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Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – Big Bank Complexity, Debate Drinking Games, Food Supplies Not a Game

Big Bank Complexity, Debate Drinking Games, Food Supplies Not a Game -by Sinclair Noe DOW + 127 = 13,551SPX + 14 = 1454NAS + 36 = 310110 YR YLD +.06 = 1.72%OIL + .11 = 91.96GOLD + 10.90 = 1749.30SILV + .26 = 33.06PLAT + 5.00 = 1650.00 (audio at MoneyRadio.com) Today was the biggest gain for the stock markets since early September. What was behind the move? Was it a debate day rally? Was it a Vikram Pandit exit? Was it great earnings reports from some such company? Who knows? It’s rarely any one item that moves the market significantly. It is more likely that trading has reached a certain level or a particular moment in time, and the news events catch up with the charts. Yesterday, the earnings news centered around Citigroup which reported something I still can’t figure out; lots of debt that is counted as profit. Today, Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citi, is gone. Pandit says he left voluntarily; others think he was forced out in a disagreement with the board of directors. The strange part is that Citi has seen a rebound of about 22% in the past 12 months. Pandit has been on the job for about 5 years; he took the job as the credit crisis was about to send the economy into the abyss; now, he walks away when the company has learned to turn debt into profit and appears to be finding stable ground. Citi shares have dropped 90% under …

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Monday, October 15, 2012 – Coffee First Then the Prize

Coffee First Then the Prize -by Sinclair Noe DOW + 95 = 13,424SPX + 11 = 1440 NAS + 20 = 306410 YR YLD un = 1.66%OIL- .11 = 91.74GOLD – 16.90 = 1738.40SILV – .78 = 32.80 PLAT – 14.00 = 1646.00 Americans Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley were awarded the Nobel economics prize on Monday for research that helps explain the market processes at work when doctors are assigned to hospitals, students to schools and human organs for transplant to recipients. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the two economists for “the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.” Roth, 60, is a professor at Harvard. Shapley, 89, is a professor emeritus at UCLA. “This year’s prize concerns a central economic problem: how to match different agents as well as possible,” the academy said. Shapley made early theoretical inroads into the subject, using game theory to analyze different matching methods in the 1950s and ’60s. He examined “pairwise matching”. Roth took it further by applying it to the market for US doctors in the ’90s. “Even though these two researchers worked independently of one another, the combination of Shapley’s basic theory and Roth’s empirical investigations, experiments and practical design has generated a flourishing field of research and improved the performance of many markets,” the academy said. While I think it’s safe to say most of us believe that capitalism is the best economic system, in part because of the ability to efficiently allocate resources, …

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012 – Maybe We’ll Just Keep Plugging Along

Maybe We’ll Just Keep Plugging Along -by Sinclair Noe DOW + 11 = 13,564SPX – 1 = 1459NAS -0.87 = 317710 YR YLD -.03 = 1.81%OIL +.24 = 95.53GOLD + 8.60 = 1772.10SILV + .53 = 34.88PLAT – 38.00 = 1635.00 FedEx lowered its outlook for global growth and industrial production when it reported fiscal first-quarter earnings. That has negative implications for energy demand. The world’s No. 2 package delivery company forecast a continued slowdown in global trade. Yesterday, we told you about the little flash crash in oil. The price of a barrel of oil dropped $3 in about one minute for no apparent reason. There were rumors of an announced or leaked SPR release decision, then there were rumors of an algorithmic trade gone bad. The timing was suspect; the equity and other markets have rallied due to all of the announced and expected easing measures from the Fed and the ECB; the belief is that consumption and economic growth will necessarily follow due to extremely low interest rates and the positive effect of inflation on asset values. And commodity prices, including oil, moved higher after QE 1&2. So, it was strange to see prices just drop for no apparent reason; they seemed to collapse of their own weight. Maybe the outlook for the economy is more dire than we think. Maybe demand for oil is far less than projected. Maybe the Fed has done all they can and they’ve run out of firepower. Maybe the odd price …

