Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 | 1:56 PM ET

The poor get poorer: Low-wage jobs still dominate

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Not so long ago, Russ Holton was married, making a six-figure income and looking at a promising career ahead.

Now, seven years later, he's divorced, interviewing for $12-an-hour jobs and trying to further his education and stay afloat in a jobs market that is creating in excess of 200,000 positions a month but few that provide an opportunity to live the life to which he had become accustomed.

"I'm not finding what I'm looking for," Holton, a 45-year-old resident of Mason, Ohio, said during a phone interview that provided a break during a day of job hunting. "I just interviewed for a job that pays $12 an hour. I felt really stupid. For 12 bucks an hour, that's not right.... It's a different world right now."

While it may be a different world, it's a familiar story.

Each month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of new nonfarm payroll positions created, and for the past year the average has been 209,000. That's not a spectacular number, but it is at least in line with historical trends and has contributed to bringing down the unemployment rate from 7.3 percent to 6.2 percent during the period.

Behind those numbers, though, has been a disconcerting brew of statistics—aside from the much-cited decline in labor force participation—that shows the jobs market is far from full health. Part-time jobs continue to grow almost as quickly as full-time positions, the average duration of unemployment is still about eight months and, perhaps most disturbingly, post-recession job creation remains skewed toward lower-wage positions.

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  Monday, 18 Aug 2014 | 10:34 AM ET

Wall St. taking advantage of junk bond exodus

Posted By: CNBC.com staff
Getty Images

Even as retail investors shy away, Wall Street is still making a dash for trash.

In fact, the recent exodus of funds from high-yield bonds has only whetted the appetite of institutional investors, who are using the slump in junk prices as a buying opportunity, according to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal.

The mom-and-pop crowd ditched a net $13 billion in junk bonds for the four weeks preceding August 6, a trend that has pushed firms like Alliance Bernstein even deeper into the market.

"Investors who panic in these sell-offs—it's the wrong thing to do," Alliance's Gershon Distenfeld told the Journal.

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  Monday, 18 Aug 2014 | 7:00 AM ET

Investors spending the summer on the sidelines

Posted By: Jeff Cox

After close to a year and a half of pumping money into the stock market, mom-and-pop investors have spent most of the summer in hiding.

Since May, money has been streaming out of mutual funds that invest in the stock market—particularly those that are focused on U.S.-based equities. Domestic equity mutual funds surrendered some $26.6 billion in May, June and July, according to data from Morningstar that reflects investor unease over a confluence of factors facing the market.

"Investors certainly have been given enough reason to be cautious," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "Every day, we wake up to a new or intensifying geopolitical problem, whether it's Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, which could be building up as a problem. We have issues with Ebola—there's a multitude of concerns at the time, even when the market is just a percentage point or two of its record highs."

Consequently, investor behavior has changed.

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  Monday, 18 Aug 2014 | 9:09 AM ET

Steve Cohen is losing his top lieutenant

Posted By: Kate Kelly

Tom Conheeney, the longtime president of SAC Capital and top lieutenant to founder Steve Cohen, is stepping down Monday from the No. 2 spot at the former hedge fund's successor company, Point72, a company insider said.

Conheeney will be replaced as president by Douglas Haynes, a former McKinsey executive, the source said. Haynes joined Point72 in February as managing director of human capital. Point72 manages the assets of Cohen and certain employees and family members.

The surprise exit raises questions about Conheeney's standing at Point72. He joined SAC Capital in a less senior capacity in 1999.

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  Friday, 15 Aug 2014 | 12:16 PM ET

How David Tepper played 'nervous time' market

Posted By: Jeff Cox

David Tepper wasn't joking when he said it was "nervous time" for the stock market.

The billionaire head of the Appaloosa Management hedge fund rattled the markets in May, when he told attendees at the SALT Conference in Las Vegas that he was paring back his equity positions.

"I'm not saying go short, I'm just saying don't be too fricking long right now," he told attendees in remarks that went viral and immediately sent a shiver into the market.

Judging by his most recent quarterly filings with the Securities Exchange Commission, Tepper wasn't trying a sleight of hand, wherein he would try to get investors to sell so he buy at reduced prices.

Read MoreTepper on the market: 'Nervous time'

No, he was selling. Tepper, who made an eye-popping $3.5 billion in 2013, shed multiple positions.

