November 17th, 2012
Kyle Bass: Fallacies Such As MMT Are "Leading The Sheep To Slaughter" And "We Believe War Is Inevitable"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 14:58 -0400
"Trillions of dollars of debts will be restructured and millions of financially prudent savers will lose large percentages of their real purchasing power at exactly the wrong time in their lives. Again, the world will not end, but the social fabric of the profligate nations will be stretched and in some cases torn. Sadly, looking back through economic history, all too often war is the manifestation of simple economic entropy played to its logical conclusion. We believe that war is an inevitable consequence of the current global economic situation."
One of the more persistent, and pernicious, misconceptions about the unshakable - at least to date - tower that is Japanese debt, all Y1 quadrillion of it, is that there is no need to worry (literally, see prior) because the bulk of it is held by retail, i.e., domestic household, investors and as long as that is the case, nothing can possibly go wrong: after all the Japanese population holds its own debt, and as such is a beneficial creditor to the world's largest sovereign debtor. Alas, as so often happens with conventional wisdom, it just happens to be completely wrong. And while one may be entitled to their own opinions, the facts in this case belong squarely to the Japanese Ministry of Finance. The Japan MOF chart below summarizes the true state of retail appetite for Japanese bonds. In the wise words of Dennis Gartman, the chart is unmistakably headed from the top left to the bottom right, in perfectly obvious terms.
China Persists In Refusing To Buy US Paper As Foreign LTM Purchases Of Treasurys Plunge To Three Year LowsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2012 13:47 -0400
Yesterday's TIC data held two important pieces of data. The first is that in September, the month that Bernanke launched QEternity, for the first time in 2012, foreigners were net sellers of US Treasurys, dumping a total of $17.3 billion in paper, with foreign official institutions selling $919 million and non-official "Other Foreigners" offloading a whopping $18.3 billion: a record amount for this data series! The combined outflow was a dramatic reversal from the August $42.9 billion in purchases, from the $341.8 billion in foreign purchases Year To Date, was the first outflow of 2012, the first since the $13.1 billion sold in December 2011, and finally was the biggest sale in US paper since May 2009, or the month Greece had its first (of many) bailouts... The second, and even more troubling observation, is that in September China "added" another token $300 million in US paper, keeping its total holdings at $1155.5 billion, or a number that has remained unchanged since December 2011, when the Chinese selloff of US Treasurys concluded, which in turn took down its total from a high of $1315 billion in July 2011. So who has taken China's place as America's best oriental friend? Why that supreme basket case of all debt monetization, both foreign and domestic, Japan, which added another $8 billion in US Treasurys in September, bringing its total to $1131 billion, and just $25 billion shy of overtaking China as the biggest holder of US paper.
Q. If Japan has a financial collapse, what will happen to its government bonds?
A. Please do not worry.
In what is becoming an increasingly more confusing conflict - is it truly an ideological war, or merely an extended attempt to generate empathy via social networking, together with a full-blown conflict on twitter - Israel continued its pinpoint strikes in Gaza overnight, taking out the house of a high-ranking Hamas operative, together with the release of commemorative video showing the explosion moments after the event. The clip is below. What is more curious is that the global hacker group Anonymous has already picked its side, and yesterday launched a massive attack named #OpIsrael, which has so far hacked 700 Israeli websites. From RT: "The hackers reportedly took down websites ranging from high-profile governmental structures such as the Foreign Ministry to local tourism companies’ pages. The biggest attack as of now has been the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s international development program, titled Mashav. Anonymous announced on Twitter they’ve hacked into the program’s database, with the website remaining inaccessible at the moment." And most notably, Anonymous also took down the primary nexus used by Israel's to boast about its military exploits: the blog of the Israel Defense Forces, which has been down for half a day now.
We already know that Ben Bernanke is a gold bug's best friend (here, here and here). And while technically Ben Bernanke is a republican, and was appointed to his post by a republican president, it is safe to say that when it comes to printing money political affiliation is irrelevant, especially since it was paradoxically a democrat Obama who was Bernanke's biggest backer during the last year for very obvious reasons - after all it was merely Bernanke's $2 trillion in excess reserves that pushed the stock market higher and gave the false impression that the economy is improving (even if a potential Romney administration would have hardly budged the status quo and likely replaced Bernanke with an even more pro-printing figurehead in the face of Bill Dudley). So a different question is: should gold bugs be more excited by a democrat or a republican president. The answer is self-evident: of the $4000 inflation-adjusted increase in gold price since gold was floated by Nixon, a solid $3000, or 75% of this rise, has taken place under Democratic administrations. So dear gold bugs: stock pile that physical and cheer on Obama and hopefully his democratic successors. At this rate, gold (and ostensibly all other precious metals) will outperform every single asset class known to man (sorry Buffett).
