Some days ago, Business Week pointed out that "Warren Buffett shortened the duration of bonds held by his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. after warning that deficit spending could force inflation higher." As the article further pointed out, twenty-one percent of holdings including Treasuries, municipal debt,
foreign-government securities and corporate bonds were due in one year
or less as of June 30, Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said in a filing
Aug. 6. That compares with 18 percent on March 31, and 16 percent at the
end of last year’s second quarter. The conclusion: "It may be a sign that Buffett expects interest rates to start rising, maybe sooner than the conventional wisdom." Yet very curiously, as we pointed out, another capital markets titan, Bill Gross with his trillion+ in fixed income securities courtesy of Pimco's numerous asset managers, has done precisely the opposite. As the chart below demonstrates, Gross' flagship Total Return Fund has been doing the inverse of Buffett, and has been actively increasing the duration of his bonds over the past two years, with the current blended maturity profile being the most long-end weighted in years: in fact the percentage of bonds maturing in 3 years or less is now the lowest it has been since October 2008. Using the above logic, it would signify that, unlike Buffett, Gross is now more primed for deflation than ever. In the great inflation-deflation debate, this will be the primetime heavyweight cagematch to watch. Between Buffett's empire and Pimco's FI monopoly, one of the two will have to lose. Our question of the weekend is who will it be?
After a brief hiatus, Jim O'Neill is back, and this time is taking it easy on taunting the bears. In his weekly letter he has some rather lucid questions, the first one of them being the observation of the paradox of the surging Chinese trade deficit in light of the weakening renminbi. O'Neill states: "the GS trade weighted CNY has actually weakened by around 1.75pct since
they “ de-pegged”, by “undershooting” the rise of the Euro, Yen et al." Don't anyone tell Schumer that China's whole revaluation bluff was nothing but (and in fact a smokescreen for further devaluation) or there will be more theatrical demands for blood. O'Neill also looks at recent Chinese regulatory developments and notes that the push "to bring any off balance sheet vehicles for disguised lending, back on
the balance sheet, and to be prepared to raise fresh capital" is sensible but hopes that "if this is going to be implemented, if necessary, offsetting stimulatory measures would be introduced." Sure enough, China also has to pay for the Keynesian funeral for a long, long time. Not surprisingly, O'Neill looks at the one-time record pick up in the German economy courtesy of a massive EUR devaluation and extrapolates far into the millennia: "there seems to be a belief that Germany is on the verge of a jobs “ miracle” , and there is more and more talk of a period of stronger domestic demand." Sorry no. It is nothing like that and is purely a function of the ever more volatile seesawing in key FX crosses, on a trendline to global deleveraging contraction. Germany merely borrowed from the future courtesy of a plunge in EURUSD. It is already paying for this now and this quarter's data will be a major disappointment.
Weekly Chartology; Goldman Introduces Its Own Version Of Rosenberg's SIRP For A Low GDP Growth EnvironmentSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/14/2010 - 11:04
In a surprising act of lucidity, David Kostin recently reduced his 2010 S&P target from 1,250 to 1,200. Now, the Goldman strategist has penned his own version of David Rosenberg's SIRP (Safety and Income at A Reasonable Price), by introducing two strategies for a low GDP environment: Low Operating Leverage And Dividend Growth (LOL-DG - yes, we prefer Rosenberg's acronym).Hopefully, this means that the GARP abortion is finally dead and buried.
