Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watch Out It's a Diversion: Should I Keep My Eye on the Politicians or Check Out the Double Meteor Shower?

Global Economic
Trend Analysis

Weekend Diversions: "Spectacular" Double Meteor Shower This Week; Space-Time Cloak Could Make Events Disappear; Invisibility Cloaks from Calcite
....One of the best shooting star events of the year is the annual August Perseid meteor shower. However this year's peak, on August 12, happens to coincide with a bright full moon—drastically cutting down the number of meteors visible to the naked eye.

Yet while the main event might be blocked out by the blinding moonlight, the opening act promises to be much better.

This year the lesser known Delta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday night, when the Delta Aquarids' more productive Perseid cousin is just starting to ramp up.

Together the showers will produce anywhere between 15 and 30 shooting stars per hour under clear, dark skies...

Harry Reid Responds to My Earlier Implication That He is A Wynn Resorts Property (WYNN)

Senator, if I caused offense, I apologise.
I meant the earlier post in the best possible way.
I also meant this in the best way:
....And even though I once thought, while gazing upon Harry Reid giving a speech, "This guy looks like the pervert uncle of that quiet family with the retarded daughter..." these days I simply say to myself: "Poopyhead"....
This, on the other hand:

Following Friday's Move in Treasuries... (TLT)

Just a reminder, in the words of market strategist Jennifer Anniston,

"That's a risky little game"
-Friends, Season 8 episode 3
airdate 27 September 2001,
dedicated to The People of New York City

Annotations (the circley things) and commentary by Alpha Global Investors:

Did Steve Wynn Just Make a Call to Harry Reid, Save the Union, and Limit the Upside to My Vix Calls?

Here's the WSJ headline, an hour ago:

Compromise Debt Deal in Sight
Mr. Wynn is a big-time Democrat, supporter of Joe Biden and owner of Harry Reid.*
($20,000 to beat Sharron Angle in the last cycle's primary)
You probably saw the news ten days ago.
From the LA Times' Top of the Ticket blog:

Democrat Steve Wynn on Obama: 'Until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs'
Going out on juniper limb here, but it doesn't seem like Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn will be one of the major bundlers of campaign fundraising cash for President Obama's reelection this year, next year or any year.

Wynn, the head of Wynn Resorts, was on a conference call this week with investment analysts, talking about the nation's business climate and the outlook for hotel and gaming in Las Vegas and Macau, when the subject of Washington came up.

Holy Smokes! You'd have thought someone hit the million-dollar jackpot on the nickel machines!
Wynn, a billionaire who calls himself a Harry Reid-supporting Democrat, went off on an epic rant. According to the wondrous website Seeking Alpha, which has the entire call transcript, Wynn blasted....

...Washington pols in general and Barack Obama in particular for destroying the U.S. business climate despite all of his talk about creating jobs. One key Wynn passage:
I'm telling you that the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs.
Wynn said he could very quickly create 10,000 new jobs himself and with the multiplier effect help create another 20,000 hires in Las Vegas....
I'm just wondering if Mr. Wynn had a friendly chat with Mr. Reid:
Harry, nice little Senate seat you have here, it'd be a shame if anything happened to it...
*From PR NewsChannel:Your Politics News: Steve Wynn, casinos keep giving to Harry Reid
August 31, 2010 / LAS VEGAS, Nev. / As part of its public requests for information that ties Sen. Harry Reid to questionable political players, Your Politics News submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) paperwork for records to discover why the majority leader shows unbridled allegiance to his state's gaming industry.   

Casino mogul Steve Wynn, who developed and built resorts including the Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio, has contributed to Reid's election campaigns for the last 25 years.  Wynn first gave to Reid in 1984 when the Democrat served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, campaign records show. 

In 2000 Wynn sold Mirage Resorts to MGM Grand Inc.  The sale created MGM Mirage, Reid's biggest political donor with $153,900 in contributions since the beginning of the 2010 election cycle.  Last year Bloomberg News reported that Wynn expressed an interest in buying back some troubled MGM Mirage casinos.  And in Sept. 2009, Wynn made his largest single contribution to Harry Reid -- $20,000.   
"Harry Reid wants to win, and that means he needs Wynn," said Graham Coyne, a media and political consultant based in Carson City. "His history with the gaming commission proves his dedication to bankrolling campaigns with casino cash.  And much of Nevada remains jobless all the while...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pick a Headline: CNN Covers the Debt Ceiling Bases, McConnell Pulls an Al Haig*

From CNN:

Republican congressional leaders indicated Saturday afternoon that they are close to reaching a deal with President Obama to raise the nation's debt limit. A national default "is not going to happen," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised. FULL STORY
Meanwhile back at the ranch, oh wait that was Arbusto, Americablog headlines:
McConnell: Boehner and I are now dealing directly with Obama on debt ceiling

*"I am in control here"

Secretary of State Haig speaks to the press after the attempted assassination on President Ronald Reagan

Climateer Line of the Day: Sales and Marketing Edition (F; GM)

As quoted in the upcoming Once Upon a Car:

“F---- GM,”  “I hate them and their company and what they stand for..."

-James D. Farley, Jr.
Ford Motor Company

"How Google Dominates Us" (GOOG)

From the New York Review of Books:
Tweets Alain de Botton, philosopher, author, and now online aphorist:
The logical conclusion of our relationship to computers: expectantly to type “what is the meaning of my life” into Google.
You can do this, of course. Type “what is th” and faster than you can find the e Google is sending choices back at you: what is the cloud? what is the mean? what is the american dream? what is the illuminati? Google is trying to read your mind. Only it’s not your mind. It’s the World Brain. And whatever that is, we know that a twelve-year-old company based in Mountain View, California, is wired into it like no one else.
Google is where we go for answers. People used to go elsewhere or, more likely, stagger along not knowing. Nowadays you can’t have a long dinner-table argument about who won the Oscar for that Neil Simon movie where she plays an actress who doesn’t win an Oscar; at any moment someone will pull out a pocket device and Google it. If you need the art-history meaning of “picturesque,” you could find it in The Book of Answers, compiled two decades ago by the New York Public Library’s reference desk, but you won’t. Part of Google’s mission is to make the books of answers redundant (and the reference librarians, too). “A hamadryad is a wood-nymph, also a poisonous snake in India, and an Abyssinian baboon,” says the narrator of John Banville’s 2009 novel, The Infinities. “It takes a god to know a thing like that.” Not anymore.

