"Today there is a tremendous amount of monetary distortion, on par with the 1929 stock market and certainly the peak of 2007, and many others," warns Universa's Mark Spitznagel. At these levels, he suggests (as The Dao of Capital author previously told Maria B, "subsequent large stock market losses and even crashes become perfectly expected events." Post-Bernanke it will be more of the same, he adds, and investors need to know how to navigate such a world full of "monetary distortions in the economy and the creation of malinvestments." The reality is, Spitznagel concludes that the 'recovery is a Fed distortion-driven mirage' and the only way out is to let the natural homeostasis take over - "the purge that occurs after massive distortion is painful, but ultimately, it’s far better and healthier for the system."
- Even Obama's fans has turning on him: "The Decline and Fall of 'Hope and Change'"
- European Stocks Drop, Head for Worst January Since 2009 (BBG)
- Euro-Area Inflation at 0.7% Builds Rate Pressure on ECB (BBG)
- Japan’s Inflation Accelerates as Abe Seeks Wage Gains (BBG)
- Unpossible - this is the USSA: Detroit Debt Proposal Favors Pension Funds (WSJ)
- Keystone Report Said Likely to Disappoint Pipeline Foes (BBG)
- YHOO still pretending someone cares about it: Yahoo says detected hacking attempt on email accounts (Reuters)
- How Google's Costly Motorola Maneuver May Pay Off (WSJ)
- Mexico Surpassing Japan as No. 2 Auto Exporter to U.S. (BBG)
- Obama warns divided Congress that he will act alone (Reuters)
- Fed Decision Day Guide From Emerging Markets to FOMC Voter Shift (BBG)
- Fed poised for $10 billion taper as Bernanke bids adieu (Reuters)
- Bernanke’s Unprecedented Rescue Unlikely to Be Repeated (BBG)
- Argentina Spends $115 Million to Steady Peso (WSJ)
- Billionaires Fuming Over Market Selloff That Sinks Magnit (BBG)
- SAC’s Counsel Testifies at Insider Trading Trial in Unexpected Move by the Defense (NYT)
- Automakers Fuel Japan’s Longest Profit Growth Streak Since 2007 (BBG)
- Turkey Crisis Puts Jailed Millionaire at Heart of Gold Trail (BBG)
- Ukraine expects $2 billion tranche of Russian aid soon (Reuters)
The Fed tightens by a little (sorry, tapering - flow - is and always will be tightening): markets soar; Turkey tightens by a lot: markets soar. If only it was that easy everyone would tighten. Only it never is. Which is why as we just reported, the initial euphoria in Turkey is long gone and the Turkish Lira is basically at pre-announcement levels, only now the government has a furious, and loan-challenged population to deal with, not to mention an economy which has just ground to a halt. Anyway, good luck - other EMs already faded, including the ZAR which many are speculating could be the next Turkey, and certainly the USDJPY which sent futures soaring last night, only to fade all gains as well and bring equities down with it.
- Emerging markets pray for Wall Street tumble (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles (BBG)
- Samsung sets new smartphone sales record in fourth quarter, widens lead over Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Foreign-Reserves Investment Chief Said to Depart Agency (BBG)
- China’s Rescue of Troubled Trust May Stoke Risk-Taking (BBG)
- Ukraine PM Azarov offers to resign 'to help end conflict' (Reuters) ... And Russia says may reconsider aid if this happens
- But... but... it was all gold's fault: India Unexpectedly Raises Rate as Rupee Risks Inflation Goal (BBG)
- Former Belgian king 'boycotting' public events after complaining £760,000 is not enough to live on (Telegraph)
- Greek disposable income tumbles 8% in Q3 (Kathimerini)
The depressed tone overnight following AAPL's disappointing earnings mysteriously evaporated just ahead of the European open, when around 2 am Eastern the all important USDJPY began an dramatic ramp, (with ES following just behind) which saw it rise from the Monday closing level of 102.600 all the way to 103.250, in what appears to have been a new frame-setting stop hunt ahead of a variety of news including the start of the January - Bernanke's last - FOMC meeting. One of the potential triggers for the move may have been the RBI's unexpected hike in the repurchase rate to 8.00% with an unchanged 7.75% consensus, which was its second consecutive INR-boosting "surprise." Among the amusing comments by RBI's Rajan, justifying the ongoing (loising) fight with inflation, was that India's consumer numbers are weak because of inflation. But... isn't that the Keynesian cargo cult's wet dream?
