Posts Tagged ‘Yves Smith’

Fears of Regime Change in New York

Fears of Regime Change in New York

Courtesy of Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism

Time Square New York

Normally, I don’t report on anecdotes from my immediate circle, but a set of conversations in less than a 24 hour period suggests that even those comparatively unaffected by the crisis are bracing themselves for the possibility of sudden, large-scale, adverse changes. And that sort of gnawing worry seems to be growing in New York despite being buoyed by TARP funds and covert bank subsidies.

When out on my rounds the day before yesterday, I ran into an old McKinsey colleague, who had subsequently had impressively titled jobs in Big Firms You Heard Of before semi-retiring to manage family money. He and his very accomplished wife were big Bush donors and had been invited to both inaugurations.

He made short order of niceties and got to the point: “We need more fiscal stimulus. Obama did too little and too much of what he spent on was liberal pork. We could and need to spend a lot on infrastructure. This is looking a lot like 1936. I’m afraid it could get really ugly. And I’m particularly worried that the Republicans will win big this fall. They’ll cut even deeper, that’s the last thing we need right now.”

No I am not making this up, and yes, this is one of the last people I would have expected to express this line of thinking.

Next day, I had lunch with a two long standing, keen observers and participants in the New York scene, as in very involved in some of the city’s important institutions. Both have witnessed the shift in values over the last thirty years and the rising stratification, particularly at the top end (New York has always been plutocratic, but it formerly had a large upper middle class and a much smaller and much less isolated upper crust).

They started by commenting on my Bill Gross post, which had mentioned the appalling Steve Schwarzman contention that taxing private equity overlords more on their carried interest was like HItler invading Poland. Schwarzman is not only not retreating from his remark, he is convinced that the reason the economy is so lousy is that rich men like him are not getting their way (this is if anything an understatement of their account. Both men expect his head to be the first…
continue reading


Tags: , , , , , , ,




Are Bank Stocks Such a Good Buy?

Are Bank Stocks Such a Good Buy?

Courtesy of Yves Smith at Naked Capitalistm 

banks

A fund manager who will go unnamed mentioned to me that he is putting clients into bank stocks because they are trading at or below book value.

Now of course, individual stocks can and do always outperform the outlook for their sector, so there are no doubt particular banks whose stocks are cheap right now. But there are good reasons to question the notion that banks in general, and money center banks in particular, are a bargain.

First and perhaps most fundamental is the notion that bank equity is a readily-measured number, and that book value is therefore a useful metric. In general, even in companies in make-and-sell businesses, balance sheet items are subject to artful reporting. Notice, for instance, how every four or five years most big public companies take a writeoff that they classify as extraordinary, and equity shills dutifully exclude it from their calculation. In most cases, the writeoff is an admission that past earnings were overstated, but seldom is anyone bothered by what this says about the integrity of that company’s accounting or the acumen of its management.

Bank earnings, even under the best circumstances, involve a great deal of artwork, and most of all in the very big banks with large dealer operations. As Steve Waldman pointed out,

Bank capital cannot be measured. Think about that until you really get it. “Large complex financial institutions” report leverage ratios and “tier one” capital and all kinds of aromatic stuff. But those numbers are meaningless. For any large complex financial institution levered at the House-proposed limit of 15×, a reasonable confidence interval surrounding its estimate of bank capital would be greater than 100% of the reported value. In English, we cannot distinguish “well capitalized” from insolvent banks, even in good times, and regardless of their formal statements.

Lehman is a case-in-point. On September 10, 2008, Lehman reported 11% “tier one” capital and very


continue reading


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,




NYT Muffs Merrill/Magnetar Piece (And Why is No One Investigating the Related Bonus Fraud?)

NYT Muffs Merrill/Magnetar Piece (And Why is No One Investigating the Related Bonus Fraud?)

By Yves Smith and Tom Adams, an attorney and former monoline executive, at Naked Capitalism 

Radar Marking an Earthquake's Epicenter

Louise Story has penned what presents itself as an important story at the New York Times, one that charges Merrill Lynch with misrepresenting the size of its subprime, specifically, collateralized debt obligation exposures, in the runup to the global financial crisis. The ruse the article depicts is a CDO called Pyxis., which purportedly served as a dumping ground for exposures Merrill could not unload. Initially, Merrill was able to escape reporting these positions because it claimed to have hedged the risk. In fact, the hedges failed, the bank was ultimately on the hook and was later forced to ‘fess up to the magnitude of its holdings. This revelation sounds juicy in that Citigroup and some of its recent senior executives paid fines to the SEC for similar, albeit less convoluted-sounding, misconduct.

But in fact, the story is astonishingly incomplete, to the point of being misleading. While Merrill’s probable accounting improprieties are noteworthy and merit investigation by the authorities, they are not the most important element of this episode. CDO abuses amounted to accounting fraud to enable employees and executives to loot their companies. Moreover, they were not perpetrated by isolated actors, but were part of what Bill Black calls a criminogenic environment.

