What a way to start the year. The crash in oil prices is no small matter. The previous down sweep in energy prices occurred in the midst of the financial crash 0f 2008 and Great Recession. Oil prices soon reversed afterwards and climbed back to dizzying heights, even as world economic and financial recovery remained fragile. However, as Abe Gulkowitz explains in his usual 'all-the-charts-that-are-fit-to-print' letter, this time it would be foolish to bet solely on such a similarly quick snapback..."The various repercussions will be extensive..."
It has been a rough start to a new year as all of the gains following the end of the Federal Reserve's flagship "QE-3" campaign have been erased. There is currently little concern by the majority of Wall Street analysts that anything is currently wrong with the markets. While earnings estimates are rapidly being guided down, it is likely only a temporary issue due to plunging oil prices. However, not to worry, the economy is set to continue its upward growth trajectory. Maybe that is the case. But as investors we should always have a watchful eye on the things that could possibly go wrong that could lead to a rapid decline in investment capital.
Here is the chart which we affectionately call the scariest chart for the US shale industry - namely the US rig count drop, which as Goldman notes, "is faster and larger than in any other bear market."
That's not why it is scary. The reason why is that the current rate of rig collapse is nowhere near enough. In other words, before the new pricing equilibrium can be established, virtually the entire US energy sector in its current appearance will have to be wiped out!
Let’s focus on what happened in the lead up to the summer of 2011, right before the markets cratered on the back of everything that was going on in Europe and the downgrade of the US' credit rating by S&P. The leveraged loans index peaked at the start of the year and traded sideways up until that eventful August. This was a sign that something was not right in the credit markets; and equities pretty much followed the same pattern. If we fast forward to today, we can see that the leveraged loans index peaked in July 2014, indicated by the red line in the graph, and has noticeably declined since; at the same time equities continued to move higher, a divergence which is a novelty in this bull market. Is this telling us something? We believe so - it is a red flag for equities.
A Permabull Throws In The Towel: "Stocks Are Massively Overvalued", Key Multiples Are Post-War RecordsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/10/2015 22:15 -0500
"The median New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stock is currently at a postwar record high P/E multiple, a record high relative to cash flow, and near a record high relative to book value! As of June 2014, the median U.S. stock was priced at a post-war high at slightly more than 20 times earnings! Similarly, at about 15 times, the median stock is also currently priced at a record high relative to cash flow. Finally, the median price to book value ratio has only been higher than it is currently in two years since 1951 (in 1969 and in 1998 which were both followed by significant declines)!" - Jim Paulsen
Introduce a regulation over here, an unintended consequence pops up over there. Then there are more regulations to deal with the unintended consequences. Regulations have added 100 times the volatility to one of the most liquid and ordinary derivatives in the world - the plain-vanilla EFP. Less liquidity, more volatility - welcome to 2015.
It is important to remember that the supportive underpinnings are deteriorating. Valuations are elevated, bullishness and complacency are high, and deviations are at extremes. The combination of these ingredients has never led to a profitable conclusion and expecting a different outcome this time will likely lead to excessive disappointment.
The new year is not even a week old and already the volatility fireworks are off, as well as the continued commodity derisking. But while for now US stocks continue to be an island oasis in a turbulent global sea where GDP forecasts decline every single day, the same can not be said about either the Euro, which after crashing overnight to a 9 year low, and rebounding briefly, has continued to decline and is now once again flirting with a key support level, this time 1.19, last reached during the May 2010 first Greek bailout. The catalyst, as usual, Greece which may or may not be leaving the Eurozone shortly, as well as ongoing bets on ECB QE following this morning's regional German inflation data which declined once more and now hints at outright deflation in Europe's strongest nation.
2014 may go down as the year when gold and silver conspiracy “theories” became conspiracy “facts” as banks globally were found to have conspired to rig the prices of gold, silver, currency and many other markets.
We thought yesterday's absurd story of former hedge fund manager James Crombie, founder of Paron Capital Management, who was arrested after found squatting in a million dollar Maryland house, would be as strange as it gets for hedge fund stories this weekend. We were wrong: moments ago the WSJ reported that Thomas Gilbert, founder of the $200 million Wainscott hedge fund, whose success Gilbert said previously had come from investing in biotech funds, was found dead with a single bullet to the head in his Manhattan apartment this afternoon, allegedly shot by none other than his 30-year-old son.
It’s high time for a new model and for new people. But the old ones, and their utterly and dramatically failed economies, hold the power, the media, the money, everything. So what other way out is there but mass fighting, mass casualties, a complete overthrow of everything that exists today, probably nuclear bombs dropping, and in the end a world none of us would recognize, let alone be able to survive in? It’ll take a while yet to get there, and it won’t be a pretty while by any stretch of the imagination. The powers that be are not done yet pretending to rule the universe and playing God. We should kick ‘em all out today, but we won’t. Because we’re all too much like them.
As noted earlier, following the failed vote Greek banks are cratering, with many entering a bear market as of the last price update, such as Eurobank Ergasias -23%, Piraeus Bank -21%, National Bank of Greece down 18%, Alpha Bank 17% lower. While in the past this would have been enough to send European shares limit down and peripheral bonds bidless, algos have forgotten their programmed kneejerk reaction since Greece has been off the front page for so long. As a result, Europe is down but not nearly where it would have been had today's vote taken place a couple of years ago. Then again, with the USDJPY far more important than what Greece may or may not do, all that will take for the Santa rally to resume, if only in the US, is for "someone" to buy a few yards of Dollar-Yen, push the pair to 121, and all shall be well once more.
As 2014 wheezes and coughs to its termination, I wanted to share some of what I consider to be the best posts of the year.
"Current equity valuations provide no margin of safety for long-term investors. One might as well be investing on a dare..."
Will 2015 be the seventh (7th) consecutive year of the current bull market cycle? It is possible. But with 100% of all analysts and economists betting on that outcome, it is quite possible that something else will happen.