China's New Government; Europe's New Official Stagflationary Recession

The main overnight event, if not very surprising, was the formal announcement of the power moves at the top of China from the now concluding 18th Communist Party Congress, which occured largely as expected. To summarize: "Xi Jinping took the helm Thursday of a new, trimmed down Communist Party leadership that insiders said was shaped less by the daunting economic and political challenges facing China over the next decade than by bitter personal and factional rivalries within a secretive Party elite.  In a surprise move, Mr. Xi replaced outgoing Party chief Hu Jintao as head of the powerful Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces, making Mr. Hu the first Communist Chinese leader to cede all formal powers without bloodshed, purges or political unrest. But the new leadership lineup did not include the two figures with the strongest track record on political reform, dimming prospects that a new generation of rulers is committed to tackling vested interests within its own ranks." In other words and just like after the US elections - to quote the announcement during every 2:15 FOMC release from now until eternity - "no change, repeat, no change" (and the SHCOMP closing down 1.22%, and the Hang Seng down by over 1.5% more or less confirmed this). An interactive infographic of who's the new who in China can be found here, while a summary of what this means and what to expect are here and here.  Elsewhere, the other main event was the formal announcement that, as everyone certainly expected, Europe officially is now in a recession. The euro-area economy slipped into a recession for the second time in four years, with GDP falling 0.1 percent in the third quarter. The official start date of Europe's recession is now Q3 2011. And with October Eurozone CPI pushing at a perky pace of 2.5%, one can add stagflation to the official list of terms haunting Europe.

The Unabridged Ron Paul Guide To Being A Libertarian

Presented with little comment since whatever we say would likely be superfluous to this all-encompassing speech. The full Ron Paul 'Farewell to Congress' speech and transcript.

...To achieve liberty and peace, two powerful human emotions have to be overcome.  Number one is 'envy' which leads to hate and class warfare.  Number two is 'intolerance' which leads to bigoted and judgmental policies.  These emotions must be replaced with a much better understanding of love, compassion, tolerance and free market economics. Freedom, when understood, brings people together. When tried, freedom is popular.

 

The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people world-wide, is to pursue the cause of LIBERTY...

If nothing else, read the five greatest dangers that the American people face today that impede the goal of a free society.

Could You Live On Social Security?

$1,130.33 is the average monthly social security benefit. Assuming you worked 40 hours a week, every week, that's the hourly equivalent of $6.40. Where can you live? Will savings save you?

Guest Post: Miligate: Geishas, Courtesans And Groupies

If only the nation’s Founding Fathers could see us now! A Supreme Court totally gone wild, de facto legislating and imposing its will; a Congress, lair of lazy career politicians and self-serving scoundrels; and an Executive, wearing reversible togas colored blue and red, running the nation as an empire, and using the country’s military as police force for multi-national predatory capitalism… subsidized by taxpayers from America’s lower and middle classes. Are we at the embryo stage of a major military scandal… a Miligate? Petraeus and Allen are two Samson-characters who availed their modern day Delilah(s) with a razor-sharp lack of common sense. Paula Broadwell, Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawan are neither geishas, nor courtesans... perhaps more of a groupie-variety around the military. Let’s all be concerned with pressuring the politicians to defuse the “fiscal cliff,” and wait until appropriate investigations are concluded to determine whether there is a Miligate.

The Four Charts That Corporate Bond Managers Fear The Most

Much is made of the 'apparent' bubble in Treasury bonds - a 30-year or so relatively consistent trend in government bonds (through thick and thin) and yet allocations remain minimal compared to our increasingly similar Japanese friends have experienced. It would seem to us, thanks to Bernanke's 'visible' hand that the real bubble is in spread product - as rates are so compressed, investors seemingly oblivious to the word 'risk' (unintended consequence) have flooded into ever-increasing yield/spread products - with high-yield bonds now dominated by these technical inflows (as we noted in the close today). If ever the combination of anchoring bias, 'dance while the music is playing', and herding was evident, it is in corporate credit. To wit, the total disengagement from reality (both real 'micro' earnings and 'macro' economic uncertainty) that a flood of money has created in this increasingly crowded (and increasingly-er illiquid) market. Managers are well aware that the liquidity tsunami has moved the maturity mountain (as Citi's Matt King notes) but has helped the weeds as well as the roses.

