Why Hedge Funds Hate Stocks In A World Where "Tulip Trend" Is Top Performer: Complete July Performance SummarySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/10/2012 - 11:35
July was not a bad month for most hedge funds. There is, however, one big problem: virtually all of them underperformed the S&P. As they did in June. As they did in May. Etc. Etc. And that has been the theme this whole year: hedge funds, which account for over $2 trillion in unlevered purchasing power, and between $4-6 trillion levered, are not doing badly, they are simply underperforming the S&P very badly, in many cases by more than 2 standard deviations. And as all those fund managers who wake up and go to bed with two words on their minds: "career risk", underperforming the benchmark, or in this case the broad stock market, which does not demand 2 and 20, is the surest way to extinction. Then again, in a centrally planned market in which a hedge fund called Tulip Trend is the best performer Year To Date (and in which Paulson's Disadvantage Minus continues to be the worst), nothing can really surprise any more.
Gold is significantly #winning today - well ahead of stocks and the USD after being closely synced with them since the lows last Friday pre-ramp. The question is why? We have an idea. Gold and stocks have been closely correlated on the back of expectations of Fed/ECN unsterilized printing - as gold has taken on the appearance of a risk asset - and rightfully so given the nature of these markets dependence on CBs. However, stocks have outperformed in their own manipulated manner as whatever magic pressure has held gold down continues (as they both rise as simple proxies for more money flooding the system). In a very similar echo of 2009, the last 6-9 months have seen the value of the S&P 500 priced in Gold dip aggressively and then surge back. At current levels we are getting 'rich' in terms of equities priced in real stores of value. And perhaps, just as in 2009, we are about to see real stores of value catch up to equity valuations and continue this outperformance...Gold rallied 23% relative to stocks in the preceding three months.
Just when you had got over the entirely inane creation of a living-will that purports to solve the taxpayer's dilemma should a large SIFI hit an iceberg; Reuters reports - this time super secret - the Fed, in 2010, asked for a plan from the US' Big 5 Banks for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems - critically emphasizing that the banks can't rely on government help. Read that again and we dare you not to laugh. It seems regulators are trying hard to ensure banks have plans for worst-case scenarios - in order to act rationally in times of distress. Recovery plans differ from living wills, also known as 'resolution plans', and are about protecting the crown jewels - the shareholders - while a resolution plan is about protecting the system, taxpayers and creditors; of course it's all ridiculous smoke and mirrors. Interestingly, Reuters has uncovered an 'Orderly Liquidation of a Failed SIFI' presentation - embedded below - sponsored by JPMorgan which is reassuringly positive of this end of the world contagion scenario.
While we have pointed out that 10Y Spanish bonds have deteriorated notably since the Euphoric moves recently, we have oft heard the stoic bulls arguing thus: but, but, but... 2Y is where the real action is and that's where the ECB will support them. Umm, sorry, even amid a dismally quiet and illiquid week which should see yields drifting lower as they roll gently down the curve, 2Y Spanish bond yields have retraced 50% of their rally from last Friday and are comfortably back above 4% once again. Perhaps, slowly but surely, the realization that for it to get better, it has to get much worse is taking hold - though obviously US equity holders have yet to get that message.
Lost in the complete and utter lack of newsflow yesterday (no pun intended) were some comments from Otmar Issing, former chief economist of the ECB. Also a German. Also an advisor for Goldman Sachs. In the absence of Angela Merkel and Schauble, both of whom are still conducting privatization due diligence on Santorini, he decided to present the German view to all the recent bluster and posturing by Europe choosing beggars. What he so conveniently explained is just why "European Union" is the biggest oxymoron imaginable, and why Germany will hardly smile quietly as the rest of the continent uses history as its only leverage to shame Germany into funding the bailout of its broke neighbors. In fact, what Issing confirms, is why any hope that a Federalist union in a continent in which deep seated hatred runs deep, and will promptly overtake any of the happiness associated with the recent 30 years of fake prosperity, is doomed. Art Cashin explains.
It's been six weeks since the EU Summit that apparently laid the foundation for all that is good in Europe to evolve. Between the EU Summit's euphoria-to-dysphoria flip-flop and Draghi's believe-to-deceive-to-promise roller-coaster, bond prices/yields and stock prices have had a wild ride - but there is a very clear disconnect now. Since 6/28, Spanish and Italian 10Y spreads are unchanged - yes the very instrument that is supposed to benefit from all this chin-wagging and jawboning has done nothing! Meanwhile - the previously synced at the hip equity markets of these two nations have soared - both now above immediate knee-jerk highs of the EU Summit. This leaves Italy's FTSEMIB almost 7% over-valued relative to its credit risk and Spain's IBEX around 6%; whether this is due to the short-sale ban or simply an irrational willful ignorance of fact over hope - we suggest the convergence offers some better hope (especially as Rajoy sees his party support waning).
