If one steps back from the adjusted, non-GAAP EPS "beats" reported by companies this earnings season which benefit from what is set to be a record quarter of stock buybacks and an unprecedented drop in consensus expectations, Q1 earnings season for the "blue chips" so far has truly "blown", with revenue declines announced at IBM (12th in a row), McDonalds, Coke, and earlier today Procter & Gamble also reporting that its sales have fallen for fifth straight quarter. And then moments ago "diversified global tech" bellwether 3M reported that its sales declined 3.2% year-on-year to $7.6 billion. The company also missed its EPS, and adding insult to injury, "the company now expects earnings to be in the range of $7.80 to $8.10 per share versus $8.00 to $8.30 per share previously."
Financial markets and investing reflect the same characteristics as my attempt at keeping fit
- Yellen Inherits Greenspan’s Conundrum as Long Rates Sink (BBG)
- West African Mining Projects Take Hit From Ebola Crisis (WSJ)
- Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists (Reuters)
- Senate Rejection of Keystone XL Measure Sets Up 2015 Showdown (BBG)
- Ferguson, Missouri, remains on edge ahead of grand jury report (Reuters)
- Putin Said to Stun Advisers by Backing Corruption Crackdown (BBG)
- Italian ‘Invasion’ Has Swiss Fuming as Immigration Vote Looms (BBG)
- Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff (WSJ)
Japan's broad TOPIX index is lower this evening after the holiday weekend - following a six-day rise - led by Real Estate, Mining, and Banking sectors as traders suggest "the mood is to hold back ahead of the Fed meeting." China's dismal data and comments about no imminent rate cut have done nothing to tamp down enthusiasm for Shanghai Composite stocks as the Chinese government "unveiled guidelines to support the development of the stock market, pledging to make blue chips bigger and stronger and more actively traded," though HKSE is delayed for now due to Typhoon warnings. MSCI Asia-Pac is down at the open for the 9th day in a row - the longest losing streak since 2002.
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.