FinTwit Set To Lose Some Of Its Most Prominent Voices Due To Loss Of Anonymity

(2) The last four years has been a blast, both financially and politically. While I know many of you didn’t always agree with my snarky takes on Trump, Elon, etc., I hope I at least made you consider a different, if not ancient, point-of-view.
— Diogenes (@WallStCynic) December 29, 2017

Financial twitter is set to lose some of its more prominent “anonymous” voices in just a few days. The reason: in a decision that has passed largely under the radar, beginning in 2018, the SEC will require registered investment advisors – i.e. carbon-based asset managers, hedge funders and so on, to disclose any anonymous social media accounts, on their Form ADV.
This goes back to a recently filed amendment to Form ADV, i.e., the “Umbrella Registration” for asset managers, specifically Item 1. I. as described below by K&L Gates:
Recognizing the increasing use of social media by advisers, the SEC has also amended Item 1. I. to request information regarding the registrant’s accounts on publicly available social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Previously, Item 1. I. only asked for information about an adviser’s websites. Now, the registrant must provide, in addition to its website addresses, the addresses of each of its social media pages in Section 1. I. of Schedule D. However, a registrant should not provide the addresses of websites or accounts on publicly available social media platforms where the registrant does not the control the content, nor should it provide the website and social media addresses of its employees’ accounts, regardless of whether the registrant controls the content of such accounts.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.

MIFiD II Delays…

Talk amongst many traders is that they are so unsure how the new rules and regulations surrounding the implementation of MIFiD II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) are to be imposed, that some even said they were keen to extend their holidays until this mess is sorted out. In other words, until they hear that regulators will grant firms a six-month delay for part of the changes about to be implemented for both the company and country, many just do not even know how to conduct business anymore.
The most critical problem surrounding this nightmare is the fact that every trade (with a European Counterpart) will require a LEI (Legal Entity Identifier). This is not such a critical issue for Wall Street Banks since they have already won a 30-month grace period after the SEC requested time to negotiate terms with the EU. Goldman Sachs has installed another of its board members as the top negotiator inside the SEC – Alan Cohen. Goldman Sachs has now three strategic people in the Trump Administration to steer the legislation in their favor both in the USA with restoring Glass Steagall to reduce their competition (Gary Cohen & Steven Mnuchin) and they have now added Alan Cohen, who was their Head of Global Compliance.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Dec 29, 2017.

I’m in Awe of How Far the Scams & Stupidities around ‘Blockchain Stocks’ are Going

This can happen only during the very late stage of a bubble. It just doesn’t let up. UBI Blockchain Internet, a Hong Kong outfit whose shares trade in the US [UBIA], filed with the SEC to sell an additional 72.3 million shares owned by its executives. In other words, it isn’t selling the shares to raise money for corporate purposes, but to allow its executives, including CEO Tony Liu, to bail out.
This is happening after the company – which sports zero revenues and a disconnected phone number in its SEC filings – managed to get its shares to spike briefly by over 1,100%, pushing its market capitalization to $8 billion.
UBI Blockchain didn’t do an IPO. Instead, in October 2016, it acquired a publicly traded shell company registered in Las Vegas, called ‘JA Energy.’ It then changed the name and ticker symbol to what they’re now.
Over the six trading days starting on December 11, 2017, its shares soared over 1,100%, from $7.20 to $87 on December 18, as the word ‘blockchain’ in its name and sufficient hype and speculator-idiocy took hold. By December 21, shares had plunged 67% to $29. They closed on Wednesday at $38.50. At this price, it still has a ludicrous market cap of $3.64 billion.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Dec 28, 2017.

4 Stocks to Avoid at All Costs in 2018

‘Tis the season to determine who’s been naughty or nice. I’ll give you the facts, then you decide.
This holiday story is about an SEC investigation that ended in May 2017. It was wrapped in plain, brown paper and just found under our tree, opened by Probes Reporter (‘Independent Investment Research Focused on Public Company Interaction with the SEC’) and Dealbreaker.
The three major players in this holiday tale are Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), and the SEC itself.
What makes this a holiday story is that it’s about gifting. Who gifted what to whom, how much, and, most importantly, why.
You decide who’s naughty: Goldman Sachs, Tesla, the SEC, or all of the above?
Here are the unwrapped details…
What Tesla Knew vs. What Tesla Did
The story starts back on May 7, 2016. That’s when a Tesla Model S electric car in partial, self-driving autopilot mode plowed into the side of a truck on a divided highway in Florida, killing the driver of the Tesla.
Tesla brass found out about the crash that day but didn’t alert regulators until May 16, nine days later.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on December 22, 2017.

