Sep 10

Preparing To Asset-strip Local Government? The Fed’s Bizarre New Rules (Washington’s Blog, Sep 9, 2014):

By Ellen Brown

In an inscrutable move that has alarmed state treasurers, the Federal Reserve, along with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, just changed the liquidity requirements for the nation’s largest banks. Municipal bonds, long considered safe liquid investments, have been eliminated from the list of high-quality liquid collateral. assets (HQLA). That means banks that are the largest holders of munis are liable to start dumping them in favor of the Treasuries and corporate bonds that do satisfy the requirement.

Muni bonds fund the nation’s critical infrastructure, and they are subject to the whims of the market: as demand goes down, interest rates must be raised to attract buyers. State and local governments could find themselves in the position of cash-strapped Eurozone states, subject to crippling interest rates. The starkest example is Greece, where rates went as high as 30% when investors feared the government’s insolvency. Sky-high interest rates, in turn, are the fast track to insolvency. Greece wound up stripped of its assets, which were privatized at fire sale prices in a futile attempt to keep up with the bills. Continue reading »

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Jul 13

From the article:

“It is just amazing who disconnected government are from the reality of the economy. Everything is geared to move toward the confiscation of wealth not reforming the system. These people are just brain-dead.”


Bremen-buergerschaft

German Municipals In Trouble (Armstrong Economics, July 10, 2014):

Part of our job is monitoring everything everywhere. We are gathering data om whatever moves on a global basis. I have stated numerous times, it is IMPOSSIBLE to forecast a single market in isolation because the wildcard comes from contagions set in motion elsewhere. It is like sunning on the beach and there is a tidal wave coming because of an earthquake you didn’t know happened. Unless you monitor the world, you cannot even forecast the weather for tomorrow. It would all be just dumb-luck and chance.

I have been warning that about 50% of the municipal governments in Germany are on the verge of bankruptcy. Continue reading »

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Oct 10

Flashback:

Hedge Fund Manager Kyle Bass: Senior Obama Administration Official Said: ‘We’re Just Going To Kill The Dollar’ (Video)


Kyle Bass Warns “There Is No Way To Protect Yourself If US Treasuries Default” (ZeroHedge, Oct 9, 2013):

“If the politicians lead us into a ‘prioritization of payments’ situation for Treasury Secretary Lew or an actual missed payment, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself from that!” are the ominous words that Kyle Bass uses to describe the farce that is rapidly approaching (and for now being ignored by stocks). Bass went on to pull no punches in his “disappointment” in JCPenney’s performance (and dilution) coming as close as he can to saying “sell.” But his piece de resistance was a dismal destruction of any silver lining for Puerto Rico and the significant implications that will have on Muni bonds in general.

On Default risk and “Un-hedgeable” implications:

On JCPenney – “Disappointed” – “didn’t belive they needed to raise the capital… and now they have diluted us over 30%”

On Puerto Rico and the threat to the entire Muni market – “you look at their finances and you can only say – I have no clue how this can exist for very much longer”

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Oct 26

Muni Ratings Slump As Bankruptcies Rise, Surpass 2011 Total (Zerohedge, Oct 26, 2012):

Credit-rating cuts were made on more than $200 billion of municipal securities in the first nine months of this year, exceeding the total for 2011, and there’s no end in sight. Bloomberg Briefs also notes that it is not just the weaker Californian cities (such as Fresno) but even Los Gatos (an affluent town about 50 miles south of San Francisco, where Apple’s Steve Wozniak lives) is facing possible rating downgrades. Moody’s is concerned that cities might skip debt payments in a cash crunch to preserve services and meet payroll. The decisions to seek bankruptcy “provide some indication that willingness to pay debt obligations may be eroding in the U.S. municipal market,” according to the Moody’s report, especially since California municipalities have limited ability to boost revenue. They can’t impose higher sales taxes without going to voters. Meanwhile Chapter 9 Muni petitions are now above 2011’s YTD equivalent as California’s Mendocino Coast HealthCare District became the 12th Chapter 9 petition filed year to date and the fourth from that state – up from just 5 Chapter 9s in 2010. Paging Ms. Whitney…

Chart: Bloomberg Briefs

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Aug 21

Buffett Joins Team Whitney; Sees Muni Pain Ahead As He Unwinds Half Of His Bullish CDS Exposure Prematurely (ZeroHedge, Aug 20, 2012):

