Posted on July 17, 2014
Since the 1970s, many of us have feared the threat of inflation looming just around the corner. Within the past year, economists and central bankers have led us to believe the inflation dragon has been permanently relegated to a dark hole, never to rain fire on the kingdom of men. We’re told that deflation is the real threat and that governments can continually run large deficits without reawakening the dragon. Recently, reality has intervened, however, to remind us that economists and central bankers aren’t infallible. U. S. Core CPI and global consumer prices have taken a sharp turn upward.
While this rate of price increase will have profound implications for business owners if it continues, that’s a story for another day.
Categories: Andy Greenberg, Banking, Business Acquisition, Business Sale, Economic Growth, Economics, Federal Reserve, Focus Investment Banking, Focus Investment Banking LLC, Focus LLC, Inflation, Investment Banking, M&A, Mergers, Mergers and Acquisitions, Middle Market, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus
Tags: Tags: Business Financing, Business Owners, Business Ownership Transition, Business Sale, Business Survival, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Federal Reserve, Inflation, Money Supply, Private Equity, QE2, QE3, Quantitative Easing, Small business, Transition Planning
Permalink | | Comments Off on A Whiff of Inflation – M&A Valuations Lead the Way
Posted on May 8, 2013
The timing of this last leaving is raising questions. The latest major departure is Frank Bisignano, the co-chief operating officer. The questions are about the status of Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan, the “persistent executive turnover,” and the up-coming board meeting where a debate is raging about whether or not Mr. Dimon should hold both top positions.
To me, there are two reasons for the recent departure events. First, Mr. Dimon is in control and he does not like what has happened inside JPMorgan over the past two years or so, with “the London Whale” and other events that have tarnished the “bravo” image of Mr. Dimon and his bank. The activity going on inside the bank remind me of a “turnaround” operation!’
But, there is a second reason for the things that are going on. Mr. Dimon is moving JPMorgan into the future.
If this is true, then this whole effort is to move JPMorgan into the future in the face of the “hostile” regulatory environment that exists, in the face of the changes that information technology are forcing on the banking industry, and the changing nature of the financial industry.
If I were Mr. Dimon, my feeling would be that the current regulatory environment “sucks”!
Being John Mason, my feeing is that the current regulatory environment “sucks”!
In either case, the basic feeling is that I really don’t want to run a bank. I want to run something different.
Second, whatever is being done in the financial industry, the future of commercial banking…of finance … read the rest
Categories: Alternative Financing, Asset Based Loans, Bank Credit, Bank Loans, Banking, Banks, Commercial Loans, Community Banks, Derivatives, Economic Growth, Economics, Fiancial Regulation, Focus Investment Banking, Focus LLC, Industries, Inflation, Innovation, Investment Banking, John Mason on Banking, M2, M3, Monetary Policy, Revenue Based Loans, Shadow Banking, Tranche B Financing
Permalink | | Comments Off on Winds of Change: Banking
Posted on February 17, 2013
Authored by John Mason
“Bain & Company, the consultancy, forecasts a ‘superabundance of capital’ between now and 2020. In a recent report it argued that markets would be distorted by surpluses in Asian and Middle Eastern countries and private investment funds.
“It estimates that the world’s financial assets will outbalance its domestic product by ten to one – it will have $900 trillion of financial assets compared with $90 trillion of GDP – by 2020. The result will be a ‘world that is structurally awash in capital’ chasing few opportunities.
“‘Capital superabundance will increase the frequency, intensity, size and longevity of asset bubbles. The propensity for bubbles to form will be magnified as yield-hungry investors race to put capital into assets that show the potential to generate superior returns,’ the report concludes.”
These words from John Gapper appeared over the weekend in the Financial Times of London.
The signs of this possibility, according to Gapper, are two: first, the presence of lots and lots of cash on the balance sheets of corporations, hedge funds, and other financial interests; and second, the apparent movement in the buyout and acquisition market that reflects a growing belief among international investors that the US economy is stabilizing, the eurozone crisis has reached its final stages, and that elsewhere in the world economic recovery continues and capital flows are increasing. Apparently with these events, the desire to take on more risk has risen.
