5 Things To Ponder: Variegated Contemplations

Yes, it is that magical week leading up to Christmas and the subsequent low volume push into the new year. It is "magic time" as hopes are high that "Santa Claus" will come to WallStreet. "Ignoring valuation – ignoring risk – is a recipe for disappointment and is the thing that is most likely to lead investors to ruin"

Why The US Is About To Be Flooded With Record Oil Production Due To Plunging Oil Prices

One would think that plunging oil prices and the resulting mothballing (or bankruptcy) of the highest-cost domestic producers would lead to a collapse in US oil production. And sure enough, if looking simply at headline data like the Baker Hughes count of active rigs in the US, then US oil production grinding to a halt would be all but assured. However, what will actually happen, even as the highest-cost producers and those with the weakest balance sheets are taken to their local bankruptcy court, is that as Bloomberg reports, the US is - paradoxically - set to pump a 42-year high amount of oil in 2015 "as drillers ignore the recent decline in price, pointing them in the opposite direction."

Central Banks Are Now Uncorking The Delirium Phase

Virtually every day there is an eruption of lunacy from one central bank or another somewhere in the world. In short, the central banks of the world are embroiled in a group-think mania so extreme and irrational that it puts one in mind of the spasm of witchcraft trials that erupted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony nearly four centuries ago.  As a practical matter, this mania amounts to a race to the currency bottom and the final extinguishment of the price discovery mechanism in every financial market on the planet. Flying blind, the financial markets are thus bubbling - in the delirium phase - like never before. That is, until they don’t.

The Fed Is "Confused & Confusing"

"At the end of the day, the Fed is confused and confusing, so if you spend too much time addressing their comments you end up confusing as well." The FOMC meeting was, simply put, slightly hawkish. Unfortunately, the markets’ outsized and illogical reactions are signs and symptoms that financial markets are broken. The FOMC’s meddling in financial market behavior could easily catch up to them in an ugly fashion.

Guest Post: Calculating The Breakeven Price For The Median Bakken Shale Well

A lot of data has been thrown around recently concerning the Bakken shale wells of North Dakota in an attempt to figure out the necessary oil price required to break even on the investment.  In order to get a clearer picture of the financial situation in Bakken, it is necessary to develop a financial model of the median Bakken well... If the current oil price of $55 per barrel is used, the initial production rate has to be increased to 800 BPD in order to break even; and the number of wells drilled will be about a quarter of the present number.

"Some North Korean Folks Are Hacking..." President Obama Explains "Costs" - Live Feed

Having become convinced that the North Koreans are responsible for hacking the Japanese company Sony (with the apparent help of China or some Chinese folks... though not Russia or ISIS yet), President Obama will hold a press conference to - we are sure - show us the proof, explain how bad the movie was anyway, discuss the "costs" to be imposed, and point out that the terrorists did not win...

US Oil Rig Count Tumbles Most In Over 5 Years,"Demand From Oilfield Customers Dropping Rapidly"

"Unequivocally" not good. Following last week's surge in initial jobless claims for 'Shale' states, Baker Hughes confirms rig counts continue to tumble.  The last two weeks have seen the total US rig count fall the most since 2009 (and Canada down 9.3% this week alone). Seemingly confirming this weakness, The Kansas City Fed notes respondents see non-durable (petroleum) demand "sluggish", and rather awkwardly against the "everything's great meme," one respondent exclaims, "demand from oilfield customers is dropping rapidly." The current US rig count is now the lowest in 5 months.

Just One Question About Yesterday's Last Minute "Berserk ETF" Freak Out

With 4 seconds to the close of yesterday's epic trading session, someone executed over $200 million and 1,147 trades in SPY - the S&P 500 ETF - in one-second, lifting the price to a S&P level of 2,130. This massive-loss-making "fat-finger" - resulting in millions of losses - would normally be followed by "probes" from the exchange into "erroneous trades" and then rapidly accompanied by the exchanges busting all the losing trades. But not this time! In all other cases of fat-finger'd and busted trades, we have learned who the counterparty was - even Goldman Sachs was exposed after regulators DK'ed its busted trades several years ago. So, the question is - why hasn't the other side of yesterday's berserk "fat-finger" buying spree in SPY spoken out in anger that its massive money losing trade will not be DKed?

The "FBI Has Concluded That The North Korean Government Is Responsible", Will "Impose Costs"

"As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. Government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following... the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests."

Epic Bot Fraud: Up To 50% Of All Publisher Traffic Is From Fake Clicks; Billions In Ad Revenue At Risk

Up to 50% of publisher traffic (!) is bot activity, just fake clicks from automated computing programs.
Bots account for 11 percent of display ad views and 23 percent of video ads.
Between 3 percent and 31 percent of programmatically bought ad impressions were found to be from bots, with an average of 17 percent.
More than half of traffic from third parties claiming to lift publishers' traffic numbers comes from bots.

Credit & Volatlity Are Flashing Red, "But We Aren't In A Crisis, Are We?"

We are currently experiencing disturbances in the force. Credit and volatility have never acted this way before, and I can quantify it exactly. Never before has the VIX gone from 11 to 20 in just four days. But it’s actually bigger than that. Volatility is itself volatile. You can measure the volatility of volatility; traders call it “vvol.” And the only times vvol has been this high since the advent of VIX options were in 2007, 2008, and 2011—all times of serious crisis. But we aren’t in a crisis now, are we? Well, we might be, if you think vvol has any predictive power, as we do.

The Interview Is "Desperately Unfunny", "Will Flop" If Not Cancelled According To Leaked Sony Emails

The conspiracy theories surrounding the story of The Interview's cancelation in the aftermath of the North Korean "hacking" just keep getting stranger by the day (and will, in 6-9, months lead to the blockbuster drama: "How 'The Interview' Got Cancelled"). Because where it gets downright bizarre, however, is that as Reuters also reported earlier citing leaked emails of international Sony Pictures executive, the infamous movie in question "is "desperately unfunny" and would have flopped overseas if it had not been canceled." Wait a minute, it sounds almost as if the evil North Korean "hackers" did Sony... a favor?

"Fed To The Rescue" - The Plunge Protection Team Makes The Front Page

In October it was Jim Bullard's "QE4" hint that sent the stock market on an all-time record-breaking run of gains, which no lesser institution than the central banker's central bank - The BIS - lamented "the markets' buoyancy hinges on central banks' every word and deed." And then just two days ago, The Fed did it again: by the mere appearance of grandma Yellen (and the words "patient" and "considerable"), US stocks explode to their greatest back-to-back gains in almost six years. So it is perhaps ironic that no more mainstream media publication than USA Today has finally realised, there are no fundamentals anymore...

Yellen Decoupled Stocks From Oil, BofA Warns It Won't Last

As we have noted in the last two days, on the heels of Janet Yellen's mutterings, US equity markets have exploded higher even as the highly correlated and causative oil prices have done anything but rise. This 'fact' has not escaped BofA's Hans Mikkelsen's attention as he warns, "While stocks currently are getting a break from oil, it appears most likely that they reconnect when the decline in oil prices accelerates – especially if we see associated weakness in credit and EM." And sure enough, modestly at first, the two are starting to converge this morning...