What is the common element between Liborgate, the Fed manipulating capital markets, China hoarding gold, and the recent ubiquotous NSA spying revelations? At one point, before they became fact, they were all "conspiracy theories" as were the Freemasons, the Illuminati, McCarthy's witch hunts, 9/11, and so many more. The same theories, which are now part of a Cambridge University study titled Conspiracy and Democracy, which looks at the prevalence of conspiracy theories and what they tell us about trust in democratic societies, about the differences between cultures and societies, and why conspiracy theories (ostensibly before they become fact) appear at particular moments in history. But, at its core, whether conspiracy theories will, as the BBC summarizes, it, eventually destroy democracy.
What is the prudent response when hefty profits beg to be booked and assets purchased with leverage/debt start declining? Sell, sell, sell. A financial sell-off doesn't even need a real crisis to spread like wildfire; it simply needs nosebleed asset valuations, excessive leverage/credit and risk priced at "the bull market is guaranteed to last essentially forever" levels. Prudence alone will ignite the conflagration.
When will the U.S. labor market start to accelerate? That is the single most critical question for global capital markets, for it speaks directly to both economic growth and Federal Reserve monetary policy. But, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, just as important, however, is the question "Where do people actually want to work?" Nick's key conclusions: there is no evidence of any faster pace of hiring, and the trend of hiring part time labor over full time is both strong (a 3:1 ratio) and accelerating.
"The recent trading environment has felt something like walking into a place and having a sense that something is wrong and dangerous but not knowing exactly what will happen or when. “QE Infinity” has so distorted the prices of stocks and bonds that nobody can possibly determine what the investing landscape would look like, or what the condition of the economy and financial system would be, in the absence of Fed bond-buying."
-Paul Singer, Elliott Management
There was a time when the Fed's QE was, at least on paper, supposed to generate jobs (the broad inflation will come on its own, in due course). After all, the prospect of injecting $85 billion in liquidity into a market with the sole goal of pushing the stock markets that benefit the purchasing power of about 10% of the population would hardly have received broad approval even by the co-opted Congress. So, to all those who still naively claim Fed is not the sole reason for the market's relentless march higher, those billions in liquidity must go into the economy, and specifically into job creation, right? As a result, we decided to back into what the average private sector job has ended up costing the US population in pure dollar terms (which in turn ultimately manifests itself in terms of unsustainable government debt and pent up inflation) via the Fed's monetary pathway. Well, according to the ADP data released earlier, in which a paltry 130K private sector jobs were created in a month in which the Fed, as always, injected $85 billion, the bottom line came to a whopping $654K per job! And taking the average job growth throughout 2013, this number, as can be seen on the chart below, is a laughter-inducing $553K!
Having previously exposed the world to the "nominal stock market cheerleaders," it is clear that Kyle Bass sees things as only having got worse among developed nations. In fact, the following interview shows that he does not fear US losing its credibility since "developed western economies with the largest debt loads are all in the same boat." The discussion expands from the debt ceiling debacle to bonds and stocks, "given the lack of nominal yield in the bond market, all of the new money is going to continue into stocks. The interesting thing is it’s going to make the rich people richer and the middle and lower class won’t be any better off, which is the opposite of what the administration is trying to pull off," adding that being in stocks "is not your choice," thanks to Fed repression and that deficit contraction is all that can stop the Fed now.
Ordinary Americans Priced Out Of Housing: Institutional Purchases Hit Record, Half Of All Deals Are "All-Cash"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/24/2013 08:13 -0400
If there was any doubt that the US housing "recovery" is anything but the latest speculative play by deep-pocketed (namely those who already have access to cheap funding) investors, who are now engaged in rotating cash gains out of capital markets and into real estate, on their way hoping to flip newly-acquired properties to other wealthy investors, then the most recent, September, RealtyTrac report will put that to rest. To wit: Institutional investors (purchasing 10 or more properties in the last 12 months) accounted for 14 percent of all sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. September had the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases of any month since RealtyTrac began tracking in January 2011....All-cash purchases nationwide represented 49 percent of all residential sales in September, up from a revised 40 percent in August and up from 30 percent in September 2012. In other words, institutional purchases are now at all time highs, with all-cash accounting for half of all transactions!
These men are masters of the capital markets. They are voting with their feet and pulling their capital out of them.
