Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-65427 Fri, 10 Jul 2020 18:40:44 GMT New York Court Approves Resumed Investigation Into $10 Billion Cryptocurrency Created By A Presidential Candidate http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-10_NewYorkCourtApprovesResumedInvestigationInto10BillionCryptocurre.html The news comes at an awkward time for Brock Pierce, 39, the creator of the [Tether] cryptocurrency [and the Bitfinex exchange], who this week announced he was running for President of the United States. A representative of the New York State Attorney General says he "cannot confirm or deny that the investigation" includes Pierce.

In 2014, Pierce, who is running as an independent on a pro-technology platform, created the tether currency as a way for cryptocurrency investors to quickly enter and exit a position. Unlike bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, tether was meant to have a stable price, backed one-to-one by real U.S. dollars. But unlike traditional dollars, it can be moved instantly, while actually cashing out a crypto-asset using banks can take days, and many banks won't support the service at all.

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Officially, the case involves, BFXNA Inc. and BFXWW Inc., wholly-owned subsidiaries of iFinex, which operates the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange, and Tether Holdings Limited the holding company for Tether Limited, Tether Operations Limited, and Tether International Limited. Though Pierce is not mentioned in the opinion, he not only founded Tether in 2014, but is the co-founder of Block.One, behind the 11th largest cryptocurrency, EOS, valued at $900 million, and Blockchain Capital, one of the most influential venture capital firms in crypto.

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Specifically, the attorney general previously alleged that Bitfinex had handed over $850 million to third-party payments processor Crypto Capital Corp., based in Panama, to handle customers-withdrawal requests. When the company failed to hold up its end of the bargain the respondents allegedly hid the losses through unspecified machinations, leading some to wonder if they'd simply started printing new tether cryptocurrency without any backing.

At around this time, Tether changed the wording on its site to show that instead of every tether being backed by a U.S. dollar, they were "backed by Tether Holding's "reserves," which include unspecified currency, "cash equivalents," and "other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether [Holdings] to third parties," according to the opinion. In turn, the respondents also successfully managed to get the investigation halted, temporarily though it may have been.

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Perhaps counter-intuitively, since the stay was issued in September 2019, tether's market cap exploded from $4.1 billion to $10 billion today, in spite of the doubts about whether the currency was actually backed by dollars, perhaps giving credibility to Tether's value proposition. Also over that time though, a newer stablecoin, USDC, co-created by cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and crypto tech firm Circle, has risen to a market cap of $1 billion today and an even newer competitor, DAI, backed by a wide range of collateral has risen to $190 million. A loss to Tether would almost certainly be a win for the competition, and vice-versa.

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iehi-feed-65426 Fri, 10 Jul 2020 18:02:53 GMT Insane New York Attorneys Gone Wild! http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-10_InsaneNewYorkAttorneysGoneWild.html iehi-feed-65425 Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:07:38 GMT A Coffee Chain Reveals Flaws in the Fed's Plan to "Save" Main Street http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-10_ACoffeeChainRevealsFlawsintheFedsPlantoSaveMainStreet.html ``La Colombe didn't think it qualified for the government's forgivable small-business loan program given its size and canned coffee manufacturing business. It is too small to have ready access to the debt markets big companies use to raise funds -- markets that are chugging along with the help of Federal Reserve backstops.

The company's leaders thought that another Fed program, one intended to help midsize businesses by providing loans, would be their best shot at getting help. But when the central bank announced the details in early April, it was clear that La Colombe would not qualify. The company has too much debt relative to earnings to meet the Fed's leverage restrictions.

"That just doesn't make sense for companies like La Colombe, because we're growing so quickly," said Aren Platt, who leads special projects for the company.

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First announced on March 23, the Main Street program finally allowed banks to register as lenders in mid-June -- but only about 450 of the nation's thousands of eligible banks have registered so far. Banks have reported that many clients are not interested in using the program, the Fed chair, Jerome H. Powell, acknowledged to concerned lawmakers during testimony in late June.

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Small-town bankers say some clients have gotten spooked by the substantial paperwork involved in using the program. Big companies often have more attractive options elsewhere in the market. Some, like La Colombe, have too much debt to apply. That problem is echoed across the comment letters by companies that were expanding their footprint pre-pandemic.

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The program fully opened on Monday, and Mr. Rosengren said banks had already offered loans for companies that had been hard-hit, like movie theaters. He declined to say how many, and said he expected demand to ramp up over time. The Boston Fed disclosures show that hardly any of the biggest banks, other than Bank of America, are willing to publicly say that they will make loans to new customers through the program.

