Budget

Musk to be investigated by SEC over tweets

F5258E32-BB7D-4C88-8983-84011F8CB8CB.png

CM has always thought that Elon Musk is the ultimate salesman. CM has also wrote that the biggest risk to being a short seller was then”cult” status of the company. On any rational investment grounds the stock is ridiculously priced but as the old adage goes, “the market can stay irrational longer than you can remain solvent!

Tesla is a car company that is worth more than GM, Ford & FiatChrysler combined. One that trades at 5x Daimler in valuation terms, a luxury competitor that is in the sweet spot of its product line up and rudely profitable.

Back in June, Musk bought $35mn worth of shares in Tesla. The whole idea that someone is willing to fork out $75bn on a whim seems somewhat implausible. Is it safe to assume that all of 100s of lawyers, bankers and brokers would need a little bit of time to prepare the necessary documentation to cement such a ridiculous sum? Or is money now just so free and easy that a billionaire deploys a vault full of cash loaded full of Zero Halliburtons into a private jet after a few phone calls?

SEC enforcement attorneys had already been gathering general information about Tesla’s public statements on manufacturing goals and sales targets. Now SEC attorneys are investigating whether his tweets about securing funding were factual.

CM is not accusing Musk of insider trading albeit as a matter of course the SEC should investigate when he knew about his mega financier. One wonders how it is that we know so little about the buyer, the term sheet, the question of shareholder approval and how “secure” it is? Taking it private will remove the lens of quarterly reporting but it doesn’t remove the fact of how dreadfully the company is run or how amateur production is. Even if public scrutiny is removed, the problems of profitability don’t disappear and the need for funds, credit ratings etc if he taps public markets for debt capital remain.

If Musk pulls it all off and the company becomes a roaring success then CM will gladly eat a whole humble pie and openly admit it was wrong.

As to the SEC investigation let’s hope it has learnt the lessons of its bumbling incompetency over Bernie Madoff and doesn’t miss anything that might be bleeding obvious.

Harley-Davidson Shinjuku declares bankruptcy after revenues fall 85%. Changes ownership.

6A5369EB-CFC1-4A40-9763-4F1675D5A702.jpeg

Yahoo Japan reports Harley-Davidson Shinjuku, a central Tokyo dealer for the motorcycle brand has gone out of business after almost 70 years in the trade.  Established in August 1953 before Harley Davidson Japan became the domestic agency, it ran a parallel imports business of the iconic brand. In the fiscal year ended July 1992, the annual turnover was estimated to be about 2,426 million yen. However, as the motorcycle market contracted, annual sales in the fiscal year ended July 2017 fell 85% to about 376 million yen. Even after closing the Yokohama, Hachioji stores, losses continued every year.

Debt is approximately 146 million yen as of the end of July 2017. “Harley Davidson Shinjuku” was closed on July 11.

It has since reopened under new ownership. Customers of the dealership have been informed of the ownership change according to HD Japan. Harley had peak sales of 16,000 units in Japan and is likely to do around 9,500 units in 2018.

Get consent from your infants you thoughtless parents

4D0294A4-6533-426B-BBD9-70463B9ECA44.jpeg

It shouldn’t surprise us with the left’s lunatic thinking that a child knows that it is responsible for soiling it’s own diaper. Of course only our national broadcaster, the ABC, would host such people on their programmes. Is it any wonder the ABC has had a budget freeze for the next three years. It should be heavily slashed given it wastes tax payers money on such inane stupidity. No wonder it’s viewership continues to decline.

We work with parents from birth… just about how to set up a culture of  consent in their home so, “I’m going to change your nappy now. Is that okay?” Of course the baby’s not going to respond, “Yes mum, that’s awesome. I’d love to have my nappy changed.” But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact, then you’re letting that child know that they’re responsible…”

You can find the ABC’s budget malaise here.

US military aircraft deaths up c.40% since 2013

D55E5AE0-0DD2-4EEE-89F5-92978CA4EEC0.jpeg

Of 5,500 aircraft accidents since 2013, almost 4,000 were generated by the military’s fleet of manned warplanes — bombers, fighters, cargo planes, refuelers, helicopters and tiltrotors. In 2013, those aircraft reported 656 accidents per year. By 2017, the rate had jumped to 909 per year, an increase of 39% according to Military Times. It’s doubled for the Navy and Marine Corps’ F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. 133 service members were killed in those fiscal year 2013-2017 mishaps.

The rise in military aircraft incidents and deaths has been tied in part of the massive congressional budget cuts of 2013. Since then, non-stop deployments of warplanes and crews, a vacuum in maintenance personnel and deep cuts to pilots’ flight-training hours have been factors.

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who led the Pentagon in 2013 when defence budget cuts were enforced, said, “We stopped training, for months…Of course, all of that affected readiness. It’s had an impact on every part of our defense enterprise…And that means, surely, accidents.

