This "Non-Traditional" Valuation Measure Carries 3 Messages About U.S. Stocks

The past can offer clues to the future but it doesn’t give us a blueprint. The bigger message is that today’s valuations don’t bode well for long-term returns, where long-term means beyond the next market peak. Prices could surely bubble upwards from here, but bubbles are invariably followed by severe bear markets. More importantly, we shouldn’t be fooled by traditional valuation measures. P/Es, in particular, have several flaws. We’ve shown in past articles that we get completely different results when we adjust earnings to account for mean reversion. Either way, our conclusions are a far cry from the “nothing to see here” that we keep hearing from the Fed.

Fed's Bill Dudley: The Fed Doesn't Fully Understand How QE Works

Well, it took three years, but finally the Goldman Sachs-based head of the New York Fed, Bill Dudley, admitted what we all knew. From a speech just given by NY Fed's Bill Dudley at the 2014 AEA meeting in Philadelphia:

"We don't understand fully how large-scale asset purchase programs work to ease financial market conditions"

Or, in other words, "we still don't know how QE works." It just does (thank you Kevin Henry). And this coming from the people who want their word to become equivalent to gospel in a time when QE is being phased out and replaced with forward guidance. Luckily, at least the Fed knows all about how "forward guidance" works.

All The World's PMIs In One Chart

Of the 21 nations covered by PMI "soft data" surveys, only 4 have sub-50 (deceleration) prints - Russia remains at multi-year lows along with France (core Europe?), Australia (but but China?), and Greece. Of course, as Goldman (some of the optimism on the basis of recent manufacturing PMIs... may not square with evidence of a structural break in the link between the PMIs and growth) and BofAML (it's important to understand how crude these surveys are) note, faith in these 'surveys' is often misplaced (and current levels suggest the rolling over is coming soon).

The Fed Is Hiring: Lots Of Cops

Some may have forgotten, or not be aware, that the Federal Reserve system has its own police force. Well, it does: "The U.S. Federal Reserve Police is the law enforcement arm of the Federal Reserve System, the central banking system of the United States.... Officers are certified to carry a variety of weapons systems (depending on assignment) including semi-automatic pistols, assault rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, less-lethal weapons, pepper spray, batons and other standard police equipment. Officers also wear bullet resistant vests/body armor. " At last check, there were over 1000 sworn members of the Fed police force. And judging by the recent spike in appearances of such "help wanted" ads as those shown below, that number is too low. We expect many more job postings such as these to appear in the coming weeks and months: in fact, we are willing to predict that the closer we get to a "renormalization" of the Fed's balance sheet, the faster the hiring of Fed cops...

Where The Global Economic Growth In 2014 Is Expected To Come From - Country Breakdown

When it comes to setting the prevailing economist groupthink, nobody does it better than the economists at JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. Which is why the following chart of projected 2014 GDP growth by quarter in the Developed and Emerging World from JPM, explains succinctly just where the groupthink now expects marginal global growth will come from (Mexico, South Africa, Korea, UK, Italy?). We show it just because the economist consensus is always wrong when it comes to the important inflection points (see ECB rate cut decision, Taper off decision, Taper on, the great financial crisis, "subprime is contained", etc). So for those curious to know what most likely will not happen in the new year, this chart's for you.

Guest Post: Violence In The Face Of Tyranny Is Often Necessary

The word “violence” comes with numerous negative connotations. We believe this is due to the fact that in most cases violence is used by the worst of men to get what they want from the weak. Meeting violence with violence, though, is often the only way to stop such abuses from continuing. We tend to discuss measures of non-participation (not non-aggression) because all resistance requires self-sustainability. Americans cannot fight the criminal establishment if they rely on the criminal establishment. Independence is more about providing one's own necessities than it is about pulling a trigger.

Cliff Asness Blasts Those Who Call It "A Stock Picker's Market"

Cliff Asness would politely request people stop saying "It's a stock picker's market." While pairwise correlations have dropped to post-crisis lows, they remain elevated to 'normal' levels but, as Asness rages, perhaps asset managers who rely on this 'weak' phrase should more honestly note "I think they mean, "We will have to pick stocks now because the market isn’t making us money the easy way."

Bitcoin Versus Gold

Ever since President Nixon broke the US dollar's last link to gold, the world has been set adrift on a sea of fiat currencies that have been increasingly debased, serving the interests of governments and financial elites. While crypto-currencies remain insulated from central bank manipulation, governments have thus far been tolerant, perhaps because their capability to track transactions is more advanced than Bitcoin believers admit. Nevertheless, the advent of crypto-currencies represents the increasing popular demand for a currency insulated from political debasement and bank profiteering. Crypto-currencies represent a legitimate attempt by private citizens to reassert their sovereignty over such government actions. We appreciate the effort, and we believe it holds much promise. But for now, we will stay with the traditional store of value, gold.