With Over 100,000 Supporting Texas Secession, Ron Paul Weighs In

With just 5 days needed for the Texas secession petition to surpass 100,000 signatories, all is not well with the Union. Actually, not only are things not well with the Union, things are getting worse by the minute, as American society splinters into diametrical opposites to a degree not seen in decades, a process which in itself virtually assures there will be no cliff compromise before the opportunity cost of ending the stand off becomes far too great. And with the option of the Mr. Chairman "getting to work" to fix things, one wonders - is even the market a motivating enough factor given a 20, 30 or even 50% drop in the rearview mirror: after all as the Fed has demonstrated, there is no need for a fiscal compromise to get the S&P to just shy of all time highs. Certainly, even America's politicians are very much aware of this by now (of course, this assumes that Bernanke is still in charge of the market: something we have claimed for two months is very much in question). Regardless, with the topic of secession on everybody's lips, here is what none other than Ron Paul has said about this suddenly very volatile issue.

House Republicans Find Corzine Guilty Of MF Global Collapse, Missing Funds; Democrats Refuse To Endorse Findings

It appears that these days not even the Corzining of client money can happen without it being split across furiously polarized party lines. As it turns out hours ago, the Committee on House Financial Services released an advance glimpse into a report to be released in its entirety tomorrow, which puts the blame for the collapse of not only MF Global, but also the disappearance of millions in client money, right where it belongs: the firm's then CEO Jon Corzine. Yet that Corzine corzined millions, leaving clients scrambling in bankruptcy court in an attempt to recover what should have been segregated money from the very beginning, and also just happened to blow up one of the 21 Fed-anointed Primary Dealers, is not surprising: this has been long known by everyone. Those who need a refresher are urged to recall the Honorable's testimony before the House... or maybe not: after all it is not as if Corzine himself could recall a whole lot. Where it gets interesting is that the former Democratic governor, and senator, not to mention primary bundler for president Obama, is, in the eyes of the members of the committee, innocent: All the democrats on the Investigations Subcommittee refused to sign off on the findings, meaning that to them, Corzine is completely innocent. That this is purely a political move is glaringly obvious. It is also abhorrent, because as long as political ideology gets in the way of pursuing and imposing justice, the Banana States of America will remain just that.

Greenlight Capital And Third Point September 30 Holdings Summary

With the star (and legend) of John Paulson long dead and buried, and his Disadvantage Minus fund an embarrassment, wrapped in a monkeyhammering, inside a humiliation, there are few "groupied" HF managers left. One of them is Dan Loeb, who still manages to generate positive Alpha regardless of how Beta does, another one used to be William Ackman (not so much anymore, especially not with the whole JCP fiasco), some others are David Tepper, Seth Klarman, and a few others, but nobody has quite the persistent clout and following of young master, and poker maestro, David Einhorn, and his fund Greenlight. Below we breakdown his latest just released 13F, which as a reminder shows, his holdings as of September 30. Key changes: Einhorn cut his holdings in Best Buy, Carefusion, Compuware, Expedia, Hess and UnitedHealth, and started new, small, positions in Yahoo, Babcock and Wilcox, Aecon and Knight Capital. More importantly, he cut his top position, Apple, by nearly 30% from 1.45 million to 1.09 million shares, cut modestly his second biggest position Seagate, added materially to GM, making it his third position, added to Cigna at #4 and added modestly to the GDX Gold Miners ETF. Sad to say, unless he has changed his portfolio dramatically since September 30, Einhorn is likely not doing too hot, especially in the last week or two.