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012 –

Sandy Weill, Glass-Steagall, and Banksters on the Wrong Side of History-by Sinclair NoeDOW + 58 = 12,676SPX -0.42 = 1337NAS – 8 = 285410 YR YLD unch = 1.41OIL +.61 = 90.67GOLD + 23.70 = 1605.80SILV +.38 = 27.44PLAT + 15.00 = 1406.00One story today. In 1993 Sandy Weill acquired Shearson Lehman; in quick order he also bought up Travelers Corp and Aetna Life and Casualty and then Salomon Brothers. He began calling the conglomerate, Travelers Group. In April 1998, Travelers Group announced an agreement to undertake the $76 billion merger between Travelers and Citicorp. The new company, called Citigroup, combined a commercial bank holding company with an insurance company and investment banking; it was a big one stop shop that included Citibank, Travelers, Smith Barney, Primerica, Citifinancial, Shearson, Aetna, and Salomon. At the time, it was the largest merger in history and created a financial behemoth with operations in 100 countries. It was also illegal based upon the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.Let’s go back in time to explain Glass-Steagall. At the height of the Great Depression the Congress conducted hearings which showed that the presumed leaders of American enterprise, the bankers and brokers, were guilty of disreputable and dishonest dealings and gross misuses of the public’s trust, literally buying control of politicians. The hearings started in 1932 and they uncovered plenty of abuses. JP Morgan maintained a “preferred list” of clients that would get special deals, huge discounts on stock purchases that could then be flipped for a quick …

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Monday, July 09, 2012 – Barclays Did Not Act Alone – Reaching Into the Upper Echelon

Barclays Did Not Act Alone – Reaching Into the Upper Echelon-by Sinclair NoeDOW – 36 = 12,736SPX – 2 = 1352NAS – 5 = 293110 YR YLD -.03 = 1.51OIL -.34 = 85.65GOLD + 4.90 = 1588.30SILV  + .24 = 27.44PLAT – 2.00 = 1449.00Alcoa kicked off the second quarter earnings reporting season. Alcoa has the ticker symbol AA and they are one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Industrials, so they start the earnings season based on alphabetical order and size and a little bit of tradition. Alcoa lost $2 million for the quarter. With an overhang of high inventories and a 20 percent drop in prices since March, many aluminum producers are losing money. Excluding items, also known as the cost of doing business, Alcoa earned $61 million from continuing operations, or 6 cents per share, which topped estimates of 5 cents per share. Later this week we’ll have earnings reports from some of the big banks, so it seems appropriate that Alcoa start earnings reporting season with some flashy accounting. Based upon this loss, they will probably get a tax refund. President Obama called on Congress to extend tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year while allowing taxes to rise for households making more.Obama said: “Let’s not hold the vast majority of Americans and our economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy.”Obama wants Congress to pass a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for households making …

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Thursday, June 21, 2012 – Like Crack for Bankers – by Sinclair Noe

DOW – 250 = 12,573SPX – 30 = 1325NAS – 71 = 285910 YR YLD – .02 = 1.62%OIL – 3.20 = 78.25GOLD – 41.60 = 1566.20SILV – 1.24 = 26.98PLAT – 19.00 = 1445.00Here is the bottom line on today’s declines; Wall Street has become addicted to free money from the Federal Reserve. Stimulus from the Fed is like crack for the Wall Street bankers. Yesterday, the Fed refused to pass out more free money. Today, Wall Street got a bad case of the shakes.One of the concerns when Bernanke and pals fail to act is that they can’t really think of anything they might do that would have any real effect, or maybe they’re satisfied with 2% inflation and 8.2% unemployment. So what if Bernanke doesn’t have any more ammo?Then we are left to the devices of fiscal policy, in other words; what can the politicians in Washington do to stimulate the economy? The most likely answer is that the politicians can drive the economy over a cliff. While that might seem cynical, it’s really just pragmatic. And then, of course there is the Lehman Brothers event with subtitles looming in Europe. If Europe collapses, the thinking is that Bernanke will find a few more bullets in the form of QE3, and he will once again toss money at the Wall Street bankers. The Wall Street crack whores will fire up their pipes and place “risk-on” trades with the certainty that the Fed will place a put against any …

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Friday, April 20, 2012 – Burning Down Spanish Debt, AMR and Unions

