Break Up The Big Banks! End Too Big To Fail! Where's The Transparency? (Dallas Fed)

Finally, some good news out of the Federal Reserve system. The Dallas Fed wants to break up the big banks, which is the main topic of their annual report. I don't understand why there aren't online "social" Wall Street banks yet where people actually have control over the credit market. Google should create a social bank. Look, the same players who made hundreds of millions or billions shorting subprime CDOs via credit default swaps, John Paulson, Greg Lippmann, Kyle Bass, and Goldman Sachs, are back in the game: Goldman Bets on Property Rebound With New Fund: Mortgages; Big Long Is New Big Short as Bass Joins Subprime Bet: Mortgages. And even AIG is buying mortgages, is this a joke?

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and American International Group Inc. (AIG) have also emerged as buyers this year as trading more than doubled for non-agency mortgage notes." (Bloomberg)

Why aren't Fab Tourre, Greg Smith, and thousands of other investment bankers, brokers, and analysts that worked during the mortgage bubble period leading a multi-trillion dollar investment banking revolution? If online infrastructure like SecondMarket (revise the accredited investor rule), Prosper and Covestor, combined with these investment bankers, analysts, and transparent real-time credit data, it would create Wall Street banks that have incentives to fuel non-fraudulent credit growth and manage systemic risk, and would be held accountable in real-time.

McClellan: Eurodollar COT Predicts S&P One Year In Advance (Economy One Year and Six Months In Advance)

Source: Lillian Cameron (Flickr)
This is a disruption alert for economists and analysts. According to Tom McClellan of McClellan Financial Publications, the Eurodollar futures commercial traders COT can predict where the S&P 500 trades one year in advance. And if it's true that the S&P 500 prices in economic growth six months in advance, then the Eurodollar futures COT can predict the economy one year and six months in advance. Magic.

Eurodollar futures move inversely with 3-month LIBOR, which is an interbank lending rate set by banks that measures the health of the banking system. In October 2008, when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and the credit market froze, 1-month and 3-month LIBORs spiked above 4.5%, which meant that the supply of short-term U.S. Dollar liquidity was scarce (expensive). Banks were fearing for their lives at that point (and their counterparties). You can find 1-year, 2-year, and 5-year COT charts at Schaeffers Research. The commitment of traders report shows how net-long (or short) large speculators, commercial hedgers, and small speculators are in the futures contracts. This CME paper has more information on Eurodollar futures: Hedging borrowing costs with Eurodollar futures and options. I have a question: why couldn't the banks predict their own crisis one year and six months in advance? It would have saved the U.S. government big money.

So, where is the market headed now? McClellan mentioned on Bloomberg TV yesterday that the Eurodollar futures COT chart (from last year) sees the S&P 500 correcting until June, but then rallying hard. Watch the video below. He mentioned in early February that the Eurodollar COT chart topped out between February 8-24 in 2011, so the market is late.

Eurozone Crisis is Far From Over

From the Reuters article: "Greek prime minister does not rule out new bailout package", this quote stood out about leaving the euro.

"The return of the drachma would trigger high inflation, exchange instability and a fall in the real value of bank deposits," he said."
Something to keep in mind if the sovereign debt crisis in Greece flares up again. The head of European economics at Roubini Economics believes "Greece will restructure its debt and leave the euro zone by the end of 2014" and then Portugal in 2015. Spain has issues as well: Analysis: Spain's banks may need more public cash. The euro-zone crisis is not over yet.

Photo: Drachmas on Wikipedia

Renewable Technologies and our Energy Future - An Interview with Tom Murphy (Guest Post)

Img: Roshan1286 - Flickr
Guest post by James Stafford of OilPrice.com

Renewable Technologies and our Energy Future - An Interview with Tom Murphy

Rising geopolitical tensions and high oil prices are continuing to help renewable energy find favour amongst investors and politicians. Yet how much faith should we place in renewables to make up the shortfall in fossil fuels? Can science really solve our energy problems, and which sectors offers the best hope for our energy future?

