We Give Up! Part 2: Consumers And Corporations Join The Debt Orgy

Late cycle behavior is everywhere these days. Governments have stopped worrying about deficits, and now the rest of us are apparently joining the orgy.
Corporations, for instance, are buying each other out – mostly with borrowed money – at a record pace:
December’s $361 Billion Deal Haul Is the Busiest in a Decade
(Bloomberg) – Just as most people are packing up for Christmas, dealmakers across the world are rushing to finish up a slew of transactions in industries ranging from consumer to telecom and health care to gambling. Companies have announced about $361 billion of mergers and acquisitions this month, making it the busiest December in at least 12 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. On Friday, the last work day before bankers and executives break for the holiday, GVC Holdings Plc of the U. K. agreed to buy bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc for as much as 4 billion pounds ($5.4 billion), Deutsche Telekom AG said it will buy Liberty Global Plc’s Austrian unit and Roche Holding AG announced the $1.7 billion acquisition of U. S. biotech Ignyta Inc.

This post was published at DollarCollapse on DECEMBER 22, 2017.

These PE Firms Are About To Get Crushed By Their Subprime Auto Bets

In the aftermath of the ‘great recession,’ private equity firms placed massive bets on subprime auto finance companies with the typical “thesis” going something like this: “well, people have to get to work don’t they?”…genius, if we understand it correctly.
Of course, the “thesis” seemed to be confirmed when auto securitizations performed relatively well throughout the financial crisis, amid a sea of mortgage bonds getting wiped out, and private equity titans were off to the races with wall street titans from Perella Weinberg to Blackstone and KKR scooping stakes in small niche lenders.
Unfortunately, as Bloomberg points out today, the $3 billion bet on subprime auto lenders hasn’t played out precisely to plan as the “well, people have to get to work” thesis has proved to be somewhat less than full proof.
A Perella Weinberg Partners fund has been sitting on an IPO of Flagship Credit Acceptance for two years as bad loan write-offs push it into the red. Blackstone Group LP has struggled to make Exeter Finance profitable, despite sinking almost a half-billion dollars into the lender since 2011 and shaking up the C-suite multiple times. And Wall Street bankers in private say others would love to cash out too, but there’s currently no market for such exits.
Since the turn of the decade, buyout firms, hedge funds and other private investors have staked at least $3 billion on non-bank auto lenders, according to Colonnade. Among PE firms, everyone from Blackstone and KKR & Co. to Lee Equity Partners, Altamont Capital and CIVC Partners waded in.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.

Why A Scathing Wall Street Is Furious At The Trump Tax Plan

Back in October 2016, the “millionaire, billionaire, private jet owners” of America’s elitist, liberal mega-cities (A. K. A. New York and San Francisco) celebrated the tax hikes that a Hillary Clinton presidency would have undoubtedly jammed down their throats proclaiming them to be a ‘patriotic duty’. Unfortunately, now that Trump has given them exactly what they apparently wanted…an amazing opportunity to ‘spread their wealth around”…they’re suddenly feeling a lot less patriotic.
Of course, as we’ve noted numerous times, while most people across the country and across the income spectrum will benefit from the Republican tax reform package, the folks who stand to lose are those living in high-tax states with expensive real estate as their SALT, mortgage interest and property tax deductions will suddenly be capped. And, as Bloomberg points out today, that has a lot of Wall Street Traders in New York drowning their sorrows in expensive vodka and considering a move to Florida.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

Is The GOP Tax Cut Finally Priced In? Here’s What Wall Street Thinks

Having passed the Senate, and – moments ago, for the second time – the House, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, aka the Trump Tax Cuts is officially a done deal, just waiting for the President’s signature, at which point the longest “rumor” of 2017 will become the news. But does that mean that after “pricing it in” in some part virtually every day of the past year, the market can now sell the news? Or, as exasperated traders would put it, “is it finally fully priced in?”
Indeed, analysts, economics and investors are starting to look beyond the soon-to-be-completed tax overhaul, and judging by today’s reaction, the answer may well be yes as stocks, including tax-sensitive banks, are little-changed amid expectations tax cuts may not boost growth that much, and as likely benefits may already be priced-in to stock prices.
In fact, as Bloomberg adds, the S&P 500 and KBW bank indexes are both little changed, with top bank gainer PNC paring gains of as much as 1.1%; other rising banks include Huntington, Wells Fargo, Northern Trust, and BofA

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 20, 2017.

