Showing posts with label Wells Fargo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wells Fargo. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Stocks Fail to Extend Rally; Oil Flat; JP Morgan, Wells Fargo Declare 1Q Earnings

Last week's furious rally failed to extend over into Monday's trading as news flow trended negatively.

Given the number of new cases and deaths worldwide from COVID-19, the pain and suffering of millions around the world out of work and isolated in their homes, it's surprising that Wall Street can even muster enough capital for any kind of rally.

Conditions have not changed from the onset of COVID-19's spread, only the Federal Reserve's commitment to suspend reality and boost stocks through various band-aids and stop gap measures has. The only reason stocks managed to gain any ground last week was due to trillions of dollars pumped into the hands of primary dealers via repos, debt purchases, foreign debt purchases, and promises from various Fed presidents to keep the currency spigots wide open.

The lunacy of these efforts is astounding. Desperate to save face and completely devoid of any tools to bring the economy back to their stated mandates of full employment and no inflation, the Fed has expanded its own balance sheet to the point at which it needed funding from the US treasury, a backhanded bailout of the central bank, using some $400-500 billion from Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Oil prices barely budged after the hurried agreement by OPEC+ and other countries will slash production by as much as 10 million barrels a day, roughly 10 percent of global supply. WTI crude closed Monday at $22.41. Efforts to raise the price of oil worldwide were seen as mostly a publicity stunt, as the problem is more a lack of demand than of oversupply. Producers would be best served to stop pumping as storage facilities are near capacity already and the lockdowns in major countries remain weeks away.

Treasury yields rose on the long end, with the 30-year bond at 1.39% and the 10-year note rising three basis points to 0.76%. The curve steepened slightly to 122 basis points.

JP Morgan Chase (JPM) announced first quarter earnings prior to the opening bell Tuesday that were the lowest since 2013, warned of a fairly severe recession ahead and set aside $8.29 billion for bad loans, the biggest provision in at least a decade and more than double what some analysts expected.

The bank reported EPS of 78 cents on revenue of $29.07 billion. Net interest income was flat at $14.5 billion.

Wells Fargo (WFC) reported EPS of 1 cent per share on revenue of $17.7 billion as a $3.1 billion reserve build accounted for 56 cents per share and a $950 million impairment of securities accounted for 17 cents a share. Net interest income fell 8% to $11.3 billion. This bank is essentially insolvent, as is the Federal Reserve, the ECB, BOJ, PBOC and hundreds of other money center banks.

Other money center banks also report this week. Wednesday Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup release their reports. Morgan Stanley’s announcement is scheduled for Thursday.

(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday beat analysts' estimates for first-quarter profit on higher sales of its cancer drugs and consumer products including Tylenol, while slashing its full-year forecast due to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Shares of the company, which raised its dividend by 6.3% to $1.01 per share, rose 3% to $144 in trading before the bell.

The company now expects 2020 adjusted earnings per share of $7.50 to $7.90, compared with its prior estimate of $8.95 to $9.10.

Gold and silver posted modest gains on the day. In case anyone was skeptical over Money Daily's call for $100 silver and a 16:1 gold:silver ratio in Sunday's Weekend Wrap (below), perhaps a gander at Mike Maloney's call for $700 silver a few years ago at goldsilver.com, may be in order:



At the Close, Monday, April 13, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,390.77, -328.60 (-1.39%)
NASDAQ: 8,192.42, +38.85 (+0.48%)
S&P 500: 2,761.63, -28.19 (-1.01%)
NYSE: 10,949.53, -187.08 (-1.68%)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Stocks Stumble After Mnuchin Trade Remarks; JPM, Citi Earnings Solid

After Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin remarked that tariffs on many Chinese goods would remain in place until later in the eyar and possibly beyond, only the Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to remain positive, as the major indices erased solid gains from earlier in the day, sending stocks sliding through the afternoon.

Mnuchin maintained that import tariffs would remain in place until the US and China agree on Phase 2 of their trade arrangement. His remarks came a day before the leaders of the world's two largest economies are set to sign a Phase 1 deal on Wednesday.

Washington and Beijing agreed to suspend tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese-made cellphones, laptop computers and other goods that were due to take effect on Dec. 15, and to cut in half existing tariffs on $120 billion of other goods to 7.5%. The Phase 1 deal keeps 25% tariffs on $250 billion of other Chinese goods in place. Mnuchin did not offer a timetable for when Phase 2 would be worked out, but the consensus believes such a deal would not be fully negotiated until after the November US elections.

A formal signing of Phase 1 documents is slated for 11:30 am ET, Wednesday at the White House.

Trade and tariffs continue to be the hot topic by which to move stocks and it seems likely that trend will continue through most of - if not all of - 2020, though with lesser impact. The Chinese representatives are sure to engage in some foot-dragging, hedging that President Trump may not be around for the completion of Phase 2. For its part, the administration will be busy with the politics of a presidential election, which will divert resources and attention away from trade dealings.

Those are positive developments in the larger scheme of things. The public is weary of Democrat attempts to weaken the president or impeach him. Business leaders largely view the entire political spectrum with jaded skepticism, believing that the poorly-managed impeachment proceedings initiated by the House of Representatives is a waste of time.

Right on cue, the House will debate and then vote on a resolution to advance articles of impeachment - which were passed nearly a month ago (December 18) - on Wednesday. Normally, no such vote is needed, though this impeachment process has been anything but normal. Another vote in the House gives Democrats another opportunity to bad-mouth the president while taking attention away from the signing of the trade accord. The measure is likely to sail through along party lines, with a Senate trial to begin on Tuesday of next week (January 21).

House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi's stalling of the process seems to have benefitted nobody except possibly President Trump. By not immediately handing over the articles of impeachment and naming managers, Pelosi comes off looking petty, conflicted, and frankly, ridiculous.

It is widely considered that President Trump will be acquitted by the Senate in short order, allowing democrat presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders to get back on the campaign trail before the Iowa caucuses the first week of February.

Until then, some market surprises could come in the form of earnings from various companies. Mega-banks JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup reported on Tuesday, with JPM showing EPS of $2.57, which smashed expectations for $1.98. Citi boosted revenues above consensus to over $18bn while EPS came at $1.90, beyond expectations for $1.83. Wells Fargo bucked the trend, reporting earnings below consensus. Share prices for JPM and Citi were up +1.17% and +1.56%, respectively, but Wells Fargo closed lower, down -5.39%.

Prior to the opening bell Wednesday morning, Bank of America said earnings for the fourth quarter were 74 cents per share, up 5.7% from the same period last year and better than the 68 cent consensus forecast.

Goldman Sachs (GS) reporting on Wednesday morning, showed quarterly earnings of $4.69 a share, trailing the $5.56 average of estimates from analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. Net income tumbled 24 percent to $1.92 billion. Those results sent stock futures tumbling further into the red.

The FOMC is scheduled to meet the last week of January. Their meeting is scheduled for the 28th and 29th.

At the Close, Tuesday, January 14, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,939.67, +32.57 (+0.11%)
NASDAQ: 9,251.33, -22.60 (-0.24%)
S&P 500: 3,283.15, -4.98 (-0.15%)
NYSE Composite: 14,037.13, -5.47 (-0.04%)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Stocks Rise Despite Spate Of Bad News, Brexit No-Go Vote

Some are wondering whether the market is being run by computers or human operatives, or, worse yet, humans running computers front-running the market.

