While most market participants are well aware of the broad risk-on / risk-off tendency in asset markets over the course of the last few years; this year - most notably as the facts of companies' earnings came under scrutiny in the last quarter - we saw a new pattern emerge. As equity markets levitated on hope of another injection of central bank largesse, so reality was suspended and valuation multiples simply didn't matter as "it's all about the future", but as Q3 Earnings Season began and exhibited its worst tendencies in years, starkly highlighting 'what lies beneath' so stocks traded in a 'Reality-On' mode. This then rapidly disappeared from view as Q3 earnings season ended and 'Reality-Off' mode was re-engaged. We can only assume, given GE's warning, how bad Q4 will be and the question then remains, will stocks re-engage 'reality-on' and retest reality lows?
With the entire "market" a synthetic algo-traded derivative (and facilitated by the fat pipe between Liberty 33 and Citadel) reflecting merely where the ES and VIX trades, and completely ignoring such trivial things as underlying corporate cash flows (see next post on market performance vs earnings) or GDP, concerns about fundamentals have become a total joke. This is obviously exacerbated by such "extenuating" circumstances as tropical storms which are designed to make any negative data irrelevant. Of course, for those still curious about such old school metrics as actual economic performance, untainted by Fed intervention (such as $85 billion in offsetting flow per month), here is one chart, showing the correlation between total FedEx package shipments and Real GDP. And no, sorry, you can't blame this one on Sandy, on the Cliff, or any of the other spin talking points. From Bloomberg: "The level of FedEx package shipments began to slump as early as the first quarter of 2012 and now appears to be signaling weaker economic conditions for 2013. In late March, FedEx made mention of cooling conditions, with CFO Alan Graf noting the economy was not as strong as the company hoped it would be a year earlier. According to Fred Smith, FedEx CEO, “Fundamentally, what’s happening is that exports around the world have contracted and the policy choices in Europe and the United States and China are having an effect on global trade."
For the green-shoot-minded, last month's albeit record high Spanish bank loan delinquencies was occurring as its first derivative was slowing. Well dash those hopes as this month sees bad loans not only rise to record highs (above 11% for the first time in history) but the pace of this drastic deterioration accelerated at the fastest pace since June. We are sure somewhere a Spanish finance minister is eschewing the 2nd or 3rd derivative as an indication that the worst is over but reality is that as FROB proudly notes the number of banks who have invested in its bad bank - in a strange and twistedly ironic reacharound whereby the bad banks themselves (all domestic, no foreign, Santander 16% stake!) are buying up the assets of the nation's bad banks - the sheer size and scale of this level of bad loan and deterioration (double in two years) is far beyond anything the sovereign's bad bank is prepared for. Of course, none of that matters as Draghi's magical OMT remains the ultimate backstop to any reality emerging. Spain - getting worse, faster.
In March 2012, Okayama Metal & Machinery became the first Japanese pension fund to make public purchases of gold, in a sign of dwindling faith in paper currencies. Okayama manages pension funds for about 260 small and mid-sized companies in the Okayama area. "By diversifying currencies, we aim to reduce risks associated with them," said Yoshi Kiguchi, the fund's chief investment officer. "Yields become stable if you put small amounts into as many types of holdings as possible." Of its 40 billion yen ($477 million) in assets, the fund has invested around ¥500 million-¥600 million in gold, he said. Initially, the fund aims to keep about 1.5% of its total assets of Y40bn ($500m) in bullion-backed exchange traded funds, according to chief investment officer Yoshisuke Kiguchi, who said he was diversifying into gold to “escape sovereign risk”. Other pension funds in Japan are following their lead according to the Wall Street Journal. Japanese pension funds are diversifying into gold "largely to mitigate the damage from possible market shocks"... Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation said it has secured more than Y2 billion in investments from two pension funds for a gold fund it started in March.
- Obama Concessions Signal Potential Bipartisan Budget Deal (BBG)
- Cerberus to sell gunmaker after massacre (CNN)
- With New Offers, Fiscal-Cliff Talks Narrow (WSJ)
- Judge rejects Apple injunction bid vs. Samsung (Reuters)
- U.S. policy gridlock holding back economy? Maybe not (Reuters)
- President fears for Italy’s credibility (FT)
- Struggles Mount for Greeks as Economy Faces Winter (WSJ)
- Abe leans on BoJ in post-election meeting (FT)
- Bank of Japan to mull 2 percent inflation target as Abe turns up heat (Reuters)
- EU exit is ‘imaginable’, says Cameron (FT)
- Mortgage Risk Under Fire in Nordics as Bubbles Fought (BBG)
- Sweden cuts interest rates to 1% (FT)
- External risks impede China recovery, more easing seen (Reuters)
By this point it has become clear to everyone that all fact-based news can be safely ignored, and all that matters is the ongoing Fiscal Cliff pantomime as has been the case for the past month. Sure enough, looking at the futures, it is clear that following yesterday's detailed disclosure, the market is convinced, that a deal is virtually assured. This is in stark contrast to 48 hours ago, when it thought the opposite. It will likely continue thinking this until Boehner has a TV press conference later today and bursts the latest bubble of bipolar enthusiasm which has now shifted to euphoric for the time being.
Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach. “Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him. “Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied. “Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor. Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote. They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs? The above article is a must read for every American citizen, particularly those that get up in arms about domestic gun control, but never think twice about the horror caused by our foreign policy, which regularly murders innocent children overseas.
In the recent aftermath of the US just concluding its fourth consecutive fiscal year with a $1 trillion+ deficit, we have been flooded with requests to show how the current fiscal situation stacks up in a big picture context. Very big picture context. For all those requests, we present the following chart showing total US Federal debt/GDP as well as Deficit/(Surplus)/GDP since inception, or in this case as close as feasible, or 1792, which appears to be the first recorded year of historical fiscal data. We can see why readers have been so eager to see the "real big picture" - the chart is nothing short of stunning.
The rumor mill on unnamed sources and strawmen is full tonight with Reuters, Bloomberg, and WaPo all reporting on a new new deal from Obama that 'meets the Republicans more than halfway' apparently. The crux appears to be a $1.2tn tax increase (over 10 years of course) thanks to higher rates on households earning over $400k (up from his original $250k but below Boehner's $1mm) and $930bn in spending reductions, including the much-discussed 'accounting' gimmick of cost-of-living-adjustments (and unChained CPI - see below) in Social Security. The offer also has a 'debt ceiling' proviso to increase the borrowing capability for two years via McConnell's proposal. S&P futures got a lift from this great 'austerity' news (that will perplex the Keynesians) but seemingly got most of the excitement out of the way this afternoon.
In what is likely the fist major under the radar profit warning of the current quarter, GE chief, and Obama Job Tzar, Jeff Immelt warned during GE's annual outlook meeting held earlier in Manhattan that the "economic uncertainty" in the current quarter has resulted in an investment "pause" that has resulted in a slowdown of corporate sales. Put into numbers, GE is now calling for about 8% growth this year, from a 10% forecast barely two months ago. Read: Q4 sales, and thus earnings, are set to be a major disappointment. And while no superstorms were blamed in this particular sales warning, the fiscal cliff did feature prominently. As the WSJ reports, "[Immelt] said ongoing jitters over the so-called "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts contributed to the trend." Then again, it is just as likely that the tapped out US consumer, whose savings rate is tumbling, whose real disposable income is now declining on a year over year basis, and whose real wage growth is decidedly negative, would be tapped out even if Obama and Boehner were not playing constant cat and mouse. But whatever the reason for the slowdown may be, one thing is certain: "Clearly, there has been an investment pause in certain industries," Mr. Immelt said. "We've definitely seen a slowdown in the fourth quarter." Bring on the spin brigade.
Presented without commentary.
The world makes less sense every day. Little children are randomly slaughtered in their schoolrooms. Corrupt, bought off politicians pander to the lowest common denominator as their votes are only dependent upon who contributed the most to their election campaigns, which never end. Delusional, materialistic, egocentric, math challenged consumers (formerly known as citizens) live for today, enslave themselves in debt, vote themselves more entitlements, and care not for future generations. The alienation and isolation created by our sprawling, automobile dependent, technology obsessed, government controlled, debt financed society has spread like a cancerous tumor, slowly killing our country. The oligarchs will not give up without a fight. Their realization that the Brave New World method of controlling the masses has run its course has convinced them to shift their methods towards Orwell’s 1984 tactics.
For anyone watching the last hour or two of today's market, there was plenty to entertain. VXX (the implied vol ETF) collapsed in a haze of glory dragging stocks to the highs of the day with financials seeing their best day in three months. Treasury yields, Gold, and Stocks have all recoupled from the election and perhaps that is what this bond weakness is related to (as for example LQD fell to 3 month lows today, while HYG remains close to record highs). Stocks closed at Thursday's highs amid heavy and large size trades - the vertical rampathon (or inverse Baumgartnering) suggests a quiet market desparate to auction to stops. The USD ended unch, as did Gold while 30Y added 8bps as testicular fortitude appeared under pressure today. Perhaps Citi should downgrade AAPL every day? Today's #Teppergasm (h/t @gubbmintcheese) saw the NASDAQ back to unchanged for December and Citi up a measly 13.3%.
Moments ago, the San Fran Fed, best known for spending taxpayer money to conduct such indepth analyses on topics including whether water is wet, and whether the Fed creates bubbles, has just released its most recent 'FedViews' economic outlook in which we read that "we expect growth to steadily accelerate in 2013 as the economy bounces back from harsh weather conditions and as the underlying expansion of consumer spending reemerges. We expect growth to register 1.7% in 2012 and 2.6% in 2013." This would be great if only a two minute Google search did not expose some of the San Fran Fed's previous attempts at forecasting the future, such as this one from October 14, 2010, in which the crack experts said that "we currently project that real GDP will expand around 2½% in 2010, below its potential of about 3% annually. We expect the recovery to gain momentum over the course of next year and that real GDP growth for 2011 will reach about 3½%." Final 2011 GDP growth: 2.4%.... or this one from June 9, 2011, in which we learned that "growth should rebound in the third quarter. We expect GDP to expand at an annualized 3½% rate in the second half of the year and to continue to strengthen throughout 2012." Final 2012 GDP growth: 1.8%. Or just 50% off. Applying the same undershoot error rate to the Fed's 2013 forecast means that real economic growth next year will be at best 1.3%. And that's with a fresh $1 trillion in monetary injections from the Fed.