The business of finding facts has been an important gear in the workings of human knowledge, and the technology has just been upgraded from rubber band to nuclear reactor. No wonder there’s some confusion about Google’s exact role in that—along with increasing fear about its power and its intentions.

Most of the time Google does not actually have the answers. When people say, “I looked it up on Google,” they are committing a solecism. When they try to erase their embarrassing personal histories “on Google,” they are barking up the wrong tree. It is seldom right to say that anything is true “according to Google.” Google is the oracle of redirection. Go there for “hamadryad,” and it points you to Wikipedia. Or the Free Online Dictionary. Or the Official Hamadryad Web Site (it’s a rock band, too, wouldn’t you know). Google defines its mission as “to organize the world’s information,” not to possess it or accumulate it. Then again, a substantial portion of the world’s printed books have now been copied onto the company’s servers, where they share space with millions of hours of video and detailed multilevel imagery of the entire globe, from satellites and from its squadrons of roving street-level cameras. Not to mention the great and growing trove of information Google possesses regarding the interests and behavior of, approximately, everyone.
When I say Google “possesses” all this information, that’s not the same as owning it. What it means to own information is very much in flux.

In barely a decade Google has made itself a global brand bigger than Coca-Cola or GE; it has created more wealth faster than any company in history; it dominates the information economy. How did that happen? It happened more or less in plain sight. Google has many secrets but the main ingredients of its success have not been secret at all, and the business story has already provided grist for dozens of books. Steven Levy’s new account, In the Plex, is the most authoritative to date and in many ways the most entertaining. Levy has covered personal computing for almost thirty years, for Newsweek and Wired and in six previous books, and has visited Google’s headquarters periodically since 1999, talking with its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and, as much as has been possible for a journalist, observing the company from the inside. He has been able to record some provocative, if slightly self-conscious, conversations like this one in 2004 about their hopes for Google:
“It will be included in people’s brains,” said Page. “When you think about something and don’t really know much about it, you will automatically get information.”
“That’s true,” said Brin. “Ultimately I view Google as a way to augment your brain with the knowledge of the world. Right now you go into your computer and type a phrase, but you can imagine that it could be easier in the future, that you can have just devices you talk into, or you can have computers that pay attention to what’s going on around them….”
…Page said, “Eventually you’ll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you the answer.”
In 2004, Google was still a private company, five years old, already worth $25 billion, and handling about 85 percent of Internet searches. Its single greatest innovation was the algorithm called PageRank, developed by Page and Brin when they were Stanford graduate students running their research project from a computer in a dorm room. The problem was that most Internet searches produced useless lists of low-quality results. The solution was a simple idea: to harvest the implicit knowledge already embodied in the architecture of the World Wide Web, organically evolving....MORE

Profits and Losses from the July Heat Wave

From Planalytics:
"The excessive heat that enveloped much of North America during the last half of July has certainly caused a variety of short-term impacts for businesses and consumers.  Companies that sell air conditioners, fans, cold beverages, swimwear and other similar products have benefited from a surge in demand.  On the other hand, consumers looking to beat the heat scaled back on certain products, services and activities.
As the extreme heat subsides and more normal summer temperatures return, there are some longer-term, lasting effects that the recent weather will have on the economy.

August Electricity Bills = Higher Costs & Reduced Spending Power

Planalytics’ Power Weather Index (a measure that isolates the impact of temperatures on electric demand) is showing the following for the U.S. as a whole:
  • +2% vs. July 2010 (Note: last year was the second warmest July in 50 years!) 
  • +6% vs. the 10-year average
  • Many metropolitan areas in the Midwest & Northeast saw even larger increases during the last half of the month (St. Louis +16%, Chicago +14%, Cleveland +11%, Philadelphia +11% vs. the 10-year average)
"Recent 'brown outs' in New York, Texas and parts of Midwest are evidence of how much the power grid struggled to keep pace with record demand for electricity as day after day air conditioners were working away at full blast," commented Paul Corby, Senior VP Planalytics Energy.  "The cost of power hit all-time highs in the North East and Midwest and came close to highs in other parts of the country."

Economic impacts for households and businesses include:
  • Significantly higher August utility bills will claim a greater share of household disposable income leaving fewer dollars to spend on dining out, back-to-school shopping, etc.
  • For many, disposable income has already taken a hit with unplanned purchases of air conditioners and fans or repair/servicing costs for home and car air conditioners that malfunctioned under the strain of heavy use.
  • Higher electricity bills will increase manufacturing costs for many businesses, putting upward pricing pressure on finished goods sold at retail.
For many areas in the country, the heat wave lasted only a week or two, but in a difficult economy where consumer spending is already fragile, the ramifications of those 100 degree days will be longer lasting."...

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Improving Mexican economy draws undocumented immigrants home from California"

From the Sacramento Bee:
There are fewer undocumented immigrants in California – and the Sacramento region – because many are now finding the American dream south of the border.

"It's now easier to buy homes on credit, find a job and access higher education in Mexico," Sacramento's Mexican consul general, Carlos González Gutiérrez, said Wednesday. "We have become a middle-class country."

Mexico's unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, compared with 9.4 percent joblessness in the United States....MORE 
According to the BLS, California's unemployment rate was 11.8% in June.

"Emergency Team Of 8th-Grade Civics Teachers Dispatched To Washington"

From America's Finest News Source:
WASHINGTON—With lawmakers still at an impasse over increasing the debt ceiling, a special team of 40 eighth-grade civics teachers was air-dropped into Washington earlier today in a last-ditch effort to teach congressional leaders how the government’s legislative process works. “We started them off with the basics, like the difference between a senator and a representative, and then moved on to more complex concepts, like what a resolution is,”...MORE
Then there's that tricky part in Article 1, Section7:
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Dear Washington: "Global slump warnings if US triggers 'insane' default"

I don't understand the talk of "default". Hitting the debt ceiling doesn't trigger a default, Maybe I'm getting old and don't understand the lingo.
Here's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph:
A chorus of global banks has warned that Washington risks triggering a global slump and may suffer permanent loss of credibility by flirting with default on America's $14.3 trillion (£8.8 trillion) federal debt.

