have lined up outside the Federal Reserve building to trade their garbage paper for billions of dollars of taxpayer-funded loans. Meanwhile, the credit bust has left the financial system in a shambles and driven the economy into the ground like a tent stake. The unemployment lines are growing longer and consumers are cutting back on everything from nights-on-the-town to trips to the grocery store. And it’s all due to a Ponzi-finance scam that was concocted on Wall Street and spread through the global system like an aggressive strain of flu. This isn’t a normal recession; the financial system was blown up by greedy bankers who used "financial innovation" game the system and inflate the biggest speculative bubble of all time. And they did it all legally, using a little-known process called securitization.     

Securitization--which is the conversion of pools of loans into securities that are sold in the secondary market--provides a means for massive debt-leveraging. The banks use off-balance sheet operations to create securities so they can avoid normal reserve requirements and bothersome regulatory oversight. Oddly enough, the quality of the loan makes no difference at all, since the banks make their money on loan originations and other related fees. What matters is quantity, quantity, quantity; an industrial-scale assembly line of fetid loans dumped on unsuspecting investors to fatten the bottom line. And, boy, can Wall Street grind out the rotten paper when there’s no cop on the beat and the Fed is cheering from the bleachers. In an analysis written by economist Gary Gorton for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2009 Financial Markets Conference titled, "Slapped in the Face by the Invisible Hand; Banking and the Panic of 2007", the author shows that mortgage-related securities ballooned from $492.6 billion in 1996 to $3,071.1 in 2003, while asset backed securities (ABS) jumped from $168.4 billion in 1996 to $1,253.1 in 2006. All told, more than $20 trillion in securitized debt was sold between 1997 to 2007. How much of that debt will turn out to be worthless as foreclosures skyrocket and the
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Sunday Readings

Interesting interview with Justice Antonin Scalia (below).  Click here for a free subscription to PSW Report, it’s really easy and you’ll have immediate access to all the articles. – Ilene

Tyler Durden’s Sunday Readings

  • Gordon Brown repeats vow not to go away (Telegraph)
  • Airline execs say industry outlook still grim (Reuters)
  • Extreme dumb money bullish sentiment (Technical Take)
  • Blackrock set to become largest quant fund in the world (Telegraph)
  • Monetizing debt: The grandest of larcenies (Daily Reckoning)
  • Evans-Pritchard: Merkel’s inflationary fretting may wake the bears from hibernation (Telegraph)
  • Bankruptcy filings rise to 6,000 a day (USA Today)
  • Daniel Gross: The bond war – Krugman vs Ferguson (Slate)
  • Roundup of (un)employment charts (Big Picture)
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: "The US Constitution is dead" (Fora)
  • Eli Broad’s remedy for the auto industry (Fora)

Chartology

Big thanks to Gayle and Sherrie for their donations and support.

 


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The way of a trader

The way of a trader

Courtesy of Allan

The focus here is on the bigger picture, although eventually this post will drill down to some more tradable analysis. For starters, lets look at a time frame I have seldom or ever posted before, a monthly view of the SPX:


During the past 15 years, we see two major up moves and two major down moves. Despite the rally of the past three months, the chart shows prices still mired in the most recent down move. Observe the angles of the four major directional moves, one should stand out, the most recent down move. It is by far the steepest of them all. What do you think this means?

The chart above is again a monthly chart, this time with Fibonacci retracements. Notice how prices have just now reached a 25% retracement level of the entire two year decline and that a typical 38% retracement would come in at about SPX 1015. Also observe how short this current three-month rally has been when compared to an 18 month decline. See how Advanced GET is suggesting that the completion of wave 4 will be between 960 – 1020.

Below is a close-up of the above chart via a weekly chart:


This above chart has a more completed look to the wave 4 advance from early March. The problem is that a confirmation will not occur until the Blue Wave sell level is hit. This level was 842.99 last week and will probably be at a higher level next week. We will know the new reversal level on Monday.

