Dow Jones Industrial Average
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."
How the volatility of the market can be seen every day! Yesterday, the London financiers were out there celebrating on their 14-year high and backing that the ‘only way was up’. Then today they woke up too late after hitting the bottle too much and now that high has dropped as China’s economy is causing greater concerns for the rest of the financial world.
Having thrown in his bearish towel in December, the self-proclaimed "last bear standing" has had a tough January. His plan, to "just be long pretty much anything" appears to have back-fired (for now) as Eclectica reports a 3.6% loss in January - the worst month since the Fund's inception. His largest loss was on a long Japan theme (leveraged) and that was somewhat offset by gains in his short emerging markets and short China themes. It appears nothing hs changed from Hendry's December perspective of the inexorable melt-up in developed markets thanks to central bank largesse (247% of NAV exposed to stocks) though he does note "renewed turmoil" which, we suppose, merely supports his thesis longer term.
Celente again warned of the economic parallels with the 1930’s and said that we are again seeing recession and depressions, currency wars, trade wars and that this would lead to actual wars. His free webinar and Q & A tomorrow will look at ways to protect yourself from these risks in 2014 and beyond.
While the only fun-durr-mentals that matter appear to be global central bank liquidity injections (and thus the level of leverage entrusted to the JPY carry trade), the crowd is swayed by truthisms and "common knowledge" memes that recovery is here, that things are improving, that earnings are 'solid', that markets are still cheap, and that historical analogs are different this time. However, with monetary policy at a turning point, we also appear (fundamentally and technically) to be at "the inflection point from self-reinforcing speculation to fragile instability."
Gold has rallied another 1.2% today and touched resistance at $1,294/oz during Yellen's first testimony to Congress. Gold is testing resistance between $1,294/oz and $1,300/oz. A close above $1,300 should see gold quickly rally to test the next level of resistance at $1,360/oz.
The 10Y yield closed below its 200-day moving average and should test down to 2.47% in the short-term; and Citi's FX Technicals believes the Dow will test its 55-week moving average at 15,214, S&P 500 at 1,707; and Gold's consolidation/correction is over - the uptrend has resumed.
A classicial economist... and Harvard professor... preaching to the world that one's money is not safe in the US banking system due to Ben Bernanke's actions? And putting his withdrawal slip where his mouth is and pulling $1 million out of Bank America? Say it isn't so...
It’s fairly clear if you look at the data objectively that Mr. Bernanke’s policies have left the Fed (and consequently the global financial system) in far more precarious condition than when he started, yet disproportionately benefited the US government and small percentage of society at the expense of everyone else. This is not to say that Mr. Bernanke is some evil mastermind bent on nefarious ends. Unfortunately the road to ruin is almost always paved with good intentions.
President Obama has recently promoted inequality as a fundamental threat to our way of life, saying, “The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe.” You can read the rhetoric here. Let’s look at the reality.
With the market more bullishly positioned, more euphoric, and more levered than almost any time in history, it is perhaps worth "pondering" what some of the risks to this optimism could be...
With the Q4 earnings season beginning, ConvergEx's Nick Colas reminds that the top of the income statement matters more than the bottom line if we expect further upside to domestic equities in 2014. Revenue growth has been in short supply over the last four quarters, with the companies of the Dow only able to average a 0.6% top line growth rate over the last year. If 2013 was all about multiple expansion in equity markets, then, Colas warns this will be the year when revenue growth must fulfill the promise of a U.S. stock market so near all-time highs. Analysts have been perennial over-optimists on revenues every month since early 2012. Maybe they finally have it right, but that is purely a matter of faith at this point; their track record on this count is not good.
2013 was the year that the mainstream financial media went aggressively anti-gold. So, why do we continue to keep the faith with gold (and silver)? We can encapsulate the argument in one statistic.
The rise in equities does not mean stocks "buy" more commodities in the real world - they buy less.
Forget the last two day's decline. The consensus opinion for 2014 is pretty uniform: stocks will go up modestly, bond will decline in similar fashion. Job growth will grind higher, as will inflation. The Fed will taper its bond-buying program, slowly. And so it may all come to pass... But ConvergEx's Nick Colas ponders what could go wrong, or at least different. Top of his list: fixed income volatility, in conjunction with stock market valuations that are, at best, average. Colas reflects ominously on 1914, where if you read the papers of the day you would have seen much of the same "Yeah, we got this" tone that prevails today. As the great market sage Yogi Berra once opined, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Either way, a cautious outlook is the better part of valor so early in the year.