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Video: If you are still angry about the 2008 market collapse, then watch this trailer
Lifestyle
<p>Remember all those bankers that went to jail for launching one of the worst financial collapses of the last 100 years? Neither do we. If you feel the way we do about that then you will probably love the movie "The Big Short,"  based on the Michael Lewis bestseller. Get in line now to get tickets -- it opens on Christmas. What a present.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Get in the holiday spirit and shop at these desperate retail outlets
Capital Markets
<p>Forbes tallied up the publicly-traded stores with the worst same-store sales in the third quarter, with help from S&amp;P Capital IQ. So, go ahead, get in the holiday spirit and shop with the neediest.</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: Pete Bellis<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Here's how the S&P 500 historically performs during Thanksgiving week
Capital Markets
<p> The S&amp;P 500 typically has very low trading volume during Thanksgiving week.</p> <p> Despite the low volume, the market has averaged a 0.92 percent gain during the week over the last 15 years.<br /> The S&amp;P 500 is off to a slow start this Thanksgiving week.</p> <p>While many traders turn their attention from bulls and bears to turkeys this week, U.S. markets keep right on ticking. The NASDAQ and the NYSE close down completely on Thanksgiving and only operate until 1:00 p.m. Friday. However, traders that take the day off have historically missed some solid trading opportunities.<br /> Light Volume<br /> With 1.5 days less ...</p> <p>Full story available on Benzinga.com</p> <p>Photo: gigi_nyc</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Uber said to pick up Goldman Sachs bankers
Lifestyle
<p>This may be the moment we will look back and say: Wall Street is so over.</p> <p>Reuters is reporting exclusively that two mid-level Goldman Sachs bankers have hopped a one-way ride to Uber, the most valuable unicorn in the startup universe.</p> <p>Startups are luring talent from the top schools and have even nabbed some c-suite folks. Most notably, former Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat joined Alphabet, the company once known as Google. Porat is making more money -- but not necessarily the rank-and-file.</p> <p>According to Reuters, a vice president in banking might earn $500,000, including bonus, while a similar level worker at a startup would earn less than half -- about $200,000.</p> <p>But the $500,000 package doesn't come with a lottery ticket -- stock options. Goldman recently announced a kinder, gentler workplace to help with its recruiting efforts. But it's hard to compete with the cachet that goes with a startup promising popcorn, ping pong, and prosperity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Daily Scan: Chicago officials release police-shooting video; China’s Citic overstated derivatives business by $166 billion
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>November 25, 2015</p> <p>U.S. markets are little changed Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving. Tensions between NATO and Russia are rising after Turkey shot down a Russian plane near the Syrian border. Oil prices reversed about half of their gains from Tuesday as supply concerns re-emerged. And it's data dump Wednesday: Weekly jobless claims came in at 260,000, just under the 270,000 estimate. Durable good orders surprised, rising 3% in October after declines in August and September. October U.S. personal spending rose 0.1 percent and personal income rose 0.4 percent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>Chicago officials urge calm after police-shooting video released.  A city police officer was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting in 2014 of a black teenager, and hours later officials released a graphic video showing the white officer repeatedly firing at the 17-year-old. Wall Street Journal (paywall)</p> <p>Schools, some metro stations re-open in Brussels after four days of lock down. But the country remains in a state of high alert as terrorism threats remain. BBC</p> <p>China’s securities body uncovers $166B error on CITIC accounts. The country’s biggest broker had overstated its derivative business by $166 billion from April to September. Citic said the error was due to a system upgrade and has been corrected. BBC</p> <p>Calpers coughs up $3.4B in private equity fees. The largest U.S. pension fund revealed the payments -- which date back to 1990 -- as part of its most significant disclosure to date. Wall Street Journal (paywall)</p> <p>Europe shrugs off geopolitical tensions. European stocks are firm following a mostly soft Asia-Pacific session as traders shrug off heightened geopolitical tensions following the downing of a Russian jet fighter by Turkey. Financial Times (paywall)</p> <p>Militants storm India Kashmir army camp. An Indian soldier has been killed in a gun battle at an army camp in India-controlled Kashmir after three militants forced their way in. BBC</p> <p>Kim Jong Un sends top aide to re-education camp.  The North Korean leader has apparently removed one of his top aides from office and sent him to a rural farm for re-education, according to a report by South Korea’s spy agency. Nikkei</p> <p>Russian marine killed in pilot rescue bid. The soldier was killed during a helicopter mission to rescue the crew of a jet downed by Turkey near the Syrian border on Tuesday. He died when his helicopter came under fire from rebels in northern Syria, where the plane crashed. BBC</p> <p>Chinese consumer confidence rebounds. The Westpac MNI China Consumer Sentiment indicator clocked in at 113.1 for November. Its previous reading was 109.7, a record low for the indicator. Financial Times (paywall)<br /> You won’t believe this:<br /> Facebook name discrimination claim turns out to be hoax. A “Vietnamese Australian” who claimed on Facebook that he was being discriminated against because of his name – Phuc Dat Bich – has admitted it was a hoax after his post went viral. His mea culpa was signed… Joe Carr. The Guardian</p> <p>Naked Australian arrested for burger theft.  Police say a man from the town of Derby stole a Hungry Jack’s Whopper from a tradesman sitting in his car eating the burger -- which a friend had sent from 1,055 miles away. The sated thief then stripped off his clothes and walked away. Nobody knows why. BBC</p> <p>Photo: Puparrazi PhotographY</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Daily Scan: CITIC found to have overstated derivatives business by $166 billion