What may be happening is that humans are programming computer algorithms to react to fake news and the PPT is backstopping each and every tick lower by buying futures, resulting in the altos readjusting to buy more.

There was a good deal of bad news flow in the morning... and then just after 7:00 pm London time (2:00 pm ET), there was the Brexit vote.

Here's what passed across the wires prior to the opening bell and shortly thereafter:


  • Both Wells Fargo (WFC) and JP Morgan Chase (JPM) missed on both earnings per share and revenue.
  • Netflix (NFLX) announced the largest price increase in its 12-year history.
  • China's economy grew by 6.4%, the slowest rate in over a decade.
  • PPI cane in at -0.2%, a deflationary reading.
  • Delta Airlines (DAL) beat, but warned that the partial government shutdown would negatively impact earnings in the current quarter.
  • The Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell to a reading of 3.9 in January from an upwardly revised reading of 11.5 in December.
  • Goodyear Tire (GT) lowered its fourth quarter outlook and full year (2018) guidance.

With all this in the cooker, stocks opened higher and took off from there. The Dow exploded to a gain of 190 points just before noon. The NASDAQ was up nearly 120 points.

After noon, the markets went into a wait-and-see mood as the Brexit vote approached. In what has to be the most convoluted, time-wasting exercise in government over-reach (possibly challenged by the partial shutdown in the US), Britain has been wrangling over just how to depart from the European Union after a referendum passed nearly two-and-a-half years ago (June 23, 2016).

With different constituents vying for complete Brexit, partial Brexit with a backstop, no Brexit, and other variants, the argument over how to implement what was voted upon by the constituency has been nothing short of a disaster and an indictment against the effectiveness of government everywhere.

Somebody should point out - we will - that with all the Brexit juggling, partial US shutdown jousting, and continuing French protesting, governments in developed nations are proving to be at least cracked, if not nearly completely broken. Besides the fact that none of them can manage to spend less than what they receive through their extreme, excessive, heavy-handed taxation - which is over the top - it seems all they're capable of doing at the highest levels is fight for positioning and power, all to the detriment of the people they're supposed to be representing. Collectively, they pass no new legislation that is of benefit to the people. Other than President Trump's efforts, government is a massive, obvious failure of human capacity.

If ever there was a time for a global revolution (not a new concept), it would be now, though nobody has any contingency plans for how to deal with the dystopian aftermath that would surely follow.

Experience teaches us that disposing of scoundrels, deposing tyrants, or overthrowing governments only makes matters seem better for a short period of time. At least in the original American revolution, the patriots were separated from their tyrannical rulers by a vast ocean which technology hadn't quite conquered.

Today's intertwined system is different, close at hand, and the scoundrels much better disguised. There isn't going to be any overthrow of anything except morals and values, people's faith and judgment, which seem to be going in the direction of all flesh. Anger, the most palpable manifestation of displeasure, is boiling over in all facets of urban life. People are becoming more and more ill-mannered, short-tempered, self-absorbed, and intolerant toward the views and objectives of others. All of this adds up to uncivil activities, flouting of the law, violence and strife. Essentially, when ordinary people lose faith in a government that they had become accustomed to relying upon, all that's left is chaos, and that seems to be the direction in which we're inexorably, sadly, headed.

... and then came the Brexit vote in Britain's Parliament. Prime Minister Teresa May's government proposal was rounded defeated by a 432-202 vote in the House of Commons. On the news, the Dow tanked... briefly, the other indices slumped shortly, and then shot back to from whence they came.

It's all fake, people. There are no more free markets. Face it. All the geese been thoroughly cooked.

Dow Jones Industrial Average January Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
1/2/19 23,346.24 +18.78 +18.78
1/3/19 22,686.22 -660.02 -641.24
1/4/19 23,433.16 +746.94 +105.70
1/7/19 23,531.35 +98.19 +203.89
1/8/19 23,787.45 +256.10 +459.99
1/9/19 23,879.12 +91.67 +551.66
1/10/19 24,001.92 +122.80 +674.46
1/11/19 23,995.95 -5.97 +669.49
1/14/19 23,909.84 -86.11 +583.38
1/15/19 24,065.59 +155.75 +739.13

At the Close, Tuesday, January 15, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,065.59, +155.75 (+0.65%)
NASDAQ: 7,023.83, +117.92 (+1.71%)
S&P 500: 2,610.30, +27.69 (+1.07%)
NYSE Composite: 11,868.68, +69.57 (+0.59%)

Friday, February 3, 2017

What Wall Street Wants, Wall Street Gets; Trump Slashes Dodd-Frank

There's no better way to put it than to say that the Wall Street banks - Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and Citi - have Donald Trump's "get out of jail free" card in their back pockets.

Today's action by the President, an executive order slashing most of the regulations put on banks by the Dodd-Frank act under past-president Obama and the useless congress, paves the way for even looser regulations and more wild risk-taking by Wall Street.

And the celebration got underway right after the stupid BLS jobs report and the opening bell, boosting all major averages to within spitting distance of all-time highs.

Should anyone wonder if Mr. Trump knows anything about economics, one has only to look at his Treasury nominee, Steven Mnuchin, who led a group of investors in the take-out of IndyMac, later changing the name to OneWest while it became a serial abuser of mortgage financing and foreclosure laws.

While the former Goldman Sachs partner is not yet assured of passing muster in Senate confirmation, the appearance of yet another Goldman alumnus at the top finance job in the administration should be all one needs to know. Trump has long-standing associations with Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and financiers in general, so it isn't really a surprise.

Business will do business, whether or not it's moral, fiduciary, or based upon sound best practices. Wall Street retained control when Trump was elected, and would have even with Hillary as the president, so there's a bit of a silver lining in that at least the office of the president isn't occupied by a serial liar and psychopath. President Trump is better than the alternative, probably by more than anyone imagined.

After all the whipsaw activity of the past week, the major indices ended relatively unchanged. So, jobs data, the Fed, Trump, the EU, Japan, and the UK central bankers didn't actually add up to much at all.

Caveat Emptor

Carry on and Mind the Gap.


At the Close, Friday, February 3, 2017:

Dow: 20,071.46, +186.55 (0.94%)
NASDAQ: 5,666.77, +30.57 (0.54%)
S&P 500: 2,297.42, +16.57 (0.73%)
NYSE Composite: 11,311.74, +96.36 (0.86%)

For the Week:
Dow: -22.32 (-0.11%)
NASDAQ: +5.98 (0.11%)
S&P 500: +2.72 (0.12%)
NYSE Composite: +27.52 (+0.24%)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stocks Topped Out Again? Bank Earnings A Mixed Picture

After racking up impressive gains the first three days of the week, stocks took Thursday off, trading in a narrow range that may suggest to some that another topping pattern is forming.

The Dow, in particular, is retesting the highs from the end of October, when the index failed at a run to 18,000, and began a slow descent that accelerated in January to near full-blown panic.

As for the S&P, it remains just above water for the year, although analysts have repeatedly stressed the area of 2080-2090 as a key resistance level.

