When neither the private nor public sector is willing to invest in the future, it seems appropriate to ask, what happened to the future? Have corporations along with governments figured out that a return to slow growth does not necessary equal a return to normal growth? Why invest in new infrastructure, new workforces, new office space, equipment, highways, or even rail, when the demand necessary to provide a return on this investment may never materialize? Many sectors in Western economies remain in oversupply or overcapacity. There is a surplus of labor and a surplus of office and industrial real estate, as well as airports, highways, and suburbs that are succumbing to a permanent decrease in throughput and traffic. Perhaps the private sector is not so unwise. Collectively, through its failure to invest, it is making a de facto forecast: No normal recovery is coming
"A money-financed tax cut is essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman's famous "helicopter drop" of money."
"In some stocks," Starwood Capital's Barry Sternlicht warns, "we are seeing irrational exuberance with silly valuations." The outspoken asset manager warns that the signs are coming from the credit markets of "silly debt deals" with no covenants - which is helping equities melt-up but is a sign of a bubble. Perhaps his answer to what the Fed will do and when is the most succinct (and likely accurate) summation of the current idiocy, "very little and never," as the anchor grinningly suggests how great higher stock prices are for 'investors' before Sternlicht exclaims that may be true for the minority who hold stocks, "enjoy it is an investor," he suggests, "but don't love it as an American." Sternlicht goes on to address the dysfunctional political class and the Fed's enabling of that to continue as well as where the real estate bubbles are in the US.
The President will deliver statement explaining, we assume, why Harry Reid's "nuclear option" vote is good for all American citizens...
For all purists still stuck in a world in which humans are the most efficient allocators of capital, and where, under Ben Bernanke's centrally-planned New Normal, shorting stocks has become blasphemy, the following table showing the monthly return of quant giant RenTec's chief equity fund open to the outside world, the Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund (RIEF B), whose AUM has ballooned to $8.7 billion in the past few years, will come as a shock. Because the quant strategy-driven fund, which does not look at fundamentals but purely at technical relationships and quant arbs, just posted its best month in history in October returning 8.65% nearly doubling the 4.60% return of the broader market. But the truly stunning aspect of RenTec's October performance is that it was not driven by a highly levered beta position (2x leverage on the S&P would do it easily) which is how virtually everyone else does it (a strategy that works great as long as the market is going higher), but instead thanks to that nearly forgotten aspect of a "hedge" fund's exposure - shorts.
The following five themes (and three bonus ones) are what UBS Andrew Cates believes will be of the greatest importance for global economic and capital markets outcomes for the next five years. There is little to surprise here but the aggregation of these factors and the increasingly binary outcomes of each of them suggest there may be a little more uncertainty about the future than most people sheepishly admit...
Late in the life of every financial bubble, when things have gotten so out of hand that the old ways of judging value or ethics or whatever can no longer be honestly applied, a new idea emerges that, if true, would let the bubble keep inflating forever. During the tech bubble of the late 1990s it was the “infinite Internet.” During the housing bubble the rationalization for the soaring value of inert lumps of wood and Formica was a model of circular logic: Home prices would keep going up because “home prices always go up.” Now the current bubble – call it the Money Bubble or the sovereign debt bubble or the fiat currency bubble, they all fit – has finally reached the point where no one operating within a historical or commonsensical framework can accept its validity, and so for it to continue a new lens is needed. And right on schedule, here it comes: Governments with printing presses can create as much currency as they want and use it to hold down interest rates for as long as they want. So financial crises are now voluntary. The illusion of government omnipotence is no crazier than the infinite Internet or home prices always going up, but it is crazy.
Experts Warn Healthcare.gov So Big And So Riddled With Security Flaws It Should Be Shut Down, Rebuilt From ScratchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/21/2013 - 12:21
While the abysmal rollout of Obamacare hardly needs any additional debacles, a recent hearing by technology experts in Congress added yet another, quite major, wrinkle to an already insurmountable problem: healthcare.gov is so fraught with security flaws, and so bloated with code, that it may easily expose the personal data of millions (we are being generous here) of users - it collects user names, birth dates, social security numbers, email addresses and much more - to even the least experienced of hackers. It gets worse: when asked "Do any of you think today that the site is secure?" the answer from the experts, which included two academics and two private sector technical researchers, was a unanimous "no." And worse when the experts were asked "would you recommend today that this site be shut down until it is?" three of the experts said "yes," while a fourth said he did not have enough information to make the call. But the worst news of the day the experts said the site needed to be completely rebuilt to run more efficiently, making it easier to protect. Finally, should Obama finally do the right thing and scrap the three year project and start from scratch, "in written testimony, Kennedy said it would take a minimum of seven to 12 months to fix the problems with the site shut down, given the site's complexity and size."
As reported earlier, the Senate was set to vote on Harry Reid's proposal to enact a "nuclear option" to eliminate the filibuster for Obama nominees (and potentially in toto). Watch the vote live on C-Span after the jump.
With gold once again getting the slamdown treatment this morning (even as stocks shrug off any taper tantrum fears) the following article from Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional seems quite prescient. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes, it appears to imply that the struggling South American nation has agreed to sell or swap the gold it still holds overseas at the Bank of England to Goldman Sachs. Perhaps that helps explain where Maduro got the money for the Samsung deal...
With the WTI-Brent spread at 8-month wides, RINs having collapsed, and US investors buoyed by gas prices at the pump near recent lows, the surge in crude oil prices today - by their most since October 2nd - may take some of the 'tax-cut' punch from the party (remember gas prices are still 11.4% above recent seasonal norms). The 2% jump in WTI (and 1.85% rise in Brent over the last 2 days) may have only pushed it back to one-week highs but breaks a trend of lower prices that many have hoped would persist. Desk chatter is that much of this move is a re-up of middle-east premia as Iran's nuclear negotiator says no deal today.
Frustrated by constant republican opposition to pass Obama candidate nominations, Harry Reid may finally invoke the "nuclear option" and end the GOP's ability to filibuster nominees. Politico reports that this may take place as soon as today. Politico reports: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may move toward a historic change in the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster on most nominations as soon as Thursday, according to senior Democratic aides. Reid is strongly considering calling up one in a group of blocked nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for another round of votes, furious that Republicans have thwarted the nominations of Robert Wilkins, Nina Pillard and Patricia Millette. If a second go-round fails on that judicial pick, Reid would likely unilaterally move to change the rules of the Senate by a majority vote — the “nuclear option,” Senate sources said." This is not the first time Reid has threatened to go nuclear: "Privately, Senate Democratic leaders insist they prefer confirmation of Obama’s nominees rather than a rules change. And lawmakers have been at this point before." However, it appears that this time he means business.
While the world of mainstream media stock pundits would like investors to believe that there is a wall of money on the sidelines waiting anxiously to go all-in on stocks (bear in mind there's a seller for every buyer and where does the cash on the sidelines go when it is handed over to the seller in return for his stock?), as none other than Charles Schwab notes in this brief Bloomberg TV clip, "investors are less rattled" than most believe, "and have stayed invested" in large part. "There hasn't been a wholesale movement away from stocks," he goes on, busting myths asunder, adding that "investors want to see market-driven conditions, not Fed manipulated ones."