Following up on our recent discussion of the worst-is-first rally that we have all been witness to in the last few weeks, we thought it noteworthy that the 'most-shorted' names in the Russell 3000 and the index itself have now recoupled from their epic divergence post-QE3. We have seen five large short squeezes 'engineered' since the lows in March 2009 - and given Citi and BofA's 17% gains in December alone, we suspect (and have heard from more than a few funds) that year-end is bringing some forced buy-ins as SecLend desks become a little more activist.
Gold bugs can’t understand how the public can be so unaware, how highly intelligent policy makers can be so immoral, and how the mainstream media can be so incurious. We can’t understand why more men and women in the investment business haven’t joined some of the more successful ones that have come around to precious metals and have taken substantial positions in them for their funds and personal accounts. Conventional financial asset selection guidelines for professional investors are becoming increasingly uneconomic and problematic. Current macroeconomic conditions leave little doubt as to why. A zero-bound rate structure across developed economies, heavy monetary policy intervention, guaranteed negative real returns of benchmark financial assets and cash, impossible discount cash flow models,cacophonous (and economically meaningless) fiscal political wrangling diverting attention from legitimate budget arithmetic ($800 billion over ten years when we’re running $1 trillion-plus annual deficits?), dubious short and intermediate-term prospects in already-emerged emerging economies, and non-trending financial markets, all suggest something has changed. Regardless of whether one is investing personally or as a fiduciary, conventional financial asset allocation models and procedures are obviously failing and the reason is simple: the currencies in which financial assets are denominated are gravely flawed.
- LA port workers to return Wednesday (AP)
- Iran says extracts data from U.S. spy drone (Reuters)
- Obama to stress need to raise debt limit "without drama" (Reuters)
- Big Lots Chief Probed by SEC (WSJ)
- NATO missiles to be sent to Turkey, Syria clashes rage (Reuters)
- GOP Deficit Plan Irks Conservatives (WSJ)
- Japan Can End Deflation in Months, Shirakawa Professor Says (BBG) ... almost as good as Bernanke ending inflation in 15 minutes.
- Osborne Prepares to Breach Fiscal Rules Amid U.K. Growth Slump (BBG)
- Global Banking Under Siege as Regulators Guard National Interest (BBG)
- Freeport plans return to energy (FT)
- Serbian NATO envoy jumps to death at Brussels airport (Reuters)
- Tide Turns After a Flood of Chinese Listings (WSJ)
- Australian economy loses steam (FT)
- Euro Crisis Feeds Corruption as Greece Slides in Rankings (BBG)
Nobody can doubt that (in)famous short seller Muddy Waters, whose initial research pieces received broad distribution on the virtual pages of Zero Hedge, does sufficient due diligence on the companies they designate as targets of their ire. And just for humiliating John Paulson with the utter debacle that was Sino Forest they will forever live in the pantheon of "out of the blue", ad hoc bearish research analysts with a chip on their shoulder. Furthermore, right or wrong, Muddy Waters and their fraudcap peers do a great benefit to the investing society by testing, often repeatedly, the weakest links in the "story" of any one company (especially those out of the increasingly more criminal orient) - if right, it merely precipitates the bankruptcy of what will be a dead end corporate story and thus the misallocation of capital by lazier investors; if wrong, they allow management to generate higher IRRs by buying back their stock in the open market (a far better use of funds for honest management teams than suing independent third party research analysts who may or may not have a short stake). Yet sooner or later, everyone peaks. Has Muddy Waters? This is perhaps a relevant question now that the shorters have taken up another campaign, this time against Singapore agri-processor Olam. The raw data, compiled by Bloomberg is below: decide for yourselves.
- More QE could distort rather than deliver (FT)
- Soros Buying Gold as Record Prices Seen on Stimulus (BBG)
- EU Leaders Face Greek Aid Gap in Brinkmanship With IMF (BBG)
- Weak data point to bigger economic drag from Sandy (Reuters)
- Shirakawa Pushes Back With Criticism of Abe Unlimited Easing (BBG) But... but... Bernanke??