ECB Trapped: Steinhoff Liquidity Collapses As Lenders Pull Credit Lines

When yesterday we discussed the latest troubles facing embattled retailer Steinhoff, whose bonds are owned by none other than the ECB, we said that while the company’s bonds mature in 2025, its bankruptcy is at most months away. In retrospect, and in light of the latest news, that may have been optimistic, because it now appears that a bankruptcy may be imminent and is at most just weeks away. According to Bloomberg, Steinhoff – which is facing an accounting scandal that led to the recent departure of its CEO and destroyed most of the company’s value – said lenders are starting to cut off support.
The reason why Steinhoff is suddenly facing not only a solvency but liquidity crisis is that the company which owns Conforama in France, Mattress Firm in the U. S. and Poundland in the U. K. isn’t yet able to assess the magnitude of financial irregularities disclosed two weeks ago, it said in a presentation to lenders in London on Tuesday (presentation below). The South African company also said it didn’t know when it would be able to publish audited results for 2017 and 2016, nor whether additional years will need to be restated.
Furthermore, Steinhoff also revealed that it didn’t have ‘detailed visibility’ of the cash flows of individual operating companies. The units rely on the company for working capital and ‘the forecast position for each operating company is evolving daily,’ it said. PricewaterhouseCoopers has been hired to investigate the accounts, while AlixPartners LLP is working on an analysis of the cash flow.
In short, the company is flying blind with no budgeting and no corporate overnight.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

A Nightmare Before Christmas: China Set to Launch Yuan-Denominated Oil Contracts

China wants to dethrone the dollar and it could take a step in that direction before the end of the year.
According to numerous reports, China is prepared to launch a yuan-denominated oil futures contract before Christmas. Last week, the Shanghai International Energy Exchange successfully completed a fifth round of yuan-backed oil futures testing. According to a report by RT, the organization has met all the listing requirements and is set for an official launch.
Chinese trader Yuan Quwei told Bloomberg the holiday season would be the perfect time to get oil trading in yuan off the ground.
An official launch during Christmas would be appropriate. The Western market would be quiet and allow the Shanghai exchange as well as Chinese investors to adjust in the early days.’
This could be a nightmare before Christmas for the petrodollar.

This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 19, 2017.

Global Stocks Rise To Record Highs As Tax Reform Is “Priced In” All Over Again

Yesterday we joked that with the US House of Representatives set to vote for the GOP tax bill on Tuesday, markets would “price in” the same tax legislation they have been pricing in every day for the past year, all over again…
Get ready for US markets to price in tax reform all over again in just a few short hours
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) December 19, 2017

… and sure enough, that’s precisely the narrative being spun this morning to explain why US futures and global stocks are once again, drumroll, higher. To wit, from Bloomberg: “European stocks struggled to build on Monday’s jump as the common currency advanced, while U. S. equity futures edged higher as the prospects for tax cuts in the world’s largest economy continued to buoy sentiment.” Of course, US equity futures have been doing that precisely that every single day for weeks and months on end, but now that Congressional passage finally appears imminent, it may finally be time to stop buying the endless rumor and sell the news. As a reminder, on Monday Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she’ll back the GOP tax bill, a move that all but clinches the votes necessary to pass the legislation. Both the House and Senate plan to vote by Wednesday on final legislation before sending it to the president.
As markets grind toward the end of a stellar year for global stocks, the biggest focus for investors still chasing gains is the progress of U. S. tax reform, which is inching toward a denouement. The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the tax bill following a floor debate that morning. It then goes to the Senate, where Republican leaders intend to bring it up as soon as they get it. ‘It will help sustain a very strong year of earnings growth for U. S. and for global equities,’ said Timothy Graf, State Street Bank & Trust head of macro strategy EMEA., speaking on Bloomberg TV. ‘It will keep sentiment robust.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

Wall Street Bonuses Set To Shrink Again This Year

Bankers were thrilled last year when Wall Street bonuses climbed for the first time in years after falling more than 15% in 2015. But unfortunately, even with equity markets around the world at record highs in 2017, volatility across asset class plunged this year – with the Dow seeing its least volatile year on record by some measures – has plunged, decimating bonus pools across asset classes, Bloomberg said.
As bank earnings have portended, a drop in trading revenue across asset classes over the past year will likely lead to cutbacks in the bonus pool for equity and fixed income traders.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

There’s Never Been A Worse Time For A European Investor To Buy US Treasuries

Since the common currency’s inception in 1999, the EUR-hedged yield ‘offered’ to European investors from investing in US Treasuries has never been worse…
As Bloomberg notes, for European investors using swaps to protect against currency swings, the benchmark 10-year U. S. yield fell Friday on a euro-hedged basis to around -60bps.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2017.

