Tag Archives: Banks

Chinese Stop Paying Mortgages as Real Estate Crisis Spreads

Chinese homebuyers are refusing to pay their mortgages in a boycott that’s spreading across the country. Many fear the homes they’re paying for will never be finished.

Now, suppliers to builders are also defaulting on loans.


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From ABC News Australia:

A fast-growing mortgage boycott across dozens of cities in China has prompted some property suppliers to cease their bank loan repayments, raising fears the escalating situation could trigger a further downward spiral in the sector and even threaten the country’s financial stability. 

Hundreds of landscapers, sculpture-makers and construction companies have expressed their anger that they have been bled dry because some debt-saddled developers did not pay their bills while they continued to service or help build apartments, Chinese media Caixin reported.


Chinese usually buy homes and start making payments before they’re complete.

The boycott has spread to 90 cities in mere weeks.

The Chinese government is censoring reports on the boycott, per Bloomberg. So the situation inside China may be even worse than reported.

A real estate meltdown is a catastrophe for the average Chinese saver. Chinese put 70% of their wealth in real estate, compared to 35% in the US.

The property sector accounts for about 25% of GDP. China’s GDP growth has flatlined as the sector sputters.

And it gets worse. Chinese banks have lent huge sums to property developers.

As developers default, bank runs are spreading across China. Government thugs have beaten protesters desperately trying to recover their life’s savings.

Amid a bleak economy and constant COVID lockdowns, workers are struggling. Youth unemployment has spiked, hitting over 19% last month.

Consider the picture for the average Chinese person: most of your savings are tied up in an apartment that will never be completed, the rest is in a bank that’s insolvent, and your only child can’t find work.

Revolution might start to sound good.

In the US, we know that a property crisis fueled by heavy debt can spread quickly. Huge liabilities pop up at different institutions unpredictably.

This undermines confidence in the entire financial system. When that happens, you get a financial crisis.

That’s what China is facing today.

At stake is the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. Officials have staked their power on offering ever-increasing living standards.

Those days may be over.

I can only hope that Chinese citizens prevail and oust a government that has brutalized them for generations.

More on China:

Mass Protests in China as Bank Runs Continue

Will Evergrande Spark a Global Financial Crisis?

China Is Killing its Tech Industry

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Misfits Market

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Photo: Unfinished Chinese apartment buildings being demolished in Kunming, China

Wall Street Banks Turn on Each Other as Federal Probe Looms

Morgan Stanley has been under federal investigation since February. Now, banks are turning on each other and unidentified sources are leaking information.

From a report that broke overnight in the Financial Times:

…according to reports, two of Morgan Stanley’s competitors, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, have gone so far as to alert the US Attorney’s office and the Hong Kong regulator SFC, respectively, about “potential issues” around block trades executed by Morgan Stanley.


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The SEC and DOJ are investigating Morgan Stanley’s stock trading business.

Morgan frequently handles large “block trades” for institutional investors. There are allegations that it may have tipped off hedge funds to big sales that could move markets.

This would allow hedge funds to short the stock before the big block of shares is sold. Such a trade could offer quick, easy profits.

Why would Morgan do this? Because hedge funds are among the bank’s best clients.

Hedge funds have “prime brokerage” arrangements with big Wall Street banks like Morgan. Those trading accounts mean lots of juicy fees for the bank.

Let’s say you want to get or keep a lucrative customer. You might be tempted to give them valuable information, even if it’s illegal.

Nothing has been proven against Morgan yet. It’s possible that they were just conducting big trades in a straightforward and honest way.

But watching these big banks turn on each other gives me pause. I have rarely seen major banks reporting each other to regulators, as Goldman and Credit Suisse did with Morgan.

What’s more, Morgan has suspended some of its block trading staff. Why would they do that if they had done nothing wrong?

But it’s not just the big banks that are talking. Unidentified whistleblowers are also offering up information on possible wrongdoing at Morgan:

This noise goes well beyond the normal thrust-and-parry of a hyper-competitive business. Visceral grudges and grievances underlie these complaints; the Feds are on the case; unidentified people “close to the investigation” are briefing the media and naming names; and careers, livelihoods and reputations hang in the balance.

Perhaps it’s all a big misunderstanding. But my gut tells me where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Do you think Morgan and other big banks help hedge funds front run trades? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

More on markets:

AMC Fails to Deliver Pass 2.6 Million in New Report

New Law Could Put Big Short Sellers on the Endangered Species List

Bill Ackman Loses $4.8 Billion

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

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If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Photo: “Morgan Stanley Headquarters” by Alex E. Proimos is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Mass Protests in China as Bank Runs Continue

Major news out of China as over 1,000 protestors in Zhengzhou demanded their savings back:


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There are runs on several Chinese banks. The depositors, desperate not to lose their life’s savings, are taking great risk to speak out.

