Michael Hudson argues that Mr. Krugman is a conservative in disguise.
One can come up with massively complicated explanations for why the Chinese commodity bubble is popping including inventory of various colors, repos, etc, but when all is said and done, the explanation is quite simple, and is reminiscent of what happened in the US with housing back in 2007: everyone was convinced prices would only go up, and underlying assets was pledged as debt collateral at > 100 LTV... and then everything blew up. Precisely the same thing is happening in China right now, where buyers of commodities thought prices could only go up, up, up and instead got a nasty surprise: prices went down. Big. As a result, many are not even waiting for their orders to come in, but are defaulting on orders with shipments en route.
The policy responses and hints of policy responses are starting to come out. What will they be, how big will they be, and what will they accomplish remains to be seen, but the market is due to rally on almost anything. We expect some announcements out of Europe. A policy shift towards “growth” and some new ECB plans. We don’t think they will work well, especially if they don’t address the root of depositor fear in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, but with so many indicators pointing to oversold conditions, the markets could snap back, and that is the way Peter Tchir of TF Market Advisors is leaning.
At the beginning of the week, European equities are seen modestly higher in the major indices with underperformance noted in the peripheral markets. Markets have sought some solace in the G8 summit over the weekend, with leaders agreeing that the optimal scenario would be Greece remaining within the European Monetary Union, and have furtively agreed that further measures may be necessary to return Europe to growth. The disagreements, however, continue to rollover as leaders fail to commit to a specific growth strategy. The tentative risk sentiment is reflected in the fixed income markets, with the German Bund remaining in negative territory for much of the session and 10yr government bond yield spread between the periphery and the German benchmark tighter on the session. Touted bids by domestic accounts helped support BTPs (Italian paper), especially in the short end of the curve, where the spread between the German equivalent is trading tighter by around 3bps. From Tokyo, comments from Fed’s Lockhart have drawn attention, who commented that with the downside risks emerging from the Eurozone, it would be unwise to take QE3 off the table.
Name the plunging bond shown on the left. If you said some sovereign or corporate issue based out of Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, or even Greece you would be close... but no cigar. No - the bond in question is an issue of Caisse Centrale du Credit Immobilier de France (3CIF), which together with its sister entity CIF Euromortgage (CIFE), is a 100% subsidiary of Credit Immobilier de France Development (CIFD), which as Fitch describes it, is a French "housing loans specialist, with business exclusively directed to France." CIFD is in turn owned by Procivis Group, which just happens to be France's second largest full-service real estate group.
The big banks are getting restless. Nowhere is this more evident than in the latest just released letter from Citi's European Credit Strategy, literally a letter to Europe's trio of leading politicians, which follows hot on the heels of yet another recent Citigroup missive from Willem Buiter, which was largely ignored in the noise, yet which made it all too clear that when all else fails, it is the Chairman's sworn duty to paradrop money. Because if anyone, it is the banks that know that if things aren't fixed (they aren't), it is up to the central banks to do something to prevent the vigilantes from forcing the politicians hands, as they did in the summer and fall of 2011 (which will not provide a long-term fix, but at least allow bankers to hope that the next collapse won't take place before bonus season). As Citi says, "Until the gravity of the situation is made clear, until the self-reinforcing mechanisms that already seem to be in motion are understood, we don't see how the solutions, the answers, and the certainty that market craves can be brought to the table." Which simply means that things are about to get much, much worse as it will be up to the markets to bring the world to the edge of collapse once again, just so Europe, with the help of the Fed of course, once again is forced to get over the political bickering and prop up risk assets, in yet another iteration of "this time it's different", even though it isn't. Sure enough: "Our impression is that markets will need to act as the proverbial 'attack dog', forcing the issue on the political agenda. We can't escape the sense that it is probably politically easier to let the markets run loose for the time being to make it apparent that further intervention is needed. But 1000bp on Crossover is much closer than you imagine." In other words, Citi just gave the green light for the bottom to fall from the market just so Europe's increasingly impotent political elite does something, anything. Look for many more banks to sign off on the same letter.
Bob Farrell's rule #9 is: "When all experts and forecasts agree — something else is going to happen." This statement encapsulates the basic tenant of being a contrarian investor. As Sam Stovall, the S&P investment strategist, puts it: "If everybody's optimistic, who is left to buy? If everybody's pessimistic, who's left to sell?" Going against the herd as Farrell repeatedly suggests can be very profitable, especially for patient buyers who raise cash from frothy markets and reinvest it when sentiment is the darkest. However, being a seller in exuberant markets or a buyer in major rout is very tough, if not impossible, for almost every investor as the emotions of "greed" and "fear" overtake logical buy and sell decision making.
