Following last week's discovery that Mohamed El-Erian was "sick of cleaning up [Bill Gross's] shit" as tensions soared at PIMCO, the "bond king" has struck back blasting to Reuters that he's "so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me," claiming El-Erian wrote the damaging WSJ article. Furthermore, the somewhat paranoid-sounding Gross indicated that he had been monitoring El-Erian's phone calls but when questioned by Reuters for evidence of El-Erian's undermining, Gross responded "you're on his side. Great, he's got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger." As one analyst noted, "I've never seen Bill and Pimco scrutinized like this before... a couple of high-profile stumbles and mediocre showings, coupled with some outflows clearly has some investors on edge."
Even as the primary housing market was slowly circling the drain, the one silver lining was that the US rental market, largely dominated by several Wall Street investment firms, most notably Blackstone, was doing relatively well. It was doing so well that equity sponsors such as Blue Mountain couldn't wait to offload their prized REIT property to the public, culminating with last August's IPO of American Homes 4 Rent, the second-largest US homes-for-rent operator after Blackstone. And since the stock price of all these corporations was performing admirably or at all time highs, supported by the record fungible liquidity sloshing among the world's interconnected markets, nobody was very concerned.
It is time to get concerned.
- Comcast Agrees to Buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 Billion (BBG)
- Italian leadership squabble weighs as shares halt hot run (Reuters)
- Russia says Syria aid draft could open door to military action (Reuters)
- China trust assets rise 46% in 2013 (WSJ), China Trust Assets Surge to $1.8 Trillion Amid Default Risks (BBG)
- Australian Unemployment Jumps to 10-Year High (BBG)
- Tea Party Scorns Republicans as House Lifts Debt Ceiling (BBG)
- Peso plunge forces Argentine soya hoarding (FT)
- BNP Paribas Net Falls After $1.1 Billion U.S. Legal Charge (BBG)
- Hacking Joins Curriculum as Businesses Seek Cyber Skills (BBG)
- Android's 'Open' System Has Limits (WSJ)
- Blackstone-Fueled Single-Family Home Boom Lifts Chicago (BBG)
Now that Twitter is officially the second coming of Yahoo Finance message boards, the inundation with offers from clueless hacks who have nothing better to do than sell you $29.95 newsletters with guaranteed get rich quick schemes (one has to be so grateful for this boundless supply of noble humanitarians who would rather see you get rich than follow their own advice, and invest with their own capital...), even more guaranteed than Obama's MyRA ponzi scheme, has hit off the charts levels. However, there is some hope this is ending, and the regulators, as usual 3-5 years behind the curve - are finally be cracking down on these self-acclaimed financial Nostradami following an announcement today that the SEC "charged a New York-based money manager and his firm with making false claims through Twitter, newsletters, and other communications about the success of their investment advice and a mutual fund they manage."
Said Dr. El-Erian: “I have been extremely honored and fortunate to work alongside Bill Gross, who is one of the very best investors in the world. His talents are truly exceptional, as is his dedication. I have also been amazingly privileged to work with the most talented group of professionals in the investment management industry. Their commitment and tireless work on behalf of our clients have been a consistent inspiration for me since I first joined PIMCO back in 1999. I wish them continued great success.”
With the mainstream media inundated with tales of low paid workers demanding higher minimum wages (thus theoretically expecting to be paid more than a market rate for their services), we thought a look at the other end of the scale was worthwhile (where, some might argue, the following 10 CEOs are also paid above market rates for their 'ability')...