To help us get to the bottom of this Oilprice.com spoke with energy specialist Dr. Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California. Tom runs the popular energy blog Do the Math which takes an astrophysicist's-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

In the interview Tom talks about the following:

Why we shouldn't get too excited over the shale boom
Why resource depletion is a greater threat than climate change
Why Fukushima should not be seen as a reason to abandon nuclear
Why the Keystone XL pipeline may do little to help US energy security
Why renewables have difficulty mitigating a liquid fuels shortage
Why we shouldn't rely on science to solve our energy problems

Forget fusion and thorium breeders - artificial photosynthesis would be a bigger game changer

OilPrice.com: Whilst you have proven that no renewable energy source can replace fossil fuels on its own. Which source is the most promising for providing cheap, abundant, clean energy?

Perfect $SPY Uptrend Line From October (S&P 500 ETF)

Careful when it trips! SPY=mx+b.



Hussman on Record High Profit Margins vs. Stock Valuations

John Hussman, president of the Hussman Investment Trust (Hussman Funds), has an interesting note out this week titled "A False Sense of Security", which discusses market valuation methods, corporate profit margins, secular/cyclical markets, the Fed, and the current market climate. I think he's on to something with corporate profit margins. He mentioned that the stock market, which is valued using a multiple on forward earnings estimates (EPS), could get spooked if record high profit margins start to revert back to historical norms. He showed a chart of Corporate Profits (after tax)/GDP, which is currently at a record high above 10% (since 1947).

Bernanke's Frightening Charts Showing Unemployment Duration, Long-Term Unemployed (27 Weeks+)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a speech today on the labor market at the National Association for Business Economics Annual Conference and mentioned that the current unemployment situation is worse than any other post-World War II recession. A few charts he provided are actually frightening, see below. I created a new "long-term unemployed" chart that goes back to 1948.

"In this episode, both the median and average durations of unemployment have reached levels far outside the range of experience since World War II (figure 11). And the share of unemployment that represents spells lasting more than six months has been higher than 40 percent since December 2009 (figure 12). By way of comparison, the share of unemployment that was long term in nature never exceeded 25 percent or so in the severe 1981-82 recession."

KB Home (KBH) Sees Largest Trading Volume Ever After Earnings Release

After KB Home (KBH) reported a loss and spike in cancellations on Friday (3/23), the stock closed at $10.29, down 8.45%, on record trading volume (33.2 million shares). I glanced at the earnings release, and it looks like KBH is chugging along hoping that the housing recovery gains traction. From the KB Home Q1 earnings release, revenues during the quarter increased 29% to $254.6 million, but they still lost 45.8 million or 0.59 per share. Shareholders' equity was down 11% at 393.8 million, and its debt balance was at $1.59 billion, up $1 million. Cancellations rose during the quarter:

"Net orders totaled 1,197 in the first quarter of 2012, down 8% from 1,302 net orders in the year-earlier quarter, as a 22% increase in the Company's Central region was more than offset by decreases in each of the Company's three other regions. Though gross orders were up 3%, an increase in the cancellation rate to 36% from 29% in the year-earlier quarter led to the year-over-year decrease in net orders."

According to headlines, the cancellation rate was the reason why KBH tanked, and Business Insider noted that the CEO said it was due to problems with mortgage lenders. Since economists at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch believe home prices are bottoming, I'm going to start watching homebuilder stocks and ETFs. Some economists still believe home prices are headed lower.

CFPB: Total Student Debt Tops $1 Trillion, Tuition CPI Chart vs. Wage Growth, Housing CPI, Medical, All (FRED)

Oh man, remember when the New York Fed upgraded the total outstanding student loan balance to $870 billion with a delinquency rate of 10%, and noted how the delinquency rate excluding loans deferred until after graduation was at 21%? I just read at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's blog (via WSJ) that it "hit the trillion dollar mark several months ago". From the CFPB release, Too Big to Fail: Student debt hits a trillion:

"Our initial findings on the size of the private student loan market are sobering. When we add in the outstanding debt in the federal student loan program, it appears that outstanding student loan debt hit the trillion dollar mark several months ago – much larger than estimates from other recent reports. It seems that this market is too big to fail.

Unlike other consumer credit products, student debt keeps growing at a steady clip. Students borrowed $117 billion in just federal student loans last year. And students continue to borrow private student loans, which lack the income-based repayment and deferment options of federal student loans. If current trends continue, there will be consequences not just for young people, but for all of us."