China's attempts to curb runaway inflation in its housing market - which in a country in which the relatively young capital markets lack the breadth and depth of their western equivalents remains the only venue in which to park any of the excess cash generated from the global central bank liquidity avalanche - continue to be met with failure after failure. Overnight, the China Statistics Bureau reported that in September new home price across the country's 70 tracked cities, rose in virtually all of them, or 69 compared to a year ago. On a monthly basis, or compared to August, new home prices rose in only 65 of China's cities, compared to 66 in the month prior. And while the CSB data differs from the Shanghai Uwin data reported yesterday, the government's data while less stunning still shows the extent of the Chinese housing bubble and the persistent inflation plaguing the country: Beijing new home prices rose 1% M/m; and 16% Y/y; Shanghai new home prices rose 1.4% M/m; and 17% Y/y in September.
First it was David Viniar, rumored for so long to be Lloyd's next logical replacement, who rode into the Goldman sunset. Now it is the turn of Goldman's Vice Chairman, Michael Evans, one of the firm's most senior execs and the person who many had expected would ultimately replace Lloyd Blankfein when it was time for succession at the firm that executes God's will (net of 3-5% in commissions) to depart quietly into the night.
As markets twiddle their thumbs waiting on Washington to come up with a political solution to the Federal Debt Limit/budget debate, ConvergEx's Nick Colas decided it would be a good time to review the academic literature on how markets discount expectations in the first place. Behavioral finance posits that human nature skews perceptions of risk and return, causing everything from irrational risk aversion to asset price bubbles. Against this current backdrop of theoretical uncertainty, measures like the VIX are currently somnambulant. So, using the modern vernacular, WTF? The bottom line, Colas explains, is that Wall Street thinks it has the current "Crisis" all figured out: a last minute deal with no Treasury default. And just as we haven’t sold off materially during this drama, don’t expect a huge (+5%) lift afterwards.
So what exactly did Reid know and when?
- *UNITED STATES' AAA IDR RATING MAY BE CUT BY FITCH :3352Z US
- FITCH SAYS PUTS U.S. ON RATING WATCH NEGATIVE AS U.S. AUTHORITIES HAVE NOT RAISED FEDERAL DEBT CEILING IN A "TIMELY MANNER
- *FITCH STILL SEES U.S. DEBT CEILING TO BE RAISED SOON :3352Z US
- *FITCH SEES RESOLVING US RWN BY END OF 1Q '14 AT LATEST
- *FITCH STILL SEES U.S. DEBT CEILING TO BE RAISED SOON :3352Z US
- *FITCH SEES U.S. ECONOMIC GROWTH REVERTING TO 2.25% AFTER 2017
What politicians want from their regulatory efforts is a world of pure beta and zero alpha. This is the ultimate “level playing field”, where no one knows anything that everyone else doesn’t also know. The presumption within regulatory bodies today is that you must be cheating if you are generating alpha. How’s that? Alpha generation requires private information. Private information, however acquired, is defined as insider information. Insider information is cheating. Thus, alpha generation is cheating. QED. Why would politicians want an alpha-free market? Because a “fair” market with a “level playing field” is an enormously popular Narrative for every US Attorney who wants to be Attorney General, every Attorney General who wants to be Governor, and every Governor who wants to be President … which is to say all US Attorneys and all Attorneys General and all Governors. Because criminalizing private information in public markets ensures a steady stream of rich criminals for show trials in the future. Because the political stability of the American regime depends on a widely dispersed, non-zero-sum price appreciation of all financial assets – beta – not the concentrated, zero-sum price appreciation of idiosyncratic securities. Because public confidence in the government’s control of public institutions like the market must be restored at all costs, even if that confidence is misplaced and even if the side-effects of that restoration are immense.
Big picture and dispassionate discussion.
As regular readers know, the biggest legacy disconnect in the US banking system is the divergence between commercial bank loans which most recently amounted to $7.32 trillion, a decrease of $9 billion for the week, and are at the same the same level when Lehman filed for bankruptcy having not grown at all in all of 2013 (blue line below), and their conventionally matched liability: deposits, which increased by $60 billion in the past week to $9.63 trillion, an all time high. The spread between these two key monetary components - at least in a non-centrally planned world - which also happen to determine the velocity of money in circulation (as traditionally it is private banks that create money not the Fed as a result of loan demand) is now at a record $2.3 trillion.