While the prior week was marked by some kind of awakening, this week was more about finding a direction. Eventually mostly downwards, but always in jumps, marked by tentative rebounds. Europe mostly lost, so unused not to be the focal point anymore, waiting for US input. If it wasn’t for the Fiscal Cliff, and in absence of further news out of the Periphery, we seem to have
"No Direction" (Bunds 1,32% -2; Spain 5,86% +5; Stoxx 2429% -2,1%; EUR 1,27 -10)
A ground invasion, and a reoccupation of Gaza by the IDF could be the first step toward engaging Iran. It would allow for Israel to dislodge Hamas, and create a buffer between Israel and Egypt, and the forces of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Morsi government in Egypt has pledged to support the Palestinians — but is this a bluff? Does Egypt have the capability or the desire to really oppose Israel? Does Iran really have the capability or the desire to oppose Israel in a more active way? Ultimately, Iran may have no choice, as Netanyahu is certain that they are on the nuclear threshold. The world is in motion. Israel is playing its cards. The intent? To create facts on the ground that cement Israel’s position as the dominant power in the middle east for the next century. Now, Iran’s move.
UPDATE: Greek Foreign Minister says "Greece was and remains a safe place... Isolated incidents of racist violence have been foreign to the Greeks, to our culture and its long tradition of Greek hospitality [and takes] a policy of zero tolerance to these events and take all necessary measures to prevent and suppress such behavior"
With over 10% of the Greek population polling in favor of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party, it is hardly surprising but today's acknowledgement by the US Embassy in Athens of
"a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants. U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent in Athens and other major cities"
certainly makes it a little more real for us sitting across the pond from this inferno.
Actions speak louder than words.
The recent market sell-off has not been about the re-election of President Obama but rather the repositioning of assets by professional investors in anticipation of three key events coming between now and the end of this year - the "fiscal cliff", the debt ceiling and the expiration of the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG). Each of these events have different impacts on the economy and the financial markets - but the one thing that they have in common is that they will all be battle grounds between a divided House and Senate. While there has been a plethora of articles, and media coverage, about the upcoming standoff between the two parties - little has been written to cover the details of exactly what will be impacted and why it is so important to the financial markets and economy. We remain hopeful that our elected leaders will allow cooler heads to prevail and that they will begin to work towards solutions that alleviate some of the risks of economic contraction while setting forth logical plans for fiscal reform. However, while we are hopeful of such progress, "hope" is not an investment strategy to manage portfolios by. If we are right things are likely to get worse before a resolution is reached - but maybe that is why the "investment professionals" have already been heading for the exits.
Most have read about the events in Gaza over the past three days, for the most part insulated and buffered by a distance of several thousand miles and one or more oceans, from what is rapidly becoming ground zero of a new and most deadly escalation in the center of the Middle Eastern powder keg. Few, however, have witnessed and documented it quite as well as French photographer Anne Paq and her collection of photos below.
There are only a few people who get it: the era of cheap food is over. The fundamentals (as we noted earlier) of population growth, available land contraction, bone-headed government policy, and the most destructive monetary policy; overwhelmingly point to a simple trend: food prices will continue rising. And that’s the best case. The worst case is severe shortages. This is a trend that thinking, creative people ought to be aware of and do something about.
If the entire world goes full retard, is any individual instance of full retardedness unique? This is what today's IPO bomb, Ruckus, which despite (or probably due to) much praise and lauding from CNBC's Bob Pisani, bombed 20% on its first day of trading, is hoping for. The company which picked the wrong time and wrong place to go public and thus, to realize first hand that the US stock market has for years not been a market in any normal sense of the word, but merely a HFT-manipulated policy vehicle for the central planners, decided to pull ye olde scapegoating trick, and blamed it on, cerebral hemorrhage spoiler alert, Hurricane Sandy.
Equities closed the day-session near the highs of the day as OPEX shenanigans were evident everywhere. Early and ugly macro data was swept under the proverbial carpet (as it is transitory Sandy effects?), the ubiquitous European-close trend reversal started us higher, and then platitudes from D.C., and a late-day Fed-Head jawbone did the rest on a day when AAPL saw its largest volume in 8 months and pinned between 520 and 530 VWAPs. Risk assets did not follow the path of most exuberance that stocks did on the day (surprise). Credit tracked with stocks today in general but remains an underperformer on the week. Oil was the week's big beta winner with the USD (despite underlying dispersion in EUR and JPY) and Treasuries rather dull. Gold sagged but by the close today the S&P 500 had recoupled with the barbarous relic on a beta basis. VIX compressed (exciting some that are incapable of comprehending a term structure) as put overlays were unwound into OPEX (and given the VWAP/volume moves it would seem AAPL saw hedges taken down and exposure reduced). Red week as stocks continue to catch down to bond's new normal.