Posts Tagged ‘Financial Services’

The Age of The Trader

The Age of The Trader

Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns 

I have written a number of posts which point to a shift in the center of power on Wall Street from the client-facing advisory business to the market-making trading business. I think understanding this shift is vital to understanding what caused the financial crisis and to understanding the defense that Goldman Sachs has proffered for its actions in the Abacus AC1 deal.

What has happened is that major international investment banking groups have taken on a sales & trading ethos of caveat emptor where once the client was king. In my view, this is a direct result of the rise of securitization, structured products and derivatives as a profit center in financial services and is the major contributor to Wall Street’s new unfortunate public image as a casino.

I took on different aspects of this shift in these posts:

I suggest you read them to get more colour on various aspects of Wall Street culture which have eroded the ethics of bankers and led to self-preservation over client-focus.

Here’s the statement in all of those posts I want to dwell on. It came in my post on Goldman’s earnings announcement from July of last year. I wrote:

The Goldman press release is here.  What I find notable is the order in which the press release presents the earnings, with a statement on the advisory business first, followed by equities and then fixed income even though fixed income was where the most revenue and profit came.  That is revealing – and shows Goldman execs still consider the advisory business of relatively more importance from a reputational perspective. (emphasis added)

Reputation is one thing, reality is another. Former banker turned journalist Bill Cohan gets at the heart of this in his recent blog post "Goldman: Still Greedy, No Longer Patient." He writes:

Once upon a time, Goldman Sachs’ raison d’etre was to serve the ongoing needs of


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America Just Declared The Recovery Over So You’d Better Get Ready For The Double Dip

America Just Declared The Recovery Over So You’d Better Get Ready For The Double Dip

Courtesy of John Carney at Clusterstock/Business Insider  

american america flag usa u.s. us stars and stripes

Today’s bleak consumer confidence number is undoubtedly bad news for the economy. The bigger than expected drop suggests that consumers have lost confidence in the recovery, which will drive down home prices and consumer spending.

Consumer confidence is typically our "first look" at the state of the economy. While most government aggregated data come out with a two-month lag, or more, consumer confidence hits with just a one month lag. Studies have shown that consumer confidence is a good predictor of consumer spending numbers. Basically, people surveyed seem to be good at accurately reading their own economic situation, and those surveyed accurately reflect the broader economy. When consumer confidence drops to such deep unexpected levels--today’s were the worst in 27 years--then it is a flashing red-light about the economy.

There wasn’t anything good about today’s numbers. Every part of the survey was awful. On jobs, the optimistic folks who say jobs are plentiful fell to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent. The pessimistic people who said jobs are hard to get increased to 47.7 percent from 46.5 percent. The gauge of expectations for the next six-months fell to 63.8, from 77.3 the prior month. The share of people who believe their incomes will increase over the next six months fell to 9.5 from 11 percent. The share of those expecting more jobs fell to 12.4 percent from 15.8 percent.

The message: the economy sucks.

The recovery we were supposed to have.
You’ll read a lot about how the consumer confidence numbers are a lagging indicator. Indeed, they are a lagging indicator when measured against the stock market. The real time data conveyed by the stock market is often a better indicator than any survey or government data. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the consumer confidence number, especially since stocks have declined for most of this year. 

Lets be clear here. The story-book recovery was dependent on a recovery of the consumer and a decline in the saving rate. If consumers lost some of their apprehension about future income prospects and future employment, they might begin to spend more on both retail goods and to purchase homes again. Anticipating this return of the consumer, businesses would increase capital spending and inventory.  

We got half of that equation. Business spending…
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‘Low Cost’ ETFs Actually Cost Investors More Than Some Hedge Funds

‘Low Cost’ ETFs Actually Cost Investors More Than Some Hedge Funds

Courtesy of Vincent Fernando at Clusterstock/Business Insider

Devil Fire Costume

ETFs bill themselves as low-cost alternatives to standard mutual funds or even hedge funds. The idea is that their management fees are lower and trading costs are low since you can simply buy and sell them easily through a discount online broker. 

But here’s the problem --  it’s only true if ETFs are actually tracking their benchmarks effectively. Unfortunately they aren’t.

WSJ:

In 2009, ETFs missed their targets by an average of 1.25 percentage points, a gap more than twice as wide as the 0.52-percentage-point average they posted in 2008, according to a study of ETF returns released this week by Morgan Stanley.

