I see many pundits on CNBC commenting on Apple. I believe they are ALL wrong! To begin with, nearly all of them are coming up with revaluations after the fact - which is simply too late and lacks credibility. Second, Apple has some serious steps to take if it is to get back into the mobile computing race. David Einhorn's recommendation to return cash to shareholders (on the CNBC front page today) is not one of them. He's approaching this from a trader's perspective, and not from the perspective of a strategic long term investor. To date, Apple has outperformed nearly all hedge funds in the reinvestment of its cash. If Apple does the right thing, the  ability to replicate this performance by only 50% will whip the pants off of nearly every hedge fund, Einhorn's included. In addition, Apple is about to go through a depression style bout of margin compression that it will need cash to battle. I explained this to a group of entrepeneurs last year. Basically, Apple's $137B+ in cash is a call option on future opportunities and a put option on future mishaps. Einhorn is asking management to sell that call/put option straddle now, and forgo the ability to capitalize on future opportunities while running naked against margin compression at the same time that Apple's competition has surpassed it in technical ability (product/service wise) while Apple has shown ineptitude in competing in the cloud (see the maps fiasco), the next battle ground for the end user. This option sale will be had for the one time premium of a cash distribution. Wise, eh?

Does this mentality smack of the short term-ism indicative of a trader to you, or is it the mentality of the long term, innovative vision of Steve Jobs that got Apple where it is now? See the video below where I delve into this in detail...

Since I was practically the only one (at least that I know of) to accurately and timely call the turn on Apple BEFORE THE FACT, I would love to take this time to point out what it is that's wrong with Apple and what it would take for it to regain its shine. Just to illustrate this point, let's reminisce, shall we...

Let's contrast this to what I have espoused over a similar time frame...

Now, what do we have in sell sidevaudville today? CNBC reports Apple Heading Toward $200?: McLean. WTF???? What happen to $1,000????

Yes, I'm going after the sell side again. And I'll keep doing it. I'm a monster to the charlatan crew... A monster, I tell you...

Apple needs to start spending money, needs to spend wisely, needs to spend it in droves, and it needs to do ALL of this, NOW!!!! That is what Apple REALLY needs to do to compete with Google and enrich shareholders. Now, those shareholders with short term-ism will consider this Apple management burning cash in a desperate attempt to save the ship. These limited horizon guys will jump ship and drive the share price down. It is then that Apple will be a strong buy if, and only if, management succeeds in making leeway... Much in the same way that Google did in its acquisition spree that gave it some of its most valuable properties and multi-billion dollar franchises that literally run the web in their respective categories - to wit:

  • YouTube
  • Android
  • Google Voice
  • AdMob

For anyone who thinks this acquisition spree is a foolish endeavor, ask those who listened to the "short Google, long Apple" advice of the pros...

image001

Just as much (if not most, not withstanding the "Muppet Factor") of the Sell Side of Wall Street Doesn't Truly Understand Apple, many of them equally clueless regarding Google as well… Google has used it's call option of billions of dollars of cash and its cash producing cash cow business model of ad serving to literally buy value at discounted prices. Of course, those with short term vision can't see the value - just as fails to see a forest due to all of that tree bark in the way!!!

Google Final Report Sep 29 Page 53 copyGoogle Final Report Sep 29 Page 54As a reminder, I warned in plenty of time to both avoid loss and profit on the short and long side for each company involved in these mobile computing wars. As a matter of fact, three years ago, I laid out in detail the entire mobile computing war map - along with the prospects of the major competitors - Google, Apple, Research in Motion and Microsoft/Nokia, reference "The Mobile Computing Wars" series. How accurate were these predictions, predilections, and analyses?

Now, for all of you senstive types who may consider this bragging or boasting, it is far from such. As a matter of distinct fact, the contents of this entire post should have been glaringly obvious to anyone years ago who actively used and followed the products and services of the companies herein, and had even a rudimentary understanding of business valuation. You know, it's amazing how far an awareness of cognitive biases (Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All) and a mastery of second grade math () can get you on Wall Street.

The Sell Side analytical community and the (sheeple) investors which they serve is another matter though. Subscribers can download the data that shows the blatant game being played between Apple and the Sell Side here: File Icon Apple Earnings Guidance Analysis. Those who need to subscribe can do so here.

Below, I drilled down on the date and used a percentage difference view to illustrate the improvement in P/E stemming from the earnings beats.

Again, a master of the basics, the fundamentals, common sense and 2nd grade math can actually bring you tomorrows news yesterday! For those interested in the research behind these many calls, as well as many others, Subscribe to BoomBustBlog today!

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Published in BoomBustBlog

This is an update to our first three Facebook forensic analyses, two of which released before the actual Facebook IPO  (search the :downloads section for the first two documents). The updated valuation for Facebook (which has actually has an increase in terms of value now that we have more information to deal with) is available to download for all paying subscribers (FB Q4-2012 Analysis & Valuation Note - update with per share valuation). I'm available to discuss this with professional and institutional subscribers via phone or Google+. Click here to subscribe or upgrade.

As of the writing of this addendum, Facebook is trading at $31.10, not even a year after debuting at $38.This utter disappointment and gutting of the Muppets is exactly what our research has anticipated. Facebook has fell as low as $17.xx, and is now on the rebound towards its IPO price. Notwithstanding the massive capital losses suffered by those who bought into the over hyped IPO against my admonitions, or the losses suffered by those who bought in the Sell Side powered private offerings which was actually valued higher than the majority of trading time as a public company, the argument is being made that Facebook has finally got the mobile thing and can’t be valued using conventional metrics due to its status as a high growth company.

Wait a minute! Facebook as a high growth company is actually growing revenue SLOWER than its biggest and better capitalized competitor – Google! Considerably slower!  While it’s perfectly prudent for the management of a high growth company challenged for market share in a fast moving industry undergoing a paradigm shift, results must result from said efforts. Google is out Facebooking Facebook. Reference I Don't Think Facebook Investors Will "Like" This!!! Google Has Already Caught Up In Terms Of Active Users

In my previous warnings of Facebook euphoria, I brought up the topic of growth many times, particularly active user growth. Reference The World's First Phenomenally Forensic Facebook Analysis - This Is What You Need Before You Invest, Pt 1, while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago:

Thus, it is highly unlikely one can legitimately factor in the type of growth needed to justify the current Goldman $50B valuation - particularly when you consider that Facebook's growth is already slowing!

