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Archive

May 20, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 10

For monetary diversity

Diversity, especially in the matter of ideas, is at the top of the Grant's election-year monetary reform agenda.

Transmission mechanism

A cyclical stock that dances to the beat of a cyclical industry (as well as to the cha-cha-cha of the Federal Open Market Committee). Now unfolding is a speculation about a profit-driven investment decline.

Yield from hunger

A dividend aristocrat of the North with an unsustainable payout.

Just type 'CNRR001'

That the world's second-largest economy is an accident waiting to happen is a longstanding tenet of these pages. What's new is the mounting evidence that the accidental occurrence is drawing closer.

We hardly knew ye

On Friday the 13th of May, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. announced its intention to redeem the three issues of preferred stock that featured in the April 8 issue of Grant's.

One and done

A fall in profits and activity comes despite an explosion in bank lending to businesses – time to reconsider that rate hike, Chair Yellen?

May 6, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 09

Paging George Champion

Before desk-top computers—before consultants—a worldwise banker laid in reserves against loan losses in the certain knowledge that credit experience is cyclical. What the great man could teach the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

Inherent safety?

Risk is where you don’t look for it.

Sell New York

Not the city, but the ticker. Where’s the value, Larry Silverstein?

Made (up) in Japan

You can run from credit risk, but you can’t hide it. A kind word for bankruptcy reform, no matter how belated.

Bubble No. 3

Growth in household net worth had handily outstripped growth in after-tax income. You may thank the Fed, Donald Trump.

Under the headline

The share price would be lower if the analysts were more curious. Attention, Wall Street: There’s a balance sheet, too.

Buncombe glut

Did the president of the European Central Bank say “savings” when – with a little more attention to analytical detail – he should have said “credit”?

April 22, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 08

The road to confetti

April 15 comes and goes but the federal debt stays and grows. The secrets of its life force are the topics at hand – that and how the upsurge in financial leverage, both public and private, may bear on the value of the dollar and on the course of monetary affairs.

No, not Treasurys

"Normalization is a good thing. Rates going up is a good thing. It's not a bad thing because we have a strong economy." The speaker is the chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the setting is the spring 2016 Grant's conference.

Credit the yield

Now under way is a reprise and a report: a reprise of a couple of familiar yield-bearing Grant's favorites and a report on the state of small-business credit.

For the repressed

For the people at the receiving end of zero percent interest rates and quantitative easing, "inflation is not that dead."

Insider to outsider

"There are probably more dangerous words in the English language than 'data dependence,' but I don't think any said with this frequency…."

Advice at a price

If it's financial advice you want, you could ask a Nobel Prize-winning economist. Alternatively, you could invest in a company that markets highbrow robo-advice.

A political animal

"China doesn't devalue. The US doesn't tighten. Détente."

Solvency not liquidity

"Budgets have been out of whack and unbalanced for 10 years straight and they have been balanced with borrowing." A game of debtor-creditor drama "is unfortunately coming to an end."

Bullish on Oil

Standing before the Grant's crowd, a bear on oil before the deluge, declares that the bottom is in.

Not enough gold

With progress in mining technology at a standstill, "the problem that the industry faces is really daunting when you look at the demand curve."

Short and a long

It was the short that caught the Grant's audience's fancy. "It is a poor steward of capital and a poor investor of capital. Its operating metrics are implausible and not a few of its assets dubious."

Next for Japan

"In the face of all-time high profits, there is record-high cash-hoarding. One must infer that Japanese corporations don't trust the future, or at least not the Japanese future."

South of the border

The stars are profitably aligned for U.S. investors in Latin America. "Local currencies are cheap, multiples are reasonable and corporate earnings have troughed."

For a monetary encore

Expectations run high for this pioneer in radical policy to do more – but what more can it do?

April 8, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 07

Driving the automo-bezzle

The automakers are selling more and more cars, or so they say. An inquiry into the meaning of the word "sell."

Least to beast

All bad things come to end, even for the former Worst Bank in the Entire World.

Dialing for dollars

At the end of a lease, what's left? Less than a certain capital-goods giant might be bargaining for.

Tax day uplift

A salute to the great Vivien Kellems.

Wide open spaces

A known Grant's pick not to click is living out the theory of interest rate-induced market distortions. Landlords, beware.

For 17 basis points

What, cash is trash? Re-evaluating the money-market value proposition.

Coulda' seen it coming

Financial calamities are obvious – in hindsight. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, please copy.

March 25, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 06

Inflation cheering section

The very people you’d suppose would oppose the monetary equivalent of breaking and entering are the ones who are cheering it on.

Sell Big Food

Americans may be buying the stocks. They are not – as they have done in the past – buying the products. The trouble is that crowds are

Taps for credit

While Draghi’s latest trick may be notched up as another resounding success, one wonders if Mario should be quite so eager to please the markets.

Investment value—“on”

Occupying a kind of parallel, Benjamin Graham universe, this bright light has figured out a way to buy assets during a bear market rather than having to sell them. A bullish reappraisal.

Business is hard

Our old flame became a bankrupt. Its road into Chapter 11 and its prospective road out again are the topics under discussion. Financial leverage, economic cycles, commodity prices, human foible and bad luck are the featured sub-topics.

Credit risk: “On”

Just how far has the sentiment swung? Speculative-grade debt is on fire.

March 11, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 05

A debt bell tinkles

A certain deep-subprime auto-loan securitization has run into trouble just four months after it came into the world. Casting about for someone or something to blame, we blame “liquidity.”