“This Just Feels Like Death”: Analysts Flee Research Positions Amid MiFID II Changes

For the past couple of months, we’ve frequently shared our views that Europe’s MiFID II regulations, which force investment banks to charge for equity research instead of “giving it away” in return for trading commissions, could be a wake up call for 1,000’s of highly paid research analysts who were about to have their true ‘value add’ subjected to a market bidding test. Here are just a couple of examples:
Deutsche Bank Forced To Slash Fixed-Income Research Price By Half On Lackluster Demand New European Regulations Set To Crush Equity Research Budgets By $300 Million Macquarie Identifies The Winners And Losers Of MiFID II Sticker Shock: Small Hedge Funds Seen Ditching I-Banking Research Under MiFID Now, per a note from Reuters, it seems that a growing number of equity research analysts are finally waking up to the fact that hedge funds don’t really have a burning desire to drop $400,000 per year on reports drafted by a 23-year-old recent college grad that do little more than summarize free SEC filings. Who could have known?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.

Equifax Discloses its Coming Nightmares

‘It is not possible to estimate the amount of loss or range of possible loss.’
Equifax reported that revenue ticked up 4% year-over-year in the third quarter to a less-than expected $835 million and that net income plunged 27% to $96 million due to the initial costs related to the most damaging consumer data hack in US history. But it also disclosed in the fine print of its SEC filing just what a legal and financial nightmare it is getting into over what it calls the ‘cybersecurity incident.’
The ‘cybersecurity incident’ occurred in mid-May, was discovered in July, and was first disclosed on September 7. Its dimensions have since expanded. It compromised the personal-data crown jewels, including Social Security numbers, of 145.5 million US consumers, credit card numbers of 209,000 US and Canadian consumers, ‘certain dispute documents with personal identifying information’ for 182,000 US consumers, personal information of 8,000 Canadian consumers, and personal information of at least 690,000 UK consumers.
The initial expenses related to the ‘cybersecurity incident’ were an undramatic $27.3 million. But that’s just the timid beginning.
Then the costs related to the ‘free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection’ will likely range between $56 million and $110 million. And that too is just the beginning.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 10, 2017.

How Equifax Explained its Coming Nightmare

‘It is not possible to estimate the amount of loss or range of possible loss.’ Equifax reported that revenue ticked up 4% year-over-year in the third quarter to a less-than expected $835 million and net income plunged 27% to $96 million due to the initial costs related to the most damaging consumer data hack in US history. But it also disclosed in the fine print of its SEC filing just what a legal nightmare it is getting into over what it calls the ‘cybersecurity incident.’
The ‘cybersecurity incident’ occurred in mid-May, was discovered in July, and was first disclosed on September 7. Its dimensions have since expanded. It compromised the personal-data crown jewels of 145.5 million US consumers, credit card numbers of 209,000 US and Canadian consumers, ‘certain dispute documents with personal identifying information’ for 182,000 US consumers, personal information of 8,000 Canadian consumers, and personal information of at least 690,000 UK consumers.
The initial expenses related to the ‘cybersecurity incident’ were an undramatic $27.3 million. But that’s just the timid beginning.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 10, 2017.

How Snap Just Gave a Middle Finger to its Voteless Shareholders

They don’t need to know, Snap says. Tencent rues the day it bought a 12% stake.
Tuesday evening, Snap Inc., parent of Snapchat, reported a very ugly quarter, and its shares tanked in late trading. This morning, perhaps to stem the slide, it disclosed in a separate SEC filing that Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings had acquired 145.78 million shares of SNAP, the crappy non-voting Class A common stock. This briefly boosted shares in early trading, until people started reading the fine print: The purchases were made in the past, and Snap didn’t notify its Class A shareholders because they were voteless and didn’t need to be notified.
Shares are currently down 16%. Tencent joins those who’re ruing the day they bought these misbegotten shares.
In its filings, Snap regularly lists Tencent as one of its competitors, along with Facebook, Apple, Google, Twitter, and others. Tencent is also a pre-IPO investor in Snap, dating to a 2013 fundraising round.
Today’s disclosure said: ‘In November 2017, Tencent Holdings Limited notified us that it, together with its affiliates, acquired 145,778,246 shares of our non-voting Class A common stock via open market purchases.’

This post was published at Wolf Street on Nov 8, 2017.