With another FOMC meeting in less than than two weeks (April 26-27), traders may be suffering from a case of frayed nerves, though considering the dovish tone coming from Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, any fears of a rate hike before June - at the earliest - seem unfounded.

Bank stocks have done well, with JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) both reporting earnings in line or above estimates, though revenues have fallen short for both firms.

Wells Fargo also reported before the open on Thursday, citing loan loss reserves in their energy portfolio putting a damper on first quarter profits. That was perhaps the souring tone the street did not expect nor want to hear.

Citigroup reports prior to the opening bell on Friday, looking for 1.03 per share for the quarter.

S&P 500: 2,082.78, +0.36 (0.02%)
Dow: 17,926.43, +18.15 (0.10%)
NASDAQ: 4,945.89, -1.53 (0.03%)

Crude Oil 41.43 -0.79% Gold 1,229.30 -1.52% EUR/USD 1.1265 -0.07% 10-Yr Bond 1.78 +1.08% Corn 373.50 0.00% Copper 2.17 0.00% Silver 16.18 -0.86% Natural Gas 1.96 -3.83% Russell 2000 1,128.59 -0.12% VIX 13.72 -0.87% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4154 -0.37% USD/JPY 109.4000 +0.10%

Monday, April 11, 2016

Amid Economic Unease, Former Fed Chair Bernanke Proposes MFFP (aka Helicopter Money)

We must be nearing the end of the current monetary system, since there is no growth, no prospects, and the entirety of the future has been mortgaged to the tune of $19 Trillion in US debt, and much, much more in unfunded liabilities via entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Adding to the belief that the end is nigh, former Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, now working for the Brookings Institute, penned a blog post today entitled, What tools does the Fed have left? Part 3: Helicopter money, wherein he openly advances the idea of direct money drops to the public. That would, ideally, include you, me, your poor uncle Tony, aunt Gracie, your neighbors, the weird guy in the run-down house on the corner, and everybody else who could use a few extra c-notes in the mail, ostensibly, tomorrow, and maybe, a few times a year, or month, or maybe even weekly...

You see where this is going, right? Bernanke is not convinced that US economic growth is kaput, yet he throws this out there for public consumption because, well, maybe he's grown weary of downloading porn, or he has to do something to make him seem relevant to the people paying his salary, or, perhaps he actually believes this is a realistic solution should the US economy completely stall out, or, heaven forbid, enter recession (like the one we've been in for the past eight years).

Not to make too much fun of the poor, old coot, but Bernanke was the Fed chairman during the last financial crisis, and his policies didn't do much to relieve anybody but the one percenters from economic repression, so it's unlikely that anything he suggests in his new role as wizened sage overseeing the global economy from some ivory tower will accomplish anything more than perverting the economy more than it already has been.

The most favored paragraph from Bernanke's flight of fancy is this one:
In more prosaic and realistic terms, a “helicopter drop” of money is an expansionary fiscal policy—an increase in public spending or a tax cut—financed by a permanent increase in the money stock. [4] To get away from the fanciful imagery, for the rest of this post I will call such a policy a Money-Financed Fiscal Program, or MFFP.

Yes, he coined a new acronym, MFFP, which I, Fearless Rick, a junior economist at best, reconfigured to mean Mother-(a vulgar word for copulating)-Foolish-Policy, and I think my naming makes more sense than anything any former Fed chairman could conjure. After all, I have been a writer for newspapers and blogs for many years, while Fed-heads only talk about money, interest rates, and other arcane foibles of economics. They're not very creative; I have to be (or I'll die, but that's another issue for another time).

So, choose whichever wording your little heart desires, I think Bernanke's just another old fart with a Ph.D., which these days are a dine a dozen. Being a doctor of anything these days isn't what it used to be. Doctors don't make that much, especially since the US has adopted a socialized system of medicine, which you all know and swear at when you receive your monthly health care statement, as Obamacare.

Being a doctor is over-rated. So is the Fed. What a bunch of morons. Seriously.

My point is simple. Handing out money, no matter to whom you bequest, or whatever you call it, or whatever cutesy acronym you paint on it, or whichever "mechanism" you use to do it, is just bad policy, and just plain stupid.

Moreover, Bernanke exposes himself as a completely dull ignoramus for even suggesting "money drops," not once, not twice, but now at least three times in his esteemed career as a monetary theorist. As Mark Twain once said,
It's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.

I guess Bernanke never read that line, or worse, failed to understand it.

Geez. Just put your hand out. Somebody will magically fill it with cash. Yeah, and the queen of England is a babe.

CAUTIONARY NOTE. WARNING.

PAY ATTENTION TO TODAY'S MARKET RESULTS. MARKETS POPPED AND DROPPED, FINISHING IN THE RED, PRIOR TO THE KICKOFF OF EARNINGS SEASON. ALCOA ANNOUNCED AFTER THE CLOSE - 0.07/share; $4.95B Rev. - AND ALL THE MONEY CENTER BANKS - JP MORGAN CHASE (Wed), BANK OF AMERICA (Thurs), WELLS-FARGO (Thurs), CITIGROUP (Fri) - REPORT THIS WEEK.

BE ALERT FOR FALLING STOCK PRICES.

Today's market noise:
S&P 500: 2,041.99, -5.61 (0.27%)
Dow: 17,556.41, -20.55 (0.12%)
NASDAQ: 4,833.40, -17.29 (0.36%)

Crude Oil 40.38 +1.66% Gold 1,259.40 +1.25% EUR/USD 1.1408 +0.05% 10-Yr Bond 1.72 +0.23% Corn 356.75 -1.52% Copper 2.08 -0.19% Silver 15.93 +3.55% Natural Gas 1.93 -3.07% Russell 2000 1,094.34 -0.27% VIX 16.26 +5.86% BATS 1000 20,682.61 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4233 +0.77% USD/JPY 107.9395 -0.11%

Monday, February 8, 2016

Bank Stocks Lead Market Rout as Bond Yields Plummet; Gold, Silver Soar

If anyone critical of the US economy is - as the great and almighty economic genius, President Obama recently posited - "peddling fiction," then why is Wall Street peeling away from equity positions like it's the Tour de France?

Relentless selling was the order of the day, especially in financials, until the final hour, as specs stepped in or shorts covered, cutting losses by 1/3 to 1/2.

While fiction writers may not think the stock markets are the modern day equivalents of "Moby Dick," they do have something of a beached whale quality to them. Germany's DAX is already in a bear market, as is China's SSE and Japan's NIKKEI, and the US markets are catching down somewhat quickly, with all three major indices already in correction territory.

With no real catalyst to move stocks higher, the prognosis is for further losses through the first quarter.

Banks were particularly ugly today, with Deutschebank (DB, -8.00%) teetering on the brink of insolvency, and losses suffered by Bank of America (BAC, -5.25%), Goldman Sachs (GS, -4.61%), Citigroup (C, -5.14), Wells-Fargo (WFC, -2.84%), and JP Morgan Chase (JPM, -2.10%).

At issue, as usual with banks, is interest rates, which soared today, pushing the 10-year note to an 18-month low yield of 1.74%). Credit spreads also continued to narrow, forecasting a recession, if not this quarter (and possibly last quarter), then almost surely in Q2.

