Recently, we’ve received a number of emails from readers asking why the primary gold ETF, SPDR Gold Trust (NYSE:GLD), doesn’t more closely track the price of gold, and other related questions. For those readers who aren’t already familiar with the workings of this innovative way to “own gold,” it’s worth going over a few of the details, because there are some common misunderstandings regarding the ETF. The creators of GLD were as savvy as it gets. They saw a market crying for something like this and turned that need into one of the most successful new financial products ever introduced. The ETF burst upon the scene in November of 2004 and was immediately latched onto as a means of riding the gold bull market without the inconvenience of having to transport and securely store actual bullion. In the past seven years, its rise has been meteoric. It has steadily ascended the list of the world’s leading gold repositories, until today it has the sixth-largest global stash of the metal, at more than 1,230 tons, or 39.57 million ounces, worth over $70.7 billion.
So Much For "Value Investing" - Whitney Tilson Plunges 13.3% In August, Down A Mass Redemption-Inducing 21.1% YTDSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2011 - 15:09
If anyone works in finance, chances are they have at some point, or more likely, constantly, received emails (we want to keep it civil) to participate in the Value Investing Congress, which purportedly, promotes ideas based on, well, value. Alas, if that is indeed the case, then primary sponsor Whitney Tilson's T2, has to urgently look up the definition of velue. To wit: "Our fund declined 13.3% in August vs. -5.4% for the S&P 500, -4.0% for the Dow and -6.4% for the Nasdaq. Year to date, it’s down 21.9% vs. -1.8% for the S&P 500, +2.1% for the Dow and - 2.2% for the Nasdaq." Even more to wit: "On the long side, our portfolio got clobbered across the board despite generally good company- specific news regarding our major holdings (discussed below). Amidst a tumultuous month in the markets, investors dumped stocks that were even slightly illiquid, or that are valued primarily on future, rather than current, profits – both traits that characterize many positions in our fund. One of our biggest advantages is being willing and able to look out 2-3 years when most investors are looking out 2-3 months (or, in many cases, 2-3 microseconds), but this hurt us last month." But wait, despite what is basically the start of yet another hedge death watch, Tilson sees smooth sailing ahead. "In our view, the turmoil of the past month has created the best bargains we’ve seen in the market since the chaos and panic of late 2008 and early 2009. Of course stocks aren’t anywhere as cheap now as they were then, but the risks aren’t nearly as great either (we think many people didn’t realize or have forgotten how close we were then to a worldwide Great Depression), so on a risk-adjusted basis we think our portfolio is as attractive now as it was then." We can only hope Whitney has some, any, money left to spend on chasing these amazing value bargains. In the worst case, the fees from the VIC conference should find the purchase of at least one block of ES.
Equity markets are starting to catch on to the fixed income market's signals as hopes of QE3 are slowly extinguished.
Another day of statistics, where the headlines are widely published, some details are somewhat explored, and in-depth analysis is next to nil...
Rather interestingly to many of us, the 'pattern of misconduct and negligence' by Goldman Sachs' residential mortgage loan servicing sub Litton, has actually been pressed by The Fed. It seems in the short-term, this was the straw to break the ebullient camel's back of the equity market as XLF drops 2% on the day and GS was down around 3% before bouncing back a little. It certainly seems that the TBTF premium is wearing away rapidly from these once impregnable fortresses of misinformation as both equity and credit markets downgrade them.
Finally serious economists are considering a position I have been maintaining and writing about since the 2008 financial meltdown. Whatever its name— erasure, repudiation, abolishment, cancellation, jubilee—debt forgiveness, will have to eventually emerge forefront in global efforts to solve an ongoing systemic financial crisis. Debt forgiveness, therefore, accomplishes two important things. It eliminates the increasing and outsized portion of productive enterprise to pay off unproductive obligations, and it clears the ground for new opportunities, new thinking, invention, and entrepreneurialism. This is why the ability to declare bankruptcy is so essential in the pursuit of both happiness and innovation.
Forget The Twist, Here Comes Operation Torque: Presenting Morgan Stanley's Complete Moral Hazard Profit GuideSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2011 - 10:57
While we often pick on Morgan Stanley's Jim Caron (the same guy who year after year after year keeps predicting the yield on the 10 year will soar, and not just soar, but soar for all the wrong reasons, such as bull steepening and what not), has just diametrically changed his tune, by bringing us, drumroll please, Operation Torque. To wit: "Policy makers in both the US and Europe get back to work in September, and this month will be rife with deliberations on stimulus and market support policies. In our view, a duration extension to the Fed's SOMA portfolio is an optimal policy tool to engender easing. This can initially be done through extending the duration of reinvestments from MBS and agency holdings but may ultimately culminate in selling shorter-duration USTs in its SOMA portfolio in exchange for buying longer duration assets (‘Operation Torque’, as we at Morgan Stanley have dubbed it)." Why 2 Years? Because as per the August 9 FOMC statement, we know that there will no rate hike for the next 2 Years, and hence no duration risk. Which means that the Fed can sell an infinite amount of paper into a mid-2013 horizon without worrying about demand destruction. And by doing so it will, as we have been predicting since May, expand the duration of its portfolio, in the process pushing investors into risky assets for the third time in as many years. But there is a twist...
