For the Van Hoisington fans out there, his latest quarterly letter is short and sweet, and as often happens, rather realistic. The long bond afficionado cuts to the chase: he says the economy “is worse off today than it was prior to the onset of the previous recession" and predicts that "negative economic growth will probably be registered in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2011, and in subsequent quarters in 2012." Incidentally this matches our call, and we expect that when Q4 GDP is re-revised some time in April it will have been found to be a decline. As for the reasons: "Though partially caused by monetary and fiscal actions and excessive indebtedness, this contraction has been further aggravated by three current cyclical developments: a) declining productivity, b) elevated inventory investment, and c) contracting real wage income."
Without a doubt one common similarity between the current market and the fall of 2008 is heightened investor emotions. There are plenty of other similarities from bank nationalizations, a deteriorating global economy and government intervention. There were wild swings and volatility that whipsawed traders out of positions and saw paper profits appear and disappear in very short order. Traders then as they are today were simply exhausted and decisions were more influenced by emotions than macro data, technical analysis or convictions. I strongly believe in Jesse Livermore's theory about human emotion forming patterns and since humans never change patterns will often repeat. I've been trying to find a pattern that compares to the current market. A roadmap if you will of how this emotional roller coaster finally plays out. I think I may have found it. Below are two charts. The first shows a rounded top pattern that appeared twice in the fall of 2008. The next chart shows the current markets (SPY 60 day 4 hour chart) versus the fall 2008 (SPY daily chart). There are six points of reference, five are tops Point A, B, C, D and E and one bottom Point F. In both cases the behavior of all six points are identical.
Buffett Discloses $62,855,038 In 2010 Gross Income, $39,814,784 In Taxable Income, And $6,923,494 In Federal TaxesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2011 - 16:57
Following a back and forth between Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp, we have now discovered what, according to Buffett, were the precise amounts of the Octogenarian Crony Capitalist of Omaha's 2010 gross income, taxable income and Federal tax respectively. These are as follows: $62,855,038, $39,814,784 and 6,923,494. This, apparently, was not enough for Huelskamp. The debate continues below.
Market Slumps After European Banks Admit They Can't/Won't Raise Capital; Will Proceed With Asset Liquidations InsteadSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/12/2011 - 16:29
It was about an hour before the market close, which means it was time for the latest FT rumor. Only this time, unlike the 3 or so times before, the bazooka was not only a dud, it caused the inverse reaction of that intended, and led to a broad market selloff. The reason: according to the FT (and certainly take this with a salt shaker if previous experience is any indication) is that European banks have balked at the prospect of recapitalizing at current levels ("Why should we raise capital at these [depressed share price] levels?” said one eurozone bank boss. The average European bank’s equity is trading at only about 60 per cent of its book value.) and instead will opt for asset liquidations. Now, whether they won't, or, as we have claimed since the first day we heard of the ludicrous "recap" rumors, they can't, simply because absent a massively dilutive rights offering, nobody in their right mind would lend to an industry which continues to be locked out of short-term funding markets for the 4th month in a row, is largely irrelevant. As a result no new money can come in: a key prerequisite to any European recapitalization plans. Of course, it is one for a "blog" to say that, it is something else for the FT to confirm it, even if it is a rumor. So what will banks do instead: why proceed with all out asset liquidation, and sell anything that is not nailed down. The strawman is that this is capital needed to fund the banks' requirements for higher capital ratios per Basel III and what not. The truth is that banks desperately need any capital just to operate as a going concern, forget some Basel Tier 1 ratio that will only be relevant in 2016. So yes: the bitter truth comes out - recap out; liquidations in, especially of USD-denominated assets. Next step: the realization that he who sells first, sells best. So yes, the "hope, idiocy and #mathfail" induced rally was fun while it lasted. And now it is back to reality.