Underlying the banking sector are questions of general solvency, quality of collateral, and, the size of their respective derivative books. Deutsche has the largest, estimated to be a total exposure of $75 trillion, with the US banks heavily into the game. Derivatives - CDS and other "bad bets" are what nearly took the entire Western economic system down in 2008, and they haven't gone away. Bank balance sheets are larger now and filled with just as much, if not more, toxic derivative soup.

When the financials lead the market down, it's usually not a good sign. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citi are already in bear markets (down more than 20%), while Wells-Fargo and JPM are within one percent of being in the same sinking vote.

Following the underwhelming jobs report Friday, stocks have done nothing but decline and that trend doesn't look to be about to change anytime soon.

The world may be months - if not weeks - away from complete capitulation in stock markets, the precursor to a global depression.

Another telling sign is the rise of gold and silver, two of the top-performing assets (along with bonds) for 2016. Both were up smartly again today and have broken through strong points of resistance.

The day's damage:
S&P 500: 1,853.44, -26.61 (1.42%)
Dow: 16,027.05, -177.92 (1.10%)
NASDAQ: 4,283.75, -79.39 (1.82%)

Crude Oil 30.11 -2.53% Gold 1,191.40 +2.91% EUR/USD 1.1193 +0.30% 10-Yr Bond 1.74 -6.11% Corn 362.00 -1.03% Copper 2.09 -0.52% Silver 15.35 +3.90% Natural Gas 2.13 +3.30% Russell 2000 969.34 -1.65% VIX 26.00 +11.21% BATS 1000 20,045.01 -1.29% GBP/USD 1.4432 -0.47% USD/JPY 115.8500 -0.93%

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fed's FOMC Announces 0.25% Rate Hike, Stocks Soar On The News, Banks Raise Prime Rate

As expected, the FOMC (Federal Open Markets Committee) raised the interest rate on federal funds (the rate for overnight loans from one financial institution to another from funds held at the Federal Reserve) from a range of 0.00-0.25 to 0.25 to 0.50.

Full release here.

On the surface, this seems much ado about nothing, or, almost nothing, but the Fed's long-awaited rate increase will have ramifications across the investing and business world.

For instance, the first salvo will be to any and all loans tied to the Prime Rate, which include most credit card, revolving debt and home equity loans and lines of credit.

Shortly after the Fed's rate announcement, major banks began announcing that they were raising their prime lending rate from 3.25 percent to 3.50 percent. Wells Fargo was the first bank to announce the rate hike, followed in rapid pace by Chase, Citibank and Bank of America. The increases are effective immediately.

What that means is if you've been paying 4% (not unusual) on a home equity loan, your new rate will be 4.25%. In real terms, on $250,000, that's an additional $37 per month. Not much, one might think, but, considering that the Fed plans on continuing to increase their base FF rate - which will green light the banks to up the prime rate - the cost of borrowing will simply continue to increase.

Many analysts have shied away from calling the Fed's move ill-timed, though an equal number has called it "too late." What it certainly is not is "too little." Insofar as it is the smallest rate hike imaginable, its effects will be far reaching.

In larger, banking terms, try this: A billion dollars borrowed over seven years at 1/4% would cost $12,010,470 per monthly payment. At 1/2%, it's $12,116,790, an increase of $106,000 a month. That same billion, borrowed for just one year at 1/4% interest requires a monthly payment of $83,446,220. At 1/2%, it's 83,559,200, an increase of $112,980 per month.

With numbers like these being thrown around routinely - and daily - by the largest financial institutions, hedge funds, brokerages and their ilk, something is bound to blow up sooner, rather than later. Already we've witnessed carnage in the junk bond markets, which have been pounded in anticipation of today's Fed announcement and there will surely be more to come.

On wall Street, stocks appeared to love the move, with the Dow up 224 points, the S&P gaining 29.66, and the NASDAQ ahead by 75.77. This looks all well and good right out of the box, but there's a quadruple witching day coming up Friday on options, and year end is now within spitting distance.

It might be wise to square up one's positions - if one has any - before the end of 2015 to take advantage of tax breaks for losses and/or long term gains. Precious metals moved rather sharply throughout the day and did not pull back after the Fed announcement, despite the dollar remaining strong, which is the obvious outcome.

For now, the strong dollar will continue to stoke deflation, as imports will become cheaper. To anybody who's been Christmas shopping, the price structure is obviously on the low end this season and will likely be bargain basement after the holiday shopping ends.

Most Americans will find bargains in stores, if they have any money with which to purchase them after paying what are sure to be higher credit card bills.

According to the Federal Reserve, the US economy is supposed to be strong enough now to absorb this rate increase and the associated nuances. At this juncture, it's far too early to tell.

We shall see in coming weeks and months. As Ernest Hemingway so eloquently put it in The Sun Also Rises: "How did you go bankrupt?"

"Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stocks Erase Early Gains, Close Flat

Eerily similar to Thursday's trading pattern, stocks rode early gains until 10:00 am EDT, then quickly sold off, spent the rest of the session in the red and finished flat.

The drop in equities coincided neatly with the release of the University of Michigan's October Consumer Sentiment survey, which showed a reading of 83.1, after posting a 783 figure in September. Either the respondents to the survey have been enjoying some good life, or, like other economic data releases over the past month or so, the data is being rigged in advance of the November elections.

Such conspiracy theories have been gaining traction in recent days, and barely anyone would be surprised, at this point, if some of them were proven valid.

While the indices ended flat, the advance-decline line experienced serious deterioration, suggesting that there were few buyers in the market and those were very selective.

Otherwise, it was a lackluster day for equities. JP Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) both reported third quarter earnings prior to the opening bell and both beat on the earnings side, though Wells missed revenue projections. Both stocks sold off during the trading session, due, in part, to one of the unexpected consequences of ZIRP and QEternity by the Federal Reserve: with borrowing and lending rates so low, banks are finding it difficult to make money.

Put that in the Keynesian "I told you so" file and have a happy weekend.

Dow 13,328.85, +2.46 (0.02%)
NASDAQ 3,044.11, -5.30 (0.17%)
S&P 500 1,428.59, -4.25 (0.30%)
NYSE Composite 8,227.08, -29.51 (0.36%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,545,540,250
NYSE Volume 3,132,356,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1930-3489
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 109-61
WTI crude oil: 91.86, -0.21
Gold: 1,759.70, -10.90
Silver: 33.67, -0.413

Friday, January 7, 2011

Banks Lose in Mass. Case; Jobs Short; Predictions 2011, Part 3

Outside of the first fifteen minutes of trading on Monday, the markets for 2011 have been essentially flat, and with good reason, as they were customarily topped out by the end of December, Monday's (January 3rd) exuberant explosion to the upside a mere phantom rally based on nothing other than bloated expectations.

what everyone anxiously held their collective breaths for - December non-farm payroll data - was released just as usual, though the results were anything but. The number printed at 109,000 new jobs over the month, well below expectations, but the "official" unemployment rate fell to 9.4%, the lowest in something like a year and a half, but pure farce, based upon some 500,000 former workers ceasing to collect unemployment insurance.

Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics is quickly becoming known as an Orwellian Bureau of Disinformation for their gently-massaged, highly-suspect numbers from month to month, the rosy outlook from the 0.4% drop in the unemployment rate merely masks the reality of half a million Americans being switched from once-productive members of society to then-unemployed to now permanent membership of the underclass of welfare and food stamp recipients.