Moving to a daily view of the SPX, here is an interesting perspective courtesy of Market Club:


The MC chart is on a buy with a sell basis the weekly charts under 880. I’ve added a Parabolic stop/reverse indicator which is suggesting a level of 887.65 will generate a reverse-short signal. So with a weekly Triangle sell at 880 and the daily at 887.65, we have the makings of important support levels that if breached would signal a major change of trend.

Here is a daily view of the SPX, showing a much closer Blue Wave sell level:


The daily chart above has a much closer Blue Wave reversal sell level, 918, only a little over 20 SPX points lower.

Finally, the 120-minute chart, a time frame…
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Optimistic Unemployment and Housing Forecasts Looking Downright Silly

Optimistic Unemployment and Housing Forecasts Looking Downright Silly

Courtesy of Mish

Economics may be the "dismal science" but economists as a group sure seem to be an optimistic lot. Yes, there are a handful of "doomers" like Nouriel Roubini but most economists did not see the recession coming until it was already 10 months old.

Please consider unemployment forecasts. The Fed forecast unemployment at 8.4% in 2009 and the "adverse forecast" was at 10.3% in 2010.

Hello Ben, in case you did not notice, Jobs Contract 17th Straight Month; Unemployment Rate Soars to 9.4% and Bankruptcy Filings Reach 6,000 A Day.

Adverse Assumptions

Let’s take a look at all the Fed’s adverse assumptions for the recently conducted "stress-free test" as laid out in the Fed’s Stress Test White Paper.

Click on Table for Sharper Image

1 Percent change in annual average.
2 Baseline forecasts for real GDP and the unemployment rate equal the average of projections released by Consensus Forecasts, Blue Chip, and Survey of Professional Forecasters in February.
3 Annual average.
4 Case?Shiller 10?City Composite, percent change, fourth quarter of the previous year to fourth quarter of the year indicated.

Case Shiller Housing Index

Please consider the latest Case Shiller Housing Index.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index ? which covers 20 metropolitan areas ? showed a price decline of 18.7% in March, suggesting a greater fall in prices than expected. Analysts were looking for an -18.40% reading, following the -18.67% reading for February. The 10-city measure fell a similar 18.6%.

The numbers were even worse on a quarterly basis. The Q1 report ? which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, rather than just 20 metropolitan areas ? recorded a 19.1% decline compared to the first quarter of 2008, marking the steepest fall ever in the 21-year history of the index.

“All 20 metro areas are still showing negative annual rates of change in average home prices with nine of the metro areas having record annual declines,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “Seventeen metro areas recorded a monthly decline in March, with Minneapolis, Detroit and New York posting record monthly declines.”

Note that the baseline scenario for housing for 2009 is -14%. Home prices are already down 19.1% and the adverse scenario will be under


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The S&P 500 Conundrum

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Adam Hewison, co-creator of Market Club, sent me his new video analysis of the S&P 500, which he calls a "conundrum wrapped in an enigma" – here’s his intro and video below. – Ilene

The S&P 500 Conundrum

Courtesy of Adam of Market Club

A conundrum wrapped in an enigma… that’s the S&P 500 index.

I was just looking at the S&P 500 index as we come to a close for the week of June 6th. While the market appears to be higher for week, it also appears that we’re losing momentum on the upside.

This can be seen in the second attempt to close over the 950 level. Also some of our momentum indicators are showing negative divergences. This means that while the S&P 500 is making new highs for the move, the momentum indicators are not showing the same configuration and making new highs. This can often be the first clue of a potential market correction.

In this short video on the S&P 500, you’ll will see exactly what I’m looking at and why.

[Click on chart to watch the video.]