Well, let's see if I had a valid point now that we have clear and convincing historical evidence from which to base our analysis... (click any of these graphics to enlarge to print quality size)c

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Uh huh! Facebook is MOVING BACKWARDS! IT'S LOSING USERS! LOOK OUT BELOW!!!

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At this point, I can't help myself. I MUST point out the literal rippoff that Goldman Sachs pushed as a once in a life time investment a year and a half ago. As excerpted from Facebook Registers The WHOLE WORLD! Or At Least They Would Have To In Order To Justify Goldman's Pricing: Here's What $2 Billion Or So Worth Of Goldman HNW Clients Probably Wish They Read This Time Last Week! while remaining cognizant that this was written exactly 1 year ago:

Goldman warns, 'We’re probably going to dump this load, but we may also need you to remain behind to hold the bag!'

In its offer for the $1.5bn stock sale of privately held social-networking company Facebook,Goldman Sachs disclosed that it might sell or hedge its own $375m investment without warning clients. Under the deal, private wealth-management clients would be subject to “significant restrictions” limiting their ability to sell stakes while Goldman Sachs own holding can be sold or hedged at any time, and without warning. One would hope that astute clients and investors would be put on guard by such conflicting and restrictive liquidity measures! In addition, it appears as if Goldman Sachs failed to disclose its clients that it had offered Facebook shares to its internal investment group, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, headed by one of its star fund managers, Richard A. Friedman.

So, this begs the question, "Has the easy money already been made Facebook???" Well, let's take an empirical look now that we have some hard data to steer us throught that sell side fog, that very same fog that people pay me to clear.... (click to enlarge to printer size)

 thumb image005 copy copy

'Nuff Said!

I’m available to discuss this in detail with all professional and institutional subscribers via Google+, or phone.

Is It Now Common Knowledge That Goldman’s Investment Advice Sucks??? Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's official, the mainstream media has turned on those "doing God's work" and come to the side of BoomBustBlog.

I must admit, I was shocked when I first read this headline and saw the accompanying cover. After all, Bloomberg was the organization that published a story lavishing adulation upon a young Goldman analyst that had a 38% win rate throughout the credit crisis and (faux) recovery. I see those results as mediocre at best, and downright horrible from a realistic perspective. To make matters even worse, I believe I ran circles not only around that analyst, but the entire firm, see Did Reggie Middleton, a Blogger at BoomBustBlog, Best Wall Streets Best of the Best?

Published in BoomBustBlog

Rotten plus GreenAppleBertha Coombs of CNBC reports the NASDAQ Composite is down 21 points due to NFLX spiking up 38%, thereby adding 1.5 points to the composite. Meanwhile AAPL is dropping 10.7%, which subtracts 32 points from the composite. Where have you heard this iBubble warning before. Read BoomBustBlog: Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All or watch TV, right here http://youtu.be/Q3g__vy6Pmw?t=3m 

Here I explained that not only will Apple's share price collapse (called near the all time high), margins will collapse (call thus far executing like clockwork), lose significant market share (check), but an Apple fall will also compress the NASDAQ... iBubble.

Published in BoomBustBlog
Apple has reported, and rather than go through my usual analytic narrative, I've decided that I'll just post my Twitter stream from the last 30 minutes. For those that don't follow me, I have been practically a lone bear on Apple and finally publicly called for a short on their stock the week the iPhone 5 was released. That was about $700 per share. AAPL is trading after hours and after earnings at about $459 per share, or over 400% later in 3 month puts? Many sites had commentors, with ZH and Seeking Alpha in particular, spread no shortage of hate. Well, karma would have 100s of apologetic, "You were spot on" style apologies, correct? New comers to my writings should review "Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All" in detail. No further comment necessary...
 
Eric B 13 @13EricB

@ReggieMiddleton Genius calls on#AAPL for the last year and a half. Great Research!

 
Shane MacDougall @Tactical_Intel

@ReggieMiddleton You've been calling the Apple margin compression issue for a long time. Kudos.


  

Posted b4 4th #AAPL miss: Cost Shifting Your Way To Prominence: Google Wins - Apple, RIM & Microsoft Have ALREADY LOST! boombustblog.com/blog/item/6246…

Published in BoomBustBlog
The college endowment investment results have rolled in, and if Harvard were to get a grade for the year it would probably receive an "F" as reported by the NY Times:

"Harvard reported a 0.05 percent loss and a drop in its endowment of over $1 billion in the same period, even as a simple Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fund gained about 5.5 percent. Harvard’s endowment decline is more than the entire endowments of roughly 90 percent of all colleges and universities.

Ironically enough, if one were to calculate the ROI of a Harvard undergraduate diploma, the number is remarkably similar at about 0.05%. See the graph below...

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These returns have been calculated by our proprietary College/University ROI Analysis Engine. At the bottom of this post you can find a link to a simplified beta of this engine, which will be freely available to blog subscribers, and will be available via smart phone app and over the web as well.  This app has morphed into an incredibly comprehensive and capable piece of knowledge kit - so much so that it had to be materially simplified just to post a portion of it on the web! 

There are many concepts used in the model that may be new to the Sheeple type. For instance...

Economic Return on Investment (eROI)

Introducing a reality-based method of valuing an education - the "Economic Return on Investment". You see, unlike many  other investments, the education is  a completely hands on, active experience. You cannot simply dump money into a fund and walk away. You must manage it, and  your labor (or how the market actually values your labor) is actually part and parcel of the return on investment .

Thus, it would be highly unrealistic to exclude the economic cash flows stemming from your attempts to pay debt service (assuming debt was used) in calculating  ROI. Since said debt is truly full recourse, its service must be factored in, and as such so should all of the practical variables that affect said servicing. Think of the net return on stock investments.

Click to expand...

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This episode of the Keiser Report was one of the (if not the) most viral episodes ever. What was so interesting and controversial? A topic that damn sure hit home, that's what. Click here for the full episode.