Stocks took a bit of a nose-dive on the news, and traded in the red the entire session, though recovered some of the ground late in the day. There was nothing to lift stocks except the unhappy comedy of whirring computers and drugged-up Americans believing anything being said on the great gizmo of propaganda tube.

We now have two or three different economies co-existing in the nation. There's the super-rich, who could give a damn about anything other than profits and skimming, who are seldom seen in public but variously fund and plunder from the other classes. There's an upper-middle class of suburban Americans who, though stretched thin by taxes, utilities and inflation, still have enough in the tank to keep believing in the American dream.

Those two groups probably account for maybe 35% of the nation's population, many of them part of the corporate culture, others either working for some form of government entity or drawing retirement benefits from one. Down below is the other 65% of the population, the massive, but shrinking, middle class, which has seen upward mobility destroyed by decades of debt and wage stagnation, their incomes reduced by the dual forces of inflation and a weakening dollar. They are becoming an endangered species, being dragged closer and closer to a wall of insolvency wherein lives the impoverished underclass, though many, thanks to food stamps, rent subsidies and outright handouts from the government live as well as the middle class, without the stress of having to work, pay taxes or any other kind of bill.

This end group is what America is quickly becoming: a dumbed-down horde of mindless babblers, poorly educated and without hope for anything but a dismal future. Those in their twenties or thirties wonder when the next shoe will drop, when their job will be cut, not when they will be promoted or receive the largesse of a raise. Those are the disillusioned, while their elders have already given up. In a world dominated by crooked politicians and ruthless bankers, democracy has been overwhelmed by neo-feudalism, cleverly disguised as a functioning society. Those below the arc of the curve, the 65%ers, have had their rights stripped away, their futures blunted, their wealth taken by the power of the state. For them, and for most of us on the fringe, the future never looked so stark, bleak and devoid of hope.

Wall Street, however, where prosperity is measured by the minute in point-gains and losses, might as well be off in another universe, it is so far removed, perceptually and philosophically, from the rest of the culture. They own, we rent. They take, we give. They win, we lose. The times are indeed precarious.

Dow 11,674.76, -22.55 (0.19%)
NASDAQ 2,703.17, -6.72 (0.25%)
S&P 500 1,271.50, -2.35 (0.18%)
NYSE Composite 7,980.32, -20.58 (0.26%)


Aligned with the headline number, losers beat gainers, 3884-2595. On the NASDAQ, there were 148 new highs and just 8 new lows. On the NYSE, the numbers were similar, with 141 new highs and 9 new lows. Volume was lower than any other day this week as the rats jump off the ship.

NASDAQ Volume 1,991,273,500
NYSE Volume 5,659,220,000


Crude oil futures finished down again, losing 35 cents, to $88.03. Gold continued to stall, down $2.80, to $1,368.90. Silver was in even worse shape, losing 45 cents, to $28.67.

In Massachusetts, the state's Supreme Court, in what promises to be a landmark decision, threw out foreclosures brought by US Bancorp and Wells Fargo, saying that the jumbled maze of mortgage assignments and security pooling agreements does not constitute proof of ownership of a note and mortgage, thus making the plaintiffs in the action, the banks, without legal standing to foreclose. In other words, the court told the banks, "no note, no mortgage and no foreclosure. See ya," and dismissed the actions.

The ruling was a notable win for advocates of homeowners and middle class Americans and a potentially-fatal wound to the banks.

Predictions 2011: Stocks, Bonds, Politics and Social Trends

Stocks will languish in 2011, and share prices on January 1st, this past Monday, could well mark the highs of the year, since they were at the height of a four-month-long rally. Rather than another banner year like 2009 and 2010, truth will come out at last, that the economy isn't really recovering all that well, stimulus will have to come to an end at some point and valuations will be ratcheted downward. Corporate earnings will be hard-pressed to match year-ago figures, putting top-end pressure on securities.

Depending on data and also what Republicans in congress do about the debt ceiling, the situation could become even more dire than it already is, though the impression is that it's in everybody's best interest to just keep moving along until 2012, when the presidential and congressional elections will bring out the worst in everyone.

The following are the trading ranges I envisage for the major indices:
Dow: 9250-12000
NASDAQ: 2100-2750
S&P 500: 875-1300
NYSE Comp: 5650-8100

Bonds can't go much higher in yield for fer of exploding deficits and they surely won't decline radically in what appears to be an inflationary environment. The curve will flatten as longer-dated maturities remain calm while the short end inflates on the yield curve. Short term rates have been held down too low for too long, but they're there for a reason, and a big move is not expected.

Food and fuel prices will rise, Lady Gaga will dominate the cultural landscape as will "leaving it behind," a trend based on people fully giving up on the entire system of low wages, high taxes and costs out of control. Oil will not break above $100/barrel as it would be catastrophic and truly cause a depression. Again, that may wait until 2012.

In politics, the Republicans and Democrats will both try to appear adult, measured and in control, when in reality they have no idea what they're doing. 2011 will be another year of massive policy and monetary mistakes which won't be fully appreciated for years. The mortgage/foreclosure mess will cycle out of control and there may actually be prosecutions for some big Wall Street types, though not the top honchos. Any litigation will be for show.

There may be riots (some may already be occurring) over housing, food, jobs, welfare and anything the underclass needs to get by on, and an occasional murder, for vengeance, could take out a rich banker or two.

Mostly, it will be a year of hand-ringing over nothing. Industrious types will find new ways to make a living, while more and more people will fall into poverty, real poverty, not the kind displayed on TV. Tent cities could begin to become more than an eyesore, but a health issue as well, and we'll still be in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting wars for no good reason. China will continue to ascend as America's decline accelerates.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CRASH ALERT... BANKS ABOUT TO ROLL OVER AGAIN

As the headline suggests, Foreclosuregate has precipitated a front-running on the banks by investors who are rightfully scared that issues stemming from the rampant fraud, not only from foreclosure and robo-signing issues, but dating back to mortgage originations, bad paperwork, MERS, and the entire RMBS fiasco.

Proof was in the activity of the stocks that appear poised to take what amounts to a knockout blow: JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), Wells Fargo (WFC) and the granddaddy of them all, Bank of America (BAC). Shares of these banks, which are the servicers of vast numbers of mortgages, many already in default or foreclosure, fell by 5-6% on the day.

On the other side of the sell-off are the monoline insurers, those companies which will gain from tranches of mortgages securities being "put back" to the banks as investors seek to be compensated and made whole at par for non-performing securities. Such entities such as AMBAC (ABK), MBIA (MBI), Radian Group (RDN) and MGIC Investment Corp. (MTG) were up anywhere from 5-18%. The smart money is already in, against the banks and on the insurers.

At issue are mortgages made and securities issued between 2005 and 2007, which were mostly securitized and sold by the Big Four banks. Many of the loans have already defaulted and are being put back to the banks, with litigation ramping up.

As for overall market reaction, stocks were down hard on the day on news that PPI increase 0.4% in September and new unemployment claims ramped up to 462,000, but is probably more like 475,000, as the BLS routinely understates these numbers and upwardly revises them the following week.

