“The company could disappear,” said Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes, not exactly the kind of wondrous hype CEOs normally sputter to bamboozle people into plowing their money into the company’s stock. The end, after two decades of ingenious Wall-Street engineering, fee extraction, fanciful accounting, executive wisdom, and brilliant strategic thinking.
David Stockman lashes out at the LBO of Extended Stay, a scam that made Blackstone billions, and saddled taxpayers with the detritus. It’s perhaps the most brilliant explanation ever as to why the Fed bailouts of Wall Street were an asinine idea that benefited the “0.0001%” but hurt everyone else, including taxpayers and the main-street economy.
They’re getting hilarious, the shenanigans on Wall Street. Revenues have been lousy all year, and despite feverish cost cutting, earnings are sliding. The third quarter has been over for almost two weeks, but Q3 earnings estimates are still being pushed down. A lot! So that companies can “exceed expectations.” They’re now at stagnation levels. And stocks soar.
Alarm bells went off: “Yellen props stocks,” the headline read. Somebody needs to. Politicians are actively contemplating how to most effectively send the largest and brokest debtor in history into default. Corporate revenues can’t keep up with inflation. Earnings estimates and actual earnings growth plunge. And the S&P 500 soared 16% year to date.
Wachovia and other banks funded the $7.4 billion debt portion of the Extended Stay LBO, knowing the company was worth only $4.8 billion at the most. The loan was then rolled into structured finance securities – “designed to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse,” David Stockman writes – and stuffed into the Wall Street meth labs until the very end.
Wall Street is convinced the government shutdown won’t hurt unless it drags out too long. It’s even more convinced that Congress would never be crazy enough to refuse to raise the debt ceiling in time and send the mighty and sole superpower, biggest debtor of all times, into default. That risk hasn’t been priced in. But a majority of Republicans begs to differ.
“One of the hallmarks of financial manias is that propositions which are perfectly absurd nevertheless get widely embraced by those caught up in the excitement,” writes David Stockman – in this case, Blackstone’s LBO of Extended Stay Hotels, and its subsequent sale at a ridiculous three times replacement cost, funded by Citibank … a pre-packaged scam.
Why would anyone buy this crap? No, not the clothes in J.C. Penney’s stores – which practically no one is buying – but the shares it just sold. It desperately needed to raise capital because it’s bleeding cash and won’t be around much longer without lots of new cash to bleed. So it did. At a horrendous expense, overnight, to existing stockholders.
It could be an aberration. Or it could be the first visible crack in the insane leveraged buyout craze that has spread across the country: JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs could get hit with a loss of up to $156 million on the $780 million in junk debt they pledged to sell to fund the buyout of teen-fashion retailer rue21. With consequences for investors.
How much have Americans received of the nearly $3 trillion the Fed printed since the financial crisis? The recipients included JPMorgan, now negotiating to settle its various mortgage scams for $11 billion; it made $53.2 billion in profits over the last three years. American consumers weren’t so lucky. And Wal-Mart shoppers have been hit the hardest.