Home » Posts tagged 'wolfstreet' (Page 2)

Tag Archives: wolfstreet

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

Uncertainty Grips Troubled Pemex, World’s Most Indebted Oil Company

Uncertainty Grips Troubled Pemex, World’s Most Indebted Oil Company

“Even a small deterioration” in its perceived credit risk could take a big financial toll on Mexico.

Mexico’s President-elect, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), does not enter office until December 1, but he’s already making big waves, particularly in the oil and gas industry. On the campaign trail, he pledged to reverse aspects of his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto’s sweeping oil privatization reforms, suspend new oil auctions, and review contracts issued to private energy firms for signs of corruption, which, given the players involved, shouldn’t be hard to find.

All oil and gas auctions have been put on hold in the country until AMLO assumes the office of the presidency. The contracts signed to date alone represent a projected investment of around $200 billion dollars, according tothe Mexican daily El Excelsior. As such, cancelling multi-billion dollar oil and gas contracts will hardly endear AMLO to the oil majors and global investors that have poured funds into Mexico’s newly liberalized energy sector.

This potential 180-degree U-turn in energy policy not only pits Mexican lawmakers against big oil and big money interests; it also puts the world’s most indebted oil company, according to Moody’s, at a very dangerous crossroad.

In a press conference this week AMLO upped the ante by threatening to ban fracking on Mexican soil. As Associated Press reports, when asked about the potential risks of fracking, AMLO said, “We will no longer use that method to extract petroleum.”

AMLO’s riposte is unlikely to please the oil and gas companies that had their sights set on drilling in the Burgos Basin, a region in Mexico’s northern frontier that has a huge potential shale formation similar to the Texas Eagle Ford fields.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Turkish Banks Scramble to Stave Off Debt Crisis, as Lira Plummets

Too little, too late?

Desperation is rising in Turkey’s banking sector following months of escalating political and financial instability. Benchmark interest rates have been hiked 10 percentage points so far this year to over 17%, making it much more expensive for companies and families to service their debt. But even that hasn’t stopped the Turkish Lira from plunging almost 25% since March.

“Turkey is going through its first currency crisis of the floating era,” explainedDani Rodik, a Turkish economist and professor at Harvard University. “All the previous ones were when the rate was fixed or managed, and hence unfolded much more quickly. This one is stretched over time, and the government prefers to ignore it.”

The latest spark of concern was the U.S. government’s decision at the weekend to declare sanctions against two Turkish cabinet ministers over the detention of an American pastor. The Trump administration said it was also reviewing Turkey’s duty-free access to the U.S. market, which could affect $1.7 billion of Turkish exports. Bloomberg reported that the US has prepared a broader list of Turkish entities and individuals that could be subject to further sanctions.

On Monday the Lira shed 5.5% of its value to a record low of 5.46 against the dollar, before recovering slightly following intervention from the Bank of Turkey. The central bank changed its rules to loosen the upper limit of banks’ reserve requirements in a desperate bid to support the crumbling currency. The bank announced it was reducing the maximum amount of foreign currency lenders can park at the regulator as part of their required reserves.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Housing Bubbles Are Dangerous, That’s Why Canada is Finally Trying to Tamp Down on Them. And the US?

Housing Bubbles Are Dangerous, That’s Why Canada is Finally Trying to Tamp Down on Them. And the US?

Wolf Richter with Jim Goddard on This Week in Money:

The underlying dynamics are similar, but the approach is different.

Home prices experience a historic spike in Seattle, and sharp increases in other metros, but prices of condos in New York fall. Read…  The Most Splendid Housing Bubbles in America

A Housing Bubble Pops: Update on Australia

A Housing Bubble Pops: Update on Australia

It is rare that a housing market makes such a beautifully defined U-turn, after a long hard surge.

In Sydney, Australia’s largest housing market and one of the world’s biggest housing bubbles, prices of homes of all types fell 5.4% in July compared to a year ago, and 5.5% from the peak in September. Prices of single-family houses dropped 7.0%, and prices of condos (“units”) fell 1.6%, according to CoreLogic’s Daily Home Value Index:

The most expensive quarter of the market got hit the hardest, with prices down 8.0% in July compared to a year ago. Across the so-called “most affordable quarter of the market” – “least unaffordable” would be more appropriate – prices fell by 1.8%.

And supply in Sydney is starting to come out of the woodwork: Total number of homes listed for sale, based on a rolling 28-day count, jumped 22% from a year ago to 26,103 listings, according to CoreLogic, the most since July 2012.