Yes, outflows in domestic equities may be traditionally perceived as a contrarian signal, but when they hit 23 out of 24 weeks for a total of $106 billion (and the one weekly inflow was $715 million) one has to start getting concerned about the cash levels of the broader mutual fund space which as had been pointed out recently are already at all time lows. In the week ended October 5, domestic equity funds saw an outflow of $4.3 billion, which brings total 2011 outflows to a total of $93 billion. What was just as notable about the week is that while traditionally we have seen rotation from equity assets into fixed income, in the past week a whopping $6.2 billion was withdrawn from taxable bond funds as well, implying that the ever increasing volatility not only means retail has thrown in the towel on stocks but that the already painfully low yields in bonds are forcing the long-term investors to get out of the market in its entirety.
There are few opinions in the middle regarding the China story. People are either convinced China is a juggernaut that can’t be stopped and will become the dominant world power (a recent, global Pew Poll found that 47% of respondents think China is or will be the dominant global power), or they see a colossal bubble that will burst and cause worldwide mayhem. While some might think my world-view has a negative slant, I tend toward what I think is healthy skepticism that causes me to view things in a more realistic manner. Based on the facts as I understand them, the Chinese government has created a commercial and residential real estate bubble in an effort to keep peasants employed and not rioting in the streets. In the case of the US subprime mortgage bubble, critical thinkers like Steve Eisman and Michael Burry figured out it was a bubble three years before it burst. Jim Chanos and Andy Xei have been warning about this Chinese bubble for over a year. They have been scorned by the same Wall Street shills who denied the US housing bubble. As Eisman and Burry proved (reaping billions), just because you are early doesn’t mean you are wrong.
In a piece of news that can not be taken well by students of Dr. Copper, the FT reveals for the first time that China's estimated copper inventories, based on numbers from the China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association, were 1.9 million tonnes at the end of 2010 which is almost double the lower end of the consensus estimate of 1.0-1.5 MM tonnes (and, as the FT points out, "more than the US consumes in a year). So while copper is doing its high beta thing on the nth short squeeze day in stocks, the smart money is starting to bail for very obvious reasons. And if the reasons are not obvious, this means that "The estimates, which were announced at a recent meeting of the International Copper Study Group but have not been made public, imply that real Chinese copper demand may have been lower than thought in recent years." In other words, and to all who are still confused by why Zero Hedge jokes at each and every iteration of economic growth driven by "inventory stockpiling", this is nothing other than trying to do at the national level, what Goldman and JPM do at the LME level each and every day: hoard and sell, only in China's case it is more hoard and forget. Alas, when China itself is the only real marginal buyer (not to mention that millions of domestic businesses operate using Letters of Credit backed by copper), things get very, very ugly, and explains why China has been so secretive about this number.
Philly Fed dissenter and rebel Charles Plosser, said something stunning during a Q&A session at the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton. When asked what he thought of Operation Twist, his response: "it is fiscal, not monetary policy, and does not have much credibility ....Treasury debt issuance could undo much of the effect of the Fed's attempt to lower borrowing costs, known as 'Operation Twist', Plosser said. "It doesn't have a whole lot of credibility attached to it." While we have no doubt that Twist has no credibility and both the Fed and the market will figure this weakest link out within a month, forcing the Fed to proceed, over the 3 dissenters pseudo-dead bodies, with much more LSAP, it is somewhat shocking to hear confirmation that the Fed itself now sees its duties as those of the legislative, or the body tasked with writing America's laws and funding required amounts of money via debt issuance. Granted, it is well known that America's congress is now in a state of perpetual impasse with no further stimulus likely to come as long as the GOP controls the Congress and Obama is president. But at least the American people (deserving as they are of their representatives and president) pick those in congress. The last time we checked, the "popular election" of the Fed chairman is not in the purvey of the US constitution, and the only capacity given to public representatives is to veto his nomination. Everything else is decided in a banker-filled conclave. Which then begs the question: has the Fed admitted the archaic concept of the US republic is now over and done with?