The dangers are almost as great if the US fails to lift the debt ceiling and avoids default by enacting the most drastic fiscal squeeze in modern history.
"Default would be an act of collective insanity," said Willem Buiter, Cititgroup's chief economist. "Even if a default were cured promptly, it would severely dent the credibility of the US as a global financial player and the provider of the world's leading reserve currency. There would be an immediate repricing of the dollar and an increase in medium and long-term nominal and real interest rates. Asset, credit, and funding markets in the US and the world as a whole would likely suffer and a global recession would likely result, centred in the US, but not restricted to it."
Mr Buiter said brinkmanship on the US debt ceiling had reached a point where tail risk had "morphed" into a serious possibility, with a 5pc likelihood that Washington will pull the trigger on a technical default.
Stephen Roach, head of Morgan Stanley in Asia, said Chinese officials are disgusted by the "astonishing recklessness" of Washington as default looms. "Coming so shortly on the heels of the sub-prime crisis, the debate over the debt ceiling and the budget deficit and is the last straw," he said.
Andrew Garthwaite from Credit Suisse said a default would be catastrophic, causing 5pc contraction in the US economy and a 30pc drop on Wall Street, with "massive" ramifications for the world....MORE

The Stock Market and the Battle of Jutland

"There's something wrong with our bloody ships today, Chatfield"

The words of Admiral David Beatty to his flag captain after HMS Queen Mary blew up.

16:00 hrs-16:05 hrs, Indefatigable explodes leaving two survivors.
16:25 hrs, Queen Mary vaporizes, nine survive.
2200 of his sailors disintegrate.

He was, of course, promoted, appointed First Sea Lord and granted an Earldom.

DJIA down 77, S&P down 5.
Not quite the tragedy it might appear.

"China Should Buy U.S. Equities Instead of Treasuries, Economist Xie Says"

I have no idea what Xie's angle is. Is he an adviser to the Chinese?
From Bloomberg:
China should buy U.S. stocks instead of Treasuries as they may be safer investments amid concerns about a U.S. debt default or credit-rating downgrades, according to Andy Xie, an independent economist.

“The U.S. stock market can be a credible alternative,” Xie, 50, formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief Asia economist in Hong Kong, said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Shanghai office yesterday. “U.S. companies are reporting strong earnings and they are selling a lot to emerging markets. Even though U.S. stocks aren’t cheap by historical standards, they are a better investment relative to Treasuries.?...MORE 
I think he wrote his Wikipedia entry himself:

Xie considers himself as one who has had a reasonably good record at calling bubbles in the past.

A Treasury Downgrade and the Risk Free Rate

Great minds and all that. On Tuesday I dropped a comment at MarketBeat:
Dear Mr. Gongloff, When writing algorithms requiring a risk-free rate e.g. an old-fashioned Black-Scholes model or a Sharpe ratio, is it possible to substitute something for short dated T-bills?
I’m thinking of using Δy of Apple common.

Today FT Alphaville posts:

In a brave new world, there are no benchmarks
UK retailer John Lewis proudly boasts that it has never been knowingly undersold in the market. Its retail prices, consequently, can be used by consumers as a benchmark to compare all other retail prices against (yes, we know, the mantra doesn’t apply to their website prices, but you see our point.)

So, applying the same philosophy to financial markets, you could say, the US is the global markets’ version of John Lewis. Its securities provide the prices against which all other securities in the world are priced.

Default or no default, the real crisis that is likely to befall us then — irrespective of what debt deal is finally done — is the real and very sudden loss of the world’s single most important pricing benchmark....

...Anyone who believes a downgrade won’t be much of an issue because the world will collectively lower its standards to a AA reality, is therefore potentially missing the point.

The key issue is that a downgrade spells the death of “risk-free“.  Without a veritable “risk-free” rate, it’s a brave new world in finance, where all prices suddenly become meaningless....MUCH MORE between the ellipses.

Economists React to Second Quarter GDP: "Recovery? What Recovery?"

Phil Izzo does the heavy lifting.
From Real Time Economics:
Economists and others weigh in on the latest reading on gross domestic product.
Recovery? What recovery? Economic growth has largely stalled led by a depressed consumer and budget cutting state and local governments. Household spending came to a screeching halt as vehicle sales tanked in the spring. That created a sharp decline in durable goods spending. Businesses continued to invest but the demand for equipment and software grew at the slowest pace in two years. And then there were state and local governments, where budget cutting has become de rigueur. The slicing and dicing reduced economic growth by over 0.4 percent point. That is not chump change and shows that my comment that there is no such thing as a free budget cut was not just a cute phrase. Thankfully, the trade deficit narrowed on solid increases in exports and weak imports. That kept growth above one percent. –Naroff Economic Advisors

Recovery, we hardly knew ya! Economic growth is clearly flagging in the U.S., and the most troubling thing about it is that distress in Washington limits the policy response. As a result, we see a greater potential that the current slow patch could transition into a longer period of deeply disappointing results, and even a possible recession. While odds of such a recession are still modest, today’s results indicate an increasing probability. –Guy LeBas, Janney Montgomery Scott

As bad as Q2 was, the revision to Q1 is what got my attention.

"GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, The Head Of Obama’s Jobs Council, Is Moving Jobs And Economic Infrastructure To China At A Blistering Pace"

This guy is sleazy and incompetent enough that he should run for office. We have a couple hundred posts on Immelt, links below.
From The Economic Collapse:
Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama's highly touted "Jobs Council", is moving even more GE infrastructure to China.  GE makes more medical-imaging machines than anyone else in the world, and now GE has announced that it "is moving the headquarters of its 115-year-old X-ray business to Beijing".  Apparently, this is all part of a "plan to invest about $2 billion across China" over the next few years.  But moving core pieces of its business overseas is nothing new for GE.  Under Immelt, GE has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.  Perhaps GE should change its slogan to "Imagination At Work (In China)".  If the very people that have been entrusted with solving the unemployment crisis are shipping jobs out of the country, what hope is there that things are going to turn around any time soon?
Earlier this month, Immelt made the following statement to a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce....
"There's no excuse today for lack of leadership. The truth is we all need to be part of the solution."
Apparently Immelt's idea of being part of the solution is to ship as many jobs overseas as he possibly can.
A recent article on the Huffington Post documented how GE has been sending tens of thousands of good jobs out of the country....
As the administration struggles to prod businesses to create jobs at home, GE has been busy sending them abroad. Since Immelt took over in 2001, GE has shed 34,000 jobs in the U.S., according to its most recent annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But it's added 25,000 jobs overseas.
At the end of 2009, GE employed 36,000 more people abroad than it did in the U.S. In 2000, it was nearly the opposite.
GE is supposed to be creating the "jobs of tomorrow", but it seems that most of the "jobs of tomorrow" will not be located inside the United States....MORE
Some recent posts:
General Electric's Immelt Calls for Tax Holiday on Overseas Funds, Hows About we Just let Them Leave the Money in China? (GE)
"GE's Immelt wishes he had soft-pedaled green talk" (GE)
General Electric and Why the Jobs Are NEVER Coming Back (GE)
General Electric: "Immelt hits out at China and Obama" (GE)
GE's Immelt reduced to whining after homicidal rant from Jack Welch (GE)
And many, many more. Here's the Google search of our little site:  immelt

Here's how the stock has done vs the DJIA and S&P since Immelt took over:

Why does this guy still have a job?