Gregory Simmons, the energetic force behind Scopelabs, is an unorthodox money manager whose legacy exposure, and subsequent disenchantment, with Wall Street forced him into self-enforced exile (Hawaii is sufficiently far from Wall and Broadway), where he now runs an iconoclast trading operation combining elements of quantitative, technical, fundamental and every other possible analysis. Simmons has been striving to expose the core truths, or flaws depending on perspective, about trading (first and foremost that there is no such thing, especially since the vast majority of market participants end up losing to a few select winners, as a sure thing) which many daytraders simply refuse to accept in their pursuit of gambling nirvana, all the while failing to recognize that perceived skill (especially in our current marketplace) has very little if anything to do with profit. The below video is a suitable introduction for Zero Hedge readers who may not be familiar with Scopelabs: appropriately titled "Buzzkill", in it Simmons debunks several of the key doctrines that dominate the numerous streams of Stocktwits momentum chasers, "theory fitters" and other Koolaid drinkers, all of whom, we have long claimed, have far better odds at success in a rigged casino (and not to mention the downside protection of at least getting comped expenses) than trading in the stock market, absent the "information arbitrage" capabilities of those who, to bastardize Sun Tzu, have made the profit before the initiating trade was ever printed.
Media coverage of the oil spill’s effect on the Gulf focusing on tourist income lost by the waterfront towns – with footage of empty beaches, restaurants and T-shirt shops – dominates the news. Interviews with devastated business owners are heart rending. But they always end with references to somehow hanging on until “things get back to normal.” Trouble is, things are not going to “normalize.” Not for the Panhandle of Florida, and probably not for the rest of the state, either. Projections suggest that Florida can expect oil all along its west coast, and possibly throughout the Keys and up the east coast as well. Yet even before BP’s well began spewing crude, pressures within the state’s economy were building. It was an explosive situation awaiting a match. Oily beaches and dying wildlife are likely that match.
Several weeks ago, a spoof xtranormal cartoon went viral, in which the purchasing sequence of an iPhone (as compared to an HTC Evo) was hyperbolized, and which ruthlessly mocked the brainwashing practices of the Apple Borg collective. It was only a matter of time, before the brain trust behind the lampoon decided to focus its attention on the next group that has been ridiculed since time immemorial: the long-suffering gold bugs. Sure enough, the sequel is now out, and the process of purchasing an iPhone is now downright boring compared to the purported thought process behind buying gold. Of course, the cartoon is quite hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons, as in trying to mock those who believe that on a short/medium enough timeline, the survival rate for paper drops to zero, the video, which is sure to go just as viral, in fact proves all the concerns not just of the faceless "goldbug" collective, but of all those others who believe gold is headed much, much higher, which also includes the richest and most prominent money managers, financiers, and politicians in the world.
Goldman's John Noyce (part of the firm's trading desk) has released his most recent barrage of technical analysis and charts, confirming our running expectation that a drop in stocks is now widely anticipated by the charts. In addition to extended commentary on FX, Bonds, Curves, and the VIX, Noyce notes the following on the S&P: "as discussed in recent client meetings, while the timing is difficult, we remain concerned that a larger topping structure is still being formed on the S&P – which will eventually lead to another meaningful decline." Has everyone, Goldman included, now gone from bullish to bearish in the span of two weeks?
It was only Wednesday when we were lamenting the collapse of alpha after implied correlation hit an all time intraday high of just under 80. Well, today should be the day when all long/short funds are shutting down: implied corr just closed at an all time record high of 79.57, after also posting an absolute intraday record of 80.08. It is getting ever more obvious that stocks continue to trade more and more as just one asset class, as seen by the constant increase in JCJ below, which has risen almost 15% in this week alone. At this rate, every stock will trade just like every other stock in under 3 weeks when alpha is officially put to rest and stock dispersion has undergone an extinction level event (better known as HFT and ETF encroachment, in which it is the price that determines value and not the other way around).
This week, in addition to the standard weekly CFTC COT report we post in collaboration with Libanman Futures, we are happy to present data on FX as well, so readers can decide which currencies are overbought/sold by speculators/large commercials, or just look at more pretty charts.
