Despite the president's tongue-in-cheek warning to Wall Street that this time it's different, and it that "it should be concerned", that same Wall Street continues to roundly mock his attempts to talk it lower on the third day of America's "shutdown", knowing very well that if things ever turn bad, Mr. Chairman, aka the S&P chief risk officer, will get to work, and rescue everyone from that pesky thing known as losses. Whether the offsetting optimism was driven by made up China non-manufacturing PMI rising from 53.9 to 55.4, the highest in six months, or just as made up non-core European PMI data which also beat expectations despite Germany Services PMI continuing to telegraph a weakness, dropping from 54.4 to 53.7, is unknown and once again not important. So while futures are modestly lower if only until such time as the daily 3:58pm VIX slam takes place just before market close, do not expect any major moves in stocks until either the GOP finally folds and lets Obama have his way, or bundles all shutdown legislation into the debt ceiling negotiation, and careens the US right into the debt ceiling deadline on October 17 without any legislation in place.
It just keeps getting worse and worse for Bill Ackman. A few weeks after the epic humiliation, not to mention even more epic losses, he suffered on his now defunct JCP long position (despite ample warnings by the likes of Zero Hedge who said long ago JCP is merely a melting icecube and fast-track Chapter 11/7 candidate) all those who predicted (such as Zero Hedge back in January) that an epic HLF short squeeze would result in the aftermath of Ackman's Herbalife short announcement leading to Ackman's ultimate capitulation, have been proven correct. Moments ago, in a letter to investors, Bill Ackman just announced that he has covered over 40% of his Herbalife short position, with his forced buy-in explaining the endless move higher in Herbalife stock in recent weeks. The explanation of being forced out of nearly half of his position is amusing: "we minimize the risk of so-called short squeezes or other technical attempts by market manipulators to force us to cover our position." So Ackman is forced out by his Prime Brokers so as not to be forced out by market manipulators? That's an interesting explanation for what is a far simple situation: booking your paper losses.
Want to fund your "grilled cheesus" project? Need money to continue your "edible cup" business? Kickstarter is the platform of choice. But now, with the muni bond market suffering from outflows in retail funds and bankruptcies mounting across the nation, cities are increasingly turning to 'crowd-funding'. As Bloomberg reports, Central Falls (which filed for bankruptcy 2 years ago) is using Citizinvestor to seek $10,044 in funds for 5 new trash cans. "Even with attractive yields, there aren't a lot of people lining up to get involved with places that have gone through bankruptcy," as the initiative has raised $295 so far...
Frequent readers will recall that in the past, on several occasions, we expected that MBIA would rise due to two key catalysts: a massive short interest and the expectation that a BAC settlement would provide the company with much needed liquidity. That thesis played out earlier this year resulting in a stock price surge that also happened to be the company's 52 week high. However, now that we have moved away from the technicals and litigation catalysts, and looking purely at the fundamentals, it appears that MBIA has a new problem. One involving Zombies. These freshly-surfacing problems stem from a particular pair of Zombie CLO’s – Zombie-I and Zombie-II (along with Zombie-III, illiquid/black box middle-market CLO’s). While information is difficult to gather, we have heard that MBIA would be lucky to recover much more than $400 million from the underlying insured Zombie assets over the next three years, which would leave them with a nearly $600 million loss on their $1 billion of exposure which would materially and adversely impact the company's liquidity. And as it may take them a while to liquidate assets in a sure-to-be contentious intercreditor fight – their very own World War Z – MBIA may well have to part with the vast majority of the $1 billion in cash, before gathering some of the potential recovery.
Silver’s fundamentals remain very sound, with a very small finite supply of above ground, investment grade silver coins and bars and robust and increasing industrial and store of value demand - particularly in Asia.
We continue to believe silver will rise to its real record high or inflation adjusted high of $140/oz in the coming years.
The best summary of what has (not) been going on in the downward drifting equity markets comes from DB's Jim Reid, quoting: "Markets are in non-panicky limbo at the moment ahead of the upcoming US budget debate. US equities fell for the 5th day in row (S&P 500 -0.27%) and although this is the worst run since the Christmas/New Year’s Eve period of 2012 (due to the fiscal cliff debacle), the cumulative fall is only -1.9% over this decline. Meanwhile Treasuries hit a 7-week low in yield as they recorded their 12th decline in the last 14 days." As has been the case over the past week, stocks in Asia have generally traded lower with the exception of the Nikkei225 which day after day continues to do its insane penny stock thing, first dropping -1.5% only to close up 1.2% on absolutely no news, but some chatter the Abe administration would raise the sales tax on October 1, only to offset the fiscal benefit by lowering corporate tax. How this has any net impact is beyond us. Proceeding to Europe, stocks failed to sustain the initial higher open and moved into negative territory, with Italian asset classes underperforming, as market participants digested reports citing Italian MP Gasparri saying that PdL lawmakers are ready to quit if Berlusconi is ousted. This in turn saw a number of Italian banking stocks come under intense selling pressure, with the Italian/German yield spread widening in spite of supportive reinvestment flows that are due this week.
Early weakness in Asia driven by US-follow thru selling and ongoing concerns about the us fiscal showdowns as well as the debt ceiling, if not by actual news, resulted in a red close in both the Nikkei and SHCOMP, as well as other regional indices such as the Sensex. This then shifted to Europe, where however stocks reversed the initial move lower and are seen broadly flat, with Bunds remaining bid on the back of month-end, as well as coupon and redemption related flows. However the move higher in stocks was led by telecommunications and health care sectors, which indicates that further upside will require another positive catalyst. There was little in terms of fresh EU related macroeconomic commentary, but according to a report published by the European Banking Authority, the EU’s biggest 42 banks cut their aggregate capital shortfall with respect to the “fully loaded” 2019 Basel III requirements to €70.4bln as of December 2012. This is amusing since not one European bank has actually raised capital, but merely redefined what constitutes capital courtesy of a liberal expansion of RWA, Tier 1 and various other meaningless definition which works until such time as the perilous European balance kept together by the non-existent OMT, is tipped over.
