Analysts are forecasting the highest fraction of companies to post year-over-year margin expansion in our data history, despite the already near-record profit levels today. The only thing one can say when looking at this chart of expectations (apart from - imagine the job losses needed to achieve this) is WTF?!
The assessment on the attached chart is very simple: as Stone McCarrthy puts it "this is an indication of an increase in structural unemployment." That statement is quite obvious to the millions of Americans who have been out of a job for years since the Lehman collapse, and have been unable to find a new job despite the plethora of "job openings." However, that's not all. What the implied unemployment rate based on the current level of Job Openings is, is even worse - because it is precisely at the 5.5% level where the Fed would not only taper, not only end QE but begin tightening!
The S&P 500 has now managed the longest weekly winning streak (7 weeks) since May 2007 (when it managed a 9% gain). Off the recent lows, the current run is an impressive 9.6% (for the S&P) with Trannies up 12.5% in the same period. (we hesitate to mention that May 2007's run-up was halted by the first of the structured credit funds imploding) On the week, Trannies and NASDAQ ended back practically unch, Russell 2000 outperformed but the afternoon melt-up in stocks (on the back of more shorts being squeezed) held the S&P above 1,800 close for the first time ever. Bonds rallied (recovering a lot of their mid-week losses), the USD was offered in general (led by EUR strength) but AUD's 2% loss was notable. VIX was manhandled to 12.25% into the close to maintain the headline-grabbing 1,800 as gold and silver clung to their lows.
Encapsulating all that is wrong with the raise-your-stock-price-by-hyperbole-alone strategy of most new 'tech' firms, Tesla's recent claim of a "5.4 Stars - out of 5" safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) perhaps takes the biscuit. But as Jalopnik reports, the NHTSA is not standing for the lies anymore and has issues a statement explaining to car-makers that NHTSA does not award higher than a 5-star rating - advertisers should avoid "double" 5-star rating, numbers greater than 5, and using the terms "perfect," "safest," "flawless" or "best in class" are misleading. What will Elon Musk do now?
Out of curiosity, we searched for the term “gold” in English language books starting in 1776. As one would expect back in the 18th and 19th centuries when gold was actually considered money, the instances of the word ‘gold’ favored prevalently in English language books at the time. The trend continued into the early part of the 20th century. But then something interesting happened in the mid-1930s. The use of the word ‘gold’ in English language books reached its peak… and began a steep, multi-decade decline. The last 10 years though, have seen that trend begin to shift...
Yesterday, Ukraine was faced with a historic choice: "go West" by signing a new trade pact with the European Union and align against its former master the USSR... or "East", and go back, at least symbolically, to mother Russia. To Europe's shocked amazement, the Ukraine picked "East" in yet another very visible win for Vladimir Putin in what has just been the former KGB spy's year. Sure enough, Putin spokesman's welcomed "the desire to improve and develop trade and economic cooperation" with a "close partner". Europe on the other hand, was shocked and appalled at this unprecedented snub: "This is a disappointment not just for the EU but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement. Ah yes, because Europe's unelected dictators are so concerned with the popular choices of wayward "democracies."
Expenditure on social benefits in the EU fell to 29.1% of GDP in 2011 from 29.7% in 2009, Eurostat said yesterday. However, do not feel too bad for the broad European social state. While France (as one might expect) nears the top of the list with over 33% of GDP spent on "social benefits", Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes that it is Denmark that spends the most on welfare at 34.3% of GDP, and Latvia spent the least, 15.1%. Of course, in the new normal, as in the US, retirees accounted for the majority of the trasnfer payments with an average of 46% of total expenditure while unemployment benefit accounted for 6%. Interestingly, Greece nears the top of the list with almost 31% of GDP spent on welfare.
We earlier discussed Bill Ackman's lengthy interview on Bloomberg TV during which he faced up to the $500 million losses (more now) from his Herbalife position, and that it is "not a trade" for him but "will take it to the ends of the earth." However, it seems his comments that "Herbalife longs are all 80-year-old billionaires" pissed off Carl Icahn enough to warrant his wrath. Icahn called in to Trish Regan and exclaimed, "I fail to understand how Bill Ackman, whom I haven’t spoken to for years, nor do I intend to speak to, would know what I am or am not committed to. I continue to believe Herbalife has a great future, and in my opinion many of the things Ackman says about it are simply the rantings of a sore loser." The stock remains +5% and back near recent record highs.
Hugh Hendry Capitulates: "Can't Look At Himself In The Mirror" As He Throws In The Towel, Turns BullishSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/22/2013 - 12:55
"I cannot look at myself in the mirror; everything I have believed in I have had to reject. This environment only makes sense through the prism of trends."
- Hugh Hendry
The following graphic was put together by the folks at Promontory Financial and is extremely telling. It looks at three ways in which a U.S. citizen might choose to go about sending a $1,000 downpayment to Europe for the purpose of renting a vacation home. They put Bitcoin side by with with a traditional bank wire as well as a credit card transaction. The results might surprise you...
For anyone who still suggests, incorrectly, that Larry Summers was the "wrong" choice for Fed Chairman just because he would promptly end QE the second he was elected as the erroneous popular meme goes, we have one soundbite from his recent Bloomberg TV interview refuting all such speculation: "if you had to say, should we have used this tool or should we not have, I think the answer is overwhelming that we should have." He had some other amusing logical fallacies (including discussing whether the market is in a bubble) all of which are transcribed below, but the best one is the following: "I think it does bear emphasis that the people who were most appalled by it are the people who have been predicting hyperinflation around the corner for four years now and they have been wrong at every turn." And let's not forget that "subprime is contained" - until it isn't. Then again, the last time we checked, the history on the biggest monetary experiment in history - one in which both the Fed and the BOJ are now openly monetizing 70% of gross bond issuance - has certainly not been written. Finally, in the off chance Summers is indeed correct, what history will instead say, is why instead of monetizing all the debt from day 1 of the Fed's inception in 1913, and thus pushing the stock market into scientific notation territory, did the Fed leave so many trillions of "wealth effect" on the table?
There comes a time in every bubble's life when participants who have a stake in its continuation have to employ ever more tortured logic to justify sticking with it. We have come across an especially amusing example of this recently. “Good news!” blares a headline at CNBC “Bubble concern is at a 5-year high”. Ironically, since at least 1999 if not earlier, the source of this headline has been referred to as 'bubble-vision' by cynical observers (or alternatively as 'hee-haw'). It definitely cannot hurt to be aware of market psychology and sentiment. However, the argument that a surge in searches for the term 'bubble' on Google can be interpreted as an 'all clear' for a bubble's continuation seems to have things exactly the wrong way around. The misguided behavior of financial market participants that can be observed during bubbles is merely mirroring the clusters of entrepreneurial error monetary pumping brings about.
In short: from January to September (we exclude the October 204K print as there is no matching JOLTS number yet) the average monthly jobs gain per the Non-farm Payrolls report is 184K. However, when looking at the implied job gains per the JOLTS Net Turnover, this number is a far more disturbing 150K, some 20% lower.
Aside from the impressively calm demeanor of the gentleman holding the video camera, this disturbing clip of the Washington Tornado's power offers a helpful (if not terrifying) analogy for how quickly calm serene surroundings (e.g. stock markets) can be "freaking destroyed" almost instantly by an external force.
With regulators finally catching on that banks are manipulating every asset class, the largest of them all - foreign exchange - has come under scrutiny. Most specifically, there is considerable attention being paid to manipulation at the "London Close" around 11amET each day. Judge for yourself - see anything 'odd' around that time of day?