|Thursday 01st of April 2021
THE DEAL THAT BROKE THE BANK, CONNECT THE DOTS
World Of Finance
Robert M. Bakish is now a hall-of-fame stock seller, he’s also best known as the President and Chief Executive Officer of ViacomCBS.
One of the world’s leading producers of media and entertainment content, driven by a global portfolio of powerful consumer brands, including CBS, Showtime, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and Paramount Pictures.
But, could Bob’s stock selling prowess help bring a Wall St. Bank to its knees?
This month Bakish noticed an unusual move higher in his stock price, at one point in 2021 the VIAC was 73% higher.
Last week, Uncle Bob wisely approached Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley about selling some stock.
In order to get the best price, Bob wanted to keep the sale quiet and do it quickly. He wisely stressed, “keep it, discreet boys.”
On March 23, they priced close to $3B of equity and mandatory convertible securities, but the size and breadth of the sale caught some market participants off guard, some more than others indeed.
“Goldman dumps billions of dollars of stock causing losses at Nomura, then Goldman analysts downgrade Nomura because of the losses and poor risk management.”
By now, everyone knows Archegos’ Bill Hwang was a protégé and one of the so-called tiger cubs of legendary hedge fund manager Julian Robertson.
What people don’t fully understand is how just one firm can abuse and leverage the TRS (total return swap infrastructure) across the prime brokerage underbelly of Wall St.
Typically associated with the fixed income market (in bonds), a total return swap is a swap agreement in which one party makes payments based on a set rate, either fixed or variable, while the other party makes payments based on the return of an underlying asset, which includes both the income it generates and any capital gains.
The plus side for Archegos is they could hide the size of their positions and very quickly turn the buying power of $1 into $5 or even $10.
“Estimates of Archegos total positions are climbing–billions, then $50 billion, now some traders estimate $100 billion. ” Fox Biz, Charlie Gasparino notes.
The thing about these guys (like Archegos) is, (and there are a lot of them out there), the only way to accumulate that kind of extreme wealth in a short period of time is through the most extreme, reckless hubris lens.
Ultimately, it’s the same perspective that forges the insane riches, that will also be the catalyst behind colossal losses taking place in the blink of an eye.
Institutional Client in our Live Chat on Bloomberg: “These are your ‘for cause’ reasons to rip-up an ISDA and (Goldman, Morgan Stanley) start the liquidation process of the Archegos portfolio of levered-bets.
How could I start a fund of that size and just tell every other major prime broker my collateral only has eyes for them – especially after AIG?!”
There is meaningful speculation that the DOJ reached out to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley on Archegos’ business practices.
Rehypothecation is the age-old practice whereby banks and brokers use, for their own purposes, assets that have been posted as collateral by their clients.
The lack of transparency in the formerly highly profitable total return swap arena, left banks dancing in the darkness, oblivious.
There is intoxicating greed on both ends here, greed squared. First, you have the banks who have been reaching for profits in an era of flat yield curves.
“Oh, why not roll-out total return swaps to prime broker equity clients, juicy margins, lets do it.”
For years, total return swaps have been used on far less volatile bond instruments, BUT putting Archegos style leverage on highly volatile equities is insane.
Then there is the greed on the client-side. Many clients we respect think, firms like Archegos embraced total return swaps on high-risk equities so they could attempt to manipulate stock prices to the moon (short squeeze weaponry), wipe out short-sellers in TOTAL secrecy (no disclosures). The whole debacle is just a nasty cocktail of extreme, reckless greed.
Some Street research estimates put the stated leverage (OTC/swap) in Archegos´ reputed use of equity TRS accounted for around half of the universe of OTC equity derivatives globally. Nuts!
Unfortunately for Bill Hwang and his pile of leverage, he’s never met an overnight, size seller like Bob Bakish.
Last week’s colossal VIAC offering of shares pushed deal insiders into action. The legendary “Chinese Wall” across Wall St. banks has always been made with only the finest swiss cheese.
We hear the bankers involved in the stock sale leaked the details to sales covering clients and very quickly Archegos was looking at a 15% loss when it surreptitiously controlled 10-20% of all the outstanding VIAC shares.
At one point last week VIAC equity was worth $60B, this week she was lurking back near $25B.
On March 23, Morgan Stanley priced the stock sale at $85 (it traded as high as $100 hours later), Bakish should announce a stock buyback tonight at $45 and burn the Street’s britches into the history books. The stuff legends are made of.