Just under two years ago, Meredith Whitney made a much maligned, if very vocal call, that hundreds of US municipalities will file for bankruptcy. She also put a timestamp on the call, which in retrospect was her downfall, because while she will ultimately proven 100% correct about the actual event, the fact that she was off temporally (making it seem like a trading call instead of a fundamental observation) merely had a dilutive impact of the statement. As a result she was initially taken seriously, causing a big hit to the muni market, only to be largely ignored subsequently even following several prominent California bankruptcies. This is all about to change as none other than Warren Buffett has slashed half of his entire municipal exposure, in what the WSJ has dubbed a “red flag” for the municipal-bond market. Perhaps another way of calling it is the second coming of Meredith Whitney’s muni call, this time however from an institutionalized permabull. Continue reading »

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Mar 11

DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach appeared on CNBC earlier, and among other things, the muni market was discussed. It appears that the fund manager whom many consider to be roughly in the same ballpark as Howard Marks when it comes to fixed income investing is very much in Meredith Whitney’s camp when it comes to his outlook on muni market prospects.

Asked by Faber if he believes that munis are ultimately going the way subprime securities did, Gundlach responds “If by that you mean lower, the answer is yes. If you mean crashing, I am agnostic on that.” And for all those who love taking out their actuarial tables and their historical default data to refute what is simply common sense, Gundlach has a few words as well: “I don’t think you need to know what the default rates are going to be, or need to know how low low is, munis are going to go down.

There are going to be other shoes to drop. There might be so many it looks like Imelda Marcos’ closet when all the shoes drop because all the states have to deal with this stuff.… Between here and the endgame lies the valley and the valley is full of fear. And I think the muni market is going to go down by at least 15 to 20%. At least.”

As for Kaminsky relentless advocacy of munis, this time coming out with the always disingenuous “hold to maturity” defense, Gundlach simply made a mockery of that whole spiel: “You know what the definition of an investor? It is a trader who is underwater. People say they hold to maturity until they get scared and sell. It gets scary when the prices start to drop. The fear factor here is going to be palpable.”

Continue reading »

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Mar 05

Related info:

$2 Trillion Debt Crisis Threatens to Bring Down 100 US Cities Next Year

Meredith Whitney: US Government Will Have to Bailout States in Next 12 Months


Buyers of bonds issued by US states and local authorities are being ‘Pollyannaish’ in ignoring the state of their finances


Nouriel Roubini’s consulting firm predicts substantial, but not system-threatening, defaults in the US municipal bonds market. Photograph: Sony Pics/Everett/Rex Features

US states and local governments could default on $100bn (£60bn) of their debts over the next five years, according to a report from the consulting firm founded by economist Nouriel Roubini.

The report follows dire predictions of a wide-scale collapse in the US’s $2.7tn municipal bonds market by Meredith Whitney, the analyst who was among the first to warn of the 2008 banking crisis.

Roubini Global Economics’ forecast is less gloomy than Whitney’s, but it warns that investors are being “Pollyannaish” in dismissing the serious problems in the market.

“The municipal bond market has generated tremendous debate in the past months, with Cassandras predicting another ‘sub-prime’ disaster, while apologists (often with vested interests) claim there is little justification for these warnings,” write the authors of the Roubini report, David Nowakowski and Prajakta Bhide. They conclude that while investors do face $100bn in defaults, the problems will not prove “systemic in nature” and will not “infect the financial system, though they will dampen economic recovery.”

Continue reading »

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Feb 27


I am sure helicopter Ben can’t wait to nuke the US dollar one last time

There was a time when everyone thought CDOs are perfectly safe. That ended up being a tad incorrect. It resulted in AIG blowing up, recording hundreds of billions in losses and almost taking the rest of the financial world with it, leading ultimately to the first iteration of quantitative easing. A few years thereafter, several blogs and fringe elements suggested that munis are the next major cataclysm and will likely require Fed bail outs (some time before Meredith Whitney came on the public scene with her apocalyptic call). It would be only fitting that the same AIG that blew up the world the first time around, end up being the same company that does so in 2011, and with an instrument that just like back then only an occasional voice warned is a weapon of mass destruction: municipal bonds. AIG dropped over 6% today following some very unpleasasnt disclosures about its muni outlook, and corporate liquidity implications arising therefrom: “American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, said it faces increased risk of losses on its $46.6 billion municipal bond portfolio and that defaults could pressure the company’s liquidity.” So how long before we discover that Goldman has been lifting every AIG CDS for the past quarter? And how much longer after that until someone leaks a document that the company’s muni strategy was orchestrated by one Joe Cassano?

From the Risk Factors section in the company’s just issued 10-K:

Continue reading »

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