To say that bonds are under pressure would be an understatement. Over the last few months, sentiment about fixed income has flipped dramatically: from a favored investment destination that is deemed to benefit from exceptional support from central banks, to an asset class experiencing large outflows, negative returns and reduced standing as an anchor of a well-diversified asset allocation. Similar to prior periods, history will regard the ongoing phase of dislocations in the bond market as a transitional period of adjustment triggered by changing expectations about policy, the economy and asset preferences – all of which have been significantly turbocharged by a set of temporary and ultimately reversible technical factors. By contrast, history is unlikely to record a change in the important role that fixed income plays over time in prudent asset allocations and diversified investment portfolios – in generating returns, reducing volatility and lowering the risk of severe capital loss. Understanding well what created this change is critical to how investors may think about the future.
Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
Vodafone is to sell its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon for $130bn in cash and stock, subject to regulatory approvals, comprising $61.4bn in cash and assumption of net liabilities, $60.2bn in stock (within a $47-51 per share collar), $5bn in a VZ loan note and $3.5bn ascribed to VZ’s 23.1% stake in Vodafone Italy. As the WSJ reports, this is the second-largest ever behind another Vodafone deal - the $172 billion acquisition of Mannesmann AG in 1999 (which is somewhat ironic in its largesse and timing). The cash component - nearly twice the state budget of Verizon Wireless's New Jersey home - is by far the largest amount of cash ever deployed in an acquisition and will be financed by 4 $15 billion 'bridge loans', "until more permanent financing can be found over the next 12 to 18 months." Of course, we assume investors will be over-subscribing to the higher-leveraged firm's bonds (just like they did with AAPL but 4 times bigger!)
- Al-Qaeda Links Cloud Syria as U.S. Seeks Clarity on Rebels (BBG)
- Administration Tells Lawmakers of Evidence Linking Assad to Attack (WSJ)
- Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper to publish numbers of secret spying orders (CBS)
- U.S., Switzerland strike bank deal over tax evasion (Reuters)
- Another Budget Deal Bites the Dust (WSJ)
- Contemplating Summers Drives Investors to Seek Beltway Expertise (BBG)
- Austerity Test Looms in Australia as Abbott Pledges Cuts (BBG)
- Gay Spouses in All States Now Married Under U.S. Tax Law (BBG)
- Shadow banks face limits to securities trading (FT)
- EU's Rehn sees European recovery strengthening in 2014 (Reuters) ... or 2015... or 2022... or never?
Last week it was the Nasdaq, today it was the Eurex Exchange, which broke down "due to technical issues" shortly after 2 am Eastern and which was offline for over an hour. Further keeping a lid on liquidity and upward momentum is today's UK market holiday which has resulted in a driftless move lower across European stocks, following a red close in the Nikkei225. It only means that the inevitable ramp up in the disconnected from all fundamentals and reality market will have to come only during US trading hours when the NY Fed trading desk steps up its POMO-aided levitation.
The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries is skyrocketing, the Dow has been down for 5 days in a row and troubling economic news is pouring in from all over the planet. The much anticipated "financial correction" is rapidly approaching, and investors are starting to race for the exits. We have not seen so many financial trouble signs all come together at one time like this since just prior to the last major financial crisis. It is almost as if a "perfect storm" is brewing, and a lot of the "smart money" has already gotten out of stocks and bonds. Of course a lot of people believe that we will never see another major financial crisis like we experienced in 2008 ever again. A lot of people think that this type of "doom and gloom" talk is foolish. It is those kinds of people that did not see the last financial crash coming and that are choosing not to prepare for the next one even though the warning signs are exceedingly clear. The following are 18 signs that global financial markets are heading for a vicious circle...
If you are a stock picker, then it’s basically now or never for whatever investment discipline you might follow. Asset class and industry correlations have taken a surprising nosedive in recent weeks, which - as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes. should allow your strategy/blend of magic to (hopefully) shine versus the benchmarks. Average industry sector correlations to the S&P 500 have dropped to 69.9%, by far the lowest observation for over two years. High yield bonds now show just 16% correlation to U.S. stocks, and the numbers for Emerging Markets (58%), EAFE stocks (76%), and currencies like the Australian dollar (11%) are also plumbing new lows. Why the sudden return to a ‘Normal’ world? Expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to ‘Taper’ its bond buying help, to be sure. As do actual inflows (some $8 billion last month) into actively managed mutual funds. We’ll have to wait and see if current trends continue, but for now we welcome the return of the ‘Stock picker’s market’. Let the dart-throwing begin...
It's only fitting that in a bizarro new normal, the news that passes for positive is either conflicting, reflexive or, well, simply bizarre. Last night was no exception as the "good" news came in the form of speculation that in order to promote its consumption tax hike, the Abe government would consider a corporate tax cut. How that helps the country with the 1 quadrillion yen in debt is not exactly clear, or how it makes consumer tax hikes any more palatable in a nation in which more people than anywhere in the world are retired and elderly, and thus removed from the corporate lifecycle, is just as nebulous. But the market liked it. Just as it liked the good ole' European cop out, of posting a surge in consumer confidence, or relying on reflexive indicators to represent an improvement in the economy, when in reality the only thing "improving" is the stock market. This happened when the German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey soared from 36.3 to 42.0 on expectations of a 39.9 print. So one must buy futures, or that's what the GETCO algo programming says.