Exchange Traded Fund
When it comes to returns, 2013 will be best remembered as the fifth consecutive year in which the S&P 500, lead by Chief Risk Officer and Portfolio Manager Ben Bernanke (replaced by Janet Yellen in 2014 following a bumper 30%+ year), outperformed about 90% of all hedge funds, which as the recent beta blow up has shown, have virtually no original "alpha" ideas, and all merely piggyback on the same high beta "greater fool", hedge fund hotel trades and/or lever on beta as much as their Prime Broker will allow them (in many cases quite a lot). And yet, hedge fund investors were perfectly happy to keep handing over 20% of their upside and paying a 2% management fee when they could have generated the same returns for free by simply buying the SPY ETF. How happy? According to a just released ranking by Institutional Investor magazine, The 25 top earners of 2013 raked in a total of $21.15 billion.
From 110 slides of Ackman-inspired Fannie Mae bullishness to Tudor-Jones "Central Bank Viagra", and from Jim Grant's "Buy Gazprom because it's the worst-managed company in the world" to Jeff Gundlach's housing recovery bearishness and "never seeing 1.5 million home starts ever again"... there was a little here for every bull, dick, and harry at the Ira Sohn conference. Perhaps noted behavioral psychologist said its best though: "be careful about the quality of advice you get."
It happened in 2000 and 2007. Spectacular consequences! Now it happened again. And beneath the blue-chip highs, parts of the market are already crashing.
After a long and agonizing winter which was attributed to the so-called “Polar Vortex”, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight for precious metal investors the implications of what we call the “Chinese Gold Vortex”. Over the past year, we have been very vocal about what we consider an aberration: the complete disconnect between gold supply and demand fundamentals and the actual price of the metal.
- Ukraine Says Russia Exporting ‘Terror’ Amid Eastern Push (BBG)
- Civil War Threat in Ukraine (Reuters)
- China Shoe Plant Strike Disrupts Output at Nike, Adidas Supplier (BBG)
- Mt Gox to liquidate (WSJ)
- Ex-Co-Op Bank Chairman Charged With Cocaine Possession (BBG)
- Goldman Sachs plans to jump-start stock-trading business (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse first-quarter profit falls as trading tumbles (Reuters)
- U.K. Unemployment Rate Falls to Five-Year Low (BBG)
- Lawmakers Back High-Frequency Trade Curbs in EU Markets Law (BBG)
- Yahoo's growth anemic as turnaround chugs along (Reuters)
- Spain ETF Grows as Rajoy Attracts Record U.S. Investments (BBG)
"The current levels of investor complacency are more usually associated with late stage bull markets rather than the beginning of new ones. Of course, if you think about it, this only makes sense if you refer back to the investor psychology chart above. The point here is simple. The combined levels of bullish optimism, lack of concern about a possible market correction (don't worry the Fed has the markets back), and rising levels of leverage in markets provide the "ingredients" for a more severe market correction. However, it is important to understand that these ingredients by themselves are inert. It is because they are inert that they are quickly dismissed under the guise that 'this time is different.' Like a thermite reaction, when these relatively inert ingredients are ignited by a catalyst they will burn extremely hot. Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly what that catalyst will be or when it will occur. The problem for individuals is that they are trapped by the combustion an unable to extract themselves in time."
But the pretty people on TV said the Fed Minutes proved they were the most dovish ever and initial claims hit recovery lows... What a total disaster - Equity markets peaked within a few minutes of the open and never looked back - yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" gave way to Really Red Thursday... with the Nasdaq and Russell 6.5% from their recent highs (and the S&P 3.5% off), we suspect a "markets in turmoil" special on business media any moment...
The real truth the bankers wish to conceal from the public is that they use HFT programs to suppress gold and silver prices.
The last time global equity markets were falling at this pace (on a growth scare) was the fall of 2011. That time, after a big push lower, November saw a mass co-ordinated easing by central banks to save the world... stock jumped, the global economy spurted into action briefly, and all was well. This time, it's different. The Fed is tapering (and the hurdle to change course is high), the ECB balance sheet is shrinking (and there's nothing but promises), the PBOC tonight said "anyone anticipating additional stimulus would be disappointed," and then the BoJ failed to increase their already-ridiculous QE (ETF purchase) programs. The JPY is strengthening, Asian and US stocks are dropping, CNY is weakening, and gold rising.
Early hope faded into middle-of-the-day-despair which was rescued (briefly) on a sea of JPY carry (which dragged the S&P all the way to VWAP) then crashed and burned on the shores of dismal reality into the close. USDJPY was in charge and 103 was the magic number that kept the S&P 500 from breaking its 50DMA (for now). The Nasdaq and Russell were ugly as Biotechs' early ripfest gave way. This is the biggest 2-day swing lower in the Nasdaq since Oct2011. Treasuries rallied modestly on the day (-2bps) as the USD weakened 0.25% led by EUR strength. Copper rallied from an overnight dump low but gold (~$1300), silver (~$20), and oil (~$100) all clustered around -0.5%. VIX tested up to 16 intraday but was rammed lower as the 330 ramp too early to hold and merely enabled VWAP sellers out... and we closed near the lows...
Market consensus is that deflation remains the greatest threat to the global economy. But that's ignoring signs of impending inflation, particularly in the US.
Analysis of the detail discovered in historic information in the context of China's gold strategy has allowed us to make reasonable estimates of vaulted gold, comprised of gold accounts at commercial banks, mine output and scrap. There is also compelling evidence mine output and scrap are being accumulated by the government in its own vaults, and not being delivered to satisfy public demand. We believe that China is well on the way to having gained control of the international gold market, thanks to western central banks suppression of the gold price, which accelerated last year. For its geopolitical strategy to work China must accumulate large quantities of bullion... it appears well on its way to dominance of the physical gold markets.
The reasons to hold gold (and silver), and we mean physical bullion, are pretty straightforward. So let’s begin with the primary ones:
- To protect against monetary recklessness
- As insulation against fiscal foolishness
- As insurance against the possibility of a major calamity in the banking/financial system
- For the embedded 'option value' that will pay out handsomely if gold is re-monetized
The punch line is this: Gold (and silver) is not in bubble territory, and its largest gains remain yet to be realized; especially if current monetary, fiscal, and fundamental supply-and-demand trends remain in play.
One of the evils of massive over-financialization is that it enables Wall Street to scalp vast “rents” from the Main Street economy. These zero sum extractions not only bloat the paper wealth of the 1% but also fund a parasitic bubble finance infrastructure that would largely not exist in a world of free market finance and honest money. The infrastructure of bubble finance can be likened to the illegal drug cartels. In that dystopic world, the immense revenue “surplus” from the 1000-fold elevation of drug prices owing to government enforced scarcity finances a giant but uneconomic apparatus of sourcing, transportation, wholesaling, distribution, corruption, coercion, murder and mayhem that would not even exist in a free market. The latter would only need LTL trucking lines and $900 vending machines. In this context, the sprawling empire known as Bloomberg LP is the Juarez Cartel of bubble finance.
- US, Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock (AP)
- Russian forces 'gradually withdrawing' from Ukraine border (AFP)
- Turkish PM Erdogan tells enemies they will pay price after poll (Reuters)
- And Goldman arrives: Credit markets open to Argentina for first time in years (Reuters)
- Regulators Twice Failed to Open GM Probes (WSJ)
- Bad loan writedowns soar at China banks (FT)
- Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
- Euro zone inflation drops to lowest since 2009 (Reuters)
- Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years (Reuters)