To put it more simply, if you think Merrill’s misrepresentations to investors are a big deal, they are only a small aspect of the bigger, and frustratingly largely untold, tale of the role of CDOs in the crisis. CDOs were the epicenter of the upheaval, the device that magnified a what otherwise would have been contained subprime bubble into an economy-wrecking meltdown. When the music stopped, it was the dealers themselves that wound up holding much of the toxic paper they’d created. AAA rated CDOs went from haircuts of 2-4% in early 2006 to 95% in later 2007. The collapse in CDO valuations and the resulting inability to use CDOs as collateral for repo was a major, if not the major, cause of dealer illiquidity and insolvency which resulted in massive bailouts and backdoor subsidies.

Accounts like Ms. Story’s are blind man and the elephant affairs: at best, they do a good enough job of depicting, say, the trunk, but leave the beast…
continue reading


Tags: , , , , , ,




Stop the madness now!

Excellent post on the economy and saving it (or not) by Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns. (My yellow highlighting) – Ilene

Stop the madness now!

mad as hellThis is a post I just wrote over at Yves Smith’s site Naked Capitalism in response to a reader request. Marshall Auerback has already written a reply as well and I will post this later today.

A reader at Naked Capitalism asked us to respond to a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor asking Does US need a second stimulus to create jobs?

Marshall Auerback has already done some heavy lifting. He says emphatically yes. Now I want to take a crack at this. My short answer is no. But before I go into this, as an aside, I wanted to mention Marshall’s new smiling, happy picture up at the great blog New Deal 2.0 where he now writes.  Earlier, when Credit Writedowns was hosted at Blogger, he used a picture best described as a mug shot in his profile, but he has changed that one too (although he smiles there a little less). He thinks we haven’t noticed this sleight of hand.  Well I have! Once upon a time, Marshall wrote with a man I called all bearish, all the time this summer. Take a look at that post; you don’t see him smiling now do you? We have Lynn Parramore, New Deal 2.0’s editor to thank for making Marshall Auerback into an optimist.

Different policy choices

But all teasing aside, I do want to take the opposite side of this trade.  You see I too was a deficit hawk. And while I may have been backing fiscal stimulus, I have felt conflicted for doing so. Here’s how I see it. 

You have four options:

  1. No stimulus. Let the chips fall where they may. Yves Smith calls this the ‘Mellonite liquidationist mode.’ The thinking here is that trying to avoid the inevitable bust only makes it that much larger. And the economic policies during recessions in 1991 and 2001 seem to bear that out. The Harding Recession of 1921 is commonly seen as gold standard response.
  2. Monetary stimulus only. Quantitative easing mania. My understanding is this is what Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has been advocating.   The thinking here is that the flood of money and the


continue reading


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,




Sympathy for the Treasury

Wondering what happened at the bloggers-Treasury officials’ get-together?  Here’s Steve Randy Waldman’s account of the meeting. – Ilene

Sympathy for the Treasury

us treasury buildingCourtesy of Steve Randy Waldman of Interfluidity

On Monday, I was among a group of eight bloggers who attended a discussion with "senior Treasury officials" in Washington. Several nice accounts of that meeting have already been posted (see roundup below). Here’s mine.

First, I’d like to thank the "senior Treasury officials" for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have, in statistical if not moral terms it was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people. And despite the limitations of the event, I’d rather there be more of this kind of thing than less. So a sincere tip o’the hat to all of our hosts. Thank you for having us.

The second thing I’d like to discuss is corruption. Not, I hasten to add, the corruption of senior Treasury officials, but my own. As a slime mold with a cable modem, it was very flattering to be invited to a meeting at the US Treasury. A tour guide came through with two visitors before the meeting began, and chattily announced that the table I was sitting at had belonged to FDR. It very clearly was not the purpose of the meeting for policymakers to pick our brains. The e-mail invitation we received came from the Treasury’s department of Public Affairs. Treasury’s goal in meeting with us was to inform the public discussion of their past and continuing policies. (Note that I use the word "inform" in the sense outlined in a previous post. It is not about true or false, but about shaping behavior.)

Nevertheless, vanity outshines reason, and I could not help but hope that someone in the bowels of power had read my effluent and decided I should be part of the brain trust. The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policymakers. Further, sitting across a table transforms a television talking head into a human being, and cordial conversation with a human being creates a relationship. Most corrupt acts don’t take the form of clearly immoral choices. People fight those. Corruption thrives where there is a tension between institutional and interpersonal ethics. There is "the…
continue reading


Tags: , , , , , , ,




 
 
 

Phil's Favorites

Don't fear a 'robot apocalypse' - tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid

  Don't fear a 'robot apocalypse' – tomorrow's digital jobs will be more satisfying and higher-paid

Tomorrow’s good jobs will require digital skills like programming. alvarez/Getty Images

Courtesy of Christos A. Makridis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you’re concerned that automation and artificial intelligence are going to disrupt the economy over the next decade, join the club. But while policymakers and academics agree there’ll be significant disruption, they differ about its impa...



more from Ilene

Kimble Charting Solutions

Financial Crisis Deja Vu: Home Construction Index Double Top?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Most of us remember the 2007-2009 financial crisis because of the collapse in home prices and its effect on the economy.

