Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-63642 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 20:51:01 GMT "The Home Builder Rationalization" http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-18_TheHomeBuilderRationalization.html The multi-family segment has been a drag on the construction sector for several years now, despite the occasional spike up in either permits or starts, or both... [But] according the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), they have been over the past few months rarely ever more confident than now. You have to go back to the late nineties for similar expressed levels of optimism; the NAHB's index suggests that its members are more positive now than at any time during the housing mania.

...

The problem with that result is obvious; they aren't building at a rate anywhere close to either the nineties or the height of the bubble. On a population-adjusted basis, the disparity is even greater.

...

[The lack of] growth in household formation may not threaten to reverse the low-growth in home construction, but it sure does explain why more homes aren't being built. There is no additional demand above what appears to be minimal growth in home stock (which also helps explain the pullback in apartment construction around the "rising dollar" downturn; that it confirmed there isn't likely to ever be more than minimal growth).

...

There are any number of surveys particularly of young adults describing the restlessness of this situation, and therefore if those stuck in it had the means they would change their circumstances if possible. In droves. It can be construed as a social trend, but it's often done so because by and large in the mainstream there isn't an economic problem according to Economists.

Maybe that in the end is what builders are so happy about. They see only a very small probability of a substantial decrease in their business while at the same time noting that any day now young Americans in light of full employment will start to move out of their parents' basement all at once. Like other similar rationalizations, the longer it goes where that hasn't happened, the more certain they have become that it will -- tomorrow for sure.

]]>
iehi-feed-63641 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:25:37 GMT Wall Street's Regulators Move Deeper Into Darkness Under Trump http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-18_WallStreetsRegulatorsMoveDeeperIntoDarknessUnderTrump.html ... All of the above [failures of transparency in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis] occurred under the Obama administration. It's getting worse under President Trump. Yesterday Bloomberg News reported that the SEC is now settling cases against banks and hedge funds without issuing press releases as it has historically done, ostensibly to save the firms embarrassment and deny the public the ability to see that wrongdoing continues unabated on Wall Street despite the huge fines following the financial crash. Last month, Susan Antilla and Gary Rivlin wrote an in-depth report for The Intercept showing how Trump's SEC is allowing more secrecy in what Wall Street itself has to report to the public.

Now the U.S. Treasury, headed by the former foreclosure king, Steve Mnuchin, has announced it plans to hold a secret meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (F-SOC) next Wednesday, February 21. F-SOC was created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 to make sure the financial collapse of 2008 would never happen again. That collapse was the worst economic event for the United States since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Given the financial devastation to citizens from that collapse, the public has every right to know about any new financial stability threats facing the nation.

...

[Meanwhile,] the 24/7 cable news programs are consumed with investigating Russia. We're not saying that's not important but it's happening while nothing is being reported about the growing dangers on Wall Street. The Republican-led Congress is consumed with funding wars against foreign terrorists. But it was neither Russia nor foreign terrorists that dealt America the two worst financial and economic crises in its history: the 1929-1932 and 2008-2010 Wall Street collapses and ensuing economic calamities. These occurred from well-documented illegal acts by Wall Street firms as their Federal regulators wore blindfolds.

]]>
iehi-feed-63640 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:07:09 GMT The WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, the World http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-18_TheWeWorkManifestoFirstOfficeSpaceNexttheWorld.html When Dock 72 [in Brooklyn] is completed this year, if the aggressive timeline holds, it will represent the fullest expression of Mr. Neumann's expansive vision to date. There will be an enormous co-working space, a luxury spa and large offices, for other companies like IBM and Verizon, that are designed and run by WeWork. There will be a juice bar, a real bar, a gym with a boxing studio, an outdoor basketball court and panoramic vistas of Manhattan. There will be restaurants and maybe even dry cleaning services and a barbershop.

...

It may sound simplistic, but around the globe, companies are buying whatever it is that Mr. Neumann and his co-founder, Miguel McKelvey, are selling. WeWork has rapidly expanded to 20 countries, assembled a formidable executive team and attracted some 200,000 members. Big companies like JPMorgan Chase and Siemens are signing on as tenants, and revenues are growing fast, expected to top $2.3 billion this year.

WeWork last year bought the iconic Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which is being transformed into the company's new headquarters. That deal was made possible in part by a recent $4.4 billion investment from SoftBank, the Japanese technology group led by the enigmatic billionaire Masayoshi Son.