When factoring in reality, many diplomas really don't look so appetizing considering the time, labor, effort, risk and expense in attaining them and fruitful employment related to the diploma afterward. Let's mark some top ivy league (remember, this is the so-called creme de la creme) diplomas to market, as well as the lowly disrespected for-profit online schools, trade schools and city universities. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention that I threw in an internship with a tech company for good measure. Let's add this quip in for the sake of argument (Yahoo Finance):

A few reports circulating this week have pointed to some fortunate Facebook software engineering interns who are set to bring home an average monthly salary of $6,225, according to Glassdoor.com, a careers site that provides data on salaries (based on employee generated content). That works out to a yearly salary of $74,700. For comparison, median household income from 2006 to 2010 was nearly $52,000, according to the latest Census data. (The average monthly pay for all Facebook interns, according to the site, is around $5,800.)

Jealous yet? There’s more. A few anonymous Facebook interns posted further details, with one second-year student saying he/she was offered $5,400 a month and a $1,000 housing stipend. Another computer science graduate student said they got $6,800 a month with a $1,000 housing stipend, negotiated up from $6,600. (Some Quora commenters noted intern salaries correspond to the number of years of college you’ve completed.) Facebook software engineers make an average of $111,452 a year, according to Glassdoor.

... So how do interns at the social-networking giant fare compared with their counterparts at other firms? Glassdoor released a report last month listing intern salaries at 20 top-rated companies (rated by current and former interns). Here are some highlights (figures are average monthly salary):

Software engineering intern, Google: $6,463 
Research intern, Microsoft: $6,746
Software development engineer intern, Microsoft: $5,539
Intern, Cisco: $4,017
Software development engineer intern, Amazon: $5,552
Graduate technical intern, Intel: $5,681
Intern, IBM: $3,935

As we know, majoring in computer science is a smart move. Finance and accounting offers lucrative job opportunities as well:

Tax intern, Ernst & Young: $4,136
Advisory intern, PricewaterhouseCoopers: $4,702
Audit intern, Deloitte: $3,822
Business analyst intern, Target: $2,785

Click to enlarge...

 thumb image034 

As you can see, a 2yr unpaid internship that yields a nominal salary growing at 3% per annum beats a levered ivy league diploma (salaries were sourced from the respective schools graduate statements and surveys). Debt can be a bitch, as can the time value of money and opportunity costs. For those who may not understand how this works, just think about starting school today with student loans and not breaking even until 2045 - that's right, the year 2045! Debt slaves - one and all!!!

Click to expand!!!

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Of course, the major that you are pursuing has an awful lot to do with the value of the diploma, as does the current business environment and the point in the economic cycle. We will explore that in detail in my next post on this topic.

The YouTube videos that I have made on this topic are also of interest. Check out the comments left for this illustrative video titled "The (Mis)Education Bubble 101".
  • I have been far more successful and far more diversified in my skill set with out a degree. Companies take my physical real world experience of 15 years in the technology sector over a long list of graduates every time.. In the past 10 years, I've been without work for about 2 weeks, and that was due to a longer job transition. I transition jobs about every 3yrs to further broaden my experience in developing areas of technology.. Working without a degree has made me more competitive.

  • 2001lextalionis 10 hours ago

    I think to a certain degree it is relatively easy to access debt for purposes of education.

    Conversely if one is operating under the assumption that I have 90K saved up because I didn't go to school is somewhat flawed. Most folks have little or no savings so the math comparison of school versus stocks/internship is somewhat lacking in my view.

    Comparing debt free internship with zero capital to invest v 200K BA yields a far more interesting decision matrix

  • What about these for-profit online institutions like the Apollo Group? The founders of these companies barely made it past high school, yet are responsible for leeching billions of dollars each year in the form of FAFSA loans (our tax dollars). They specifically target the single mother demographic, and will admit them without even having so much as a valid GED. Have you ever heard of Ashford University? They just lost there accreditation, and over 100,000 of their graduates still owe thousands

  • justjacqueline2004 8 hours ago

    This type of education cost a huge amount of time and even worse,you start out by not knowing what you don't know,particularly in the sciences.

  • Qomowale 12 hours ago

    the current "(mis)education system" is a racket & a joke! ppl, think outside the box & educate urselves as much as possible, 'cuz the system intends 2 enslave all of us. what passes as education is really indoctrination & fiscal slavery based on a wicked interest-driven, fractional pimp game. go Reggie Middleton & Max Keiser! good luck trying 2 wake up the sheeple.

  • mrzack888 12 hours ago

    that's limited. real education like Reggie Middleton described has hands on and has pragmatical real world value.

 Click here to access the early beta version of the BoomBustBlog College/University ROI Analysis Engine. The next post on this topic will go through the model in illustrous detail and present the next iterative version of the beta for all to play with, as well as instructions on how to get the most out of it. It will enable you to value any diploma from any school, complete with ROI, NPV of funds invested, and time to break-even. 
Published in BoomBustBlog

Maurice Greenberg, the ousted CEO, Chairman, and founder of AIG who remains a major investor in the company, filed suit in 2011 on behalf of fellow shareholders against the government. He has urged A.I.G. to enjoin which should pressure the government into settlement talks - that is if the powers that be don't start distending the law. NY Times Dealbook looks at it this way:

Should Mr. Greenberg snare a major settlement without A.I.G., the company could face additional lawsuits from other shareholders. Suing the government would not only placate the 87-year-old former chief, but would put A.I.G. in line for a potential payout.

Yet such a move would almost certainly be widely seen as an audacious display of ingratitude. The action would also threaten to inflame tensions in Washington, where the company has become a byword for excessive risk-taking on Wall Street.

Some government officials are already upset with the company for even seriously entertaining the lawsuit, people briefed on the matter said. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noted that without the bailout, A.I.G. shareholders would have fared far worse in bankruptcy.

“On the one hand, from a corporate governance perspective, it appears they’re being extra cautious and careful,” said Frank Partnoy, a former banker who is now a professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego School of Law. “On the other hand, it’s a slap in the face to the taxpayer and the government.”

AIG has every right and responsibility to sue the US for excessive interest payments on it's bailout! Yes, the company failed in execution. Yes, the company would have went bust if the government didn't rescue it. But that is besides the point. If the government wanted market forces to reign supreme they would have let AIG collapse. The fact is they didn't. The reason is because the government was bailing out the banks, namely the most politically connected publicly traded entity in the entire world. The Vampire Squid! Goldman Sachs! As excerpted from the NY Times:

At the end of the American International Group’s annual meeting last month, a shareholder approached the microphone with a question for Robert Benmosche, the insurer’s chief executive. “I’d like to know, what does A.I.G. plan to do with Goldman Sachs?” he asked. “Are you going to get — recoup — some of our money that was given to them?