Straight from the horse's mouth, in this case Goldman, which agrees with Zero Hedge that the ISM was weaker than perceived below the surface, and also provides an NFP goose egg for tomorrow: "ISM stronger than expected in August, although details of the report are softer than the headline suggests...We are lowering our forecast for tomorrow's nonfarm payroll report to +25k, from +50k previously. The main reason is the accumulation of evidence of weak hiring in late July and August: a sharp deterioration in perceptions of job availability in the latest Conference Board survey, a drop in today's ISM manufacturing employment index, another drop in job advertising, and a soft ADP report. Layoffs seem to have remained low, given steady jobless claims in the 410,000 range, although even here the recent pickup in layoff announcements is a concern." As everyone knows all too well, the difference of 25K people when you are dealing with a sample of over 100 million has just one name: policy.
And so the baffling them with schizophrenic BS modus operandi continues. After virtually the entire world confirmed it was contracting overnight, the US once again pulls the rabbit out of the hat, and the ISM comes at a slightly better than expected 50.6, a modest decline from July's 50.6, but better than a consensus of 48.5: even Joe Lavorgna was looking for 49. The problem is that the beat was once again on purely artificial data, with Inventories and Customer Inventories posting the largest increase in the month, or basically the two most hollow economic series. Far more important - Production, dropped to 48.6, the lowest since May 2009. Another Pyrrhic victory was the increase in imports and decrease in exports: we all know what that means for GDP. Lastly employment also fell. The only saving grace was that prices declined too. That said, this response does not make the QE3 case easier, and now this report will have to be offset with a much weaker NFP number tomorrow, in order to keep the speculators guessing as to what is really going on with the economy. One final note: according to the ISM, all responses were received before Hurricane Irene, which means that if next month we see the long overdue sub 50 print, it will be all due to the wind.
Even the most die-hard bear or those who simply believe QE2 did more harm than good, have to resign themselves to the fact that this Fed will enact QE3 at its earliest possible convenience. While I remain convinced that some current 5th grader will eventually be awarded a PhD in economics (not from Princeton) for their work on the folly of the QE programs, it is time to prepare for QE3. Those of us who had hoped the dissent from the August FOMC meeting was a sign that the Fed was wavering on its “print and print some more” philosophy, have seen those hopes dashed against the rocks. The doves have come out in full force. The minutes show that some members think we should have already started QE3 and now one of the dissenters has backtracked.
Another Upward Revision As Strike Factors Are Removed Leaves Initial Claims Posts Above 400k For The 20th Time Of Last 21Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/01/2011 - 07:52
Following last week's somewhat twilight zone-like Verizon-strike-driven confusion, today's initial claims report (once again revised upwards) makes for 20 of the last 21 weeks above 400k and its highest (yet to be revised upwards) since 7/15.
- Obama to address Congress on September 8 (Reuters)
- China Says Fighting Inflation Is Priority (WSJ)
- Katia a hurricane; another storm likely in Gulf (Reuters)
- IMF and eurozone clash over estimates (FT)
- Japan’s New Leader Oversaw Biggest Intervention Since 2004 (WaPo)
- Asia feels impact of global slowdown (FT)
- Germany's Resiliency Buoys Europe (WSJ)
- EU Reaches Deal to Expand Syria Sanctions (WSJ)
- Goldman Takes Dark View in Private Note (WSJ) or is the European bailout really $1 trillion?
- Worse than expected manufacturing PMI figures from core Eurozone countries dented risk-appetite
- Equities came under further pressure following news that Credit Agricole is removed from EuroSTOXX 50 Index, whereas Societe Generale, Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit are removed from STOXX Europe 50 Index
- Risk-aversion was enhanced following a lack-lustre 5-year bond auction from Spain
- The French/German spread continued to widen throughout the session partly on the back of weaker manufacturing PMI from France
- According to an article in FT, citing European source, the IMF has estimated European banks could face a capital shortfall of EUR 200bln. However, Eurozone officials strongly disagreed with the IMF’s analysis.
Today's economic data: the much anticipated ISM, claims (ex striking Verizonites collecting benefits), and C-grade data like construction outlays and productiviity and costs. Car makers announce August sales: look for repeat indications of dealer channel stuffing by you know how.
Yesterday Bruce Krasting proposed a thesis, which despite some notable complications and substantial political challenges, does have its merits: namely that in pursuing a mass "beneficial" refi of agency mortgages to some threshold interest rate level, say 4%, accompanied by a surge in Fed MBS prepayments (recall that this component of QE Lite has stalled massively and now accounts for about $15 billion in POMO each month - a sad reminder of the $100 billion + beast it was in its QE2 heyday), the administration and the Fed would effectively enact a GSE-funded version of Operation MBS Twist, in which the Fed reduces its agency holdings while extending Treasury duration. Alas, Bruce may not have made it clear that this version of Twist with a Twist has an annual cost of about $85 billion invoiced to US taxpayers each year. And while we believe that plain vanilla QE (either LSAP or Chubby Checker) has a chance of passing, especially if stocks do plunge by another 20%+, QE that has to be indirectly funded by taxpayers (in the form of quarterly capital make wholes for the GSEs from the Treasury), has virtually no chance of passing. But we have been wrong before. Regardless, here is Dick Bove, whose opinion for some inexplicable reason is still relevant (and yes, we are guilty in spreading it), who takes the refi stimulus thesis and presents his views on its feasibility. And while we are the first to mock Bove, his conclusion does have some merit: "Until [the administration] figures out that more production is what is required we will continue to take money out of one pocket to put it into another and assume that we have accomplished something."