Love Bill Ackman or hate him, whether or you think that his outlier "investment" of the year, one which generated nearly half of his P&L in 2014 namely the collusive hostile bid with Valeant on whose balance sheet he piggy-backed in an attempt to acquire Allergan with lots and lots of debt and whose public announcement he front-ran with even more leverage in the form of hundred of millions in call options, was more criminal than the alleged Herbalife pyramid scheme or perfectly legitimate, one thing is beyond dispute - of all the prominent hedge funds, Ackman's Pershing Square was the best performing hedge fund of 2014.
For the 8th week in a row (something that hasn't happened since June 2009), US total rig count plunged. This week's 90 rig drop to 1543 is the largest so far (with oil rigs down 94 to 1223 - lowest since Jan 2013). The total rig count is now down 20% in the last 8 weeks to the lowest since June 2010 as it tracks the 4-month lagged oil price perfectly. This is the 2nd biggest 8-week drop in 22 years. This - rather unsurprisingly - has led Chevron to decide to cut 23% of its Pennsylvania workforce "due to activity levels." Not 'unambiguously positive' as so many in the central planning bureaus would have everyone believe.
Today's Brazilian economic data follows up quite well to our article from a month ago "Brazil's Economy Just Imploded" and as the earlier article on the crashing Brazilian Real hinted, things for the Brazilian economy how gone from imploding to, well, worse because not only did the twin fiscal and current account deficits rise even more, hitting a whopping 11% of GDP - the worst since August 1999, but its government debt soared to 63.4% in 2014, up from 56.7% a year ago, and the highest since at least 2006. In short - the entire economy is now on the verge of total collapse.
Again and again through history, first you have the massive deflation and then government is forced to debase the money supply that finally reverses the economy sending it into a inflationary spiral. The second phase is when gold will rise. But you first have the deflation (that we are seeing now) that reduces tax revenues and then you have the inflation set in motion by rising costs (waiting in the background).
US Treasury yields are plunging again this morning. From 4Y maturities out, yields are around 10bps lower with 30Y under 2.30%, 10Y under 1.65%, 7% under 1.5%, and 3Y under 75bps!! Since QE3 ended, 30Y bond yields are 84bps lower, 2Y 3bps lower.
It was less than 24 hours after we posted that either oil will double from here allowing energy companies to grow into a normal P/E multiple, or energy stocks will have to crash by over 40% for the ridiculous 23x to return to its normal, long-term average of 13.6x. Moments ago energy giant Chevron admitted that not only does it not see oil doubling any time soon, but that energy prices are almost certain to go far lower from here, and as a result the company decided that after buying back $5 billion of its shares in 2014, i.e., buying high and higher before the stock crashes may not be the best use of dwindling cash flow, and as a result has just suspended its stock buyback program of the rest of 2015. Yes, energy giant Chevron just ended its buyback!
"After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee." - Mitt Romney
Presenting: the burger bubble.
Following finance minister Varoufakis' insistence that Greece will not accept more debt (or what EU calls a "bailout") and talks with the Eurogroup chief end, Greek bond yields have surged (and prices dropped) with 3Y GGBs back over 19% - the highest since the crisis. Greek bank stocks - after yesterday's exuberant penny stock squeeze - are falling once again.
Having tumbled (and missed) for two straight months, hope triumped in January and pushed Chicago PMI above expectations printing 59.4 (against 57.4 consensus). This is still the 2nd worst print since July so let's not get all excited quite yet as only 4 components rose. This is the 4th month in a row of negative YoY prints. So just to clarify - US GDP misses notably and stocks say "meh" but Chicago PMI beats and stocks smash higher on a JPY lifeboat...
Back over 15 / USD for the first time since March 2009, the Mexican Peso is tumbling hard this morning... and the Brazilian Real is also tanking (back near 10-year lows) - no clear catalyst aside from further weakness in oil producer and EM FX sentiment.
Having explained last month why he would not bail out the stock market again, (non-voting) Fed member Jim Bullard trotted out the usual vicissitudes this morning on Bloomberg TV trying to sound as upbeat and positive as possible: ECB QE is good for the US economy, low oil prices "unambiguously positive" for US, and ses unemployment below 5% in Q3. But then he unleashed the awful truth:
*BULLARD SAYS HE'D LIKE TO GET OFF ZERO RATE SOONER, REASONABLE TO EXPECT RATE RISE JUNE OR JULY
Warning that "waiting to raise rates, risks falling behind the curve," which sent Treasury yields lower and stocks into a confused frenzy of "what did he say?" as they realize that the upbeat talk is just talk and The Fed will raise rates no matter - as we noted yesterday - it's the lesser of two evils.