- French Downgrade Widens Gulf With Germany as Talks Loom (BBG)
- Japanese Poll Shows LDP Advantage Ahead of Election (WSJ)
- BOJ in the Balance as Next Government Picks Top Posts (BBG)
- Exchanges Get Closer Inspection (WSJ)
- Greece edges closer to €44bn bailout (FT)
- Japan Government to Spend 1 Trillion Yen on Next Stimulus (BBG)
- China’s Richest Woman Divorces Husband, Fortune Declines (BBG)
Thomson Reuters GFMS has published research that says they project silver prices to rise 38% in 2013 from current levels, as a sluggish global economy increases safe haven demand. The bullish silver GFMS forecast was published on the Silver Institute website yesterday and is unusual as the GFMS have been quiet bearish on silver in recent years despite rising prices. Philip Klapwijk of GFMS said that “a rebound in investment demand stemming from continuing loose monetary policies is expected to drive silver prices towards and possibly over $50 during 2013.” Spot silver has risen over 17% this year overtaking gold’s 10% gain, and paving the way for its third consecutive rise in four years. "Strong investment demand, higher gold prices on the back of monetary easing, rising inflation expectations and the persistence of ultra-low interest rates," are among the factors that will lure buyers to the safety of silver,” said Philip Klapwijk of GFMS. "We are thinking prices will trend higher next year. I'm not convinced that we are going to $50. I think we will definitely see $40 to $45 prices."
With the star (and legend) of John Paulson long dead and buried, and his Disadvantage Minus fund an embarrassment, wrapped in a monkeyhammering, inside a humiliation, there are few "groupied" HF managers left. One of them is Dan Loeb, who still manages to generate positive Alpha regardless of how Beta does, another one used to be William Ackman (not so much anymore, especially not with the whole JCP fiasco), some others are David Tepper, Seth Klarman, and a few others, but nobody has quite the persistent clout and following of young master, and poker maestro, David Einhorn, and his fund Greenlight. Below we breakdown his latest just released 13F, which as a reminder shows, his holdings as of September 30. Key changes: Einhorn cut his holdings in Best Buy, Carefusion, Compuware, Expedia, Hess and UnitedHealth, and started new, small, positions in Yahoo, Babcock and Wilcox, Aecon and Knight Capital. More importantly, he cut his top position, Apple, by nearly 30% from 1.45 million to 1.09 million shares, cut modestly his second biggest position Seagate, added materially to GM, making it his third position, added to Cigna at #4 and added modestly to the GDX Gold Miners ETF. Sad to say, unless he has changed his portfolio dramatically since September 30, Einhorn is likely not doing too hot, especially in the last week or two.
Imagine if in 2007, Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King, Jean Claude Trichet et al, had actually possessed the analytical foresight to see what was coming, organised a meeting with the world's media and explained how, using their collective wisdom, they would solve the problem.
"There's going to be a massive global crisis, but there's no need to worry. We're just going to print money."
"Is that it?"
How would most people have reacted then? We think they would have laughed out loud. Why are so many of us reacting differently now? The nature of markets is that they periodically forget the lessons of history. Confidence in the status quo seems as entrenched now as it was in 2007 but Gold appears to be exhibiting 'Giffen-like' behavior where, instead of falling, demand is rising as prices rise.
A new and important bullish indicator for the gold market is that gold calls are at highs not seen since the October 2008 low as option traders go long gold in the belief that it will go higher. It suggests that option traders believe that U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will hint at or announce additional money printing and monetary easing at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, symposium. Alternatively, it suggests that they are bullish on gold due to the risks posed to the dollar and the risk of inflation taking off. The ratio of outstanding calls to buy the SPDR Gold Trust versus puts to sell jumped to 2.69 to 1 on August 24th and reached 2.76 earlier this month, the highest level since October 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ownership of calls is up 26% since the July 20th options expiry. Ten of the most owned actively owned ETF option contracts are bullish. Option traders are regarded as savvier and tend to be more sophisticated then the more speculative futures traders.