The Dow was down by as many as 72 points before the interventionists took aim at the unchanged line at 3:00 - their usual "happy hour" - and almost got there, perhaps leaving all of the indices in the red as a signal to those in the know that the massive sell-off was set to kick into high gear beginning Friday.

A market decline prior to the election is clearly in the cards as a message for Tea partiers and Republicans to carry into the elections as a repudiation of Democrat party policies. in case nobody noticed, equity options expire tomorrow, and the usual out-of-the-blue rally has gone missing.

Stocks are about to become very cheap, very soon, as a crash is well set-up by Fed pumping liquidity and enormous denial of reality on the part of the entire Wall Street scum crowd.

The Fed's QE2, attempting to "reduce disinflation," targeting a 2% inflation rate and an additional 0.5 to 1.0% improvement in GDP, is exactly backwards at this point. To say they are "pushing on a string" is like saying your son's high school football team has a good chance of beating the Baltimore Ravens.

The Fed will attempt to influence the economy by timed purchases of Treasuries and more bad paper in the MBS universe. They're going to get stuck with a load of bad paper which hopefully will cause their utter and complete collapse. Since the Fed is one of the major causes of financial pain in this country, it's about time they meet their maker and go the way of buggy whips, typewriters and people who think the banks are a good buy. Planning to purchase as much as $1.5 trillion of paper over the next 6-12 months isn't even going to raise an eyebrow on the slumbering economy. They'd need $20 trillion to unwind the mess the banks have created and continue to deny. It's OVER. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will FAIL. JP Morgan Chase may survive, as they hold a special place in American finance, but they will be impaired for many years.

Dow 11,094.57, -1.51 (0.01%)
NASDAQ 2,435.38, -5.85 (0.24%)
S&P 500 1,173.81, -4.29 (0.36%)
NYSE Composite 7,546.59, -14.91 (0.20%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,026,980,750.00
NYSE Volume 5,962,782,000


Declining issues outpaced advancers, 3706-2738, but new highs remained in favor over new lows, 610-58. Volume was slightly improved, but only because the volume on the bank stocks was so unusually high (about 4.5X normal on BAC and WFC alone).

In anticipation of the deflationary depression the United States is about to enter, oil backed off 32 cents, to $82.69. The alternative currency play in the precious metals remained very much alive, with gold hiher by $7.10, to $1,377.60. Silver was higher by another 50 cents, to $24.44, capping a 25% move from the beginning of September.

Make no bones about it, the US is heading right over the cliff. Whether anybody recognizes the fact or the media gives credence to it before the elections or before Christmas is just a matter of how well the power players in government can keep it under wraps. But it's here, and it's going to hurt for a very long time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stocks Finish with Wide Losses as Financial Continue Decline

For the third week in the past four, the major indices recored losses, which is especially poignant this week as the expiration of stock options usually encourages some upward momentum, but there was little to be found as another drab session marked the close of the week.

Stocks bottomed out just at the noon hour before rallying back somewhat, with fresh cash being put to use in what some must surely consider "bargains." There was some discussion on the internet Thursday about buying into Bank of America as the stock hit fresh 52-week lows, but broke down again on Friday to even lower levels.

Consistently the second most traded stock on the NYSE, Bank of America crumpled to a close of 12.87, marking a 34% decline from its closing high of 19.47 on April 15. In the span of four months, one of the most heavily traded stocks in the world has lost more than one third of its market cap. Something is definitely not right, and investors are voting with their feet, running away from the zombie bank as fast as they can.

What is wrong with Bank of America is also wrong with Citigroup (C), JP Mogan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) to varying degrees. They are all victims of their own fortunes, made during the bubbly sub-prime housing boom days from 2003-2007 and crushed by the onslaught of those loans - and many more - going sour. These four banks share a raft of common themes, in that they all made fabulous amounts of money during the housing boom, executives were enriched grandly, all were TARP fund recipients and all were aided in the Spring of 2009 when the FASB allowed banks to employ significant judgement in "mark to market" accounting.

The rule allowed the banks enormous leeway in how they valued assets while at the same time reducing writedowns on impaired investments, including mortgage-backed securities. The rule change saved the banks from untold billions of dollars in impairment charges, but the same rule, as long as it remains in force, keeps bank capital bottled up and unable to be lent.

Honest accounting would probably put the nation's largest banks into receivership or bankruptcy and unleash a financial tsunami that would make the 2008 crash look like a gentle summer rain. In the meantime, many investors are apparently not about to wait for BofA and its counterparts to work out all of their bad, toxic and otherwise broken down investments. They are leaving the stock in droves.

BofA's brethren are in similar straits, taking on losses since mid-April of between 25-35%. Wells Fargo has dropped from 34.25 to as low as 24.27. JP Morgan Chase has gone from a high of 48.20 to as low as 35.16. And Citigroup, usually the most actively-traded stock on the NYSE, has dipped from 5 in mid-April to 3.75 today, a neat, 25% haircut.

While Wall Street pounds the table over Washington's inaction on the fiscal front, lawmakers in Washington are eerily quiet about the fate of the nation's largest banks, seeming to want the nightmare scenario of another Japan-style deflation to just go away. The truth is that they have no clue what to do next, relying on the Federal Reserve to sop up excesses in the default markets and keep interest rates at ZERO until something good happens, whatever that might be. Washington politicians are only interested in keeping their jobs, meaning that they will purposely mislead the public into a false sense of stability until the elections this November.

In the meantime, the nation suffers and America's fiscal problems become worse by the day as the corrective measures that would have already kicked these banks to the collective curbs have not been even mentioned. Bad assets need to be written down and the companies need to take their licks, but that solution is seen as messy and untenable by the ruling elite.

The entire situation reeks of insider deals, secrecy, mismanagement and falsehood, and it is killing the US economy, little by little, day in and day out.

Dow 10,213.62, -57.59 (0.56%)
NASDAQ 2,179.76, +0.81 (0.04%)
S&P 500 1,071.69, -3.94 (0.37%)
NYSE Composite 6,813.15, -37.30 (0.54%)


On the day, there were more losers than winners, by a 3567-2778 tally. Tellingly, new lows surpassed new highs, 259-226, signaling that those who were buying all afternoon were either delusional or just misguided. The markets appear ready to break down once again to fresh lows. Dipping below the 9680 mark on the Dow over the next month is certainly in the equation. Volume was a little better than most of this week, though that's another negative. Higher volume on losing days indicates, quite simply, that more stocks are being sold than bought.

NASDAQ Volume 1,913,865,250.00
NYSE Volume 4,309,225,000


Stocks were not the only asset class being beaten down. Crude oil for September delivery fell another 97 cents, to $73.46 on the NYMEX. Gold lost $6.60, to $1,227.20, and silver was hammered down nearly 2%, losing 37 cents to close the week at $17.98 the ounce.

Deflation has come, and has actually been pushing on stocks, bond yields and home prices for the past three years. Only the federal government's ability to throw large amounts of money around has kept the economy from complete collapse, though the band-aid approach seems to have failed miserably and the eventual downturn will be more severe than anyone can imagine.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Global Markets Under Severe Pressure; Stocks Pounded

The most common term being tossed around Wall Street and other financial capitols the past few days has been "de-risking," (which isn't even a real word), or use of the term, "taking off risk," which implies, correctly, that investing in stocks is generally risky business. That's why the game used to be reserved for wealthy, astute investors with money to spare, though today, the market is comprised of everybody from rich company CEOs to the average cabbie or retail worker, through mutual funds, 401k plans, options, hedges and other schemes that serve to make an already risky proposition even more so.