From the Indian Express:

In a rare large protest in China, over one thousand angry bank depositors, who have been protesting for access to their frozen funds, faced off with the police in Henan province leading to a violent clampdown Sunday.

Depositors of four rural banks in this central province have not been able to withdraw their funds since April. Sporadic protests have been going on since May.

Many smaller Chinese banks promised high interest rates to attract deposits. They advertised those rates on platforms run by Chinese tech giants like Baidu and JD.

Now, these small banks are finding themselves unable to pay those high rates. Worse yet, some banks have been infiltrated by criminals who are siphoning money out:

In the present case it is being alleged that these banks attracted deposits by offering attractive terms and high interest rates. A report in the South China Morning Post in May said that while Bank of China offers 2.75% a year interest on five-year deposits, the found banks in question were giving around 4.5% a year on their deposit products through third-party platforms.

Also, a statement by the Henan police on July 10 said that a criminal group had gradually taken control of several rural banks and was moving out funds.

Behind the peril facing Chinese banks is a weak economy. Intense COVID lockdowns this year have hammered economic activity.

An overheated property market is also crumbling. This has triggered defaults at major property developers, including Evergrande.

Something interesting happens when people see depositors struggling to get their money out. They start wondering about their own bank.

This is how a contagion could spread through the Chinese banking system. Cue It’s a Wonderful Life, without the happy ending.

The Chinese government’s violent repression of small savers in Zhengzhou may be just the beginning.

China is in a sensitive period. The 20th Party Congress, enormously important to the Communist elite, happens in November.

At that meeting, Xi hopes to secure a third term in office and effectively become leader for life. He and his underlings are likely to repress any “disturbance” during this time.

Already, China’s massive surveillance apparatus is being turned on these small savers.

Zhengzhou protesters have had their “health codes” turned off. Without the green QR code on their phones, they can go nowhere and do nothing.

The health code system was created to stem COVID. Predictably, it’s now being turned against dissidents.

I’m not a particularly religious man, but this Orwellian act reminded me of a passage from the Bible:

It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads,

so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for its name.

Revelation 13:16-17

I hope these decent, hardworking people will get their life’s savings back. I also hope we always resist this type of tyranny here at home.

What do you think is next in China? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know.

More on China:

China’s Real Goal in Tech Crackdown: A Regimented, Obedient Society

How China’s Tech Industry Dies

China’s Tech Crackdown Means Economic Decline

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Credit Suisse May Need Up to $1 Billion After Huge Losses

Credit Suisse may soon raise over $1 billion in new capital after a string of huge losses last year. From a Reuters report this morning:

Credit Suisse is in the early stages of weighing options to bolster its capital after a string of losses has eroded its financial buffers, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The size of the increase would be likely to exceed 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.04 billion), but this has not yet been determined, said one of the people, who declined to be named because the deliberations are still internal.

The cash injection would help Switzerland’s second-biggest bank to recover from billions of losses in 2021 and a series of costly legal headaches.


Credit Suisse lost $5.5 billion last year just in trades with failed hedge fund Archegos Capital Management. It has since closed the prime services business that serviced Archegos and other funds.


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Risk controls have been almost nonexistent at the Zurich-based bank. Big dealmakers have routinely overruled compliance staff, with predictable results.

In my view, Credit Suisse would not be seeking to raise capital in this bear market unless it badly needed it. Stocks are crashing, the IPO market is closed, and bond markets are volatile.

If the Reuters report is accurate, I suspect Credit Suisse is getting desperate.

If Credit Suisse is in a bind, investors are apt to drive a hard bargain. The terms of a financing may be punitive, if it happens at all.

Any new equity financing would also dilute existing shareholders, making their shares worth less. Those shareholders are already reeling from a 37% loss in the last year.

The best way for Credit Suisse to avoid scandals and massive losses in the future is to change its employees incentives. When a banker that brings in a big deal gets a huge bonus and a promotion regardless of how risky the deal is, other bankers take note.

Rather than compensating employees for individual success, Credit Suisse should take a page out of Silicon Valley’s playbook.

Tech companies incentivize employees to work together for the long term success of the business by granting equity. This equity often comes in the form of Restricted Stock Units (RSU’s) that vest over 4 years.

Employees only win if the business as a whole wins. And there’s no incentive to make a reckless deal for a short-term pay-off.

I’ll be closely following any Credit Suisse fundraise. But even billions more in fresh capital won’t change the bank’s dysfunctional culture.