Bezos Calls The Top? Sells $1.1 Billion Of Amazon Stock At Record Highs

Is the world’s richest man starting to get a little concerned that his $90 billion fortune in Amazon stock might just be fully valued? Well, judging by his SEC disclosures from last Friday, Bezos provided investors with roughly 1.1 billion reasons why the answer to that question may be a resounding ‘yes’.
As Bloomberg points out, Bezos sold a total of 1 million Amazon shares over the course of three days last week netting roughly $1.1 billion in proceeds. The sale represented just 1.3% of Bezos’ total stake in Amazon and leaves him with 16.4% of the company’s shares outstanding.
***
Of course, the stock sales came after Amazon beat earnings estimates the week prior (see: Amazon Soars Above $1,000 After Smashing Expectations) and pushed the stock to new all-time highs. As an added benefit, the move also once again thrust Bezos ahead of Bill Gates on the Billionaire leader board.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.

Insider Trading Inc: Beat The Market, Work For The SEC

It’s often said in financial markets that correlation does not mean causation. On some occasions, however, denying the causation seems so outlandish to be, frankly, preposterous. As a case in point, Institutional Investor (II) discovered a newly published academic work investigating the investment returns of SEC employees. It turns out those guys are surprisingly good.
According to II, employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission may benefit from divesting companies ahead of investigations, research shows.
Employees at the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission earn investment returns similar to the insider traders they prosecute, according to new research from Columbia University and Arizona State University.
Why aren’t we surprised. No matter, II continues…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 2, 2017.

Sears Holdings Exhausts its Last Credit Facility

It risks running out of money just before the holiday selling season. It took less than a month. Sears Holdings disclosed on Monday in an 8-K filingwith the SEC that it drew down the remaining portion, $60 million, of its $200 million credit facility that it had obtained on October 4.
Sears has been bleeding cash. In the last quarter, it lost $251 million. In fiscal 2016, it lost $2.2 billion. In fiscal 2015, it lost $1.3 billion. Over the past six years, it lost $11 billion. Its sales have recently been plunging at a rate of nearly 25% year-over-year. It’s on track to close nearly 300 stores this year, on top of the hundreds of stores it already closed in prior years. Suppliers are very nervous. And key relationships, such as the one between Sears and Whirlpool, have fractured.
Now the holiday selling season is coming up, and this requires loads of cash well in advance, especially with trade credit getting tighter because suppliers don’t want to be hung out to dry. Advertising and promotions are costly. If the money runs out before the absolutely crucial holiday selling season, it’s over for shareholders, and creditors will take control.
So Sears Holdings obtained a $200 million credit facility on October 4 through the expansion of an existing credit facility, and drew $100 million right away. On October 18, Sears drew an additional $40 million. On October 25, Sears drew the remaining $60 million, according to the filing.

This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ Oct 31, 2017.

Cash-Burn Threatens Blue Apron 3.5 Months after IPO

Layoffs and cost cuts have commenced.
Let’s get this straight: Layoffs are not a sign of growth for a young money-losing company whose hoped-for explosive growth somehow had justified a ‘unicorn’ valuation not long ago. But that’s what’s happening at Blue Apron, three-and-a half months after its IPO.
In an SEC filing, the meal-kit provider disclosed that it had ‘implemented a company-wide realignment of personnel to support its strategic priorities’ – namely laying off ‘approximately 6%’ of its workforce across ‘corporate offices and fulfillment centers.’
With 5,393 employees as of June 30, per its first earnings report as a public company on August 10, 6% of the workforce would amount to about 320 people.
At the time, the company also reported that sales rose 18% to $238 million in the quarter. At that rate it would reach about $1 billion in annual sales. But to accomplish this, the bottom line swung from a gain of $5.5 million in the year-earlier quarter to a loss of $31.6 million.
But the company had only $61.6 million in cash and cash equivalent on hand as of June 30 – which is not a lot, considering that in the first half it burned through $70.7 million in cash just from operations, and it burned another $90 million to purchase equipment.

This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 18, 2017.

