Alert: Unconfirmed reports of explosives at four sites on campus: Science Center, Thayer, Sever, and Emerson. Evacuate those buildings now.
— Harvard University (@Harvard) December 16, 2013
Five months ago, we highlighted yet another in the inglorious roll of momentum-ignited stop-blasting manipulations of the US "stock market". In most cases, the furore dies down after a day or two as the algos find fresh meat... but in the case of USEC, it would appear the "berserker" algo we highlighted merely removed every willing buyer (i.e. forced short-cover-er) and was exhibiting the death throes of yet another micro-cap as the company has announced it is entering a pre-pack Chapter 11 bankruptcy - with existing stockholders receiving 5% of the new common stock.
After posting a surprising drop in November to -2.21, or only its first negative print since a freak first half of 2013 aberration, the spin was quick to explain away the drop with the government shutdown, which surprisingly affected precisely nothing else in the economy but just a few diffusion indices (and led to epic surges in various PMI prints). Moments ago, the December Empire Fed PMI print came out, and it was once again a dud, printing at 0.98 on expectations of a rise to 5.00 which also was the fifth consecutive miss to expectations in a row. The decline was driven by ongoing weakness in New Orders, which remained negative at -3.54, while Unfilled Orders tumbled deep into the red, from -17.11 to -24.10, while inventories supposedly cratered from -1.32 to -21.69. We say supposedly because other recent surveys have shown that the surge in inventory accumulation from Q3 into Q4 has continued.
"If secular stagnation concerns are relevant to our current economic situation, there are obviously profound policy implications... Some have suggested that a belief in secular stagnation implies the desirability of bubbles to support demand. This idea confuses prediction with recommendation. It is, of course, better to support demand by supporting productive investment or highly valued consumption than by artificially inflating bubbles. On the other hand, it is only rational to recognize that low interest rates raise asset values and drive investors to take greater risks, making bubbles more likely. So the risk of financial instability provides yet another reason why preempting structural stagnation is so profoundly important."
While cash flows may be an anachronism in a time when the return of the dot com bubble means only future corporate prospects of growth matter, and the lower the actual profits or earnings the greater the upside stock potential due to ridiculous future PE multiples (flashing back to the year 2000), for some the lifeblood of success is still dependent on cash flow. Or the lack thereof. Such as Greece, where a brief episode known as the "Grecovery" driven by a recent export surge was put on indefinite hiatus where as Kathimerini says "exports run out of steam due to cash flow problems." It explains: "The rise of Greek exports sadly proved short-lived, as the momentum observed in the last couple of years has all but vanished. Exporters estimate that 2013 will end with a rise of 3 to 4 percent. But that figure includes fuel products, and when they are taken out of the equation it turns into an annual drop of 2 to 3 percent."
- Tough Question for Fed: Time to Act? (Hilsenrath )
- Merkel Begins Third Term Strengthened by SPD Partner Backing (BBG)
- Wary of Roma, Europe cold-shoulders its new eastern workmates (Reuters)
- New Medicines Emerge, but Few Blockbusters (WSJ)
- SIP in the crosshairs: U.S. Exchanges Near Deal for Infrastructure Upgrade (WSJ)
- Secret Inside BofA Office of CEO Stymied Needy Homeowners (BBG)
- AIG Said to Near Sale of Plane Unit to AerCap (BBG)
- Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup (NYPost)
- Russian Bank Chief Weighs Firings as Costs Absorb Revenue (BBG)
- Video Boom Forces Verizon to Upgrade Network (WSJ)
- Chinese Manufacturing Slows (AP)
Following last night's freak central-planning accident (previously in history known as "selling") in the S&P futures, we said that "we expect Overnight Ramp Capital to arrive promptly or else confidence in central-planning may take a hit ahead of the Wednesday Taperish FOMC, and Thursday's double POMO." A few hours later, even we were surprised by how high the low volume tape managed to drag ES, which staged a dramatic 20 point comeback, on the back of a sharp reversal in FX driven higher by both a stronger Euro (helped by better than expected German and Eurozone PMIs offsetting China PMI weakness, and lack of optimism in the core Japanese Tankan) and a weaker Yen, the two key signals for E-mini directionality. Sure enough, at last check the futures we trading just why of the "independence day" 1776, after briefly breaking the 50-DMA and then being supported by 1760 in the futures. The rest is perfectly predictable central-planning history.