In the chart below, the number of homes listed for sale in 2018 is denoted with the black line. It’s below only the blue line (2012), but creeping up on it. Note the seasonality, with listings getting pulled during the Christmas holiday period (chart via CoreLogic):

And so goes the rental market, where “conditions eased further in July,” CoreLogic noted in its report: In Sydney rents fell 0.4% year-over-year. While that might not sound like much of an annual decline, it is “the largest decline on record” in CoreLogic’s data going back over a decade.

Melbourne lags a few months behind Sydney but is now catching up. Home prices in Melbourne fell 0.5% in July year-over-year, according to CoreLogic, and are down 3.0% from their peak at the end of November 2017: House prices fell 1.4% from a year ago while condos are still up 2.3%. The index is now back where it had been at the end of June, 2017:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind

The Fed Accelerates its QE Unwind

Mopping up liquidity.

The Fed’s QE Unwind – “balance sheet normalization,” as it calls this – is accelerating toward cruising speed. The first 12 months of the QE unwind, which started in October 2017, are the ramp-up period – just like there was the “Taper” during the final 12 months of QE. The plan calls for shedding up to $420 billion in securities in 2018 and up to $600 billion a year in each of the following years until the balance sheet is sufficiently “normalized” – or until something big breaks.

Treasuries

In July, the QE Unwind accelerated sharply. According to the plan, the Fed was supposed to shed up to $24 billion in Treasury Securities in July, up from $18 billion a month in the prior three months. And? The Fed released its weekly balance sheet Thursday afternoon. Over the four weeks ending August 1, the balance of Treasury securities fell by $23.5 billion to $2,337 billion, the lowest since April 16, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, the Fed has shed $129 billion in Treasuries.

The step-pattern in the chart above is a result of how the Fed sheds Treasury securities. It doesn’t sell them outright but allows them to “roll off” when they mature. Treasuries only mature mid-month or at the end of the month. Hence the stair-steps.

In mid-July, no Treasuries matured. But on July 31, $28.4 billion matured. The Fed replaced about $4 billion of them with new Treasury securities directly via its arrangement with the Treasury Department that cuts out Walls Street (its “primary dealers”) with which the Fed normally does business. Those $4 billion in securities, to use the jargon, were “rolled over.” But it did not replace about $24 billion of maturing Treasuries. They “rolled off.”

Mortgage-Backed Securities

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Hidden Debt Loophole Could be Widespread”: Fitch

“Hidden Debt Loophole Could be Widespread”: Fitch

Use of this financial instrument has ballooned. No one knows to what extent because there’s no disclosure. But it was a “key contributor” to the sudden collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion.

As regulators and stiffed creditors were poking through the debris of collapsed outsourcing giant Carillion – once employing 43,000 people worldwide – they found that the UK company had hidden much of its debts. And Fitch Ratings warned that this “technique” – a “debt loophole” – may be “widespread” in the US and Europe.

Carillion provided services to governments. It didn’t manufacture anything, didn’t have a lot of assets, and didn’t have a lot of debt – at least not disclosed on its books. Net debt on its balance sheet amounted to £219 million. But Fitch estimates that it had an additional financial debt of £400 million to £500 million.

This debt was hidden by a “technique commonly referred to as reverse factoring,” Fitch says. And it was “a key contributor to Carillion’s liquidation.”

This “reverse factoring” – part of supply chain financing – allowed Carillion to hide a debt of £400 million to £500 million in “other payables,” such as money owed suppliers. There were indications that something was off: Over a four-year period, “other payables” had nearly tripled, from £263 million to £761 million. According to Fitch, “This appears largely to have been the result of a reverse factoring program.”

But this was financial debt owed to banks – not trade accounts payable.

Any disclosure?

Almost none. Fitch explained in the report (press release here):

There was one passing reference to the company’s early payment program in the non-financial section of the accounts, but nothing in the audited financial statements and no numbers.

The only clue to the scale of the supply chain financing was the growth in “other payables,” the implications of which do not appear to have been appreciated by many in Carillion’s broader stakeholder group.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The EU Backs Off its War on Cash. Here’s Why

The EU Backs Off its War on Cash. Here’s Why

People view paying in cash “as a fundamental freedom, which should not be disproportionately restricted.”

The European Commission, in its official war on cash, admitted that physical cash is perhaps not quite the source of all evil that many EU institutions, including the Commission itself, had made it out to be. And it has abandoned its war on cash.

In a report to the European Parliament and Council on the viability of EU-wide cash payment restrictions, the Commission made three crucial observations.

