A little bit, possibly, for the financial industry.
The main evidence for that can be found in the last-minute addition of a populist proposal to the Republican party platform adopted officially yesterday:
“The Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla, is crushing small and community banks and other lenders. The Federal Communications Commission is imperiling the freedom of the internet. We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.”
That’s a change from the Republicans’ live-and-let-live approach to regulation. Of course, it’s unclear how much that matters — US political parties’ platforms have become a bit of a joke in recent decades, portrayed nicely in a piece from academics Daniel DiSalvo and James Ceaser. Read more
Commodity curve purists insist that long-term futures prices must not be confused with market forecasts.
People who do that are deemed commodity dummies because long-term futures are said to reflect the price at which market participants are prepared to buy or sell commodities in the future today. That generally means prices that make sense for them right now, but not necessarily those they expect in the future.
As a result, certain assumptions can be made about curve structures.
If long-dated futures are very much higher than spot prices, the market is offering premiums to those who have the capacity to take delivery today and store the oil until the future. It’s a dynamic that indicates an abundance of oil in the spot market today, rather than an expectation that prices will be higher tomorrow. It’s known as a contango market and is generally a bearish signal. Read more
Goldman’s patent application (still pending) for SETLcoin, first submitted in October 2014, is being heralded by some as a profoundly progressive and forward thinking move by the investment bank.
But let’s examine what we’ve really got here.
According to the patent:
Rather that representing a single transferable, object an SETLcoin wallet holds multiple positionable items (e.g., a security item, such as a share), herein referred to as a Positional Item inside Cryptographic currency (PIC), and a position (i.e., a quantity of the PIC represented by an SETLcoin wallet). A PIC is an agreed upon reference used by the peer-to-peer network to refer to, e.g., a particular security. For example, “IBM” (the stock market symbol of the company by the same name) can also be a PIC used by the peer-to-peer network to refer to IBM stock. A PIC, in some embodiments, is determined (and invalidated) by an issuer. An issuer (e.g., a company, underwriter, municipality, government, etc.) can have multiple PICS to represent different types of securities. For example, IBM stocks can be represented by PIC “IBM-S” and IBM bonds by PIC “IBM-B”. In some embodiments, PICS are issued (and destroyed) by highly authoritative entities. For example, dollars available on the SETLcoin network represented by, e.g., PIC “USD” may be authoritatively issued by, for example, the U.S. Treasury. However, the described technology can issue PICS based on various other techniques (e.g., network node agreement, exchange regulation, lease or purchase, auction, etc.) and can be named based on, e.g., a company’s name, its market symbol, its branding, its security name, availability, or a preferred format (e.g., length, abbreviation, etc.).
That’s New York-listed Eros International, one of India’s largest film studios and the folks responsible for some of the best dance scenes of the decade, popping 10 per cent yesterday.
And Alphaville’s usually well informed sources think they know why. This is RAW, obviously… Read more
Estimates of how much cash China has flung at its stock market, in the hope that some sticks, vary.
As the FT says, the “government has not disclosed either the amount of rescue funds it has allocated to the coalition of state financial institutions — known as the “national team” — or how much of this total has already been invested.”
But all estimates tend to settle, roughly, on different quantities of “lots”.
First up then, a Goldman note out on Wednesday which estimates that said ‘national team’ “has potentially spent Rmb860-900bn [some $144bn] to support the stock market in June-July 2015… equivalent to 1.6%/2.2% of total market cap/free float market cap”:
Quite obviously, not many people take China’s own statistics at face value.
Also quite obviously, China is a hard economy to accurately measure anyway. It’s really quite big and its pace of change has made grasping any bit of it for very long more than difficult. Read more
We had a hunch back in July 2012 that negative rates, as and when they would surely manifest, would create all sorts of perverse incentives for banks and capital owners.