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>November 25, 2015</p> <p>Tensions between Turkey and Russia continued to weigh heavy on Asian shares Wednesday. Hong Kong’s main benchmark finished the session down 0.40%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index – a gauge of Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong – ended the day down 0.28%. Chinese stocks however still managed to put on gains with the Shanghai Composite climbing 0.88%. As for the rest:</p> <p> Shenzhen Composite: +1.89%<br /> Nikkei 225: -0.39%<br /> Straits Times Index: -0.95%</p> <p>Things are looking a whole lot better in Europe though. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 has climbed 0.71% ahead of the region’s Autumn Statement, while the German DAX and the French CAC jumped 0.22% and 0.32% respectively.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>China's securities body uncovers $166B error on CITIC accounts. The country's biggest broker had overstated its derivative business by $166 billion from April to September. Citic said the error was due to a system upgrade and has been corrected. BBC</p> <p>Militants storm India Kashmir army camp. An Indian soldier has been killed in a gun battle at an army camp in India-controlled Kashmir after three militants forced their way in. BBC</p> <p>Kim Jong Un sends top aide to re-education camp.  The North Korean leader has apparently removed one of his top aides from office and sent him to a rural farm for re-education, according to a report by South Korea's spy agency. Nikkei</p> <p>Russian marine killed in pilot rescue bid. The soldier was killed during a helicopter mission to rescue the crew of a jet downed by Turkey near the Syrian border on Tuesday. He died when his helicopter came under fire from rebels in northern Syria, where the plane crashed. BBC</p> <p>Turkey downs Russian-made SU-24; Putin issues warning. The warplane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets after repeated air space violation warnings. In a televised appearance, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the action would have “serious consequences for Russo-Turkish relations.” One of the pilots was shot and killed as he parachuted into Syrian territory and the other was captured by rebel forces. New York Times (paywall)</p> <p>Chinese consumer confidence rebounds. The Westpac MNI China Consumer Sentiment indicator clocked in at 113.1 for November. Its previous reading was 109.7, a record low for the indicator. Financial Times (paywall)</p> <p>China to re-organize People’s Liberation Army. The seven military commands will be consolidated into four “strategic zones.” The long-awaited change was announced at a meeting under the Central Military Commission. President Li Jinping was in attendance along with other senior military personnel. South China Morning Post</p> <p>Power Assets shareholders reject merger proposed by Hong Kong’s No. 1 deal maker. Both mom and pop and major shareholders said no to Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings merging with Power Assets Holdings, a deal that would have given Li Ka-shing access to a $8.75 billion treasure chest. Wall Street Journal (paywall)</p> <p>Alibaba’s Jack Ma in talks to buy South China Morning Post. There’s been a lot of re-shuffling at the top at the venerable English-language Hong Kong daily. This news adds worry to the independence for SCMP. Even Ma answers to a higher authority: Beijing. New York Times (paywall)</p> <p>Worst of all worlds for U.S. GDP revision. The second estimate for third quarter GDP was raised to 2.1% from 1.5% — but only because inventories were higher. Personal consumption was weaker. Second quarter GDP was 3.9%. WBP Online</p> <p>Aussie interest rates likely to remain unchanged. Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens told economists at a conference in Sydney that they are likely to hold steady at next Tuesday’s meeting. Sydney Herald<br /> You won’t believe this:<br /> Facebook name discrimination claim turns out to be hoax. A “Vietnamese Australian” who claimed on Facebook that he was being discriminated against because of his name - Phuc Dat Bich - has admitted it was a hoax after his po
The most undervalued investment markets in Asia
Asset Management
<p>[Editor’s note: This letter was penned by Tim Price, London-based wealth manager and frequent Sovereign Man contributor.]</p> <p>Seven years on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed.</p> <p>There is no longer a perception of panic. $14 trillion of central bank stimulus has seen to that.</p> <p>But at the same time, a predicament brought to crisis by too much borrowed money has been exacerbated by much more borrowed money: $57 trillion of it, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.</p> <p>Perhaps the most prescient commentator before the fall of Lehman Brothers was Tim Lee of piEconomics, who wrote the following back in November 2007, fully 10 months before the failure of a second-rate investment bank triggered a global credit crisis:<br /> “There is little doubt, to my mind, that we are now at a defining moment in financial history, a time that, once it has passed will be referred by economic and market historians in much the same way as the Wall Street Crash of 1929 or the credit and banking crisis of 1973-4 are now.</p> <p>“Unfortunately, as is becoming increasingly clear, this crisis is not really just about subprime mortgages. It is much more serious than that. It is the beginning of an inevitable realignment of credit and wealth with incomes and accumulated savings… subprime is merely the first part of the credit edifice to give way, rather than the whole story…”<br /> For seven years and counting, only one question has really mattered to investors: inflation, or deflation?</p> <p>Thus far, the answer seems to have been: inflation in financial assets, deflation or stagflation in pretty much everything else. It’s been difficult to get the macro right because central bankers have morphed from being referees in the game to being the key players, and with the ability to rewrite the rules, and continually move the goalposts, as the game plays out.