Why The Troika's Forecasts Are A Total Joke In One Easy Chart

The remarkable forecasting skills of the Troika and the immense decisions being taken on the back of these 'sacrosanct' projections need to be put into context. We are more than happy to do that (as we did here - with hilarity ensuing), but the chart below shows even more clearly, so far so bad as the Troika has pretty much nailed it on the 'most optimistic mean-reverting model' ever. Not wanting to steal the jam from Europe's donut but the forecasts are - quite evidently - a complete and utter joke. Going forward though, we are sure it's different this time...

Deer Emerges As Stocks Slump Half Way To Reality

The crowded liquidity-fueled pump-fest of the last few months is beginning to unwind. Look around at where the damage occurred. Equities and Credit were smashed; the USD is practically unchanged; Treasuries very marginally bid; commodities sideways (aside from Oil's oscillations). The close did see some of the other asset classes start to catch down to equity and credit but based on our models, we see the S&P 500 having retraced about half its short-term mispricing relative to Treasuries. All the over-pumped sectors were the biggest laggards - Financials, Industrials, Materials, and Tech - but from the 11/25/11 beginning of the global coordinated central bank pump, there is still plenty of downside for stocks. Our greatest concern now is if high-yield bond ETFs are unwound (where so much liquidity is concentrated) and forces cash bond liquidations - there is simply no depth to soak up that move and the entire secondary market will reprice (and shut the primary market - which has lived on flows for so long).

Tilson Releases September 30 13-F: Top Positions Are AIG And AAPL

Just when we thought blowing up one fund in one year is enough for Whitney Tilson (recall from July: It's Official: T1 Is Not T2; Tilson Liquidates To Buy More Of The Same), we got a glimpse of his just released 13F and are rather confident the man, the myth, the stuff of Anti-Tilson ETFs will shock and awe us all one more time. The reason? As of September 30, Tilson's inaccurately named T2 Partners - it should be T1 now that Glenn Tongue is long gone - had a total of $175 million in AUM. That's not the punchline: as part of this $175 million, Tilson had $63 million in put/call stock equivalents. In other words the much vaunted "asset manager" who for some absolutely inexplicable reason continues to get CNBC airtime, managed a grand total of $110 million in real (mostly family and friends) money. That's not the punchline either. The punchline is that Tilson's top 3 positions were AIG and AAPL, with AIG in both stock and Call format. In fact, more than 10% of the firm's virtual AUM, or $18.6 million was in stock equivalent calls for AIG and AAPL, stocks which since September 30 have gone in a literally, not virtually, straight line lower, and have as a result likely wiped out the entire intrinsic call value. The only silver lining: Tilson owned $5.5 mm in NFLX calls and a grand total of $3.6 million in NFLX stock. We hope it carries him far, because once the Icahn grand jig is up, in which the raider is exposed as having absolutely no intentions of buying the company, or even putting it in play, but merely squeezing the shorts courtesy of a costless collar and a sternly worded 13D, that will be the final straw for Tilson's second coming, and most likely, his career.

Adding Insult To Rocket Attacks, Bank of Israel Now Underwater On Its Apple Position

It was all going so well, first name terms with Obama and AAPL up 30% from where you bought it... a mere two months later and the Bank of Israel is now underwater on their AAPL shares and about to print bullets. We noted in early March what a ridiculous ponzi this was all becoming when the Bank of Israel announced its purchase of US equity positions including AAPL. In retrospect it is so gratifying to gloat at the self-confirming bias that enabled their reserve managers to buy on the way up as the stock that can do no wrong lifted all boats. Actually, it is easy to gloat in any 'spect'. We can only assume that Bernanke's Bat-phone is ringing off the hook this afternoon to 'get back to work' and come to the aid of his Bank of Israel mentor.

