While the Fed pays lip-service to its increased transparency, the volumes of caveats and wordsmithing we exposed last week continue to surge. The problem is becoming worse for the Fed and is showing up in the oddest correlation to the Fed Balance Sheet we have found yet. As Deutsche Bank's Thorsten Slok shows, as the 'unemployment rate' approaches the 6.5% 'threshold', FOMC statements have surged in their verbiosity. Simply put, as Slok quantifies, it is becoming more and more difficult for the Fed to explain (away) what it is doing (and more and more expensive). And another thing we can look forward to: when the Fed's balance sheet hits $1 quadrillion in a few short years, at the current pace of expansion the FOMC statement will be 25,000 words, or the equivalent of a 100 page book.
The fifth anniversary of Zero Hedge is just around the corner, and so, for the fifth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined objectively by the number of page views. Those eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to our top articles of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. For everyone else, without further ado, these are the articles that readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days...
Momentum stocks are the absolute best stocks to invest in from a risk and return standpoint, and there are 5 drivers for GM being a momentum stock 2014.
Despite the world of mainstream media pundits proclaiming the US is recovering nicely and that a taper is priced in (and the warning that the 5Y auction gave this morning that it's not), markets are already reacting violently to the Fed's decision to announce a small 'taper' (and more dovish forward guidance)...
- *FED TAPERS QE TO $75 BLN MONTHLY PACE, STARTING IN JANUARY
- *FED SAYS `FURTHER MEASURED STEPS' POSSIBLE ON TAPERING
- *FED: EXCEPTIONALLY LOW RATES UNTIL JOBLESS FALLS WELL PAST 6.5%
We now leave it to Ben and his final press conference to explain his decision... and, of course, make sure everyone remembers "QE is for Main Street", 'tapering is not tightening' (despite Jim Bullard telling us it is), and just how effective 'forward guidance' is.
Pre-FOMC: S&P Fut 1771 (spiked pre-FOMC), 5Y 1.55%, 10Y 2.875%, VIX 16.5%, Gold $1236 (which was spiking pre-FOMC), EUR 1.376
Ackman's Year Of Living Dangerously Get Worse - The Herbalife Timeline (Audit Complete With No Material Changes)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2013 15:21 -0500
UPDATE: Herbalife is halted for the following news:
- HERBALIFE COMPLETES RE-AUDIT FOR FISCAL '10 '11, '12
- HERBALIFE NO MATERIAL CHANGES TO 2010, 2011 OR 2012 FINL
Which opens the doors for the substantial buyback they have planned. We suspect one can hear a pin drop in Pershing Square's headquarters.
Herbalife has re-opened up 9% over $75 on very heavy volume - It seems Ackman's "end of the earth" bet may take a little longer...
This week marks the one-year anniversary of Bill Ackman’s 342-page slide presentation at the Ira Sohn Conference in NYC. At that time he publicly disclosed his $1 billion short bet against Herbalife (HLF), accusing the company of being a pyramid scheme and claiming its stock was destined to fall to zero once regulators stepped in. As everyone knows, HLF shares plummeted, losing nearly half their value in the three days after the presentation. The market’s initial response did not last, and HLF is up about 160% since its 12/21/12 low of $26.06 (vs S&P 500 +24%). Pershing Square’s public campaign has taken many forms, as Barclays outlines below...
The Yen has worked of an overbought condition over the last 7 months. How to play it
When I heard Kyle Bass discussing one of the reasons he was investing in Herbalife is because of possible future stock buybacks at all-time highs – I just shake my head as this isn`t going to end well folks!
Following China's unveiling of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, overlapping a large expanse of territory also claimed by Japan, the Japanese media has, as The Japan Times reports, had a dramatically visceral reaction on the various scenarios of a shooting war. From Sunday Mainichi's "Sino-Japanese war to break out in January," to Flash's "Simulated breakout of war over the Senkakus," the nationalism (that Kyle Bass so notably commented on) is rising. Which side, wonders Shukan Gendai ominously, will respond to a provocation by pulling the trigger? The game of chicken between two great superpowers is about to begin has begun.
