Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad trades in the coming year.
To say that gold is in a bear market is to misunderstand both gold and markets. Gold isn’t an investment that goes up and down. It is money in the most basic store-of-value sense. Most of the time it just sits there, and when its price changes in local currency terms that says more about the local currency than about gold. But when currencies collapse, gold shines.
"Mutually assured destruction" now best describes the uneasy stand-off between an increasingly indebted US government and an increasingly monetarily frustrated China. So here's a quiz: 1) Which country is the world’s largest sovereign miner of gold? 2. Which country doesn’t allow an ounce of that gold to be exported? 3. Which country has advised its citizenry to purchase gold? Three questions. One answer. In each case: China. Is it plausible that, at some point yet to be determined, a (largely gold-backed) renminbi will either dethrone the US dollar or co-exist alongside it in a new global currency regime?
Slowing the rebalancing and creating further downside risk is a very strong consensus view that this pull back is temporary and that oil prices will quickly rebound as they did in 2009. According to a recent Bloomberg survey, the median WTI forecast for 2016 is $86/bbl (even we forecast it going back to $80/bbl). All of these forecasts are based upon now outdated cost data that is shifting as fast as the price. It is precisely this strong view for a rebound in prices and the behavior it creates, that not only suggests that oil prices can go lower for longer, but also that the new normal is far lower than we thought just one month ago. Instead of optimizing against a lower price environment, many oil producers are trying to position themselves for the rebound in prices
While none of the following analysis suggests that a market crash is imminent, it does imply that we are very late in the current market and economic cycle. A market melt up into 2015 would certainly be exciting, but should be used to sell overly priced assets to what will probably be a dwindling supply of "greater fools."
"Over the next five years investors now expect inflation to average just below 1.3%. This level of expected inflation has always previously been associated with a decline in US equity prices. There have been no exceptions until today." Russell Napier
While we were expecting that one-time "god of crude oil trading" would have a poor year as a result of his consistent bullishness on the crude space, we were quite astounded to learn, as Bloomberg first reported yesterday, that Andy Hall - the man whose name was for a decade legendary in the commodity space - would call it a day. And yet that pales in comparison to the WSJ report overnight than Phibro itself, Andy Hall's 113 year old employer currently owned by Occidental Petroleum after its sale by Citigroup, would liquidate in the US after it failed to buy a buyer, marking the end of an era.
If we're in a gold bear market, then answer these questions...
Deutsche Bank Is Stumped: The Broad Market Is Ignoring The Bear Market In Energy, "Something Has To Give"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/09/2014 17:33 -0500
First the BIS came out with the following stunner when discussing markets: "The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal. Central banks and markets have been pushing benchmark sovereign yields to extraordinary lows - unimaginable just a few years back. There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine." And now the routine of the unthinkable has forced Deutsche Bank to look at the unprecedented disconnect between the collapse in energy assets and the general market - which continues its hypnotized, low-volume levitation - and conclude that it makes absolutely no sense: "We find current dislocation between deep distress in Energy assets and marginal reaction in broad market indexes to be inconsistent with each other. Either energy has to rebound noticeably, or it could pull broader market indexes lower. Exceptions to this assessment are rare."
The DJ Cyprus Total Market Index is at present down 99.71% from its all time high made in 2007, so we would say it is definitely the most oversold stock market in the world in all of history. From 100 euro invested at the peak, a mere 29 cents are left. Let us briefly ponder the mathematics of this wipe-out: when the market was down by 90%, it fell by another 50% at which point it was down 95% from the high. Thereafter, it fell by another 50%, ending down 97.5% from the high. Then it fell by another 50%, at which point it was down 98.75% from the high. Then it fell by 50% again and was down 99.375%. Surely this was bad enough? Nope…it then fell by yet another 50%, landing at 99.6875% down from its 2007 high.
Thanks to the People's Bank of China...
It's not just Shale oil stocks in the US that are hurting. Following the OPEC decision to not cut production and squeeze US producers, Saudi Arabia's major stock market index has tumbled into a bear market, giving up all the year's gains. As one analyst noted, "investors are afraid if oil stays where it is, it will negatively impact the government revenues, thus creating potential headwinds on government spending." Dubai stocks - our long-time favorite bubble index - has also been hammered, down over 7% intraday at its worst...
Recently we posted the following article commenting on the impact of USD appreciation and dollar circulation among oil exporters, as well as how the collapsing price of oil is set to reverberate across the entire oil-exporting world, where sticky high oil prices were a key reason for social stability. Following today's shocking OPEC announcement and the epic collapse in crude prices, it is time to repost it now that everyone is desperate to become a bear market oil expert, if only on Twitter...