"China Is Fixed" GDP & Industrial Production Beat As Retail Sales Miss & Home Prices Tumble

Having glimpsed the ugly reality of the under-belly of the Chinese economy last week, and the divergence between that and the government's PMI survey fallacy, it is no surprise that by the magic of excel, GDP and Industrial Production modestly beat expectations (+7.5% YoY vs 7.4% exp and +9.2% YoY vs +9.0% exp respectuvely). However, despite epic credit injections, home prices tumbled 9.2% YoY and Retail Sales missed expectations rising only 12.4% YoY. Even as it is self-evident that re-flating the next chosen bubble, or attempting to socialize losses, is not sustainable in the long-run, it is clear (given the surge in deposit creation in recent months) that China has chosen the path of short-term easy-street as opposed to the reform-based hard-street they had promised.

A Rare Glimpse Inside FoxConn

No, it's not all suicidal workers and robots... Bloomberg's Christine Hah takes a look inside the world’s largest consumer electronics producer, Foxconn, as it unveiled a new campus in the relatively-undeveloped city of Guiyang last week.

Draghi Knows Narratives Are No Longer Enough, But "There Are No Easy Choices Here"

The problem for the ECB, of course, is that Espirito Santo and Erste are not isolated incidents, any more than Laiki and Fortis and Anglo Irish and WestLB and BMPS and... should we go on? ...were isolated incidents. "...with apologies to Lewis Carroll, here’s the choice facing our modern-day Alice (Mario Draghi) – does (s)he sing a lullaby that keeps the Red King (investors) sleeping for a few more years, albeit at the cost of drinking a terrible potion that will turn her into a hideous giant... or does she let the Red King wake up, shattering the dream and risking the existence of everything, herself included, but preserving the story of her beautiful face and form?" If we were betting men (and we are), we’d wager on Draghi drinking the potion and keeping the dream alive, no matter how complicit it makes him in preserving a very ugly and very politically-driven status quo. But there’s a non-trivial chance that it’s just too much to swallow...

Robbing Peter

“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” – George Bernard Shaw

Are Share Buybacks About To Hit A Brick Wall?

With the Q2 US reporting season upon us, SocGen's quant research team focuses on the deteriorating state of corporate balance sheets in the US. Despite Intel going full retard on forecast buybacks, as we remarked numerous times, US firms are starting to show the strains of having to buy back $500bn of shares every year, whilst cash flows were under pressure. Leverage, SocGen argues, is starting to become an issue... and with it the ability to fund ever more expensive buybacks to maintain the illusion of EPS growth

The Immorality Of Paper Money

One of today’s most common economic fallacies is that the soaring stock market is evidence of economic recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fed’s balance sheet has grown more than fourfold since 2008 — to $4.3 trillion — and was used to prop up the “too big to fails.” That money had to go somewhere.  Paper money promotes the “quick buck” syndrome like narcotics peddling and hookers on the streets. In a paper money society, the social order visibly deteriorates. Fiat promotes an illusory reality where non-substance like financial speculation and gambling replaces the substance of industrial production and long-term value.

GMO: "Nothing Feels Right About These New Market Highs"

"Shiller’s body language said it all, as he squirmed and contorted in his chair during the interview. Nothing feels right about these new market highs. It’s the same squirming and discomfort we’ve been feeling for some time now. We confidently know the U.S. market is unusually expensive. We confidently know that allocating capital to expensive markets is a really bad idea. We confidently know that expensive markets usually lead to low—quite possibly negative—real returns over time. So, why the squirming? Because of what we most confidently do not know—the timing, path, potential triggers, etc., of the U.S. market correction in the short term. Yes, we have theories and coffee-room discussions, which we’ve written about in our quarterly letters. But they remain that. We truly have no blooming idea when an expensive market will break. It is the value investor’s omnipresent dilemma, with 2014 (and this quarter, in particular) testing our mettle yet again. And so, we continue to squirm and contort with the only solace that we are in good company. " - GMO

Guest Post: BRICS Against Washington Consensus

As Pepe Escobar explains, way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington consensus. Or, as consensus apologists say, the BRICS may be able to "alleviate challenges" they face from the "international financial system".

Financial Markets — Rated "R"

Financial markets are complex in normal times. When government is actively supporting them, they only become more so and more dangerous. If today’s financial markets were rated like movies, they would be rated “R” (perhaps, “X”). Whether the “R” stands for risky or restricted is immaterial.

Breathing The Air In Venezuela? Prepare To Pay

There is something to be said about every socialist paradise in the history of socialist paradises: they always run out of other people's money. And when they do, stuff like this happens: the biggest international airport in Venezuela is charging a fee for the right to inhale clean air.