As equities celebrate today's better than expected jobs report (for now), apparently comfortable in the knowledge that it's good-enough-but-not-too-good, we are reminded that just six short months ago, none other than the Fed chairman himself uttered these crucial words during his June 19th press conference:
"...when asset purchases ultimately come to an end the unemployment rate would likely be in the vicinity of 7%"
So here we are at 7.0%... and no taper in sight as excuse after excuse is rolled out for keeping the floodgates open. Whocouldanode? This appears to right up there with "subprime is contained", "nobody really understands gold", and "tapering is not tightening." But still we are supposed to give great credibility to their forward guidance?
"There are going to be consequences to central bank balance sheet expansion all over the world," Kyle Bass tells Steven Drobny in his new book, The New House of Money, adding "It’s a beggar-thy-neighbor policy, but everyone is beggaring thy neighbor." The Texan remains concerned at QE's effects on wealth inequality and worries that "at some point this is going to ignite and set cost pressures off." While Gold-in-JPY is his recommended trade for non-clients, his hugely convex trades on Japan's eventual collapse remain as he explains the endgame for his thesis, "won't buy back until JPY is at 350," and fears "the logical conclusion is war."
Following Kyle Bass' earlier comments on Herbalife's ability to tap the capital markets for a major buyback: HERBALIFE WILL BE ABLE TO BORROW AS MUCH AS $2B, BASS SAYS; An HLF spokesperson has noted that Carl Icahn will not be selling (following the stock's close above a key level that enables him to sell). This has sent the stock to $77.39 - an all-time high. HERBALIFE SAYS ICAHN HAS NO PRESENT INTENTION TO SELL SHARES. We can only imagine how Ackman feels as day after day of theta is sucked out of his puts...
Are Another 1.3 Million Americans About To Drop Out Of Labor Force (And Send Unemployment Plunging)?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/02/2013 14:40 -0500
With even the Fed somewhat challenging the credibility of the official unemployment rate - as labor force participation collapses structurally - the possibility that if Congress does not act by Dec 28th, a further 1.3 million people will lose emergency aid and may be deemed 'out' of the labor force merely exaggerates an already farcical situation. As JPM's Mike Feroli notes, the "official" unemployment rate may drop up to 0.8 percentage points, but it won't mean the economy is any better. Is this the 'excuse' the Fed needs to transition from QE to forward guidance (with the public seeing only a rapidly collapsing unemployment rate as evidence of their success) even as the data that they are so "dependent" on becomes worse than useless?
Nope, no bubble here... and no complacency either. And while just like last time, the tech companies still have no profits, at least this time they have revenues... most of which originate from the seemingly infinite advertising budgets at struggling discretionary retailers. By way of gentle reminder - In 2000, total US debt was $5.7 trillion. Now it is three times greater, or $17.2 trillion. As Kyle Bass once warned, "we are right back there! The brevity of financial memory is about two years."
That the Fed has a problem is increasingly well known - despite the blather from the mainstream media that QE monetization can continue ad infinitum. Their problem, of course, is running out of government-provided liabilities to monetize (as deficits shrink and their ownership of the entire Treasury complex surges). They face other problems (as we have noted before) but the admission that they are boxed in would have major ramifications in the market's faith. So, how does the Fed, faced with the knowledge that they have created asset bubbles, broken the bond market, and are boxed in by their own excess still meet the market's undying desire to keep the flow going? Bill Dudley just, perhaps inadvertently, dropped a hint of the next 'market/scapegoat' for monetization - Student loans.
"Frustrated" Liquidity Addicts Demand Moar From BOJ As Nikkei Rally Stalls, Abenomics Founders And "Hope Fades"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/13/2013 09:25 -0500
While the only topic of discussion for "sophisticated" investors everywhere is when (and if) the Fed will ever dare to reduce its monthly flow injection into US markets from $85 billion to a paltry $75 billion, everyone has forgotten that across the Pacific, for the past seven months the BOJ has been calmly injecting another $75 billion each and every month into the market, with no risk of this liquidity boost ever being tapered (since the broad 2% inflation target relies on ever broader wage increases that will never come). However, much to Japan's chagrin, in the current insta-globally fungible capital markets, over the past five months the bulk of this liquidity has found its way to the US stock bubble, leaving the Nikkei in the dust. As a result, the local Japanese liquidity junkies have started to loudly complain once again, and now the FT reports that "as excitement over the world’s second-biggest stock market has faded, some are now crying out for another jump-start." In other words: the BOJ must do "moar" to push the Nikkei bubble even higher following its rangebound trade since May which, worst of all, is now the primary reason why "hope is fading."