</p> <p>The apparent dominance of central bankers over the free market should be of concern to anyone who expects the free market, at some point, to return with a vengeance.</p> <p>This week’s ‘Economist’ magazine points out that the average US state or local government pension fund assumes it will earn a nominal annual return of 7.7%, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.</p> <p>Good luck to them. According to AQR, projected nominal returns on a typical American portfolio, given prevailing valuations in the stock and bond markets, are closer to 2%.</p> <p>But a larger problem is that investors, whether professional or private, have a tendency to succumb to home country bias. If you’re British you invest in Britain. If you’re American you invest in American.</p> <p>This problem will likely come back to haunt American investors because their home market is one of the more glaringly expensive.</p> <p>Robert Shiller’s cyclically adjusted P/E ratio for the US market stands at 26.4. Given that its long term mean stands at 16.6, that would tend to suggest that US stocks are trading at a roughly 60% premium to fair value.</p> <p>US interest rates are widely expected to rise next month. Not by much, but any kind of rise may mark the end of a three-decade secular bull market in rates.</p> <p>That has implications for all financial assets. And sceptics will have noticed two recent trends: a growing number of profits warnings on the part of large cap businesses internationally;</p> <p>and a growing tendency for US companies to ‘engineer’ better returns for their senior executives shareholders simply by buying back their stock at egregiously expensive levels.</p> <p>Stock buybacks conducted at a discount to book are value-enhancing. Buybacks conducted at whopping premiums to book, on the other hand, destroy shareholder value.</p> <p>If the US stock market looks dangerously overpriced, where should equity investors be looking?</p> <p>We think the answer is: in Asia, and more specifically in the likes of Japan, Korea and Vietnam.</p> <p>The shareholder return ratio in Japan, for example, stands at
London Stock Exchange Group launches social media platform for investors
FinTech
<p>ELITE Connect, the new social digital platform for investors and companies, was launched Monday. Developed by the London Stock Exchange, the service aims to simplify investor relations, reports FinBuzz.</p> <p>The social and professional network offers efficient corporate access between companies and investors.</p> <p>Features include a profile page, investor search, events calendar, and a digital ‘meeting room’ to hold conference calls or share documents. This is the product’s full-fledged launch after a 6-month beta period earlier this year.</p> <p>The program caters to investor relations professionals and is specially designed for public companies, stakeholders, brokerage and advisory firms, as well as institutional investors.</p> <p>“We know that approximately 90 per cent of listed companies travel the world to meet asset management firms and spend up to one month a year meeting face-to-face. ELITE Connect will help make investor relations more efficient, more international, and more valuable for all parties,” the press release said.</p> <p>Members have a database of investor information at your fingertips, as well as the means to reach out and communicate with investors and companies. Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange have already been given automatic access and dedicated profiles, whereas others can register on the website.</p> <p>Comments from the LSEG press release:</p> <p>Xavier Rolet, CEO, LSEG, said:<br /> “For over 200 years, we have been grounded in an unshakeable commitment to building markets based on transparency and trust. Now that new technologies are fundamentally impacting the way people interact and communicate, London Stock Exchange Group is offering a new solution that allows financial market participants to be the first movers in a rapidly changing environment.”</p> <p>Raffaele Jerusalmi, CEO, Borsa Italiana, Director of Capital Markets, LSEG, said:<br /> “We think there is a tremendous opportunity for a modern, digital approach to Investor Relations which offers companies, investors and intermediaries greater opportunities to engage and enhance visibility in a cost effective manner. After positive feedback during beta testing, we are excited to see how all users will adapt and shape ELITE Connect to their needs.</p> <p>“Participants understand the power of ELITE Connect. It has the ability to unite people across the globe, making investor relations more efficient, more international and more valuable for all parties.”</p> <p>Harriett Baldwin MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:<br /> “Digital initiatives like ELITE Connect are an innovative way of helping companies grow through greater and more efficient contact with investors. The UK is a world leader in FinTech and harnessing the power of technology to connect companies and finance is crucial to boosting productivity and economic growth. I’m delighted to see London Stock Exchange Group is bringing together the global business and investment community to give companies more tools to access new opportunities across the globe so they can innovate, grow and create jobs.”</p> <p>Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, ENEL SpA said:<br /> “Elite Connect is a great example of how to leverage on technological innovation to reach new frontiers of engagement, opening new business opportunities, reaching new investors across all geographies and creating connections in a fast and efficient way. This is well aligned with Enel Group’s overall digitalization strategy.”</p> <p>Alex Bolis, Head of Investor Relations, Telecom Italia said:<br /> “The progress of technology is tangible among our customers as well as our investors. A pan-European platform is a good way of fostering growth and providing services to a qualified business community.”</p> <p>John Gollifer, General Manager, IR Society said:<br /> “In many ways, the use of digital investor communications is creating a more level playing field by enabling companies to extend their reach to existing and new target audiences, while at the same time potentiall
Are bank-backed fintech accelerators really innovating?
