Einhorn Ends 2011 Just Over +2%, Closes FSLR Short, Warns On Asia, Mocks "Lather. Rinse. Repeat" Broken MarketsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/18/2012 - 12:17
Anyone wondering why FSLR just jumped, it is because as was just made known, David Einhorn's Greenlight has decided to close its FSLR position, after bleeding that particular corpse dry. "Our largest winner by far was our short of First Solar (FSLR) which fell from $130.14 to $33.76 paper share and was the worst performing stock in the S&P 500." Einhorn also announces that he was among the "evil" hedge funds who dared to provide market clearing transparency and buy CDS on insolvent European governments: "We also did well investing in various credit default swaps on European sovereign debt." As for losers, Einhorn and Kyle Bass can commiserate: "For the second year in a row, our biggest loss came from positions designed to capitalize on eventual weakening of the Yen." He summarizes the global economic environment as follows: "The global environment is very complicated. On the one hand the Federal Reserve has taken a much-needed break from quantitative easing (at least for the moment). Accordingly, inflation in oil and food has abated, providing relief to the US economy. Bearish forecasts that the US was headed back into recession proved wrong for the third time since the end of the last recession. On the other hand, Asia appears to be in much worse shape than it was at this time last year and could be a drag on the world economy going forward. Very few people trust any of the economic data coming out of China, making it difficult to gauge the situation there. Some of the smartest people we know have very dim views. The Chinese have been a leading growth engine for the last two decades and are largely credit with leading the world out of the recession in 2009. A change in their economic circumstances could really upend things." Yet the best thing is his summary of the current investing climate in our utterly and hopelessly reactionary broken markets.
By now we know that at least according to conventional wisdom says one has to be a banker, lawyer, or hedge fund manager to be guaranteed a spot in the fabled "1%". But a still outstanding question is what college-level studies do future 1%'ers take to end up in the top of the social pyramid? As the NYT shows, the result is quite surprising. As it turns out, "the majors that give you the best chance of reaching the 1 percent are pre-med, economics, biochemistry, zoology and, yes, biology, in that order." Just as curious, in terms of actual proportional representation, coming in at 1.9 million, the second most represented major within the 1% is... English and English Language. Bottom line - good news for Liberal Arts majors: all you have to do to get that PM job in Greenwich is to convince the boss that extensive knowledge of Shakespeare's sonnets is conducive to procuring some quality "information arbitrage" (on an untapped phone line of course). Alas, bad news for sociology and geology majors - these two are nowhere to be found, dooming the Rocks for Jocks crowd to a life of "99%"ism.
Last week we heard from Nomura's bearded bear as Bob Janjuah restated his less-then-optimistic scenario for the global economy. Today his partner-in-crime, Kevin Gaynor, takes on the bullish consensus cognoscenti's three mutually supportive themes in his usual skeptical manner. While he respects the market's potential view that fundamentals, flow, valuation, and sentiment seem aligned for meaningful outperformance, it seems actual positioning does not reflect this (yet). Taking on each of the three bullish threads (EM policy shift as inflation slows, ECB has done and will do more QE, and US decoupling), the strategist teases out the reality and what is priced in as he does not see this as the March-2009-equivalent 'big-one' in rerisking (warranting concerns on chasing here).
Tomorrow the BLS will announce that last week's initial claims number was revised to over 400K, the first time this important level has been breached, this time in an adverse fashion, in the past 2 months. But why is 400K important, and why do economists and pundits put impact on this particular number? Here is Bank of America with the explanation in the form of a historical matrix, correlating the historical relationship between these time series, highlighting the notable patterns observed in the past several decade, and what it all means for the big picture.
Though it won't come as a surprise to too many who have seen us point to US equity outflows and the dreadfully declining volume on the NYSE, we leave it to UBS' Art Cashin to uncover where the real action is - and more importantly where it really is not. The experienced Cashin points to the early excitement as Asia and Europe remain active and the dramatic ebb as both of these markets head off to supper, leaving just US traders (and investors we assume) sitting on their hands, twiddling their thumbs, and generally not playing the game (aside from the general rumor-mongery that appears to be rising day by day).
Today's TIC data confirmed what Zero Hedge readers have now known for quite some time: namely that foreigners are selling US paper. And while we have used contemporaneous Custody Account data from the Fed to present that in the past 7 weeks foreigners have sold a record amount of bonds, we now get confirmation via TIC that in November the selling continued, especially at the biggest non-Fed holder of US paper, China, which saw its holdings down to $1,132.6 billion, the lowest in the past year. Yet where the selling is just relentless is in Russia, which has quite demonstratively slashed its US Treasury holdings in half in the past year from $176 billion to under $80 billion. Putin is not happy, and is not afraid to show it.