I have written for three years or so about the build up of cash on the balance sheets of corporations. Companies that never had issued long-term debt before took advantage of exceedingly low interest rates to increase their cache of money. The basic reasoning behind this buildup was that these financially sound firms would “make a killing” as the United States economy began to grow faster … read the rest
Categories: Banking, Business Acquisition, Business Sale, Economic Growth, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Federal Reserve, Financial Services, Inflation, John Mason on Banking, M&A, Mergers, Mergers and Acquisitions, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus, Shadow Banking
Permalink | | Comments Off on Will a Superabundance of Capital Lead to an M&A Boom?
Posted on February 9, 2013
Authored by John Mason
Things are changing in the financial markets. Financial institutions are starting to make money again in mortgages. Money market funds are “flush with cash.” Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) are staging a comeback.
And, now there is the $24 billion deal by Michael Dell to take his company private. The interpretation of this transaction that I am most interested in is the one being mentioned in almost all the stories coming out in the press: “This is the largest corporate privatization since the financial crisis and the largest tech buyout ever.”
I am not interested so much in whether or not Dell, Inc. (DELL) is eventually saved. What I am interested in is what is happening in finance. It appears as if money is being mobilized again.
Goodness knows, the Federal Reserve has done just about everything it can to push money out into the economy. Comedians have gotten serious about QE1 and QE2 and QE3 … and QEfinity!
It has only been in the past six months or so that there has been any evidence of funds creeping out of the commercial banking system into other parts of the economy. But now, evidence seems to be growing of money flowing into other parts of the economy. This latest transaction, the creation of a large buyout deal, with the growing possibility that others are thinking about more deals, or even mergers and acquisitions, is very encouraging.
Over the past couple of years, myself and others have wondered about all the cash being built up in the coffers of large corporations. It seemed as if these large organizations were piling up cash hoards in preparation for moving in on less well-off institutions and making deals while the getting was good and while interest … read the rest
Categories: Bank Credit, Bank Loans, Banks, Bonds, Business Acquisition, Business Sale, Commercial Loans, Community Banks, Derivatives, Economic Growth, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Euro, Federal Reserve, Fiancial Regulation, Inequality, Inflation, M&A, M3, Mergers, Mergers and Acquisitions, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus, Private Equity, Shadow Banking
Permalink | | Comments Off on Dell Deal: A Sign Of The Future?
Posted on September 25, 2012
“Republicans are heartless monsters who have no compassion for the victims of a financial crash they caused by manipulating Wall Street.”
“Democrats are committed to destroy the American system by redistributing the hard-earned products and services of America’s businesses to shiftless moochers.”
Wow, are we making progress in the current political debate!
Cyclical or Structural?
For economists the discussion revolves around a more civil discourse on whether the current high level of unemployment results from a severe cyclical downturn or from a structural change in the American economy. The Federal Reserve has forcefully adopted the cyclical downturn mantra, committing $500 billion per year to the assumption that, with more financial stimulus, the jobs will come back.
Buffalo Springfield’s insight from the 1960s is still valid:
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s going down
What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
A Big Bet With Millions of Human Poker Chips
We are in the process of making an enormous bet with the American economy. The risks are not trivial: inflation, deflation, financial and social collapse are just a few. Yet what if this bet is being made based upon a misunderstanding of the problem with which we are faced.
Steven Hansen recently produced a rather depressing chart showing that, despite a period of steady economic recovery, civilian employment in relation to population flatlined beginning in late 2009, after a very sharp drop from 63% to 58% during the financial crisis.
The Robot … read the rest
Permalink | | Comments Off on Why is 20 % of the American Workforce Unemployed?
Posted on August 23, 2012
Everyone loves small business.
At least that’s what the politicians want you to believe.
The reality is different. Small business is under attack from every quarter. Government policies favor large banks and large multinational businesses. Credit is tight and the banks favor the larger borrowers. Increased regulations stifle innovation and protect large incumbents that can afford teams of lawyers and lobbyists.
What’s the little guy to do? Waiting for the politicians to change the system is wishful thinking. Smart business people find ways to prosper in every environment.
And the current environment is not great for small firms. The Federal Reserve Senior Loan Officer survey has recently confirmed what we have suspected for some time: banks have been more generous in easing underwriting requirements for larger companies than they have been for smaller companies. Paynet, which maintains data on 17 million small business loans, reports that lending conditions for small firms have deteriorated in recent months after two years of bounce back from the 2009 bottom. For additional details go to the full article on Capital Matters.