It doesn't take a Gordon Gecko or even a Warren Buffet to understand that when major investments firms are "taking off risk," i.e., selling stock and/or buying protection via puts or covered calls, that the average Joe or Jane should be doing precisely the same. If the big boys are scared, there's usually a very good reason (of which nobody will speak) to get out of the way, and today was a classic example of just how risky investing in stocks can be.

Days like today, and, incidentally, the past two weeks or trading, are precisely what your broker, financial planner or CNBC doesn't want you to know about. Profits can be gone in a flash - a day, a week - like tossing hard-earned money down a sink-hole. The analysts call these kinds of sell-offs "liquidity plays" or "wealth preservation," when all along anyone with half a brain screwed on properly knows that its just part of the game.

The blog you are reading, Money Daily, has been warning for weeks and months that the recovery in the US was artificial and not long-lasting. The airwaves are full of blame for congress and fear over the intricacies over proposed financial regulation, but the truth of the matter is that the financial collapse which began in August 2007, accelerated into the Fall of 2008 and the Winter of 2009, was never really resolved. Financial firms such as Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo were not liquidated as they should have been, but bailed out by government fiat, using taxpayer dollars to fund the excesses of a banking system gone wild.

Now, those problems are bubbling up under the surface, and, akin to an actual volcano, are about to spew the flotsam of mal-investment all over the markets. Stocks are wickedly overvalued, the US economy is in immediate danger of re-implosion and many parts of he global system, especially Europe, are in worse shape, so get ready for Financial Armageddon Part II, which was correctly forecast here for months and yesterday identified as the breaking point, when the number of daily new lows shot past the corresponding number of new highs, a trend which accelerated today.

All of the major indices closed the session by crashing through their respective 200-day moving averages, and all are in negative territory for the year. All are also off by more than 10% from their recent highs, the technical definition of a correction, though that small tidbit is the least of what's on people's minds. Where the slide may stop has become an open question.

Adding to the myriad of global problems besetting the markets was today's announcement that 471,000 people filed initial unemployment claims in the most recent week. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has been growing recently, adding to the "double dip" argument, which now seems to have been the correct call after all.

Dow 10,068.01, -376.36 (3.60%)
NASDAQ 2,204.01, -94.36 (4.11%)
S&P 500 1,071.59, -43.46 (3.90%)
NYSE Composite 6,653.00, -274.21 (3.96%)


Not only was there a dearth of buyers in the marketplace, but all the major indices closed at or near their lows of the day and trading volume was spectacular as well. Advancing issues were completely overwhelmed by decliners, 5162-561; new lows superseded new highs, 312-77. The rout is on, and today's action was only the first or second round. The full force of deflation has yet to be fully comprehended or felt by market participants, though the selling in the oil futures should have provided some indication of what's to come, if the stock moves weren't already enough of an indication.

NYSE Volume 9,629,935,000
NASDAQ Volume 3,258,398,750


Crude oil tumbled to fresh, 10-month lows, as the June futures contracted expired and traders were bolting from it like it was the plague. Crude dropped $1.96, to $68.01, though the contract traded as low as the $65 range. Gold slipped $4.80, to $1,187.80, and silver fell another 40 cents, to $17.69, as investors scrambled into cash positions.

There isn't much more to add to today's monstrosity other than it was entirely expected and astute individuals should be already fully in cash or equivalents, tools of trades or illiquid assets of tangible value because this is only the beginning of what may turn out to be a final reckoning for the likes of zombie banks such as Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Doubt About It: The Banks Stole Your Money

So much for my triple-top theory.

With the Dow putting on gains to close out the week - finishing at new highs for the 8th consecutive week - the world's most watched index is now at 18-month highs, leaving the memories of Lehman Bros., TARP and the painful housing crisis far behind in the memory hole.

But while stocks and traders are rejoicing over their riches, they fail to see, or even understand, the devastation caused by kicking 2 million families out of their homes or 8 million (probably more) out of jobs. Wall Street pros have stars on their foreheads and in their eyes. They obviously do not share the same values as most middle-class Americans.

The rally which began on March 10, 2009 has now reached extraordinary status. It is a full 12 1/2 months old, and the percentage gains off the bottom are simply spectacular.

Let's Recap:

The following are the March 9, 2009 lows, then today's closing prices, followed by the percentage gains.

Dow... 6,547.05 ... 11,204.28 ... +71,13%
S&P 500... 676.53 ... 1,217.28 ... +79.93
NASDAQ... 1,268.64 ... 2,530.15 ... +99.44
NYSE Comp. ... 4,226.31 ... 7,701.61 ... +82.23


There you have it. All anyone had to really do to turn $10,000 into roughly $18,000 over the course of the past 13 months was to buy all the stocks in any index and let it ride. For the rich and powerful, such as the lead traders at Goldman Sachs, the trick was to turn $1 billion or $10 billion into $1.8 billion or $18 billion. Being even more sophisticated, they probably had returns which far outstripped those of the entire indices.

Is there any wonder how the biggest frauds and thieves eve to walk the face of the earth (the leaders of Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, et. al.) were all able to pay back the government's (read: taxpayers) TARP money within a year's time?

Not only did the financial calamity which took the stock market down in the Fall of 2008 through the Winter of 2009 appear to be contrived and driven by the same people who created it, so too the "miraculous" recovery of stocks overall, and their very own firms, to boot.

On March 9, 2009, Bank of America (BAC) closed at 3.74. Citigroup (C) finished the session at 1.05; Goldman Sachs (GS), 73.28; Morgan Stanley (MS), 16.34; JP Morgan Chase (JPM), 15.79; Wells Fargo (WFC), 9.89 (actually closed at 8.06 on March 5).

Today, Bank of America finished the session at 18.43; Citigroup, 4.86; Goldman Sachs, 157.40; Morgan Stanley, 31.94; JP Morgan Chase, 44.94; and Wells Fargo, 33.48.

These are the five largest private sector financial institutions in the country. They've all done exceedingly well over the past 13 months, mostly at the expense of foreclosed-upon homeowners, people strung out on credit cards carrying rates that used to be called usury and millions of unemployed workers who lost their jobs because these bankers and traders convinced most of corporate America that the sky was falling. That the crisis occurred at the very end of the Bush administration's reign of terror was no coincidence. It was easily the greatest crime of all time.

All of these firms ruthlessly cut their dividend payouts to shreds at the height of the crisis and are still paying out less than 1% each. Citigroup pays no dividend. Goldman Sachs is the most generous, at 0.90%, at a time in which they paid their employees 43% of profits. These guys never learned to share.

Wall Street has changed dramatically from the days in which prices were quoted in eighths and sixteenths. Today's "titans" need billions of dollars to fill up their coffers in the highly rigged game of liar's poker. As a market observer - and sometimes participant - of over 35 years, I can safely say I have never seen a crash nor a rally quite as spectacular as the ones witnessed over the past 19 months. And, as the saying goes, "if it looks to good to be true, it probably isn't."