Nearly two years ago, before the topic of (the great and constantly missing) Capex became a mainstream media mainstay, we said that as long as the Fed was actively engaged in manipulating the capital markets - and this was before the Fed launched its endless QEternity - the bulk of corporate cash would go not into investing for growth, i.e., capital spending and/or hiring, but dividends and (levered) stock buybacks. Nearly $1 trillion in stock buybacks later, and zero growth Capex, we were proven right, much to the chagrin of permabulls who said the capex spending spree is just around the corner again... and again... and. Of course, if this were to happen, it would promptly refute our fundamental thesis that the Fed's presence in the market results in the terminal misallocation of efficient corporate capital. We were not concerned. We are even less concerned now having just read an FT piece forecasting that "capital spending by US companies is expected to grow this year at its slowest pace for four years, in a sign of corporate caution over the outlook for global demand." And like that, dear permabuls, the key pillar beneath all "corporate growth" thesis was yanked. Again. Fear not. There is always 2015. Or 2016. You get it.
- Gross Told El-Erian ‘Hell No’ Seeking to Stop Departure (BBG)
- How Caterpillar got bulldozed in China (Reuters)
- Davos Bankers Struggle to Convince Elite That Markets Are Safer (BBG)
- Lucrative Role as Middleman Puts Amazon in Tough Spot (WSJ)
- Arctic Air Blankets Northern U.S. as Texas to Get Snow (BBG)
- Lenovo buys IBM's server business in China's biggest IT acquisition (Reuters)
- SEC judge bars "Big Four" China units for six months over audits (Reuters)
- U.S. Accuses Security Background Check Firm of Fraud (WSJ)
- RIP BOE forward guidance: Bank of England rate rise is 'still some way off' - Fisher (Reuters)
- Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder (BBG)
- Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete (BBG)
- Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
- IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
- Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
- Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
- Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
- Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
- Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)
Tech isn’t exactly booming, but that hasn’t kept “valuations” of tech startups from being pushed into the stratosphere, for the benefit of an elite club.
"It's dangerous to be short still, but we might be building toward a moment where the market becomes quite vulnerable," warns Bill Fleckenstein who is finishing up the documentation on a new short fund he is about to start marketing. With the slowing growth of the Fed balance sheet, over 70% of the S&P's gains since 2011 from hope-driven multiple-expansion alone, bond and equity market sentiment at extremes, and (as Goldman warned) valuations anything cheap; it is hardly a surprise that, as Reuters reports, after years of hiding under their desks, short sellers are re-emerging - slowly. Whether outright short or long/short funds, the market-share of this corner of the business bottomed at approximately 25% in 2013, but in the last weeks, several S&P 500 companies have seen large increases in shares borrowed for short bets; and the "tide might be turning."
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.
- House Unveils $1.01 Trillion Measure to Fund Government (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Take Saturdays Off (BBG)
- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)
- Full onslaught 1: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Aides Pressed Hard for Endorsements (WSJ)
- Full onslaught 2: Feds investigating Christie's use of Sandy relief funds (CNN)
- Iran nuclear deal to take effect on January 20 (Reuters), Iran to get first $550 million of blocked $4.2 billion on February 1 (Reuters)
- Sen. McCaskill didn’t want to be in same elevator with Hillary Clinton (Hill)
- The banks win again: Basel Regulators Ease Leverage-Ratio Rule for Banks (BBG)
- Ireland's Rebound Is European Blarney (NYT)
- Democrats prove barrier for Obama in quest for trade deals (FT)
- Federal Reserve Said to Probe Banks Over Forex Fixing (BBG)
It has been commonplace to speak of central bank independence - as if it were both a reality and a necessity. Discussions of the Fed invariably refer to legislated independence and often to the famous 1951 Accord that apparently settled the matter.  While everyone recognizes the Congressionally-imposed dual mandate, the Fed has substantial discretion in its interpretation of the vague call for high employment and low inflation. It is, then, perhaps a good time to reexamine the thinking behind central bank independence. There are several related issues.
- First, can a central bank really be independent? In what sense? Political? Operational? Policy formation?
- Second, should a central bank be independent? In a democracy should monetary policy—purportedly as important as or even more important than fiscal policy—be unaccountable? Why?
- Finally, what are the potential problems faced if a central bank is not independent? Inflation? Insolvency?