As a condition of AIG's bailout, the government "insisted" on paying Goldman et. al. 100 cents on the dollar of its CDS written with AIG, something that wouldn't have been necessary if Goldman had prudently underwritten counterparty and credit risks that it was taking. Apparently, the US government believes that it didn't. In addition, it's somethng that wouldn't have been possible if the government didn't intervene on behalf of the banks, forcing the AIG shareholders to take a hit, but shielding the Goldman, et. al. shareholders. As my grandma used to tell me, what's good for the goose is good for the gander! It's not as if these credit/counterparty risks were invisible, I saw them as far back as early 2008 - reference I won't say I told you so, again. This page also happened to of shown the credit risk concentration of every bank granted a reprieve by the government after the fact. As a matter of fact, there's still more than a modicum of risk present, as clearly illustrated in...

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?  

Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To Be Ignored?

Welcome to part two of my series on Hunting the Squid, the overvaluation and under-appreciation of the risks that is Goldman Sachs. Since this highly analytical, but poignant diatribe covers a lot of material, it's imperative that those who have not done so review part 1 of this series, I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On The Spear Tip, Part...

 

Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With The Squid? Plenty!!!  

Hunting the Squid, part 4: So, What Else Can Go Wrong With Goldman Sachs? Plenty!

Yes, this more of the hardest hitting investment banking research available focusing on Goldman Sachs (the Squid), but before you go on, be sure you have read parts 1.2. and 3:  I'm Hunting Big Game Today:The Squid On A Spear Tip, Part 1 & Introduction Hunting the Squid, Part2: Since When Is Enough Derivative Exposure To Blow Up The World Something To...

Now, AIG's shareholders are being forced to finance the bailout of Goldman Sachs. To not combat that should open AIG management up to shareholder lawsuits, for they are not acting as a fiduciary of the shareholder capital if they let this slide. It's one thing to pay for the AIG bailout, but its another to pay for the Goldman bailout. In addition, this forced bailout that refused to force AIG creditors not to take haircuts runs counter to the ideology the government used when it forced the Chrysler's creditor's to take massive haircuts.

When the government began rescuing it from collapse in the fall of 2008 with what has become a $182 billion lifeline, A.I.G. was required to forfeit its right to sue several banks — including Goldman, Société GénéraleDeutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch — over any irregularities with most of the mortgage securities it insured in the precrisis years.

But after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s civil fraud suit filed in April against Goldman for possibly misrepresenting a mortgage deal to investors, A.I.G. executives and shareholders are asking whether A.I.G. may have been misled by Goldman into insuring mortgage deals that the bank and others may have known were flawed.

The anger here should be directed at Goldman, et. al., and not AIG. AIG's management is doing its job, something that our government officials failed to do in making Goldman, et. al. whole during the bailout. Can anyone say regulatory capture?  Goldman et. al.'s transgressions against its clients and counterparties in terms of misrepresentation and what appears to this lay person as outright fraud have been downright egregious, as clearly articulated in Goldman Sachs Executive Director Corroborates Reggie Middleton's Stance: Business Model Designed To Walk Over Clients, it's just that this time, the US taxpayer AND the AIG shareholders are the "Muppets"! The Abacus deal was particularly atrocious, Paulson, Abacus and Goldman Sachs Lawsuit. How about Morgan Stanley's CRE deals on behalf of their so-called clients? Wall Street Real Estate Funds Lose Between 61% to 98% for Their Investors as They Rake in Fees!

re_fund_returns.png

 If Goldman, et. al. were allowed to swim solely at the mercy of the free markets, it (they) would be sinking, Goldman Sachs Latest: Vindicates BoomBustBlog Research ...

... documents also indicate that regulators ignored recommendations from their own advisers to force the banks to accept losses on their A.I.G. deals and instead paid the banks in full for the contracts. That decision, say critics of the A.I.G. bailout, has cost taxpayers billions of extra dollars in payments to the banks. It also contrasts with the hard line the White House took in 2009 when it forced Chrysler’s lenders to take losses when the government bailed out the auto giant.

Regulatory capture! Banks simply lobby harder and pay more to the government than auto companies. How many auto company execs are embedded in government leadership seats worldwide?

As a Congressional commission convenes hearings Wednesday exploring the A.I.G. bailout and Goldman’s relationship with the insurer, analysts say that the documents suggest that regulators were overly punitive toward A.I.G. and overly forgiving of banks during the bailout — signified, they say, by the fact that the legal waiver undermined A.I.G. and its shareholders’ ability to recover damages.

“Even if it turns out that it would be a hard suit to win, just the gesture of requiring A.I.G. to scrap its ability to sue is outrageous,” said David Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “The defense may be that the banking system was in trouble, and we couldn’t afford to destabilize it anymore, but that just strikes me as really going overboard.”

“This really suggests they had myopia and they were looking at it entirely through the perspective of the banks,” Mr. Skeel said.

Nahh? It's called the Federal Reserve Bank, not the Federal Reserve Insurer, nor the Federal Reserve Taxpayer! Who the hell do you think they will back in a crunch?

About $46 billion of the taxpayer money in the A.I.G. bailout was used to pay to mortgage trading partners like Goldman and Société Générale, a French bank, to make good on their claims. The banks are not expected to return any of that money, leading the Congressional Research Service to say in March that much of the taxpayer money ultimately bailed out the banks, not A.I.G.

Of which the interest of about 50% of which should be refunded to AIG shareholders. Without the AIG bailout, these banks would have recieved ZILCH, NOTHING, NADA, Bull Sh1t!

Published in BoomBustBlog

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This is part two of a multi-part series on how I plan to profit from the impending Burst of the Education Bubble in the US.  If you are easily offended, mired in academia, closed minded, or simply bad at simple math and critical thinking, this is not the article for you. There, I've proffered fair warning ahead of time. Thus far, we've covered the precursor to the series,  How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery, and part 1 - How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble, pt 1 - A Bubble Bigger Than Subprime & More Dangerous Than Sovereign Debt!
I urge all to review those articles for the verbose nature of this topic lends to rampant cross referencing. 