I don't know where this rally will end, or how, but it will, I imagine. Maybe it won't. Maybe the "masters of the universe" will keep stocks on a permanent upward slope in order to capture even more of the world's money supply. After all, government's just keep printing the stuff, so the bankers and frauds have to use up more of it, don't they?

I've been out of this market since December of 2009 and won't venture back in until I see some of these companies' CEOs in leg irons, which means I've probably already made my last investment in equities. I consider the current regime of manipulators and skimmers to be nothing better than common crooks. Having already stolen much of America's private wealth, they're no doubt scheming to steal the rest. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I'll keep the reporting in this same vein.

Wall Street is the biggest fraud most of us will ever see. enjoy it while it lasts.

Dow 11,204.28 69.99 (0.63%)
NASDAQ 2,530.15 11.08 (0.44%)
S&P 500 1,217.28 8.61 (0.71%)
NYSE Compos 7,701.61 58.78 (0.77%)


Advancers led decliners by a wide margin, 4406-2097. So too, new highs, all 1130 of them, crushed the 68 new lows. Volume was slimmed down from the levels earlier in the week.

NYSE Volume 5,888,237,000.00
NASDAQ Volume 2,434,851,250.00


Oil gained $1.42, to $85.12. Gold gained $10.80, to $1,153.10. Silver was higher by 18 cents, finishing at $18.19.

Everything went up today except your paycheck. Seriously, working has become the toil of suckers. If the "retirement investments" aren't wiped out by the frauds of finance, the taxman will take whatever else there is.

Good grief. Good luck.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Fantasy Economy of US Banking

I am not going to rant and rave about how the corrupt, insolvent banksters who are in control of our economy goosed the market today by having Wells Fargo (WFC) jump the gun and pre-announce their outstanding earnings - some $3 billion worth - less than 2 weeks before their actual earnings date.

The bank announced prior to the market opening, which jump-started the futures and set the tone for the trading, with all of the major indices gapping up more than 2$ at the open.

No, I'm not going to rant about how utterly without integrity are the leaders of our country and the business community. I'm just going to tell you that I closed all of my positions today and will be out of this market for the foreseeable future.

Dow 8,083.38, +246.27 (3.14%)
NASDAQ 1,652.54, +61.88 (3.89%)
S&P 500 856.56, +31.40 (3.81%)
NYSE Composite 5,376.44, +200.03 (3.86%)


It should be noted that while Wells Fargo was up 31%, they were outdone by Bank of America, which posted a 35% gain on the day. Other Dow components in the financial sector with outsize gains were American Express (AXP), up 20%, JP Morgan Chase, up 19%, and Citigroup, up a mere 12%. Bear in mind that all of these companies were the beneficiaries of taxpayer bailout money and other favorable loan terms from the Federal Reserve and Treasury. Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner are smiling with riches tonight. Welcome to the fantasy economy.

On the day, the spill-over from the banking boom sent advancers solidly ahead of declining issues, 5586-1033. However, new lows remained ahead of new highs, 80-38. Trading volume was quiet strong.

NYSE Volume 1,835,800,000
NASDAQ Volume 2,179,931,000


Over in the commodity pits, oil was up $2.86, to $52.24. Gold continued to stall, losing $2.60, to $883.30. Silver also fell, but only by a penny, to $12.33.

Tomorrow being Good Friday, the markets are taking the day off. While the government runs not only record deficits, but enormous ones, unemployment continues to rise unabated and the real estate market continues to struggle, all's well on Wall Street, where criminals run the banks and brokerages with money supplied by you and me.

Happy Easter. I hope you find some gold inside your eggs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Acting like pirates

Ahoy, maties! It's time investors shed the wool that's been pulled over their collective eyes and now covers most of their bodies, put on an eye-patch and begin swinging swords at stocks.

Today's rescue of Countrywide Financial by Bank of America failed to ignite the rally hounds on Wall Street. While the stock of Countrywide - which faced a serious bank run last week (see story) - gained in after-hours and pre-market trading, the $2 billion injected by BofA is actually nothing more than a thinly-veiled takeover move.

The "loan", which is, in reality, convertible preferred securities priced at 7.5% which can be converted into common stock at $18 a share. If exercised, that would give BofA a 17% stake in the company, but the nation's largest bank would be unable to sell those shares for a period of 18 months.

So, is BofA really thinking "takeover" as opposed to "bailout"? And why was Countrywide so eager to accept money at 7.5% when the Fed just lowered the discount rate to 5.25% and extended the loan period for member banks to from 24 hours to 30 days.

Countrywide obviously cannot access that Fed money, but the 2.25% spread between what BofA is loaning them and the discount rate is the cost of doing business these days.

With a borrowing cost of 7.5%, Countrywide will have to either charge customers somewhere upwards of 9% to customers in order to remain even marginally profitable or sell off a chunk of the company to a "rival" at a discount. It's not a pretty world Countrywide is looking at these days.

In a few words, they're doomed. The larger banks will take the better loans, offering lower rates than Countrywide, who will be forced into a position of sick sister, having to deal with jumbos, home equities, and lenders of less-than-impeccable quality.

This comes at a time when the screws have been tightened considerably already and Moody's is still considering whether or not to lower Countrywide's bond rating to junk status.

By mid-day the markets had turned to mush. Countrywide, up as much as 2.50 early on, was ahead less than 1 point. By 2:00, the earlier gains had all but disappeared, with Countrywide trading as low as 21.98, only 16 cents better than its previous close. The stock closed up a mere 20 cents, at 22.02.

Dow 13,235.88 -0.25; NASDAQ 2,541.70 -11.10; S&P 500 1,462.50 -1.57; NYSE Composite 9,478.62 +1.49

Surely, savvy investors weren't buying the we're out of the woods story being circulated by the banks, the Fed and various shills in the financial press.

All of which brings me to the pirate analogy. Investors, or at least people with an eye on not getting killed in this market, should be looking at short-selling or buying puts on vulnerable companies. Obviously, those in the financial sector are ripe for plunder, though some have already been slashed to pieces.

Like good pirates, traders should look for shifts in opportunities as conditions on the financial seas change. Companies with high debt levels and shaky balance sheets will be prone to suffer some of the more dire circumstances.

As events warrant, I'll be posting some of the better-looking short stories and puts plays right here. For the time being, I'm keeping a close eye on Wells Fargo (WFC), which suffered a two-day computer "glitch" over the weekend which pretty much shut down online operations.

In the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash, various states and eventually the United States government ordered banks closed due to a liquidity crisis. At the time, they used the innocuous terminology of bank "holidays" to lessen the impact on the American psyche. Might Wells Fargo's "glitch" auger more such technology-related failures as a cover for systemic financial failure? Time will tell, but it's almost certain that soon, cash will again be king.

On the day, declining issues held a 5-4 edge over advancers with the bulk of the losers on the NASDAQ. There were 128 new lows and 79 new highs on lower-than-average volume. So much for volatility. People are afraid to trade in this environment and the risk that hordes of investors might cash out far outweigh the potential for a meaningful recovery in stock values.

Oil crept up 57 cents to $69.83, while gold lost 30 cents and silver added 7 cents. If a credit and cash crunch is upon us, an implosion in commodity prices may be just a warning shot of what lies ahead.