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Guest Post: The Cash On The Sidelines Myth Lives On

The 'cash on the sidelines' myth has more lives than a cat. No matter how often the logical fallacy underlying it is pointed out, Wall Street continues to propagate it. Nevertheless, money and credit are of course extremely important factors in the analysis of asset markets. The below provides what are hopefully a few useful pointers as to which data one should keep an eye on in this context.

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Venezuela Accuses AFP Of "Manipulating" News Coverage; Shuts Down Colombian TV Station

Having described Venezuela as "absolutely calm" today - when it was anything but; the fact that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the stones to accuse Agence France Press of "manipulating" news coverage is stunning.


Furthermore, Maduro has taken a TV station off-air that competed with Telesur (the state-owned TV station). Of course, we should not worry as Maduro has explained the violence is all protesters' fault and that he will propose his "peace plan" tomorrow.

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Gold Breaks Above Key Technical Level For First Time In Over A Year

Spot gold prices are now up over 10% from the 2013 closing lows. At $1,304.75, gold is at 3-month highs and has crossed above the critical 200-day-moving average for the first time in over a year. Other precious metals are on the rise with Palladium up for the 8th day in a row (the longest streak since July), Platinum up 6 days in a row (long since July) and Silver up 10 days in a row breaking $20.50.

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It Doesn’t Take Much For People To Start Behaving Like Crazed Lunatics

If an ice storm can cause this much panic in our major cities, what will a real crisis look like?  The biggest news story in the United States right now is the "historic ice storm" that is hammering the South.  Travel will be a nightmare, schools and businesses will be closed, and hundreds of thousands of people will lose power.  In fact, it is being projected that some people could be without power for up to a week.  But at the end of the day, the truth is that this ice storm is just an inconvenience.  Yes, the lives of millions of Americans will be disrupted for a few days, but soon the ice will melt and life will be back to normal.  Unfortunately, it doesn't take much for people to start behaving like crazed lunatics.  As you will see below, the winter weather is causing average Americans to ransack grocery stores, fight over food items and even pull guns on one another.  If this is how people will behave during a temporary weather emergency, how will they behave when we are facing a real disaster?

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A Walkthru Explaining Facebook's "Millions" Of Fake Users

A month ago we explained in gory detail the growth of "click farms" where nothing is what it seems, and where social networking participants spend millions of dollars to appear more important, followed, prestigious, cool, or generally "liked" than they really are. The following excellent walk-through of just how the fraud works is concerning when the entire US stock market appears propped up by an ever-shrinking layer of "social media" and "cloud" faith that this time it's different and no Friendster or MySpace.

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Goldilocks And The Dog That Didn't Bark

... our default is a Goldilocks scenario between now and the next FOMC meeting in mid-March. It means that bad macro news is good market news, and vice versa. If the next ISM manufacturing number (no one cares about ISM services) is a big jump upwards, the market goes down. Ditto for the February jobs number. If they’re weak, though, that’s more pressure on the Fed and another leg up for markets. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, the croupier is about to spin the roulette wheel. Pardon me if I sit this one out, though. My crystal ball is broken. If I’m right, what does this mean for the real world? It means an Entropic Ending to the story … disappointing, slow and uneven growth as far as the eye can see, but never negative growth, never an honest assignment of losses to clear the field or cull the herd. That’s not my vision of a good investment world, but who cares? I’ve got to live in the world as it is, even if it’s a long gray slog.

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The European Debt Crisis Visualized

At the heart of the European debt crisis is the euro, the currency that ties together 17 countries in an intimate manner. So when one country teeters on the brink of financial collapse, the entire continent is at risk. The following excellent mini-documentary visually explains how such a flawed system came to be... and what's next?

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A Tale Of Two Extremes: Global Inflation In One Chart

While Europe, and the bulk of the Developed World is struggling to dig out of its unprecedented credit crunch (in which central banks are the only source of credit money which instead of entering the economy is stuck in the capital markets via the reserve pathway) and resulting deflation, the rest of the Emerging Market world is doing just fine. If by fine one means inflation at what Goldman calls, bordering on "extreme levels." This is shown in the chart below which breaks down the Y/Y change in broad prices across the main DM and EM countries, and which shows that when talking about inflation there are two worlds: the Emerging, where inflation is scorching, and Developing, where inflation is in a state of deep freeze.