28-MAR-2021 :: The Pandemic Is a Portal [said Arundhati Roy]
@Azeria64Azeria Dec 31, 2019 Syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère (#SRAS) en Chine ?
Since the end of December 2019, when I learnt of covid19, time I have found has become non-linear.
It has been a paradoxical situation, physically static [for the most part] anticipating the ‘’virulent plague that travelled through the air as if on wings, it burned through cities like fire’
But at the same time very stream of consciousness. My dreams became so vivid and real and just one portal of many
Is it really social distancing if we are all surrounded by djinn ASKED @AAOLOMI and I thought to myself we are all djinn now.
The Quran says that the Djinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire", They are usually invisible to humans, but humans do appear clearly to Djinn, as they can possess them.
DJinn have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas.
I found myself immersing myself in the latin American genre of magic realism, following William Dalrymple’s twitter handle to exotic destinations
Dreaming of escape and travel and of portals through which I would pass like I imagined there was a portal at the bottom of my garden in Mombasa through which I could pass and return.
She told him she dreamed about escaping. That was all she dreamed about. Paris, Texas (1984) dir. Wim Wenders
6.. Itamaraty Palace Spiral Staircase designed by #Oscar Niemeyer icekev
I return to t.s eliot
To lead you to an overwhelming question ... Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
This strange dream like sequence of non linear time has been the overwhelming experience for what feels like an eternity now.
Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 @WHO
Globally, new COVID-19 cases rose for a fifth consecutive week, with just over 3.8 million new cases reported in the last week.
The number of new deaths increased for the second consecutive week, increasing by 5% compared to last week, with over 64 000 new deaths reported.
All regions reported an increase in the number of cases this week, and all regions, except for the African Region, reported an increase in the number of deaths.
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from
Brazil (533 024 new cases; 5% increase),
United States of America (421 936 new cases; 13% increase)
India (372 494 new cases; 55% increase)
France (254 228 new cases; 24% increase)
Poland (192 441 new cases; 27% increase)
Covid Isn’t Over, and the Next Wave May Be Worse @business @davidfickling
With vaccines spreading through rich countries at gathering speed and lockdown restrictions weakening with the spring sunshine, it’s tempting to believe that the long nightmare of Covid-19 is finally ending.
In the U.K., 58% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden has doubled an original goal of administering 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office, which would bring the total to 200 million by the end of April.
On Google, the search term “after Covid” has been getting more interest than “Covid symptoms” for the past month, suggesting the world is thinking more about what life will be like when things return to normal.
That’s a mistake. While we’re increasingly talking about the coronavirus in the past tense, the worst may still be ahead of us.
Infections worldwide rose 47% during March from a lull in late February. At about 600,000 new cases a day, the rate today is higher than it was for most of last year.
Worse still, while previous waves have broken primarily in Western Europe and the U.S., many of the areas where Covid is now growing most rapidly are in South America and South Asia, the Middle East and other emerging economies.
Mostly lacking the first-class public health infrastructure found in the global north, they’re less equipped to cope with the virus.
That’s especially the case if new variants, like those identified in the U.K. or the Brazilian city of Manaus, cause more problems for younger people.
For most of the past year, the coronavirus has looked like what Austrian historian Walter Scheidel has called a “great leveler”:
One of the many catastrophes such as war, pandemic, revolution and state failure that paradoxically manage to even out the worst excesses of inequality once in every generation or so.
More than 46% of deaths have been in just three rich jurisdictions with unusually large elderly populations: the U.S., U.K. and the European Union.
That may now be shifting. The U.S., which has mostly held the unenviable top spot for record daily infections since the start of the pandemic, has slipped behind Brazil, possibly permanently, since the start of March.
The U.K., similarly, is now running a lower rate than Bangladesh and the Philippines for the first time since Europe’s seasonal lull last summer. 1
Many of the nations where Covid has been spreading fastest recently are ones where current rates of vaccine rollout won’t result in herd immunity for years, or even decades, based on Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker:
That’s going to put much more emphasis on the issues of inequality and justice around vaccine delivery that have so far been relatively muted in the public debate.
In spite of a $4 billion donation from the U.S. in January, Covax — the U.N.-sponsored program to deliver coronavirus vaccines to lower-income countries — is still about $2 billion short of the funds it needs to distribute 1.8 billion doses to target nations this year.