How General Electric Became a Basket Case (GE)
Mean Street: The Lost Cause of General Electric and Jeff Immelt (GE)
"Grading Jeff Immelt" (GE)
General Electric; Jeff Immelt: FAIL (GE)

GDP Paints a Grim Picture: Up 1.3% for the Second Quarter (TLT; JNK; HYG)

From MarketWatch:
U.S. GDP up 1.3% in second quarter from weak Q1
Gross domestic product expanded at a 1.3% annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said, after a downwardly revised 0.4% gain in the January-March quarter. Economists had forecast GDP growing at a 1.6% rate in the second quarter from a previously estimated 1.9% rate in the first quarter. This was the weakest six months period since the recovery began in the second quarter of 2009....MORE
That 'buy treasuries' 'sell high yield' spread is looking better with the supply of government debt looking to stall and the risk of junk bond default rising should the issuers face tough economic times.
In late premarket action the iShares Barclays 20+ Yr Treas.Bond ETF  is up 8/10% ($0.80) while the SPDR Lehman High Yield Bond ETF is off .37%.
See also Tuesday's "Time to Attempt the Reverse Long Term Capital Management: Long Treasuries/Short Junk? (TLT; TMF; HYG; JNK)".

Value investing in tech boom 2.0 (GOOG; MSFT)

From Fortune's Term Sheet blog:
Larry Pitkowsky and Keith Trauner sat out the first bubble. Now the value investors justify why Google is a top holding and Microsoft is more exciting now than a decade ago.

FORTUNE -- Some splits in the mutual fund world are acrimonious, some aren't. This one fell somewhere in the middle. Larry Pitkowsky and Keith Trauner were happy working with Bruce Berkowitz at the Fairholme Fund. The fund's record was enviable through 2007, and it was attracting more and more new money by the day. If they continued picking winners and spotting trouble ahead -- Fairholme's annual reports fretted early about toxic bank holdings leading to a market shock -- Pitkowsky and Trauner might also be honored, as Berkowitz later was, as Morningstar's U.S. stock manager of the decade.

But a few years back Berkowitz took Fairholme in a new direction, one emphasizing private deals -- a recent example was Fairholme's deal with hedge fund manager Bill Ackman last year to pull General Growth Properties out of bankruptcy. Berkowitz hired an M&A whiz to help him, and he slowly phased out Pitkowsky and Trauner's work. The two sides agreed not to criticize each other and went separate ways.
Now Pitkowsky, 46, and Trauner, 54, are back. Their new mutual fund named GoodHaven opened for business in April. In a recent government filing, they disclosed $45 million in assets. Their stock picks reflect some of Fairholme's historical strategy, but what really stands out is that the managers were hoarding more than 50% of assets in cash, as of the filing. It's fallen some since then, the managers say, but it's still high.
"The Fed is pushing people to do what they don't want to do," Trauner says, referring as an example to older investors who might buy riskier stocks and bonds to compensate for zero percent interest rates. Stocks might not be overly expensive, he says, but because GoodHaven isn't finding the screaming buys of late 2008, the two are content to wait for possibilities. He deadpans, "We're really skeptical that zero percent interest rates will last forever."

It's one of the few macroeconomic predictions you can get out of them, if you can even call it that. Pitkowsky and Trauner are more likely to read 10-Ks over the weekend than pontificate about global economic themes....MORE

Thursday, July 28, 2011

LOL Deficit Reduction

From the New Yorker:

Cartoonists Solve the Debt Crisis


HT: FT Alphaville:

"Want More Jobs? Remove Barriers to Job Creation"

A stunning factoid at the jump. From Carpe Diem:

From today's WSJ, an excellent editorial by Chip Mellor and Dick Carpenter, both of the Institute for Justice, about excessive occupational licensing at the state level:

"With the abysmal recent jobs report, it's tempting to point to flat hiring as another example of the federal government's impotence at stimulating growth. Lost amid the hand-wringing and focus on Washington, D.C., however, is the unhelpful role of state governments in making joblessness worse.

Their harmful method is occupational licensure. By imposing onerous and usually pointless requirements on those wishing to enter a trade or line of work, state legislatures erect needless barriers around occupations perfectly suited for those entering the work force, midcareer switchers, and pink-slip recipients. Only one in 20 workers needed the government's permission to pursue their chosen occupation in the 1950s, notes University of Minnesota Prof. Morris Kleiner. Today that figure is nearly one in three...MORE

Goldman Says Cisco "Not Structurally Broken" Raises Stock to Buy (CSCO)

The stock's up 2.69% (42 cents) to $16.10.
From Tech Trader Daily:

Cisco: Goldman Ups To Buy, $21 Target; Sales, Margins To Improve
Shares of Cisco Systems (CSCO) are up 61 cents, or 4%, at $16.30 after Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski today raised her rating on the stock to Buy from Neutrla, with a $21 price target, writing that Street estimates for the company are finally “at the beginning of a multi-quarter upward estimate revision cycle.”
In particular, Jankowski thinks the Street’s $1.71 EPS estimate for next fiscal year is too low, and that the company can deliver more like $1.80, as sales growth is probably in the process of bottoming this fiscal Q4 ending this month, at flat to up 2%, and will “re-expand” from there, perhaps to 5% to 7% on a normalized basis.
She also thinks the Street is not giving enough credit to Cisco’s restructuring efforts, which can improve fiscal 2012 EPS by 5% to 10%, she thinks. Gross margin, too, will probably hit bottom in calendar 2012, as Cisco moves through the transition from the Catalyst 6500 product line to its new “Nexus 7000″ switches, and as it absorbs the full impact of price competition from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

Jankowski’s $21 target represents a P/E of 11 times her calendar EPS estimate of $1.90....MORE
Also at TTD:
Cisco Was Right, Says Sterne Agee: Lousy Market

The Most Valuable Automobile in the World

A Rolls-Royce Motor Car, of course.

Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost, 1907
Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost, 1907

From the Rolls-Royce Owners Club:

Ambassador Extraordinary

A History of "The Silver Ghost"
Reprinted from "Queste", The Rolls-Royce Magazine, 1990
In 1907 The Silver Ghost was built specifically to publicise the new Rolls-Royce 40/50 h.p. six-cylinder model and in doing so established the Rolls-Royce reputation for reliability and engineering excellence. In this article, reproduced from Queste with kind permission of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, Warren Allport traces the history of the most famous Veteran motor car, which since returning to Rolls-Royce in 1948 continued its ambassadorial role.
The 40/50 models exhibited at the 1906 Olympia Motor Show had attracted much Interest and favourable comment. Managing Director Claude Johnson saw that excellent though the new model was, it needed to be brought to a wider public if the newly floated Rolls-Royce Ltd was to succeed. Proper production of the 40/50 h.p. at Cooke Street, Manchester had not started until early 1907 after all the effort of preparing the first four motor cars for Olympia and the Paris show which followed. The fifth chassis was numbered 60544 - for some reason 60543 was never built.

Claude Johnson selected the 12th chassis, 60551, on the short 135 inch wheelbase as his publicity vehicle and ordered a semi-Roi des Belges open body from Barker & Co. on March 6th 1907. It was specified that the coachwork would be painted silver and that upholstery would be in green leather. Lamps and other external fittings were to be silver plated. Price of the body was �110-14-0 and the chassis retailed at �950 plus �7-l0s for the aluminium dashboard fitted as an alternative to the usual polished teak.

It was a striking ensemble and Claude Johnson, who had an Edwardian penchant for naming cars, called it The Silver Ghost by virtue of its appearance and 'extraordinary stealthiness'. The name was carried on a special repousse' plaque on the scuttle. Although after the arrival of the 40/50 h.p. New Phantom in 1925 earlier 40/50 h.p. models were known as Silver Ghosts to avoid confusion, there was only one motor car entitled to the name - 60551, registered AX-201.

Factory records preserved by the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation show that the chassis was tested for 80 miles by chief tester Eric Platford and was despatched by "road, Mr Johnson" on April 13th 1907. Back in London no time was lost in arranging trial runs for the Press and The Autocar of April 20th recorded: "The running of this car at slow speeds is the smoothest thing we have ever experienced, while for silence the motor beneath the bonnet might be a silent sewing machine..." On the day that report appeared the first private customer - William Arkright of Chesterfield - took delivery of a 40/50 h.p., 60544. None of the earlier 40/50 h.p. chassis was sold until 1908.

On May 3rd, 60551 was driven to Bexhill then north to Glasgow, accompanied from Hatfield by a White steam car, both cars being under RAC observation. They went on to cover the tough route proposed for the 1907 Scottish Reliability Trial before returning to London. Between May 3rd and 14th The Silver Ghost completed 2,000 miles under official observation, recording a best fuel consumption of 23 mpg for one section. On the route north Claude Johnson had driven the 518� miles to Glasgow using third and fourth gears only. At the conclusion of the trial, performance was measured on Bexhill track - there was a 20mph overall speed limit - with 54.94 mph recorded in the direct third gear, in which 3.4 mph was possible. Such flexibility was important to Edwardian motorists, many of whom were incapable of changing gear on the move. Apart from punctures, adjustments during the twelve days had amounted to only 1 hour 28 minutes....MUCH MORE
From Cars at Large:
...The Silver Ghost got its name because it was largely unpainted, revealing it polished aluminum body, and was 'quiet as a ghost,' a often noted sentiment by passer-byers who were amazed by who silent the car was. The name became so famous, in fact, that every Rolls-Royce 40/50 came to include the tag 'Silver Ghost' despite the fact that there is only one real Silver Ghost.

The history of the car is intriguing beyond its important reliability trials. After completing those tests, the car was purchased by an employee of Rolls-Royce who drove the car a subsequent 500,000 miles before returning the car to the factory for 'minor servicing.' Unfortunately, he died while the car was in the shop, but his family decided to donate the car to the Rolls-Royce company. The car recently changed hands, but not on its own, as part of the break-up of Rolls-Royce and Bentley following the 1998 fiasco that took place between BMW and VW. In the end, the VW, the owner of Bentley, ended up with the car but displays the car at many Rolls-Royce events.

As for the value of this famous car, lets just say VW claims that it is insured for somewhere north of $50 million.*

Let's see, sold used for £750 in 1908. My UK inflation calculator only goes up to 2009:

£58,100.00 using the retail price index
£305,000.00 using average earnings

Or going the other way around, the USD exchange rate was fixed at $4.80.
So $3600 x 23 (U.S. CPI lowball) = $82,800.
To $50 million.
A nice ride and a fine investment.

*Wikipedia says it is valued at $57 million.

Potash Corp. Says Demand "Beating Output Capacity" (POT; MOS: SOIL)

SOIL is the symbol for the GlobalX fertilizers/potash ETF.
From Agrimoney:

PotashCorp lifted its hopes for full-year profits as it forecast that a clamour for potash, which sent second-quarter earnings soaring 75%, will last into 2012 – and could lead to demand outpacing supplies.
The Canada-based company, the world's biggest potash producer, raised its forecast for full-year profits to $3.40-3.80 a share, from $3.00-3.40 a share.
Farmers' desire to raise crop yields and take advantage of elevated prices was "driving strong demand for all three [major] nutrients, especially potash", the group said.
"Even with uncertainty around macroeconomic issues weighing on equity markets and investors' tolerance for risk, the strength of agricultural fundamentals continues to provide a highly favourable environment for our business."
Supply deficit?
Indeed, demand for potash could potentially drive see it exceed the industry's output capacity. 
"We continue to estimate global demand will approximate 55m-60m tonnes in 2011, but now anticipate that meeting the upper end of the range will be constrained by... the industry's ability to produce," said the group, flagging scheduled shutdowns ahead at some of its own operations.... MORE

Dick Bove says – Love is the Answer (BAC; C; XLF; XAU)

Okay, he didn't say that.
Following up on yesterday's "Dick Bove on the Debt Ceiling:"...All Stocks are Likely to Fall" (BAC; C; JPM; WFC)" FT Alphaville shows that their readers are smarter than most analysts.