Do you think Credit Suisse is in trouble? And what other financial institutions could be next?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on markets:

This Is Why Credit Suisse Keeps Getting Punched in the Face

$6B Hedge Fund Cut Off from Trading As Investigation Looms

Citadel Adds Millions to AMC Options Bet

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Photo: “Image” by eflon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

This Is Why Credit Suisse Keeps Getting Punched in the Face

Credit Suisse keeps getting smacked. Let’s review a few of their recent scandals:

  • $4.7 billion charge for losses in trades with Archegos Capital Management, the imploding hedge fund
  • $1.5 billion loss likely in dealings with collapsed supply chain finance company Greensill Capital, just three weeks prior
  • Bonus scandal: Former CEO Tidjane Thiam spied on employees and was forced out in February 2020

So they’ve been busy! Why is this one company stumbling from cliff to quagmire?

A major factor appears to be its bifurcated business, which focuses on both asset management and investment banking, but is too small to be a big player in either market. So, in order to win business from its bigger competitors, it has to offer better terms and do worse deals.

In reality, the asset-management unit, which brought in Greensill, and the investment bank, which handled Archegos, were too small to square off with Wall Street giants. The bank tried to make more money from fewer clients than rivals with larger balance sheets and ended up overlooking risks, the executives said.

There were clear warning signs on both Archegos and Greensill.

There were clear warning signs on both Archegos and Greensill. Archegos founder Bill Hwang had been sanctioned by the SEC for insider trading and banned from handling client money, which is the entire reason he started Archegos in the first place. It was a family office, managing just his own family’s money, due to that SEC ruling. Credit Suisse thought the risk was limited because he wasn’t managing client money, but failed to consider what would happen to its own funds!

Greensill too had come under scrutiny early enough to avert problems, but nothing was done:

In 2019, members of the credit-structuring team escalated its alerts about Greensill to the bank’s reputational-risk committee, the person familiar with the funds said. They had become concerned Greensill might be taking operational shortcuts.

Interestingly, the dynamic of Credit Suisse agreeing to anything in order to win business from larger competitors was played out by its client Greensill as well:

Mr. Greensill signed up some big, credit-rated companies. To wrest those customers from big banks, Greensill had to offer competitive terms that didn’t make it much money, according to people familiar with Greensill’s business.

Credit Suisse seems to lack any internal controls whatsoever, and I strongly recommend investors avoid

Credit Suisse seems to lack any internal controls whatsoever, and I strongly recommend investors avoid it. We can also gain a broader lesson from this fiasco. If you’re a smaller company trying to get into a market, don’t do disadvantageous deals just to get some market share. You expose yourself to too many problems that will blow you up before you ever get a chance to compete with the big boys.

For more on Archegos, check out these posts:

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Photo: “Punch to the Face” by Ninja M. is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How to Lose $8 Billion in 10 Days

Archegos Capital Management, run by Bill Hwang, is imploding, racking up losses at a record pace:

Mr. Hwang alone lost approximately $8 billion in 10 days, a person familiar with the matter said, in what traders and investors say was one of the fastest losses of such a large sum they had ever seen.

Archegos borrowed massive sums of money to invest it in just a few stocks. Like addicts that get 10 oxycontin prescriptions from 10 different doctors, Hwang never revealed how deep in debt he was to the banks he dealt with:

Archegos was regularly putting up $15 of collateral to borrow $85, on the high end of leverage for stock-trading firms with similar strategies, said a banking executive familiar with the borrowing.

Archegos’s lenders say they were unaware of the extent of trades he was making with other banks, information that would have encouraged them to curb their lending.

The fact that Archegos used swaps, rather than owning shares directly, further obscured his activities. In the “contract for difference” swaps he used, the bank owns the shares while Hwang’s firm pays for the losses or receives the gains on the stock.

This is important because investors have to disclose to the SEC when they own over 5% of a company. Hwang would have had to make several such disclosures. But because he used swaps instead, none of that information was public, making it harder for banks to find out how heavily leveraged he was. This may have been by design.

A further odd wrinkle is that Hwang, the son of a pastor, suffused Archegos with religious fervor:

Mr. Hwang returned clients’ money in 2012 and turned his firm into an office to manage his family’s wealth. He named it Archegos, which, translated from Greek means “leader” or “prince of Christ.” A Christian ethos permeated the firm, with voluntary Friday morning Bible studies where a recording of Bible readings would play to music.

He tended to view gains as signs of God’s favor:

“Do I think God loves it? Of course!” Mr. Hwang said in a video, referring to his early investment in LinkedIn. “I’m like a little child looking for, what can I do today, where can I invest, to please our God?”

If Hwang had a religious certainty about his positions, he’d be all the more likely to hold them even as he lost money, expecting to be vindicated.

It strikes me how incredibly simple this one-time billionaire investor’s strategy was. Borrow a bunch of money and invest it in a few well-known stocks like Viacom. Anyone could do that if they had access to capital. There was no special sauce, and now Hwang is paying the price for his recklessness.

For more on Archegos and financial markets, check out these posts:

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A Giant Hedge Fund Is Imploding, Taking Stocks with It

Ten billion dollar hedge fund Archegos Capital Management is imploding, causing banks to frantically sell its portfolio to stem further losses:

One mystery in a dramatic year on Wall Street has been the identity of a trader whose persistent purchases have sent shares in ViacomCBS Inc., Discovery Inc. and a handful of other companies surging even when the broader market was down.

People familiar with the transactions say the answer is former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang. Late last week Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG swiftly unloaded large blocks of shares in those companies and others, part of the liquidation of positions at Mr. Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management.

The sales approached $30 billion in value, some of the people said, and fueled a 27% plunge Friday in shares of ViacomCBS—an unusually large decline in a widely held, large-capitalization stock on a day with no significant company-specific news. Billions of market value in other companies were wiped out as the sales continued, surprising market participants who called the size and speed of these stock sales unprecedented.

Hwang had placed giant bets on several stocks funded with borrowed money, and his fund suffered major losses when the stocks moved against him:

…a major actor in supporting companies’ share prices appears to have been undone by his continuing to add to leveraged bets as markets soared. The strategy fell apart when some of those bets started to reverse on him.

There were serious warning signs about Hwang’s conduct, which his banks, including Nomura and Credit Suisse, did not heed:

U.S. securities filings show Credit Suisse was prime broker in 2011 and 2012 to Mr. Hwang’s former firm, Tiger Asia Management LLC. Tiger Asia handed money back to investors after Mr. Hwang admitted in December 2012 that the hedge fund criminally used inside information from investment banks at least three times to profit on securities trades.

This is the latest in a string of problems for Credit Suisse:

Credit Suisse is still digesting the collapse earlier this month of Greensill, a British supply-chain finance company that declared bankruptcy shortly after the Swiss bank froze funds that provided it with liquidity. The double hit could be an extraordinary run of bad luck; there were other banks caught up in both failures. Alternatively, it could point to endemic problems of risk management at Credit Suisse. The Swiss company carried on working with Greensill despite internal concerns.

So if you see volatility in stocks like Viacom, Discovery, Credit Suisse, etc. in the coming days, you’ll know where it’s coming from. I do wonder if other stocks may be impacted by this forced selling of Archegos’ positions.

For more on what’s moving markets, check out these posts:

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You Can Get the Same Bank Account as a Professional Investor. Here’s How.

Shortly after giving blood a week ago, I availed myself of the blood center’s free cookies and magazines. I flipped to an article about banking in poor, mostly black areas of the rural south:

…the national banks discourage poorer—and less profitable—clients through minimum-balance requirements and fees. And in many small towns around the Delta, good luck even finding a big traditional lender. From 2012 to 2017, low-income rural communities lost 14% of their bank branches, according to a Federal Reserve study.

This struck me as very sad, since I don’t deal with any of those problems. Ever.

What if you could get an account with a bank that’s entirely online, meaning you don’t need to worry if you live in a rural area? And what if that bank had accounts with no minimum balance and even free checks to boot?

Well, that’s the kind of account I have. And as I read that article, I thought about several friends who’ve had struggles with their banks and asked me the same question: what bank do you use?

I’ve used Ally Bank for about four years, and I do love it so! Here are some of the benefits:

  • No minimum balance
  • Free checks
  • Reimbursement of ATM fees up to $10/month, which is usually plenty for me
  • Tons of fee free ATM’s, including at every Walgreens and CVS
  • Every service is online, no branch to go to, wait in line, and catch COVID at
  • Wait time of 1-2 minutes at most to get a human on the phone, 24/7/365
  • Some of the highest interest rates for savings accounts in the nation, probably because they don’t have to pay for branches and tellers

A friend of mine recently had his bank account frozen due to fraud protection. Naturally, it conveniently happened on a Saturday afternoon, after the branches and phone lines were closed! With Ally’s 24/7 support, this would never have been an issue.

In fact, in four years, I’ve never had one problem with my Ally account.

As a professional investor, deciding where to put money is my entire job. So, I put a good bit of thought into this decision, and it’s worked out well for me.

I’d love to see people of more modest means, people in remote rural areas, and disadvantaged minorities get the same good service as a very fortunate urban white guy like myself. So that’s why I wrote this post!

I have no affiliation with them and won’t get a dime if you sign up. But if you do decide to, the link is here.

Have a great weekend everyone!

For more on saving money and financial issues, check out these posts:

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Photo: Me and some random person’s car. 🙂