Four Charts Prove The ‘Economic Recovery’ Is Just A Fed-Induced Entitlement Program For The Wealthy

“Economic recovery” in America no longer means what it used to mean. Historically “economic recovery” was largely characterized by job and wage growth, distributed across the income spectrum, and a rebound in GDP growth to north of ~3%-5%. These days, the notion of “economic recovery” has been hijacked by the Fed and bastardized in such a way that they celebrate “asset bubbles” rather than real growth in economic output.
Presented as ‘exhibit A’, here is the Fed’s modern-day definition of “economic recovery” (chart per Bloomberg):

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

Global Dollar Liquidity Shortage Explodes – Worse Than European Crisis

Very quietly, in the last few days, cross currency basis swaps (CCBS) related to the dollar have reversed their rise and started collapsing deeper into negative territory… again. This might not be of much interest to buyers of global equity markets at this point, but it is signalling ominous signs of growing funding stress in the financial ‘plumbing’.

As Bloomberg notes ‘cross-currency basis swaps, which money managers and corporate treasurers outside the U. S. can use to borrow in dollars, remain close to the widest levels since January even after quarter-end, when such financing strains typically dissipate. The market was a key indicator of stress during the financial crisis, and while it’s nowhere near the alarming levels of that era, it’s still garnering the attention of analysts.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

Bond Markets Really Are Signalling A Slowdown

Authored by Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji via Bloomberg.com,
Analysts shouldn’t dismiss the yield curve’s message just because inflation expectations have been declining in recent years. When it comes to the economic outlook, the bond market is smarter than the stock market. That Wall Street adage appears to be on the money from a cyclical vantage point, with key indicators in the fixed-income markets independently corroborating slowdown signals from the Economic Cycle Research Institute’s leading indexes.
The yield curve is widely considered to be among the most prescient indicators. That’s why its flattening this year has been troublesome for an otherwise optimistic consensus to explain away.
This hasn’t stopped optimistic analysts from dismissing the yield curve’s message on the grounds that inflation expectations have been declining in recent years, or that foreign central banks like the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan continue to artificially suppress their bond yields, pulling down U. S. yields. We’re reminded of Sir John Templeton’s warning that ‘this time it’s different’ are the “four most costly words in the annals of investing” — but that’s effectively what it means to simply ignore the slowdown signals emanating from the fixed-income markets.
Of course, there’s no Holy Grail in the world of forecasting, which is why we look at a wide array of leading indexes that each includes many inputs. From that vantage point, the yield curve flattening actually makes a lot of sense.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

“Suspense Mounts” – Timing Of Tax-Reform Votes In Limbo As More Senators Get Cold Feet

With Bloomberg writing this morning that “Mystery, Suspense Mount” two days after President Donald Trump told the American public that Congress was ‘just days away’ on tax reform, two more senators – including one-time Trump rival – Marco Rubio appear to be getting cold feet – much to the market’s chagrin. Yesterday afternoon, stocks dropped and the VIX jumped above 10 as Rubio and Utah’s Mike Lee said they had reservations about the draft bill being put together by the conference committee.
Worries about the bill’s impact on the deficit have persisted, and if anything, they only intensified after the Treasury Department released a laughable one-page report about the tax plan’s impact on GDP and revenue that was widely ridiculed.
As the fast-moving Republican tax package has evolved, it has tilted increasingly toward benefiting businesses and wealthy taxpayers, a trend that aides were saying privately is a growing concern for some lawmakers. Provisions for offsetting the revenue costs of last-minute changes also were becoming worrisomely unclear, they said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

“A Violent Downside Break”: Why One Trader Thinks The Christmas “Pain Trade” Will Be Especially Painful

Before you shut down that terminal for the year, hoping that the year is – mercifully – finally over, you may want to consider that according to former Lehman trader and current Bloomberg macro commentator Mark Cudmore, the Christmas pain trade is about to be unveiled, and it will be especially painful for all those short Treasurys. As Cudmore warns, with ten-years stuck in a 2.3%-2.43% range for the past seven weeks, “the arguments are adding up for a violent downside break during the weeks ahead.”
Here are his arguments why, as laid out in Cudmore’s latest Macro View :
A Treasuries Rally May Be the Christmas Pain Trade Post-Fed price-action suggests Treasury bulls may stampede while traders are in holiday mode.
Ten-year yields have been stuck in a 2.3%-2.43% range for the past seven weeks. The arguments are adding up for a violent downside break during the weeks ahead.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.

15 Market Red Flag: Stocks May Be About To Tank: ‘If There’s One Thing That You Need To Pay Attention To It’s This…’

Stock and bond markets may be teetering on the edge of a widespread crash following a stellar year that has seen all-time highs across just about every major asset class. Earlier today Zero Hedge reported that Bloomberg market commentator Mark Cudmore says markets could be in for a violent downside break in the weeks ahead.
It’s a sentiment also shared by Traders Choice analyst Greg Mannarino, who up until this point has been generally bullish on short-term market movements. On Thursday, however, Mannarino reports that bond buying, which has been used to prop up stocks through massive cash injections in recent weeks and months, failed to keep stocks from falling.
This, says Mannarino, is a major red flag that could signal a reversal going forward:
If there’s one thing that you need to pay attention to it’s this… savage bond buying occurred today in an attempt to re-prop up the stock market and it didn’t work…
They’re trying to play a game here and it’s been working time and time again…
Without fail every single time… except for today… that has worked.

