Wolf Richter

Trouble In Junk Bond Lala-Land

Private Equity firms have seen this coming for months. They’re positioning themselves for it. In April, Leon Black, CEO of Apollo Global Management, explained it this way to an incredulous world: “We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down.” Now they’re setting records – but someone will end up holding the bag.

NSA Pricked The “Cloud” Bubble For US Tech Companies

The cloud is a growth industry. And a religion in Silicon Valley: you’re better off with all your data and software stored in a data center somewhere on the planet. It’s a beacon of growth that revenue-challenged global tech giants like Oracle and IBM wave in the faces of antsy investors. But now, they’re going to pay a steep price for their cooperation with the NSA.

Room For Hope? Fourth Largest Industry In France: It’s “Never Been This Catastrophic”

An awful turn of events in France, just when everyone was hailing signs of a recovery, of which evidence has been trickling in, albeit mixed at best. If you held your tongue just right, you could see vague glimmers of hope. Then came the results from France’s fourth largest industry, hotels and restaurants (along with the idea that you can always raise taxes).

In Honor Of The Shivering Huddled Executives Of Bear Stearns

When Bear Stearns blew up in 2008, the New York Fed handed it to JP Morgan Chase – the beginning of a vast bailout corruption fest. Turns out, five years later, the execs who caused it to blow up have jobs on Wall Street that are more lucrative than ever. To honor these sordid details, Nick Stuart wrote a hilarious, cynical parody about the last days of Bear.

Even the CEO Of China’s Largest Appliance Manufacturer Gets Cold Feet

China’s property and infrastructure bubbles, nurtured by limitless borrowed money, are still swelling up beautifully. Service industries are also growing. But hot air has been hissing out of manufacturing. Now Zhang Ruimin, CEO of China’s largest appliance maker Haier Group, put his finger on the problem. And it doesn’t look good for manufacturing in China.

The Dark Side Of The Guys Who Run Japan Oozes To The Surface

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe skillfully used his miraculous economic salvation plan, a religion lovingly dubbed Abenomics, as a platform to catapult his party, the LDP, into power. With the LDP controlling both houses of parliament, real changes, after years of dickering, might now finally be possible.

Wall Street Engineers Newest Frankenstein’s Monster For Housing

Wall Street engineering is back in the housing market. Its newest product is one heck of a contraption, a synthetic structured security of the type that helped blow up the financial system back in 2008. It’s like those triple-A rated mortgage-backed securities that became toxic waste in your “money-market-equivalent” bond fund – only worse.

The Jobs Curse At Amazon (And Obama Stepped Into It)

Amazon’s promotion machine shifted into high gear to tout President Obama’s visit to one of its warehouses where he unveiled his “better bargain” for “middle class jobs.” The visit was artfully synced with Amazon’s announcement that it would create 7,000 jobs. Out of nothing. One of the ongoing lies in America’s jobs crisis – and Obama stepped right into it.

NSA Spying in Germany: Turning “A Parliamentary Democracy Into A Banana Republic”

“The largest espionage scandal in the 21st century is shaking Germany,” wrote Peer Steinbrück, the man who’s desperately trying to unseat one of the most popular German politicians, Chancellor Merkel. Massive anti-NSA protests spread across the country. Well, 1,000 demonstrators straggled through Frankfurt. It’s going to be tough for him.

The Exquisite Art Of Marketing To Pauperized Consumers

People in the upper income categories, those who don’t have to worry about the price of toilet paper, have seen their incomes rise over the years. The rest are in a downward spiral: median household income, adjusted for inflation, has dropped 7.8% since 2000. The lower end got hit the hardest. For these folks, tissue makers have a special strategy: desheeting.