Friday, November 30, 2012

28 Days Later and there is no Twilight

zombie © wikihow


News comments:
Zombies everywhere. Companies, Countries and the unemployed.

The latest EU unemployment statistics (12%+) are truly terrifying. Spain and Greece are occupied by 25 year old zombies, let down by liberals and do gooders who couldn't let the market do what it does best - clear out the unproductive and allow the productive to shine. These educated, eager and energetic workers are deemed worthless. A lost generation cliche.

With zombie Companies propped up by artificailly low interest rates and inept countries that should have gone bust years ago, we are all living in a 28 days later world. Rabbits. Headlights. Inertia. No wonder Asia is shrugging aside the last few years and pushing ahead with its own growth agenda.

No wonder Baked Beans are no longer available in Tesco too, when the end of the world (fintag 2011) is upon us. More zombies to add to the multitude who sit in the Houses of Parliament, FSA and the stately castles of the EU.

Now I am off to lunch ...

Today's shorts:
12% upwards (washington post)

Zombie Food (foodmanufacture)

Today's longs:
UK living in a world of Punch (telegraph)

Are hobbits zombies? (nz)

Gossip:
.zombie to become a popular domain name.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Economist gets the Mark Carney Prize

bye bye © fintag

News comments:
The death of Clive Dunn has coincided with the end of Mervyn King. RIP the slowest banker in the West.

Boy George has been fretting over his replacement and following his reading of the Economist, his favourite magazine I understand, has followed their lead and gone for ex Goldmander Mark Carney. Poor old Paul Tucker, the odds on X Factor favorite. (economist)

As you know all the top jobs are going to Old Etonians these days but since Osbourne is an outsider, he too has decided the UK has no talent and instead chosen an outsider in a Canadian. Nothing wrong with that. For me its rather exciting because I have met him a couple of times. He is a smart guy and from a CV perspective ticks all the boxes.

The reality of course is the job is cursed. Regulating banks is easy, as long as they don't move offshore but playing around with interest rates and the printing presses is a nasty job but someone has to do it. At least he has the same disdain of Ben Pumping Action Bernanke that I have and importantly has no beard. [Ed: Careful]

We wish him luck.

Today's shorts:
Bank of Canada (fxstreet)

Today's longs:
MC (mortgagestrategy)

Gossip:
Bank of England to be renamed the Canadian Bank of England.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HP is no Harry Potter

HP Sauce © fintag

News comments:
In the last 5 years, two events stick out: the collapse of Lehman and Madoff.

The collapse of an Investment Bank was bad enough but a ponzi scheme of epic proportions seemed to signal all that is wrong with greed.

Today, of course, these headlines would hardly register a mention. With the regulators on speed, the useless and crooked are being exposed faster than a BBC witch hunt. With HP saying its got to write off nearly USD9 billion (ft) and the guilty verdict handed to UBS gambler Kweku Adoboli (bbc), America on verge of massive fiscal cliff, JP Morgan's impending fraud investigation re Bear Stearns (bbc), the list goes on and on ...

Now the HP fraud, sorry fcuk up, is quite staggering. We all know sellers like to tell small white lies but when the likes of KPMG have audited the accounts, one assumes they can add up. Autonomy is an odd company though - I know it has lots of clients (its website says it has) like the CIA and Scotland Yard, but I have never come across anyone who has ever used it?

It all seems to smack of AOL or ABN AMRO: over valuation. But then again what does HP do these days? I bought a laptop from HP and it blew up. HP seems to be on the way out and its shareholders must be wondering why its management is so useless.

All this frustration makes you want to riot. So tomorrow I shall watch some others doing it on my behalf as some debt laden students let off steam #demo2012. Well its that time of year and well why not? (NUS)

Today's shorts:
Spreadbetting Libor (reuters)

UK to cull those over 65 (telegraph)

Today's longs:
Deluded man looks forward to Fiscal Cliff (bloomberg)

Gossip:
Facebook to be probed on number of active users.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

NASA, MSN and EON

© fintag

News comments:
All seems rather suspicious, don't you think?

Having upgraded to Windows 8 (don't bother as its a nightmare) and cursing Microsoft for another new layer of complexity, I read MSN is to be closed down. (onlinenewsheardnow)

MSN is the energy markets main communication tool. It is quick, instant and there is no audit trail. No wonder energy traders love it so much. Trading systems are built around MSN.

And then we learn the FSA (guardian) is to investigate the opaque world of energy pricing. A few players, huge contracts, bi-lateral agreements and counterparties like Nigeria, Angola and Russia (ouch).