 

 





GE/NBCU TRYING TO STIFLE OTHER MEDIA’S COVERAGE OF COMPANY

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EXCLUSIVE: GE/NBCU TRYING TO STIFLE OTHER MEDIA’S COVERAGE OF COMPANY: Immelt Orders Nielsen Media Iced Over GE-NBCU-Obama Story: NBCU’s Zucker Follows Orders And Freezes Out The Hollywood Reporter For Past 6 Weeks

By Nikki Finke of Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily

Excerpt:

It’s a very dangerous situation when any huge multinational corporation wages war against media companies. Especially when that huge multinational corporation is General Electric, which itself owns a media company, NBC Universal, and it’s using all its power and influence and money to try to harm another media company, Nielsen, and Nielsen Business Media, and its trade publication The Hollywood Reporter. This certainly sounds like a situation which the FCC, and the FTC, and the U.S. Justice Department should be investigating. Just one problem: the controversy stems from GE/NBCU’s coverage of President Obama. Here’s what happened:

According to my sources inside and outside Nielsen Business Media, The Hollywood Reporter trade publication ran a story dated April 22nd and updated on April 24th covering the "drama" at the most recent GE shareholders meeting in Orlando. THR‘s West Coast Business Editor Paul Bond wasn’t sent to the meeting, but he interviewed about half a dozen people who’d been inside the shareholders meeting and told him what transpired (see below). Bond’s THR story focused on the attempts by stockholders and Fox News Channel and other media to find out whether or not GE Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Immelt ordered his news operations to be less critical of President Obama and his policies.

Bond’s story was immediately picked up by The Drudge Report under the headline "GE shareholders outraged over MSNBC bias; Microphone cut off." It became a widely posted news story on conservative and liberal and media websites everywhere. That’s when, sources inside and outside Nielsen Business Media tell me, GE Chairman Jeff Immelt ordered a GE company-wide ban on all of The Hollywood Reporter‘s parent company Nielsen: advertising, editorial, the works… Continue here.

 


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The New, New Normal

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The New, New NormalVisit John's MySpace Page

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline Weekly Newsletter

We are coming to a critical inflection point, perhaps the most critical point that we have had in 70 years for the US and to a great extent the global economy. The choices we make (or that Congress and the Fed make for us) will affect not just our investment portfolios but business and our jobs for a very long time. Last week I talked about the three paths we face as a nation. I want to go back to that theme and expand upon it. You need to clearly understand what the risks are so that you can interpret the actions and data that will be coming at us in the next few quarters. I am feeling a little tired today, so I am going to take the liberty to reproduce Bill Gross’s latest comments as well, which are somewhat in line with my own.

A Different Perspective on Health Care

But before we jump into the letter, I want to acknowledge the very large response I got from readers about the cut and paste I did about the differences between the national health care systems of Canada and Great Britain the health care system of the US. To say that I touched a raw nerve is an understatement. I should also admit that I learned a great deal from some very cogent and thoughtful letters. I often write about the problems with using selective statistics in gauging the economy. I have learned that you can do the same with health care statistics.

There are many letters I could quote, but let me give you a counter for the statistics from last week from Raoul Pal of Spain. And of course, there are other statistics that can be brought in to make almost any case you want. But I found these to be very thought-provoking.

"Using the Economists World in Figures I think there is a very interesting and maybe appalling story to tell. In its simplest terms a healthcare system is there to extend the longevity of live of the population. It is the single best and simplest way to judge it because we can all find examples of where one country is better than…
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Some Behavioral Thoughts On Home Buying

Courtesy of Tom Lindman at But Then What?

Some Behavioral Thoughts On Home Buying

Robert Shiller of the infamous Case-Shiller index has a particularly interesting piece in the NYT. Instead of hammering on numbers he takes a look at the psychology of home buyers and sellers and why that might affect home prices for some time to come.

Shiller examines the behavioral biases that lead people to “irrationally” hold onto houses during a period or declining values. The concluding paragraphs are thought provoking:

For this reason, not all economists agree that home price declines are really predictable. Ray Fair, my colleague at Yale, for one, warns that any trend up or down may suddenly be reversed if there is an economic “regime change” — a shift big enough to make people change their thinking.

But market changes that big don’t occur every day. And when they do, there is a coordination problem: people won’t all change their views about homeownership at once. Some will focus on recent price declines, which may seem to belie any improvement in the economy, reinforcing negative attitudes about the housing market.