In addition to that, countries including the U.K., U.S., Switzerland and EU members continue to block waivers to intellectual-property rules that would allow generic drug manufacturers in India and South Africa to produce vaccine doses at vastly reduced costs, ensuring that current production is weighted to the developed world.
“The solutions at this stage are political and logistical,” said Stephanie Topp, a professor of public health at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
Countries that protect only their own populations without setting aside IP rules and providing funding for vaccination elsewhere in the world will find it a false economy, she said.
“Where we’re considering global public health, that’s a self-defeating argument, because what happens is the disease wins,” she said.
“If the disease is circulating elsewhere in this incredibly globalized interconnected world, the disease will come back again.”
We’ve seen this movie before. The general indifference to medical problems once they stop bothering rich countries is such an entrenched issue that there’s an entire branch of modern medicine dedicated to “neglected tropical diseases.”
Infections like tuberculosis and cholera — often seen by wealthy nations as 19th century relics, encountered mostly in opera and novels — are almost certainly more prevalent today than they’ve been at any point in human history.
While U.S. TV networks run nostalgic reruns of the AIDS-themed musical Rent, two-thirds of people with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the case of Covid, that’s not just a moral failing, but a shortcoming on even the most callous measure of self-interest.
If we want to see borders reopen and minimize the risks that fresh variants will arise to overwhelm the vaccine defenses we’ve worked so hard to erect over the past year, the rich world needs to start treating infection in emerging economies as an emergency on a par with what’s happening in its own backyard.
In the fight against coronavirus, we will stand together, or fall apart.
Gold Is Getting That Inflation Feeling Again @markets @johnauthers
As 2021’s first quarter comes to an end, gold hasn’t enjoyed a great time of it.
The precious metal has tumbled 19% from its high last August and is back where it was in February of last year, before the pandemic hit the developed world.
Gold did at least manage to rally in Wednesday trading, as traders took heart from its ability to stop short of the 20% fall that would have qualified as a bear market.
But the problems for gold are still significant, and come as something of a surprise.
Last August, I wrote a Points of Return on the gold price which looked at various arguments by analysts and concluded that “absent a swift victory over the virus, all of these... methodologies suggest that there is far more room for gold to rise than to fall.”
Progress in the fight against the Covid has arguably been better than expected since then.
The third wave that hit the U.S., and the second wave in Europe, shattered hopes that populations might already be close to “herd immunity,” but progress in producing vaccines has been far faster than expected then.
This has, as predicted, made the environment less favorable for gold. Still, the extent of the decline requires some explanation.
First, and most important, this has been the worst quarter for bonds in some decades. These facts may well be related.
Not even the Federal Reserve’s insistence that it will keep financial conditions as lenient as possible has been enough to keep longer-dated bond yields down.
As a result, the Bloomberg Barclays Treasuries index has fallen more than 4% for the quarter, the first time this has happened since the first and third quarters of 1980, when stagflation was at its height.
The assumption in the market, correct or otherwise, is that more inflation is coming down the pike, and that the Fed will have to raise rates in due course to deal with it.
What is interesting is exactly when inflation will arrive; that has important implications for gold. Although the metal is regarded as an inflation hedge, it isn’t as simple as that.
It is more sensitive to interest rates. When rates rise, because of fears of long-term inflation, gold can be expected to fall. Hence, the price has taken a horrible tumble even as markets brace for inflation.
John Higgins of Capital Economics Ltd. in London produced implicit performance for the real yields of notional zero-coupon two- and 10-year bonds.
Normally, they track each other, but they have parted company dramatically this year, reflecting the belief that the Fed will be lenient for a while (keeping short rates low), and will have to intervene more strongly with higher rates in the longer term.
Gold, unfortunately for investors, follows longer-dated bond yields:
There are reasons for this. Gold yields nothing and lasts forever, so should be treated like a zero-coupon long-duration asset.
Higher rates make its lack of yield more unappealing. Low rates make it look better.
The lowest real yields in history, as seen last year, were enough to bring the metal to an all-time high in nominal terms. So it shouldn’t be that surprising that, with real yields rising this quarter, the gold price fell.
There’s a little more to it than that, though. If anything, gold seems to have fallen by more than might have been indicated by the rise in real yields. Other factors explain this.