A Basic Illustration Of How The Blind Pursuit Of A Debt Funded Diploma Can Lead To Personal & Intellectual Insolvency

In the previous installment of this series, I walked through the math that basically invalidates the pursuit of a 4 year degree for nearly everyone that needed to finance it through school loans at 6% or higher. The basis of this invalidation was the poor quality of the asset backing the loan, the degree itself. This installment will walk through the logic that dictates the quality of said asset, but before I delve into said diatribe, I want to illustrate for the non-finance types the relationship between assets and liabilities and the path to insolvency that ensues when you use debt to purchase inferior and/or depreciating assets - basically the crux behind the Asset securitization (subprime mortgage) and Pan-European sovereign debt crises.
In the article How Greece Killed Its Own Banks!, I illustrated the danger and folly of Greece forcing its banks to use leverage to purchase rapidly depreciating assets with fictitious (allegedly "risk free") value. 

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The same hypothetical leveraged positions expressed as a percentage gain or loss...

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Many do not think of their education as an actual investment, but if you put time (opportunity costs) and capital (actual tuition) into the pursuit of a diploma, it is a pure investment, plain and simple. As you can see from the charts above, the losses taken on investments that use leverage to purchase assets that depreciate in price can be severe. Yes, the student loan/education crisis has many similarities to the current maladies facing Greece and the EU. It is not just balance sheet insolvency I'm referring too, either. Greece has a severely impaired ability to service its debt which is why this purveyor of cash "know how" insisted that Greece would default 3 years ago as the "know that" community openly declared other wise: Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe”, Prodi Says – I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! and The Ugly Truth About The Greek Situation That'sToo Difficult Broadcast Through Mainstream Media. As a matter of fact, I even went so far as to predict that Greece would default again before finishing defaulting the first time around, This Time Is Different As Icarus Blows Up & Burns The Birds Along The Way - Greece Is About To Default AGAIN! The reason why is the exact same malady that afflicts those who use leverage to pursue "knowledge that" (see term descriptions and definitions below).

Despite extensive, self-defeating, harsh and punitive austerity measures that have combined with a lack of true economic stimulus, Greece has (to date) failed to achieve Primary Balance. For the non-economists in the audience, primary balance is the elimination of a primary deficit, yet the absence of a primary surplus, ex. the midpoint between deficit and surplus before taking into consideration interest payments.

Greece_Primary_balance

The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have. Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default!

Greece_Primary_deficit_copy

Part 1 of this series illustrated exactly how those who pursue levered "know that" can and likely will fall into the exact same structural insolvency by having their fixed expenses born from the pursuit of the diploma on a leveraged basis outstrip their income. Reference this excerpt from How To Profit From The Impending Bursting Of The Education Bubble, pt 1:

...assume a $40k per year tuition for a 4 year business management degree, purchased with money borrowed at 6% (from our dear government guaranteed lenders (SLM, et. al.), deferred for and average of 2 years. An oversimplified straight calculation puts you roughly $178,000 in debt upon graduation for a piece of paper that would fetch you roughly $43,000 per year. Reference ehow.com:

In July 2009, people who hold a bachelor's of science (BS) in business management averaged $39,551 during their first year of employment and $43,022 for the first one to four years. A professional with a BS in business management typically averaged $78,669 once they reached 20 years of employment.
Read more: Average Salaries for a Bachelor's Business Degree | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5240719_average-salaries-bachelor_s-business-degree.html#ixzz2Gw6sriN5

Real wages have likely dropped since then, but even using the nominal assumptions above you would have been driven into the hole when factoring in real life expenses of:

  • Taxes: Yes, you'd have to subtract local, state and federal taxes from said monies... At roughly 35% (bound to go up after we finish this cliff nonsense), we're now talking $27,964 average over four years. That puts you in the hole to the tune of roughly $12,035 per year you spent on that degree.
  • Living expenses: Food, shelter (rent), clothing, transportation. In a NYC, even assuming the much less expensive outer boroughs,

Combined, we're talking roughly $3,000 per month or so, assuming you won't take in roommates. If you do, you can drop that figure to about $2,500 per month. Using the lower bound of this assumption, you are underwater (structural deficit) to the tune of about $2,000 per year. Please keep in mind that primary balance calculations and structural deficits don't take into consideration interest payments (for the sake of comparison). The underwater comment does not take into consideration the actual paying back of your loan yet, either. 

So, on the fifth year following your freshman orientation, assuming you studied well, you would have laid out $176,000 facing annual debt service of about $12,000 or so - offset by a net income stream of roughly $28,000 to cover roughly $30,000 of living expenses. The negative $2,000 per year cash flow would result in a chart that is very, very similar to the Greek charts featured above.

So, why do these numbers look so bad? Well, the answer to that question lies in the value of the asset that knowledge seekers encumber themselves to acquire. The levered purchase of depreciating assets or assets with fictitiously high values is bound to lead to insolvency. Enter... 

The Topic Of Knowledge

Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something. That familiarity can include facts, information, descriptions, or skills acquired through education, which also includes experience. Knowledge refers to both the theoretical and practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject). I am here to sell implicit knowledge, better known to the old school as know how, or more formerly known as "Knowledge How"....

Knowledge that vs Knowledge How

In academia, the kind of knowledge usually proffered is propositional knowledge, more colloquially described as "knowledge that." "Knowledge that" or "know that" is distinct and should be discerned from "knowledge how" (know how). The best way to describe this concept is to use simple real life examples. In mathematics, it is commonly known that (hence knowledge that, or know that) 1 +1 = 2, but there is also knowing how to add the numbers one plus one together and understanding what their sum (two) is. 
In physics, we can take this concept even farther. It has been argued to by college age students of knowledge that (who are currently mired in academia) that a physics engineer cannot approach know how without being first well versed in know that. This is a mindset that is the result of today's modern academic group think.
This concept is also easily enough disproved by using a common example known to most of us, and that is riding a bicycle. The theoretical knowledge of the physics involved in maintaining a state of balance on a bicycle (knowledge that, or know that) cannot substitute for the practical knowledge of how to ride (knowledge how, or know how). The importance of understanding how to ride a bike is obvious, established and grounded - at least to those interested in bike riding. There is absolutely no prerequisite of having the theoretical knowledge of the physics involved in maintaining the state of balance of the bicycle to learn to ride the bicycle, nor to ride it proficiently, nor to pass this knowledge on to others. Thus, it is obvious and clear that an engineer does not need to be versed in "know that" to move on to "know how". Any failure to acknowledge the distinction between knowledge that and knowledge how can lead to vicious regresses.
 
