Some people are either born or nurtured into a time warp and never seem to escape. That’s Janet Yellen’s apparent problem with the “bathtub economics” of the 1960s neo-Keynesians. As has now been apparent for decades, the Great Inflation of the 1970s was a live fire drill that proved Keynesian activism doesn’t work. That particular historic trauma showed that “full employment” and “potential GDP” were imaginary figments from scribblers in Ivy League economics departments—not something that is targetable by the fiscal and monetary authorities or even measureable in a free market economy. Even more crucially, the double digit inflation, faltering growth and repetitive boom and bust macro-cycles of the 1970s and early 1980s proved in spades that interventionist manipulations designed to achieve so-called “full-employment” actually did the opposite—that is, they only amplified economic instability and underperformance as the decade wore on.
With market internals dismally weak and 967 of the Russell 2000 index's members down over 20% from their highs (a bear market), the question is: how long can they maintain the status quo thanks to a handful of big blue chips as levered longs attempt to stay solvent?
According to GMO's Jeremy Grantham, the six most important asset bubbles in modern times are the following:
- Sensitive Market Data Leaked After Government Phone Call (WSJ)
- This is a actual Bloomberg headline: China Fake Data to Skew More Export Numbers (BBG)
- This is another actual BBG headline: U.S. as Global Growth Engine Putt-Putts Instead of Purring (BBG)
- Ukraine wants to buy European gas to boost energy security (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Profit Falls 19% on Trading, Mortgage Declines (BBG)
- Record Europe Dividends Keep $2.8 Trillion From Factories (BBG)
- Why is Goldman shutting down Sigma X: SEC eyes test that may lead to shift away from 'dark pools' (Reuters)
- Ebola Outbreak Empties Hotels as West Africa Borders Closed (BBG)
- Australian PM says searchers confident of position of MH370's black boxes (Reuters)
- Gross Says El-Erian Should Explain Reason for Exit (BBG)
Pre-open gold dump, USDJPY pump, check. Opening dump in USDJPY and stocks led by Momos and Biotechs, check. European close marks the bottom, check. EURJPY takes over and ramps stocks back up to highs, check. Fade into close, check. Today was an almost perfect echo of yesterday's market action with blue-chips benefitting from the weakness in Nasdaq and Russell high-beta honeys. Bonds were quite with very modest steepening. Gold and silver bounced off earlier lows but their losses mirror Copper's 1.7% rise on the week. The USD lost ground as Draghi's failed jawboning sparked EUR strength. VIX fell 1 vol to its lowest close in 2 weeks as a late-day VIX -slam failed to get SPX green post-FOMC.
- Emerging markets pray for Wall Street tumble (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles (BBG)
- Samsung sets new smartphone sales record in fourth quarter, widens lead over Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Foreign-Reserves Investment Chief Said to Depart Agency (BBG)
- China’s Rescue of Troubled Trust May Stoke Risk-Taking (BBG)
- Ukraine PM Azarov offers to resign 'to help end conflict' (Reuters) ... And Russia says may reconsider aid if this happens
- But... but... it was all gold's fault: India Unexpectedly Raises Rate as Rupee Risks Inflation Goal (BBG)
- Former Belgian king 'boycotting' public events after complaining £760,000 is not enough to live on (Telegraph)
- Greek disposable income tumbles 8% in Q3 (Kathimerini)
How do we get a fundamental change away from this extend-and-pretend which prevails not only in Europe but also the world? History tells us that we only get real changes as a result of war, famine, social riots or collapsing stock markets. None of these is an issue for most of the world - at least not yet - but on the other hand we have never had less growth, worse demographics, or higher unemployment since WWII. This is a true paradox that somehow needs to be resolved, and quickly if we are to avoid wasting an entire generation of youth. Policymakers try to pretend we have achieved significant progress and stability as the result of their actions, but from a fundamental point of view that’s a mere illusion..
These men are masters of the capital markets. They are voting with their feet and pulling their capital out of them.
Aside from being core long gold and oil on the basis of an ongoing global reflation effort by the myopic central bankers of the world; Eclectica's Hugh Hendry is long consumer Staples (as he explains - for a conservative investor, there is little choice but safest, least volatile, most liquid consumer non-discretionary blue chips), long USD (cleanest dirty shirt), long Japanese equities (extreme reflation efforts), and is long the short end of the curve in various sovereign bonds around the world (once again on the basis that weaker data combined with central bank intervention means this duration will benefit). Critically, the outspoken Scot notes that Japan's monetary pivot towards QE will not create economic growth out of nothing. Instead it seeks to redistribute global GDP in a manner that favors Japan versus the rest of the world. This is the last thing the global economy needs right now. His base view remains that there will be more central bank intervention, more debasement, that a sound money core is key, and taking advantage of liquidity flows in the meantime can be profitable.
In a testament to just how euphoric stock markets are right now, James K. Glassman the co-author of the fabled Dow 36,000 — a book published in 1999 that claimed that stock prices could hit 36,000 by as soon as 2002 (and which quite understandably is now available for just 1 cent per copy) — has written a new column for Bloomberg View claiming that he might have been right all along... The uber-optimistic atmosphere permeating much of the financial press is frightening to me. The resurrection of the Dow 36,000 zombie is a symbolically significant event that likely signals much the same thing as it did first time around: a correction.
The crowds are slowly starting to fill up Times Square, and despite the imminent countdown to New Year’s, Washington still has not conjured up a resolution to avoid the fiscal cliff. Over the prior two months we have leveraged game theory, Venn diagrams, option “greeks,” and basic investor psychology as tools to decipher the ultimate path of the crisis and subsequent market reaction. Alas, regardless of all the analysis we and countless others have supplied; the short, intermediate, and long term prospects for stocks rest exclusively on headlines. More poignantly, the fate of the U.S. economy, global equities, and net incomes for hundreds of millions now depend upon the decision making of a group so small, its numbers can be counted with one hand.
During the its first term, the Obama Administration thus far has proven itself in favor of increased Government control and Central Planning. That is, the general trend throughout the last four years has been towards greater nationalization of industries (first finance, then automakers and now healthcare and insurance), as well as greater reliance on our Central Bank to maintain our finances.
The S&P 500 achieved its anticipated 4-5% bounce off the recent 7-10% pullback, most of it accomplished in a very light holiday trading week. Much of the gains were attributed to overly effusive optimism over the prospects of resolving the fiscal cliff. Ironically, with Washington abandoned the past ten days for Thanksgiving, we have not heard anything substantive on the negotiations since Senator Reid and Speaker Boehner spoke jointly on the White House Lawn on November 16. The returns in equities that resulted from this perceived positive outlook has likely run its course as the blue chip index has regained the levels from the morning after the Election. Certainly, the mundane increases in open interest for the futures and the outperformance by the blue chips versus smaller capitalization names on a beta adjusted basis hint at such vacuous motivation for the upward move.
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.
In a market in which horrible data leads to upward stock spikes, what can one expect but a directionless market for now: after all today's biggest pending disappointment, the durable goods orders due out in an hour, has not hit the tape yet sending stocks soaring. Newsflow out of Europe is more of the same, summarized by the following BBG headline: 'MERKEL SAYS EURO BONDS ARE THE ‘WRONG WAY." We for one can't wait for the algos to read into this as more bullish than Eurobonds only over her dead body. Perhaps that explains why despite the constant barrage of abysmal economic data, capped by today's epic collapse in MBS mortgage applications plunging 7.1% or the most since March despite record low mortgage yields, futures are once again green. In summary: the usual Bizarro market which has by now driven out virtually everyone.