The world's biggest primary silver miner, Fresnillo, had flat silver production in 2011. Output is only expected to remain stable in 2012. African Barrick Gold said on Wednesday fourth quarter gold production fell 11% and missed its annual production targets. Despite price rises seen in 2011, gold and silver mining is remaining static contrary to claims by gold bears that higher prices would lead to increased production and therefore increased supply. Geological constraints may be impacting mining companies ability to increase production of the precious metals. Standard Bank has said it lowered its average 2012 gold price forecast by 6 percent to $1,780 an ounce, but continues to expect prices of the precious metal to touch new highs in the latter half of this year. "We maintain that gold will reach new highs this year but, given our dollar view, we believe that these highs will be reached only in the second half of 2012," the analyst said in a note. Standard Bank expects the U.S. dollar to gain strength, especially against the euro, over the next quarter. A few other banks have recently lowered price forecasts for gold, including ANZ and Credit Suisse – however the majority remain bullish on gold’s outlook for 2012.
Headline PPI Drops By 0.1%, Core PPI Rises By 0.3%, Highest Y/Y NSA Jump Since June 2009, BLS To Change PPI WeightsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/18/2012 - 09:46
Mixed picture in today's PPI which saw headline prices decline by 0.1%, on expectations of a 0.1% increase, driven by a 0.8% drop in both food and energy finished goods. Alternatively, core PPI rose by 0.3%, with the same +0.1% consensus, and is the largest M/M increase since July 2011. Just as curious, the Year over Year change in the NSA PPI of 3.0% is the highest in the series since June 2009. It appears money printing even in the face of multi-trillion debt deleveraging can be inflationary. Finally, and in pulling a page straight out of the BLS playbook, the BLS announced it would change the weighting in its PPI categories. "The new weights, which will be introduced in February 2012 with the release of January 2012 index data, will be based on shipment values from the year 2007. These value weights come from the Census of Manufactures, the Census of Mining, the Census of Services, and the Census of Agriculture. PPI weights have been based on 2002 census shipment values since January 2007. All PPIs will be affected by this weight update, including all the industry net output indexes, as well as indexes for traditional commodity groupings. In addition, weights will be updated from the 2002 to the 2007 census for all stage-of-processing indexes, durability of product indexes, and special commodity-grouping indexes. This weight revision will not change any arithmetic reference bases for indexes, the dates when PPIs were set to 100." This is a lot of words to say that going forward even more inflation will be crammed into smoothed core price indices, so as to completely ignore any swings in the margins. Because after all who cares about energy and food?
Cutting down to the chase on Goldman's numbers, the top line was weak, with the company reporting $6.05 billion in total Q4 revenue on expectations of $6.39 billion. The primary reason was a decline in all segments Year over Year with Investment Banking tumbling 43% to $863 Million, Institutional Client Sales down 16% to $3.1 billion, Investment Management down 16% (great work Jim O'Neill) to $1.3 billion, and finally Goldman Prop, or as it is politically correctly now known, Investing and Lending, down 56% to just $872 million, although much better than the massive Q3 loss of $2.5 billion. All this was offset by compensation benefits of $2.2 billion, which resulted in a Q4 Compensation Margin of 36.5%, down from the 44.5% average previously in 2011. As a reminder, back in Q4 2009, Goldman had negative compensation expense of $519 million to make its EPS. The result was total comp of $12.2 billion in 2011, or 42.4% compensation payoff, compared to $15.4 billion in 2010. Yet since the company let the axe fly, cutting total staff from 35,700 at December 31, 2010 to 33,300 at year end 2011, or the lowest since Q1 2010, average trailing 12 month compensation per employee rose to $367,057.06, also known as "not much" for Mitt Romney.
First we learn the LTRO may be €1 trillion, then €10 trillion, now the IMF tells us it has misplaced $1 trillion. The world may be going totally broke but at least it does in style - in perfectly round 12 digit numbers.
- IMF SAID TO SEE POTENTIAL 2-YEAR FINANCING GAP AT $1 TRILLION
- IMF SAID TO SEEK RAISING LENDING RESOURCES BY $500 BLN
In other words, even after it "miraculously" procures this money, the IMF will still be half a trill short. But, with everyone broke, just who will "fund" the IMF shortfall? Hm, could the fact that stocks are rising indicate that the ultimate buyer will be none other than the global central banking cartel. In other news, with every passing day we learn just how correct our thesis has been for the past 3 years: the it is not a liquidity crisis, it is all about solvency. Or rather insolvency. Global insolvency.
Here are today's economic highlights, for anyone who cares and is deluded to think that any economic numbers actually still matter and drive the market and not vice versa.
- Here we go again: IMF Said to Seek $1 Trillion Resource-Boost Amid Euro Crisis (Bloomberg)
- China said to Tell banks to Restrict Lending as Local Officials Seek Funds (Bloomberg)
- EU to Take Legal Action Against Hungary (FT)
- Portugal Yields Fall in Auction of Short-Term Debt (Reuters)
- US Natural Gas Prices at 10-Year Low as Warm Weather Weakens Demand (Reuters)
- German Yield Falls in Auction of 2-Year Bonds (Reuters)
- World Bank Slashes Global GDP Forecasts, Outlook Grim (Reuters)
- Why the Super-Marios Need Help (Martin Wolf) (FT)
- Chinese Vice Premier Stresses Government Role in Improving People's Livelihoods (Xinhua)