Even if there is a quick end to the recession, the housing market’s poor performance may linger. After the last home price boom, which ended about the time of the 1990-91 recession, home prices did not start moving upward, even incrementally, until 1997.

I say it’s thought provoking because when you look at the recent frenzy in the lower priced end of the housing markets it’s hard to come up with a theory that squares with Shiller’s ideas. Unless you are of the opinion that the drastic decline in prices constitutes an economic “regime change.” Certainly, there hasn’t been any fundamental shift at all in the general economy that has prevailed in this sudden shift from a buyers to sellers market. So what might be driving it?

The only plausible theory I can come up with is that the buyers perceived an exceptional opportunity to purchase housing at favorable prices. Did they do so on the assumption that prices were about to begin a march back? Is the meme that you can’t lose money long term buying real estate so firmly ingrained that no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary will diminish it or are they simply grabbing an opportunity to buy shelter?

What


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Weekend Reading – Always in Progress!

Last weekend I warned my bears: "DO NOT underestimate how irrational the markets can get."

I also closed the wrap-up saying: "Keep in mind I am generally bullish – just not this bullish, this soon!"  It was "Just Another Manic Monday" and it was indeed a manic-depressive week with 250 points gained on Monday almost entirely erased on Wednesday afternoon ahead of one of the week's two massive stick saves that, overall, got us even for the week.  The markets remain too close to call as we drift into the "Triple Top Testing Zone" I spoke about on Thursday Morning (but these are recovery levels I've been predicting since the March lows).  So it was yet another week of watching from the sidelines and making few trades – even in our $106,191 Virtual Portfolio Update on Tuesday, other than buying more FAZ to protect our gains, and setting stops on some winning positions, there was not much to do as even the mix of stops we set on that virtual portfolio left us in a fairly neutral position going into the weekend.

Rather than do a Wrap-Up this week of a directionless week, let's see what we can figure out by reading some bullish and bearish articles, hopefully figure out where we're going in the week(s) ahead.  It's very good to be in cash, over the past two weeks we've had both bulls and bears screaming about market manipulation, statistics fraud and both green and brown shoots and having cash lets us laugh at everyone.  While our cash out at 8,600 in early May did cause us to miss a 150-point gain in the market over the past month, we also missed a 300-point drop so it's hard to say I regret my call at the time or my continued caution on "Double Top Tuesday," the 19th, where I said: "We continue to remain mainly in cash but playing for a drop unless another index breaks that 40% line at which point we will be forced to add some plays  to the bull side despite our concerns."

So, all we have been doing for the past 3 weeks is PATIENTLY (well, some of us have been patient) waiting mostly on the sidelines for our 40% (off the 2007 highs) levels to be broken.  Those levels are: Dow 8,413, Nasdaq 1,717, S&P 946, NYSE 6,232, Russell 514, SOX…
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Gorbachev: The US Needs a Perestroika

Courtesy of Mark Thoma at Economist’s View

Gorbachev: The US Needs a Perestroika

Mikhail Gorbachev says change is coming, and that "Washington will have to play a special role in this new perestroika":

We Had Our Perestroika. It’s High Time for Yours, by Mikhail Gorbachev, Commentary, Washington Post: …In recent years,… during speaking tours in the United States…, I have often told listeners that I feel Americans need … a perestroika, not like the one in my country, but an American perestroika… Halls filled with thousands of people have responded with applause. …

In the West, the breakup of the Soviet Union was viewed as a total victory that proved that the West did not need to change. Western leaders were convinced that they were at the helm of the right system and of a well-functioning, almost perfect economic model. Scholars opined that history had ended. The "Washington Consensus," the dogma of free markets, deregulation and balanced budgets at any cost, was force-fed to the rest of the world.

But then came the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, and it became clear that the new Western model was an illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich. …The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too.

The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of resources and on social and environmental irresponsibility.

But if all the proposed solutions and action now come down to a mere rebranding of the old system, we are bound to see another, perhaps even greater upheaval down the road. The current model does not need adjusting; it needs replacing. I have no ready-made prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation, sound education and health systems and affordable housing.