 
In philosophy, an infinite regress in a series of propositions arises if the truth of proposition P1 requires the support of proposition P2, the truth of proposition P2 requires the support of proposition P3, ... , and the truth of proposition Pn-1 requires the support of proposition Pn and n approaches infinity. This is more commonly known as the circular argument, as explained in Greece Reports: "Circular Reasoning Works Because Circular Reasoning Works" - Or - Here Comes That Default!!!
 
A distinction must be made between infinite regresses that are truly "vicious" and those that are comparatively benign. A truly vicious regress is an attempt to solve a problem that by and large re-introduced the initial problem in the (or as the) proposed solution. Examples of this can be found in today's global Ponzi scheme of using more debt to solve the debt dilemma of Greece, thus the ease of my predicting serial re-default. This is not truly a practical (or doable) solution, and as one continues along these lines, the initial problem will recur infinitely and will never be solved. Not all regresses are vicious, however the truly circular argument is. This is the crux behind the article, "How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery" and the reason why the Pan-European sovereign debt crisis is nowhere near being solved (again reference  Greece Reports: "Circular Reasoning Works Because Circular Reasoning Works" - Or - Here Comes That Default!!!). Remember, failure to acknowledge the distinction between "know that" and "know how" leads to vicious regresses. With academia being a bastion of "know that" rooted in the rote memorization of facts and information bits, those well versed in know how can literally run circles around those immersed in said schools of thought once it comes to problems solving, value creation and getting things done (or undone) in the real world. 
 
It is the reason why the legion's of ivy league academics failed to foresee following while I clearly articulated the risks and consequences well beforehand: 
I have a rich history in seeing and benefiting from the things that the "know that" crowd cannot perceive. Reference Who is Reggie Middleton? for more about me.

What Is This Really About?

There is a very important and distinct difference between "knowing that" and "knowing how," with the crux of the distinction being the difference between this initiative and that vast swath of modern academia. "Know that" is a function of rote memorization of static information, passed down from the Prussian method of education implemented over 200 years ago and still common use today and "know how" is basically understanding of how to get things done...
"Know how" is what has separated the labor intensive low margin industries of the far east from the Intellectual Property rich industries found in the US, at least until now. After decades of toiling in an antiquated teaching system producing a legions of leveraged "know that" recipients who then seek "know how" in the work force (basically asking employers to pay to learn on the job what they should have learned from school) to pay off or compensate for hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition bills and debt, the US is finally paying the piper for its lackadaisical approach to real education. Asian companies such as Samsung are actually outperforming their sterling US counterparts such as Apple in both product capability, product quality and even market share. In order to stem this tide, true "know[ledge] how" must become - once again - the aim, goal and accomplishment of the education system, similar to the apprenticeships of old.
 
The basis of doing things and solving real world problems by thinking through them and value creation (making things) by applying a real, true skill. Academia is primarily interested in the first, Reggie Middleton is deeply ensconced in the latter.
 
The next installment will focus on a sampling of individual schools that peddle and push leveraged "know that" to the masses, ranging from the gleaming ivy league towers to the workshop tutoring courses down the street. This pandering of leveraged "know that" is to the dismay of all who relied on the so-called scholars from said schools to actually know what they were talking about in predicting crises, managing assets and conducting policy through said crises, and coming up with solutions for the same. I have already laid my "know[ledge] how" track record for all to see (reference Who is Reggie Middleton?) and it would be interesting to perform an apples to apples comparison to those purveyors of "leveraged know that" to see if this blogger cum entrepreneurial investor is on to something or not. I don't possess a masters degree, not to mention one from the ivy league, yet I feel I have run circles around many, if not the vast majority of those that have. You can view the data and judge for yourself - Did Reggie Middleton, a Blogger at BoomBustBlog, Best Wall Streets Best of the Best? It's not necessarily the raw intelligence, that has enabled this, but the ensconced approach to learning. 
 
I currently have my analysts working on explicit ROIs for degrees (both cash and levered) from the following schools: Harvard, Yale, Wharton, Princeton, NYU, Capella, University of Pheonix, DeVry, CUNY, SUNY with explicit comparisons to investing borrowed funds in the NASADAQ and S&P 500 over the same time period(s) and interning for free at various institutions who hire from said schools. This installment will also review the business models of said schools and the following installment will illustrate my answer to this mess.

In the mean time and in between time, subscribers can glean my view of one of the big private post secondary educators who is  having a problem with volatile earnings that are probably going to get worse.

file iconEducation Co. 1-3-2013

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What makes this truly ironic is that anyone who truly received a real business admin, management or finance education would be able to run these rudimentary calculations and thought processes themselves which would result in the invalidation of the actual degree to which they are seeking...

One of the most popular (although I feel not popular enough, considering the importance of the subject matter) articles of BoomBustBlog 2012 was my pieces on the near uselessness of the US education system - How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery. The accompanying graphic easily encapsulates a material portion of the piece, basically illustrating how the public school system serves as a mass indoctrination machine which has close to nothing in common with true education, knowledge dissemination, creativity or value creation. 

The post secondary and private school systems are simply continuations of the same, but worse yet, charge exorbitant fees for said injustice. Many poor victim either saves up a half lifetime of savings or worse yet goes into insolvency skirting debt to purchase a so-called education (which as described above is nothing of the sort) that is represented buy a piece of paper known as a diploma that is literally not worth the paper it is written on. 

For those who think that I'm exaggerating, assume a $40k per year tuition for a 4 year business management degree, purchased with money borrowed at 6% (from our dear government guaranteed lenders (SLM, et. al.), deferred for and average of 2 years. An oversimplified straight calculation puts you roughly $178,000 in debt upon graduation for a piece of paper that would fetch you roughly $43,000 per year. Reference ehow.com:

In July 2009, people who hold a bachelor's of science (BS) in business management averaged $39,551 during their first year of employment and $43,022 for the first one to four years. A professional with a BS in business management typically averaged $78,669 once they reached 20 years of employment.
Read more: Average Salaries for a Bachelor's Business Degree | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5240719_average-salaries-bachelor_s-business-degree.html#ixzz2Gw6sriN5

If I'm not mistaken, wages have dropped on a inflation adjusted basis since then, but I digress. Using the figures above you would have just about broken even over an 8 year period, save a few common sense facts.