Financial Market Risk
And there’s a risk that things could get a lot worse for businesses that don’t tie down their financing soon. We just published an article on Seeking Alpha that has received a great deal of attention with more than 14,400 page views so far. Our thesis is that the Fed’s zero interest rate policy has led to a situation where longer term treasury bonds are trading at yield levels that provide a spread to inflation far below the historical norms. Markets eventually return to their mean and often overshoot it so there is growing risk in the longer term debt market. Our concern is two-fold. First, that individual investors need to be aware of the potential impact of this return to the mean … read the rest
Categories: Alternative Financing, Asset Based Loans, Bank Credit, Bank Loans, Banking, Banks, Bonds, Business Acquisition, Business Sale, Commercial Loans, Community Banks, Derivatives, Economic Growth, Economic Stimulus, Entrepreneur, Federal Reserve, Financial Services, Inflation, M&A, Mergers, Mergers and Acquisitions, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus, Revenue Based Loans, Small Business, Ten Year Bond, Thirty Year Bond, Treasury Bonds, Two Year Bond
Tags: Tags: Asset Based Lenders, Asset Based Lending, Asset Based Loans, Bank Lending, Bank Loans, Banks, Business Acquisition, Business Financing, Business Owners, Business Sale, Community Banks, Derivatives, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Entrepreneurs, Federal Reserve, Inflation, M&A, Mergers, Money Supply, QE2, QE3, Quantitative Easing, Senior Debt, Small business, Treasury
Permalink | | Comments Off on August 2012 – The Future of Small Business Financing
Posted on August 18, 2012
Interest Rates Rise at 2652% Annualized Rate! That’s probably a headline you will not see in the Wall Street Journal and it’s certainly a bit over the top, but those are the facts. From July 18 to August 17, the interest rate on the two-year Treasury jumped from .22% to .29%. That’s a 32% one month increase and works out to an annual jump of 2652% if you compound the increase monthly. Just to be fair the ten-year rate “only” rose from 1.52% to 1.81% or about 19% over the same period. With the magic of compound interest that generates a far more benign 713% annualized rate rise.
If you haven’t already done the math, those growth rates would take you to a 43.8% annual interest rate on the two year a year from now and a 12.9% interest rate on the ten year at that point. Of course that is not going to happen. Most likely we’ve just seen a random fluctuation in an overbought market. The Fed has promised to keep interest rates low for an extended period after all.
We’ve been saying for some time that the seeds have been planted for a move into a period of stagflation comparable to what we saw from the mid-1960’s and the 1970’s. That move, which transformed the benign inflation of the 1950’s to a raging inferno by the end of the period, eventually took Treasury rates for the 10 year to unheard of levels of 15% by the end of the 1970’s. This resulted in a collapse of the bond market and the eventual failure of entire savings and loan industry in the United States in the 1980s.
The United States and most of the developed world have benefited tremendously over the past 30 years from a steady drop in long-term bond rates.… read the rest
Tags: Tags: 10 Year Bond, Bailout, Bank Lending, Bank Loans, Banks, Business Financing, Business Survival, Derivatives, Economic Crash, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Money Supply, QE2, QE3, Quantitative Easing, Senior Debt, Treasury, Treasury Bonds
Permalink | | Comments Off on A Swan Blacker Than The Darkest Night
Posted on August 10, 2012
If anyone doubts we are moving to more monetary accommodation, take a look at the excerpt below from last night’s U.S. Financial Data release from the St. Louis Fed. The lower right hand corner reflects the most recent trends.
In June, we posted an article indicating a seeming correlation between the trend in direction and magnitude of U.S. M2 growth and U.S. economic activity. The decline in the M2 growth rate has now turned, and is headed up again, as you can see below, but the turn is not as dramatic as the growth in the Monetary Base.
We’ve previously stated our concern that the U.S. could be heading into a period of rapidly increasing inflation, similar to that experienced in the early 1970s that led to many years of stagflation, only ending with Mr. Volcker’s monetary castor oil. We’ve got all the ingredients, including this summer’s rapid runup in commodity prices. The past twelve month the GDP price deflator has dropped from 2.4% to 1.9% on an annual basis, averaging a bit above the Fed’s 2% target. 2-3% is in the range where the 1970’s inflation began to take off. Yet, we’re in a period where many, if not most, observers have been talking recession and increased likelihood of deflation. Real inflation will come as a black swan for many, with significant implications for both fixed income and equity markets.
