Newmont Mining currently trades near a 52-week low and has a dividend of just over 3%. Newmont’s dividend is indexed each quarter to the average price of the gold it sells in that quarter with step-up provisions of a further 7.5c if the average gold price exceeds $1,700 in a given quarter and a further 2.5c should those sales average in excess of $2,000. The company has a cash cost of gold mined of around $650/oz and is working hard to lower that figure. Analysts figure that earnings will hit an all-time high this year of close to $5 per share. The P/E ratio? That would be 11x. The same metric in 2008? 30x. Newmont Mining is currently trading roughly $20, or 40% below the average analyst target price of $67.23 with a yield 50% higher than that of the S&P500 and a P/E ratio 30% low er, while its price-to-book ratio, at 1.8x, is also extremely close to the 2008 lows. If we revisit the performance of NEM, GDX and GDXJ when priced in ounces of gold, it becomes apparent just how beaten up this particular sector has become.
In his latest note, Jefferies' David Zervos observes something that has been troubling us for the past few weeks as well: namely, whether the relentless plunge in the EURUSD, now down nearly 600 pips from when we said the next EURUSD target could be 1.20, coupled with a far tamer drop in various US equity risk indicators, such as the S&P, means that the EURUSD/SPOO correlation, so well known to most traders, has finally broken down. We doubt it. In fact, we believe that being LONG EURUSD (potentially with an offseting SPOO short for a less balance sheet intensive pair trade) which will easily rip 400-500 pips in the current environment, could well be the ABX trade of 2012 for some lucky trader. There is just the minor matter of timing...
Ten days ago when presenting the live Reuters polling tracker we said, "just as the most actively watched live update on June 17 will be the Greek parliament seat map as voting is tallied, so each and every day from now until then, everyone's attention will be glued to daily update from Greek election polls." Well, as of end of day Friday, a moratorium to publish polls come into effect which means that for the next 2 weeks Europe will be officially in the dark, clueless as to how the political winds in Greece are blowing.
We have reached a point where the shepherd has shouted “wolf” one too many times, where the theatre goer has shouted “fire” one too many times and the crowd no longer believes the jargon and is standing pat. From one politician to the next in Europe the words are strikingly the same; “bold actions, courageous decisions, decisive plans” which are meant to stoke the propaganda machine and assure the world that all is well. We have had the bank stress tests; the first pockmarked by inaccurate data checked by no one and the second humiliated by an inaccurate construct which discredited it by its own shameless manipulation. We face a world where contingent liabilities, promises to pay and guarantees of debts are NOT counted and where asset guarantees, illusionary firewalls and unfunded rescue programs ARE counted and in some cases counted more than once. Europe has, in fact, provided a complex system of hoaxes, inaccurate data and false financial reports that have been for the most part believed but that belief system is now crumbling as every quarter presents new data that proves the inaccuracy of what we have been told.
What would the weekend be without at least one rumor that Europe is on the verge of fixing everything, or failing that, planning for a master fix, OR failing that, planning for a master plan to fix everything. Sure enough, we just got the latter, which considering nobody really believes anything out of Europe anymore, especially not something that has not been signed, stamped and approved by Merkel herself, is rather ballsy. Nonetheless, one can't blame them for trying: "The chiefs of four European institutions are in the process of creating a master plan for the euro zone, the daily Die Welt reports Saturday, in an advance release of an article to be published Sunday. Suggestions targeting a fiscal, banking, and political union, as well as structural reforms, are being worked out..." Less than credible sources report that Spiderman towels (which are now trading at negative repo rates) and cross-rehypothecated kitchen sinks are also key components of all future "master plans" which sadly are absolutely meaningless since the signature of Europe's paymaster - the Bundesrepublik - is as usual lacking. Which is why, "the plan may well mean that the euro zone adopts measures not immediately accepted by the whole of the European Union, the article adds." So... European sub-union? Hardly strange is that just as this latest desperate attempt at distraction from the complete chaos in Europe (which will only find a resolution once XO crosses 1000 as we and Citi suggested two weeks ago and when the world is truly on the verge of the abyss), none other than George Soros has just started a 3-month countdown to European the European D(oom)-Day.
The precautionary principle is typically defined as “if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific evidence that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.” In practice, the principle is utilized by government policy makers to ensure technological advances don’t pose too dire of an effect on the surrounding environment. This may appear a noble goal if one accepts the premise that the prime function of government is the protection of life and property. History proves otherwise as easily corruptible politicians have tended to grant exceptions to wealthy business interests which look to dump their waste in public-owned natural resources such as waterways. It is also clear judging by historical cases that socialization often results in environmental degradation. One look at the pollution in once-communist nations such as China or the former Soviet Union reveals that a lack of private property results in a type of moral hazard en masse as there is little incentive to preserve what you don’t officially own.
Dodge City, Kansas is a lovely place. The home to 26,101 people regularly enjoy old west casinos, old west rodeos and old west movies. Like we say – it is a lovely place. Yet years ago when it was still cool to be a cowboy, cowboys of all types were getting’ out of Dodge. And who could blame them - bullets flew around town on a regular basis. As we look across the globe today, Dodge City’s are popping up all over the place across America, Europe and Asia. However, within the World of financial markets, government sponsored economic policies are desperately trying to keep everyone in the 2012 financial version of Dodge. Today’s question of the century is which market is the equivalent of Dodge? One thing is for sure, financial bullets are flying fast and furious these days forcing every sane investor to keep their head down. For all other investors, be a good cowboy and be sure to have an exit plan – you never know when you’ll need it.