From FTA:
Gold? Pffft.
The euro? Too euro-trash.
The dollar? Puh-lease.
Rochdale banking analyst Richard Bove reckons the search is on to find a new global safe haven. Because even if this US debt debacle gets sorted by lifting the ceiling, the cat’s out of the bag when it comes to the country’s place in the global financial system. Things are really about to change.
Here’s what he says:
Once some resolution is arrived at, it seems highly unlikely that the global financial system will simply settle back to the structure and functions of the pre “Great Debt Debate” era. A new configuration will emerge. Investors worldwide may actually be horrified that the only safe haven at the minute is short-term Treasuries and bank deposits backed by the FDIC. The contradictions here are enormous.
A new safe haven is needed:
* Gold is not the answer. It is too illiquid and there is not enough of it....MORE
Among reader suggestions:
whiskey in Scotland. 
hermes ties asset class ever - consistently go up by more than the rate of inflation....
A fine portfolio if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"VIX Rises 14% to Highest Level in Four Months on Debt Impasse" (VXX; TVIX)

We thought this chart was important enough to post it on both July 11 and 18:
"A rare VIX pattern is appearing again ..." (VIX; VXX)
Updated: Rare VIX pattern appearing again (VXX; TVIX)

In between the posts I dropped a comment at MarketBeat:
And the VIX, up 24% in two days is at the 19.87 level which in Chaldean numerology and for quite a few money managers came to be interpreted as “Would you like fries with that/”
For those with a more mystical bent there’s technical analysis.
A series of higher lows for the last couple months might mark a turn.
Here's the latest, from Bloomberg:
U.S. equity derivatives surged, sending the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index to the highest level in four months, as a stalemate over the debt ceiling pushed the nation closer to default.

The VIX, as the measure is known, rose 14 percent to 22.98, a level last reached on March 18. VIX August futures added 8.4 percent to 21.3, while September futures gained 5.1 percent to 21.75. The gauge tracks the cost of options linked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which lost 2 percent.

The VIX has risen 31 percent in the past three days as politicians grapple with raising the U.S. debt limit and cutting the budget deficit. House Speaker John Boehner’s reworked deficit-cutting plan gained support today among his fellow Republicans, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his competing proposal to avert a potential U.S. default offers the only “true compromise.”...MORE
That's 31% in three days and 44% since that July 11 post.
Sometimes you get lucky.

Time to Hire These Guys: "Analyst Roundup: "When Will Markets React to Debt Ceiling Impasse?"'

Japanese markets opened down a half-percent.
We first posted this after the close on Monday.
Today the Dow Industrials were down 7/10%
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 -.56%.
From Real Time Economics:

...Until now, the market reaction to the on-again-off-again negotiations in Washington has been fairly reserved, mostly because the consensus is that neither Democrats nor Republicans want to commit political suicide. But conversations with portfolio managers, strategists and economists suggest many are giving the government until end-of-day Wednesday to show some discernible progress instead of just throw debt-cutting proposals back-and-forth....
...Here are a few thoughts from market participants on when and how to pull the trigger:
James Marple, Senior Economist, TD Bank
He says that the market will continue showing “wishful thinking” until the middle of the week, but that’s when investors will realize that if there’s still no agreement between the “power players” in the Senate and the House, there will be much more of a reaction.

Robert Sinche, Global Head of Foreign Exchange Strategy, RBS Securities
If there are no agreements or even notable progress by end-of-day Wednesday, he says, Thursday morning in Asia “could become a lot more unsettling.” And it goes without saying, of course, that if Asia comes undone, European traders will follow the trend and it’ll culminate with wild trading in the U.S....MORE

Dick Bove on the Debt Ceiling:"...All Stocks are Likely to Fall" (BAC; C; JPM; WFC)

My grandmother used to tell me "You have an amazing grasp of the obvious".
She was a sharp-tongued woman.

I'd respond: "But Grandma, I'm only this many: |||"

Bove is considerably older than that.
The banks are down 1 to 3%, the XLF is down 1.81%.
Here's MarkerBeat:
But What Does Dick Bove Think About Debtpocalypse?

Warning-- Adult Themes, Strong Sexual Content-- 24 Funniest Ways to Die

Everything in that headline is a lie.
Not adult themed, not strong sexual content, not funny.
But the Infographic is morbidly interesting.
Via LifeInsuranceFinder:
(click to enlarge)

Produced by Life Insurance Finder

"If You Read Only One 192-Page Report on the Financial System Today, Make It This One "

That may be the best headline of the day.
Story at DealBreaker.

Stories You'll See at the Top of the Farmland Price Boom (DBA; MOO; COWS)

From the AP:
Down on the farm, investors see big potential

In this June 22, 2011 photo, Braden Janowski 
walks through a watermelon field in Niles, Mich.
Janowski invested in the 430 acre farm. Janowski 
has never planted seeds or brought in a harvest. 
He doesn't even own overalls. Yet, the 32-year-old 
software executive successfully bid $4 million for 
430 acres of Michigan corn fields last summer.
(AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

Braden Janowski has never planted seeds or brought in a harvest. He doesn't even own overalls.
Yet when 430 acres of Michigan cornfields was auctioned last summer, it was Janowski, a brash, 33-year-old software executive, who made the winning bid. It was so high — $4 million, 25 percent above the next-highest — that some farmers stood, shook their heads and walked out. And Janowski figures he got the land cheap.

"Corn back then was around $4," he says from his office in Tulsa, Okla., stealing a glance at prices per bushel on his computer. Corn rose to almost $8 in June and trades now at about $7.

A new breed of gentleman farmer is shaking up the American heartland. Rich investors with no ties to farming, no dirt under their nails, are confident enough to wager big on a patch of earth — betting that it's a smart investment because food will only get more expensive around the world.

