Yesterday's trading was a balance between Italy fears and fiscal cliff hopes-fears-and-hopes-again. While UBS' Art Cashin notes that on the bright side, this will all be over on December 21st when the Mayans predicted the end of the world, he also details what is perhaps even more fearsome - not-the-end-of-the-world as, in his words, demographics, destiny, and the fiscal cliff loom very large not just for the next few weeks but heading out over the next decade as baby boomers retire. As Cashin so wisely points out: "Somewhat lost in the posturing is the fact that the Fiscal Cliff was put in place to force Washington to address the exploding government debt problem. That problem is greatly exacerbated by the rapidly changing demographics in this country. If you fast forward 20 years until all the boomers are retired government debt (taking into account unfunded liabilities) soars to $202 trillion. Perhaps worth remembering that "The real problem is that regardless of the resolution it will not solve anything. We have passed the point of no return. We cannot mathematically solve this debt problem. We can only slow its progression."
Forget the Fiscal Cliff: it is merely a much needed economic distraction for the next 3-4 months (distracting from what? Why Europe of course). Yes, it will be resolved, and yes taxes will go up, and yes, debates over it will most likely be carried over into 2013 and nothing will be compromised until the ultimate debt ceiling deadline (because it is really a Fiscal Cliff-Debt Ceiling package deal) is hit some time in March 2013, but eventually one or both parties will cave, right after the market plunges to put it all into the proper perspective as it did around the time of TARP and the August 2011 debt ceiling debate, and a resolution will materialize. The bigger issue has nothing to do with the Fiscal Cliff, which is indeed a sideshow. The bigger issue, as Art Cashin explains, has everything to do with a secular decline in the US economy, where a 1% growth rate will soon be the "New Killing It", where millions more (in part-time workers) will soon be let go, and where businesses no longer generate the cash flows needed to stay open. Art Cashin explains.
"We all know what to do, we just don't know how to get re-elected after we have done it." - Jean-Claude Juncker
Art Cashin's Cynical Recollections Of Black Fridays Past And The End Of Washington's Cone Of SilenceSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/26/2012 12:20 -0400
The two day rally, wrapped around Thanksgiving, is hardly a surprise to UBS' Art Cashin. It’s an old pattern that he discussed on CNBC on Tuesday. What was a surprise to him was the magnitude of Friday’s move. "A bit unusual" he notes, adding that "the markets then began to buy into the Black Friday hype that filled TV screens. Mobs of people clutching all manner of electronic devices. That seemed to inspire interest and short covering in the recently depressed tech sector. That allowed the market, led by the techs to close the abbreviated session with a full flourish," but Cashin warns that this new week often starts with a rethink - as he advises a "solid skepticism about early reports... Other years, we learn that Black Friday success just cannibalized other sales. We’ll see what happens this year." Also, with over 400 microphone hunting legislators returning to Washington, the cone of silence on the fiscal cliff is probably just a memory.
As investors' and traders' attention spans diminish at ever-increasing speed, it is perhaps useful to step back and survey a landscape of global economic growth from a longer-term panorama in order to grasp the real trend and the real unusualness of our current environment. UBS' Art Cashin, while not 800 years old, reflects on such a long-term cycle providing some perspective on our belief that "economic growth be regarded as a continuous process that will persist forever," opining that perhaps, based on the study below (Is US Economic Growth Over?), we "could well be a unique episode in human history rather than a guarantee of endless future advance at the same rate." Of course, that would never fit with the current meme that growth is credit is life, but nevertheless well worth some introspection as we give thanks this week.
On this day (-1) in 1918, Pvt. Henry Gunther of Baltimore, Maryland thought he saw a suspicious movement in the German trenches across the way. Fearing that the "Huns" were using the mid-morning sun to get some territorial advantage while the peace talks dragged on, Gunther decided to rush the suspicious area. Henry was fast but unfortunately, not invisible. A single shot from a German rifle struck him in the heart and killed him instantly. The time was 11:01 a.m. just 1 minute after the war officially ended, making Put Henry Gunther the final casualty of World War I.