Elements


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ValueWalk

#1 Performing Global Macro Hedge Fund Sees More Shorts Opportunities Ahead As China Bursts

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Crescat Global Macro Fund update to investors on 1/19/2019

Crescat Global Macro Fund and Crescat Long/Short fund delivered strong returns for both December and full year 2018 in a difficult market. Based on ...



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Zero Hedge

Johns Hopkins, Bristol-Myers Face $1 Billion Suit For Infecting Guatemalan Hookers With Syphilis 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

A federal judge in Maryland said Johns Hopkins University, pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Rockefeller Foundation must face a $1 billion lawsuit over their roles in a top-secret program in the 1940s ran by the US government that injected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis, reported Reuters.

Several doctors from Hopkins an...



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Phil's Favorites

Divisive economics

 

Guest author David Brin — scientist, technology consultant, best-selling author and futurist — explores the records of Democrats and Republicans on the US economy in the following post. For David's latest posts, visit the CONTRARY BRIN blog. For his books and short stories, visit his web...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Stock declines did not break 9-year support, says Joe Friday

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We often hear “Stocks take an escalator up and an elevator down!” No doubt stocks did experience a swift decline from the September highs to the Christmas eve lows. Looks like the “elevator” part of the phrase came true as 2018 was coming to an end.

The first part of the “stocks take an escalator up” seems to still be in play as well despite the swift decline of late.

Joe Friday Just The Facts Ma’am- All of these indices hit long-term rising support on Christmas Eve at each (1), where support held and rallies have followed.

If you find long-term perspectives helpf...



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Digital Currencies

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

 

Transparency and privacy: Empowering people through blockchain

Blockchain technologies can empower people by allowing them more control over their user data. Shutterstock

Courtesy of Ajay Kumar Shrestha, University of Saskatchewan

Blockchain has already proven its huge influence on the financial world with its first application in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It might not be long before its impact is felt everywhere.

Blockchain is a secure chain of digital records that exist on multiple computers simultaneously so no record can be erased or falsified. The...



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Insider Scoop

Cars.com Explores Strategic Alternatives, Analyst Sees Possible Sale Price Around $30 Per Share

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related 44 Biggest Movers From Yesterday 38 Stocks Moving In Wednesday's Mid-Day Session ...

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Chart School

Weekly Market Recap Jan 13, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

In last week’s recap we asked:  “Has the Fed solved all the market’s problems in 1 speech?”

Thus far the market says yes!  As Guns n Roses preached – all we need is a little “patience”.  Four up days followed by a nominal down day Friday had the market following it’s normal pattern the past nearly 30 years – jumping whenever the Federal Reserve hints (or essentially says outright) it is here for the markets.   And in case you missed it the prior Friday, Chairman Powell came back out Thursday to reiterate the news – so…so… so… patient!

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reinforced that message Thursday during a discussion at the Economic Club of Washington where he said that the central bank will be “fle...



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Members' Corner

Why Trump Can't Learn

 

Bill Eddy (lawyer, therapist, author) predicted Trump's chaotic presidency based on his high-conflict personality, which was evident years ago. This post, written in 2017, references a prescient article Bill wrote before Trump even became president, 5 Reasons Trump Can’t Learn. ~ Ilene 

Why Trump Can’t Learn

Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore (...



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Biotech

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

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

 

Opening Pandora's Box: Gene editing and its consequences

Bacteriophage viruses infecting bacterial cells , Bacterial viruses. from www.shutterstock.com

Courtesy of John Bergeron, McGill University

Today, the scientific community is aghast at the prospect of gene editing to create “designer” humans. Gene editing may be of greater consequence than climate change, or even the consequences of unleashing the energy of the atom.

...

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Mapping The Market

Trump: "I Won't Be Here" When It Blows Up

By Jean-Luc

Maybe we should simply try him for treason right now:

Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: ‘I Won’t Be Here’ When It Blows Up

The president thinks the balancing of the nation’s books is going to, ultimately, be a future president’s problem.

By Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the nationa...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 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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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

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.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:

 

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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