Bitcoin: Digital gold for troubled times

Bitcoin made another 10+% jump on Thursday to bounce off of $7,998.

While the news coming out during the day was good for the crypto with financial forms lining up to get behind bitcoin, there is more to the 30% price rebound over the last three days than what’s out there. Continue reading

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Bitcoin battles the Barbarians at the gate

What to make of the weekend carnage and recovery of bitcoin?

If I dare to make the comparison of bitcoin as the blue chip of cryptos, then I open myself up to criticism from the Initial Coin Offerings and block chain proponents. Continue reading

Used auto sales are getting the hook

Here’s one job that’s sure to be hiring, but you will not see it on the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for August.

It’s the Repo Man.

All those subprime auto loans for eight years, 0 percent down and no credit check, were not all that secure, but then again the car makers sold the vehicle and put the risk on someone’s’ books.

Much like the housing crisis, the finance companies making these risky loans securitized the loans and sold the bonds to investors, which are creating some cracks in the $1.2 trillion market for auto financing.

Investors starving for yield are grabbing these securities with two fists. In 2009, $2.5 billion of new subprime auto bonds were sold. In 2016, $26 billion exchanged hands, according to a Wells Fargo report.

However, the glut of vehicles arriving on the back of tow trucks onto lots has accelerated leading to a 4.1% price decline on used cars in August.

Also with so many cheaper cars on the lot that are only one or two years old, new car sales are hurting. July’s sales numbers were stunning when compares to the record number of 17.5 million cars sold in 2016.

General Motors reported a 15.4% sales decline in July compared to the same period a year ago, selling 226,107 cars and trucks. Ford Motor said sales slid 7.4% last month to 199,318 vehicles. Fiat Chrysler posted a 10% decline in July, selling 161,477 vehicles.

“So, what i can I do to put you in this beauty?”

“Not much obviously. Give me that one-page loan form, I’ll sign it and pick up the car tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be back in six months to pick up a different model.”

Does sound like another recipe for disaster.

Yesterday’s IPOs could be tomorrow’s take out rewards

This year’s tech IPOs have had a spectacularly awful performance. Snapchat and Blue Apron just can’t get out of their own way.

Snap is down 60% from its 52 week high in early March a day after the first trade. Blue Apron is off 55% from its early July highs.

Snap has the distinction of being downgraded by Morgan Stanley, which underwrote the offering.

Both these stocks but especially Snap are suffering from the Twitter effect. The micro-blogging site came up with metrics other than revenue to show their early growth. The engagement numbers of monthly users and now daily users show how people use the service, but if you can’t bank engagement, Wall Street will let you know it’s not ok.

So Twitter is down 77% from its all-time high Nov. 2015, which may be the level Snap and Blue Apron do not wish to attain.

So how far do these stocks have to go before they get a buy-out offer from the Silicon Valley heavyweights? I’m sure Amazon may be looking at Blue Apron, while Google could see Snap as a relaunch of its failed Google+.

The template for this is Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr or Facebook buying Instagram and basically making it the Snap for the masses.

So it’s the falling knife on these stocks, but there could be a big reward down the road.

Goldman may be running its own “Storage Wars”

How close are we to seeing Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein standing in front of storage unit telling perspective bidders, “You can just look in, don’t touch, don’t go in.”

That the mental image I have from a story moving Thursday morning of Goldman repossessing a 217-ft luxury yacht from a former (i assume) client down in Palm Beach, Fla., according to a WSJ.com story.

Goldman, Morgan Stanley and UBS wealth management units have been active in lending cash to their clients against some esoteric belongings, such as wine collections, art collections and equity portfolios.

These banks are pushing these loans for two very specific reasons. They have an existing relationship with the client and knows his asset holdings. The banks also keep more of the profits from these loans, since there are little broker fees or other charges against the loan.

Goldman’s private bank has quadrupled its overall lending balances since 2012 to $29 billion. Morgan Stanley wealth-loan balances are up 420% since 2012 to $74 billion, according to the article.

To get back to the yacht, the luxury boat is listed for $39.9 million, according to broker​. The outstanding balance of the loan owed to Goldman is roughly $28 million. So there is some wiggle room to haggle with Lloyd.