We have discussed in detail the potential ramifications of a 'close' vote (here, here, and here), and only yesterday UBS Art Cashin opined on the potential for an 'embarrassing victory'. Today, the wizened market participant turns the rhetoric dial to 11 (and rightly so) as he warns "pray it's not close" for fear of the polarization of the populace that could occur. If Florida 2000 was a horror, a close election this year could present six or seven Floridas.
As normal, what takes pundits 1000s of words to pontificate upon, UBS' ever-ready Art Cashin succinctly summarizes in one paragraph. Critically, as we have noted previously (here, here, and here), he hopes that the election is not close...
Define headline heaven? Any time you can gratuitoulsy insert the names Art Cashin, Becky Quick and Paul Krugman in the same title. Like in this case. HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
Last week, the misty eyed reminiscences were recalling the 25th anniversary of Black Monday. Today, we look even further back. 83 years back to be precise to this date in hallowed antiquity, when in 1929 the selling had officially begun, with what would ultimately culminate as the Great Crash. Cue Art Cashin: "on this Thursday morning, the market opened nervous but relatively steady. Within the first half hour, prices began to fade and the tape began to run late. By noon the tape was nearly an hour and-a-half late in reporting transactions in a market that had opened only two hours before. To speed the reporting digits were deleted and so "Radio" which had opened at 68 3/4 now showed on the tape at 8 3/4. But prices were moving so fast that the price was not 58 3/4 but 48 3/4 on its way to 48 1/4 before it would bottom in the afternoon at 44 1/2. To avoid confusion the Exchange published flash prices of selected securities on the slower moving bond tape." By early afternoon the cascade of prices caused an emergency meeting at the offices of J.P. Morgan across the street from the Exchange...."
Almost exactly a month ago, the BOJ surprised most analysts with an unexpected increase in its asset purchase agreement by JPY10 trillion bringing the total to JPY80 trillion. There was one small problem though: the entire impact of the additional easing fizzled in under half a day, or 9 hours to be precise. This was, as Art Cashin summarized the following day, Japan's failed QE 8. It is now a month later, and with nothing changed in the global race to debase status quo, the time has come for the BOJ to attempt QE 9. Or that's the case at least according to the toothless Japanese government, which has formally demanded that Shirakawa do a nine-peat of what has been a flawed policy response for over 30 years now, this time with another JPY 20 trillion, or double the last month's intervention. Because according to Japanese Senkei, it is now Japan's turn to pull a Chuck Schumer and demand even mor-er eternity-er QE out of monetary authority of the endlessly deflating country. In reverting to the Moore's law of failed monetarism, we expect that a QE 9 out of Japan will have the same halflife as QE 8, if indeed the program size is double the last. At which point it will again fizzle.
Yesterday, we presented Art Cashin's unique perspective on the US equity market's darkest day 25 years ago. However, as Art notes, there was another event 555 years ago that offers some insight into the current state of the world. On this day in 1457, the government banned that most sacred of pastimes - golf. Most notably, Cashin reflects on the eventual backfire from this government intervention - as always seems to be the case.
On this day (+1) in 1987 (that's 25 years ago, if you are burdened with a graduate degree), the NYSE had one of its most dramatic trading days in its 220 year history. It suffered its largest single day percentage loss (22%) and its largest one day point loss up until that day (508 points). No one who was on the floor that day will ever forget it. While it was an unforgettable single day, there were months of events that went intoits making. The first two-thirds of 1987 were nothing other than spectacular on Wall Street. From New Year to shortly before Labor Day, the Dow rallied a rather stunning 43%. Fear seemed to disappear. Junior traders laughed at their cautious elders and told each other to "buy strength" rather than sell it, as each rally leg was soon followed by another. One thing that also helped banish fear was a new process called "portfolio insurance". It involved use of the newly expanded S&P futures. Somewhat counterintuitively, it involved selling when prices turned down.
For those who watched last night's pre-presidential theater, our condolences. You were not alone, however. Art Cashin was there too and here is his post-mortem.
While last night's VeeP debate was all feces and frolics, UBS' Art Cashin and his 'Friends of Fermentation' recently drifted onto the topic of the Presidential Election - and the conversation was not what he calls "reassuring" as they move from margins of victory to result-challenges and banana-republic like street demonstrations and riots. The heart of this discussion is the acrimonious tone that has evolved and grown in our political exchanges. All the "us and them" and class warfare posturing sets a dangerous backdrop to a close election.