Back in December 2010 Zero Hedge was the first to point out what is easily the most troubling characteristic within America's evaporating labor force: its gradual transition to a part-time worker society. We elaborated on this back in February when we noted that the quality assessment of US jobs indicates that this most disturbing trend is accelerating. Finally, yesterday, the BLS' latest jobs report confirmed that our concerns have been valid all along: as of May, part-time jobs just as disclosed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics hit an all time high, over 28 million! These are people who traditionally have zero job benefits, including healthcare and retirement, and which according to the BLS "work less than 35 hours per week." In other words, as little as one hour per week of "work" is enough to classify one a part-time worker. More disturbing: the increase in part-time jobs in May compared to April: 618,000, or the fifth highest on record. It gets better: when added with the 508,000 increase in part-time jobs in April, this is the largest two month increase in part time-jobs in history. Which means of course that full time jobs in May must have declined: sure enough, at a -266,000 drop in full time jobs, the quality composition of the NFP report was just abysmal and makes any reported "increase" in those employed into a sad farce.
The recent elections in Egypt now lead to a showdown between the two top vote getters on June 16/17. The protagonists, Ahmed Shaiq (former PM for Mubarak and candidate of the military) vs. Mohammed Mursi (Muslim Brotherhood), pits two candidates most of the population really doesn’t want in the first place. Kind of like Obama vs. Romney. Where’s Ron Paul on the ballot, right? The problem here is Egypt’s position on the timeline of revolution. Egypt has gone through the 1st Stage of a government loosing its justification to govern, and now the 2nd Stage of a caretaker, or provisional government, is now coming to an end. However, no accommodation has been created to correct the deficiencies that caused Egypt’s Spring Revolution, and that spells trouble.
May is a month most would like to forget, especially those short IG 9-18 (and understandably so: in a world in which the virtuous cycle is now broken, and in which the only upside catalyst is central planner intervention, the money printers have been eerily silent). So just to remind readers of everything that happened in the past month, here are 95 slides from MS with the definitive summary of, well, everything that happened in the past month.
Back in October 19, 1988, in response to Black Monday from a year earlier (the SEC is not known for fast turnaround times) a little known SEC rule came into effect, known as Rule 80B, and somewhat better known as "Trading Halts Due to Extraordinary Market Volatility" which set trigger thresholds for market wide circuit breakers - think a wholesale temporary market shutdown. According to Rule 80B (as revised in 1998), the trigger levels for a market-wide trading halt were set at 10%, 20% and 30% of the DJIA. Needless to say, a 30% drop in the market in our day and age when the bulk of US wealth is concentrated in the stock market, would be a shot straight to the heart of the entire capitalist system. Which is why the smallest gating threshold is and has always been the key.However, despite the revision, as anyone who traded stocks on that fateful day in May knows, the market-wide circuit breakers were completely ineffective and unused during the HFT-induced and ETF-facilitated flash crash of May 6, 2010. In turn, the SEC's flash crash response was to implement individual stock-level circuit breakers which however, instead of restoring confidence in the market, have become the butt of daily jokes involving freaked out algos. This was merely the most recent indication of how horribly the SEC's attempts to "regulate" a market it no longer has any grasp or understanding of, backfire on it. However, even that may pale in comparison to just how badly the SEC may have blundered yesterday afternoon, when it proposed yet another revision to its market-wide halt rule. And once again, instead of making traders and investors more comfortable that the SEC is capable and in control, the questions have already come pouring in: is the SEC preparing for another massive market crash?
The ECB has €50 billion of GGB bonds still on their books. Those would not get paid at par by Greece if this is an amicable breakup, but this is quickly heading to a pots and pans thrown in the kitchen sort of break-up. Why would Greece pay the ECB if they feel like the ECB drove them out? Don’t forget, not for a second, that most of the money Greece now gets goes to pay back the ECB and IMF. The EFSF is totally out of luck. The ECB might be able to offer something to a post drachma Greece, but the EFSF offers nothing. The IMF has more negotiating power, as their direct loans had more protection in the first place and they are likely to provide additional funds post exit, but quite simply Greece won’t be able to pay them in full on existing loans. With the ECB, EFSF, and IMF all taking big losses, their credibility is hurt. Worse than that, they have exposure to Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy and the markets (if not the politicians) will become very concerned about those exposures. The IMF may see its alleged firewall crumble before it is ever launched. The ECB, integral to any plan to protect Europe will have lost credibility and many will question their solvency. The EFSF will be hung out to dry and immediately the market will attach all their risk to Germany and France, not making people in those countries particularly happy.
On the heels of Fitch's sovereign credit downgrade to A plus (the fifth-highest investment grade), Japan's government debt continues to swell. With its debt at over 200% of its GDP, the Land of the Rising Sun appears to be embarking on a trek into the debt-laden unknown. As with any well-known macro-trend, there are speculators eager to capitalize on it. A ballooning government debt is often associated with sovereign debt crises, as market shocks can send the interest rate paid on the debt to unsustainable levels. Coupled with Japan's shrinking population (and thus tax base), the country is setting itself up for a hairy situation (data for both charts are from the IMF's World Economic Outlook Database). Enter Kyle Bass, one of the few hedge fund managers who made a killing when he bet against housing during the subprime mortgage bust. He and his fund have now set their sights on Japan, specifically shorting Japanese yen and Japanese government debt. His thesis is simple: with a debt-to-GDP ratio over 200% and a contracting population, it's only a matter of time before a sovereign debt crisis sets in, thus triggering a rise in Japanese interest rates – which the government would be unable to service with a shrinking and aging tax base. So far this strategy hasn't worked as Bass intended: according to ValueWalk, Bass' fund lost 29% of its value in April alone. That's not to say Bass' assumptions are incorrect. But there are alternative ways of looking at Japan's situation.