1. Cash restrictions would have little effect on terrorist financing

Cash plays a major role in many terrorist activities, “offering anonymity and facilitating the ability to conceal not only illegal activities, but also ancillary legal transactions that could otherwise be tracked by law enforcement agencies,” the report points out. But according to the findings of a detailed analysis of recent terrorist attacks, restrictions on payments in cash would have had little impact on the capacity to prepare these attacks, especially given the “observed trend of the decreasing costs of terrorist attacks.”

The amounts of individual transactions are often even lower, and would therefore not have been impacted by restrictions. What’s more, many common transactions made in the preparation of recent terrorist attacks were done using traceable means (credit and debit cards, bank transfers, etc.) without raising any red flags.

2. Cash restrictions could be useful in combating money laundering but are of limited help against tax fraud.

The report notes that cash limits could be a useful tool in the fight against money laundering, of which cash transactions are normally the starting point. Despite the steady growth in non-cash payment methods and the changing face of criminality (i.e., the rise in cybercrime, online fraud and illicit online market places), criminal activities continue to generate profits in the form of large amounts of cash.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Spending on Housing Dropped 12% in Canada in June

Spending on Housing Dropped 12% in Canada in June

The national slowdown was particularly unkind to the province of BC.

Canadian housing data continued to disappoint in the month of June. Albeit the year-over-year decline in home sales was not nearly as disappointing as the month of May. National home sales fell 11% year-over-year in June, a slight upgrade from the 16% decline suffered in May.

As sales dipped, so too did the total amount spent on real estate. The total dollar volume dipped 12% year-over-year in June, totaling C$23.5 billion. A tough blow to government tax coffers which have reaped record sums of property tax dollars in recent years.

The national slowdown was particularly unkind to the province of BC where home sales slid 33% year over year, the largest draw-down since June of 2008. Weak buying activity hit Greater Vancouver & Victoria the hardest, sales fell 38% and 30% respectively.

However, the pullback was not exclusive to the province of BC. Other than small year over year gains in Quebec City, Toronto, and Montreal, most major cities were hit with a drop in home sales.

The average sales price across the nation dipped in June for the first time since June of 2012, shedding 1% year over year. While this marked the fifth month in a row in which the national average price was down on a year-over-year basis, it was the smallest decline among them. The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up 0.9% y-o-y in June 2018, marking the 14th consecutive month of decelerating gains. It was also the smallest increase since September 2009.

Despite the rather grim data, the Canadian Real Estate Association remained upbeat, CREA President Barb Sukkau noted, “This year’s new stress-test on mortgage applicants has been weighing on homes sales activity; however, the increase in June suggests its impact may be starting to lift.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China

Backlash Against “War on Cash” Reaches Washington & China

The electronic-payments industry, which gets a cut from every electronic transaction, wants to kill cash. But wait…

Not so long ago, it seemed that the death of cash was both inevitable and imminent. The war against physical money was advancing on all fronts. Cash, already with technological and generational trends stacked against it, faced an imposing array of enemies, including private banks, fintech firms, telecom behemoths, credit card giants, assorted NGOs, tech magnates like Bill Gates and Tim Cook, a bewildering alphabet soup of UN agencies and many national governments. All wanted (and to a great extent still want) to accelerate the demise of physical money, for their own disparate motives.

But a study released in June by UK-based online payments company Paysafe confirmed that consumers on both sides of the Atlantic continue to cling to physical lucre: 87% of consumers surveyed in the UK, Canada, the US, Germany, and Austria said they had used cash to make purchases in the last month, 83% visited ATMs, and 41% said they are not interested in even hearing about cash alternatives.

Now, even certain branches of government are pushing back against the cashless trend. In Washington D.C., city councilors have introduced a new bill that would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use. The bill is in response to efforts by retailers in the city and around the country – like the salad chain Sweetgreen – to go 100% cashless.

Such moves have been decried as discriminatory against the roughly one-quarter of people in the U.S. who would have trouble using a card or some other electronic means of payment, not to mention those who would just prefer to use cash. “Certain underbanked customers have to use cash; they don’t have other alternatives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“That’s a Super Dangerous Place to Be”: CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management

“That’s a Super Dangerous Place to Be”: CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management

When central banks distort the markets, risk disappears from view.

“You could have a bunch of walking-zombie companies and you don’t even know it,” explained Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, on Wednesday at the Delivering Alpha Conference in New York. “That’s a super dangerous place to be,” she said.

She was talking about the effects of the ECB’s bond buying program as part of a broader warning that investors are no longer seeing risks.

