Archive for June, 2010

Was AIG, In Addition To Being The Riskiest Company In The World, Also A Precious Metals Manipulator?

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

A little under two years ago, there was a big debate in the precious metals community, in which two groups of individuals were arguing for and against possible silver market manipulation, via arbing the COMEX and the OTC. On one hand you had such distinguished economists/bloggers as Mish (here and here) and Jon Nadler of Kitco (here) claiming there is no such thing as a COMEX-OTC arb because markets are ultimately efficient, and the second a trade is effected in one market, it implicitly affects all other markets, making spread arbing, and thus “manipulation” impossible. On the other hand, you had C.Loeb making precisely the opposite argument (here). After a brief flare up, the debate died down, with a partial win acceded to Nadler, who ended the debate with the following rhetorical statement: “Also, by the way, why not NAME the sinister manipulative banks in question? Why not ask them outright as to the motives behind their positions (or better yet, who their clients were) and whether or not they acted in a “willfully nefarious” manner? Conclusion: One can take any database and make it suit their conspiracy argument. That, however, does not make for proof of any kind.” In other words, Mr. Nadler was asking for a bank to confirm it was arbing the COMEX-OTC spread, which in turn would unwind his defense argument, and lend credence to the claim that some players, due to their massive scale or otherwise, succeed in manipulating the silver (or gold) market by profitably spreading the legs of the trade in two completely different markets and arbing this spread. For the longest time people looked exclusively at JPMorgan for clues. Boy, were they wrong… and are they about to be surprised that in addition to almost blowing up the world, AIG FP has admitted that it itself, as the defacto risk mastodon and suicide bomber under Joe Cassano, with “$426 billion in total on and off balance sheet risk equivalent delta,” was precisely just this spread manipulator. But don’t take our word for it. Take AIG’s.

Presenting exhibit A: AIG production document FRBNY-TOWNS-R1-210712 (pp 34-35) – highlight ours.

Oh, so the arb does exist…

There are about 249,999 other pages we need to go through to find additional supporting and incriminating evidence to this formerly Strictly…
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Become a Big Bank, Ignore The Law

Become a Big Bank, Ignore The Law

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker 

I guess it’s not enough to rip off municipalities and be the funding source for drug cartels in Mexico who shoot people (including police officers), right?

When the government began rescuing it from collapse in the fall of 2008 with what has become a $182 billion lifeline, A.I.G. was required to forfeit its right to sue several banks — including Goldman, Société Générale, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch — over any irregularities with most of the mortgage securities it insured in the precrisis years.

But after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil fraud suit filed in April against Goldman for possibly misrepresenting a mortgage deal to investors, A.I.G. executives and shareholders are asking whether A.I.G. may have been misled by Goldman into insuring mortgage deals that the bank and others may have known were flawed.

Absolutely correct.

If you’re a big bank, when things go south the government will force those who dealt with you to give up their right to sue you for your misrepresentations!

“This really suggests they had myopia and they were looking at it entirely through the perspective of the banks,” Mr. Skeel said.

No, it says in plain English that if you’re a bank there are no laws. 

There are no laws about money-laundering that will be enforced.

There are no laws about bribery that will be enforced.

There are no laws about bid-rigging that will be enforced.

There are no laws about emitting fraudulent securities that will be enforced.

And there are no laws about intentionally screwing counterparties that will be enforced.

Everyone else has to follow these laws.

But if you’re a big bank, you can do all these things and more, and there is absolutely no criminal or civil enforcement available to anyone to do anything about it.

May I ask, quite politely, why the American public peacefully accepts this state of affairs? 

****

Picture credits: Jr. Deputy Accountant 


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Calpers and Risk: Together Forever?

Courtesy of Leo Kolivakis

Via Pension Pulse.

Kit Roane of Fortune reports, Calpers and risk: Together forever? (HT: Bill Tufts):

Before clocking a $100 billion loss in early 2009, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as Calpers, had the swagger of a hedge fund and the certainty of a saint. Other pension funds followed its lead, loading up on leverage, investing in unrated CDOs, shoving money into high-priced private equity deals and barreling into commodities and real estate.

 

The question now is whether a loss of nearly 40% of its market value — the worst loss in the system’s 77-year history — has brought Calpers sufficiently back down to earth to avoid another such debacle, and whether other chastened pension systems have followed suit. In truth, not all of the evidence of a rebirth at Calpers is comforting. And in the case of some other underfunded pension funds, their latest financial bets look downright scary.