DOW + 65 = 13,029SPX + 1 = 1378NAS – 7 = 300010 YR YLD +.02 = 1.97%OIL + 1.05 = 103.32GOLD – .20 = 1643.40SILV – .10 = 31.80PLAT unch = 1586.00 Italian and Spanish bond yields rose after a draft statement released by G-20 finance chiefs who are meeting in Washington said that Europe’s debt crisis still poses a threat to global growth. Spanish bonds briefly pushed above 6%. That helped push the cost of credit-default swaps to insure Spanish government debt up to a record high 503 bp and increased the cost of insuring Italian debt up to 474 bp, a 3-month high. Credit default swaps pay the buyer face value if the borrower – in this instance Spain – fails to meet its obligations, less the value of the defaulted debt. They’re priced in basis points. A basis point equals $1,000 on each $10 million in debt. Credit default swaps, or CDS, are generally considered insurance against default, but it’s not really insurance because anybody can write CDS against anybody else; there is no requirement for “insurable interest”. For example, if insurance worked like CDS, I could write a fire insurance policy on your house and if your house burned down, I would collect the payment. You might think that would give me an incentive to burn down your house. Yep, that might be what you would think. Now the bankers in New York and London might also have a little incentive to burn down Spanish …

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Thursday, April 19, 2012 – Say on Pay Just Says No to Citigroup, BofA Loses by Winning, and the Risky World of Derivatives

DOW – 68 = 12,964SPX – 8 = 1376NAS – 23 = 300710 YR YLD -.03 = 1.95%OIL -.01 = 102.66GOLD +.60 = 1643.60SILV + .17 = 31.90PLAT + 3.00 = 1587.00 Vikram Pandit, the CEO of Citigroup was “this close” to a $15 million dollar payday. And then shareholders slammed on the brakes and demanded the amount be toned down. It might be a trend. Wells Fargo and Bank of America will ask shareholders to vote on executive pay in coming weeks, and the results at Citi might influence the voting at Wells and BofA. Yesterday, shareholders rejected the compensation plan of regional bank FirstMerit Corp., of Akron, Ohio. The bank gave its CEO a pay raise to $6.4 million last year from $5.5 million, while its stock fell 20 percent. “Say-on-Pay” votes by shareholders were a requirement of the Dodd-Frank financial reform Act, and it looks like 90% of the compensation packages are winning approval, but the margin is slim. The Occupy movement plans to protest at 36 shareholder meetings this spring and the investment community seems to be waking up from a long nap of disengagement. The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, voted no on the Citigroup pay measure because Citi “has not anchored rewards to performance.” Unfortunately, the only reason CalPERS voted against the pay package was because Pandit’s performance was beyond incompetent. What is the appropriate role for CalPERS? Shouldn’t they stand up for their members? Chief executives at some of the nation’s …

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March, Tuesday 13, 2012

DOW + 217 = 13,177SPX + 24 = 1395NAS + 56 = 303910 YR YLD + .08 = 2.11%OIL +.04 = 106.75GOLD – 25.70 = 1676.10 SILV – .20 = 33.51PLAT – 7.00 = 1692.00 It’s a crazy world. Stocks posted their best day of the year. Go figure. The big boost seems to be JPMorgan announcing a dividend, while at the same time 3 banks failed the Fed’s Stress Test. Wait a minute, you’re asking yourself, “Self, am I going crazy or was the Fed supposed to release the results of the Stress Test on Thursday?” And of course, the answer is yes. The Fed, in releasing its annual stress test results, said 15 of the 19 largest banks would have satisfactory capital buffers, even after considering banks’ proposed dividend increases or share buybacks. The regulator said Citigroup, Ally Financial, SunTrust, and MetLife fared worst under the supervisory stress ratios, with Tier 1 common capital ratios of 4.9 percent, 2.5 percent, 4.8%, and 5.1 percent, respectively. The bank holding companies that came out top were Bank of New York Mellon with a Tier 1 common capital ratio of 13.1 percent under the hypothetical financial shock, State Street Corp with 12.5 percent and American Express with 10.8 percent. Bank of America came in with 6.2 percent, and JPMorgan’s result was 5.4 percent. So, only 4 out of 19 enormous financial institutions failed the stress test, meaning that just over one-quarter of the biggest banks in the country could implode at …

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