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  Friday, 15 Aug 2014 | 12:33 PM ET

George Soros loads up on bearish market bet

Posted By: Kate Kelly

Soros Fund Management, the large family office that manages assets for billionaire George Soros, raised its protection against a U.S. stock market drop dramatically, sparking concerns that the powerful investment firm is expecting a big fall in equities.

During the course of the second quarter, which ended June 30, Soros Fund Management's position in puts—the right to sell at a certain price at an appointed time in the future—in a popular exchange-traded fund tracking the S&P 500 rose to 11.29 million shares, which appears to be a multiyear high for the investment manager. (During the first quarter, the size of that position was just 1.6 million puts, meaning that the second quarter marked a 606 percent increase.)

Based on some simple math, and assuming Soros still held the puts and that they were in the money (meaning they would generate gains if they were exercised today), the notional value of the bearish position is roughly $2.2 billion.

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  Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 | 12:23 PM ET

Why Russia, Iraq to have 'little impact' on market

Posted By: Jeff Cox

Investors are showing little reaction to the events in Ukraine and the Middle East, taking their cue from a Federal Reserve unlikely to show much concern despite the seriousness of both trouble spots.

An analysis from Goldman Sachs helps explain why the market has displayed only momentary reactions to the ongoing dispute between Russia and the separatists in Ukraine, and actually rallied the day President Barack Obama announced targeted airstrikes against ISIS rebels in Iraq.

Economists Michael Cahill and David Mericle believe investors will continue to dismiss the threats:

The current US air strikes in Iraq are unlikely to have a significant impact on defense spending or oil prices, unless the scale of the conflict changes considerably. Evidence from past U.S. conflicts that were similar in scale also suggests little impact on confidence and at most mixed evidence of a flight-to-safety effect in financial markets. The exchange of sanctions with Russia--a relatively minor U.S. trading partner--is also likely to have only a modest impact on the U.S. economy. Of course, both situations are highly unpredictable.

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  Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 | 11:46 AM ET

Uh-oh: Trouble is brewing again in the repo market

Posted By: CNBC.com staff
Getty Images

The collapse of repurchase agreements—"repos" as they are known on Wall Street—signaled the beginning of the financial crisis, and there's trouble brewing in the market again.

Banks are retreating from repos as new regulations tighten controls on the types of risks they're allowed to take and make the trade more expensive, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The practice involves short-term funding in which a hedge fund raises cash by selling securities to banks, which in turn sell to a third party—usually a money market fund—that then sells the bond back at a higher price and pockets the profit. While the process worked well for years, it collapsed when liquidity concerns surfaced at former Wall Street titans Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in 2008.

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  Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 | 4:42 PM ET

That time Nassim Taleb debated a parody account

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York University professor and author
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York University professor and author

If you follow @ProfJeffJarvis on Twitter, you know that he is a "thinkfluencer," which isn't a real word, nor is it a real Twitter account. Highly entertaining? Yes.

Apparently, Nassim Taleb, author of "The Black Swan," did not take the time to look at @ProfJeffJarvis's avatar (see:beer helmet) or read his biography. Closer inspection surely would have tipped him off that he was being goaded by a parody account.

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  Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 | 12:26 PM ET

Icahn's fix for 'major asset bubble'? Activists

Posted By: Jeff Cox
Carl Icahn
David Grogan | CNBC
Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn sees U.S. markets in a "major asset bubble," and he says the only solution is for activist investors like him to keep companies honest.

In a blog post, the head of Icahn Enterprises boasted of his performance and said inept CEOs and aggressive Federal Reserve policies are creating treacherous times for investors.

"There are numerous challenges we are facing today whether it be monetary policy, unemployment, income inequality, the list can go on and on… but the thing we have to remember is there is something we can do about it: Shareholders, the true owners of our companies, can demand that mediocre CEOs are held accountable and make it clear that they will be replaced if they are failing," Ichan said in a Tumblr post that appeared on Yahoo Finance.

Public perception that activist investors only take short-term positions in companies is untrue, he added, asserting that shareholder vigilance is essential to protect investors.

»Read more

About NetNet

  • NetNet is where you'll find the low-down and the high jinks of Wall Street. It's the place for insider stories, trader gossip, and tales of the foibles of the moneyed crowd and the culture of finance.Wall Street news and commentary served fresh all day long.


  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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