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Lawmakers have repeatedly pushed policymakers to make the program more inclusive and widely available. But Mr. Mnuchin has been relatively cautious about taking on credit risk, occasionally describing the Main Street program as a backup option that could be successful without ever being used by providing certainty to the market that credit would remain available.

Compare this with the Fed's pandemic support of the stock market and corporate debt -- it just goes in and buys without the companies having to do anything, or give up any rights...

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iehi-feed-65424 Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:02:31 GMT What It's Like to Enter the Work Force From Your Childhood Bedroom Over Zoom http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-10_WhatItsLiketoEntertheWorkForceFromYourChildhoodBedroomOverZoom.html Matthew Feldman, who graduated from Syracuse University in December before interning at Edelman, the public relations firm, in the spring, started his full-time communications job with the defense contractor Raytheon in June from the basement of his family's home in Bellefonte, Pa. -- the house where the family has lived since Mr. Feldman, 23, was in kindergarten.

He logs on to work from a couch or a bar top. The weak signal from the basement, strained by an entire household working remotely, made Mr. Feldman fearful that his orientation calls during his first week would drop.

"We had four people doing different jobs all working on the same internet connection," he said. "It was really a nightmare."

Mr. Feldman's father, an elementary school principal, and his mother, an elementary school teacher, had claimed the main floor of the home, where for the past few months his mother taught classes on Zoom. His younger brother, a rising junior at Georgia Tech, was also taking classes remotely.

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Relationships are the key to success, Mr. Hellmann said, adding that people who build connections with their teams and with colleagues in other departments are better positioned for promotions -- something Ms. Delgado said she was worried about falling behind on.

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"You're with people that love you, and a community you're super familiar with," he said of being at home. But after attending college out of state, studying abroad in Spain and living in various cities around the country for internships, Mr. Feldman said, he longs for the personal growth that comes from living in an unfamiliar place. He has considered working remotely from Brooklyn for a few months.

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iehi-feed-65423 Thu, 09 Jul 2020 22:18:08 GMT Soaring demand for federal jobless benefits points to fresh fissures in the U.S. economy http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-09_Soaringdemandforfederaljoblessbenefitspointstofreshfissuresinthe.html The number of unemployed people collecting jobless benefits through a temporary federal-relief program has exploded in the past month to more than 14 million, suggesting the U.S. labor market is facing a fresh set of problems.

After a small decline in mid-May, applications for benefits filed through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have soared 53% to 14.4 million as of June 20 from 9.37 million a month earlier. Federal continuing claims are reported with a two-week lag.

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The portrait of the coronavirus-infected labor market looks worse if all continuing jobless claims are combined. Almost 33 million people were receiving benefits as of June 20, up from 31.5 million in the preceding week, according to Labor Department data.

By contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' normally more reliable monthly employment report indicated 17.8 million people were unemployed in June.

The gap between weekly continuing jobless claims and the monthly unemployment numbers has left a big -- and inexplicable puzzle -- for economists. Why aren't all these people telling the Labor Department they are unemployed?

The BLS has already said that people aren't answering the survey correctly (really, it lacks the appropriate categories to handle the current situation). A lot of people are functionally unemployed but hopeful of being rehired -- it's hard to infer from this that they are "employed", though we hope their employers' businesses do survive, and rehire them.

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iehi-feed-65422 Thu, 09 Jul 2020 22:11:49 GMT Why ‘safe haven' gold and the stock market are now moving the same direction http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-09_Whysafehavengoldandthestockmarketarenowmovingthesamedirection.html Chalk it up, in part, to opportunity costs. Efforts by global central banks to push down interest rates, which have fallen into negative territory in real, or inflation-adjusted terms, in the U.S. and are outright negative in many parts of the world, mean that investors who hold gold aren't missing out on the yield they would earn from holding bonds in more usual circumstances.

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"Firstly, central bank policy is a strong driver behind higher gold prices. Not only are official rates close to zero in a large number of countries, they will unlikely go up in our forecast horizon," Boele wrote.

Most central banks have announced quantitative easing, with the Federal Reserve embarking on unlimited QE and the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank also implementing large programs. "This sounds like music to the ears of gold bugs as money floods into the market and currencies begin to decline," she said.

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"Now the psychological resistance of $1,800 per ounce has been surpassed. It seems that investors will only be satisfied if the former (intraday) peak in gold prices at $1,921 per ounce is reached and taken out. Above that, the important psychological level of $2,000 per ounce is within reach," she said.

