Folks, I wish I had the answers for you this week.
That's the conundrum investors must face if they want in to this market now.
The Future of Money: The Dumb Dollar vs Smart, Programmable Currencies!
- Firms to Face new Rules Over Pay, Taxes (WSJ)
- US to test commercial drones at six sites (CNN)
- China’s Local Debt Swells to 17.9 Trillion Yuan in Audit (BBG) - which is about 2 trillion less than where it actually is (Reuters)
- Fears after key China debt level soars 70% (FT) and in reality the debt level is saoring far more
- Pot Shops in Denver Open Door to $578 Million in Sales (BBG)
- China Says It Will Shun Abe After Shrine Visit (WSJ)
- De Blasio Taking Office Citing Wealth Gap as Crime Falls (BBG)
- China Approves $353 Million of Share Sales as IPOs Resume (BBG)
- Obama Seeks Way to Right His Ship (WSJ)
- Netflix Tests Subscription Fees Based on Number of Account Users (BBG)
- Three big macro questions for 2014 (FT)
In a world in which the Chief Risk Officer of the formerly free capital markets, Ben Bernanke, has made any downside hedges obsolete (and as a result hedge funds have posted 5 years of returns without outperforming the S&P500), the first casualty has emerged: fund of funds. These parasitic, fee-soaking institutions, which merely collect a fee on top of the fees already charged by hedge funds, are rapidly on their way to extinction as the following charts from Eurekahedge prove conclusively. Naturally, the FOF industry which generates massive fees for its "value adding" managers, will not go down without a fight. And as Pensions and Investment reports, the FOFs have found a way to strike back: convert hedge funds into long only, idiot money, and we do enjoy the irony that in this centrally-planned market the idiot money is outperforming the smart, nimble asset managers by orders of magnitude.
We are beginning to see signs of a market top.
Due to western central bank price manipulation, the mining sector is in critical condition, the supply line is all but halted, and the physical supply is being swallowed up by Asia. The last shoe to drop is for major mining companies to start closing down production at major mines. Though this would be perceived as the end for gold, speculators will be happy to know that this would be the beginning of the biggest Fed induced bubble in history! But unlike previous Fed bubbles where they support the price increase, the gold bubble will be a result of western central planners mis-managing the gold price for the past 3 decades and finally losing control. As Peak Resources explains in the brief clip, the perfect storm is coming for gold...
The biggest bubble is in investors' belief that there is no risk.
To many institutional investors, buying the Russell 2000 is merely the highly levered bet with which the bulk of institutions (recall that almost all hedge funds, and a majority of mutual funds, are underperforming the S&P for a 5th consecutive year) seek to make up for losses in their portfolios by chasing high (and even higher with leverage) beta. Which is why as the next chart below shows, in a furious scramble to catch up by year end, the institutional Russell net futures (i.e. levered) positioning just hit a record high: the biggest investors are now all-in the smallest names. So is the massively overbought small cap sector due for a correction? With these manipulated, centrally-planned markets, nobody has any idea. However, for those who have once again bet all in, which just happens to be most plain vanilla dumb money, it may be time to reevaluate.
Already, the Chinese have stopped accumulating dollars - preferring safer currencies, infrastructure, hard assets and commodities and of course gold. Even a small amount of Chinese selling could lead to substantial dollar weakness and much higher bond yields plummeting the U.S. into another recession.
Hong Kong's richest are busy offloading local assets which institutions are happy to buy. It's exhibit A why institutional money often represents dumb money.
Yesterday, in the aftermath of first Apollo then Blackstone, it was the turn of that third mega Private Equity shop, Fortress, to "say that now is the time to exit investments as stocks rally and interest rates start to rise. "This is a better time for selling our existing investments than making new investments," Pete Briger, who oversee the New York-based firm's $12.5 billion business said on a call with investors yesterday. "There’s been more uncertainty that’s been fed into the markets." Ironically, this is precisely the opposite of what one will hear on the mainstream media, but such is life: for every smart money seller, there must be a willing sheep led to the slaughter.
China's GDP number should be in the 6.7% range for the quarter. This is the black swan ...
Gold miners hedged by selling their production forward during the bear market. Later, when the price was rising, they bought back their hedges at great expense (Barick alone wasted $6B). There is a better way.
Bonds, shares plus gold and silver fell sharply around the world this morning after the U.S. Federal Reserve again suggested an end to their easy money policies. Data also showed China's economy slowing down amid growing concerns that a credit crunch in China is worsening.