The ECB has been buying corporate bonds, among other things, in an explicit effort to distort the bond market and drive corporate bond yields to near zero. At the peak of the frenzy last fall, the average euro junk-bond yield fell to 2.08% — though it has risen since. These are bonds with an appreciable risk of default. But the yield was barely enough to cover inflation (currently 2.0%). Credit risk wasn’t priced in at all.

The bond-buying binge has created a universe of bonds with negative yields, and desperate investors who’ll take any risk without compensation just to cover inflation. This desperation supplies fresh money to burn to even the riskiest zombie companies.

Companies have relentlessly taken advantage of this investor desperation. The amount of corporate euro bonds outstanding has surged by about 45% over the past three years, to €1.5 trillion ($1.75 trillion), including record euro-bonds issued by American junk-rated companies.

When credit risk is not being priced at all – when it’s free – this most important gauge of the credit market is worthless.

“You’re equally rewarding the A-plus student and the student who’s doing no homework and is just showing up,” Erdoes said at the conference, as reported by Bloomberg.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NIRP Did It: I’m in Awe of How Central-Bank Policies Blind Investors to Risks

NIRP Did It: I’m in Awe of How Central-Bank Policies Blind Investors to Risks

“Reverse-Yankee” Junk Bond Issuance Hits Record.

It’s paradise for US companies looking for cheap money. They range from sparkly investment-grade companies, such as Apple with its pristine balance sheet, to “junk” rated companies, such as Netflix with its cash-burn machine. They have all been doing it: Selling euro-denominated bonds in Europe.

The momentum for these “reverse Yankees” took off when the ECB’s Negative Interest Rate Policy and QE – which includes the purchase of euro bonds issued by European entities of US companies – pushed yields of many government bonds and some corporate bonds into the negative.

By now, yields in the land of NIRP have bounced off the ludicrous lows late last year, as the ECB has been tapering its bond purchases and has started waffling about rate hikes. Investors that bought the bonds at those low yields last year are now sitting on nice losses.

But that hasn’t stopped the momentum of reverse Yankees, especially those with a “junk” credit rating.

Bonds issued in euros in Europe by junk-rated US companies hit an all-time record in the first half of 2018, “taking advantage of decidedly cheaper financing costs in that market,” according to LCD of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

In the first half, US companies sold €8.2 billion of these junk-rated reverse-Yankee bonds, a new record (chart via LCD):

These bonds are hot for European investors who are wheezing under the iron fist of NIRP that dishes out guaranteed losses even before inflation on less risky bonds. Anything looks better than bonds with negative yields.

And here is why it makes sense for US companies to chase this money: It’s still ultra-cheap particularly for lower-rated companies. The chart below shows just how much sense it makes for the companies – though investors are going to have their day of reckoning.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Update on the Fed’s QE Unwind

Update on the Fed’s QE Unwind

With QE, the Fed created money to buy securities and pump up asset prices; now it sheds securities to destroy this money.

Here’s what the Fed’s QE unwind – or the balance sheet normalization, as it calls it – is all about: it reverses over an unknown span of years a large part of what QE had done over the span of five-and-a-half years. During QE, whose stated purpose was the “wealth effect,” the Fed amassed $3.4 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Just as the Fed spent a year tapering QE to zero, it is now spending a year ramping up the QE unwind.

Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet for the week ending July 4 dropped by $29.4 billion over the past four weeks. This brought the total drop since October, when the QE unwind began, to $171 billion. At $4,289 billion, total assets are now at the lowest level since April 16, 2014, during the middle of the “taper.”

The Fed’s announced plan calls for shedding up to $420 billion in securities this year and up to $600 billion a year in each of the following years until the Fed considers its balance sheet to be “normalized” — or until something major goes awry. For June, the plan calls for the Fed to shed up to $18 billion in Treasuries and up to $12 billion in MBS. So how did it go?

Treasury securities

The balance of Treasury securities fell by $17.5 billion in June to $2,360 billion, the lowest since May 7, 2014. Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, $105 billion in Treasuries “rolled off.”

The step-pattern in the chart below is a result of how the Fed sheds securities. It doesn’t sell them outright but allows them to “roll off” when they mature. Treasuries only mature mid-month or at the end of the month. Hence the stair-steps.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi?

US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi?

Um, no. Central banks not enthusiastic about the renminbi.

Global central banks are not dumping US-dollar-denominated assets from their foreign exchange reserves. They’re not dumping euro-denominated assets either. And they remain leery of the Chinese renminbi – despite China’s place as the second largest economy in the world and despite all the hoopla of turning the renminbi into a major global reserve currency.