Could the current round of easing be the spark that finally ignites the inflationary flame? There are lots of reasons to suspect that’s possible. Calculated Risk just supported a growing belief that housing may finally be bottoming. Declining home prices have been a primary force that’s kept inflation in check for the past few years. Add to that a renewed commodity spiral, annual wage inflation in China hitting 13-15% and evidence that the … read the rest
Categories: Bank Credit, Bank Loans, Banking, Banks, Bonds, Derivatives, Economic Growth, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Federal Reserve, Financial Services, Inflation, M2, M3, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus, Ten Year Bond, Thirty Year Bond, Treasury Bonds, Two Year Bond
Permalink | | Comments Off on QE Anyone?
Posted on June 12, 2012
Back in 2008 we wrote that the U. S. was facing a serious credit squeeze in part because we had failed to take into account some important structural changes in the credit markets: i.e. the rapid growth and subsequent collapse of the Shadow Banking system. Since then the Fed and the Treasury have spent enormous resources addressing the impact of that collapse through the purchase of assets from financial institutions, the nationalization of Fannie and Freddie and numerous other actions to prop up the housing market in hopes of repairing shrunken balance sheets throughout the economy.
We may be suffering from a different, but equally portentous, issue today arising from another misreading of what the term money really means. In response to our recent article on Fed tightening since the fall of 2011, John Lounsbury, Managing Editor of econintersect.com, made a very astute observation:
You do not mention it in your article but is it possible that the Fed has not been taking a sufficiently global view and has insufficiently reacted to a recessing Europe and a rapidly slowing Asia? India just dropped to a GDP growth rate below anything seen during the Great Financial Crisis. The manufacturing numbers in China have been flirting with contraction for several months. If the Fed reacts to these factors after they have gained a solid foothold, doesn’t that likely increase the magnitude of the yo-yo swings?
The U.S. dollar is without question the world’s reserve currency and the current problems of the Euro have only served to cement that position. Given the global demand for $100 bills, in many parts of the globe the dollar is not only the reserve currency, but the defacto physical currency as well. Yet we continue to look at money as a national, or in the case of the Euro, regional … read the rest
Categories: Bailouts, Bank Credit, Bank Loans, Banking, Banks, Commercial Loans, Community Banks, Dollar, Economic Growth, Economic Stimulus, Economics, Euro, Federal Reserve, Financial Services, Globalization, Inflation, Investment Banking, M2, M3, Middle Market, Monetary Policy, Monetary Stimulus
Permalink | | Comments Off on Are We Measuring the Wrong Money Supply … Again?
Posted on June 6, 2012
Bill Clinton often gets credit for the insight that the economy would drive the 1992 election, leading him to victory over George Bush. Actually it’s his acerbic sidekick James Carville who deserves the credit for that famous one-liner “It’s the economy stupid”.
Without a doubt, the economy played a major role in President Obama’s victory in 2008 as well. Now we’re in another election year and there is universal agreement that the economy is likely to drive the outcome in 2012. While most commentators are focused on whether QE3 is in the cards, we have a different slant on the current downturn. We suspect that the Fed has, possibly inadvertently, played a major role in bringing about this contraction, just as it did in triggering the crash in 2008. We’re also concerned that election year political pressure, driven by the economic slowdown, will force the Fed into a response with serious long term inflationary implications.
I’m an unabashed monetarist. Over long cycles money supply growth or the lack of it drives both economic activity and price levels. I understand that this is a simplistic view, that the collapse of velocity has changed the meaning of money growth, that the increased investor appetite for liquidity has skewed the numbers, etc. Simplistic or not, changes in the rate of growth of the money supply often prove, after appropriate lags, to be a great predictor of the future course of the financial markets and, to a lesser extent, the economy. So what are they saying now with the election less than six months off?
Every week the St. Louis Fed publishes a twenty-four page pamphlet called U. S. Financial Data, which provides a great snapshot view of monetary trends. Preceding the fall 2008 financial crash, in spring 2008 the Fed had pumped significant liquidity in the system … read the rest
Permalink | | Comments Off on Did Fed Tightening Help Bring About The Current Market Downturn?