Jeremy Grantham Goes Bearish: "Now Is The Time To Fight The Fed" And "Stocks Trading 40% Above Fair Value Are Badly Overpriced"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/11/2011 10:48 -0500
Just released from Jeremy Grantham, who has gone, for all intents and purposes, "balls to wall" bearish. "I do not feel the same degree of confidence that I did, which was considerable, that the Fed could carry all before it until October 1 of this year. A third round of quantitative easing would very probably keep the speculative game going. But without a QE3, there seem to be too many unexpected (indeed unexpectable) special factors weighing against risk-taking in these overpriced times. I had recommended taking a little more risk than was justified by value alone in honor of Year 3, QE2, and the Fed in general. Risk now should be more reflective of an investment world that has stocks selling at 40% over fair value (about 920 on the S&P 500) and fixed income, manipulated by the Fed, also badly overpriced. Although the taking of some “extra” risk by riding the Fed’s coattails has been profitable for six months, I admit to being a bit disappointed: I really felt the market had the Fed’s wind in its sails and would move up deep into the 1400 to 1600 range by October 1, where it would be, once again, over a 2-sigma 1-in-44-year event, or, officially, a bubble. (At least in a world where GMO is the official.) At such a level, I was ready to be a real hero and absolutely batten down the hatches, become extremely conservative, and be prepared to tough out any further market advance (which, with my record, would be highly likely!). The market may still get to, say, 1500 before October, but I doubt it, especially without a QE3, although the chance of going up a little more by October 1 is probably still better than even. And whether it will reach 1500 or not, the environment has simply become too risky to justify prudent investors hanging around, hoping to get lucky. So now is not the time to float along with the Fed, but to fight it. Investors should take a hard-nosed value approach, which at GMO means having substantial cash reserves around a base of high quality blue chips and emerging market equities, both of which have semi-respectable real imputed returns of over 4% real on our 7-year forecast. The GMO position has also taken a few more percentage points of equity risk off the table."
Summary of takeaways:
- Activity growth was weak though there are some uncertainties in terms of how weak it is.
- The moderation in M2 and power shortages were the likely drivers of the slowdown.
- CPI came in slightly above our and market consensus forecasts, but it nevertheless represented a sequential moderation.
If when reading the various Fed speeches and economist position papers you were to strike out all the numerical mumbo jumbo, what it all comes down to is a massive psychological operation being perpetrated upon not only the American people, but the global village.
In a normal world, last night's surge in China's trade surplus would mean that, in a "normal" world, someone should be importing more (normal vs centrally planned - the two are not very comparable, just ask the USSR). So, assuming someone among the centrally planned proletariat actually took math 101! (the factorial sign is there due to fractional reserve mathematics, so according to a Keynesian this is really 9.3326215444×10157), does this mean that tomorrow US import data will surge, which by implication, will result in another steep cut to Q2 GDP? Well, logic would say yes, although the headline scanners on TV and in NYSE collocation boxes would beg to differ. Oddly enough, Citi also says yes. Below is Stephen Englander's note explaining why "US trade is at risk of an import surge."
So Much For Pimco Buying Bonds: Duration Weighted Treasury Exposure Hits Whopping -23% Short, Cash Surges To Unprecedented $89 BillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/09/2011 17:55 -0500
So much for all the conspiracy theories that Bill Gross was capitulating in his short position against US debt even as he continued to bash US fiscal and monetary policy. According to just released April data for the flagship Pimco $240 billion Total Return Fund (which saw a $4.2 billion increase in AUM in the month), Bill Gross actually added to his short position against US government debt, bringing total market value exposure to 4% of AUM or ($10) billion. More amazing is that on a Duration Weighted Exposure basis, the firm's Treasury short is 23%, read that again, 23%! So much for that change in outlook. Additionally, Gross also sold another $8.3 billion in mortgage securities, bringing the April total to a nominal $57.8 billion. Spring cleaning at casa de Bill continued across all fixed corporate income as well, dropping the firm's exposure to IG by $1.6 billion and to HY by $2.1 billion. The only two securities which saw a token increase was in Non-US developed markets and Emerging Markets, to $14.4 billion and $26.5 billion, respectively. Yet the biggest shocker of all, is that Gross has now brought his cash position to an all time unprecedented high of $89.1 billion! That's right, PIMCO is charging a substantial asset management fee when 37% of all assets are in cash. One would think the mattress would cost far less. Either Gross is expecting a huge collapse in the bond market (so contrary to prevailing though), or this could well be the bet that buries the Allianz subsidiary.