Already the company has started WeLive, its residential offering, and Rise, its gym. It acquired Meetup, the social network that facilitates in-person gatherings, and the Flatiron School, a coding academy. Still to come: WeGrow, the company's for-profit elementary school, set to open in September. WeWork has even invested in plans to create giant wave pools for inland surfing.

...

As WeWork expands in all directions, it faces persistent questions about its rich valuation and the durability of its business model. Critics argue that the company does little more than corporate real estate arbitrage -- leasing a space, spiffing it up, then subleasing it out to other tenants. The company owns hardly any properties, giving it precious few hard assets. Its growth projections strike many as unattainable, and it has missed expectations before. A number of upstarts loom as potential competitors, seeking to replicate WeWork's success. And many WeWork tenants are unproven start-ups that could quickly fold.

...

IWG, a publicly traded co-working company that has more members and more real estate than WeWork, is valued at just $2 billion. Yet Mr. Neumann has convinced investors that WeWork is worth 10 times that figure.

...

Indeed, to assess WeWork by conventional metrics is to miss the point, according to Mr. Neumann. WeWork isn't really a real estate company. It's a state of consciousness, he argues, a generation of interconnected emotionally intelligent entrepreneurs. And Mr. Neumann, with his combination of inspiration and chutzpah, wants to transform not just the way we work and live, but the very world we live in.

]]>
iehi-feed-63639 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 02:28:35 GMT Winn-Dixie and Tops Owners Are Said to Prepare for Bankruptcy http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-17_WinnDixieandTopsOwnersAreSaidtoPrepareforBankruptcy.html As part of the upheaval, Bi-Lo is planning to shut almost 200 stores -- either before or after its filing -- one person said. The business, which went bankrupt in previous incarnations in 2005 and 2009, may still find a way to restructure its debt out of court.

Bi-Lo is laboring under more than $1 billion in debt following its 2005 buyout by Lone Star Funds. The company and its creditors have held talks to discuss a possible debt-to-equity swap, as well as alternatives such as asset sales, Bloomberg reported last year.

...

Tops was founded by Italian immigrant Ferrante Castellani, who opened its first store almost a century ago in Niagara Falls. The Williamsville, New York-based chain runs about 170 grocery stores with more than 14,000 employees in the Northeast, according to regulatory filings last year.

Buyouts by Morgan Stanley -- and later by the company's own managers -- left Tops straining to keep up with debt payments. And the industry's intense competition made it hard to offset the burden by raising prices.

Another blow to sales came when the U.S. government cut food-stamp subsidies, whose users contribute about 10 percent of annual revenue. Since then, the Trump administration has contemplated even more reductions.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity bought Tops from Dutch retailer Koninklijke Ahold NV in 2007 for $310 million. Tops expanded quickly under its new owner, from 71 outlets in 2007 to more than 150 by 2013, and operating results initially improved.

But same-store sales began to stall, and debt was used to help finance at least $375 million in dividends for its private-equity owners. Management bought out Morgan Stanley in 2013 through another leveraged transaction.

At Bi-Lo, Lone Star piped in $150 million when the grocer exited Chapter 11 the first time, and invested $275 million to help fund the purchase of Winn-Dixie in 2012. But it probably will still come out ahead, having paid itself at least $800 million since 2012, along with management fees it's collected, according to regulatory filings.

]]>
iehi-feed-63638 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 01:00:19 GMT China Warns It May Retaliate If U.S. Imposes Metal Tariffs http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-17_ChinaWarnsItMayRetaliateIfUSImposesMetalTariffs.html China said proposed U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products are groundless and that it reserves the right to retaliate if they are imposed.

The U.S. recommendations, unveiled by the Commerce Department on Friday, aren't consistent with the facts, Wang Hejun, chief of the trade remedy and investigation bureau at China's Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement posted on its website.

...

"If the final decision impacts China's interests, China will certainly take necessary measures to protect its own rights," Wang said.

...

Rather than tariffs on all imports, Trump may opt for a more "surgical" approach, Ross suggested at a meeting with lawmakers this week. On steel, for example, the president could go with the recommended option that would levy a tariff of 53 percent on imports from 12 countries -- a list that includes China, Russia, India and South Korea -- but allow exemptions for allies such as Japan, Germany and Canada.