 

“Some pension plans are evidently hoping to make up losses by taking more risk,” says Olivia Mitchell, executive director of The Pension Research Council at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, whose research has shown many pension funds to be poor asset pickers. But, “pension plans that take a risky position to try to ‘earn their way out of underfunding’ are quite likely to bear big downside risk when the market tanks.”

 

This is not to say that Calpers, the nation’s largest pension fund, hasn’t made some strides in the right direction. Facing billions in unfunded liabilities and increasing anger from California taxpayers who are ultimately stuck with the bill, it would be tempting for Calpers to double down. But Clark McKinley, a Calpers spokesman, says the pension system “took some bitter medicine” and has learned important lessons from the recent financial crisis.

 

Calpers is preparing a new asset allocation strategy after finding that its diversification efforts failed to cushion much of the stock market’s fall. Calpers is also reining in its exposure to equity derivatives, moving to reduce leverage in its real estate portfolio, terminating under-performing partnerships, tightening the review process for real estate investments and bringing together its diverse investment groups to poll their knowledge about investment risks and opportunities.

 

Before, McKinley says, information tended to be stove-piped, meaning


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FLECKENSTEIN: THE STOCK MARKET HAS LOST ITS DISCOUNTING MECHANISM

FLECKENSTEIN: THE STOCK MARKET HAS LOST ITS DISCOUNTING MECHANISM

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

Very interesting thoughts here from Bill Fleckenstein.  Fleckenstein argues that the market has lost its discounting mechanism. I am not so sure I agree that it ever really had a discounting mechanism.

To me the market is a non-linear dynamical system which is susceptible to substantial chaos. The market is very inefficient in the short-term due to the inefficiency of its participants.  The idea of the efficient market and the market as an efficient discounting mechanism has been sold hook line and sinker to the public. We are taught that equities can’t go down over the long-term, that a PE ratio of 10 is “historically cheap”, that you can’t outperform the market, yet none of this is founded in solid proof, but rather a very short history of data that is currently available and adds up to nothing more than theory (a weak one at that).   Fleckenstein’s comments are well worth a listen:

Source: Bloomberg TV


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The CDS Wolfpack Is Now Coming After France… China

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

A month ago, Sarkozy was pissed that Merkel had dared to take the initiative over him and to ban naked CDS trading. Being a stubborn reactionary, this action only prolonged his inevitable decision to do the same (because politicians, being the wise Ph.D’s they are, realize fully all the nuances of screwing around with the financial ecosystem). However, looking at this week’s DTCC data, we have a feeling he may accelerate his decision to join the CDS-ban team. With a total of 456 million in net notional derisking, France was the top entity in which protection was sought in the past week. In a very quiet week, where the 5th most active name did not even make it past the $100 mm threshold, France was more than double the number two sovereign – Mexico (we are unclear if this is some sort of contrarian move to the Yuan reval, which Goldman was pitching as MXN positive, which means traders likely hedged by loading up on Mexican CDS). But what is probably most notable, is the sudden and dramatic appearance of China in the top 3rd position. Welcome China! We are confident within a week or two, China will promptly become a mainstay of the top 3, and will quickly rise to the top position, where it rightfully belongs. We are also confident those perennial Eastern European underdogs, Romania and Bulgaria will shyly make an entrance in the top 10 next week.

Some interesting action was also seen on the rerisking end, where Italy saw a whopping $1 billion+ in bearish positions get unwound. This is probably the single biggest weekly sov rerisking we have seen in months. Nonetheless, without any concrete news out of the boot, we assume this is merely profit taking after numerous week of consistent derisking. Greece, which nobody cares about, continues to see rerisking, which however in light of this week’s new record wides in 5 Year CDS, was somewhat unexpected.

Not shown on the table, but certainly in need of noting, was our very own state of California, which with 377 million in net derisking, was the 3rd most shorted entity of all. Is the last bastion of “all is well” propaganda about to fall?