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iehi-feed-65421 Thu, 09 Jul 2020 16:45:51 GMT New Homeowners Find Charred Human Skull In Backyard Fire Pit http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-09_NewHomeownersFindCharredHumanSkullInBackyardFirePit.html iehi-feed-65419 Thu, 09 Jul 2020 01:09:18 GMT Robinhood's Secret Business Model Revealed: Let Sophisticated Firms Fleece Its Unsophisticated Retail Customers http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-08_RobinhoodsSecretBusinessModelRevealedLetSophisticatedFirmsFleece.html At the core of Robinhood's business is an incentive to encourage more trading. It does not charge fees for trading, but it is still paid more if its customers trade more. That's because it makes money through a complex practice known as "payment for order flow." Each time a Robinhood customer trades, Wall Street firms actually buy or sell the shares and determine what price the customer gets. These firms pay Robinhood for the right to do this, because they then engage in a form of arbitrage by trying to buy or sell the stock for a profit over what they give the Robinhood customer.

This practice is not new, and retail brokers such as E-Trade and Schwab also do it. But Robinhood makes significantly more than they do for each stock share and options contract sent to the professional trading firms, the filings show.

For each share of stock traded, Robinhood made four to 15 times more than Schwab in the most recent quarter, according to the filings. In total, Robinhood got $18,955 from the trading firms for every dollar in the average customer account, while Schwab made $195, the Alphacution analysis shows. Industry experts said this was most likely because the trading firms believed they could score the easiest profits from Robinhood customers.

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... at least part of Robinhood's success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows.

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More than at any other retail brokerage firm, Robinhood's users trade the riskiest products and at the fastest pace, according to an analysis of new filings from nine brokerage firms by the research firm Alphacution for The New York Times.

In the first three months of 2020, Robinhood users traded nine times as many shares as E-Trade customers, and 40 times as many shares as Charles Schwab customers, per dollar in the average customer account in the most recent quarter. They also bought and sold 88 times as many risky options contracts as Schwab customers, relative to the average account size, according to the analysis.

This seems significantly worse than a casino...

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iehi-feed-65418 Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:55:29 GMT Never Before Have I Seen So Much Fake Unemployment & Jobs Data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics | Wolf Street http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-08_NeverBeforeHaveISeenSoMuchFakeUnemploymentJobsDatabytheBureauofL.html The difference between those actually receiving unemployment insurance (31.5 million people) and those that the BLS claims are unemployed has today exploded to 13.7 million. In other words, the BLS has under-reported the number of unemployed by at least 13.7 million people.

No one knows how many jobs were created on net, but it wasn't 4.8 million as the BLS tried to make us believe, or even a smaller positive number, but a negative number, with more jobs being shed on net, because the number of people still receiving unemployment insurance since the end of May has surged by 1.3 million people, according to the Labor Department.

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Of course, the dire unemployment data released today by the Department of Labor got practically no air time. And the BLS's fake BS trumped, so to speak, all news coverage.

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iehi-feed-65417 Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:10:18 GMT How Trump Could Lose the Election--And Still Remain President http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-08_HowTrumpCouldLosetheElectionAndStillRemainPresident.html iehi-feed-65416 Tue, 07 Jul 2020 16:20:52 GMT Mortgage Industry Says Foreclosures Will Skyrocket In August http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-07_MortgageIndustrySaysForeclosuresWillSkyrocketInAugust.html iehi-feed-65415 Tue, 07 Jul 2020 02:05:00 GMT Kushner's family, Trump tenants received coronavirus business aid http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_KushnersfamilyTrumptenantsreceivedcoronavirusbusinessaid.html The Trump administration funneled millions of dollars in coronavirus aid to companies with potential conflicts of interests, including some owned by Jared Kushner's family and others housed in buildings operated by the president's real estate company, according to records made public Monday.

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Kushner no longer owns [Observer Holdings, LLC], but his sister's husband, Joseph Meyer, counts it as part of his investment firm, Observer Capital, according to public records.

Princeton Forrestal LLC and Esplanade Livingston LLC, a couple of holding companies owned partially by Jared Kushner's father, mother, brother and sister, pocketed between $1.35 million and $3 million in PPP funds collectively, the records showed. The exact amount the Kushner-tied LLCs received isn't available as the Small Business Administration records only provide ranges for amounts larger than $1 million.

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At least two companies renting space at the Trump International Hotel on Central Park West and the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., got between $2.1 million and $5.3 million collectively, the records show.

Jordan Libowitz, the communications director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the PPP payments present a potential conflict of interests, since some of that aid could've ended up being paid as rent into the coffers of the Trump Organization, which the president still owns and profits from.