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 13/08/10
Pimco Dumps Treasuries In July, Boosts Holdings Of 3-10 Year Securities In Another Example Of Fed "Anticipation"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/13/2010 - 15:51
Pimco's Total Return Fund has released its July portfolio composition. The most notable difference is the cut in US Treasury holdings from 63% (or $147 billion) in June to "just" 54% in July: an almost $20 billion reduction in UST holdings. And even as he cut his government holdings, Gross kept flat or added to all other asset classes, with MBS increasing from 16% to 18% of AUM, and EM holdings increasing to a record 11% of holdings. This is undoubtedly a function of his recently publicized interest in Brazil. The question is whether Gross' EM interest will suffer the same fate as his investment in non-US developed bonds, which peaked at 19% in February and has sine plunged to a low of 3% in June, to close July at 5%. More importantly, parsing through the fund's maturity profile, we notice that Pimco's holdings now have the longest duration they have had in at least two years, and possibly ever: just 20% of Gross exposure is in sub-3 Year maturity paper. Gross' current sweet spot is in the 3-10 year part of the curve, which of course makes all the sense for the man having made his career by frontrunning the Fed - let's recall where the Fed recently announced it would be focusing its Treasury purchases.... yep - precisely the part of the curve where Pimco now has almost 60% exposure. Good work, Bill.
Keynesian stimulus can’t be blamed for all our problems, but it would have been nice if our politicians hadn’t relied on it so blindly. Debt is debt is debt, after all. It doesn’t matter if it’s owed by governments or individuals. It weighs on the institutions that issue too much of it, and the ensuing consequences of paying off the interest costs severely hinders governments’ ability to function properly. It suffices to say that we need a new economic plan – a plan that doesn’t invite governments to print their way out of economic turmoil. Keynesian theory enjoyed a tremendous run, but is now for all intents and purposes dead… and now it’s time to pay for it. Literally. - Eric Sprott
The late Friday afternoon autopilot has kicked in: with carbon-based traders hoping for an early start to one of the last workable Hamptons weekends, volume has plunged, after a promising start. The result, as always, is a gradual meltup in stock, which as has been the case recently, now diverge from bonds on a regular basis. Yet, as we showed previously, the convergence earlier this week was dramatic, and fully on the back of the algos. Take opportunities like this to short or at least, bet on convergence: short stocks, short bonds.
Rick Santelli went a little nuts this morning, in a rant that easily qualifies in his Top 3 of all time. The gratuitous rating tends to correlate with the peak dB achieved while screaming at some gratuitous idiot and/or the length of applause by fellow CME floor members. (We also appreciate the advertising). Rick gets wound up based on earlier disclosure by Bill Gross that if the government guarantee of the GSEs were removed, he would only participate in the mortgage market if there was 30% down payments by first time homebuyers (oh, and, tee hee, guess who will be present and providing "eye of the monopolist beholder" advice at next Tuesday's panel). As Rick summarizes: "the people holding, the Treasury or institutions, are locked up in this place where the subsidies can't come out; extrication is going to be difficult much less getting out of the way of anything they may do in the future." Yet what sets Rick off is the debate over why the Fed should not let housing crash to its fair value bottom, instead of artificially pushing rates lower and lower, which benefits nobody except those serial refinanciers who hope to lock in a 30 Year at 0.001%. The screamfest begins at 5:40.
Rosenberg Interview: "If You Don't Believe In A Double Dip, It's Because The First Recession Never Ended"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/13/2010 - 12:32
Sick and tired of CNBC "interviews" in which the speaker is given 15 seconds inbetween commercials to explain why the economy is in the toilet, before another talking head from the dodecabox appears and starts spouting painfully ridiculous things? So are we. Which is why we refuse to link to David Rosenberg's earlier presence on CNBC, and instead we present Rosie's following 26 minute interview with the WSJ which is a must watch for all who want to listen to exiled Merrill Lyncher express a coherent realistic thought before some CNBC associate producer screams "cut to commercial for incontinence pills." And, true to form, Rosie starts off in style: "If you don't believe there's going to be a double dip, it's because the first recession never ended. If there is going to be a double dip, the odds are certainly higher than 50-50." For those who follow Rosie's daily letters via Gluskin Sheff (which would be all of our readers), the insights won't be particularly new, but it is always great to hear a rational and sensible human discuss things as he sees them, not as his trading book demands he sees them.