When the majority of Americans examine the world around them, they see a stock market at record highs and modest apparent improvement in the economy, but, as John Hussman notes, they also have the sense that something remains terribly wrong, and they can't quite put their finger on it. QE-induced speculation misallocates resources that might otherwise contribute to long-run growth, and while conditions could certainly be worse, the benefits of this economic recovery have been highly uneven. The economy is starting to take on features of a winner-take-all monoculture that encourages and subsidizes too-big-to-fail banks and large-scale financial speculation at the expense of productive real investment and small-to-medium size enterprises.
Just a month ago, Germany's powerful business lobby threw its weight behind tougher sanctions against Russia (dropping its previous objections). It appears they are now regretting that decision. As The Federation of German Industry (BDI) reports today, exports to Russia in H1 2014 dropped 15.5% from 2013 and "may drop by as much as 25% - posing a risk to 50,000 German jobs." We are sure, as Zee Germans look across the pond at the S&P 500 hitting record highs, BDI's conviction that Russia's action must face significant consequences may just fall apart again.
As we noted early on, by the time the cash markets opened this morning, the narrative of compliant Kuroda and drug-peddling Draghi had been painted as worth more than a yellowing Yellen's hawkish comments. And so it was that stocks, despite weak macro data this morning in the US - bad news is great news - surged as cash markets opened and tagged S&P 2,000 for the first time ever. However, once Europe closed, that exuberance faded in stocks. Treasuries rallied (30Y closed -2bps) with the front-end weakening very modestly. USD strength (on notable EUR weakness) sent oil and precious metals modestly lower on the day but Copper had a good day (+0.6%). Today was the lowest S&P futures (non-holiday) trading of the year as the Nasdaq rose for the 9th day in a row.
Are people dumber than they used to be? Were previous generations mentally sharper than us? You may have suspected that people are getting stupider for quite some time, but now we actually have scientific evidence that this is the case.
Last week we were intrigued when the Ukraine Central Bank announced its FX market intervention plans not via 'trader sources" or Bloomberg but through its Facebook account (which later failed as the Hryvnia pushed on to record lows). Today, we hear perhaps even more important news - that Ukraine President Poroshenko has dissolved parliament. This was not entirely surprising news given recent political breakdowns but his chosen medium to disseminate this crucial (and potentiall detsabilizing) news... his Twitter account.
That 4% market correction was quick and virtually painless. Not missing a beat after the market briefly tested 1900, the dip buyers came roaring back - gunning for the 2000 marker on the S&P 500, confident that longs were not selling and that shorts had long ago been obliterated. Needless to say, bubblevision had its banners ready to crawl triumphantly across the screen. When the algos finally did print the magic 2000 number, it represented a 200% gain from the March 2009 lows. And to complete the symmetry, the S&P 500 thereby clocked in at exactly 20X LTM reported earnings based on consistent historical pension accounting. The bulls said not to worry because the market is still “cheap” - like it always is, until it isn’t. To be sure, the Fed is a serial bubble machine. But even it cannot defy economic gravity indefinitely.
With all of England on edge because the ISIS executioner of James Foley, known as "Jihadi John" sported a British accent, and who may or may not have been identified as Abdel-Majed Bary, although UK government sources have not yet officially revealed his identity, one person has decided it is time to not waste yet another crisis. The person: London mayor Boris Johnson who as the Guardian reports, has called for the presumption of innocence to be reversed in cases where Britons travel to Iraq or Syria and said he wants the jihadist who beheaded an American journalist to be killed in a bomb attack. If Johnson's proposal for a "swift and minor" law change passes, any Brit traveling to Iraq or Syria will automatically be branded a terrorist and suffer the appropriate consequences.
The consensus among market watchers last September was that, with U.S. interest rates so low and the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) about to withdraw stimulus, interest rates would trend higher. However, Guggenheim's Scott Minerd took a different view, writing in a commentary that “10-year rates may be heading back to 2.25 percent or lower.”
Mt Gox may be long gone in the annals of bankruptcy, but its founder refuses to go gentle into that insolvent night. And, as CoinDesk reports, the disgraced former CEO of the one-time premier bitcoin trading platform has decided to give it a second try by launching new web hosting service called Forever.net and is registered under both Karpeles’ name and that of Tibanne, the parent company of Mt Gox.
As Iran continues to negotiate with world powers over its controversial (but purely for peaceful purposes, of course) nuclear program - with hard-liners demanding more concessions from the West - The Telegraph reports that a brief video, which aired on the Arabic-language Al-Alam TV, shows what the channel says are parts of an Israeli drone, scattered in an unidentified desert area. Text accompanying the footage says the drone was downed on Saturday and identifies it as a Hermes 450, a known Israeli model. The Iranian TV station also says the model is dubbed "Spy Goddess." However, as The Telegraph adds, there were no visible Israeli markings in the footage and Israel's military has declined comment on the matter... and Iran will sue Israel legally over its alleged violation of Iran's air space.
Now that we can compile the first half data using the first two quarter data for both 2013 and 2014, we can conclusively state that if it weren't for the accounting magic behind non-GAAP, which includes such addbacks as tens of billions in litigation costs for the TBTBF utilities, pardon banks, pension addbacks, and not to mention hundreds of billions in restructuring addbacks resulting from the mass termination of hundreds of thousands of workers who miraculously fail to trickle through to the BLS' own "survey" data, things would hardly be as rosy as portrayed by the sellside. In fact, EPS growth in the first half was either 6.5%... or 0.2%. Depending on whether or not one believes in accounting magic.
The avuncular Art Cashin, UBS' venerable man on the floor of the NYSE has seen it all... and is not impressed by the lack of volume. On what he notes is historically a very light trading week with a mild upward bias - note, the 1929 high was made the day after Labor Day - Cashin has 12 simple words for the exuberant trader this week...