Goldman's Jim O'Neill Plays Dumb Cop Again, Sees Commodity Prices Dropping, Contradicts, Well, GoldmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/09/2011 06:47 -0500
Confused about the Goldman "approach" to forecasting? After reading the following most recent note from GSAM chairman Jim "BRIC" O'Neill you won't be: just predict the opposite of everything your other colleagues at Goldman anticipate, and you are covered. Indeed, in his latest note, the BRICster not only directly contradicts David Greely's latest note that the long-term prospects for commodities are strong as ever by saying that "This suggests to me that commodity prices could weaken further." (for what "this" is, read the note). As for Thomas Stolper's soon to be stopped out prediction of a EURUSD hitting 1.50, O'Neill has some contrarian cold water for that too: "In my book, even with the likelihood that the Fed will remain friendly post QE2 termination, the Euro belongs in a 1.20-1.40 range." So there you have it: one firm, an infinite number of outlooks. That way, they will always be right. As for who Goldman's clients should listen to? We suggest - nobody. But since that REDI/Sigma X feed needs serious soft dollar cash infusions, that is probably not an option. So just flip a coin. Someone will be right.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....This time is different.....There is nothing new under the sun.....All of us---by “us” I mean human beings---tend to think too much with our egos and not enough with our rational minds. When we are young, we think we have unique and novel insight into life and the human condition, as if we are the first person to have ever thought certain thoughts. We all read---at least back when I went to school---the classic literature, the Greek playwrights and Shakespeare, but it is only when we reread these works as adults that we realize that everything has been thought of before. The best we can do is put a slight sidespin on it. We are humbled. We bring this same tendency---a belief in our uniqueness---into the issues that face our time on Earth. “There has never been a better time to be alive.”...." This is all going to blow up faster than most people think, and it is TEOTWAWKI.”....Somewhere in the middle probably lies the truth. Many of us---myself included time to time---fear that life as we know it is about to come to an abrupt and painful end. Others---most visibly those who are wheeled out as guests on CNBC---think things are on a rise as far as the eye can see. And for some---I am thinking John Paulson and David Tepper---times have never been better. Who is right? Maybe nobody.
And another huge hit to future oil supply. After Goldman released a report on Friday, backtracking on its April recommendation that clients sell crude, instead warning that "critically tight supply-demand fundamentals" will likely cause oil prices to "return to or
surpass the recent highs by next year", "should Libyan oil supplies remain off the market", which it now appears they will considering Gadaffi is winning the Libyan civil war against the West-backed rebellion, here comes a stunner out of Iraq which has just slashed its 2017 oil production estimate from 12 million barrels to just 6.5-7 million bbpd. Oddly enough, Iraq is being rational: "Baghdad believes it would not be in its interests to try to achieve the
12 million target by 2017 because boosting global supply would depress
prices." Who would have though a cartel would think of itself first... Surely, this is great news for Saudi Arabia which will promise to hike oil production and replace the missing output only for it to be discovered a few months later that not only did it not to do that (as we just discovered now following the whole Libya fiasco), but that it just does not have the excess capacity. And, of course, "speculators" will be blamed once they take WTI from $97 to $140 daring to discount the future price of oil in a (inflationary) world in which demand increases by 50% over a decade, even as supply continues to trickle down with each passing year. In other words, the CME margin hike crew is actively studying how many margin hikes it will take to break the back of the recently record number of non-commercial net specs... for at least a week or two, especially once the Chairman goes to town with the printer Turbo button. And elsewhere, the upcoming scarcity of lubricating petroleum byproducts is about to be felt through the entire supply (and demand) chain.
The week begins with the China – US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (Monday and Tuesday), which will be held in Washington, DC, and will no doubt once again include discussion of the pace of appreciation of CNY against US$. The week also brings a slew of China data, including the trade balance, where consensus expects a small surplus (far below the historical average surplus), and CPI inflation for April, which we see at 5.1% yoy, slightly below consensus. The week ends with the US CPI, where we expect another unfriendly CPI report, with headline CPI rising by 0.39% mom in April, essentially in line with consensus.
No exit for Greece. So they're doomed in my opinion.
Once again Goldman confirms that its sellside analysts either bat 1.000 or 0.000. While Themistoklis Fiotakis' view, which we published yesterday, warned very prudently that the EUR surge is coming to an end, just as the European currency was about to take a 600+ pip tumble in under 48 hours, the other FX expert at bat (and that would be of the 0.000), Thomas Stolper, continues to be as steadfast as old faithful in his betting average. After we were almost resigned to be shocked by Stolper actually gettng an FX call right for once, when the EURUSD got to within 50 pips of 1.50 earlier this week and pass the Goldman profit target of $1.50 on the EURUSD, instead the trade is now in danger of collapsing on itself and being closed out at a loss. Goldman's explanation? "Ooops."
All those digital Dollars, Yen, Pounds or Yuan you have in your bank accounts are nothing more than arbitrary numerical records of transactions and each individual note is literally not worth the paper it is written on OTHER THAN the faith you have in the issuing government not to "cheat."
When the current stock market bubble pops, the last shreds of the Fed's legitimacy will be blown away. Strip away all the distractions, and the Fed's entire campaign to "restore confidence" and "animal spirits" so that the "recovery" magically becomes "self-sustaining" is based on one thing, and only one thing: the current stock market rally. The equities rally is the only metric of "success" the Fed can point to that isn't risible. Once the rally implodes, so too does whatever remains of the legitimacy of the Fed and the Federal agencies which have aided and abetted the Fed's unprecedented propaganda campaign to replace economic reality with happy-happy "managed perceptions." The "news" is always good, because who knows what the people might do if the flimsy official facades sway in the breeze of truth and then collapse in a heap? They might demand new leadership and systemic changes that would disrupt the cozy Status Quo partnership of cartel-crony Capitalism, Wall Street and the Central State fiefdoms.
In early trading, silver is down nearly 20% from Friday highs, and just under 15% from its Friday closing fixing, hitting just over $42 in a slide of $6 commencing just after 18:25 pm. The reason for the collapse is not immediately clear, although concerns of a Chinese slowdown and overtightening are rumored to have been among the culrpits. The circumstantial evidence is in the OZ pairs, with the AUDUSD which has long been a high beta proxy for China plunging in early trading as well. Oddly enough, gold has been spared most of the carnage in silver, and was down about 1% in early trading. Overall, this appears to be nothing more than a short covering episode in the USd provoked by nothing factual. We will keep an ear open for any incremental data to determine if there is any actual reason for the plunge, such as for example that the BOJ has suddenly decided not to pick up the baton in trillions of monetizations over the next few months, instead of just another bout of technical selling.
It is not easy to destroy the greatest empire in the history of mankind. The 20th Century was the American Century, but as with all empires, the combination of hubris, monetary debasement, imperial overreach and delusional overconfidence have set in motion the inevitable downfall of the American Empire. The policies, decisions, beliefs, and institutions implemented over decades have led the country to the threshold of financial disaster. Based on my observations, a catastrophic combination of demographics, fiat currency debasement, titanic levels of debt, smothering taxation, power in the hands of the few and Wall Street greed have led us to peak Empire. It will be downhill from here as we experience collapse, revolution and ultimately, retribution for the guilty and presumed guilty. I have already addressed the Baby Boomer generation’s contribution to our current plight, to the delight and accolades of Boomers across the land in For a Few Dollars More – Part One. The Boomers were a victim of their size and the timing of their arrival on the scene of empire collapse. Their delusions of debt based wealth and me first attitude could not have been satiated without the creation of the Federal Reserve and the institution of the personal income tax in 1913.