Guest Post: Political Lessons from the Walang Kulit, Pt 1

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Submitted by Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research

Political Lessons from the Walang Kulit, Pt 1

 

Attachment Size
PWVD1.pdf 210.6 KB




David Kostin’s March 13 “S&P 1,300 By June 30″ Call Is Only 30% Off

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

On March 13, David Kostin boldy went where A. Joseph Cohen has gone so many times before, by becoming the best contrarian indicator around. To wit: “Investors we met this week remain bullish in both outlook and positioning, consistent with our view. We expect S&P 500 to rise to 1300 by mid-year (+13%), before ending 2010 at 1250 (+9%).” Kostin missed his target by 30% in 3 months. We are not sure if even his equally capable predecessor, AJ Cohen, was as skilled at so wholesomely raping and pillaging the P&L of the firm’s few clients who still are terrified to utter a squeek of disapproval against the monopolist for fear of losing those oh so precious trading axes, formerly rightfully belonging to GS archrivals Lehman and Bear Stearns. Luckily, we have Christine Varney keeping an eye on such market monopolistic behavior.

 

 





House Passes Financial Farce Reform

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Final vote 237 to 192.

We will shortly bring you the roll call of those who have convincingly sold out to Wall Street

Farce recap from Reuters:

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a landmark overhaul of financial regulations but the Senate put off action until mid-July, delaying a final victory for President Barack Obama.

Still, the 237 to 192 vote in the House marked a win for Obama and his fellow Democrats, who have made the most sweeping rewrite of Wall Street rules since the 1930s a top priority in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

“That’s why were are here today, to make sure that never happens again,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We will pass the toughest set of Wall Street reforms in generations.”

Analysts say Obama is all but certain to get the measure on his desk eventually, but Democrats’ hopes of sending a bill to him to sign into law by the July 4 Independence Day holiday were dashed.

The death of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd and cold feet among Republican allies has complicated efforts to round up the votes needed in the Senate. A week-long break following the July 4 Independence Day holiday means the Senate won’t act until the week of July 12, at the earliest.

The bill would impose tighter regulations on financial firms and reduce their profits. It would boost consumer protections, force banks to reduce risky trading and investing activities and set up a new government process for liquidating troubled financial firms.

With congressional elections approaching in November, Democrats have ridden a wave of public disgust at an industry that has awarded itself fat paydays while the rest of the country struggles with high unemployment.

Wall Street and Republicans have tried to delay the bill or lessen its reach, but the measure has actually gotten tougher during its year-long journey through Congress.

Republicans say the bill would hurt the economy by burdening businesses with a thicket of new regulations. They also point out that it ducks the question of how to handle troubled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Democrats plan to tackle next year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or guarantee half of all U.S. mortgages, have received a total of about $145…
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Daily Oil Market Summary: June 30

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Commentary courtesy of www.fmxconnect.com

 





Explaining Derivatives, And Goldman’s Dominance Thereof, In Four Simple Charts

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Attached are several charts used to explain to confused politicians all they need to know about the biggest ponzi scheme market ever created (synthetic derivatives), how these derivatives are created, how the leverage attributed to just one asset can result in infinite amplification of risk, and how Goldman is in the very middle of a web which encompasses tens if not hundreds of trillions in derivative counterparty exposure with virtually every single other financial company in the world.

Amplification: this explains how you take a small pool of assets (in this case mortgages) and increase the bettable risk almost to infinity courtesy of synthetic products like CDOs which are nothing but side bets with an unlimited cap on the total risk exposure. The original mortgage is cut up into tranches, which are subsequentlly split up into CDOs, whereby risk can be held, sold off, or side-betted via CDS (which is what AIG would be doing by selling CDS on milions of assorted CDO tranches). In the example below the Glacier Funding CDO 2006-4A C has an original value of $15 million which trough CDO-intermediated amplification, or process in which bits and pieces of it are repakcaged in various synthetic afterproducts, ends up being $85 million. In theory there is no limit to what the total amplified value could be, as synthetic products by definition are created out of thin air, and just need a willing buyer and seller.

Deal Creation: For those who have not spent hours poring over the Abacus org chart, this is a summary of how a traditional CDO was structured and subsequently insured (incidentally, this is not the infamous “John Paulson” Abacus deal for which Goldman is currently being sued). Of particular note here is the box in the lower left, the CDS issuers, AIG, TCW and GSC, who were the dumb money, or those infamously collecting pennies before the housing crash steamroller. As the chart shows, they were collecting $3 million a year in CDS payments, and stood on the hook for $1.8 billion in case the CDO collapsed, or specifically if the underlying reference assets stopped generating enough cash through specific attachment levels.

