Discussion of a market bubble (in stocks, credit, bonds, Farm-land, residential real estate, or art) have dominated headlines in recent weeks. However, QEeen Yellen gave us the all-clear this morning that there was "no bubble." Are we currently witnessing a market bubble? It is very possible; however, as STA's Lance Roberts notes, if we are, it will be the first market bubble in history to be seen in advance (despite Bullard's comments in opposition to that "fact"). From a contrarian investment view point, there is simply "too much bubble talk" currently which means that there is likely more irrational excess to come. The lack of "economic success" will likely mean that the Fed remains engaged in its ongoing QE programs for much longer than currently expected - and perhaps Hussman's pre-crash bubble anatomy is dead on...
- Yellen to defend Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy (Reuters)
- Japan growth slows on global weakness (WSJ)
- Eurozone third-quarter growth falters (FT)
- Fed Debates Its Low-Rate Peg (Hilsenrath)
- Yellen: Economy Still Needs Fed Aid (WSJ)
- ‘Obamacare’ launch fiasco rouses sceptics (FT)
- DoubleLine's Gundlach says U.S. equities 'only game in town' (Reuters)
- Indian Inflation Exceeding Estimates Adds Rate-Rise Pressure (BBG)
- HUD Said to Fail in Bid to Sell $450 Million of Mortgages (BBG)
- Boeing machinists reject labor deal on 777X by 67 percent (Reuters)
Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed's quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed's enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.
The death of the dollar is coming, and it will probably be China that pulls the trigger. What you are about to read is understood by only a very small fraction of all Americans. Right now, the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the planet. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and almost all oil is sold for U.S. dollars. More than 60 percent of all global foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars, and far more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than inside of it. As will be described below, this has given the United States some tremendous economic advantages, and most Americans have no idea how much their current standard of living depends on the dollar remaining the reserve currency of the world. Unfortunately, thanks to reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve and the reckless accumulation of debt by the federal government, the status of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world is now in great jeopardy.
TedBits - Newsletter
In case the world needed any additional proof that the latest housing bubble (not our words, Fitch's) was on its last legs, it came earlier today from Credit Suisse' Dan Oppenheim who in his monthly survey of real estate agents observed that October was "another weak month" for traffic, with "pricing power fading as sluggish demand persists." This naturally focuses on the increasingly smaller component of buyers who buy for the sake of owning and living in a home instead of flipping it to another greater fool (preferably from China or Russia, just looking to park their stolen cash abroad). Quantifying the ongoing deflation of the bubble, Oppenheim notes that the "weakness was again broad-based, and particularly acute in Seattle, Orlando, Baltimore and Sacramento.... Our buyer traffic index fell to 28 in October from 36 in September, indicating weaker levels below agents’ expectations (any reading below 50). This is the lowest level since September 2011."
Whether it is the conference board, Gallup, Bloomberg, or pretty much any other measure of the economic confidence or consumer comfort in the US, the numbers have been falling (or plunging) despite the incessant rise of US equities. The reason this is of particular note, as we have discussed previously, is that this pattern of exuberant highs in stocks with fading confidence-inspiration has ominous overtones for future performance... (especially for those hoping for moar multiple expansion). The UMich data this morning merely confirms the trend with the lowest print since Dec 2011 (3 misses in a row). This is the biggest miss since Feb 2006!
Has a second civil war been “gamed” by our government? And are Americans being swindled into fighting and killing each other while the banksters who created the mess observe at their leisure, waiting until the dust settles to return to the scene and collect their prize? Here are some examples of how both sides of the false left/right paradigm are being goaded into turning on each other.
The Fed seems to be facing two major risks: first, premature tapering disrupting markets and triggering global turmoil across asset classes, thereby threatening the fragile economy recovery; second, delayed tapering further fuelling asset price bubbles, which could burst eventually and do major damage. UBS' Beat Siegenthaler notes the September decision suggested a Fed more worried about the fragile recovery than about the potential for asset bubbles and other longer-term problems associated with extended liquidity injections. Whereas it had originally assumed that a gradual tapering would result in a gradual market reaction, Siegenthaler explains it is now clear that the situation is much more binary; and as such, the hurdles for tapering might be substantially higher than originally thought.
Another day, another collapse in a measure of the 'peoples' confidence. Despite the animal spirits of euphoric dot-com bubble betting that is the new-normal US equity markets, it seems both rich and poor are not loving it. Bloomberg's consumer comfort index dropped to -37.9 - its lowest since October 2012 having dropped for the 6th week in a row. The last time we saw a collapse of this size, the Fed saved us all with QE3... what this time?
As was long predicted and foreshadowed (and analyzed here previously with the proposed FRN term sheet shown half a year ago), after nearly two years of foreplay with the idea of issuing inflation-friendly floating rate notes, moments ago as part of its refunding announcement, the Treasury announced the first floater issuance in history would take place on January 29, 2014, will have a 2 year tenor, and will amount to between $10 and $15 billion.
How Austrian economics is misguided
Global stock markets are soaring and near record highs. Credit markets are exuberant and near record tight spreads and low yields; and volatility (bond, FX, and stock) has been suppressed to the point of non-existence. So why is it that just 3 months after Nigeria issued debt (in an oversubscribed auction) at a yield below that of Portugal's, Nigerian lender Diamond Bank has suspended the launch of its seven-year $550 million bond? It appears it's the Fed's fault! as the bond's marketers noted "pricing turbulence in the international debt market," in a presentation seen by Reuters on Tuesday. Still think the Fed will ever actually exit?
As the S&P 500 continues to push to one new high after the next, the bullish arguments of valuation have quietly given way to "it's all about the Fed." The biggest angst that weighs on professional, and retail investors alike, are not deteriorating economic strength, weak revenue growth or concerns over the next political drama - but rather when will the Fed pull its support from the financial markets. For the Federal Reserve, they are now caught in the same "liquidity trap" that has been the history of Japan for the last three decades. Should we have an expectation that the same monetary policies employed by Japan will have a different outcome in the U.S? More importantly, this is no longer a domestic question - but rather a global one since every major central bank is now engaged in a coordinated infusion of liquidity. Will the Federal Reserve "taper" in December or March - it's possible. However, the revulsion by the markets, combined with the deterioration of economic growth, will likely lead to a quick reversal of any such a decision.
Moments ago the Treasury released its marketable borrowing estimates for Fiscal Q1 and Q2: it revealed that funding needs for the October-December quarter declined from $230 billion to $204 billion, while the Q1 funding needs set at $356 billion, in line with last year's number. And yet, the Treasury also announced that despite a lower funding need in the current quarter, it would proceed with issuing $32 billion more in net Treasurys, or $266 billion, than previously estimated. Why? To push the quarter end cash balance from $80 billion to $140 billion at December 31, 2013. This is the highest quarter-ending cash balance since 2010. Why is the Treasury scrambling to build up cash ahead of calendar 2014? Simple: as is well-known, the debt ceiling drama comes back with a vengeance in late January and early February, and this one promises to be just as theatrical and protracted as all prior ones.