Dow Jones Industrial Average
As more and more amateurs have piled into Twitter, the data stream has been subject to the "Yahoo Finance effect" - there is far too much noise, and not nearly enough actionable signal, especially when one tries to strip away the bias behind any given message (see "Trading Twitter: Where Noise Becomes Signal"). Yet one entity that appears to have found significant functionality in Twitter is none other than the world's biggest hedge fund: Bridgewater.
From Bernanke's infamous 2008 "not forecasting a recession" call to Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines 2004 "subprime assets are riskless" commentary, the following 10 "predictions" - as opposed to Wien "surprises" - will go down in infamy for their degree of errant-ness...
"Just be long. Pretty much anything. So here’s how I understand things now that I am no longer the last bear standing. You should buy equities if you believe many European banks and their sovereign paymasters are insolvent. You should buy shares if you put a higher probability than your peers on the odds of a European democracy rejecting the euro over the course of the next few years. You should be long risk assets if you believe China will have lowered its growth rate from 7% to nearer 5% over the course of the next two years. You should be long US equities if you are worried about the failure of Washington to address its fiscal deficits. And you should buy Japanese assets if you fear that Abenomics will fail to restore the fortunes of Japan (which it probably won’t). Hey this is easy… And then it crashed"
- Hugh Hendry
With just a tad more than three weeks left in the year it is time to start focusing on what 2014 will likely bring. Of course, what really happens over the next twelve months is likely to be far different than what is currently expected but issuing prognostications, making conjectures and telling fortunes has always kept business brisk on Wall Street.
The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...
Usually what goes up normally ends up coming back down to Earth with a damn great thud. Well, that was long ago with good old Isaac Newton and the apple story.
Over four years ago when we discussed the high frequency predator traders feasting on the signals of others, few believed it possible (and fewer still comprehended it). Today there is another potential disruptor in US equity market microstructure, the transformation of noise to signal from the overwhelming drivel of a Twitter stream. Macro signals (the hashcrash in April when AP's account was hacked and this week's Israeli military tweet misunderstanding) have had dramatic effects on the market but individual stock trading success remains elusive. “You have to be happy with a lot of noise in your data,” one advocate notes, but, as the FT notes, a recent PhD study concluded, "The proponents of this idea really do exaggerate it... I’m not saying there’s nothing here, but I’m not saying you can print money either."
With a government's October 1 shut down - temporary of course - now seemingly inevitable, and more importantly with the peak debt ceiling negotiations due in just about a week after which point the Treasury will run out of money, many wonder what comes next. That this is happening just two short years after the dramatic August 2011 debt ceiling impasse, when the market tumbled 20% and likely slowed economic growth is still fresh in everyone's mind, is hardly helping matters. Add a potential political crisis in Greece and Italy, and suddenly a whole lot of unexpected variables have to be "priced in."
Don't Blame Free Market Capitalism ... We Haven't Had It for a While
When Obamacare was thought up it was more than just a presidential pledge to woo the poverty-stricken Americans into believing (and voting) that healthcare should be provided for all and sundry and that any Tom, Dick and Harry could get through life by being provided for by the state.
CNBC just aired a fascinating segment that pitted anchors Mandy Drury and Brian Sullivan (squarely in the markets-are-going-up-and-the-world-must-be-rosy camp) against a more skeptical Herb Greenberg and an awfully fact-based reality agent - Peter Boockvar. Well worth taking the time to witness the cognitive dissonance of believing the market strength is unrelated to the Fed and yet a Fed unable to Taper even a few billion for fear of repercussions... as Boockvar notes, "there is 0% chance this ends well."
While the commemoration of the 5 year anniversary of the start of the Great Financial Crisis is slowing but surely fading, another just as important anniversary is revealed when one goes back not 5 but 15 years into the past, specifically to September 23, 1998. On that day, the policy that came to define the New Normal more than any other, namely the bailout of those deemed Too Big To Fail, a/k/a throwing good (private or taxpayer) money after bad was enshrined by Wall Street as the official canon when faced with a situation where capitalism, namely failure, is seen as Too Dangerous To Succeed. This was first known as the Greenspan Put, subsequently the Bernanke Put, and its current iteration is best known as the Global Central Banker All-In Systemic Put. We sow the seeds of bailing out insolvent financial corporations to this day, when instead of making them smaller and breaking them up, they are rewarded by becoming even bigger, even more systemics, and even Too Bigger To Fail, and their employees are paid ever greater record bonuses.
There is one good thing about money, apart from the fact that there is a race to grab it and keep in in our claws making it highly in demand, and that’s the fact that wealth attracts wealth. Money is a dirty little magnate that can only attract more money and it’s not a question of opposites attracting here.
For now, markets are holding on to gains (in bonds, stocks, and gold) as we prepare for Ben to explain just how bad things are... and answer the tough questions about the growth slowdown in 2016... Of Course, that doesn't matter:
DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE RISES TO ALL-TIME HIGH
*S&P 500 RISES TO RECORD HIGH AFTER FED STATEMENT
Seems like moar of the same is here to stay in the Yellen Fed but now we know that QE is not helping the real economy - how will they 'communicate' its effectiveness? We suppose that, for now, Stein's warning of 'froth' is just for the academics...
- Obama Holds Fire on Syria, Waits on Russia Plan (WSJ)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (Reuters)
- Not one but two: Greece May Need Two More Aid Packages Says ECB’s Coene (WSJ)
- BoJ insider warns of need for wage rises (FT) ... as we have been warning since November, and as has not been happening
- California city backs plan to seize negative equity mortgages (Reuters)
- Home Depot Is Accused of Shaking Down Suspected Shoplifters (BBG)
- Most-Connected Man at Deutsche Bank Favors Lightest Touch (BBG)
- Norway Pledges to Limit Oil Spending (BBG)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (BBG)
- Gundlach Says Fed Is Mistaken in How It's Ending Easing (BBG)