This post was published at shtfplan on December 15th, 2017.

Stocks Rebound From “Bama Shock”, All Eyes On Yellen’s Last Rate Hike

After an early slide last night following the stunning news that Doug Jones had defeated Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama special election, becoming the first Democratic senator from Alabama in a quarter century and reducing the GOP’s Senate majority to the absolute minimum 51-49, US equity futures have quickly rebounded and are once again in the green with the S&P index set for another record high, as European stocks ease slightly, and Asian stocks gain ahead of today’s Fed rate hike and US CPI print.
‘The big issue now is whether Republicans will push through their tax bill before Christmas,’ said Sue Trinh, head of Asia foreign-exchange strategy at RBC Capital Markets in Hong Kong. ‘And more broadly, U. S. dollar bulls will be more worried that this marks a Democratic revival into 2018 mid-term Congressional elections.’
The negative sentiment faded quick, however, because according to Bloomberg, despite the loss of a Senate seat, it probably won’t affect the expected vote on business-friendly tax cuts, however, as the winner won’t be certified until late December.

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

Toronto’s Housing Bubble Is Crushing The Strip Club Industry

Until now, Canada’s soaring housing prices were just another innocent asset bubble spawned by low interest rates and an endless supply of Chinese cash that needed to get laundered. That said, massive bubbles are almost always followed by severe unintended consequences that can have a crippling impact on society as a whole…and in Toronto those unintended consequences are now manifesting themselves in the form of a rapidly deteriorating supply of strip clubs.
As Bloomberg points out today, the soaring value of Toronto real estate has made it all but impossible for strip club owners to turn down multi-million offers from condo developers leaving only a dozen strip clubs in a city whose purple neon lights used to be easily visible from the distant fringes of our solar system.
Condos are killing the Toronto strip club. In a city that once had more than 60 bars with nude dancers, only a dozen remain, the rest replaced by condominiums, restaurants, and housewares stores. Demand for homes downtown and for the retailers that serve them is driving land prices to records, tempting owners of the clubs, most of which are family-run, to sell at a time when business is slowing.
‘Sometimes I feel like the last living dinosaur along Yonge Street,’ says Allen Cooper, the second-generation owner of the famous – or infamous – Zanzibar Tavern. The former divorce lawyer says he has been approached by at least 30 suitors for his property in the past few years but is holding out for a ‘blow my socks off’ offer. ‘I don’t know how many condos we’re going to get, but it seems like just a wall’ of them, Cooper says.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

Stocks Pop After Cornyn Suggests Tax Bill Deal “Possible” Today

Despite numerous headlines indicating a tax bill deal early next week, Republican Senator John Cornyn just told media that there “may be a tentative tax bill deal today.” Algos liked the news and immediately bid stocks higher (despite no knowledge of what is in the ‘deal’).
‘It’s possible,’ John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, tells reporters of tax bill, according to Bloomberg.
The Senate has ‘ping-ponged’ offers back and forth with House and is making good progress, he says.
And stocks popped on it…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.

John Burbank Shuts Flagship Hedge Fund, Plans Launch Of Cryptocurrency Unit

The writing for John Burbank’s Passport Capital was on the wall back in August, when as we reported, in his latest letter to investors Burbank reported that at what was once a multi-billion fund, total firm assets at Passport had shrunk to just $900 million as of June 30 as a result of net outflows totaling a whopping $565 million, or a nearly 40% loss of AUM due to redemptions. The collapse in assets took place just a few months after Passport announced it was liquidating its long/short strategy in April.
And unfortunately for Burbank, just four month later, a chapter of Passport Capital’s history comes to a close, because as Bloomberg reported, the fund would shutter its flagship hedge fund after returns slumped and following unprecedented redemptions. Passport – which shot to fame for its lucrative bet against subprime housing ahead of the global financial crisis – peaked at around $5 billion but lately managed a fraction of that after a double digit loss last year and further losses in 2017.
The fund’s “returns over the past two years are unacceptable and cause me to rethink how to manage money in this environment,” Burbank wrote in a Dec. 11 letter to investors, the Wall Street Journal first reported overnight. Passport will continue to operate its roughly $300 million special opportunities fund, which holds some of the firm’s more successful bets on companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.