Wartime is the worst thing for defence budgets. 75% of a military budget is put toward wages, salaries, housing, education and healthcare. Then there is the operations and maintenance slice. This leaves little left over for the development and procurement side. Go to war and the easiest place to find cuts is to defer new purchases. The logistics of stationing 100,000 troops in a foreign country and maintaining tanks, feeding and housing them costs a fortune. So budget cuts lead to deferred servicing of equipment and lower preparedness. This data presented by the military comes as no surprise. The air force now leases aircraft on commercial terms to the defence contractors as a way to get new equipment and drop feed the payments.

Some interesting reading

D329AA2D-7174-405F-BF6B-B45BCC87BD28.jpeg

John Mauldin has put together a few interesting pieces over the weekend. Some of the select quotes from Thoughts from the frontline:

Money Velocity (which CM wrote about in 2016):

velocity of money, which is continuing to fall, as it has for almost 20 years…So it is somewhat disturbing to see velocity now at its lowest point since 1949, and at levels associated with the Great Depression.”

Income Disparity:

Note that it is the 95th percentile of workers that has received the bulk of the increase in wages. The bottom 50% is either down or basically flat since 1979. Even the 70th percentile didn’t do all that well.

Budget Deficits:

Over the last half-century, higher deficits have been associated with recessions. After recessions end, the deficit shrinks, and occasionally we get a surplus. That’s not happening this time. Deficits are growing even without a recession…but in the next recession tax revenues will fall, and spending will increase enough to not only swell the annual deficit but also to add north of $2 trillion to the national debt each year. We’re using up our breathing room, and that will be a problem – sooner or later.

Monetary Policy:

Ominously, you can see from Grant’s labels (In the above chart) with arrows that peak yields tended to correspond with crises. If the current breakout persists, it is probably going to get its own label, and I bet we won’t like it.

Nothing to see here?

 

$8.4 trillion of the $21 trillion in US debt matures in 4 years. What could possibly go wrong?

E0F20948-4A5A-48F1-B8AF-06FA92EBAC7AWith a US Fed openly stating it is looking to prune its bloated balance sheet by around $2 trillion, it seems that $8.4 trillion of that debt held by the public matures within the next 4 years according to the US Treasury. To that end, debt maturing in the next 10 years totals $12.233 trillion. It needs to be ‘rolled over’. The national debt pile has jumped $1 trillion in the last 6 months. After the GFC and an overly accommodative central bank, the Treasury took advantage of this free money. Under President Obama, the debt doubled. That’s right, debt in his 8 years equaled that of the previous 43 administrations combined. Most of it was short term meaning the mop up operation starts earlier.

While there is little doubt this $8.4 trillion will be recycled, the question is at what price. With rising rates and a Fed back-pedaling one would expect the interest bill can only lift. At the moment the US federal government pays around $457 billion p.a. in interest alone. Average interest rates rose for the first time since 2006. Were average rates to climb back to 2007 levels then the interest bill alone would surpass $1 trillion.

5B897135-CCA3-45AC-A616-E153427CA752.jpeg

This global aversion to tightening belts continues. Many US corporations have taken the same approach to their balance sheets as the government as pointed out in the previous example on GE. Lever up and be damned with the credit rating as the spreads have been almost irrelevant to higher rated paper. It has been a financially credible decision to lower WACC and increase ROE provided one didn’t lose control and overdose on free money. However the relatively short duration on corporate debt is facing a similar refinancing cliff as the US government.

All this cumulative debt needing refinancing while credit ratings are on average the worst they’ve ever been in a rising interest rate environment coupled with a bubble in bonds while a growing number of these levered consumer and industrial stocks have negative equity. What could possibly go wrong?

Do we see the Fed reverse its decision and embark on more QE? Indeed to do such a thing would tank the dollar and send the yen back towards the 70s to the US$. Interesting times ahead. Throw on the $7 trillion shortfall in state public pension liabilities and watch the fire from the other side of the river. Finally some university think tank has come out saying that wiping out the $1.5 trillion in student debt would be ‘stimulatory’ to the economy adding 1.5 million jobs. What a world we live in when we get to walk away from responsibility and accountability.

The $6.7 trillion US public pension black hole

4AB447BC-DAE8-4137-A62D-3D118C229F6C.jpeg

Zerohedge published this report today on the $1.2 trillion public pension black hole in America. Time to update the latest stats of a report CM wrote in August 2016 on the very same topic. Here is betting things have only got worse.  Taking California Public Employees Retirement Scheme (CalPERS). In 2014 market pension debt per household was $77,000. In 2016 it hit $122,000. In 2008 it was only $36,000. US Pension Tracker reports that the 2016 marked-to-market figure of the total US public pension deficit is $6.734 trillion vs actuarial basis of $1.467 trillion.