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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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