Talk about conflicted. Just ask yourself WHY Wall Street spends BILLIONS of dollars each year in marketing and advertising trying to keep you invested at all times. Since optimism is what sells products, it is not surprising, as we head into 2017, to see Wall Street’s average expectation ratcheted up another 4.7% this year.
According to the Institute for International Finance, total global debt as of Q3 2016 once again rose sharply, increasing by $11 trillion in the first 9 months of the year, hitting a new all time high of $217 trillion. As a result, late in 2016, global debt levels are now roughly 325% of the world's gross domestic product.
Courtesy of record low rates throughout most of 2016, overall debt issuance in the year rose to just over $6.6 trillion, breaking the previous annual record set in 2006. Corporations accounted for more than half of the $6.6 trillion, while the rest included sovereign bonds sold through syndication, US and international agencies, mortgage-backed securities and covered bonds.
There was an awful lot of cheering about the recent retail sales report which showed an uptick of 0.8% which beat the analyst’s estimates of 0.6%. However, if we dig deeper behind the headlines more troubling trends emerge for the consumer which begins to erode the narrative of the "economy isdoing great" and “there is no recession" in sight.
The last few weeks have been a wild ride for Valeant shareholders but this morning's comments that the firm "is confident in its forecasts but there may be more surprises" has spooked investors, compounding the fact that the firm missed expectations with sales plunging 11%, and cut its sales and profit forecast for the year. VRX shares are down almost 30% in the pre-market - the lowest since Dec 1999.
A recent, reluctant re-viewing of the film, 'Silence of the Lambs', fed fresh food for thought. The image of captives rejecting their freedom brought to mind another flock of corralled and stunned lambs - bond market investors. They too have been given the opportunity to escape their fate. But so many choose instead to stay. Such is the reality of a world devoid of options, with time ticking ruthlessly by.
Apple has all but thrown in the towel on its self-driving car endeavors. Its project Titan, which was supposed to release a fully autonomous vehicle in the early years of the next decade, has been scaled back substantially and will from now on focus on developing just the self-driving software used in autonomous cars.
"... growing inequality in wealth, income, and opportunity in many countries has added to a groundswell of discontent, especially in the industrialized world—a growing sense among some citizens that they “lack control,” that the system is somehow against them. Financial institutions are being seen as unaccountable to society.... Corruption remains endemic."