Part of this so-called tracking error stems from the recent proliferation of ETFs targeting exotic investments or areas where trading is less frequent, such as emerging-market stocks and junk bonds.

Last year, 54 ETFs showed tracking errors of more than three percentage points, up from just four funds the prior year. And a handful of the 54 missed by more than 10 percentage points.

1.25% is more than the management expense of some actively managed funds, or some hedge funds even (before performance fees).

We think ETFs are great for tracking broad, liquid benchmarks such as the S&P 500 where they are likely to be worthwhile in terms of cost and trading ease. But ETF products for niche investments are highly suspect. The more illiquid investments the worse off ETF investors will be, especially since savvy traders will likely be able to line up and pick-off trades ahead of the ETF. 

For anything niche, investors are probably better off with old fashioned mutual funds once all of their real expenses are factored in.

Yet we’re fully aware of the fact that expenses of an ETF such as the above are near-invisible, especially if someone is been trading in and out of an ETF. So we’ll expect investors to keep lapping these products up. In investment management, products with the least visible expenses, and best ability to avoid blame, win.

(Tip via Abnormal Returns)


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Now See What Banks Are Really Doing With Your Tax Dollars

Now See What Banks Are Really Doing With Your Tax Dollars

chartCourtesy of Joe Weisenthal at Clusterstock/The Business Insider  

What are banks doing with the billions upon billions of dollars they’ve taken from the taxpayer?

The St. Louis Fed has just updated its latest data on bank health and activity, and the charts paint a great picture of what’s really going on in our banking system.

The bottom line: lending is still tanking (unless you count lending to the government)

See the whole story of the banking system >

 


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Traders Churning Derivatives Like Never Before As Volume Soars 20%

Traders Churning Derivatives Like Never Before As Volume Soars 20%

Courtesy of Vincent Fernando at Clusterstock/Business Insider

Anyone who thinks that the business of derivatives ended with the financial crisis had better check out the recent trading volumes released by the derivatives exchange company CME Group.

Just this January, total derivatives trading volume shot up 19% year over year, with particularly feverish activity in interest rate derivatives (for fixed income, Up 33%), foreign exchange derivatives (Up 78%), and metals derivatives (Up 65%).

Traders are loving derivatives like never before:

Chart

Also, keep in mind that CME Group just began clearing infamous credit default swaps (CDS), which comprise an enormous market for further trading growth. The sky’s the limit, until it comes crashing down again.

See the CME Group release here >


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Financial Services: From Servant to Lord of the Economy

Financial Services: From Servant to Lord of the Economy

Close-up of a rolled up Indian one hundred rupee banknote on a chessboard with chess pieces

Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

Here is an interesting chart that shows the ascendancy of the financial sector in the US.

Commercial banking is largely an administrative function, with a few highly paid decision makers, and many lower paid functionaries and clerks that make a decent if unspectacular wage commensurate with a utility function.

Starting with the Reagan privatization revolution, the finance sector began to grow in importance, moving from a utility serving the capital distribution and storage needs of the real economy taking a relatively small percentage of real output, to a dominant force in the national decision making process, controlling the allocation of capital through its powerful influence and lobbying in Washington, placement of its supporters in political positions of power, and the consolidation of the mainstream media into an oligopoly of four or five major corporations.

Now we have a financial sector dominated by a relatively few number of multinational corporations that are certainly not utilities serving the productive economy. In reality the big multinational banks have become hedge funds speculating in a broad range of markets, often in competition if not contrary to the interests of their customers, relying on other people’s money for capital to sustain an outsized leverage and a steady stream of rents and speculative winnings, and to cushion any losses in the event of the occasional market downturns.

And if we do not give the banks their demands, if we do not maintain the status quo, then they threaten that they cannot protect the world from financial ruin and a collapse of the money system, which they themselves control. And this is no mere extortion, no corruption of a single party or person, but the foundation of an enduring modern tyranny.

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery." Thomas Jefferson

 


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Government Screwing Savers, Retirees To Keep Secret Wall Street Bailout Going

Government Screwing Savers, Retirees To Keep Secret Wall Street Bailout Going

Courtesy of Henry Blodget at The Business Insider

gethosed.pngAs PIMCO’s Bill Gross notes in this NYT article on zero-percent interest rates, the Fed’s ongoing Wall Street bailout is coming at a cost: Anyone who has any cash savings is getting screwed. 

This includes retirees who did exactly what they were supposed to do--save.  Their incomes are now getting clobbered.