]]>
iehi-feed-63637 Sat, 17 Feb 2018 16:32:37 GMT Telegram has raised an initial $850M for its billion-dollar ICO... Before the ICO http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-17_Telegramhasraisedaninitial850MforitsbilliondollarICOBeforetheICO.html This initial sum is most likely the pre-sale stage of the ICO which, as TechCrunch reported on extensively and in detail last month, was targeted at venture capital firms and top figures in the investment community who were given deep discounts to buy Telegram's Gram token. The pre-sale was originally targeted at raising $600 million, but demand pushed the figure up to $850 million, according to a Bloomberg report.

Telegram initially planned to raise a further $600 million to develop its TON project via a public sale that starts in March, according to documents seen by TechCrunch, but it remains to be seen whether that figure will be adjusted. Bloomberg previously suggested the public sale component would expand to $1.15 billion, bringing the total raised to nearly $2 billion if successful.

]]>
iehi-feed-63636 Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:48:58 GMT FL Judicial Candidate Faces Ethical Concerns Over Ties To Loan Mod Scam http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-16_FLJudicialCandidateFacesEthicalConcernsOverTiesToLoanModScam.html iehi-feed-63634 Thu, 15 Feb 2018 22:15:06 GMT Donald Trump 'Strongly' Favors Imposing Online Sales Tax, Mnuchin Says http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-15_DonaldTrumpStronglyFavorsImposingOnlineSalesTaxMnuchinSays.html President Donald Trump "feels strongly" that the U.S. should impose a sales tax on purchases made over the Internet, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday.

Mnuchin, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, said he has spoken personally with Trump about the issue, and that the president "does feel strongly" that the tax should be applied.

...

Amazon began collecting sales taxes on purchases in all states that levy them earlier last year, despite an exemption that allows online retailers to avoid collecting them in places where they don't have a physical presence. But Amazon still avoids charging shoppers sales taxes when they buy from one of its third-party vendors -- sales that make up about half the company's volume... The Supreme Court [has] said states couldn't require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes from consumers unless those retailers had a physical presence -- through branches, warehouses or employees -- where the consumers were located.

Kind of ironic that just to "get" Jeff Bezos, Trump would essentially negate the meagre value of the tax cuts he endorsed on the non-wealthy...

]]>
iehi-feed-63633 Wed, 14 Feb 2018 23:10:24 GMT Terrified of Bitcoin, banks forced to innovate for the first time in 40+ years http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-14_TerrifiedofBitcoinbanksforcedtoinnovateforthefirsttimein40years.html The rapid rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies proved to the banking system that it's possible to conduct real-time [or near-real-time] transactions, and not have to wait 2-5 days for a payment to clear.

...

When the CEO of the company launching RTP in the US announced the platform, he admitted that the "RTP system will be the first new payments system in the U.S. in more than 40 years."

That's utterly pathetic. The Internet has been around for 25 years. Even PayPal is nearly 20 years old.

]]>
iehi-feed-63631 Wed, 14 Feb 2018 23:06:57 GMT The 'winning' continues as Walmart announces another massive round of layoffs http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-14_ThewinningcontinuesasWalmartannouncesanothermassiveroundoflayoff.html iehi-feed-63630 Wed, 14 Feb 2018 21:12:21 GMT Rumors Grow that the U.S. Fed is Propping Up the Stock Market http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-14_RumorsGrowthattheUSFedisProppingUptheStockMarket.html According to a research report released last week by BNY Mellon in collaboration with the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School, 39 percent of central banks surveyed are now investing in stocks and 72 percent "reported use of derivatives as part of their investment management activities." It is likely that interest rate swaps are the more common derivatives being used by central banks. However, S&P 500 futures contracts are also derivatives and would be the most efficient means of propping up stock prices and/or leveraging a directional bet in stocks.

...

There are many fundamental reasons to distrust central banks meddling in what are supposed to be free markets. For one thing, U.S. securities laws and regulators are not set up to police central banks. But more importantly, with the power to create money out of thin air, what is to stop central banks from effectively becoming the stock market, killing off its very reason for existing: as a reliable pricing mechanism. Just as the central bank of Japan has boosted its stock market with a $50 billion a year stock purchase program and Switzerland and Israel keep ratcheting up the percentage of reserves they are committing to stocks, the central banks may have doomed themselves and the stock market by failing to address the most crucial part of this strategy: an exit plan.