As reported on Wednesday night, China's economy is contracting faster than anyone expected. As further reported last night, China loan creation at 540.1 billion yuan was far below economist estimates of 700 billion. In other words: the world's marginal economy is starting to crack. So the PBOC has no choice but to ease right? Wrong. As we showed yesterday, the Chinese central bank has one mandate above all: food price stability, or else suffer the consequences of "1+ billion people instability." And as the USDA report just confirmed, Soybean is going nowhere but up. Which in turn means Chinese food inflation, which makes up 30% of the headline CPI (unlike America's 7.8%) is set to follow. Still hoping and praying that the PBOC will ease even as the deep fried black swan we warned about 2 weeks ago is rapidly flapping its wings toward Beijing? Hope and pray harder.
Corn was already surging to new record highs before the USDA released the WASDE report this morning. With a consensus view of 10.929 billion bushels (compared to USDA's prior 2012 estimates of 12.97 billion), the USDA's 10.779 billion bushel forecast means a 17% slashing in harvest expectations. Crop conditions were the worst since 1988 with 69% of the Midwest in drought. Soybeans likewise were expected to show a 2.796 billion bushel production forecast (based on Bloomberg's survey) which compares with the 3.05 billion prior forecast from USDA and just came 4% below expectations. Bloomberg notes: "The U.S. drought means that global corn supplies will be critically tight for the next year; Livestock and milk-product prices will have to rise to cover the increased feed costs. Eventually, global consumers will have to pay the bill." It appears the algos were at play immediately after the report as prices surged (in corn) to $8.49 before falling rapidly back to $8.19, and are now up fractionally at $8.31. The biggest consequence is a heavier drag on any possibility of a sizable Chinese stimulus as food price inflation, as we noted last night, is set to stymie any flood of money.
Look around. Take a good long and hard look because the data is becoming unsettling and it is pouring in from all over the world. In China, where a hard landing was thought to have been avoided; one moment please, not so fast. The world’s growth engine is sputtering and there will be consequences. In Europe the situation is dramatically worsening with virtually every country in a recession with the notable exception of Germany though we predict they will join the club by the fourth quarter of this year or by the first quarter of next year. For those that think that the Fed will save the day, if not the planet, we suggest to you that you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. There is only so much they can do now and each Fed action is being met by a less and less reaction in the markets and of a shorter duration.
The Financial Times published an interesting article on Wednesday by a Tokyo-based analyst with Arcus Research, Peter Tasker, entitled of 'Cash out of gold and send kids to college'. The article is interesting as it is an articulate synopsis of those who are either negative on and or bearish on gold. It clearly shows the continuing failure to understand the importance of gold as a diversification and as financial insurance. Tasker incorrectly states that gold is "just another financial asset, as vulnerable to the shifts of investor sentiment as an emerging market." He conveniently ignores over 2,000 years of history showing how gold is a store of value. He also ignores recent academic research showing gold to be a hedging instrument and a safe haven asset. Another fact unacknowledged is how gold has clearly been a store of value since the current financial and economic crisis began in 2007. Since then gold has protected people from depreciating financial assets (such as equities and noncore bonds) and from depreciating fiat currencies such as the dollar, the pound and more recently the euro.
European markets opened lower as risk-off was observed across the asset classes as participants reacted to the disappointing data from China overnight. Continental equity futures have moved horizontally throughout the session so far with little newsflow or influential data to sway price action. Heading into the European open, little has changed as all European indices are in the red, being led lower by consumer goods and utilities. China posted a sharp narrowing in their trade balance surplus to USD 25bln from USD 32bln in June, as the growth in exports slows across the month. As such, it is not a surprise to hear the usual market chatter of the Chinese central bank taking an imminent move to cut their Reserve Requirement Ratio today. However, as nothing has materialised, the riskier assets have not seen any significant lift from the talk.
- World’s Oldest Shipping Company Closes In Industry Slide (Bloomberg)
- Japan Growth May Slow to Half Previous Pace as Exports Wane (Bloomberg)
- China Export Growth Slides As World Recovery Slows (Bloomberg)
- Weidmann tries to muffle not spike Draghi's ECB guns (Reuters)
- Draghi lays out toolkit to save eurozone (FT)
- Concerns grow over prospects for sterling (FT)
- RIM Said To Draw Interest From IBM On Enterprise Services (Bloomberg)
- UN urges US to cut ethanol production (FT)
- Goldman Sachs Leads Split With Obama, As GE Jilts Him Too (Bloomberg)
- New apartments boost US building sector (FT)