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American "Exceptionalism" (In One Cartoon)

It would appear there is one thing the USA is still exceptional at (given snowboarding is off the table)...

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"The Vampire Squid Strikes Again"- Matt Taibbi Takes On Blythe Masters And The Banker Commodity Cartel

The story of how JPMorgan, Goldman and the rest of the Too Big To Fails and Prosecutes, cornered, monopolized and became a full-blown cartel - with the Fed's explicit blessing - in the physical commodity market is nothing new to regular readers: to those new to this story, we suggest reading of our story from June 2011 (over two and a half years ago),  "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel As They Slowly Recreate De Beers' Diamond Monopoly." That, or Matt Taibbi's latest article written in his usual florid and accessible style, in which he explains how the "Vampire Squid strikes again" courtesy of the "loophole that destroyed the world" to wit: "it would take half a generation – till now, basically – to understand the most explosive part of the bill, which additionally legalized new forms of monopoly, allowing banks to merge with heavy industry. A tiny provision in the bill also permitted commercial banks to delve into any activity that is "complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety or soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally." Complementary to a financial activity. What the hell did that mean?... Fifteen years later, in fact, it now looks like Wall Street and its lawyers took the term to be a synonym for ruthless campaigns of world domination."

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The Un-Taper? Stocks Up, Bonds Up, Gold Up, Oil Up, USD Down

It seems Janet has some work to do on her "communications". Judging by today's follow-through on dismal retail sales data (and a miss for claims), stocks, bonds, and gold screamed higher (and the USD lower) suggesting an increasing crowd does not believe the QEeen's "stay the taper course" meme. The S&P 500 rallied 25pts off early lows - practically in a straight-line, dislocated from JPY-carry, dislocated from bonds, and coupled almost perfectly with gold after Europe close. Nasdaq is up 6 days in a row and back near multi-year highs (+1.5% in 2014) as "most shorted" stocks were ripped 2.5% higher intraday. Gold closed back above $1,300 (outperforming on the week and since Taper); Treasury yields tumbled 6-7bps; and the USD Index dropped 0.5% led by EUR and GDP strength. VIX traded under 14% briefly. Bad news is great news once again. This is the Nasdaq's best 6-day run in 27 months.

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Bitcoin Crumbles To 3-Month Lows On Mt.Gox As CEO Defends Exchange

The ongoing exodus from Mt.Gox - a major Bitcoin exchange - amid withdrawal halts, has seen a massive $150 spread open up between it and other exchanges. Having tumbled by over 50% in the last 2 weeks, Mt. Gox pricing is back at levels first seen 3 months ago. This chaos (and the ongoing 'finger-pointing' over who is to blame) had led Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles to come out swinging in the following interview...

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CBO 'Admits' Assumption That US Never Falls Into Recession Again Is Wrong

From budget projections released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week:

CBO now expects that output will fall slightly short of its potential, on average, even after the economy has largely recovered from the recent economic downturn.


We’ve thrown in the towel on our long-time assumption that the economy never again falls into recession.

Shocker: the business cycle lives!

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The Tanks Are Rolling In Post-Devaluation Kazakhstan

Following the 20% devaluation of Kazakhstan's currency on Tuesday, the nation has quietly drifted into a very un-safe scenario. As the following clip shows, tanks and Humvees are lining the streets around Almaty as stores are closed and food is running desperately short. Local accounts note that the people are growing increasingly indignant. At a mere 192bps, the cost of protecting Kazakhstan sovereign debt from default (or further devaluation) seems cheap in light of this.

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Guest Post: When German Interest Rates Hit 9% Per Week

Yields on United States 10-year bonds rose above 3% at the beginning of January.  The yield on the 10-year had reached its lowest point in history in July 2012 at 1.43% as a result of the Fed’s policy of Quantitative Easing.  Since then yields have doubled as markets have incorporated the impact of the Fed tapering their purchase of U.S. Government securities. This raises the question, how high could interest rates go from here?  Could interest rates move up to 3% per quarter? U.S. interest rates were that high back in 1981 when the yield on US 10-year Treasuries hit 15.84% and 30-year mortgage rates hit 18.63%. What about 3% per month?

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