The reality of loss will be more than most can stomach and sentiments of “time in the market” will go mostly unheeded. This is, of course, why many of the coveted millennial investors have already rejected much of the Wall Street rhetoric after watching the devastation that wrecked their parents over the last 15 years.
“If you run out of chips, you are out of the game.”
It's been a roller coaster year for China's legions of semi-literate day traders who have seen the heights of feast and the depths of famine with Chinese equities over the past 12 months. Now, in the wake of more volatility, many Chinese retail investors are throwing in the towel.
No professional or successful investor every bought and held for the long-term without regard, or respect, for the risks that are undertaken. If the professionals are looking at "risk" and planning on how to protect their capital from losses when things go wrong - then why aren't you? Exactly how many warnings do you need?
And now the real shocker: there is over US$100bn in gross financial exposure to Glencore. From BofA: "We estimate the financial system's exposure to Glencore at over US$100bn, and believe a significant majority is unsecured. The group's strong reputation meant that the buildup of these exposures went largely without comment. However, the recent widening in GLEN debt spreads indicates the exposure is now coming into investor focus."
From both and fundamental and technical viewpoint, there is mounting evidence that the current decline might just be sending a signal that there is more going on here than just an "overdue correction in a bull market." While it is too soon to know for sure, there seems to be little risk in being more conservative within portfolio allocations currently until the market environment clears. However, the proverbial "elephant" is margin debt.
The question on everyone's mind now is simply whether the correction is over, or is there more to come? The sharp "reflexive" rally that will occur this week is likely the opportunity to review portfolio holdings and make adjustments before the next decline. History clearly suggests that reflexive rallies are prone to failing and a retest of lows is common.
...while the media gets overly excited about monthly job growth, the reality is that job growth has been little more than just a function of overall population growth. This isn't something the fosters long-term economic expansions that generate higher levels of prosperity... and if you think low interest rates necessitate high stock prices, that wasn't the case in the 1940s when interest rates were low and stock prices were below their long-term average relative to past earnings.
History tells us two related facts. Central banks are always defeated by markets in the end, and central bankers have a touching faith that next time they will retain control over markets. But if we accept the lessons of history, we must dismiss complacency over systemic risk to the financial system. We can go even further, and begin to expect that of all the risks that will eventually trigger a widely expected financial crisis, it will be an old-fashioned bear market in bonds.
The recent peak in profits, combined with substantially elevated P/E ratios, is likely suggesting that forward return expectations should be revised sharply lower.
At the heart of the China Commodity Financing Deals (CCFD) is the ability to leverage a letter of credit on the basis that there was some collateral somewhere that backed the risk of this rehypothecatable 'money'. Until now, the biggest concern has been "where's my copper, nickel, gold, etc..?" as the Qingdao ponzi scheme is unveiled; but, as Metal Bulletin reports, the contagion from the exposure of CCFDs ponzi has now hit Western banks. At least one western bank has stopped discount financing of copper into China after Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) applied for the right not to settle a letter of credit it issued earlier this year, as a result of the Qingdao investigations. In other words the collateral chains were just snapped...
Will investing based on fundamentals eventually find favor once again with investors? The problem is that market participants no longer view the financial markets as a place to invest savings over the "long term" to ensure future purchasing power parity. Today, they view the markets as a place to "create" wealth to offset the lack of savings. This mentality has changed the market dynamic from investing to gambling. As Seth Klarman warned, "There is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy. Not surprisingly, lessons learned in 2008 were only learned temporarily. These are the inevitable cycles of greed and fear, of peaks and troughs." Simply put, fundamentals will matter, but only after the fact.
The biggest news in the sage surrounding Chinese evaporated collateral troubles at Qingdao, which as noted is merely the 3rd largest Chinese port, is that this scandal has now spread to a second Chinese port: Penglai, which is also located in the Shandong province. Putting some size numbers for context: Qingdao's copper inventory is about 50,000 tons, compared to 800,000 tons in Shanghai, analysts say. There's "little evidence" for now that traders in Shanghai fraudulently have pledged collateral to banks, said Sijin Cheng, an analyst with Barclays Research in Singapore. Little evidence will become "lots" in the coming days when we expect more "discoveries" at all other bonded warehouses as the relentless inflow of commodities finally reverses and the beneficiaries finally demand possession. As everyone who has followed even the simplest Ponzi schemes knows, this is the part of the lifecycle when many tears are shed by most.
Are we at the beginning of a new cycle of rising interest and rising prices? No, and here's why.