Every Time Is Different, And The Same

The current elevation in asset prices is clearly beginning to reach levels of exuberance particularly in high yield "junk" bonds (and small caps). This time, like every other time before, will eventually end the same. However, while this time "is not different" in terms of outcome, the fundamental level from which the eventual "reversion to the mean" occurs will likely surprise most of the mainstream "bullish" clergy. Take a step back from the media, and Wall Street commentary, for a moment and make an honest assessment of the financial markets today. If your job is to "bet" when the "odds" of winning are in our favor, then exactly how "strong" is the fundamental hand you are currently betting on? (and are you willing toi bet your retirement on it?)

Stock Buybacks Slowing Down In Q2? Don't Make Intel Laugh

For anyone claiming in Q2 stock buybacks are about to slowdown, INTC has four words: "don't make me laugh." Because of the $5.5 billion in cash from operations, Intel promptly returned well over half to shareholders, of which $1.1 billion in the form of Dividends, and another $2.1 billion as stock buybacks.

Tuesday Trader Temper Tantrum As Yellen Spoils The Party

It's Tuesday but not everyone had fun... Having been told by the Fed that small-caps were stretched, investors bid Trannies and Industrials into the green (well the Fed never said they were rich?) Russell and Nasdaq were sold (but only dropped around 1% as every trick in the book was found to "fight the Fed"). VIX slams, JPY ramps, Gold slams... but amid all the furore of the "Sell" momo stocks signal from the Fed, bond markets shrugged (admittedly with some noise) closing flat in 10Y (and modestly higher in yields in the short-end). Gold was monkey-hammered once again, smashed back below $1300 (but remains above June FOMC levels) with its worst 2-day drop in 10 months (breaking its 20, 50, and 100DMA). Biotechs closed worst among Yellen's shorts and Russell 2000 ends -0.65% for 2014.

Strategist Warns SKEW "Is Flashing A Big Warning Signal For Stocks"

As stocks have pushed to new record highs in recent weeks, and VIX has dropped accordingly, the cost of protecting desperate asset managers from a far bigger collapse in prices has been soaring. We first noted the record high price of SKEW - a measure of market fear of a big drop in prices - a month ago, but for the first time in history, prices have remained elevated for a considerable period. As Bloomberg reports, the SKEW "is flashing a big warning signal for equity markets right now,” Kevin Cook, a senior stock strategist at Zacks Investment Research Inc. in Chicago, wrote, adding that, "big players are quietly and eagerly buying up put protection while they hang onto their stocks." This institutional nervousness is occurring as retail dives and AAII Bulls surge back above 60% of investors.

CYNK Short Squeeze Scam Costs Trader His Job

"My 10-year-old knew it was a scam. It was a complete joke," rages Tom Laresca - a market-maker at Buckman Buckman & Reid - who sold "pure madness" stock CYNK Technology short at $6 last week. Laresca assumed (reasonably so) that the SEC would suspend trading, sending the price towards zero. Despite Zero Hedge's initial exposure of this farce to the world (and the rest of the mainstream media's attention following), the SEC was slow and CYNK soared to $16, squeezing Laresca and forcing his firm to cut off his ability to hold positions - he plans to resign today. "I wish people would just not trade the stupid things."

 

French President Urges His Countrymen: Stop Bashing Your Country, Have Some Confidence

Bottom line: watch your president and government lie every day while pandering and preaching, working solely on behalf of the rich, while you rot away in your part-time jobs or worse, unemployed, surviving day to day on the measly pittance the government hands you to make you a docile little handout addicted serf, and at the end of the day, whatever you do, don't become a jaded, cynical lamenter and disparager, but have "hope and confidence." Truly the road to socialist utopia is paved with best intentions.

The Return To Normalcy - Even The Supply Of Greater Fools Is Limited

Sometimes, with the stock market doing its best imitation of the Energizer bunny, we forget just how extraordinary are the times in which we live. We’ve been lulled to sleep by the relentless and mesmerizing march higher of stocks and all manner of risky assets. Maybe it’s just that having lived through two booms and busts already that people have come to believe that another boom in risky behavior is not just the new normal but the old one as well. And having survived the last two busts, none the wiser apparently, everyone figures we’ll survive the next one too. Maybe. Or maybe people just don’t realize how truly weird things are right now. Some suggest there is no reason prices can’t continue to go higher; however, the supply of greater fools however is not unlimited and at some point reality and rationality will return, likely with a vengeance.