Wrong Again: Hedge Funds Start 2015 Most Long The S&P Since 2013; Most Short The 10 Year Since 2010

It appears "the trend is your friend" is only a mantra that 'speculators' are willing to follow for stocks as the incessant rally in US Treasury bonds has led traders to position for higher rates at the largest level since May 2010 (more short squeeze, rates to 1%-handle ammunition?). However, the surging stock market has merely encouraged more to follow that trend as S&P 500 specs are the 'longest' since July 2013. Just as we noted previously, this is deja vu all over again for hedgie positioning into 2014 (but even more extreme)... and that was a painful year for most.

Massive Bronx Manhunt For Shooters Of Two NYPD Cops

A day after the funeral of a colleague killed in an ambush last month fueled tensions between the force and the city's mayor and led to another day when thousands of policemen turned their back on New York mayor Bill de Blasio, two NYC policemen were shot and wounded on Monday night, officials said,  According to Reuters, the officers, part of a plainclothes unit, were shot outside a Chinese restaurant in the Bronx district as they tracked two suspects to an armed robbery, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton told a news conference early on Tuesday. The officers were transported to St. Barnabas Hospital and were expected to survive. Both were listed in stable condition: one, aged 30, was shot in the arm and lower back. The second man, aged 38, had chest and arm wounds. A massive manhunt is taking place for the suspects, described as 25- to 30-year-old Hispanic males, who are still at large. The organization COP SHOT (Citizens Outraged at Police Being Shot) is offering a $10,000 cash reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

Frontrunning: January 6

  • Average 10-year yield of U.S., Japan and Germany dropped below 1% for the first time ever: Free Money in Bond Markets Shows Global Economy Still Struggling (BBG)
  • Brent falls below $52 as oil hits new five and a half year lows (Reuters)
  • China Fast-Tracks $1 Trillion in Projects to Spur Growth (BBG)
  • Saudi Arabia Raises Price of Main Oil Grade for Asian Buyers (BBG)
  • Oilfield Writedowns Loom as Crude Slump Guts Drilling Values (BBG)
  • Biggest Oil-Rig Drop Since 2009 Spells Tough Year Ahead (BBG)
  • CIA says its inspector general is resigning at end of month (Reuters)
  • Pipeline IPOs Climb on Demand for Returns Immune to Oil (BBG)
  • Natural Gas No Savior for Investors Seeking Oil Refuge (BBG)
  • Euro zone economy ended 2014 in poor shape (Reuters)

The Crunch Continues: WTI Tumbles Under $49, 10Y Dips Below 2%

Same slide, different day, as the crude crash continues, with both WTI and Brent tumbling to multi-year highs, below $49 and $52 respectively. This happened despite the news overnight that China is accelerating 300 infrastructure projects valued at 7 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion) this year, suggesting that China will focus more on fiscal policy than monetary easing, which in turn led to much confusion in the SHCOMP, which fluctuated up and down for the day several times before finally closing unchanged. There was no confusion about the stops slamming USDJPY, and its Nikkei225 derivative which tumbled 3%, sending Japanese Treasury yields to fresh record lows. Record low yields were also seen in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, France (and many other places), which in turn forced the US 10 Year to finally dip back under 2.00%. In fact, taken together, the average 10Y bond yield of the U.S., Japan and Germany has dropped below 1% for the first time ever, according to Citi.

And The World Was Split In Twain

In 1991, the Cold War between the US and the USSR ended, as, economically, the USSR had run its course. Since that time, the US has had the ability to back off on armaments and to strengthen itself economically, to become even more powerful as the world’s present empire. But, of course, that’s not what they did. Instead, they went headlong in the direction of becoming a more highly armed, more fascist state. Along the way, they became extremely reckless with their economy, following a Keynesian model that contributed to the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen.

"We Are Extremely Over-Retailed" Picturing The Death Of America's Malls

Starting in the mid-1990s, "the mall genie was out of the bottle," says one mall analyst, "and it was never going to come back." While about 80% of the country’s 1,200 malls are considered healthy (vacancy rates of 10% or less), that compares with 94% in 2006; and more than 30 million square feet of malls are more than 40% empty, a threshold that signals the beginning of what one one analyst called "the death spiral." As The NY Times reports, like beached whales, dead malls draw fascination as well as dismay, "nobody ever thinks a mall is going to up and die," but as the following images show - dead or dying they are.

A Presidential Birth Certificate Controversy Leads To Clashes, Arrests, One Death

It appears that only in less-developed nations do the people care about Presidential birth certificates. As GlobalVoices reports, clashes broke out between police and the opposition in Gabon stemming from questions about the legitimacy of President Ali Bongo Ondimba. The publication of a book disputing the origins of the President (claiming him to be Nigerian) has led opposition parties to challenge the authenticity of the birth certificate of the head of state which has sparked widespread protests. The protests left 1 dead and many injured and arrested. As local media note, "if the government continues to refuse to negotiate, things could go very wrong."