Borrow to plow

What looks like a tax-and commodity-price-induced bubble in tractors, combines, harvesters etc. is visibly deflating – visibly, so far, except to the stock market. The latest from Machinery Pete.

Chinese exceptionalism

On the topic of shareholder rights, America is an exceptional country. So is China.

For the un-meek

If something can’t go on forever, it won’t. Now under way is a bullish speculation on a bearish set of circumstances. Anticipating the joyous relief imparted by the lifting of bankruptcy fears.

Trade closed

The market having performed its revaluation, we lift our fatwa.

Not quite parity

Risk parity was the subject of a great debate that was scheduled to be held the day after Grant’s went to press. Herewith the text of your editor’s opening remarks.

Valeant's fine print

Reading the lines—and between the lines—of you-know-who’s debt covenants.

19 yuge basis points

It used to be said that 5% would pull money from the moon. One small fraction of 1% is pulling billions from banks. Monetary conditions have tightened, but not in the old familiar way.

February 26, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 04

Gyro Gearloose redux

The arc of monetary evolution is the subject at hand. A question for the dollar-holding subscribers of Grant’s: What’s really in your wallet?

Buildings are tortoises

Real estate will not be hurried. Contracted rents, like skyscrapers, tend to stay put. Now in progress is an analysis of the relationship among stationary buildings, mobile financial markets and reluctant lenders.

The Brexit contagion

Betting on the contagious nature of an event that hasn’t happened is what might be called a time-waster. Not so in the case of Britain’s mooted exit from the European Union.

Power of negativity

If bad debt can destroy a good currency, only imagine what bad debt can do to a bad currency. China and its wobbly renminbi are the subjects at hand.

Call in the safes

Does America need another monetary pick-me-up? The question is debatable. Still, the Fed is quietly dusting off its QE toolbox.

February 12, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 03

Next from the monetary kitchen

Negative nominal interest rates, helicopter money and the "cashless society" – like a play on tryout in New Haven, the ideas of the next phase of radical monetary control are getting a public airing before their Broadway debut.

Big sick puppy

Fears of Deutsche Bank AG's missing an interest payment on a contingent convertible security sent the bank's common-stock price skidding. Are Deutsche's problems idiosyncratic or systemic?

Canadian sunrise

For many a disappointed Canadian retail investor, "preferred" is more a term of derision than of description. We write to suggest that their loss is the contrarian's gain.

New default cycle

Fear, always a value accelerant, is back in the air and on the palms. Putting the "high" back into high yield.

Toward zero or less

Mortgage real-estate investment trusts are the topic, interest rates are the sub-topic and income – precious income – is the point of it all.

Outflows to themselves

China's cadres command that the People's Republic will grow by 6.5% in 2016. Say it were true. How much financing would that require and where would the money come from?

January 29, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 02

Mr. Market, the merciless

There is no such thing as a separate and distinct “U.S. economy.” There is rather the single dollarized and financialized and over-leveraged worldwide economy. Like it or not, we are all in this together—the Chinese communists, the European socialists, the Japanese statists and we the people.

Oil & Son

Parent and offshoot have something to offer, each in its own way. “The cure for low prices is low prices.”

Left hanging

The final sentence of the final article in the previous issue of Grant’s stopped just short of the period. Here it is, from beginning to end: “Let us not forget that Cowperthwaite was the architect of prosperity.”

Hope over evidence

In a bear market, two and two make three, at the most. To judge by the fancy, hope-inflated multiple of a certain U.S.-based multinational, this must be a bull market, still.

Hey, Canada, seriously?

Vancouver is taking radical – though, to American eyes, hardly unprecedented – steps to perk up flagging condominium sales. Check back next year for data on virtual defaults.

Trouble times leverage

Cause and effect, leverage and volatility, babies and bath water are the topics under discussion; junk bonds and leveraged loans (and the structures that house them) are the featured asset classes.

What’s in a name?

As a purveyor of e-cigarettes, Vapor Corp. has achieved the epiphany of joining share price with corporate name.

Virtual-reality interest rates

As Grant’s goes to press, the scholars of the FOMC were deep in cogitation. Some expect Chair Yellen to emulate Mario Draghi and implement negative interest rates. Would it be so implausible?

January 15, 2016, Vol. 34, No. 01

Jobs 1 and 2 for the new year

Top two items for the 2016 agenda: Free Lee Bo, the abducted Hong Kong bookseller! Unleash the constructive forces of arbitrage!

Black as coal

Nothing is better calculated to restore the profitability of a fallen industry than to cut off its access to credit. A bullish word for a desperately out-of-favor business.

2020 foresight

To judge by the long-range projections contained in the Jan. 11 press release disclosing the merger of Shire plc and Baxalta, Inc., the document was drafted by clairvoyants.

Neither fish nor fowl

A certain kind of hybrid security answers the needs of leveraged issuers and yield-starved investors alike. It offers incremental returns relative to senior bonds in the same capital structure. There must be something wrong with it.

That 1980s show

Falling grain prices, a rising dollar exchange rate, the softening market in farmland – anyone feel nostalgic yet? Paging Bob Dylan.

Hong Kong Speech

On Jan. 8, the editor of Grant’s addressed the BofAML Chief Investment Officers Conference in Hong Kong. A salute to the former British colony’s late financial secretary.

Hear Messrs. Train and Junk Bond

Dr. Copper has spoken. Heed, now, the macroeconomic soundings in rail traffic and corporate debt. Your move, Chair Yellen.

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