Meanwhile, for those who prefer to borrow money, the ongoing bailout has created the world’s easiest way to make $1 billion.  Borrow short-term from the taxpayers and lend the same money back to the taxpayers--and get a guaranteed risk-free spread.

Here’s Bill Gross:

“What the average citizen doesn’t explicitly understand is that a significant part of the government’s plan to repair the financial system and the economy is to pay savers nothing and allow damaged financial institutions to earn a nice, guaranteed spread,” said William H. Gross, co-chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco. “It’s capitalism, I guess, but it’s not to be applauded.”

Mr. Gross said he read his monthly portfolio statement twice because he could not believe that the line “Yield on cash” was 0.01 percent. At that rate, he said, it would take him 6,932 years to double his money.

See Also: How To Make The World’s Easiest $1 Billion

 


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The Harvard-Goldman Filter Keeps Too Big To Fail Banks Intact

The Harvard-Goldman Filter Keeps Too Big To Fail Banks Intact

harvard commencementCourtesy of John Carney of Clusterstock/Business Insider

Arnold Kling explains why our political leaders won’t break up the Too Big To Fail banks:

My answer to both relates to what I call the Harvard-Goldman filter.

The Harvard-Goldman filter works like this.

1. To get into a position of power, you have to pass through a filter. The easiest way to show that you can pass through the filter is to go to Harvard and then work for Goldman.

2. If you do not go to Harvard and work for Goldman, then you have to show that you can get along with people who did.

3. The best way to show that you can get along with people who pass the Harvard-Goldman filter is to show that you believe in applying the Harvard-Goldman filter.

Why was Tim Geithner regarded as such an obvious, in fact necessary, choice to be Treasury Secretary? Because he satisfies the Harvard-Goldman filter, particularly point (3). He is not going to bring people from the wrong social caste into the policymaking arena.

 


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Second mortgage debt collections

Two articles on collections of second mortgage debt being attempted, prior to resolution of the first mortgage. Justice BrandeisNormally, first mortgages have priority, but it appears owners of second mortgage obligations – debt collection agencies – are cutting ahead and demanding payback early and then using questionable tactics to accomplish their goals (e.g., filing suit without giving notice). – Ilene  

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.  Justice Louis Brandeis

Debt Collectors Raiding Coffers Of Homeowners With Second Mortgages

By Vince Veneziani, courtesy of Clusterstock

foreclosureAmericans who decided to take out a second mortgage on their home who are now underwater are in big trouble. In fact, they may finding their bank accounts empty and their paychecks dwindling in the near future:

Housing Doom: Josh Zinner of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project in Manhattan said some lenders or trusts for banks that went out of business are selling off second mortgages today to debt collectors for pennies on the dollars. Those debt collectors are then going after the homeowners’ bank accounts or pay checks to recoup whatever money they can.

And if a bank or debt collection agency goes after you, for god’s sake, respond to the complaint in a timely manner:

Perhaps in part because they are not notified, people sued in New York City often fail to appear in court to protect their interests, according to a study released last year by MFY Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm in New York.

MFY found that just seven law firms filed nearly one-third of all the cases seeking to collect $25,000 or less in


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JP Morgan: Stop Freaking Out, The UAE Can Easily Save Dubai

Good morning!  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. – Ilene

JP Morgan: Stop Freaking Out, The UAE Can Easily Save Dubai

Dubai - tbi Courtesy of Vincent Fernando at Clusterstock

Kian Abouhossein at J.P. Morgan delivers some excellent insight into the Dubai crisis. The wealthy UAE will be able to easily bail out Dubai if need be, this time. It just might not be so optimistic to do so in the future.

We are less concerned for global banks about Dubai World’s direct $59bn outstanding debt exposure with $4.3bn due to mature in Dec-09 and a further $4.9bn in 1Q10, considering “only” $13bn of syndicated loans across global banking sector based on Dealogic data. Assuming a 10% “hold” strategy, the most exposed banks would be RBS with $0.23bn, DB and CS with $0.17bn each.

The view from our MENA team is that this event reflects cash flow challenges rather than refinancing ability. They believe that obligations on Dubai World and its property unit Nakheel PJSC are likely to be fulfilled at the new May 2010 earliest repayment date, and that Dubai should be eventually be able to fulfill its debt obligations maturing in the short-term ($4bn in Dec-09, relating to Dubai World, and $9 to $10 in 2010) with continued Abu Dhabi support. Abu Dhabi is strong financially with fiscal and current account surpluses, ~$150bn in FX reserves and a ~$300bn sovereign wealth fund. However it seems that Abu Dhabi will no longer be happy to underwrite all debt, and rather will differentiate more strongly between supporting Dubai’s strategically important assets (such as DEWA, and Dubai Ports), and the non strategic assets – hence the concurrent timing of the Dubai World debt restructure and the Abu Dhabi underwritten government of Dubai debt raising.