Notably, our point was, that banks would prefer to lend money to monopoly-minded corporates focused on artificially constraining supply — rather than those focused on improving competition rather or pursuing capex policies. Failing that, a negative rate environment would otherwise create a plethora of zombie corporates propped up with cheap financing, producing output that isn’t necessarily valued much by anyone in the wider world. Read more
It’s common to hear that central banks have “distorted” markets with low interest rates and asset purchases, especially from people who think that stocks will do better than bonds once the Fed begins to “normalise” policy. Even economists at the New York Fed seem to sympathise with this view. In 2013, they estimated that the equity risk premium — the amount that shareholders get compensated for buying stock rather than bonds — hit all time highs, mainly because interest rates were so low:
The FT’s Martin Wolf led a stellar panel on the global economy and the outlook for commodities featuring China expert Michael Pettis, BP’s group chief economist, Spencer Dale (formerly chief economist at the Bank of England), and Goldman’s chairman of global natural resources Brett Olsher.
As one might expect there was a difference of opinion on the panel about China’s future growth path. Goldman’s Olsher said he was confident that China would be able to maintain 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent growth in the near term, whereas Pettis suggested that even 3-4 per cent should be considered a successful adjustment. Read more
From Goldman’s economics team, a half-century of debt buildups and Japanese domination:
Basically, a chart to launch a thousand arguments (comparing Italy, Greece and Japan being a good starting point) which you should definitely click and enlarge. Read more
In case anyone wanted a closer look at Goldman’s trolling of JP Morgan…
A news story lands, from Bloomberg, entitled “Goldman Sachs outdoes itself…”
Like Meryl Streep at the Oscars, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. isn’t lacking acclaim for its merger and acquisition advisory business. It’s finished first in deal volume for five consecutive years and in nine of the last 10.
Even so, Goldman Sachs outdid itself this year. No top firm has had a larger market-share spread over its nearest competitor since 1998…
Unless we’re mistaken, Goldman has come up with its own “This is nuts” top ten. Decent effort:
1. Since the low in the global equity market on March 9, 2009, the MSCI The World index has risen roughly 180% in total return terms, generating an annualised return of a remarkable 20%.
2. 2013 was one of the strongest years on record for the equity markets. The US managed a price return of 30% and the Sharpe Ratio of the S&P 500 ranked in the 98th percentile since 1962.
3. Perhaps even more striking is that bond markets have continued to perform strongly. Since the 2009 low in equities, the JP Morgan GBI global bond index has risen 24%.
The strange story that Tibco Software and their adviser Goldman Sachs had not used an accurate share count in their financial analysis, which evaluated a $24 per share buyout offer from Vista Equity Partners, will awaken unpleasant memories for the Financial Times’ parent company, Pearson PLC.
In May 2010, the publicly-traded securities pricing company Interactive Data Corporation (IDC), which was then 60 per cent owned by Pearson, was in final discussions to sell itself to private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus. A price of $34.00/share had been agreed to but, at literally the last minute, some previously undisclosed IDC shares were discovered. Read more
Ever the market-moving contrarians, Jeff Currie and team at Goldman came out with a note on Thursday doing for oil markets what Bullard and Haldane have been doing for markets in general.
When it comes to the oil price decline it is, they say, too much too soon. And, critically, the issue is on the expectations side NOT on the current market supply side:
The recent sell-off in oil has been mostly driven by positioning based upon expected fundamental shifts as opposed to currently observable shifts. While looking into 2015 we have sympathy for these medium- to longer- term bearish views that have driven prices lower, we believe it is too much too early. Prices have also likely overshot to the downside particularly as the lower we go the tighter the near-term balances become. This leaves us near-term constructive despite being bearish as we look further out.
Study this chart carefully. It’s the first day of dealings in Zalander, the Frankfurt-listed online frock shop that claims to be Europe’s biggest.
The American Life radio show and the Pro Publica investigative journalism service set an interesting debate a-blaze last week, detailing the 46 hours of secret recordings undertaken by Carmen Segarra, a specialist hired (and subsequently fired) by the New York Fed.
The recordings have painted a vivid picture of regulatory dithering in the face of a rapacious Goldman Sachs as the bank sought to gain clearance for a share warehousing operation that would allow Spain’s Santander to sidestep European capital requirements.
