Implode-Explode Heavy Industries news feed http://implode-explode.com/ Tracking the many faces of the global credit implosion. en-us iehi-feed-60521 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:12:31 GMT British House-Buyers Dance With the Devil http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_BritishHouseBuyersDanceWiththeDevil.html To outsiders, this property obsession seems a kind of collective madness... Brits' appetite for houses at inflated prices brings to mind former Citigroup boss Chuck Prince's infamous 2007 assertion that "as long as the music is playing [in terms of liquidity], you've got to get up and dance".

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Wavering prospective home-buyers are enticed by ultra-cheap mortgages, bolstered by the Bank of England cutting rates after the Brexit vote. So buying is still often cheaper than renting. And while falling interest rates raise big questions about company pension promises, buying a home at least gives you somewhere to live in retirement.

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Brits aren't mad, they're just trapped: prisoners of a system that conspires to keep prices high and houses in short supply. They know their government will do almost anything to prevent house prices collapsing. Buyers can already obtain loans from the government to help get on the housing ladder, a policy that will further inflate prices for those lucky enough to own property already. There are reports that Theresa May's government is preparing a fresh multi-billion pound housing stimulus -- albeit one that should support more development.

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Of course, it would be wrong not to look at the longer term. The pound's depreciation, the U.K.'s gaping current account deficit and relentlessly awful productivity say nothing good about the prospects for the economy. If Brexit leads to investment cuts, then jobs will go too. For now, though, British buyers will be compelled to continue their dance with the property market devil.

The pretend-wealth of highly-leveraged housing is all fun and games until prices crash (whether because of intrinsic exhaustion or the economy sputtering), and you're upside-down...

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iehi-feed-60520 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 00:35:40 GMT Investors controlling $13tn call on G20 leaders to ratify Paris climate agreement http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_Investorscontrolling13tncallonG20leaderstoratifyParisclimateagre.html A group of 130 institutions that control US$13tn of investments have called on G20 nations to ratify the Paris agreement this year and accelerate investment in clean energy and forced disclosure of climate-related financial risk.

Countries that ratified the Paris agreement early would benefit from better policy certainty and would attract investment in low-carbon technology, the signatories said in a letter before the G20 heads of government meeting in September.

They called for strong carbon pricing to be implemented, as well as regulations that encouraged energy efficiency and renewable energy. Plans for how to phase out fossil fuels also needed to be developed, they said.

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iehi-feed-60519 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 00:32:36 GMT Illinois governor's office warns of crippling pension payment hike http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_Illinoisgovernorsofficewarnsofcripplingpensionpaymenthike.html Potential action this week by Illinois' biggest public pension fund could put a big dent in the state's already fragile finances, Governor Bruce Rauner's administration warned.

A Monday memo from a top Rauner aide said the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) board could decide at its meeting this week to lower the assumed investment return rate, a move that would automatically boost Illinois' annual pension payment...

When TRS lowered the investment return rate to 7.5 percent from 8 percent in 2014 the state's pension payment increased by more than $200 million, according to the memo.

Illinois' fiscal 2017 pension payment to its five retirement systems was estimated at $7.9 billion, up from $7.617 billion in fiscal 2016 and $6.9 billion in fiscal 2015, according to a March report by a bipartisan legislative commission.

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iehi-feed-60518 Thu, 25 Aug 2016 00:12:10 GMT Forget "Brexit" - Referendum Looms in Italy; "Italeave" Increasingly Possible http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_ForgetBrexitReferendumLoomsinItalyItaleaveIncreasinglyPossible.html The possibility of a "No" vote in Italy's constitutional referendum come October or November is the biggest clear and present danger to the euro's survival. Both 5-Star and the Northern League are promising a plebiscite on euro membership should they come to power in a post-referendum election... in the event of a "No" vote in October, the only economic choice for Italy would be between continued stagnation, or a return to the old economic model of successive devaluations. The latter course would naturally mean exiting the eurozone anyway.

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The chances of a "Yes" vote in the referendum have not been improved by the slump in Renzi's personal popularity following last year's attempt to reform the labor market, and a series of small bank restructurings that saw retail savers "bailed-in" -- forced to take losses -- under new European Union banking regulations. From 40% after Renzi entered office two years ago with optimistic promises of reform, the approval rating of the prime minister's PD party has fallen to little better than 30% today, much the same as that of the opposition 5-Star Movement. As a result, with two months to go the referendum is too close to call. Opinion polls indicate the "Yes" and "No" camps are running roughly equal, with a large proportion of voters still undecided.

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iehi-feed-60517 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:28:42 GMT Four more mega-banks join the (Blockchain) anti-dollar alliance http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_FourmoremegabanksjointheBlockchainantidollaralliance.html

Today, four of the world's largest banks announced a brand new joint venture to create a new financial settlement protocol built on blockchain technology.

Deutsche Bank from Germany, UBS from Switzerland, Santander from Spain, and Bank of New York Mellon have joined together to launch what they're naming the very un-sexy "utility settlement coin".