They're buying wheat fields in Kansas, rows of Iowa corn and acres of soybeans in Indiana. And though farmers still fill most of the seats at auctions, the newcomers are growing in number and variety — a Seattle computer executive, a Kansas City lawyer, a publishing executive from Chicago, a Boston money manager....MORE
From Agrimoney:

Dip in land and shares puts cloud over farm sector

Farmland prices have slipped for a third successive month in the US, and share prices in agricultural groups markedly underperformed the market, raising a question mark over the sector's standing with investors.
Farm values, while continuing this month a rise in prices stretching back to the start of 2010, rose more slowly than in June, with a price index falling to 59.4 from 62.0, Creighton University said, following a survey in main farming states including Illinois, Iowa and North Dakota.
Any figure above 50 indicates growth.
"We are tracking consistent slippage in farmland price growth as the index has declined for three straight months," said Creighton economics professor Ernie Goss, adding that many other indicators for the rural economy were "trending lower too".
An index for the farm equipment market fell to 53.7 from 63.1 in June, a fourth successive month of decline.
'Widepsread declines' 
The data came as analysis from the University of Illinois showed that shares in agriculture companies fell in the April-to-June quarter by an average of 6%, a contrast with a small rise in the average stock, as measured by the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
"Unlike in previous quarters… the Agindex decline is not accompanied by a decline in the S&P 500," University of Illinois professor Gary Schnitkey said....MORE

When Willing Seller Meets NO Buyers: Whoosh (SPY; NDX; AAPL)

Rather than the SPY this is actually the E-mini future chart, you get the point.
Volume surge:

Source: ZeroHedge

The S&P is down 1.4% at 1313, the Nasdaq 100 is down 2% with Apple and Google each off over ten bucks. $57 and change is the Maginot Line for the QQQ.
Wait, the Maginot didn't provide any resistance whatsoever...

Chart Porn: "Apple’s share price (adjusted for earnings and growth) reaches new low" (AAPL)

In premarket trade the stock is down $2.91 at $400.50.
I was asked last night why all the recent posts on Apple?
It's simple: "Apple is the Market, the Market is Apple: "Some Quick Facts About Apple's Massive Market Footprint" (AAPL; QQQ; NDX; SPY)".
Here's some more, from Asymco:
After Apple reported earnings growth of 125% its share price dropped to a P/E of about 15. This reduction in valuation is part of a trend I’ve written about for over a year so there were no surprises. The first chart below shows how the stock has traded between increasingly lowered P/E bands.
As the second chart shows, not only is the P/E ratio declining, but when seen against the trailing twelve months (TTM) average growth rate, the P/E/TTM ratio is now at the lowest since the great recession (around 0.17–a value of 1.0 is a rule of thumb for “fair value” in a growth stock)....

Those values include cash. Excluding cash, the P/E as of Friday was 12.4. On a forward basis (my estimate–which has shown be be conservative lately) the P/E is around 7....MORE
HT: Abnormal Returns

See also: 
A New Way to Value Apple (AAPL)
Re-post--Apple: Analyst Roundup; Ominous New Street-High $666 (AAPL; QQQ)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crestmont Research on Current P/E Multiples and 2011-12 Market Decline Risk

We Crestmont.*

From Pragmatic Capitalism:

By Ed Easterling, Crestmont Research (courtesy of John Mauldin)
The end is near! Stock market history and earnings cycle history are converging. As a result, the market is likely to be down for the year 2011 or 2012. If not, then it will have been different this time.

Crestmont’s research focuses primarily on long-term secular stock market cycles and their fundamental drivers. Inside of the secular periods are short-term cyclical cycles, primarily driven by psychology, collective emotion, and reactions to current events. These short-term cycles are part of the market process to incorporate new information and to balance the pressures of buyers and sellers. In the long-run, the short-term cycles are reconciled back to the long-term fundamentals of value.

The stock market remains in a secular bear market. Actually, it is still in the early stages of a secular bear based upon relatively high P/E valuations currently and a relatively low core inflation rate (the driver of P/E over time).

Secular bear markets, albeit fairly flat periods for returns, experience violent interim swings—it’s just the nature of market volatility. Although Crestmont’s research does not explain or predict the short-term movements, it does recognize a fundamental nature and tendency that should be respected. For example, even if we can’t explain why there tends to be short runs of positive years in the market, we should realize that risk increases as we approach the historical limits.

Beware: there are two series of short-term trends that are converging on their limits. They portend increased risk for the stock market (…or new historical precedent). The first is the sequence of market gains and losses; the second is the earnings cycle.

The goals of this discussion are (1) to dispel the notion that P/E is low today and (2) to highlight the risks of a market decline in 2011 or 2012....MORE
*I came across Crestmont during the deflation scare of ought-two/ought-three.
I was wading through the academic literature on asset class performance under various inflation regimes and came across their Y-curve on page 21 of this PDF. Good solid stuff.

Just about everything on their Stock Market page is worth a look, by pros and pups alike.

"Uranium Shortage Can’t Be Ignored" (CCJ; DNN; URA)

...Words like "uranium", "rare earths", etc. seem to be magic to
 those unsuspecting who are often fleeced...
Gerald M. Loeb
The Battle for Investment Survival
Simon & Schuster, 1935
From Forbes:
The world faces a long-term uranium shortage as China and India build new nuclear plants, and major buying opportunities may emerge for shares of some beaten-down uranium producers.

Uranium prices have seen the largest drop in two years following the Japanese nuclear disaster and Germany’s decision to phase out its nuclear plants, both of which hit uranium prices hard. This has hammered the stocks of the leading uranium producers, but the longer-term fundamental and technical outlook suggests a major buying opportunity may lie ahead.

Germany depends on nuclear power for 23% of its needs, and with Japan considering cutting back on its nuclear expansion plans, the entire industry has been in retreat. Though Japan is the third-largest nuclear power producer after the US and France, it’s important to take a much more global look at the prospects for nuclear power.
Click to Enlarge
Currently, production does not meet the demand of the industry, and the projections for production versus demand indicate that this gap will continue to widen going into 2020. The chart above is from the World Nuclear Association, a group that promotes nuclear energy, and therefore has a vested interest. The potential gap between supply and potential demand, however, is consistent with the views of other experts.

The recent announcement from China regarding plans to boost nuclear capacity to eight times the current level by 2020 was followed by India’s plans to boost nuclear power production by thirteen times by 2030. The nuclear power industry is also flourishing in South Korea, which could add as many as ten plants by 2010....MORE
See also:
Uranium Market Outlook from Royal Bank of Canada (and an Analyst I've never heard of says "Nowhere to Go but Up-Stocks to Follow") CCJ; PDN.tsx,asx; URA; BHP

UPDATED: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: "Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium"

The Disaster in Japan and Uranium Mergers & Acquisitions (KAH.L; GCL.L; NLR; URA: CCJ)

"Uranium Tumbles On Japan Crisis" (CCJ)
UPDATED: With Uranium Stocks Down 26% "China 'Won't' Change Nuclear Plans" 60 Reactors Scheduled (CCJ; RTP; URA; DNN; URRE)


A few days after the Three Mile Island Accident I was talking to the highest producing female retail broker in the U.S.
This was back when Denver, Salt Lake City, Vancouver and Alberta all traded penny uranium issues.