Obamacare Architects At Harvard Furious After Learning They Are Not Exempt From Obamacare

The brain incubator at Harvard, the place which according to legend, and certainly the US News and World Report's annual paid college infomercial, is the repository for some of the smartest people in the world, is furious.
Because Harvard's brilliant ivory tower economists and public policy wonks know precisely how to fix the world... as long as said fix never applies to them!

"Something Is Not Right" Jeff Gundlach Is "Concerned About Health Of The Economy & Financial System"

Having warned of the "terrifying consequences" of oil prices staying this low, DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach, in an extensive interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft, warns he is "beginning to see signs of investor concern around the edges about the health of the economy and about the financial system. Historically, when junk bonds give up the ghost and treasuries remain firm, it is a signal that something is not right." Touching on everything from a string dollar to Indian stocks, and from Oil to bonds, and The Fed, Gundlach concludes, "the only places where there is inflation is in places that are painful. Raising interest rates against that backdrop seems like a poor idea. So I just hope the Fed thinks carefully about what it is doing." Boxed-in much?

In Japan, Top Tuna Sells Below ¥5 Million For The First Time In Eight Years, Down 22% From A Year Ago

While Japan's population is toiling under what by now is insurmountable import price inflation, leading to soaring prices for anything that isn't produced domestically and has to be purchased with rapidly depreciating Yen, the reality is that - thanks to the biggest collapse in real wages in the 21st century - the deflationary mindest is now more embedded than ever. Case in point: the first tuna auction at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market. It was here that earlier today the highest price for a bluefin tuna fell below ¥5 million for the first time in eight years, coming in at ¥4.51 million for a 180-kilogram tuna caught off Oma, Aomori Prefecture.

As Japan Opens, Nikkei 225 Down Over 500 Points From Overnight Highs - Below 17,000

UPDATE: Nikkei 225 Futs lose 17k - trading 16,985

Time for some GPIF asset re-allocation and spuriously repititive headlines about Abenomics, 3rd Arrows, growth, anti-deflation, or some such bollocks (as they say in Japan). For now, JGB Futures are at all-time record high prices, USDJPY sits back under 119.50, and Nikkei 225 Futures are holding just above the crucial 17k mark - down over 500 points from last night's highs.

Sayonara Global Economy

The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.

2015 - Life In The Breakdown Lane

“Don’t look back - something might be gaining on you,” Satchel Paige famously warned. For connoisseurs of civilizational collapse, 2014 was merely annoying, a continued pile-up of over-investments in complexity with mounting diminishing returns, metastasizing fragility, and no satisfying resolution. So we enter 2015 with greater tensions than ever before and therefore the likelihood that the inevitable breakdown will release more destructive energy and be that much harder to recover from.

Obama Is Watching: White House Monitoring If Crude Crash Is Affecting Stocks

"Some folks are selling stocks..." and, according to The White House, President Obama is closely monitoring it. As The Hill reports, despite the meme that lower-oil-prices-are-unequivocally-good-news-for-Americans, the Obama administration is monitoring whether the fall in oil prices is affecting the US stock market. Just over 5 years ago, President Obama explained to the American public that "profit and earning ratios are starting to get to the point where buying stocks is a potentially good deal," so we can rest assured that our leaders are (for now) "hesitant" to say whether the fall of the stock market, which came as crude oil trades briefly dipped below $50, was related to oil prices.. so blamed Europe.

Is Citi The Next AIG?

Something stunning and unexpected took place in the third quarter: Citigroup, or rather its FDIC-insured Citibank National Association entity, just surpassed JPM and is now the biggest single holder of total derivatives in the US. Furthermore, as the charts below show, while every other bank was derisking its balance sheet, Citi not only increased its total derivative holdings by $1 trillion in Q2, but by a whopping, and perhaps even record, $9 trillion in the just concluded third quarter to $70.2 trillion!

As We Enter 2015, Charts "Bulls" Should Consider

While the media continues to pound the table with all of the bullish arguments that should continue to drive the current advance in the markets, it is only prudent to at least attempt an understanding of the counter arguments. The "risk" to investors is not a continued rise in the financial markets, but the eventual reversion that will occur. Like Wyle E. Coyote, since most individuals only consider the "bull case," as it creates a confirmation bias to support their "greed factor", they never see the "cliff" until it is far to late. Hopefully, these charts will give you some food for thought.  Remember, every professional poker player knows how to spot a "pigeon at the table."  Make sure it isn't you.