In Feb 2007, Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks wrote 'The Race to the Bottom', providing a timely warning about the capital market behavior that ultimately led to the mortgage meltdown of 2007 and the crisis of 2008 as he worried about "carelessness-induced behavior." In the pre-crisis years, as described in his 2007 memo, the race to the bottom manifested itself in a number of ways, and as Marks notes, "now we’re seeing another upswing in risky behavior." Simply put, Marks warns, "when people start to posit that fundamentals don’t matter and momentum will carry the day, it’s an omen we must heed," adding that "the riskiest thing in the investment world is the belief that there’s no risk."
To paraphrase Mark Twain, "It isn't the stuff you don’t know that will kill you – it's the stuff you're sure about but is totally wrong that will do you real harm." As a corollary to this fateful phrase, Convergx's Nick Colas has collected a list of market "knowledge" that is questionable at best and harmful at worst.
Chart Of The Day: How China's Stunning $15 Trillion In New Liquidity Blew Bernanke's QE Out Of The WaterSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/25/2013 21:25 -0400
Even we were shocked when we ran the numbers on this one...
Here’s the crucial part of what Summers and Krugman are saying: this is not a temporary gig. This isn’t going to just “get better” on its own over time. This really is, as Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO would call it, the New Normal. And if you’re Jeremy Grantham or anyone for whom a stock has meaning as a fractional ownership stake in a real-world company rather than as a casino chip that gives you “market exposure” … well, that’s really bad news... Just don’t kid yourself into thinking that your deep dive into the value fundamentals of some large-cap bank has any predictive value whatsoever for the bank’s stock price, or that a return to the happy days of yesteryear is just around the corner. It doesn’t and it’s not, and even if you’re making money you’re going to be miserable and ornery while you wait nostalgically for what you do and what you’re good at to matter again. Spoiler Alert: Godot never shows up.
In May-July 2013, Bernanke, like the rest of the Fed saw in simple terms that there is no such thing as a smooth exit. The market rebelled at the mere hint of tapering at a time when the Fed is buying $85 billion per month. If the Fed were to actually go ahead and taper what would rates do?
Reading between the lines of recent Fed communications, it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the Fed wants to exit its quantitative easing policies as soon as possible. Though they’re loath to admit it, the architects of quantitative easing now recognize that their efforts are achieving diminishing marginal returns while at the same time building up massive imbalances, distortions, and speculative excesses in the capital markets. Moreover, they’re realizing that the eventual exit costs are also likely much higher than they had previously thought, and continue to rise with each new asset purchase. Implications for the markets, which may not yet be fully prepared for this outcome, are likely to be significant. In short, we would expect yield curves to steepen, the dollar to strengthen, equities to fall, credit spreads to widen, commodities to weaken (the metals in particular), and volatility to rise. How the Fed will then respond to these developments will be very telling indeed. Their hand will be forced, and we may all soon learn how strong the QE trap has become.
The following five themes (and three bonus ones) are what UBS Andrew Cates believes will be of the greatest importance for global economic and capital markets outcomes for the next five years. There is little to surprise here but the aggregation of these factors and the increasingly binary outcomes of each of them suggest there may be a little more uncertainty about the future than most people sheepishly admit...
When the Taper Talk sign is on, beware. The sign is now brightly lit.
Pushing the neo-liberal argument further than it wants to go, with interesting results.
In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’s real estate market has created not a “soaring” real estate market as economists always incorrectly explain them, but massive real estate market distortions better known as a bubble.
It has been a while since we heard from the rational folks over at GMO. Which is why we are happy that as every possible form of bubble in the capital markets rages, Jeremy Grantham lieutenant Ben Inkster was kind enough to put the raging Fed-induced euphoria in its proper context. To wit "the U.S. stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities. Our additional work does nothing but confi rm our prior beliefs about the current attractiveness – or rather lack of attractiveness – of the U.S. stock market.... On the old model, fair value for the S&P 500 was about 1020 and the expected return for the next seven years was -2.0% after inflation. On the new model, fair value for the S&P 500 is about 1100 and the expected return is -1.3% per year for the next seven years after inflation. Combining the current P/E of over 19 for the S&P 500 and a return on sales about 42% over the historical average, we would get an estimate that the S&P 500 is approximately 75% overvalued."
An interesting overview of Germany's attempt to solidify its hegemony in Europe.
"We already live in a financial economy in which the debt and capital markets exceed the value of the real economy by far," Marc Faber explains to Germany's Finanzen100, "and that's before the current formation of bubbles." His most ominous warning, and one that fits perfectly with the seeming insanity of Federal Reserve (and all developed market central banks) is that "the next time a bubble bursts, then the capitalist economic system as we know will falter."
The notion that the euro area crisis is over has recently been heavily propagated by EU politicians and the mainstream media. However, it is way too early for such victory laps. Hans-Werner Sinn is perfectly correct in pointing out that the ECB's attempts to restore the 'monetary policy transmission mechanism' by suppressing interest rates in the periphery is going to perpetuate capital malinvestment,delay the necessary reforms and these interventions have actually scared private capital away, as investors require adequate compensation for the risks they are taking. Meanwhile, savers are ultimately paying for this ongoing waste of scarce capital. It is high time that central banking is recognized for the disease it is. Without central banks aiding and abetting credit expansion, this situation would never have arisen. Even a free banking system practicing fractional reserve banking could not possibly have created such a gigantic boom-bust scenario. Money needs to be fully privatized – the State cannot be trusted with it.
"Frustrated" Liquidity Addicts Demand Moar From BOJ As Nikkei Rally Stalls, Abenomics Founders And "Hope Fades"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/13/2013 10:25 -0400
While the only topic of discussion for "sophisticated" investors everywhere is when (and if) the Fed will ever dare to reduce its monthly flow injection into US markets from $85 billion to a paltry $75 billion, everyone has forgotten that across the Pacific, for the past seven months the BOJ has been calmly injecting another $75 billion each and every month into the market, with no risk of this liquidity boost ever being tapered (since the broad 2% inflation target relies on ever broader wage increases that will never come). However, much to Japan's chagrin, in the current insta-globally fungible capital markets, over the past five months the bulk of this liquidity has found its way to the US stock bubble, leaving the Nikkei in the dust. As a result, the local Japanese liquidity junkies have started to loudly complain once again, and now the FT reports that "as excitement over the world’s second-biggest stock market has faded, some are now crying out for another jump-start." In other words: the BOJ must do "moar" to push the Nikkei bubble even higher following its rangebound trade since May which, worst of all, is now the primary reason why "hope is fading."