 

Leverage: here are the key counterparties on the hook for just the above deal, Abacus 2004-1. No surprise, the biggest counterparty, with total downside loss is AIG, at $1.76 billion.…
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Zero Hedge

Schiff: Negative Interest Rates Are "Boneheaded"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Via SchiffGold.com,

Donald Trump has been badgering Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for months, begging for lower interest rates. This week, he took things to another level, saying that the “boneheads” at the Fed need to push rates into negative territory.

In his podcast, Peter Schiff said negative interest rates are boneheaded. ...



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The Technical Traders

Metals are following downside sell off prediction before the next rally

Courtesy of Technical Traders

It is absolutely amazing how the precious metals markets have followed our October 2018 predictions almost like clockwork.  Our call for an April 21~24 momentum base below $1300 followed by an extensive rally to levels above $1550 has been playing out almost like we scripted these future price moves.

Now that the $1550 level has been reached, we are expecting a rotation to levels that may reach just below the $1490~1500 level before attempting to set up another momentum base/bottom formation.  And just like clockwork, Gold has followed our predictions and price is falling as we expected. Just look at our October 2018 chart where we forecasted the price of gold...



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Chart School

Crude Oil Cycle Bottom aligns with Saudi Oil Attack

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Do the cycles know? Funny how cycle lows attract the need for higher prices, no matter what the news is!

These are the questions before markets on on Monday 16th Aug 2019:

1) A much higher oil price in quick time can not be tolerated by the consumer, as it gives birth to much higher inflation and a tax on the average Joe disposable income. This is recessionary pressure.

2) With (1) above the real issue will be the higher interest rate and US dollar effect on the SP500 near all time highs.

3) A moderately higher oil price is likely to be absorbed and be bullish as it creates income for struggling energy companies and the inflation shock may be muted. 

We shall see. 

...

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Phil's Favorites

Black Hole Investing

 

Black Hole Investing

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Thoughts from the Frontline 

Scientists say the rules change in a cosmic “black hole” at what astrophysicists call the event horizon. How do they know that? Not by observation, since what happens in there is, by definition, un-seeable. They infer it from the surroundings, which say that the mathematics of the universe as we understand them change at the event horizon.

Or maybe not. One theory says we are all inside a black hole right now. That could possibly explain a few things about central bank policy. ...



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Insider Scoop

The Street Reacts To Kroger's Q2 With Mixed Takeaways

Courtesy of Benzinga

Kroger Co (NYSE: KR) reported second-quarter results that came in better than expected. The earnings beat may have been overshadowed by management's decision to remove its prior guidance of $400 million in incremental EBIT by fiscal 2021.

Q2 A Mix Of Positives And Negativ...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bond Yields Due For Rally After Declining More Than 1987 Stock Crash

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

U.S. Treasury Bond Yields – 2, 5, 10, 30 Year Durations

The past year has seen treasury bond yields decline sharply, yet in an orderly fashion.

This has spurred recession concerns for much of 2019. Needless to say, it’s a confusing time for investors.

In today’s chart of the day, we look at a longer-term view of the 2, 5, 10, and 30-year treasury bond yields.

Short to long term bond yields are all testing 7 to 10-year support levels as momentum is at the lowest levels in a decade.

A yield rally is likely due across the board after a recent decline that was bigger than the stock crash in 1987!

If yields fail to ral...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Nonfarm Payrolls Not Seasonally Adjusted Tell the Real Story - Unspinning Wall Street™

Courtesy of Lee Adler

Not seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls, that is, the actual numbers, give us a truer picture of the jobs market than the seasonally adjusted garbage that Wall Street spews.

Friday’s seasonally adjusted nonfarm payrolls jobs headline numbers disappointed investors with slower than expected growth. But was it really that bad?

Here’s How The Street Spun It – Wall Street Journal Modest August Job Growth Shows Economy Expanding, but Slowly

Employers added 130,000 nonfarm jobs, jobless rate held steady at 3.7%

U.S. employment grew only modestly in August, suggesting that a global economic slowdown isn’t driving the U.S. into recession but has dente...



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Digital Currencies

China Crypto Miners Wiped Out By Flood; Bitcoin Hash Rate Hits ATHs

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Last week, a devastating rainstorm in China's Sichuan province triggered mudslides, forcing local hydropower plants and cryptocurrency miners to halt operations, reported CoinDesk.

Torrential rains flooded some parts of Sichuan's mountainous Aba prefecture last Monday, with mudslides seen across 17 counties in the area, according to local government posts on Weibo. 

One of the worst-hit areas was Wenchuan county, ...



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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

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

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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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:

 

·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union

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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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