Capital Markets

Are Capital Inflows Propping Up U.S. Markets?

Nobody really believes the official narrative that the "recovery" is powering the remarkable strength of U.S. stocks, bonds and real estate. The real Main Street economy is quite obviously struggling, outside the energy and Federal government sectors, and so many see the Federal Reserve's free money for financiers (a.k.a. quantitative easing) bond and mortgage-buying programs as the real reason bond yields have declined and stocks have soared. This leads us to wonder if capital inflows into the U.S. aren't a largely overlooked driver of rising U.S. markets.

Guest Post: If Not Trusting This Market Makes Me An Idiot, Then Call Me Crazy!

I was left slack-jawed as I listened to an interview on financial media between the host and guest. I have always enjoyed as well as respected the host even though many times I may totally disagree. However, as for the guest being interviewed, not only did I disagree: I lost quite a bit of respect for. During the interview the questions were posed as to why people (investors et al) harbor these feelings of angst as to whether or not they should get in, get out, etc,, etc. The guest then went on to use data points, math, trend references, and any other metric available within a snake oil sales bag as to prove his point: Where people not believing in this market rally along with those who’ve not participated are, (and I quote) “Idiots.” I have only one answer to that statement: What you’ve just demonstrated is exactly why people with more than half a brain aren’t buying your message: You are insulting their/our intelligence.

Japan’s Keynesian Demise: A Cautionary Tale For Our Times

The ragged Keynesian excuse that all will be well in Japan once the jump in the consumption tax from 5% to 8% is fully digested is false. Here’s the problem: this is just the beginning of an endless march upwards of Japan’s tax burden to close the yawning fiscal gap left after the current round of tax increases, and to finance its growing retirement colony. There is no possibility that Abenomics will result in “escape velocity” Japan style and that Japan can grow its way out of it enormous fiscal trap. Instead, nominal and real growth will remain pinned to the flatline owing to peak debt, soaring retirements, a shrinking tax base and a tax burden which will rise as far as the eye can see. Call that a Keynesian dystopia. It is a cautionary tale for our times. And Japan, unfortunately, is just patient zero.

Have We Forgotten What An Authentic Market Is?

The irony of maintaining a veneer of authenticity over a fundamentally inauthentic market is rich: the more the authorities manipulate the market to maintain high valuations and suppress turbulence, the greater the odds of a collapse of trust as inauthentic markets cannot self-correct or discover the price of assets, capital and risk. Once risk has been effectively hidden by perception management, participants lack the essential information they need to make informed decisions. And so their decisions will be catastrophically mis-informed. This is how declines morph into crashes.

Here Is The Average Cost To Rent A 2-Bedroom Apartment In Your City

With record rental expenses already forcing millions of Americans to have far less disposable income for everything else once the monthly bill for the roof above one's head is paid, here is a breakdown of 25 selected US metropolitan areas, ranked from most to least expensive, how much it costs to rent a two-bedroom apartment (one can only assume the $1,440 price listed for New York is based on some non-GAAP, magical numbers that exclude reality).

Bubble Market Stunner: Revenueless Biotech Goes Public, Drops, Trades For Six Days, Then Voids Entire IPO

Glass breaking in slow motion reversed In what is certainly a historic, and quite stunning, market first, not to mention prima facie evidence that Janet Yellen was right about the biotech (and not only) bubble, last week the equity markets experienced something that has not happened in decades: a biotech firm went public, traded for six days, only to announce Friday that it would void its IPO and won't issue shares after all, thanks to a key investor's failure to follow through on a commitment to buy stock. In other words, days after going public, yet another darling of the momo bubble mania du jour, decided to undo everything, and went back to being private (and soon: bankrupt).

Huh?

The “Funky Drummer” Market

If you are getting a strong sense of déjà vu from current news flow, well, join the club.  Everything feels so… familiar.  And not necessarily in a good way.  When we hear phrases like “Bubble markets”, “M&A cycle”, “historically low yields”, and “retail investor buying”, our minds automatically flash back to prior periods of history when those phrases last dominated the headlines. It isn’t hard to come up with a “Top 10” list of phrases with strong historical - and emotional - antecedents.  So, today we did just that. Fair warning, however: just because a tune sounds familiar doesn’t mean you actually know the song. It could just be what the kids today call a “Sample” – a snippet of a song put in another song. Yep, what we’ve got here is something out of hip hop, not rock.  Don’t especially like rap?  Too bad, homey.

In Which We Read That The "Proper Role Of A Central Bank Is To Counteract Market Turbulence Before It Happens"

Want to read a really terrifying article? Take a look at this August 6th Op-Ed piece in the FT by Draghi’s former colleague, Lorenzo Bini Smaghi: “The ECB Must Move to Counteract Market Turbulence”. Are you kidding me? This is what we have come to … that the proper role of a central bank is to counteract “market turbulence” before it happens? I’d laugh, but then I remember that Yellen means exactly the same thing when she refers to “macroprudential policy”, and I want to cry.

Frontrunning: August 7

  • Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
  • Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
  • Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
  • Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
  • Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
  • Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
  • Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
  • The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
  • Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
  • Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)

No More Easy Money?

There isn’t much work out there on exactly how much “House money” gamblers or investors are willing to lose before they know to walk away (or run). Fans of technical analysis know their Fibonacci retracement levels by heart – 24%, 38%, 50%, 62% and 100%. Those are the moves that signal the evaporation of house money confidence as investors sell into a declining market. There isn’t much statistical analysis that any of those percentage moves actually mean anything, but enough traders use these signposts that it makes them a useful construct nonetheless.   The only other guideposts I can think of relate to the magnitude of any near term market decline. One 5% down day is likely more damaging to investor confidence than a drip-drip-drip decline of 5% over a month or two. The old adage “Selling begets selling” feels true enough in markets with a lot of “House money” on the line. After all, you don’t want to have to walk home from the casino after arriving in a new Rolls-Royce.