Why Taper-Driven EM Turmoil Is A Big Problem (In One Chart)

Emerging Market equities have tumbled over 4% in the last 2 days on heavy volume. The last time the world experienced a major Emerging Market meltdown, the US was still by far the world's major 'consumer'. However, as the following chart from JPMorgan shows, that is very much not the case anymore and the last few days ugly echoes of the mid-Summer Taper Tantrum in Emerging Markets (most notably Asia), while being shrugged off by most, may be much more important to any sustained global recovery than your friendly local asset-gatherer would ever care to admit.

Guest Post: Why A Finite World Is A Problem

At this point, the problem of hitting limits in a finite world has morphed into primarily a financial problem. Governments are particularly affected. They find that they need to borrow increasing amounts of money to provide promised services to their citizens. Debt is a huge problem, both for governments and for individual citizens. Interest rates need to stay very low, in order for the current system to “stick together.” Governments are either unaware of the true nature of their problems, or are doing everything they can to hide the true situation from their constituents. The public has been placated by all kinds of misleading stories about how oil from shale will be the solution. Quantitative Easing (used by governments to lower interest rates) has temporarily allowed stock markets to soar, and allowed interest rates to stay quite low. So superficially, everything looks great. The question is how long all of this will last?

Guest Post: A New Way Of Defining Wealth

What if our commoditized, financialized definition of wealth reflects a staggering poverty of culture, spirit, wisdom, practicality and common sense?

It's Pancakedemonium: IHOP Brings Back "All You Can Eat Pancakes"

As we reported earlier, 1.5 billion adults around the world, or a whopping one in three, are obese or overweight. But, as any marketer will tell you, this is merely an untapped opportunity: it simply means that two out of three are still "unobese". And doing its best to hit the goal of 100% obesity, is IHOP which, for the first time in more than two years, has just unleashed Pancake Pandemonium: "You can choose a stack of five Buttermilk pancakes as a main course or you can opt to add them to a combo which features eggs any style, hash browns, and a choice of pork sausage links, bacon, or ham." Remember: "With authentic country flavor, our fluffy buttermilk pancakes are the signature favorite we’re famous for. Order early and often—All-You-Can-Eat Pancakes are unlimited!"

How The Obamacare Rollout Is Really Being Experienced

As the New Year brings the actual implementation of Obamacare, it appears in reality things are not as great as many were promised. A recent Gallup survey found that only 7% called their Obamacare experience "very positive" with a stunning 29% seeing it "very negative." But as The Daily Mail found, from Northern Virginia hospitals turning away sick people because they can't determine whether their Obamacare insurance plans are in effect to high deductibles and long waits for authorizations; as many as one-third of the administration's claimed 2.1 million enrollees remain unsure of their coverage. The 'lie of the year' in 2013 may be even bigger in 2014.

5 Things To Ponder: The "2014 New Year's" Edition

The start of 2014 was less than exuberant as the markets turned in the steepest loss for the first trading day of a new year since 2008.  What does this mean for the rest of 2014?  Likely not much.  The old Wall Street axioms of "the first 5 trading days" and "so goes January, so goes the year" tend to be statistically more important.  However, it did get me thinking about the new year from a more macro perspective.  This weekend's "Things To Ponder" is a collection of ideas to get you to do the same.

Bernanke "Swan Song" Fails To Offset Worst Start To Year Since 2008

The weakness in stocks accelerated after Europe's close, was briefly stalled by algo wildness and VWAP buys on Bernanke's completely non-news speech this afternoon, then dropped into the close, but was far outweighed by the moves in commodities. WTI Crude has dropped over 6% in the last 4 days - its biggest such drop in almost 8 months. The last 2 days have seen gold rise at its fastest pace in almost 3 months. Treasuries ended the week practically unchanged with a modest selloff on Bernanke leading to a 2-3bps drop in yield sin 2014 so far. The USD kept soaring on the back of EUR weakness (as the liquidity flows came back out) but JPY was in charge of ferrying stocks once again (until the last few minutes). The Bernanke VIX slam failed to ignite any real momentum and stocks slipped into the close - with the NASDAQ ands SPX red (but Dow green). Of course, POMO restarts next week so shorting will be banned...

Ship Sent To Rescue Global Warming Researchers Trapped In Antarctic, Gets Trapped In Antarctic

From ironic to ironic-er... the Chinese icebreaker ship that helped rescue the 52 Australian global warming researchers from being trapped in Antarctic ice has found itself stuck in heavy ice. As Reuters reports, The Snow Dragon had ferried the passengers from the stranded Russian ship to an Australian icebreaker late on Thursday. It now had concerns about its own ability to move through heavy ice, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.