This is clear from the IMF’s just released “Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves” (COFER) data for the first quarter 2018. The IMF is very stingy with what it discloses. The COFER data for each individual country – each country’s specific holdings of reserve currencies – is “strictly confidential.” But it does disclose the global allocation of each major currency.

In Q1 2018, total global foreign exchange reserves, including all currencies, rose 6.3% year-over-year, or by $878 billion, to $11.59 trillion, within the upper range of the past three years (from $10.7 trillion in Q4 2016 to $11.8 trillion in Q3, 2014). For reporting purposes, the IMF converts all currency balances into US dollars. This data was for Q1. The dollar bottomed out in the middle of the quarter and has since been rising.

US-dollar-denominated assets among foreign exchange reserves continued to dominate in Q1 at $6.5 trillion, or 62.5% of “allocated” reserves (more on this “allocated” in a moment).

Over the decades, there have been major efforts to undermine the dollar’s hegemony as a global reserve currency, which it has maintained since World War II. The creation of the euro was the most successful such effort. The plan was that the euro would eventually reach “parity” with the dollar on the hegemony scale. Before the euro, global exchange reserves included the individual currencies of today’s Eurozone members, particularly the Deutsche mark. After the euro came about, it replaced all those. And its share edged up for a while until the euro debt crisis spooked central banks and derailed those dreams.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Next Central Bank Puts QE Unwind on the Calendar

Next Central Bank Puts QE Unwind on the Calendar

The end of an era spreads.

Markets were surprised today when the Bank of England took a “hawkish” turn and announced that three out of nine members of its Monetary Policy Committee – including influential Chief Economist Andrew Haldane, who’d been considered dovish – voted to raise the Bank Rate to 0.75%, thus dissenting from the majority who kept it at 0.5%. This dissension, particularly by Haldane, communicated to the markets that a rate hike at the next meeting in August is likely. The beaten-down UK pound jumped.

But less prominent was the announcement about the QE unwind. Like other central banks, the BoE heavily engaged in QE and maintains a balance sheet of £435 billion ($577 billion) of British government bonds and £10 billion ($13 billion) in UK corporate bonds that it had acquired during the Brexit kerfuffle.

Before it starts shedding assets on its balance sheet, however, the BoE wants to raise the Bank Rate enough to where it can cut it “materially” if needed, “reflecting the Committee’s preference to use Bank Rate as the primary instrument for monetary policy,” as it said.

In this, it parallels the Fed. The Fed started its QE unwind in October 2017, after it had already raised its target range for the federal funds rate four times.

The BoE’s previous guidance was that the QE unwind would start when the Bank Rate is “around 2%.” Back in the day when this guidance was given, NIRP had broken out all over Europe, and pundits assumed that the BoE would never be able to raise its rate to anywhere near 2%, and so the QE unwind could never happen.

Today the BoE moved down its guidance about the beginning of the QE unwind to a time when the Bank Rate is “around 1.5%.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why a US-Style Housing Bust & Mortgage Crisis Can Happen in Canada, Australia, and Other Bubble Markets

Why a US-Style Housing Bust & Mortgage Crisis Can Happen in Canada, Australia, and Other Bubble Markets

Despite persistent and false memes to the contrary.

When a housing downturn gets big enough, there will be a mortgage crisis, and it will hit banks, shadow banks, and mortgage insurers no matter what the mortgage laws are: that’s what the US mortgage crisis has demonstrated. Yet many industry organs and media outlets in Canada, Australia, and other places with acute housing bubbles are trying to hide behind a false meme about US mortgage laws. What happened there cannot happen here, they say.

So we’re going to debunk this meme.

“Jingle mail” was a phenomenon during the US mortgage crisis when homeowners and small-scale investors, unable or unwilling to make mortgage payments, abandoned the place, figuratively mailing the keys to the bank. This phenomenon took various forms, such as homeowners who stopped making payments but continued to live in the home, sometimes for years, because the foreclosure process was hopelessly bogged down.

All this became a problem only after home prices dropped substantially below the amount people owed on their mortgages, which made it impossible for them to sell the home and pay off the mortgage.

This is rarely a problem in a rising housing market. Default rates are minuscule because it’s easy to sell the home and pay off the mortgage. And during these times, lenders hide behind these low default rates. But these default rates are only low because home prices are rising.

But when home prices drop sharply, after years of low-down-payment requirements and thus little equity cushion, suddenly soaring defaults are a problem that “came out of nowhere.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase