Morning Six-Pack: What we're reading Monday
JPMorgan not so into metal anymore: A London commodities broker called Marex Spectron is in talks to buy the metals storage unit owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Two weeks ago—amid a crackdown from U.S. regulators on the role of banks in physical commodities—JPMorgan surprised even its own people by saying it was looking at "strategic alternatives" for its physical oil, gas, power and metals trading unit. The fate of JPMorgan Commodities Queen Blythe Masters remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs and LME get sued over aluminum storage business. Allegedly Goldman and the LME have been engaging in anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior that no one, as far as I can tell, has successfully explained.
Morgan Stanley and Citigroup "cooperating" with Justice Department in CDS probe. For the uninitiated, when Morgan Stanley and Citigroup say they are "cooperating" with the U.S. Justice Department antitrust probe into the credit-default swaps market, that's a polite way of admitting that they are actually the ones under investigation. "Cooperating" sounds nice but what it really means is that you got a notice from Justice demanding you turn over a bunch of documents and answer questions. The investigation has been going on for four years now.
Who isn't underwriting the $8.9 billion sale of Barclays' shares? Let's see. Earlier we had word that Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank were underwriters of the enormous offering, which is being undertaken to bring Barclays up to speed with regulator capital requirements. Added to the list of underwriters Monday: ABN AMRO, Banco Santander, BNP Paribas, ING Bank, JPMorgan, Mediobanca, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Markets and SMBC Nikko Capital Markets. Conspicuously absent? Goldman Sachs.
Chasing funds into the shadows: Let's play connect the dots. Credit Suisse has now officiallyagreed to sell Customized Fund Investment Group (CFIG), a $18 billion private equity company, and officially closed the sale of Strategic Partners, an $11 billion fund of funds business. The buyers are, respectively, a gigantic Chicago-based funds of funds business called Grosvenor Capital Management and the Blackstone group. The short version of what's happening here is that this is an example of private equity business moving out of the regulated banking sector—thanks to Volcker and tighter capital requirements—and into the relatively unregulated funds sector.
UBS says risks of Swiss housing bubble declined a bit but will rise again. So here's the thing: The Swiss National Bank has been worried that its housing market is overheating, in part because it is keeping interest rates low to keep the value of the currency from rising, which would hurt the competitiveness of Swiss companies. So instead it is imposing higher capital requirements on Swiss mortgage lenders. UBS is running a Swiss Housing Bubble Index, which rose at a much slower rate in the last quarter than prior quarters. Sounds like a good sign but UBS economists warn the risk of a price bubble is likely to increase in the coming months.
Canadian housing bubble watch: "The Toronto Real Estate Board said total residential sales were up by 16 per cent to 8.544 units in July—the highest they've been in four years. Sales increased across all types of housing, with sales of semi-detached properties in Toronto gaining the most at 28.8 per cent compared with the same period a year ago," according to the Spec.com. The crazy pace of sales is not driven by home prices becoming more affordable: The average sale price went up 9 percent year over year.
—By CNBC's John Carney. Follow me on Twitter @Carney