"It's part of this ongoing issue of potential conflicts of interest from the president continuing to hold a stake in his company," Libowitz told the Daily News.

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iehi-feed-65414 Tue, 07 Jul 2020 01:59:41 GMT PPP: Relief went to hair salons, restaurants, law firms -- and some members of Congress http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_PPPReliefwenttohairsalonsrestaurantslawfirmsandsomemembersofCong.html After withering pressure from lawmakers, the federal government on Monday released data on hundreds of thousands of borrowers from the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program -- the main relief vehicle for small and mid-size companies suffering from the pandemic lockdowns.

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Multiple members of Congress or their families benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, the data shows.

They include Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania who owns namesake car dealerships, received three loans ranging up to $1 million, according to the data. His spokesman said in a statement that Kelly is not involved in day-to-day operations and "was not part of the discussions between the business and the PPP lender."

As it was designed, the program provides potentially forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees in order to keep their workforce on payroll. The program was so critical at its inception that a first round of funding dried up in less than two weeks and had to be replenished. But interest in the program largely dried up in recent weeks, as shifting rules and the inability of borrowers to come back for a second loan limited the number of small businesses willing or able to go through the application process.

As mentioned elsewhere, a business invested in by Nancy Pelosi's husband (at about an 8% stake) also got money.

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iehi-feed-65413 Mon, 06 Jul 2020 23:32:22 GMT Coronavirus can spread as aerosol ‘beyond any reasonable doubt,' over 200 scientists tell the World Health Organization http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_Coronaviruscanspreadasaerosolbeyondanyreasonabledoubtover200scie.html More than 200 scientists have called for the World Health Organization and others to acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread in the air -- a change that could alter some of the current measures being taken to stop the pandemic.

In a letter published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, two scientists from Australia and the U.S. wrote that studies have shown "beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air." That means people in certain indoor conditions could be at greater risk of being infected than was previously thought.

... The letter was endorsed by 239 scientists from a variety of fields. It stated that the issue of whether or not COVID-19 was airborne was of "heightened significance" as many countries stop restrictive lockdown measures.

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iehi-feed-65412 Mon, 06 Jul 2020 16:25:01 GMT What the Coronavirus Has Wrought on New Development in NYC http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_WhattheCoronavirusHasWroughtonNewDevelopmentinNYC.html ... [Long Island City,] as in Manhattan, a number of factors, including changing tax incentives and the retreat of foreign buyers, have slowed sales just as many new projects have been coming online. In Long Island City, out of 1,945 condo units completed since 2018, nearly 60 percent remain unsold, he said.

"If you're a shoemaker, and 60 percent of your shoes haven't sold, you've either made the wrong shoes, or you've made too many," he said.

The problem is not necessarily too much building -- there is huge demand for affordable housing in the city. It's a matter of what was built, agents said.

"There is simply no demand for two-bedroom apartments that are 950 square feet and go for $1.5 million," said Patrick W. Smith, an agent with Corcoran who specializes in Long Island City, referring to the recent trend toward apartments with less square footage but higher-end finishes. The average size of a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is 1,344 square feet, according to Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants.

Mr. Smith considers himself lucky that his upcoming projects are still in the planning stages, which means the developers still have time to change their layouts to react to the coronavirus. At one upcoming project, the ubiquitous open floor plan has been modified to create an old-fashioned foyer -- a decontamination area of sorts before entering the living room. At another, some kitchens will shrink to make way for offices, now that so many people are working from home.

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The lasting impact of Covid-19 is not lost on buyers. Gary Hirshfield, a 58-year-old ophthalmologist who works in Queens, moved with his wife, Stacey Kruger, also an ophthalmologist, into a three-bedroom penthouse at Galerie, a nearby condo project, at the end of 2019. Now he is having second thoughts.

"Today, if I could get my money out, I'd consider it," Mr. Hirshfield said. For the cost of his 1,690-square-foot apartment, he said he could have bought a 5,000-square-foot house with some land in the suburbs. But Long Island City appealed to him because of the restaurant scene, its proximity to Manhattan, and the high-end fitness center in the building (now closed to residents). He still believes in the value of the project, but doesn't know when he'll feel safe enough to use the gym again.

Some buildings are already sweetening the pot to entice new buyers. At the Neighborly, where prices range from $585,000 for a roughly 440-square-foot studio to $2 million for a three-bedroom penthouse, the developer, New Empire Corp., is offering to pay residents' taxes and common charges for the first full year, almost $10,000 for a one-bedroom. Another project, Corte, offered a number of "rent-to-own" plans, in which a renter would pay toward ownership -- a tactic more commonly seen during the last recession.