Just after 10pm Eastern, a big block in the S&P futures, over 10k contracts, was dumped in the very thin Sunday night tape, sending the complex lower by over 10 points, and after opening at 1768.5, ES dumped as low at 1754 in a matter of seconds, before recovering some of the losses to 1760 (1754 just happens to be perfectly the 50-day-moving average for the March 2014 futures contract). The Nikkei was hit concurrently by correlation algos impacted by the same downdraft, which also pinged the various JPY pairs lower, if leaving the EUR largely untouched. Needless to say there was no news of note to prompt this move, which appears to have been either a partial fat finger, or someone trying to exit the market in a hurry ahead of next week's FOMC festivities.
Due to western central bank price manipulation, the mining sector is in critical condition, the supply line is all but halted, and the physical supply is being swallowed up by Asia. The last shoe to drop is for major mining companies to start closing down production at major mines. Though this would be perceived as the end for gold, speculators will be happy to know that this would be the beginning of the biggest Fed induced bubble in history! But unlike previous Fed bubbles where they support the price increase, the gold bubble will be a result of western central planners mis-managing the gold price for the past 3 decades and finally losing control. As Peak Resources explains in the brief clip, the perfect storm is coming for gold...
David Stockman's exclamation at the "betrayal" realized within the latest so-called "festerng fiscal" budget deal is taken a step further with Peter Schiff's head-shaking diatribe on Congress' inability to show that it is truly "capable of tackling our chronic and dangerous debt problems." So America blissfully sails on, ignoring the obvious fiscal, monetary, and financial shoals that lay ahead in plain sight. I believe that will continue this dangerous course until powers outside the United States finally force the issue by refusing to expand their holding of U.S. debt. That will finally bring on the debt and currency crisis that we have created by our current cowardice.
Japanese stocks are confused this evening (whether good news is bad news or bad news is good news). The headline Tankan business conditions (soft-survey) beat expectations modestly (a la Europe's in the summer as it rode a wave of short-lived optimism) and pressing to 6 years highs (oh no - less QE?) But, the more forward-looking "manufacturing outlook" missed expectations by the most since March 2012. On the services side, things were worse, as the outlook there missed for the 11th quarter in a row. And the triple-whammy was the Capex spend missing expectations significantly (what no investment? where have we seen that before). The result - mixed news is bad news - Nikkei futures are down 150 from Friday's close and JPY crosses have drifted back lower.
Despite the ongoing declarations by Wall Street's strategists and Washington's leaders that recovery is here (or just around the corner), record numbers of Americans in poverty and government handouts suggest otherwise. However, the insidious chipping away at the possibility of the American Dream has been replaced by an IPO-chasing, zero-interest-income-earning, yield-reaching, insider-trading, 'dance-while-the-music-is-playing', beggars can be choosers, get-rich-quick-scheme nation of takers (and entitled-ers)...
The S&P 500 is set to resume higher, according to BofAML's Macneil Curry pointing to the week of December Triple Witching as historically one strongest of the year for the S&P500. With fundamentals a thing-of-the-past, paying attention to the technicals in a world of one driver of stocks (Fed balance sheet), for short-term trading signals may have some value. Of course, with an 'event' as potentially huge as the FOMC meeting this week, adding risk on an already good year (when the world already believes a taper is "priced in") may be more greatest fool than momo monkey.
Earlier in the week, we detailed JPMorgan's attempt to create their own "web cash" alternative to Bitcoin (and Sberbank's talk of doing the same). However, as M-Cam details, following the failure of the first 154 'claims', JPMorgan issued a further 20 claims - which were summarily rejected (making JPMorgan 0-175 for approved claims). As they note, The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO)’s handling of applications like JPMorgan’s ‘984 application ("Bitcoin Alternative") highlights the need to fix a broken system - patent applications of existing inventions need to be finally rejected and not be resurrected as zombies (no matter how powerful the claimant). Obviously, large financial institutions want in on the online alternative currency action. But they would be well advised to pursue novel and non?obvious approaches that do not duplicate existing commercial options with respect to a virtual medium of exchange.