Like Ripple, Setl, Monetas, and several other competing technologies, Utility Settlement Coin has the potential to end the reliance on the US banking system for cross-border payments and financial transactions.

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iehi-feed-60516 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:33:03 GMT US Housing is "Comradely capitalism" (PROBLEMS STILL FESTERING; NOW NATIONALIZED) http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_USHousingisComradelycapitalismPROBLEMSSTILLFESTERINGNOWNATIONALI.html The trouble is that, in America, the banks are only part of the picture. There is a huge, parallel structure that exists outside the banks and which creates almost as much credit as they do: the mortgage system. In stark contrast to the banks it is very badly capitalised (see chart 2). It is also barely profitable, largely nationalised and subject to administrative control.

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America's mortgage-finance system, with $11 trillion of debt, is probably the biggest concentration of financial risk to be found anywhere. It is still closely linked to the global financial system, with $1 trillion of mortgage debt owned abroad. It has not gone unreformed in the ten years since it set off the most severe recession of modern times. But it remains fundamentally flawed.

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The supply of mortgages in America has an air of distinctly socialist command-and-control about it. Some 65-80% of all new home loans are repackaged by organs of the state. The structure of these loans, their volume and the risks they entail are controlled not by markets but by administrative fiat.

No one is keen to make transparent the subsidies and dangers involved, the risks of which are in effect borne by taxpayers. But an analysis by The Economist suggests that the subsidy for housing debt is running at about $150 billion a year, or roughly 1% of GDP. A crisis as bad as last time would cost taxpayers 2-4% of GDP, not far off the bail-out of the banks in 2008-12.

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iehi-feed-60515 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:42:25 GMT Troika prompts ministry to tighten debt repayments http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_Troikapromptsministrytotightendebtrepayments.html iehi-feed-60514 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:38:11 GMT Aetna, Obamacare and health insurers' 10 dirty secrets http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-24_AetnaObamacareandhealthinsurers10dirtysecrets.html iehi-feed-60513 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:58:22 GMT U.S. new-home sales climb to best level since late 2007 http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_USnewhomesalesclimbtobestlevelsincelate2007.html New-home sales jumped 12.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 654,000 annual units, the strongest level since October 2007, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The demand has eclipsed the pace of construction. Just 4.3 months' supply of new homes is available on the market, down from 5.2 months a year ago.

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The improved sales of both new and existing homes has supported the broader U.S. economy, which is still hampered by a global slowdown and weak worker productivity. Existing-home sales reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million in June, the best performance since early 2007.

Happy times are hear again! Or, maybe, it's pretty much a peak...

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iehi-feed-60512 Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:37:46 GMT Deutsche Bank's $10-Billion Russian Scandal http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_DeutscheBanks10BillionRussianScandal.html The counterparties were not owned by Russian oligarchs. They were brokerages run by Russian middlemen who took commissions for initiating mirror trades on behalf of rich people and businesses eager to send their money offshore. A businessman who wanted to expatriate money in this way would invest in a Russian fund like Westminster, which would then use mirror trades to move that money into an offshore fund like Cherryfield. The offshore fund then wired the money, in dollars, into the businessman's private offshore account. A middleman who formed one of the Russian counterparty funds told me that the cost of his services depended upon the Russian authorities' desire to stop the export of capital. In 2011, when controls were lax, the fee was 0.2 per cent. In 2015, when sanctions were strong, and Putin was determined to retain as much wealth as he could in Russia, the fee rose to more than five per cent.

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Deutsche Bank has not commented on whose money was expatriated through the mirror trades, although John Cryan, the C.E.O., has said that the bank has not knowingly assisted Russians on the sanctions list. In the deadening argot of finance, Deutsche Bank's Russian fiasco has frequently been called a "failure of controls." In an interview in March, 2016, Cryan said, "To our knowledge, the individual transaction steps in themselves were innocuous. However, the case raises questions about how effective our systems and controls were, especially with regard to the onboarding of new clients, an area where we experienced difficulties in collecting sufficient information."

This passive language is hard to square with the blatant nature of the scheme. Roman Borisovich, a former investment banker at Deutsche Bank in London, who focussed on Russian businesses, told me, " ‘Fucking Obvious' is the middle name of Russian corruption."

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iehi-feed-60511 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:47:23 GMT BIS and JP Morgan-led Gold Capping Cartel Has Miners Underwater http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_BISandJPMorganledGoldCappingCartelHasMinersUnderwater.html iehi-feed-60510 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:44:18 GMT Mylan Execs Gave Themselves Raises As They Hiked EpiPen Price; Sparking Congressional Ire http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_MylanExecsGaveThemselvesRaisesAsTheyHikedEpiPenPriceSparkingCong.html iehi-feed-60509 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:41:56 GMT Rent at Trump Tower Surged After Donald Trump Stopped Self-Funding His Campaign http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_RentatTrumpTowerSurgedAfterDonaldTrumpStoppedSelfFundingHisCampa.html In March, when Trump was still paying for his presidential run mostly out of his own pocket, his campaign spent $35,458 to rent its headquarters in Trump Tower. Last month, however, that figure surged to $169,758, even as the number of paid campaign employees and staff dropped from 197 to 172 over the same period, the Huffington Post reports. The sharp increase in campaign spending appears to correspond to a large infusion in cash from outside donors. According to the Huffington Post, the amount Trump Tower has charged the campaign for rent has steadily increased since May, the same month that Trump clinched the nomination and inked a deal with the Republican National Committee to fund his campaign. At the end of May the campaign doled out $72,800, followed by $110,684 in June, and $169,758 in July.