  • Taxes: Yes, you'd have to subtract local, state and federal taxes from said monies... At roughly 35% (bound to go up after we finish this cliff nonsense), we're now talking $27,964 average over four years. That puts you in the hole to the tune of roughly $12,035 per year you spent on that degree.
  • Debt service: Oh, yeah! Since you borrowed the money you'd probably would have to pay it back, but since you also have to work and pay rent (you can forget a mortgage at these income levels) you'd be paying back the minimum levels and scraping to do so. You'd better hope and pray you don't live in Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn too!
  • Oppurtunity costs: Yes, you could have used those four years and $176,000 to do something else maybe a tad bit more productive.

So, on the fifth year following your freshman orientation, assuming you studies well, you would have laid out $176,000 facing annual debt service of about $12,000 or so - offset by a net income stream of roughly $28,000. The $16,000 per year positive cash flow (assuming you didn't need food, shelter, clothing, transportation or anything else) would give you about 12 years or so to pay off the debt and break even. I'm not even goint to run the math on the ROI, so let's just pick something outrageously generous like 8% (remember, this is over a 16 year period).

To wit, let's compare some other basic investments  - that is assuming someone besides your school and your lender actually consider your academic mis-education an actual investment.

The NASDAQ composite returned 98% over the last for years. Dumping the money in the NAZ comp would have brought you close to doubling it - although you would not have had access to all of the funds at once for a lump sum investment, a roughly 50% gain looks likely. Now, you would have gained 4 years of simplistic (as in index watching) experience as compared to your competitor's fancy schmancy 4 year degree, yet you would had nearly a quarter million in cash, as well as roughly $70,000 in equity while he would have had $173,000 in debt, interest payments due immediately and the hope of finding a job with which his trusty diploma would surely help him, right? If you had a small financial business, who would you hire? The fool or the entrepreneurial investor???

Suppose you Interned for free with Apple, Google or Facebook while simply leaving the monies in the bank at .25% interest? You would have had a superior education and only been in the hole for $16,000, as well as having $160,000 in cash to play with. How about starting your own business? Invested in commercial real estae? Scalping Greek bonds post bailout? You see, there are so very few who compare getting a diploma or getting a loan for a diploma with other investments because they are brainwashed to believe this is the way to get ahead in life. It is not! It's the way to get educator entities and banks ahead in life, as you become a debt slave. 

What makes this truly ironic is that anyone who truly received a real business admin, management or finance education would be able to run these rudimentary calculations and thought processes themselves which would result in the invalidation of the actual degree to which they are seeking, alas... I digress...

Why the student loan bubble is worse than the subprime bubble 

Zerohedge has run an interesting series of the student loan bubble in the recent past, hence I will not rehash what has already been done in such exquisite detail. For those who have not been following, this is the case in a nutshell...

Student loan delinquencies break the 20% mark as total student debt tops a trillion dollars, rivaling and likely surpassing the subprime debt debacle.

This is how the Fed described this "anomaly": 

Outstanding student loan debt now stands at $956 billion, an increase of $42 billion since last quarter.  However, of the $42 billion, $23 billion is new debt while the remaining $19 billion is attributed to previously defaulted student loans that have been updated on credit reports this quarter. As a result, the percent of student loan balances 90+ days delinquent increased to 11 percent this quarter.

oh and this from footnote 2: 

As explained in a Liberty Street Economics blog post, these delinquency rates for student loans are likely to understate actual delinquency rates because almost half of these loans are currently in deferment, in grace periods or in forbearance and therefore temporarily not in the repayment cycle. This implies that among loans in the repayment cycle delinquency rates are roughly twice as high.

And more from ZH:Over $120B in student loans currently in default. For private private  institutions lead the way with a 22% default rate.

Today's public school system diploma, post secondary diploma, and for the most part, many if not most graduate degrees and PhDs are a waste of good ink and (relatively) valuable paper. This paper is quite similar to the MBS and sovereign debt paper which I have written so presciently and accurately on over the last 6 years (see Asset securitization crisis and Pan-European Sovereign Debt Crisis). The crises from these essentially depreciating assets stemmed from the piling of excessive debt on top of assets with fictional value. Trust me, I can see these things clearly, as can anyone who takes an objective view. When have we had instances similar to this Student Loan Bubble (or Stubble)? When I made a small fortune shorting...

I can go on for a while (particularly on RE and sovereign debt), but I feel you've got the point. The pattern is inevitable. There is a  true business opportunity here, for many college graduates couldn't earn their way out of a wet paper bag, and many of those that could are squandered by toiling away in a system of derivatives of derivatives based upon synthetic products (think of mortgage CDO cubed traders) which are merely shadows of social constructs, versus the inception, design, production and sales of real, value creating, tangible (as well as intangible) assets, products and services.

My next article on this topic will show how I am positioning myself and others to capitalize on this education bubble burst on both the short side and the long side. In the mean time and in between time, subscribers can glean my view of one of the big private post secondary educators who is  having a problem with volatile earnings that are probably going to get worse.

file iconEducation Co. 1-3-2013

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Published in BoomBustBlog

Here are the most popular articles on BoomBustBlog over the last 364 days as we close out the 2012 year. As those who have been reading my work and following for the last 6 years know, I tend to call out trends early relative to the the pop pundits and sell side analysts. Unfortunately, these days, relatively early means before markets collapse or companies utterly dominate their industries.  Without further adieu... 

The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You...

image004

Last January, while oil price shocks, Israeli military tensions and beef with Iran dominated the headlines, I turned my focus on the single most overrated economy in the developed world - Germany! While not poised for utter collapse like you know who, many portfolios, bank balance sheets, insurance company actuarial analyses, etc. assumed this country can bailout out its own profligate banks, insolvent peripheral EU countries, and itself as its economy enters recession surrounded by trading partners who also are re-entering a recession (which they truly never left). To say the least, somebody is likely to be proven to be severely mistaken.

