"Risk on, risk off" might be the most essential hallmark of the current market, but just focusing on the day-to-day whims of capital markets ignores longer term changes to investor risk preferences. Nic Colas, of ConvergEx looks at the topic from the vantage point of gender-specific investment choices. For example, more women are participating in deferred compensation (DC) plans, and the data from millions of 401(k) accounts tells a useful story. Their retirement accounts still lag those of their male counterparts in total value and they remain a bit more risk-averse. But for the first time in at least a decade they are more likely than men to contribute to a retirement account and are contributing a greater percentage of their earnings. You’ll never see pink or blue dots on the “Efficient Frontier” of academic models, to be sure. However, both empirical data and psychological studies do point to subtle – but notable – differences in how men and women consider the classic risk-reward tradeoff inherent in the challenge of investing. Nick suggests it may make sense to reconsider the notion that continued money flows into bonds and other safe haven investments are really "Risk off" market behavior. At least a piece of it may well be "Risk shifting," driven by the demographic and psychological factors as assets controlled by women are clearly increasing. "Risk off" may well be "risk shift."
We start today's story of the day by pointing out that Deutsche Bank - easily Europe's most critical financial institution - reported results that were far worse than expected, following a decline in equity and debt trading revenues of 23% and 8%, but primarily due to Europe simply "not being fixed yet" despite what its various politicians tell us. And if DB is still impaired, then something else will have to give. Next, we go to none other than Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid, who in his daily Morning Reid piece, reminds the world that with austerity still the primary driver in a double dipping Europe (luckily... at least for now, because no matter how many economists repeat the dogmatic mantra, more debt will never fix an excess debt problem, and in reality austerity is the wrong word - the right one is deleveraging) to wit: "an unconditional ECB is probably what Europe needs now given the austerity drive." However, as German taxpayers who will never fall for unconditional money printing by the ECB (at least someone remembers the Weimar case), the ECB will likely have to keep coming up with creative solutions. Which bring us to the story du jour brought by Suddeutsche Zeitung, according to which the ECB and countries that use the euro are working on an initiative to allow cash-strapped banks direct access to funding from the European Stability Mechanism. As a reminder, both Germany and the ECB have been against this kind of direct uncollateralized, unsterilized injections, so this move is likely a precursor to even more pervasive easing by the European central bank, with the only question being how many headlines of denials by Schauble will hit the tape before this plan is approved. And if all eyes are again back on the ECB, does it mean that the recent distraction face by the IMF can now be forgotten, and more importantly, if the ECB is once again prepping to reliquify, just how bad are things again in Europe? And what happens if this time around the plan to fix a solvency problem with more electronic 1s and 0s does not work?
Economic Debunker Steve Keen is interviewed by outspoken Irish journalist Vincent Browne and no holds are barred as he describes the Maastricht Treaty as a suicide pact of critically poor central-planning design of a supposed market-economy, based on financial crises never occurring, locking European governments into an austere path when stimulus is required. "Ultimately the Euro has to fail and the longer we continue the farce of believing we can make it function the larger the ultimate crash will be" is how Keen portrays the situation and describes the foreign-exchange, fiscal policy, and monetary policy shackles that have created and exaggerated the situation. This leads into a longer discussion of the state of the World and its inability to 'export into the ponzi' like Japan could from 1990 to 2010 since the entire developed world is trying to do the same thing and "there is no ponzi scheme on Mars that we can export to" leaving the globe without Japan's initial way out. The must-watch 10 minute interview goes on to discuss the endgame (a break in the political compact based on austerity pressures and military or political coups) as Keen sums up "it's amazing to see us repeating the same mistakes that were made during the 1930s but we are doing just that." ending with some potential solutions noting that there is no easy way out of this.
Leading neoconservative (read “closet Trotskyite“) commentator Charles Krauthammer’s latest Washington Post editorial pays homage to the glory days of NASA and the retirement of the space shuttle Discovery. Titled “Farewell, the New Frontier,” the piece evokes mental images of Uncle Sam losing his international prestige as President Obama scales down NASA’s space exploration endeavors. Contrary to Krauthammer, NASA has never represented America’s collective vision of frontier exploration. It has been just another bureaucratic black hole for Washington to throw dollars at in hopes of buying reelection. Because one of the main tenets of economics is considering the unseen, then it can be assumed that space exploration would very well be advanced far beyond what we see today if it was left completely out of the hands of the state. If Krauthammer truly wished the human race capable of traveling into the new frontier of the stars, he would welcome NASA cuts rather than lament. How ironic then is today's news of Planetary Resources as investor and avowed anarchist Doug Casey thoughtfully observes on the inefficiency of NASA: "We should have colonies on the moon by now, and more: We should be mining the asteroids and developing real estate on Mars."
Goldman Sachs Executive Director Corroborates Reggie Middleton's Stance: Business Model Designed To Walk Over ClientsSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 03/14/2012 10:15 -0400
Directly from the resigning mouth of the rapist to the raped... I even put some number to it for the analytical crowd..
Stop us when this confession from Greg Smith, a now former executive director and head of the Goldman's United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, sounds exactly like everything we have said about the firm over the past 3+ years (and why we just can't wait for the next trading "recommendation" from Tom Stolper). "Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it."
Dear friends at Zero Hedge, consider this your day of total and absolute Goldman vindication...