Puerto Rico’s Debt Is Quietly Sitting in Mom and Pop Mutual Funds as Trump Says It Will Be Wiped Out

There was likely a collective gasp at OppenheimerFunds Inc. yesterday when President Donald Trump made another of those market-moving pronouncements, telling Fox News that Puerto Rico’s debt would have to be wiped out. The President’s remarks suggested he thought the losers would be Wall Street banks. The President stated: ‘You know they owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street. We’re gonna have to wipe that out. That’s gonna have to be – you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave good-bye to that.’
The reality is that a large percentage of Puerto Rico’s debt is held in tax-free municipal bonds and municipal bond mutual funds, owned not by Wall Street banks or tycoons, but by mom and pop investors seeking tax-free income. (As a result of Congressional legislation, the interest on municipal bonds issued by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, its political subdivisions and public corporations, is not subject to Federal, state or local taxes. This has made the individual bonds and mutual funds particularly attractive in places like New York City and to residents of New York counties with high local taxes.)
According to a semi-annual report made last month at the Securities and Exchange Commission, Oppenheimer Rochester Fund Municipals, a popular tax-free fund held by many New York investors, was sitting on a boatload of Puerto Rico municipal bonds as of June 30, 2017. The SEC filing shows over 100 different Puerto Rico bonds, issued by the Commonwealth and numerous other Puerto Rico issuers like the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Puerto Rico Sales Tax Financing Corp. (The fund, of course, holds a widely diversified portfolio of other bonds as well.)

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 4, 2017.

Tillerson Called Trump A “Moron”, Was Close To Resigning

In recent days, foreign policy pundits have been scratching their heads over the apparent lack of directly lines of communication between the White House and the State Department, which led Trump to chide Sec State Rex Tillerson over the weekend, tweeting that there is no need to negotiate with North Korea, as Trump would “handle this” even as it emerged for the first time that the US had engaged in direct contact with Pyongyang. This was merely the latest example of the White House seemingly taking a position opposite to that pushed by Tillerson, prompting many to ask if there is a fallout between the former Exxon CEO and Donald Trump.
***
Today, NBC gives one possible explanation for the bizarre relationship between the two men, with a report that Rex Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this past summer amid mounting policy disputes and clashes with the White House. The tensions reportedly came to a head around the time President Donald Trump delivered a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, NBC reported citing officials familiar.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Expresses Skepticism about SEC Chair’s Real Agenda

Donald Trump’s pick for Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, had good reason to be nervous yesterday morning as he prepared to testify before the U. S. Senate Banking Committee. The ranking member of that Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown, had previously made his feelings known about Clayton’s fitness to serve as Wall Street’s top cop prior to Clayton’s Senate confirmation. Brown had stated:
‘It’s hard to see how an attorney who’s spent his career helping Wall Street beat the rap will keep President-elect Trump’s promise to stop big banks and hedge funds from ‘getting away with murder.’ I look forward to hearing how Mr. Clayton will protect retirees and savers from being exploited, demand real accountability from the financial institutions the SEC oversees, and work to prevent another financial crisis.’
Wall Street On Parade did further investigation of Clayton around the time of his pending Senate confirmation and found that over the prior three years, Clayton had represented 8 of the 10 largest Wall Street banks as a law partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, where he had been employed for two decades.
Another problem for Clayton on the Senate Banking Committee is Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is known for coming to hearings armed with a deep trove of facts and statistics on Wall Street’s big, bad banks. Clayton seemed totally unprepared for Warren’s line of questioning yesterday, giving answers that raised further questions as to whose interests he was really representing.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on September 27, 2017.

Here Is The Leaked Trump Tax Plan

Update 1: To our complete ‘shock’, Democrats have already taken to the media to bash Trump’s tax proposal as a “windfall for the weathly” even though the plan explicitly contemplates a new top end personal tax bracket to “ensure that the reformed
tax code is at least as progressive as the existing tax code and does
not shift the tax burden from high-income to lower- and middle-income
taxpayers.”
SCHUMER: GOP TAX PROPOSALS WON’T FLY WITH AMERICAN PEOPLE
SCHUMER: GOP TAX PROPOSALS WOULD RESULT IN WINDFALL FOR WEALTHY
WYDEN: GOP TAX PLAN BREAKS TRUMP PLEDGE THAT RICH WOULDN’T GAIN’
Meanwhile, Senator Wyden somehow concluded that a “lack of detail” necessarily confirms that the middle class is about to get screwed by the Trump administration…we’re waiting to hear from Wyden on whether that lack of detail also confirms that Trump colluded with the Russians in 2016.
WYDEN: LACK OF DETAIL IN PLAN MEANS MIDDLE-CLASS WILL BE HIT
And, of course, Pelosi had to chime in by stringing together a series of buzz words to form non-sensical statements:
PELOSI: GOP WILL GO AFTER SOC. SEC, MEDICARE TO PAY FOR PLAN
PELOSI: GOP STILL PURSUING TRICKLE-DOWN AGENDA
* * *
This afternoon, during a speech in Indianapolis, President Trump was expected to reveal, for the first time, the details of the long-anticipated Republican tax reform proposal that calls for substantial business and individual tax cuts. But in a political era where every little thing is leaked to the media, we no longer have to wait for presidential speeches to learn the details of key pieces of legislation. As such, below is a 9-page summary of Trump’s tax plan courtesy of the latest leaks.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 27, 2017.

