During a short stay in Shanghai a few weeks ago on unrelated business, we had an opportunity to witness the ground zero of the China market frenzy at its peak and its nascent plunge. Chinese retail investors make up 85% of the market, a far cry from the U.S. where retail investors own less than 30% of equities and make up less than 2% of NYSE trading volume for listed firms in 2009. Combined with the highest trading frequencies in the world and one of the lowest educational levels, describing China’s market as immature is an understatement.
This is full on mania and with inventory building up, people are starting to crunch the numbers more carefully. I’m curious, how does someone justify a 144% increase on this place? As we all know, real estate is essentially a game of musical chairs, especially in boom and bust California. Someone is trying to cash in on a lottery ticket here for Venice.
Speculative bubbles that burst are often followed by an echo bubble, as many participants continue to believe that the crash was only a temporary setback. But, echo bubbles aren't followed by a third bubble.
This seemingly inexhaustible credit line is now drying up, with severely negative consequences for oil producers with debt that's coming due. The row of dominoes swaying unsteadily in these stiff winds won't take much to topple.
We love reading quotes from Hussman in 2000 and 2007. The air is getting pretty thin up here. A stock market driven by Google, Apple, Netflix and a few other tech darlings with no earnings does not make a market. Time is running out for the bulls. The same morons on CNBC ridiculed and scorned his facts then and they scorn and ridicule him now. Do we trust Jim Cramer and Steve Liesman or John Hussman? Guess.
Two sides separated by the money line.
The only way to sort the wheat (real collateral based on enterprise value) from the chaff (phantom collateral created by central banks' speculative bubbles) is for a crash to force price discovery and the cramdown of losses.
Last week, former Secretary of Education and US Senator Lamar Alexander wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a college degree is both affordable and an excellent investment. He repeated the usual talking point about how a college degree increases lifetime earnings by a million dollars, “on average.” That part about averages is perhaps the most important part, since all college degrees are certainly not created equal. In fact, once we start to look at the details, we find that a degree may not be the great deal many higher-education boosters seem to think it is.
Today, an unholy alliance was born when Blythe Masters, the mother of the credit default swap and former member of the fabled "Morgan Mafia" was named chairman of Santander Consumer, the largest subprime auto lender in the US.
Amid record auto loan ABS issuance, record loan terms, and record high average payments, it's no secret that the market for auto loans in the US has become dangerously stretched. Now, the NY Fed is out with what is perhaps the most shocking statistic yet on just how "darn easy" it is to get a car loan
Just when the Chinese plunge protection team (and "arrest shortie" task force) seemed to be finally getting "malicious selling" under control, first we saw a crack yesterday when the composite broke the surge of the past three days as a result of yet another spike in margin debt funded purchases, but it was last night's reminder that "good news is bad news" that really confused the stock trading farmers and grandmas, which goalseeked Chinese economic "data" beat across the board, with Q2 GDP coming solidly above expectations at 7.0%, and retail sales and industrial production both beating, but in the process raising doubts that the PBOC will continue supporting stocks.
When Warren Buffet put $5 billion in Berkshire Hathaway funds into Goldman Sachs the week after Lehman failed, amidst total turmoil and panic, it appeared from the outside a high risk bet. Buffet had long tried to portray himself as a folksy engine of traditional stability, investing only in things he could understand, so jumping into a wholesale run of chained liabilities may have seemed more than slightly out of character. We have no particular issue with Buffet making those investments, only the pretense of intentional mysticism that surrounds them. The reason the criticism of crony-capitalism sticks is because this was not Buffet's first intervention to "save" a famed institution on Wall Street. If Buffet's convention is to stick with "things you know" then he has been right there through the whole of the full-scale wholesale/eurodollar revolution.
Janet Yellen’s reputed favorite jobs measure, the JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) reported blockbuster record job openings in May. But look beneath the headlines and you will see just how distorted and maladjusted the US job market is.