FinTech
Everyone is jumping on the fintech bandwagon and none more so than the big banks. Desperate to be seen as staying ahead of the curve, more financial institutions are launching their own fintech startup accelerators, but not always for the right reasons. During a panel discussion at the payments-themed Fintech O-2-O meetup in Hong Kong’s Cyberport on Tuesday, industry participants
BRICs, PITs, and PIGS: go ugly
Asset Management
<p>In my research and investing I stress three things: people, structure and value.  I look for companies that are controlled and managed by quality people, have corporate structures that align minority and majority shareholder interests and trade at valuations that are below fair value if not outright cheap.</p> <p>This blog is mostly about valuation and yet another example of how investing in beaten down, unpopular and ugly markets can lead to better returns.</p> <p>Usually valuations are low in markets that are not very attractive.  But who knows when the news can get even worse? Uncertainty and negative news flow keep most of us out of markets just when we should be buying.</p> <p>And it can take even greater will power to stay invested when nobody around you sees your point of view, friends and peers are calling you crazy, and well-educated, respected and slick investment bank analysts and traders are negative.<br /> It is psychologically easier to invest in markets when there is a lot of good news and the future looks very bright. The problem is that these markets tend to be expensive and future returns tend not to be as good.</p> <p>To contrast these two points let’s look at two acronyms that surfaced about the same time.</p> <p>BRIC stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China. The acronym is attributed to Jim O’Neill in a paper he wrote for Goldman Sachs in November 2001 (found here). In it he argued that these four countries should be included in high-level government groupings such as the “G7” because their size and growth would make them increasingly influential.</p> <p>The acronym came out not long after the tech crash. Wall Street was ripe for a new story and over the next few years the term became more popular. Goldman Sachs and many others launched BRIC funds and ETFs. There are now over 200 of them according to a very expensive database.</p> <p>The term took on a life of its own.  Leaders of the four appear to like the grouping. Just a few months ago they and South Africa formally launched the BRICS Development Bank (link here).</p> <p>About the same time BRICs was coined, traders and analysts who survived the late 1990s Asian financial crisis were referring to the ASEAN countries as PITs. The term stood for Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.  These were three of the hardest hit economies and markets. Unlike BRICs I don’t think anybody has come forward to claim responsibility for it. Calling your home market a degrading term soon after clients lost money would not likely make one popular.</p> <p>Investing in the four BRIC countries when the phrase was coined until now would have generated decent returns. The four countries’ headline indexes are up an average of 302% since late 2001 for a CAGR of 10.5% (this and other return figures in this article are based on the average return of each country’s headline index, in USD, dividends not included).</p> <p>In contrast, and despite the acronym’s negative connotation, one would have done considerably better by investing in the three PITs markets. An equally weighted investment in the three grew by 675% over the same time period, which means the PITs investor would have made more than double the money of the BRIC investor. Even the worst PIT outperformed the best BRIC. Thailand, the worst performing PITs country, rose by 629%, a bit more than India, the best performing BRIC country, which increased by 611% from November 2001 to November 2015.</p> <p>In addition to being weary of investment fads, investors should also be skeptical of what the big banks are pushing. In July 2006 Goldman Sachs launched its BRIC fund. From launch to close, the fund’s performance was just under 20%.  Over the same time period the three PITs indexes increased on average by 157%, meaning that one would have made almost eight times more money by investing in the markets that were unloved rather than the ones that the big banks were marketing.</p> <p>Are PIGS Today’s PITs? </p> <p>PIGS stands for Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain. These are some the world’s worst performing economies a