Subsequent criticism has centred on the NY Fed’s apparent impotence in the face of Wall Street muscle. But is it more the case that Matt Taibbi has been right all along? Does the bank actively help clients dodge (if not break) the rules?
Let’s examine a largely forgotten example of Goldman’s past behaviour in London… Read more
Some drivetime financial radio for Friday. Click to download or stream:
This is not new, but bears revisiting, given recent events.
Between 2009 and 2013, as part of its sale and leaseback plan, Tesco used a series of six special purpose vehicles to issue close to £4bn worth of property bonds. Structured with the help of Goldman Sachs, the programme even won Tesco an award — Risk Magazine’s 2010 Corporate risk manager of the year.
But Nigel Stevenson, a former M&A banker at Kleinworts who now runs his own research shop, reckons the effect of this off-balance sheet financing has been to artificially reduce Tesco’s net debt by around £2bn. Read more
Securitisation has gotten a bad rap thanks to its association with dodgy underwriting during the bubble. Yet bundling loans originated by banks and selling them to investors in the capital markets could be just what is needed to boost the flagging euro area economy.
This helps explains the European Central Bank’s recent announcement that it will be shopping for asset-backed securities (including mortgage bonds) and covered bonds starting in October. Read more
From Goldman on the state of European corporate investment… or what happens when a yield hunt meets corporates who are running out of investment ideas:
That uneasy feeling when everything is going well. Is it deserved? Can it last? Should you cash in and go paint watercolours in that studio on the Pembrokeshire coast?
Strategists are not immune, with a summer bout of the temporaries upon us. Goldman is the latest, downgrading its view of stocks over the weekend but without really committing to it:
We also downgrade equities to neutral over 3 months. We are concerned that a sell-off in government bonds will lead to a temporary sell-off in equities in line with what we saw last summer, though the magnitude is likely to be smaller as the need for bond yields to correct is lower than it was back then.
One day, maybe, companies in Europe will stun those paid to forecast these sort of things with an explosion of profitability. The gusher of earnings will arrive to justify the steady rise in the valuations of companies expected to produce them.
For now though, the story is the same as it has been since 2010: negative revisions. According to the strategy team at Goldman Sachs, what had been hoped for this year was 13 per cent growth in profits, but six months in that has dropped to 7 per cent with the cuts broad based. Actual growth in reported earnings was 1.5 per cent in the first quarter, compared to that which preceded it.
There is hope, or at least explanation, however. It was ever thus: Read more
Goldman Sachs has had a look attempts to lean against house price cycles by central banks, in 20 OECD countries from 1990 to 2012, to see what effect they have had.
More on that below, but first a striking chart of post-Great Recession house price trends (from the first quarter of 2009 to now):
Here’s the Ocado mission statement:
To revolutionise the way people shop forever, by giving them a uniquely innovative and greener alternative to traditional grocery shopping.
At the 13-year mark, the revolution has not yet found room for profits, however.
With a torrent of new stock on the way this year attached to the latest round of hot initial public offerings (DFS, Zalando, Game, B&M Bargains…) with ebullient forecasts, it might be helpful to go back over Ocado’s history, and compare and contrast the hope with reality. Read more
No, we hadn’t heard of this remuneration consultant either. But Sarah Butcher over at eFinancial Careers alerts us to the fact that Cook & Co advised on designated “risk takers” at Citibank Global Markets trousering an average basic salary of £507k in 2012.
Stock and cash bonuses took average total remuneration for these staff to £2.34m in this particular Citi division. Read more
Bored with zero interest in the bank? Why don’t you check out the latest in aluminium-backed deposit accounts? You take the excess aluminium off our hands, we sell it forward, and hey presto you get interest rates conventional banks just can’t beat!
(It’s the way the gold market has been compensating for its oversupply for generations.) (Terms and conditions apply.)
All of which is another way of saying the world’s aluminium oversupply burden has created some excellent carry opportunities in the off-market storage space over the last few years. Read more