While some believe tonight is critical to the future of our nation - and well could be - we believe some will need placating as the results roll across the bottom of their screens and are manipulated in an ever-increasing multitude of 10-dimensional holographic charts that we fully expect to work incorrectly at some point. To fulfil that 'need for numbing', we have found three drinking games of varying suspected quantity that we hope will prove useful. From simple and stand-alone, to team-based and punish-your-friends focused, we believe there is a fair-and-balanced approach here for everyone.
Once upon a time there was a myth that the equity market can only go up, year after year, with the average annual return according to such esteemed counting institutions as Ibbotson, at 10% or more. Then, we got the November 7, 2000 presidential election, which took place when the S&P was 1432. Fast forward to today, skipping the second and third elections in the interim, and going straight to today's fourth presidential election. The closing S&P today? 1428. We have now had four presidential elections... and a funeral - that of the "stock market always rises" myth. But wait, it gets worse. The numbers above are nominal. When adjusting for the real purchasing power lost in the past 12 years, whose best indicator in a regime in which CPI data is constantly fudged and manipulated, is the price of gold, one can see that 3 presidential elections later, the S&P 500, when priced in gold terms, is now 83% lower. In other words, how is that wealth effect working out for you? And where will the stock market be in another 3 presidential elections in either nominal or real terms? One can only hope that Japan is not prologue...
The early day surge in stocks and commodities (and sell-off in bonds) managed to get S&P 500 futures up to their 50DMA and the pre-NFP levels (which coincides with Bernanke's Bottom). Volume surged on the way up there and once hit we faded all the way back to VWAP (surprise!) retracing the knee-jerk spike as no news was discounted back out (and equities reverted to where risk-assets in general had been waiting). Commodities followed a similar path up but held on to their gains - especially Gold. Somewhat worryingly (given their dominance in fund holdings) for the market, GOOG and AAPL were both red. Today seemed much more about algos and technicals than about election bets - especially given the somewhat anti-consensus moves early on - and on the basis of that, the fade into the close suggests risk-reduction was the game plan for the big boys, even though we end the day in the green in the major indices (with Financials unch from QE3). The USD is practically unchanged on the week with stocks and commodities up and TSYs down.
Overwhelmed by the information overload? Drowning in a sea of demographically sliced-and-diced exit-polls from every polling booth in the nation? Have no fear, Citi has created the ultimate election night cheat-sheet of the bellwether-est counties in the swing-est states. As they note, over the past three elections, these counties' vote totals have been very close to the statewide results, and they've picked the statewide winner each time. This makes them early indicators of the electoral vote winner in their states. Whether a Sun Belt growth county, an exurb, a middle class university area or a Midwestern farm community, all these areas are representative of key demographic groups wooed by both the two parties over the past decade.
While the equity market is blissfully holding its no-news gains, everyone's favorite hedge fund hotel just hit the lows of the day... Having tested up to the 200DMA, AAPL is now leaking back under Friday's closing VWAP... Need moar channel-checks and $1111 analyst price-targets on TV stat!
We will have much more to say on the grandiose return of CLOs in the next few days (those who were not in high school during the peak of the credit crisis, so most of today's "traders", recall these peak credit bubble contraptions quite well) but for now we just wanted to bring to our readers' attention that yet another $625 million CLO has just priced, this time from Sankaty, courtesy of Morgan Stanley. Anyone needing confirmation that the credit bubble is back with a bang, need look no further than the table below. We look forward with amusement once the confused peanut gallery, aka CTRL-C/V majoring "financial media" (where even the somewhat more qualified are about to be "synergized" following news that the FT is pushing hard with a sale), realizes that Sankaty is Bain Capital's $20 billion credit affiliate hedge fund, especially if the election goes for Romney, and goes all aflutter googling what a CLO is and what it means for the flood surge level of liquidity in the market (but, but, Bernanke is printing it all for the children... and housing).
Of all the hollow and uninspired elections that this country has suffered through over the past several decades, one might think that at some point long ago the American public would have finally struck a plateau of disenfranchisement; that we could sink no further into despondency, that there is a saturation limit to the corruption of our voting process. Unfortunately, there has been no such luck. We have to say that in all honesty we have never seen more people gut jumbled and disgusted with our electoral system than we have in 2012. In 2012, it will not be about voting. It will not be about “winning”. It will not even be about getting to the next election. It will be about survival. We're sorry to say that the idea that one man will do less damage than the other is a naïve sentiment. Democrat? Republican? Obama? Romney? The crimes and calamities wrought will be exactly the same. Take a look into our crystal ball and see the future. Here is how the winner will destroy America.