Technological Incompetence Appears to be Intentional at Wall Street’s Top Cop

When we created the website for Wall Street On Parade, it took us about 30 minutes to add a free plug-in function so that our readers could search the text of every article we have ever written. (See Search box in upper right-hand corner of our menu at the top of this website.) But at Wall Street’s top cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), if one wants to search corporate filings, one is limited to a four-year text search. This bizarre restriction inhibits investigative journalists from capably doing their job and connecting dots.
This might sound like a small complaint were it not part of a larger pattern of technological failures by the SEC which have allowed Wall Street firms to run amok for decades.
The biggest technological failure, of course, is the SEC’s inability to launch a Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) over the 83 years of the SEC’s existence in order to spot manipulative or illegal trades by some of the most highly sophisticated trading houses in the world. While JPMorgan brags about having ‘more software developers than Google, and more technologists than Microsoft,’ and Goldman Sachs is hiring the best Russian coders, Wall Street’s top cop is still driving a horse and buggy.
The CAT, if it is ever implemented, would show every trade in U. S. stock and option markets, including when it occurred and at what firm it originated. But don’t hold your breath.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

U.S. Retirement Market Ponzi Fueled By Record Concentration In Stocks By Young Americans

For the U. S. Retirement Market Ponzi Scheme to continue, there must be a new group of suckers to pay for the individuals who are receiving benefits. Without a new flow of funds, the Ponzi Scheme comes crashing down. Such was the case for the individuals who invested in the $65 billion Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme that came crashing down in 2008.
Interestingly, the U. S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) that investigated Madoff Securities in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, and 2006, found no evidence of fraud or the need for legal action by the commission. The failure of the SEC to find any wrong-doing by Bernie Madoff should provide Americans with plenty of reassurance and confidence that their 401k’s are the highest quality sound investments in the market.

This post was published at SRSrocco Report on SEPTEMBER 24, 2017.

Schumer, Pelosi Announce Deal With Trump: DACA For Border Security But No Wall; White House Denies

Update: there appears to be some post-dinner confusion, because while the top Democrats issued a statement saying there was a deal on DACA, White House press sec. Sarah Sanders said that “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”
While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 14, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 13, 2017.

Albertsons Gets Clocked by Amazon Whole Foods Entry into Supermarket-Meltdown Price War

IPO hopes re-crushed. Customer traffic, same-store sales spiral down.
Something ugly happened to Albertsons Companies, Inc., the owner of Albertson’s, Safeway, and smaller supermarket chains totaling 2,329 stores, 27 distribution centers, and 18 manufacturing facilities: Amazon, on its first day as new owner of Whole Foods, slashed prices on many items by the double digits, some of them by over 30%, and reportedly by up to 43%.
Ferocious price competition from Amazon – a stock market darling that doesn’t need to make money on grocery sales – is the last thing Albertsons Companies needs.
But that’s what it got. Amazon’s $13.7-billion acquisition of Whole Foods and the price cuts slammed all grocery store chains, and their shares took a beating, but Albertsons Companies is particularly vulnerable, and this comes at a very inconvenient time.
Private equity firms led by Cerberus acquired the supermarket chain Albertson’s in a 2005 leveraged buyout. In January 2015, it acquired Safeway in another LBO, which it hoped would eliminate much of the competition. It also acquired regional supermarket chains. Then in 2015, the PE firms wanted to sell the whole schmear, now named Albertsons Companies, via an IPO to the unsuspecting public. But in October 2015, as brick-and-mortar retail began to melt down, it scrapped the IPO.
But they’re still trying to unload their investment – now bogged down in $12 billion in debt – to the public. On August 22, just a couple of days before news of Amazon’s price cuts at Whole Foods clobbered the industry, Albertsons Companies filed an amended S-1 Registration Statement with the SEC, showing that it wants to keep its hopes for an IPO alive.
The filing’s two most revealing operational eye-openers are ongoing nasty losses and declining same-store sales on plunging customer traffic.
First the losses:

This post was published at Wolf Street on Aug 28, 2017.