Speculations that cost two or three dollars a week before were "deer nuts" [under a buck -ed] and I asked what she thought. She said "Kid, this is serious and when stocks get broken like this you'd better buy quality and you'd better be patient".

There are some major differences in the energy markets between then and now but her words came back to me yesterday. We are cautious, there's no reason to run to the parimutual window with cash in each hand, the goal is to run from the window.... 
...I can't believe I just used the phrase "Uranium stock touts"

Wayback Machine, take me to Moab, Utah: July 6, 1952!

American Heritage Magazine, "THE TIME OF THE GREAT FEVER";
Time Magazine April 5, 1954 "Pennies for Uranium";
Wikipedia, Charlie Steen.

Frankendodd: "George Soros and the Feudal Future of Hedge Funds"

There's always torches and pitchforks.
From CNBC's Net-Net:
Hedge fund regulation is not working out.
Years of concern about giant pools of investment capital that were said to be under-regulated and under-taxed concluded in Dodd-Frank’s hedge fund regulation requirements and gave rise to new plans to end capital gains treatment for the profits of hedge fund managers. 

But instead of kneeling down before the regulators and the tax collectors, some of the largest hedge funds are avoiding the regulation by shutting themselves off to outside investors. 

First, we had Stanley Druckenmiller, who shuttered his $12 billion Duquesne Capital Management hedge fund just a month after the passage of Dodd-Frank. Druckenmiller cited his inability to meet his own performance expectations and the personal toll of working as a fund manager, rather than Dodd-Frank. But between 30 percent and 40 percent of the funds assets belonged to Druckenmiller or his associates, and he continues to manage that money. The fund didn’t shut down so much as go private—and escape the grasp of regulators. 

Carl Icahn followed suit, returning the capital to his outside investors. But this represented just $1.76 billion of the $7 billion he has under management. Icahn didn’t shut down—he just shut outside investors and regulators out. 

And now we learn that George Soros is going down the same path. He’s returning $1 billion of outside investor capital. Now he’ll manage just the remaining $20 billion or so personally owned by him, his family and his foundations...MORE

"Ron Paul’s Debtpocalypse Idea: So Crazy It Just Might Work"

I liked it the minute I saw it.*
From MarketBeat:
Some people might respond to this by thinking that Ron Paul has been smoking some of the wacky weed he wants to legalize, but he has a plan for avoiding imminent Debtpocalypse: Set $1.6 trillion in Treasury debt on fire.
More specifically, Mr. Paul, an energetic critic of the Federal Reserve, suggests the Fed simply take a match to the $1.6 trillion in Treasury obligations it currently holds on its balance sheet as a result of its various QE programs.
Presto, the government suddenly has $1.6 trillion in room under the debt cap, enough to last us maybe a couple of years.
Surprisingly, Dean Baker, of the left-leaning Center for Economic Policy Research, thinks this idea is so crazy it just might work:
Unlike the debt held by Social Security, the debt held by the Fed is not tied to any specific obligations. The bonds held by the Fed are assets of the Fed. It has no obligations that it must use these assets to meet. There is no one who loses their retirement income if the Fed doesn’t have its bonds. In fact, there is no direct loss of income to anyone associated with the Fed’s destruction of its bonds....MORE
*From last Saturday's "Thoughts on The Suggestion to Repudiate All the Treasury Securities Held by the Federal Reserve":
You little bomb thrower you.
I'm reminded of a situation I watched back in the day. A trader sold a position to another firm a few minutes before a trading halt. The news was negative. The buyer D.K.'ed (Don't Know) the trade, meaning we'd still own the position, at which point the head of the firm got on the phone and told his counterpart "I don't want the shit, whyd'ya you think I sold it to you?"
From the von Mises Institute:
Defaulting on the Fed's Bonds...

"Glencore: The Perfect Arbitrageur"

A month old but worth the insight.
From Front Run Delta:
Glencore, Ltd. has been a fascination of mine for years. I first learned of their existence from Copetas' Metal Men and have tried to follow their actions in the media and within the industry since. They are viewed with a certain cult-like status in my eyes as the best of the best. The Maverick and Goose of international commodity trading. While I view their IPO as an unfortunate happenstance for their sake, I am ecstatic to have been given access to their prospectus.

A massive 1,637 page tome, their prospectus contains a wealth of information on strategy, risk and risk measurements, and the inner workings of the best arbitrage firm in the history of the world. That's correct, in the history of the world. Glencore's corporate grandfathers include firms like the Dutch East India Trading Company (VOC) and the English East India Company (EIC). Glencore is the quintessential case study in arbitrage techniques:
"Glencore focuses on maximising returns from the entire supply chain, taking into account its extensive global third party supply base, its logistics, risk management and working capital financing capabilities, extensive market insight, business optionality, its extensive customer base, strong market position and economies of scale."
"Glencore’s marketing activities source a diversified range of physical commodities from third party suppliers and from industrial assets in which Glencore has full or part ownership interests. These commodities are sold, often with valueadded services such as freight, insurance, financing and/or storage, to a broad range of consumers and industrial commodity endusers, with many of whom Glencore enjoys long-term commercial relationships." 
Types of Arbitrage Strategies 
"Many of the commodity markets in which Glencore operates are fragmented and periodically volatile. As a result, discrepancies generally arise in respect of the prices at which the commodities can be bought or sold in different forms, geographic locations or time periods, taking into account the numerous relevant pricing factors, including freight and product quality. These pricing discrepancies can present Glencore with arbitrage opportunities whereby Glencore is able to generate profit by sourcing, transporting, blending, storing or otherwise processing the relevant commodities. Whilst the strategies used by Glencore’s business segments to generate such margin vary from commodity to commodity, the main arbitrage strategies can be generally described as geographic-, product- and time-related." [Italics my own]
  • "geographic: where Glencore leverages its relationships and production, processing and logistical capabilities in order to source physical commodities from one location and deliver them to another location where such commodities can command a higher price (net of transport and/or other transaction costs); 
  • product-related: where it is possible to exploit the blending or multi-use characteristics of the particular commodities being marketed, such as the various crude oil products, coal or concentrates, in order to supply products which attract higher prices than their base constituents, or exploit existing and/or expected price differentials...MORE