That there are theories (and facts) blasting manipulation by various central banks to supress the price of gold over the years is not a secret to anyone (which incidentally is good for anyone who wishes to purchase gold at cheaper price, but that is the topic for another day). Yet one "conspiracy" we had not heard of until now is that America is actively doing what it can to send gold higher. That is no longer the case. A few days ago, none other than the capo di tutti Mexican cappi, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, proclaimed that "Iran's enemies were deliberately causing the price of gold and foreign exchange to rise in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic's economy. "The enemies and ill-wishers want to make a fuss and present wrong information to provoke and deviate the market." The plot thickens. From Reuters: "In order to disturb the market they buy a lot of gold coins with their huge amount of money ... they do the same in the foreign exchange market. But we have got enough reserves to meet all the country's needs." And there you have it: America is willing to risk the reserve status of its currency and send everyone chasing after gold simply so it can destabilize the Iranian economy... And now we've heard it all.
It appears Operation Twist was not enough for all...
- SOME FED OFFICIALS SOUGHT TO RETAIN OPTION OF QE3, MINUTES SAY
- SOME FED OFFICIALS SAW QE3 AS 'MORE POTENT TOOL' TO SPUR GROWTH.
- TWO FOMC MEMBERS FAVORED `STRONGER POLICY ACTION' LAST MONTH
- MANY FOMC MEMBERS SAID INFLATION RISKS `WERE ROUGHLY BALANCED'
- FOMC MEMBERS SAW `RELATIVELY LITTLE RISK OF DEFLATION'
- 4:05: “Direct help for bank recapitalization from EFSF is not at all doable” – German Economy Minister (Translation: “Frogs, I thought we told you already, your plan doesn’t fly”)
- 6:00: “It is important to us that all banks are equipped for all eventualities and must go to market first for capital” – German Finance Minister (Translation: “May be they’ll understand if I say it – nobody seems to take Roesler serious”)
- 6:19: “There is no doubt on the soundness of French banks” – French government (Translation: “Hopefully the dim-wits at Agence France-Presse will print my statement without embarrassing typos”)
Today's $21 billion 10 Year reopening was not pretty. First, the tail was a notable 3 bps with the When Issued trading at 2.24%, ahead of the auction pricing a disappointing 2.27%, well above the record low 2.00% from September, although still materially lower than average yields in the past year. As troubling was the Bid To Cover which came at 2.86 or the lowest since November 2010's 2.80 (compared to the LTM 3.10). Then looking at the internals should be a cause of concern for anyone who believes that China will not retaliate for the currency bill passed yesterday by Congress, after Indirects took down just 35.0% of the full $21 billion, the lowest since February 2010, at a 81% hit rate. Directs also showed very little interest in the bond taking down only 6.4% compared to an LTM average of 10.7% (and the previous 11%). Who was the savior? The recently expanded Primary Dealers of course, which took down 58.5, the most since May 2009. Overall, an ugly auction although whether the reason for the weak demand is due to inflation expectations returning, or a capital reallocation from bonds into other assets, is for now unknown.
Maybe the moment we should be trying to avoid is the one that allows weak institutions to exist. The weak institutions do not provide loans because they are too afraid of losses since they mainly survive by the good grace (and money) from governments at central banks. That is bad enough, but they crowd out new money. Who is going to go after markets where even a sleepy BAC could briefly wake up and crush you before you ever got started. I have heard of some interesting companies out there trying to provide loans to those who need them, but they can’t get any traction. Too Big To Fail aren’t too sleepy to allow potential competitors to grow. Stocks can rally. Lehman Moment can be said 500 times today. Every politician can worry about the impact of triggering CDS. Every banker can claim the world would end if they are made to pay for their bad decisions. In the end, Iceland and Ireland both improved only AFTER they let banks fail. The US, for all the talk about Lehman, is only doing worse than that since it decided banks couldn’t be allowed to fail.