Mario Draghi has just begun his press conference in a more upbeat tone than recent months. EURUSD is limping back from its last try at 1.33 but only modestly as he sees inflation risks 'broadly balanced' and reminds us all of the 'transitory' nature of his temporary non-standard measures, as Bloomberg notes. The main thing is that the ECB is once again easing collateral demands and will now accept credit claims. This simply proves that Europe is running out of any money good assets to pledge to the ECB as "collateral." Before the European (and thus global) ponzi is over, the central banks will accept Mars bars wrappers as collateral at 100 cents on the freshly printed dollar/euro.
On The Failure Of Inflation Targeting, The Hubris Of Central Planning, The "Lost Pilot" Effect, And Economist IdiocySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/05/2012 11:49 -0400
As an ever greater portion of the world succumbs to authoritarian control (whether it is of military disposition, or as we first showed, a small room of economists defining the monetary fate of the future as central banks now hold nearly a third of world GDP within their balance sheets) we can't help but be amazed as the population simply sits idly by on the sidelines as the modern financial system repeats every single mistake of the past century, only this time with stakes so high not even Mars could bail out the world. Unfortunately, with the world having operated under patently false economic models spread by hacks whose only credibility is being endorsed by the same system that created these models over the past century, the only temporary solution to all financial problem is to "try harder." Sadly, the final outcome is well known - a global systematic reset, in which the foundation of all modern democracies - the myth of the welfare state (which at last check, was about $200 trillion underfunded on an NPV basis globally and is thus the most insolvent of all going concern entities in existence) is vaporized (there's that word again) leading to global conflict, misery and war. Sadly that is the price we will end up paying for over a century of flawed economic models, of "borrowing from the future", of ever more encroaching central planning, and of an economic paradigm so flawed that as Bill Buckler puts it, "Keynes’ response to those who questioned the “longer-term” consequences of his advocacy of credit-creation as a basis for money was - “In the long run, we are all dead”. It is difficult to overemphasise the venal arrogance of this remark or the destructiveness of its legacy." Alas, the last thing the central planning "fools" (more on that shortly) will admit is their erroneous hubris, which in the years to come will claims millions of lives. In the meantime, we can merely comfort ourselves with ever more insightful analyses into the heart of the broken system under which we all labor, such as this one by SocGen's Dylan Grice, whose latest letter on Popular Delusions is a call for "honest fools" - "Frequently, when we make mistakes we try to correct them not by changing the flawed thinking which led to the mistake in the first place, but by reapplying the same flawed thinking with even more determination. Behavioural psychologists call it the “lost pilot” effect, after the lost pilot who tried to reassure his passenger: “I have no idea where we’re going, but we’re making good time!” Policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic are treating today’s malaise with the same flaky thinking which created it in the first place. How can that work?" Simple answer: it can't.
Presenting The Interactive "Wiggle-Room Index" Or Which Countries Will Be Forced To Bail Out The Developed WorldSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2012 17:13 -0400
Update: literally seconds after this article was posted, we receive news that the IMF will seek Saudi contribution to the European bailout fund. There you have it - you enjoy that implicit US protection Saudi emirs? It is about to cost you.
While it is best to pray that NASA will find some very rich and not so intelligent life on Mars so it can bail out the world as it sinks deeper and deeper into a untenable debt hole (which somehow can be "filled" only by issuing more debt at least according to tenured economists at ivy league institutions), a strategy of planning for a realistic outcome may not be a bad idea. The question then is who in the world has some/any spare leverage capacity to incur even more debt and use the proceeds to fund a Eurozone-American-Chinese collapse. Enter the Economist's "wiggle-room index." The publication, best known for recently introducing the "shoe thrower index" (remember the Arab Spring and how Fed induced runaway inflation generated a "democratic" revolution across MENA?) has compiled a list of those developing world countries which still have capacity to provide credible global bailout capital (in fiat form of course - after all that is the only thing that the Ponzi understands) or as the Economist says, the "emerging economies that have the most monetary and fiscal firepower." So if you are on this list (ahem China, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia) - our condolences - you are about to be dragged into the epic slow-motion ongoing collapse of the developed world, kicking and screaming, with some 44 caliber persuasion if needed, but you will be there, before it all falls apart. The time to repay all favors to Uncle Sam is coming.
Credit Is From Mars, Stocks Are From Venus, Or Another Reason Why This Market Looks Increasingly Like 2008Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/14/2011 15:03 -0400
The fact that stocks keep reacting more positively to Greek news, than Greek bonds is scary. It is somewhat reminiscent of 2008 when stocks kept rallying on allegedly good news even when debt struggled to perform on the news that was supposed to impact it most. And for all the talk that Greece is priced in, the reaction after the erroneous headline about Austria approving EFSF shows that is unlikely true. Stocks hit 1163 on that news and the decline only stopped because the correction was printed. That is over 2.5% lower than we are right now, so I don't think Greek default is priced in. Stock futures are up a full 3% from their overnight lows. Crazy and broken moves. The truly scary thing is we haven't even had the full "Eurobonds announced" rally. Where does that take SPX? 1230 again? I just can't convince myself that long is the right trade right now. Ironically, strong stocks may be their own worst enemy, as they give some European politicians the strength to do what they want - and not provide more funds to bailouts. Now I'm clutching at straws, but hey, what else to do as stocks march higher. I have checked the newswire several times while writing this. Expecting to see some new comments or twist on the comments that justifies this push in stocks, and I just can't see it. And I really don't see a strong reaction in the credit markets either. Even BAC cannot seem to rally back to Warren's strike price, let alone where they got in the immediate aftermath of his headline grabbing, stock spiking, investment.