Investor demand, especially through the exchange-traded funds beloved by retail investors, is ever more important.
After heavy inflows during the Covid shock to the iShares gold ETF generally known by its GLD ticker symbol, investors have started to yank cash in a big way.
The chart shows the gold price in blue, against the 50-day moving average for fund flows into GLD. The outflows appear to have had a big impact:
If we look at futures positions, we similarly see a sharp turn against gold in recent weeks.
The following chart from Longview Economics Ltd. of London looks at variations from the trend, to account for the fact that gold positioning tends always to be “long.”
Longview also shows that investor sentiment around the outlook has turned much more negative, using data on consensus predictions of big institutions collated by Consensus Inc., a research group. It is now at levels that are typically bullish for the future price:
There is one other element to bring in. Gold has new competitors in the cryptocurrency space.
Like gold, bitcoin and the like appeal to people who want to bet not only on weakness in fiat currencies that will show up through inflation, but also to show their disapproval of government and its growing powers. Bitcoin continues to be one of the remarkable stories of the age, and it would make sense if it were at the margin taking demand away from gold.
These numbers come from the Finbold website and suggest that trading volumes in bitcoin futures are rising fast while trading in gold has declined:
With the gold price rallying, the S&P in gold terms fell slightly, leaving it just short of the post-dot-com high set at the end of September 2018.
Africa's Pulse, No. 23, April 2021 @WorldBank #AfricasPulse
Real GDP is estimated to contract by 2.0 percent in 2020—close to the lower bound of the forecast range in April 2020
Available data from the second half of 2020 point to rebound in economic activity that explain why the contraction in the region was in the lower bound of the forecasts.
It reflected a slower spread of the virus and lower COVID-19-related mortality in the region, strong agricultural growth, and a faster-than-expected recovery in commodity prices.
Economic activity in the region is expected to rise to a range between 2.3 and 3.4 percent in 2021.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 has plunged the region into its first recession in over 25 years, with activity contracting by nearly 5.0 percent on a per capita basis.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s recovery is expected to be multi-speed, with significant variation across countries.
Nigeria, South Africa, and Angola, the region’s three largest economies, are expected to return to growth in 2021, partly owing to higher commodity prices, but the recovery will remain sluggish.
Growth is projected to rebound to 1.4 percent in Nigeria, 3.0 percent in South Africa, and 0.9 percent in Angola.
Non-resource-intensive countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, and mining- dependent economies, such as Botswana and Guinea, are expected to see robust growth in 2021, driven by a rebound in private consumption and investment as confidence strengthens and exports increase
The debt situation in Africa requires an all hands on deck approach. No options should be taken off the table.
Despite well-supplied global food markets, food insecurity remains acute in several low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially those most affected by climate change or conflict.
Lost incomes, compounded in some cases by high food price inflation, are also contributing to the increase in food insecurity.
More than 235 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are food insecure and with insufficient food consumption.
Sub-Saharan Africa’s food system is under stress and food security challenges have intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are among the countries at greater risk of experiencing food security crises over the next 12 months.
.@WHOAFRO Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 @WHO
After reporting a decline in new cases for two consecutive weeks, the African Region reported a 22% increase in new cases (>62 000 cases) compared to the previous week, and over 1300 new deaths, a 6% decrease.
The highest numbers of new cases were reported from Ethiopia (13 153 new cases; a 14% increase)
Kenya (9167 new cases; a 25% increase).
The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from South Africa (566 new deaths; one new death per 100 000 population; a 31% decrease)
Ethiopia (137 new deaths; <0.1 new deaths per 100 000; a 28% increase).
Headless bodies in the streets of Mozambique town @mercnews @AP
Fierce fighting for control of Mozambique’s strategic northern town of Palma left beheaded bodies strewn in the streets Monday, with heavily armed rebels battling army, police and a private military outfit in several locations.
Thousands were estimated to be missing from the town, which held about 70,000 people before the attack began last Wednesday.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Monday for the attack, saying it was carried out by the Islamic State Central Africa Province, according to the SITE extremist monitoring group.
The rebel claim said the insurgents now control Palma’s banks, government offices, factories and army barracks, and that more than 55 people, including Mozambican army troops, Christians and foreigners were killed. It did not provide further detail on the dead.
Earlier this month the United States declared Mozambique’s rebels to be a terrorist organization and announced it had sent military specialists to help train the Mozambican military to combat them.