While little makes sense any more in the New Bizarro Market normal, Dow Jones believes it may have stumbled upon one "reason" for the stung like a bee 11:30 am market ramp. Markets proved once again that they are far from the paragon of efficiency that so many prefer to proclaim - bending their movements to the headline of the day to prove one's point. Today was a perfect example. Efficiency at its best...Total no news = 10 S&P points
T minus 7 hours. That is how long until both all important Florida and Ohio polls close. As previously explained, whoever gets these two states will almost certainly carry the election, which means that by 8pm Eastern, the marginal votes will be in, and shortly thereafter one after another media organization and network will begin calling both these two states, and the election, for either the Democrats or the GOP (at which point the litigation and recount demands can begin). The complete guide to the closing times of the polls in assorted East to West states, together with their respective seats in the electoral college, is shown below, although it is likely that long before California polling is even concluded the next president will already be known.
Predictions regarding the election outcome are all over the place. Dennis Gartman for instance thinks that 'Romney will win quite handily'. While this opinion may be largely informed by wishful thinking in this case, there are two interesting points made by Gartman. One concerns poll errors, and the other the Bradley (or Wilder) effect (or 'political correctness effect' - i.e., it is not motivated by racism, but by the fear of people that they might be seen as racist). Jim Cramer is taking the exact opposite view from Gartman's, expecting a 'landslide' victory for Obama. Of course Cramer wouldn't be Cramer if his forecast didn't stand out for being a bit extreme. The Princeton election consortium's latest update of the meta-analysis of the electoral vote count on the eve of the election continues to predict an Obama victory as well, but clearly the race is getting tighter. However, across the pond, it is clear that the Europeans see the election (and indeed any election it seems) very differently, highlighting their ignorance of the difference between 'total capitalism' and 'crony capitalism'.
Following the biggest drop in almost five months, Gold has bounced hard off its 100DMA as it goes vertical - rising the most in two months. Breaking back above $1700, we can only speculate that this cross-asset class ramp is due to rumors that Bernanke is currently in the lead in Ohio... Spot Gold $1715 as we post...
Since early this morning when Germany dropped its nasty econ bomb, the US has been bid. It's not like Europe was sold, it's just that US Treasuries, US Equities, and US-denominated Gold have been on a tear (as the USD has been sold). Equity volumes remain dismal but apart from a near-vertical snap up to VWAP, AAPL has been going the opposite way all day (down!)... Or perhaps, now that Europe is closed, someone just leaked the election results given that ridonculous surge in S&P futures?
"Capitalists seem almost uninterested in Capitalism" is how Clayton Christensen describes the paradox of our recovery-less recovery. In an excellent NYTimes Op-ed, the father of the Innovator's Dilemma comments that "America today is in a macroeconomic paradox that we might call the capitalist’s dilemma." Business and investors are drowning in Fed-sponsored liquidity (theoretically, capital fuels capitalism) but are endowed with what he calls the Doctrine of New Finance - where short-termist profitability guides entrepreneurs away from investments that can create real economic growth. We are trying to solve the wrong problem. Our approach to higher education is exacerbating our problems. There is a solution, it's complicated, but Christensen offers three ideas to seed the discussion.
Few charts capture as effectively the shift in foreign demand for US Treasurys over the past 4 years, or under the Obama administration, as the following two, courtesy of the latest TBAC Q4 refunding presentation. They are quite self-explanatory.
There are few practical limits on presidential power. This is a key dynamic in the failed presidencies of G.W. Bush and Barack Obama. If you're not familiar with the term The Imperial Presidency, you soon will be. Presidents before G.W. Bush and Obama managed to perform their duties with a handful of Executive Orders--five per term seemed about average. President Bush issued 160 in his first term while President Obama has so far issued 139. The implicit claim by defenders of essentially unlimited presidential power is that these broad powers are needed to run the American Empire. No Establishment figure would dare openly state that the U.S. operates a military, diplomatic, financial and commercial Empire, but that is nonetheless the case being made to justify the Imperial Presidency: an Empire requires an Imperial President with broad powers to act not just in the domestic economy and society but anywhere in the world. What we need is not a new president but a new presidency. Unfortunately neither candidate has expressed any interest in limiting the powers of the Imperial Presidency.