As Good As It Gets

While the impact of the Fiscal Cliff remains front-and-center in everyone's mind, SocGen's Albert Edwards has another, more prescient, insight into why stocks are reverting. In his words, "commentators are worrying about an impending fiscal cliff, we have actually already stepped off the profits cliff." As we noted last week, the divergence between markets and macro suggest a rather ghastly echo of 2008; as the market is falling in line with the dismal outlook for profits (rather than the more upbeat macro economic data). As far as the latter, we are getting close to a cyclical peak - so macro surprises are 'as good as it gets' - and for the former (earnings outlooks), Edwards shows an unprecedented level of optimism about EPS going forward. As we proceed into the new year, Edwards expects "the combination of poor profits and poor economic data to prove toxic."

Diamonds: Not A Girl's Best Friend

On the day when the 76.02-carat 'Archduke Joseph Diamond' sells for a record $21.5 million, we thought it intriguing how even these incredible high-end status symbols are seeing prices collapsing at the low-end...of the high-end. It seems the 'wealthy' just can't afford 1-carat diamonds anymore as the price has plunged by over 25% in the last 15 months. Perhaps it is only the 1% of the 1% that can now afford their baubles as like everywhere, there is a growing divide between the 'haves' and the 'have-mores' (in this case). Coincidentally, heading into the stock market slide of 2008, we saw Diamond prices plunge and Gold prices rise - but we are sure it's different this time...

Ron Paul's Farewell To Congress - Live Webcast

Representative Ron Paul gets his opportunity to say farewell - providing a compendium of reality and liberty for all that choose to listen.. He begins: "My goals in 1976 were the same as they are today: to promote peace and prosperity by a strict adherence to the principles of individual liberty" and goes on..."economic ignorance is common place, as the failed policies of Keynesianism are continually promoted"... "psychopathic totalitarians endorse government initiatives to change our world" - live webcast (and full speech)...

FOMC Minutes Show Fed Members Expect More Unsterilized Monetization After Twist Ends, As Expected

In what should be news to precisely nobody (especially our readers, for whom we laid out the next Easing steps very clearly on the day QEternity was announced, including the continuation of Twist after December 31, 2012 at which point the Fed would merely monetize long-dated paper without selling short-end, i.e. unsterilized), the just released FOMC minutes indicated that "a number" of FOMC members favored more (infiniter) QE after the end of Twist. In other words, the Fed will have to continue monetizing the long-end of the Treasury issuance in lieu of other willing buyers. Recall that the Fed is currently buying up all the 10 Year+ gross issuance. To assume that this can change in some way is ludicrous. It also means that going forward, anything less than $85 billion in monthly flow from the Fed will be seen as tightening. Apparently, this update was big news to the algos (and the BIS FX traders) in charge of daytrading the EURUSD, which ramped by 30 pips on the news. Stocks, however, are oddly enough, the rational instrument today, and have barely budged on this news, once again indicating (as shown during yesterday's Yellen comments), that the Fed has priced itself and its future decisions out of the market, also exactly as we predicted would happen minutes after QEternity was announced.

Compromiser-In-Chief On The Economy And Fiscal Cliff - Live Webcast

After a busy morning of phone calls from Israel and chatting with his base 'influential' CEOs, we are sure the Compromiser-in-Chief will reach across the aisle this time... right? Will the market follow the recent trend and drop on his every word? Live webcast below...

Meet Goldman's New Partners

It may be one of the smallest partner "classes" in recent Goldman history but for the 70 names below, today is one of the best days of their lives: it marks their induction into the real Master of the Galaxy club (sadly, not even Goldman is Master of the Universe any more). This is what Lloyd had to say: “We congratulate all those selected on this important achievement and look forward to their leadership in the years ahead." Spoiler alert: neither Greg Smith, nor Shashank Tripathi, are on the list.

Israel Releases Video Of Air Strike Taking Out Hamas' Military Wing Head

No, this is not a clip from the latest Call of Duty showing what happens when one gets a 9+ killstreak. It is the IAF taking out the head of the Hamas military wing, which has set the region ablaze (even if the central bank manipulated VIX and EURUSD refuse to budge in response).