Palma is the center of a multi-billion dollar investment by Total, the France-based oil and gas company, to extract liquified natural gas from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean.
The gas deposits are estimated to be among the world’s largest and the investment by Total and others is reported to be $20 billion, one of the largest in Africa.
The battle for Palma forced Total to evacuate its large, fortified site a few miles (kilometers) outside of the city.
The fighting spread across the town Monday, according to Lionel Dyck, director of the Dyck Advisory Group, a private military company contracted by the Mozambican police to help fight the rebels.
“There is fighting in the streets, in pockets across the town,” Dyck told The Associated Press. The Dyck group has several helicopter gunships in Palma which have been used to rescue trapped civilians and to fight the rebels.
“My guys are airborne and they’ve engaged several little groups and they’ve engaged one quite large group,” Dyck said.
“They’ve landed into the fight to recover a couple of wounded policemen. … We have also rescued many people who were trapped, 220 people at last count.”
He said those rescued were taken to Total’s fortified site on the southern African country’s Afungi peninsula, where chartered flights flew many south to Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province.
The rebels are well-armed with AK-47 automatic rifles, RPD and PKM machine guns and heavy mortars, Dyck said.
“This attack is not a surprise. We’ve been expecting Palma to be whacked the moment the rains stopped and the fighting season started, which is now,” he said.
“They have been preparing for this. They’ve had enough time to get their ducks in a row. They have a notch up in their ability. They’re more aggressive. They’re using their mortars.” He said many were wearing black uniforms.
“There have been lots of beheadings. Right up on day one, our guys saw the drivers of trucks bringing rations to Palma. Their bodies were by the trucks. Their heads were off.”
Dyck said it will not be easy for the Mozambican government to regain control of Palma.
“They must get sufficient troops to sweep through the town, going house-to-house and clean each one out. That’s the most difficult phase of warfare in the book,” Dyck said.
“It will be very difficult unless there’s a competent force put in place with good command and control to retake that town. It can be done. But it ain’t going to be easy.”
Without control of Palma, Total’s operations are jeopardized, analysts say.
The battle for Palma is similar to how the rebels seized the port Mocimboa da Praia in August.
The rebels infiltrated men into the town to live among residents and then launched a three-pronged attack.
Fighting continued for more than a week until the rebels controlled the town center and then its port. The town, about 50 miles south of Palma, is still held by the rebels.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric condemned the violence in Palma, which he said has reportedly killed dozens of people, “including some trying to flee a hotel where they had taken shelter.”
He referred to those trapped at the Amarula Hotel who tried to escape in a convoy of 17 vehicles on Friday.
Only seven vehicles made it to the beach, where seven people were killed. Some in the other vehicles fled into the dense tropical jungle and were later rescued.
“We continue to coordinate closely with the authorities on the ground to provide assistance to those affected by the violence,” Dujarric said.
The battle for Palma is expected to drastically worsen the humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where the rebels started violent attacks in 2017.
The insurgents began as a few bands of disaffected and unemployed young Muslim men. They now likely number in the thousands, according to experts.
“The attack on Palma is a game-changer in that the rebels have changed the narrative,” said one expert who returned from Palma earlier this month.
“This is no rag-tag bunch of disorganized youths. This is a trained and determined force that has captured and held one town and is now sustaining a battle for a very strategic center,” said the expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of visiting Palma.
“They have called into question the entire LNG (liquified natural gas) investment which was supposed to bring Mozambique major economic growth over many years.”
Known locally as al-Shabab, although they have no known affiliation with Somalia’s jihadist rebels of the same name, the rebels’ violence in Mozambique, a nation of 30 million, is blamed for the deaths of more than 2,600 people and caused an estimated 670,000 people to flee their homes.
“The attack on Palma has made a bad humanitarian situation worse,” said Jonathan Whittall, director of analysis for Doctors Without Borders, which is working to help the displaced around Pemba, the provincial capital 100 miles south of Palma.
“Across Cabo Delgado, the situation was already extremely worrying for those displaced by violence and for those who are in areas that are difficult for humanitarian assistance to reach,” Whittall said.
“This attack on Palma has led to more displacement and will increase the needs that have to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”
“For too long northern Mozambique has been a neglected humanitarian crisis,” Whittall said, adding that his organization is exploring ways to expand its emergency response.