According to Tobin's Q, which compares stock prices to the replacement value of companies' underlying assets, equity markets have become detached from reality to a degree only witnessed on two occasions in history: the tech bubble and 1929.
It's worthwhile recalling that mainstream economists, the Federal Reserve, government agencies and the mainstream financial media all deny the economy is in recession until it falls off a cliff.
- Amtrak train in Philadelphia wreck was traveling at twice speed limit (Reuters)
- The engineer has no recollection of the crash and “no explanation” for what happened (WSJ)
- Taliban claim attack on Afghan guesthouse that killed 14 (Reuters)
- Chicago’s Junk Rating From Moody’s Puzzles Investors (BBG)
- House votes to end spy agencies' bulk collection of phone data (Reuters)
- Wesley Clark: The Penny-Stock General (BBG)
- AOL’s Armstrong to Leave $213 Million Richer After Verizon Deal (BBG)
What is extremely clear is that there is something amiss with the statistical headline employment and economic data. While there are indeed pockets of improvement, which should be expected following a recessionary contraction, there is a lack of widespread recovery. That sentiment is clearly reflected in every major poll of American's over the last year. What is important is that there is a clear disconnect between the financial markets, statistical economic headlines, and the reality of the vast majority of American consumers. So, riddle me this - what happens when that disconnect is eventually resolved?
The good news: companies are beating earnings estimates by the widest margin in four years. The bad news: this has very little to do with strong corporate earnings and quite a lot to do with buybacks and analysts cutting estimates. In fact, bottom-up EPS estimates fell by 8.2% in Q1, nearly double the 1-, 5-, and 10-year averages and the largest decline since 2009. Meanwhile, repurchase authorizations hit a record in April and are now set to climb to an all-time high in 2015, providing a wonderful frontrunning opportunity for everyone from retail investors to the SNB.
What follows is a remarkable data base of Corporate Fines and Settlements. From blatant cartel price-fixing or not disclosing the dangers of the company's heavily promoted medications to destroying documents to thwart an investigation of wrong-doing, the list is stunning and reads like a who's who of Corporate America and Top 100 Global Corporations. In other words, these were not wrist-slaps for minor oversights of complex regulations - these are blatant violations of core laws of the land and while the PR spins how corporate profits benefit widows and orphans, this vast wealth is concentrated in the top 1% and the top 5%.
Including the professional class, perhaps only 3% of the workforce is truly independent.
Morgan Stanley breaks down the buyback-equity rally relationship while WSJ flags "big borrowing" by both corporations and investors. In short: corporate debt issuance is at record levels and so are buybacks, stock prices, and margin accounts. When the cycle finally turns, look out below.
Apple is the Ty Cobb of corporate America. Like Cobb, Apple has set some impressive records. Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. Apple risks having a legacy of tainted success and isolation.
While preserving the farce of the S&P's relentless rise no matter the earnings recession, the 1% GDP or the negative funds flow, has been entirely a central bank mandate in the past month (one which will soon inlude the PBOC), the good news for the BOJs and the NYFeds of the world is that the stock buyback hiatus is almost over, and starting this week the bulk of companies can come right back and proceed to repurchase their stocks at all time highs. And what a come back it will be. According to Goldman, the pace of buybacks is now absolutely off the charts, with nearly $1 trillion in buyback announcements expected in just this calendar year, a mindboggling number, one which is the same size as the largest annual Fed Quantiative Easing amount in any one year going back to the great financial crisis.
No sector will be immune to the changing nature of work and value creation. The only sustainable way to avoid upheaval is to learn to create value in ways that cannot be commoditized.
Being grateful boosts your happiness. Here are ten sickening wonderful things we're grateful for in the new normal...
Having previously explained the 175,846,629,768 reasons why former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke would join Citadel - the most-levered hedge fund in the world and alleged conduit of fed put protection; we thought it intriguing to note what billionaire Citadel Ken Griffin had to say about Bernanke and his policies just 2 years ago...
The severe limitation of human robot jobs is that they rarely offer much opportunity to learn a wide variety of skills--precisely what enables us to create more value with our labor.
Wall Street turns junk-rated US corporate loans into highly rated yen-denominated bonds. Desperate Japanese pension funds gobble them up. Blame the Bank of Japan.