Absolute Bubble Insanity: For Nearly Half A Billion Dollars, Here Is The World's Most Expensive PenthouseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/19/2014 13:02 -0400
Forget Hong Kong, London and New York: when it comes to the pinnacle in absolute real estate insanity - perhaps in all of history - look no further than James Bond's favorite gambling mecca, Monaco. It is in this tiny Riviera principality where we find the Tour Odeon, a double-skyscraper being built by Groupe Marzocco SAM near Monaco’s Mediterranean seafront, which will contain a 3,300 square-meter (35,500 square-foot) penthouse with a water slide connecting a dance floor to a circular open-air swimming pool. The description is nice, but it is the bottom line that is mindblowing: Bloomberg reports that the apartment may sell for more than 300 million euros ($400 million) when it goes on the market next year, French magazine Challenges reported. That would make it the world’s most expensive penthouse, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.
There is no reason rooted in the real world for today’s frothy stock market rally. In every single region of the planet, the post-crisis, central bank fueled expansion cycle - tepid as it was in the global aggregate - is faltering badly. So with the global expansion cycle faltering, profit ratios at all-time highs and PE multiples in the nose-bleed section of history - nearly 20X reported earnings for the S&P 500 - there is only one thing left for the Wall Street robots to do. Namely, vigorously buy the latest dip because the Fed has yet another new sheriff heading for Jackson Hole purportedly bearing dovish tidings. To wit, after 6 years of pinning money market rates to the economic floorboard at zero, Janet Yellen espies an economy still encumbered by “slack”, and will therefore be inclined to keep Wall Street gamblers in free money for a while longer.
This is especially the case in Ukraine where the currency has lost more than half of its value versus gold (see chart above and below). Gold in Ukraine Hrvynia is up 70% since the start of 2014. People who own gold in Ukraine would laugh at you, if you said that gold is not a safe haven. As would people in many countries in South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Anyone desperate to find clues to the "great American recovery" is strongly urged to stay away from Atlantic City, where shortly after the Revel hotel and casino filed for its second bankruptcy in 16 months, the struggling property announced it would shutter its doors for one final time in September, when not a single qualified buyer emerged during the bankruptcy auction. The good news: there will not be a Chapter 33 for the doomed from the beginning property. The bad news: the DOL will have to find a major seasonal adjustment to absorb the 3,100 jobs that were just lost. It also means that Atlantic City is set to close the year with 25% fewer casinos than it started with, following the shuttering of three other properties including the Showboat and Trump Plaza.
Investing in oneself and enterprises one actively controls may now be the only legitimate deployment of capital that qualifies as an investment in the traditional sense - that is, capital isn't being risked in rigged gambling halls and Ponzi schemes.
There isn’t much work out there on exactly how much “House money” gamblers or investors are willing to lose before they know to walk away (or run). Fans of technical analysis know their Fibonacci retracement levels by heart – 24%, 38%, 50%, 62% and 100%. Those are the moves that signal the evaporation of house money confidence as investors sell into a declining market. There isn’t much statistical analysis that any of those percentage moves actually mean anything, but enough traders use these signposts that it makes them a useful construct nonetheless. The only other guideposts I can think of relate to the magnitude of any near term market decline. One 5% down day is likely more damaging to investor confidence than a drip-drip-drip decline of 5% over a month or two. The old adage “Selling begets selling” feels true enough in markets with a lot of “House money” on the line. After all, you don’t want to have to walk home from the casino after arriving in a new Rolls-Royce.
Practically since the day Lehman went down in September 2008 Washington has been conducting a monumental farce. It has been pretending to up-root the causes of the thundering financial crisis which struck that month and to enact measures insuring that it would never happen again. In fact, however, official policy has done just the opposite. The Fed’s massive money printing campaign has perpetuated and drastically enlarged the Wall Street casino, making the pre-crisis gamblers in CDOs, CDS and other derivatives appear like pikers compared to the present momentum chasing madness. In a nutshell, the Fed’s prolonged regime of ZIRP and wealth effects based “puts” under risk assets has destroyed two-way markets.
During the last 64 months “buying the dips” has been a fabulously successful proposition. So yesterday’s 2% dip will undoubtedly be construed as still another buying opportunity by the well-trained seals and computerized algos which populate the Wall Street casino. But that could be a fatal mistake for one overpowering reason: The radical monetary policy experiment behind this parabolic graph is in the final stages of its appointed path toward self-destruction.
The attached Barron’s article appeared in December 2007 as an outlook for the year ahead, and Wall Street strategists were waxing bullish. Notwithstanding the advanced state of disarray in the housing and mortgage markets, soaring global oil prices and a domestic economic expansion cycle that was faltering and getting long in the tooth, Wall Street strategists were still hitting the “buy” key. In fact, the Great Recession had already started but they didn’t have a clue: "Against this troubling backdrop, it’s no wonder investors are worried that the bull market might end in 2008. But Wall Street’s top equity strategists are quick to dismiss such fears."
After all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs:
"I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature."
One of today’s most common economic fallacies is that the soaring stock market is evidence of economic recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fed’s balance sheet has grown more than fourfold since 2008 — to $4.3 trillion — and was used to prop up the “too big to fails.” That money had to go somewhere. Paper money promotes the “quick buck” syndrome like narcotics peddling and hookers on the streets. In a paper money society, the social order visibly deteriorates. Fiat promotes an illusory reality where non-substance like financial speculation and gambling replaces the substance of industrial production and long-term value.
The central banks of the world are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE. ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets. Stated differently, ZIRP systematically dismantles the market’s natural stability mechanisms.
The Atlantic City casino industry implosion continues. Following the second, and final, bankruptcy of AC's "state of the art" Revel Casino a month ago, as well as the shuttering of Atlantic Club hotel Casino and the Showboat hotel casino, the grim corporate reaper has come for one of the most prominent boardwalk casinos of all: Trump Plaza. "Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino will shut its doors for good in mid-September, according to state officials who were briefed Friday by lawyers for the casino."
Institutionalizing the speculative excesses that inflated the previous housing bubble has fed magical thinking and fostered illusions of phantom wealth and security.
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.