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It's unclear how well the units will be received in this new climate, but early data suggests hurdles ahead. Nearly a quarter of New York City rentals were discounted in May, up from 15 percent in the same period last year. And the discounting was most pronounced in buildings with more than 50 units, where the median discount was 9.3 percent below the original asking price, according to Nancy Wu, an economist with the real estate listings site StreetEasy. She calls that discount the "social distancing premium," because the data suggests renter wariness with more crowded buildings.

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iehi-feed-65411 Mon, 06 Jul 2020 15:33:37 GMT Upgrade Your Work From Home: Company Releases "Zen Work Pod" self-contained officefor $5-$15k http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_UpgradeYourWorkFromHomeCompanyReleasesZenWorkPodselfcontainedoff.html iehi-feed-65410 Mon, 06 Jul 2020 15:11:11 GMT Caliber Home Loans Slapped By NY AG For $17 Million http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-06_CaliberHomeLoansSlappedByNYAGFor17Million.html iehi-feed-65409 Fri, 03 Jul 2020 22:05:54 GMT Dalio: "Capital Markets Are No Longer Free Markets" Due To Central Bank Interference http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-03_DalioCapitalMarketsAreNoLongerFreeMarketsDueToCentralBankInterfe.html iehi-feed-65408 Thu, 02 Jul 2020 18:18:10 GMT Real Estate Market in NYC Hammered by Pandemic http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-07-02_RealEstateMarketinNYCHammeredbyPandemic.html The number of closed sales in the second quarter were down 54 percent compared to the same period last year, the largest decline in at least 30 years, according to a new report from the brokerage Douglas Elliman. The median sales price fell 17.7 percent, compared to the same time last year, to $1 million, the biggest drop in a decade.

The number of contracts signed for apartments in June, the latest indicator of buyer appetite, was down 76 percent, compared to the same time last year... More than 90 percent of the sales recorded in the second quarter were actually signed before the virus gripped New York in March, said Bess Freedman, the chief executive of the brokerage Brown Harris Stevens.

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Several agents have said that units in larger buildings have been a particularly hard sell, because of concerns over crowded elevators and shared lobbies. And even though state guidelines no longer prohibit in-person showings, some buildings have not relaxed their rules and are still refusing to allow move-ins or apartment showings.

There may be more lasting changes in the months to come. The share of all-cash buyers dropped to 41 percent, down from an average of about 50 percent over the last several years, Mr. Miller said. That could have major implications for the luxury market, which had been propped up by investment buyers who typically bought without financing.

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iehi-feed-65407 Tue, 30 Jun 2020 21:18:13 GMT The Fed is buying some of the biggest companies' bonds, raising questions over why http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2020-06-30_TheFedisbuyingsomeofthebiggestcompaniesbondsraisingquestionsover.html ``Disclosures filed this week surrounding its credit facilities show the Fed is not only buying the bonds of struggling companies hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but also some of the stalwarts of American industry -- Microsoft, Visa and Home Depot just to name three companies whose debt the Fed holds directly.

The Fed holds an expansive list of other companies indirectly, including names like Apple and Goldman Sachs, through exchange-traded funds it has purchased.

In addition, it has purchased bonds in speculative-grade companies as well as ETFs, including the SPDR Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond, a fund in which the Fed holds a $412 billion position.

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"It does sort of make you wonder if it makes sense for them to be buying bonds of Apple. Spreads are so tight and stocks are doing so well. You wouldn't think they would need support from the Fed," said Kathy Jones, director of fixed income at Charles Schwab. "The reasoning I guess makes sense. But when you look at the outcome, you scratch your head and wonder whether this is where we need the money to go."

To be sure, the purchases thus far have been modest.Disclosures the Fed filed over the weekend show it owning nearly $430 million in individual bonds and $6.8 billion in ETFs. That's barely a sliver in a corporate bond market worth more than $10 trillion and fixed income ETFs with assets of $961 billion.

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Those purchases thus far have come in the secondary market, or bonds already issued. The Fed announced Monday it soon would open its primary market facility, which will buy directly from companies.

"They've achieved a couple things. They've managed to follow through while having very little impact on how those bonds actually trade," said Tom Graff, head of fixed income at Brown Advisory. "This is literally saying we're going to go through the motions of doing what we said we were going to do, but we're going to do the bare minimum and have as minimal impact as possible beyond what we've already created by acknowledging the program will exit at all."

This is at least a bit unseemly given it takes place while small businesses have no Fed facility of their own, and must struggle through SBA programs and unemployment to get any assistance (with possibly the majority of them not getting any, so far).

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