]]>
iehi-feed-63629 Wed, 14 Feb 2018 20:14:20 GMT Top ICE Lawyer Busted For Stealing Immigrants' Identities http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-14_TopICELawyerBustedForStealingImmigrantsIdentities.html iehi-feed-63628 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 23:20:08 GMT Hello, it's the IRS calling -- or is it? http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-13_HelloitstheIRScallingorisit.html Potential victims usually are told they owe money that must be paid immediately via prepaid debit card, wire transfer or gift card. If people resist, they're threatened with suspension of their driver's license, deportation, a lawsuit or arrest.

It can scare the heck out of people. And they panic, instead of taking the next logical step, which is to contact the IRS directly (800-829-1040) to confirm the debt.

]]>
iehi-feed-63627 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 23:16:16 GMT Bill Gates warns Silicon Valley not to be the new Microsoft http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-13_BillGateswarnsSiliconValleynottobethenewMicrosoft.html Today, tech giants such as Facebook and Google have been put on notice, Gates said in an interview with Axios. "The companies need to be careful that they're not ... advocating things that would prevent government from being able to, under appropriate review, perform the type of functions that we've come to count on," he said. When asked if he sees that happening now, he replied, "Oh, absolutely."

Microsoft's own battle with regulators lasted 21 years. It narrowly avoided being split up after using its Windows operating system to smother competing products on the web like Netscape's Navigator. Regulators extracted a consent decree that forced Microsoft to makes its products compatible with other products, and not shut out potential competitors.

More dramatic, however, was the change in company culture. "Since the antitrust suit, they have become much more cautious and much less aggressive," observed Michael Cusumano, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, in 2011. Only recently has Microsoft found its footing in the new technology landscape.

There is a "don't piss government off" subtext to this, most definitely...

]]>
iehi-feed-63626 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 23:13:42 GMT VIX, a gauge of volatility, is being manipulated, whistleblower claims http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-13_VIXagaugeofvolatilityisbeingmanipulatedwhistleblowerclaims.html The whistleblower, who has held senior investment positions at many of the world's largest investment firms, through a letter sent by a Washington-based law firm, urged the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission "to promptly investigate the matter before investors suffer additional losses due to this fraud." 

In the letter, the whistleblower alleges that market manipulators are costing investors hundreds of millions of dollars each month by taking advantage of a "pervasive flaw" in options exchange trading at Cboe Global Markets in Chicago. The flaw "allows trading firms with sophisticated algorithms to move the VIX up or down by simply posting quotes on S&P options and without needing to physically engage in any trading or deploying any capital," the whistleblower claims.

The whistleblower alleged that the recent market turmoil was partly driven by the scheme and "confirms the fraud and exposes the systemic risk to the entire equity market."

]]>
iehi-feed-63625 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:26:52 GMT Trump's Infrastructure Plan Puts Burden on State and Private Money http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-13_TrumpsInfrastructurePlanPutsBurdenonStateandPrivateMoney.html President Trump's $200 billion plan to rebuild America upends the criteria that have long been used to pick ambitious federal projects, putting little emphasis on how much an infrastructure proposal benefits the public and more on finding private investors and other outside sources of money.

Unveiled on Monday, the infrastructure program that Mr. Trump has championed since the campaign is intended to attract a huge amount of additional money from states, localities and private investors. The goal is to generate a total pot of $1.5 trillion to upgrade the country's highways, airports and railroads.

Those financial priorities are crystallized in the new guidelines established by the White House. The ability to find sources of funding outside the federal government will be the most important yardstick, accounting for 70 percent of the formula for choosing infrastructure projects. How "the project will spur economic and social returns on investment" ranks at the bottom, at just 5 percent.

...

The president's plan recasts the federal government as a minority stakeholder in the nation's new infrastructure projects. Half of the $200 billion promised over 10 years will be used for incentives to spur even greater contributions from states, localities and the private sector. Mr. Trump also wants to speed up the approval process.

The White House budget, separately released on Monday, also gives federal agencies the authority to sell assets that would be better managed by state, local or private entities in cases where a sale would "optimize taxpayer value." The budget suggests that Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International Airports could be among the assets ripe for new owners.