Trump Tower isn't the only Trump property to have benefited. Over the same period, the Huffington Post reports a number of Trump's namesake golf courses and restaurants have earned a total of $260,000, citing F.E.C. records. In July alone, the campaign spent $495,000 on Trump's air travel, which is operated by a company that he owns. The Washington Post estimated that the Trump clan has pocketed $7.7 million as a result of the campaign's expenditures.

Who is surprised? Once a con artist, always a con artist...

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iehi-feed-60508 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:27:12 GMT U.S. banks want to cut branches, but customers keep coming http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_USbankswanttocutbranchesbutcustomerskeepcoming.html They have reduced the number of tellers and moved them to the back. Their ATMs can perform more sophisticated tasks and banks have developed nifty mobile apps for routine banking needs. They are even experimenting with digital loan underwriting.

Yet customers still expect contact with bank staff and JPMorgan recently had to hire more tellers after customer complaints.

The reason is, unlike in the rest of the advanced world, online/electronic banking in the U.S. is a pain in the ass and hobbled by bank laziness and regulatory limitations. Everyone in the U.S. should have had the ability to send e-checks (or scan actual checks for deposit themselves) years ago -- and it should have been effectively instant. But when you can bet no payment will clear in less than 2-3 days, you have to schlep down the the bank to do cash transactions far more often. Then there's the fact that people have to regularly talk to a banker to complain about nickle-and-diming fees being applied when they shouldn't have (or when they should have, but this was never properly explained or disclosed to the customer)....

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iehi-feed-60507 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 21:22:42 GMT Fed Admits Another $4 Trillion In QE Would Be Needed To Offset An "Economic Shock" http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_FedAdmitsAnother4TrillionInQEWouldBeNeededToOffsetAnEconomicShoc.html iehi-feed-60506 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:13:52 GMT Goldman Says It's Too Late to Chase the Booming Real Estate Sector http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_GoldmanSaysItsTooLatetoChasetheBoomingRealEstateSector.html iehi-feed-60504 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:55:10 GMT Citi Sours on Stocks; Cites "Great Rotation" http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_CitiSoursonStocksCitesGreatRotation.html iehi-feed-60503 Tue, 23 Aug 2016 13:42:59 GMT Not The Best Time In History To Invest In Real Estate - Part 1 | The Wall Street Examiner http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-23_NotTheBestTimeInHistoryToInvestInRealEstatePart1TheWallStreetExa.html iehi-feed-60502 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 21:28:17 GMT Revealed: ECB Secretly Hands Cash to Select Corporations http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-22_RevealedECBSecretlyHandsCashtoSelectCorporations.html Now it has been revealed by The Wall Street Journal that the ECB has also secretly been buying bonds directly from companies, thus handing them directly its freshly printed money.

It has been doing so via "private placements." These debt sales are not open to the broader market. There's no need for a prospectus. Only a small number of institutional investors participate. It allows companies to raise cash quickly, without jumping through the normal hoops. Private placements are not unusual. What's new is that the ECB used them to buy bonds...

According to Apostolos Gkoutzinis, head of European capital markets at law firm Shearman & Sterling, cited by The Wall Street Journal: because there is no prospectus or the other formalities required in a normal bond offering, "there won't be any transparency, there won't be a press release. It's all done discreetly."

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Now, the race is on for eligible companies to wet their beaks in this new, much more discreet free-money fountain, while so-called "investors" scramble to divine what the biggest fish in the pond is about to buy next. If they're lucky they may even get a heads-up straight from the horse's mouth.The ECB's favorite banks will also get juicy fees underwriting the deals. The Journal reported that Credit Suisse has already "reshuffled its coverage of national central banks" in an attempt to tap into the new market.

...According to The Journal, Citigroup figured "that bonds eligible for ECB purchases have already outperformed ineligible bonds by roughly 30% since the bond-buying program was announced in March."

It's Financial Darwinism writ on a heretofore unimaginable scale. Thanks to ECB intervention, Europe's biggest companies with the strongest finances -- including some that are majority state-owned such as French energy giant EDF -- are gaining access to funds (many of them public) quicker, more easily, and at cheaper rates than anyone else in the market. From now on, they may even get the money in secret.

So... isn't the ECB now potentially tripping WTO anti-subsidy prohibitions?

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iehi-feed-60501 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 21:19:12 GMT China Is Grappling With Hidden Unemployment http://implode-explode.com/viewnews/2016-08-22_ChinaIsGrapplingWithHiddenUnemployment.html