Because redemption requests are like cockroaches: once one appears, assume many, many more:
- CITIGROUP'S PRIVATE BANK SAID TO PULL $500M FROM PAULSON FUNDS - BBG
- CITIGROUP SAID TO REDEEM FROM PAULSON ADVANTAGE, ADVANTAGE PLUS - BBG
Is this the beginning of the end for the former Bear Stearns M&A banker and once infallible hedge fund manager? And to think he could have saved himself all the deep fundamental work telling him Las Vegas real estate is "cheap" and just bought Apple. Hey, everyone else is doing it. And everyone else can't possibly be wrong. As for Paulson, whose GLD holdings, which are not an investment but merely a gold denomination share class, will likely quite soon see a substantial hit as he is forced to unwind GLD holdings as more and more external investors redeem until finally JP is just left running his own and his employees' money.
We're doomed, doomed, I tell you.
What do the following have in common? LIBOR, Bernie Madoff, MF Global, Peregrine Financial, zero-percent interest rates, the Social Security and Medicare entitlement funds, many state and municipal pension funds, mark-to-model asset values, quote stuffing and high frequency trading (HFT), and debt-based money? The answer is that every single thing in that list is an example of market rigging, fraud, or both. How are we supposed to make decisions in today’s rigged and often fraudulent market environment? Where should you put your money if you don’t know where the risks lie? How does one control risk when control fraud runs rampant? Unfortunately, there are no perfect answers to these questions. Instead, the task is to recognize what sort of world we happen to live in today and adjust one’s actions to the realities as they happen to be. The purpose of this report is not to stir up resentment or anger -- although those are perfectly valid responses to the abuses we are forced to live with -- but to simply acknowledge the landscape as it is so that we can make informed decisions.
The market may have found itself in the purgatory of the summer doldrums, where unlike last year this time, not only are volumes over 50% lower, but volatility is non-existent, but that doesn't mean that investors are sleeping easy. In fact, quite the opposite because as the following chart from MS confirms, the lack of market volatility merely mimics the complete chaos and lack of decisiveness in Congress, where each passing day brings America not only closer to the most contentious presidential election in ages, but to another debt ceiling hike debate, and, of course, the fiscal cliff. All of these combined have brought US policy uncertainty to the third all time highest level, on par with September 11 and the collapse of Lehman/TARP, and just short of last year's imminent European collapse, which was only staved off courtesy of the coordinated global central bank intervention on November 30.
George Soros more than doubled his shares in the SPDR gold trust ETF. He increased his position in SPDR Gold to $137.3 million in the second quarter from $52 million previously. SEC filing for the second quarter showed Soros Fund Management more than doubled its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust from 319,550 shares to 884,400 shares at the end of June. In September 2010 (see chart), Soros called gold "the ultimate bubble" and largely dumped his stake in the ETF before gold recorded annual gains in 2010 and 2011 and rose to a nominal high of $1,920.30 per ounce in September. There was speculation at the time that he may have sold the SPDR trust in order to own far safer allocated gold bars. Another billionaire investor respected for his financial acumen is John Paulson and Paulson & Co increased its holdings by 26% by purchasing an additional 4.53 million shares of the SPDR Gold Trust to bring entire holding to 21.8 million shares. It was the first time Paulson & Co had increased its position in the SPDR Gold Trust since the first quarter of 2009, when the investment firm initially acquired 31.5 million shares. It means that Paulson's $21 billion hedge fund now has more than 44% of the company's assets allocated to gold.
Two years in and they are only starting now? What took them so long. Also, absolutely nothing new here, but merely the latest attempt to shift public opinion and EUR viability perceptions ever so slightly by one of Germany's most respect magazines. Those whose agenda it is to spook Germany with images of fire, brimstone, and 3-page mutual assured destruction termsheets if the Euro implodes, are now free to take the podium. One wonders: if it wasn't for the inevitable collapse of the EUR.... the inevitable collapse of the EUR.... the inevitable collapse of the EUR.... the inevitable collapse of the EUR, and of course Paul Ryan, would there be absolutely no news today?