The Elite Financial Players Are Manipulating the Game So that They Get the Stimulus ... and the Little Guy Gets the Austerity
When Mr. Market ultimately becomes disenchanted with the fiscal excesses of the sovereign deadbeats, he can express his ire most energetically. When the current bond bubble here in the US ultimately bursts, as it must, it's going to be a bloodbath. Of course, there is much, much more at stake to coming to the correct answer on the recovery, or lack thereof, than that. For instance, poor economies make for poor reelection odds for political incumbents. And when it comes to maintaining a civil society, the lack of jobs inherent in poor economies often leads to a breakdown in civility. On that note, overall unemployment in Spain is now running at depression levels of almost 25%, and youth unemployment at close to 50%. How long do you think it will be before the citizens of this prominent member of the PIIGS will refuse being led to the slaughter and start taking out their anger on the swine (governmental and private) seen as bearing some responsibility for the malaise? Meanwhile, back here in the United States, the commander-in-chief is striding around the deck of the ship of state trying to look like the right man for the job in the upcoming election, despite the gaping hole of unemployment just under the economic water line. His future prospects are very much entangled with this question of recovery.
So, what's it going to be? Recovery… no recovery… or worse, maybe even a crash?
Canary In The Gold Mine: In Historic Move, Japanese Pension Fund Switches To Gold For First Time EverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/16/2012 12:36 -0400
As US weak hands keep piling out of gold whether to make space for the Facebook IPO tomorrow, or just to load up on paper currencies in advance of central banks printing much more, two things have happened: China is now on its way to becoming the biggest source of gold demand, surpassing India, but more importantly as of hours ago, in a truly historic move, "Okayama Metal & Machinery has become the first Japanese pension fund to make public purchases of gold, in a sign of dwindling faith in paper currencies." Not our words: the FT's.
We thought that Jeremy Siegel, Laszlo "the Ruler" Birinyi and Jim Altucher were optimistic with their stock market targets. Sadly, with their equal to or less than 20,000 Dow Jones predictions, the three merely come off as rank amateurs, especially when compared to the forecast of BNP's head of fixed income Philippe Gijesels, who sees the stock market at 100,000 at some point over the next 25 years. However, unlike the previous trio who bases its forecasts on misguided expectations of economic growth, Gijesels may actually end up being right, because his estimate is predicated on one simple thing: hyperinflation, or specifically 12.2% inflation each year, which for a country like America is tantamount to the dreaded H-word. The other premise used by Gijesels: too much debt which has to be inflated. And actually, he is spot on. The only problem is that when the Dow hits 100,000 due to money printing, which is his underlying thesis, one will needed scientific notation to express the price of any hard asset (and most certainly gold), because if America falls in a two-decade long Weimar republic phase, the Dow may well be 100,000 or 100 googol - the truth is it won't matter as the money this number translated to would be absolutely meaningless. Just ask the Weimar Germans, who may have had some tremendous monthly increases in their 401(k) statements, but all they really cared about is whether they had the latest and most fashionable wheelbarrow model.
I am back from Buffett’s Omaha. Every year I come back feeling supercharged for the year ahead. This year was no different. From morning till night I had the pleasure of sharing and debating ideas with investors from all over the world. Though I did not plan it this way, the first day I had dinner with value investors/friends from the UK, on the second from Germany, and on the third from Spain. I have at least a dozen stock ideas to research and new thoughts to process.
The unsurprising and yet depressingly real budget data from California today should shock no-one and CNBC's Rick Santelli provides the most succinct and even more saddening reality check on the situation this morning as he points out the $15.7 billion shortfall and how cuts and compromise will fill that gap. His sane response to the implicit rise in taxation that this compromise realistically requires will mean - happy feet as Californians leave the state. His rant is one of the best but a little later in the day, the problem appears to be on its way to being fixed by none other than the hoody-in-chief himself. According to Bloomberg, Facebook Inc.’s initial public offering likely will account for 20 percent of California’s personal income growth this calendar year, the state fiscal analyst said. The state expects personal income to grow 4.9 percent in 2012. If the Facebook IPO were excluded, that would total 4.0 percent, the agency said. Money paid to company executives, investors and insiders would equal 1 percent of all personal income in 2012, the agency said. So two things come to mind: 1) we sure hope there are more mega-IPOs due next year to fund CALI's shortfall or we may have to pull the 'transitory' or unsustainable card out of the drawer; and 2) how will all those Facebook employees (and the corporation itself) feel when they start facing higher taxes (as Saverin just pre-emptively did?). Will they follow Santelli's happy feet out of the state? In the meantime, it would appear that the Facebook IPO is just the snake-oil medication that everyone needs - how could the IPO go wrong?
Out of money and in the red, but with revenue projections out the wazoo
Sometime around March 31 the market was soaring, and there were still those naive, clueless ones, who thought that 2012 would not be a carbon copy of 2011. Rumors of more QE were becoming quieter and quieter as the S&P was on a rampage, the economy was humming along (courtesy of the reacord warm winter as ZH predicted in January, but this would not be widely accepted for at least 2-3 more weeks), Europe was "fixed" and the world was a lovely place. It is right there that everyone's favorite "baller to the waller" David Tepper went all in and bought anything that moves, or doesn't, in financials and tech. As the chart below shows, after having a mere $764 million in equity AUM at the end of December 31, Appaloosa went on an epic liftathon, and increased its AUM to a whopping $4.1 billion in the span of 3 months.