Coming up with the $200 billion in federal funding will not be easy. Republicans have already ballooned the deficit in last week's spending agreement and with their tax cuts. Democrats are unlikely to go along with cuts that would offset the cost of Mr. Trump's plan.

...

"... they're putting out incentive programs that don't have to generate national or regional economic developments," said Ms. Knopman, the lead author of a new 110-page RAND report on transportation and water infrastructure in the United States. "It may happen, but that's not what they're interested in and that's not the way they're screening these projects."

...

One analysis by the Penn-Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania said that other pieces of the White House budget could end up reducing federal infrastructure spending by $55 billion over 10 years -- despite the president's new plan.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and the president of the conservative American Action Forum, complimented aspects of the president's initiative that dealt with streamlining regulations and using federal credit guarantees. But he doubted the promised total could be reached.

"It's hard to get the $200 billion to $1.5 trillion, if you do the arithmetic," he said.

More pretend, fantasy stuff from Trump.

]]>
iehi-feed-63624 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:17:22 GMT Steven Cohen's Investment Firm Accused of Hostility to Women http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-13_StevenCohensInvestmentFirmAccusedofHostilitytoWomen.html The lawsuit, filed in federal court Monday by a current employee of Mr. Cohen's Point72 Asset Management, describes a toxic working environment for women. Those with years of experience were often referred to as "girls" or "sweethearts." Some were excluded from meetings that were deemed for men only, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit offers a rare glimpse inside the $11 billion firm, which is run by one of Wall Street's most fabled traders and is a huge source of business across the banking industry. Mr. Cohen, who is in the midst of trying to repair his tarnished public image and raise money from investors, is not accused of inappropriate behavior in the lawsuit.

...

Mr. Cohen's former firm, SAC Capital Advisors, shut down in early 2014 after it pleaded guilty in an insider trading investigation.

Mr. Cohen wasn't charged by the authorities. But he agreed to a two-year ban from the securities industry for failing to properly supervise some of his staff. He created Point72, which currently has more than 1,000 employees, to manage his personal fortune.

The ban from the securities industry expired at the end of last year. Mr. Cohen, 61, is preparing to relaunch Point72 as a hedge fund that will manage money for outside investors.

While traditional Wall Street firms have overhauled their cultures in recent years and elevated women to positions of authority, the $3 trillion hedge fund industry has been far slower in breaking away from its male-dominated roots.

]]>
iehi-feed-63623 Mon, 12 Feb 2018 08:36:54 GMT What Crushed Stocks? | Wolf Street http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-12_WhatCrushedStocksWolfStreet.html The 40-basis point move by the 30-year yield and the 43-basis point move by the 10-year yield since the beginning of this year have some consequences for the real economy -- and it added to the nervousness in the stock market when investors finally took note of it.

...

These higher borrowing costs also mean that investors are now seeing more attractive yields in bonds, and there is less pressure to chase risk. The stock market last week reacted fairly suddenly to what has been in the works for months. As they say, Treasury yields don't matter to stocks -- until they do.

]]>
iehi-feed-63622 Sat, 10 Feb 2018 08:17:13 GMT Doug Noland: Subprime and Short Vol http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-10_DougNolandSubprimeandShortVol.html For nine long years now, CBB analysis has posited "the global government finance Bubble," "The Moneyness of Risk Assets" and the "Granddaddy of all Bubbles" theses. I believe the Bubble has likely been pierced. The spectacular blowup of all these "short vol" products is a replay of subprime in the summer of 2007 - just so much bigger and consequential. The "insurance" marketplace has badly dislocated, concluding for now the environment of readily available cheap market protection.

...

A Paradox of Dysfunctional Contemporary Finance: The higher home prices inflated (and the greater systemic risk) the cheaper it became to "insure" mortgage Credit risk. More recently, the higher stock prices have inflated (and the greater systemic risk), the cheaper it has been to "insure" equities market risk. These highly distorted "insurance" markets became instrumental in attracting the marginal source of finance fueling late-stage "Terminal Excess" throughout the risk markets.

Variations of these "short vol" strategies have essentially been writing flood insurance during a prolonged drought. Key to it all, global central bankers for the past nine years have been intently controlling the weather.

]]>
iehi-feed-63621 Fri, 09 Feb 2018 04:02:18 GMT Foreclosure Tsunami Hits New York State http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2018-02-08_ForeclosureTsunamiHitsNewYorkState.html