The Fed has been supporting the market since the late 1980s. But there is an important difference between the actions of the Fed under Yellen versus Greenspan and Bernanke. In 2008, the Fed allowed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to fail. Given the massive wipeout that followed, this decision is now viewed as a dangerous mistake. Having learned their lesson, the Fed is now rushing in to support the market in response to even routine 20% drops. In this way, the Fed is acting like a value investor who demands a small margin of safety before investing.... Since 2010, however, the Fed has changed tactics. The Fed is now reacting far more quickly. Small market selloffs are followed by immediate responses. By quickly riding to the rescue, the Fed is effectively front-running value investors.
The most cautionary episode to today was the 62% drop in oil prices from November 1985 to July 1986, although the Hamilton measure is much smaller. Similar to today, most believed this would prove to be a boost to GDP growth. Indeed, the consensus was forecasting average 2.3% GDP growth to increase 0.3pp, but it actually fell 0.9pp (based on the as reported GDP data, third release). This downward surprise continued for three quarters.
Bill Gross Slams Broken Capitalism: "Policymakers Must Promote A Future Which Offers Hope As Opposed To Despair"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/29/2015 08:17 -0500
"Officials at the Federal Reserve – the most powerful and strongest of Parker Brothers – seem to now appreciate the hole that they have dug by allowing interest rates to go too low for too long.... While there is no better system than capitalism, it is incumbent upon it and its policymakers to promote a future condition which offers hope as opposed to despair. Capitalism depends on hope – rational hope that an investor gets his or her money back with an attractive return. Without it, capitalism morphs and breaks down at the margin. The global economy in January of 2015 is at just that point with its zero percent interest rates."
Want to boost US wages across the board? Then just unionize everyone!
In a fundamentals-driven market you need to look at fund flows; in a Narrative-driven market you need to look at Narrative flows. With Draghi’s announcement last Thursday, there is no longer a marginal provider of market-supportive monetary policy Narrative. Or to put this in game theoretic terms, the 2nd derivative of the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence just flipped negative. We’ve shifted from an accelerating Narrative flow to a decelerating Narrative flow, and that inflection point in profoundly important in game-playing. The long grey slide of the Entropic Ending begins.
The Japanese fire at the Europeans. The Europeans fire at the Japanese & Chinese. The Chinese fire scattershot at everybody else in Asia. England & America prep to teach those they consider muppets not to play with guns. It's World War Money, if you know what I mean...
"The Ruble has fallen by 50% in a year. The price of oil has halved, the price of copper, iron ore and many other commodities has tumbled. The Swiss franc has been de-floored and the uproar was huge. All random events, all part of a pattern. Financial markets are feeling the effects of a pick-up in volatility that has followed the end of Fed QE. While zero rates were augmented with Fed bond-buying, investors went around the world in search of higher yields, in all sorts or assets and currencies. Traders and investors of one kind or another resorted to leverage to reach the yield targets they needed to match their required investment returns. All of which was fine while the party went on forever, but now that it’s ending, the outcome is anything but fine."
It’s not entirely clear what will happen in the near term, but the financial markets are already pushed to extremes by central-bank induced speculation. With speculators massively short the now steeply-depressed euro and yen, with equity margin debt still near record levels in a market valued at more than double its pre-bubble norms on historically reliable measures, and with several major European banks running at gross leverage ratios comparable to those of Bear Stearns and Lehman before the 2008 crisis, we're seeing an abundance of what we call "leveraged mismatches" - a preponderance one-way bets, using borrowed money, that permeates the entire financial system. With market internals and credit spreads behaving badly, while Treasury yields, oil and industrial commodity prices slide in a manner consistent with abrupt weakening in global economic activity, we can hardly bear to watch...
When you read about female doctors feeling forced to prostitute themselves to feed their children, about the number of miscarriages doubling, and about the overall sense of helplessness and destitution among the Greek population, especially the young, who see no way of even starting to build a family, then I can only say: Brussels is a bunch of criminals. And Draghi’s QE announcement is a criminal act. It’s a good thing the bond-buying doesn’t start until March, and that it’s on a monthly basis: that means it can still be stopped.
If earnings are the "mother's milk" of equity market returns, then stocks are about to turn sour (that is of course if fundamentals have anything whatsoever to do with it anymore). As we detailed previously, Q4 is shaping up to be the worst in years for earnings, and with next week seeing the bulk of names (36% of the S&P 500) reporting (including many of the biggest belwethers and major energy firms), we suspect the 2014 EPS chart below (and the already collapsing consensus expectations for 2015 earnings) will continue to plummet.
This infographic documents the rise and fall of Bre-X.
From initial private offerings at 30 cents a share, Bre-X stock climbed to more than $250 on the open market. Near the peak of Bre-X share prices, major banks and media were on board:
Q4 Shaping Up As Worst Quarter In Years: Aggregate Revenues And EPS Have Missed By 1.2% and 0.4% So FarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/23/2015 15:20 -0500
In aggregate, companies are reporting earnings and revenue below expectations to date. The aggregate dollar-level earnings reported by these 37 companies is 0.4% below the aggregate dollar-level earnings estimated for these 37 companies. The aggregate dollar-level revenue reported by these 37 companies is 1.2% below the aggregate dollar-level revenue estimated for these 37 companies. As a result, even though more companies have beat earnings and revenue estimates to date than missed earnings and revenue estimates, the surprise percentage (which reflects the aggregate difference between actual results and estimated results) is negative for both earnings (-0.4%) and revenue (-1.2%). This means that Q4 is shaping up as the worst quarter since 2012, perhaps even the start of the great financial crisis in 2008/2009.
Unfortunately for IBM, it better resume its financial engineering fast because this is where the bang (not the whimper) comes into play: in Q4, IBM's revenue was a modest $24.11 billion, far below the Wall Street estimate of $24.8 billion, and a whopping 12% less than what IBM generated a year ago. In fact, as the following chart shows, the annual plunge in IBM Q4 revenue was the worst since Lehman.
The "Deflationary Vortex": Global Dollar Economy Suffers Biggest Plunge Since Lehman, Down $4 TrillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/20/2015 16:28 -0500
One of the macroeconomic observations that has gotten absolutely no mention in recent months is the curious fact that while global economic growth has not imploded in recent quarters, it is because GDP has been represented, as is customary, in local currency terms. Of course, this comes as a time when local currencies (at least those which are not the USD) have been plunging against the greenback on the back of the expectations that the Fed will hike rates some time in the summer or later in 2015. Which also means that in "dollar economy" terms, i.e., converted in USD, things are not nearly as good. In fact, as the chart below shows, the global dollar economy is not only shrinking fast, but it is doing so at the fastest pace since the Lehman collapse, having lost a whopping $4 trillion, or a whopping 5% drop, in just the last 6 months!
The world of investing as we’ve come to know it is over. Financial markets have been distorted to such an extent by the activities, the interventions, of central banks – and governments -, that they can no longer function, period. The difference between the past 6 years and today is that central banks can and will no longer prop up the illusionary world of finance. And that will cause an earthquake, a tsunami and a meteorite hit all in one. If oil can go down the way it has, and copper too, and iron ore, then so can stocks, and your pensions, and everything else.