 

How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery

This is a lengthy, highly provocative article illustrating in explicit detail my thoughts on how America's inferior education system made the Great Recession not only a foregone conclusion of indoctrinated GroupThink, but prevents a true recovery from recovery due to the abject fear of price clearing. You may need to put your thinking caps on and exercise some patience and restraint with this one. I am going to follow it up with an explicit example of said groupthink by going against the conventional grain (yet again) and pointing out what many in the mainstream consider to be the most likely threat to economic prosperity in 2012 (and no, Iran is not even in the running on this one). I blame indoctrinated GroupThink for the inability of Wall Street to see the excessive coniferous expanse due to tree bark blindness! Until the next post, though...

The Ugly Truth About The Greek Situation That's Too Difficult Broadcast Through Mainstream Media

A clear example of how simple math on a web-based spreadsheet unequivocally demonstrated that Greece HAD TO DEFAULT in 2012, and said default was arithmetically obvious as far back as 2010! 6th grade math, made easy (for everybody outside of the EC!).

 

Trading Physical Gold: Is Gold In A Bubble?

 

gbi-_gold_bullion_international

This is the 4th installment (of 5) of my interview of the CEO of GBI (Gold Bullion International), a small firm located on Wall Street that allows investors (retail & institutional) to actually buy, sell, trade and store physical gold in the investor's own name. The previous installments (listed below) feature some very tough questions. BoomBustBlog interviews are not pushovers or advertisements. You must be able to hold your own.

Bernanke's Lying Through His Teeth and Not A Single Pundit/Analyst/Banker Has Called Him On It!!!

As the Fed Chairman continues to bedazzle them with the Bullsh1t, I point out a multitude of nonsensical statements culminating with the obvious, another concerted bank bailout at the expense of Joe Sixpack. The video (published shortly after the story was penned) tells the story with pictures instead of prose...

Apple's iPad Is Losing Market Share And Profit Margin As Apple Hits All Time High

Oh, this one may not have been the most well-liked, but it was damn sure well viewed. I literally had thousands of comments knocking the analysis until it proved absolutely correct, then all that can be heard was crickets.... Let's not forget the follow-up posts a quarter or so later...

 Right On Time, My Prediction Of Apple Margin Compression 8 Quarters From My CNBC Warning Landed Right On The Money!

Deconstructing The Most Hated Trade Of The Decade, The 375% BoomBustBlog Apple Call!! 

... and going into detail with Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made - Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All

appl copy

The Final Facebook Forensic IPO Analysis: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Illustrating the farce that was the most anticipated IPO in the history of the US equity markets, the Facebook story was told well in advance on BoomBustBlog, actually over a year in advance. I warned that this company's shares were drastically overpriced while it was still trading as a private company on websites over the Internet. Through all of the froth and broth brought out by the highest paid, high pressure salesmen in the world (sell side bankers), the stock IPO'd at $38, rose to forty something that day, then fell to just over $17, to settle at around $27 or so today. Here is the analysis, released in large part to the public.

Published in BoomBustBlog

I recently recieved this email and thought it may spark conversation if I posted it to the general site.

I had some general finance questions about CA's massive debt. 

I read that CA issued 55 billion in new debt in the 10-11 year, I'm assuming much of this new debt are CABs (capital appreciation bonds) as CA can't really spend a dime more on any new debt as we're not paying our existing debt. 

Who is buying this "unserviced" debt and are they taking a 20-30 year "call bet" on the assets and collecting NO interest?  
Or are investors & funds booking "fictional interest gains" from CA's unpaid debt? (later to be written off)

If the "investors" of CA's CAB debt are getting interest, from whom are they getting the interest?

And do the payers of that interest get preference in claims over the bond holders?  
Other CA debt, CALPERS & the City of San Bernardino seem to be rewriting federal bankruptcy law avoiding the inevitable (default) I don't think bond holders will ever get their money back (except from their insurer LOL)
Water district debt, are you following the Central Basin Water district scene in LA County? 
Some cities made some uncompensated water withdraws (over $100,000,000.00 worth) from the "community water bank" unlike fiat currency banks water banks can't "cook the books", if you don't keep the water bank's "minimum funding standards" with real water (as opposed to certificates of water) the aquifer gets ruined with saltwater forever.
Now the aquifer is low, needs refilling, and the people that drained it are broke.

And on that note, from two and a half years ago as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research released a study suggesting a more than $500 billion unfunded liability for California's three biggest pension funds—Calpers, Calstrs and the University of California Retirement System. The shortfall is about six times the size of this year's California state budget and seven times more than the outstanding voter-approved general obligations bonds. The pension funds responsible for the time bombs denounced the report. Calstrs CEO Jack Ehnes declared at a board meeting that "most people would give [this study] a letter grade of 'F' for quality" but "since it bears the brand of Stanford, it clearly ripples out there quite a bit." He called its assumptions "faulty," its research "shoddy" and its conclusions "political." Calpers chief Joseph Dear wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that the study is "fundamentally flawed" because it "uses a controversial method that is out of step with governmental accounting standards."

Now let's take a closer look at that.

The Stanford study uses what's called a "risk-free" 4.14% discount rate, which is tied to 10-year Treasury bonds. The Financial Accounting Standards Board requirescorporate pensions to use a risk-free rate, but the Government Accounting Standards Board allows public pension funds to discount pension liabilities at their expected rate of return, which the pension funds determine. Calstrs assumes a rate of return of 8%, Calpers 7.75% and the UC fund 7.5%. But the CEO of the global investment management firm BlackRock Inc., Laurence Fink, says Calpers would be lucky to earn 6% on its portfolio. A 5% return is more realistic

Two years later... CalSTRS posts 1.8% return on investment:

West Sacramento-based California State Teachers’ Retirement System reported a low return rate of 1.8 percent on Friday. The public pension plan was considerably below its assumed rate of return of 7.5 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to CalSTRS. In comparison, it ended the 2010-2011 fiscal year with a 23.1 percent investment return.

The three-year return is 12.0 percent. CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes said in a statement. He said that investments alone can’t return the pension fund to solid footing, and that the government needs to enact a plan to increase contributions. Christopher Ailman, CalSTRS chief investment officer, said the slowing economy has hit long-term investors such as the public pension fund through instability in Europe and slowing global growth. CalSTRS predicts a 0.3 percent of return over five years, 6.5 percent over 10 years and 7.5 percent over 20 years.

Feel free to comment freely below.

Published in BoomBustBlog