It seems a coincidence that these two events have happened within a few days of each other. Or I am suffering from the end of the world syndrome? (nasa)

Today's shorts:
Fiscal Cliff rally (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
UK to ramp up interest rates (reuters)

Gossip:
Energy traders to replace MSN with fax machines.



Friday, November 9, 2012

I am a Witch and a Money Launderer

off with his head © fintag

News comments:
Britain, once a land of tolerance is turning, as is always the case when economic times are tough, into a nation of gossipers and destroyers of reputations.

Were you a single man who went on vacation to North Wales in the 1980s? Do you own a nice classic car collection but appear not to work? Do you have an offshore bank account in Jersey?

Well I can put my hand to the last one (my collection of Sunbeam Alpines was sold a few year ago to pay some "debts"). According to the latest report in Witch Hunt News, I am a money launderer.

If you have an HSBC account in Jersey, you really are in trouble and it won't be long before the English Inquisition has you strung up and covered in tomatoes. My account is with Lloyds TSB and I guess once this is wikileaked I too will have to change my identity and run for the hills (somewhere in Oregon would be good; near a decent vineyard).

I may protest that my account was set up because I wanted a EURO account to pay my housekeeper and the French government some taxes regarding my Antibes house. But it will fall on deaf Twitter ears. I had no choice in the matter. You see the main UK banks have all their offshore banking centres in Jersey. But these days excuses mean nothing.

So long. It's been fun ...

Today's shorts:
Innocent man accused of crimes (guardian)

HSBC account holders to be shot at dawn (sky)

Man serves PM his P45 (sky)

UK JP Morgan staff to be whipped and gagged (sky)

Today's longs:
UK accidentally starts to recover (reuters)

Gossip:
ITV to replace rolling news with a Twitter feed.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

America not ready for a mormon

no jimmy carter © fintag

News comments:
It was close but not that close.

Choosing between a Mormon odd ball and a useless debt lovin' lawyer must have been a tough choice but the people spoke. Congratulations to Obama for the next few years are going to be mighty tough. A bit like Hollande, he will be u-turning pretty damn quick for Hurricane Sandy is soon to be replaced with Megastorm Cliff (as in fiscal).

Of course shale gas will save America and as it turns inward and protectionist, it will still be home of my dreams. I am taking Spanish lessons and have become a scientologist. Hopefully this will help me get my green card because while it looks bad over the pond, it is heaven compared to this socialist pit called Europe.

Today's shorts:
USD (bloomberg)

Today's longs:
Stalemate (nyt)

Gossip:
Romney to launch new fragrance range.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

No Tax Please, We're American

starturn @ fintag

News comments:
I have been in a spat with the UK tax authorities regarding some tax owed on my gym membership. Despite it being offered to all my staff, keeping them healthy is a taxable benefit in kind.

It's a few pounds but its annoying. I know the government needs tax but the elephants are staring them in the face and they keep shooting at the mice.

The Sunday Times has exposed Apple's 1.9% overseas tax rate. Apparently over half a billion of UK tax was avoided in 2011 (belfasttelegraph) although the USA got to enjoy its multi billion tax revenues. Following on the heels of Facebook and Starbucks, as well as Google, not paying tax has been a dream for their stock holders. (guardian). But for the countries where revenues are made, apart from employing a few people, these large global entities are enjoying the fruits of capitalism and playing a game that they will always win because they are more powerful than any government.

All comes down to Intellectual Property rights. From IKEA to Vodafone, Ronaldo to Tiger Woods, tax can be avoided through charging for the use of a brand name. Those of us who grew up in the structured product world, the 3 entity triangle is a classic rouse to stop the tax authorities attacking your revenues. Making the boxes and arrows diagrams as complex as possible, with transfer pricing and loan interest and tax neutral expenses using countries like BVI, Singapore, Ireland, Switzerland et al and arbitraging between them has made accountancy and book keeping an interesting profession.

The tax police are helpless and until we start seeing trade wars, this tax joke will continue.

So next time I hear some whingeing student sitting in Starbucks reading a story searched using Google on an iPad and then liked on Facebook complaining about the rich being the scum of the earth I shall smile. Will this new generation boycott these 4 institutions? Of course they won't. Best to attack my gym membership and tax me for keeping healthy.

But I will have the last laugh. I will to live 120, demand benefits like sky subscription and bus passes and health care whilst living in a mortgage free large home (or two or more) while they live on sofas and pay 80% tax.

Today's shorts:
Miserable man tries to placate lycra wearers (jacksonsun)

Today's longs:
Malta is the new Ireland (hedgeweek)

Gossip:
Mitt Romney to win.