Here’s one rough measure of relative bank exposure to Dubai, based on Dubai World syndicated loans since 2007. Overall, JP Morgan believes the exposures are relatively small compared with the major banks involved.

jpk

Here’s probably a better estimate of relative exposure, by loans made to the UAE as a whole. The amount of direct loan exposure to Dubai specifically, within this UAE-wide figure, are apparently very difficult to know.

jpg

Conclusions for some of the major banks exposed:

jpj

ggg

Overall


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What's behind the current wave of 'corporate activism'?

 

What's behind the current wave of 'corporate activism'?

Steffen Böhm, University of Exeter; Annika Skoglund, Uppsala University, and Dan Eatherley, University of Exeter

Recent years have witnessed the emergence of what appears to be a new breed of business person: the corporate activist. Hardly a week goes past without the head of some blue chip or other publicly agitating for a better world, be they ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Connect Series Webinar September 2018

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

We cover dominating patterns in major global Indices, sectors, commodities and the metals markets.  We produce chart pattern analysis and empower people to improve entry and exit points.

To become a member of Kimble Charting Solutions, click here.

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ValueWalk

Global Return August 2018 Commentary: Thinking Differently

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Global Return Asset Management commentary for the month ended August 31, 2018; discussing Yahoo’s business model.

Dear Friends,

For the month of August, we generated a net return of 2.09%.1 We ended the month with 18% of assets in cash and had a net market exposure of 29%.

Q2 hedge fund letters, conference, scoops etc

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Zero Hedge

Investors Are Most Bearish Global Growth Since 2011 As They Go "All-In" US Decoupling

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Even as the 244 respondents to the latest BofA Fund Manager Survey (who manage $724BN in AUM) plowed into US equities, as their September allocation to US stocks rose again, up 2% to 21%, the highest since Jan '15, making the US the most favored equity region globally for the second month running, amid bets the record divergence between the US and the rest of the world will continue for the indefinite future (or simply hoping upward momentum persists)...

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BankUnited Downgraded By Morgan Stanley On Headwinds Facing Mid-Cap Banks

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Related BKU Benzinga's Top Upgrades, Downgrades For September 18, 2018 BankUnited's Earnings Outlook

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Members' Corner

Nike, Colin Kaepernick and the pitfalls of 'woke' corporate branding

 

Adding this article to Members Corner, in case anyone wants to share opinions on Nike and Kaep, or on divisiveness in general. (Read the article I mentioned in the comments section, "A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come".) ~ Ilene

Nike, Colin Kaepernick and the pitfalls of 'woke' corporate branding

Courtesy of Simon Chadwick, University of Salford and Sarah Zipp, University of Stirling

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Biotech

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

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

 

Gene-editing technique CRISPR identifies dangerous breast cancer mutations

Breast cancer type 1 (BRCA1) is a human tumor suppressor gene, found in all humans. Its protein, also called by the synonym BRCA1, is responsible for repairing DNA. ibreakstock/Shutterstock.com

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Gold stocks, Elliot Wave and Volume

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Whom ever paints the chart with Elliot wave always has to try and sideline their bias. Elliot wave can work when it applied correctly and the chart is friendly to receive its application.

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Digital Currencies

A history of Bitcoin - told through the five different groups who bought it

 

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Courtesy of Dave Elder-Vass, Loughborough University

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Mapping The Market

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

Via Jean-Luc:

Famed investor reflecting on his mistakes:

Mistakes were Made. (And, Yes, by Me.)

One that stands out for me:

Instead of focusing on how value factors in general did in identifying attractive stocks, I rushed to proclaim price-to-sales the winner. That was, until it wasn’t. I guess there’s a reason for the proclamation “The king is dead, long live the king” when a monarchy changes hands. As we continued to update the book, price-to-sales was no longer the “best” single value factor, replaced by others, depending upon the time frames examined. I had also become a lot more sophisticated in my analysis—thanks to criticism of my earlier work—and realized that everything, including factors, moves in and out of favor, depending upon the market environment. I also realized...



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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.

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Promotions

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

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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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