One key sector that tipped off that crisis was the home builders.

The home builders are an integral piece to our economy and often signal “all clears” or “short-term warnings” to investors based on their economic health and how the index trades.

In today’s chart, we highlight the Dow Jones Home Construction Index. It has climbed all the way back to its pre-crisis highs… BUT it immediately reversed lower from there.

This raises concerns about a double top.

This pr...



more from Kimble C.S.

Zero Hedge

Fiat Cuts 1,500 Jobs At Canada Minivan Plant

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

If the consumer has gone cold or just silly millennials not forming families because of their limited financial mobility due to insurmountable debts, minivan demand in North America is plunging, resulting in planned production cuts and job losses at one Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Canada. 

Bloomberg reports Fiat will cut productio...



more from Tyler

Insider Scoop

A Peek Into The Markets: US Stock Futures Plunge Amid Coronavirus Fears

Courtesy of Benzinga

Pre-open movers

U.S. stock futures traded lower in early pre-market trade. South Korea confirmed 256 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, while China reported an additional 327 new cases. Data on U.S. international trade in goods for January, wholesale inventories for January and consumer spending for January will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Chicago PMI for February is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET, while the University of Michigan's consumer sentime...



http://www.insidercow.com/ more from Insider

Biotech & Health

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

 

Could coronavirus really trigger a recession?

Coronavirus seems to be on a collision course with the US economy and its 12-year bull market. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Courtesy of Michael Walden, North Carolina State University

Fears are growing that the new coronavirus will infect the U.S. economy.

A major U.S. stock market index posted its biggest two-day drop on record, erasing all the gains from the previous two months; ...



more from Biotech

The Technical Traders

SPY Breaks Below Fibonacci Bearish Trigger Level

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our research team wanted to share this chart with our friends and followers.  This dramatic breakdown in price over the past 4+ days has resulted in a very clear bearish trigger which was confirmed by our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system.  We believe this downside move will target the $251 level on the SPY over the next few weeks and months.

Some recent headline articles worth reading:

On January 23, 2020, we ...



more from Tech. Traders

Promotions

Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of TradeExchange.com. It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  

...

more from Promotions

Chart School

Oil cycle leads the stock cycle

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Sure correlation is not causation, but this chart should be known by you.

We all know the world economy was waiting for a pin to prick the 'everything bubble', but no one had any idea of what the pin would look like.

Hence this is why the story of the black swan is so relevant.






There is massive debt behind the record high stock markets, there so much debt the political will required to allow central banks to print trillions to cover losses will likely effect elections. The point is printing money to cover billions is unlikely to upset anyone, however printing trillions will. In 2007 it was billions, in 202X it ...

more from Chart School

Members' Corner

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

 

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship

Courtesy of David Brin, Contrary Brin Blog 

Fascinating and important to consider, since it is probably one of the reasons why the world aristocracy is pulling its all-out putsch right now… “Trillions will be inherited over the coming decades, further widening the wealth gap,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The beneficiaries aren’t all that young themselves. From 1989 to 2016, U.S. households inherited more than $8.5 trillion. Over that time, the average age of recipients rose by a decade to 51. More ...



more from Our Members

Digital Currencies

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

 

Altcoin season 2.0: why bitcoin has been outgunned by crypto rivals since new year

‘We have you surrounded!’ Wit Olszewski

Courtesy of Gavin Brown, Manchester Metropolitan University and Richard Whittle, Manchester Metropolitan University

When bitcoin was trading at the dizzying heights of almost US$2...



more from Bitcoin

ValueWalk

What US companies are saying about coronavirus impact

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

With the coronavirus outbreak coinciding with the U.S. earnings seasons, it is only normal to expect companies to talk about this deadly virus in their earnings conference calls. In fact, many major U.S. companies not only talked about coronavirus, but also warned about its potential impact on their financial numbers.

Q4 2019 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Coronavirus impact: many US companies unclear

According to ...



more from ValueWalk

Lee's Free Thinking

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

 

Why Blaming the Repo Market is Like Blaming the Australian Bush Fires

Courtesy of  

The repo market problem isn’t the problem. It’s a sideshow, a diversion, and a joke. It’s a symptom of the problem.

Today, I got a note from Liquidity Trader subscriber David, a professional investor, and it got me to thinking. Here’s what David wrote:

Lee,

The ‘experts’ I hear from keep saying that once 300B more in reserves have ...



more from Lee

Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

more from M.T.M.





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...

Learn more About Phil >>


As Seen On:




About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.