"What keeps us up at night? Well I can’t speak for the others, having spoken too much already to please PIMCO’s marketing specialists, but I will give you some thoughts about what keeps Mohamed and me up at night. Mohamed, the creator of the “New Normal” characterization of our post-Lehman global economy, now focuses on the possibility of a” T junction” investment future where markets approach a time-uncertain inflection point, and then head either bubbly right or bubble-popping left due to the negative aspects of fiscal and monetary policies in a highly levered world. ... investors are all playing the same dangerous game that depends on a near perpetual policy of cheap financing and artificially low interest rates in a desperate gamble to promote growth. The Fed, the BOJ (certainly), the ECB and the BOE are setting the example for global markets, basically telling investors that they have no alternative than to invest in riskier assets or to lever high quality assets. “You have no other choice,” their policies insinuate.... Deep in the bowels of central banks research staffs must lay the unmodelable fear that zero-bound interest rates supporting Dow 16,000 stock prices will slowly lose momentum after the real economy fails to reach orbit, even with zero-bound yields and QE." - Bill Gross
There comes a time in every bubble's life when participants who have a stake in its continuation have to employ ever more tortured logic to justify sticking with it. We have come across an especially amusing example of this recently. “Good news!” blares a headline at CNBC “Bubble concern is at a 5-year high”. Ironically, since at least 1999 if not earlier, the source of this headline has been referred to as 'bubble-vision' by cynical observers (or alternatively as 'hee-haw'). It definitely cannot hurt to be aware of market psychology and sentiment. However, the argument that a surge in searches for the term 'bubble' on Google can be interpreted as an 'all clear' for a bubble's continuation seems to have things exactly the wrong way around. The misguided behavior of financial market participants that can be observed during bubbles is merely mirroring the clusters of entrepreneurial error monetary pumping brings about.
Just days ahead of the most-anticipated IPO of the year, and despite the constant calming language from the mainstream media, as the WSJ notes, investors are stampeding into initial public offerings at the fastest clip since the financial crisis, fueling a frenzy in the shares of newly listed companies that echoes the technology-stock craze of the late 1990s. October was the busiest month for U.S.-listed IPOs since 2007, and while 'everyone' is convinced that the Twitter IPO will be different from Facebook, the early exuberant demand suggests otherwise:
- *TWITTER SEES IPO PRICE $23-$25, HAD SEEN $17-$20
So a 25% rise in the offering price perhas best contextualizes the comments of one broker: "When I hear intelligent investors asking me not which companies are good to invest in, but which IPOs can I get into, it scares the heck of me."
- Troops Forage for Food While Golfers Play On in Shutdown (BBG)
- Police suspect dental hygienist Miriam Carey was behind the wheel of Capitol chase (WaPo)
- Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process (Reuters)
- Swiss Regulator Probing Banks Over Foreign-Exchange Manipulation (WSJ)
- GOP Begins Search for Broad Deal on Budget (WSJ)
- No Jobs Report Means Economists Chew on Football Instead of Data (BBG)
- U.S. default seems unthinkable but investors have options (Reuters)
- Citigroup fined $30 million after analyst sent report to SAC, others (Reuters)
- FBI Snags Silk Road Boss With Own Methods (BBG)
- Recession Warnings Found in Asset Price Falls (BBG)
- Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff (Reuters)
"It's getting concerning," notes one fixed-income banker, Puerto Rico muni bond yields "never got near 10% [yields] even in the crisis." Some of the 27-year maturity Puerto Rico bonds just traded at a dismal 67 cents on the dollar (10.082% yield) and the most recently issued 2036 Electric Power bonds have collapsed from par a month ago to just above 82 cents on the dollar today. As the WSJ reports, the fall in prices also is a sign of investor risk aversion in the wake of Detroit's record municipal-bankruptcy filing in July; but it seems the anxiety and outflows from ETFs is having just as big an impact as Puerto Rico bonds now trade cheaper than Detroit's. "It's out of whack," one analysts warns, though the island's double-digit unemployment and recent weakness in economic indicators somewhat support the concerns - and while the "yields are attractive" it is possible that the island's borrowing costs could go higher as supply is extremely heavy in coming months. With 77% of managers holding Puerto Rico bonds, this is a problem...
- The Department of Justice has opened an initial probe into the metals warehousing industry (WSJ)
- Obama Says Budget Debate a Battle for Middle Class Future (BBG)
- Death Toll From Spanish Train Crash Hits 77 (WSJ)
- ‘Fabulous Fab’ takes to witness stand (FT)
- Banks Said to Weigh Suspending Dealings With SAC as Charges Loom (BBG) - what about Anthony Scaramucci?
- How the Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt (Reuters)
- German Business Confidence Rises for a Third Month (BBG)
- Fraternities Lobby for Tax Break Without Hazing Penalties (BBG)
- China charges Bo Xilai with corruption, paves way for trial (Reuters)
- Airbus Pushes Higher-Density A380 to Counter Luxury Image (BBG)
Is the global economic downturn going to accelerate as we roll into the second half of this year? There is turmoil in the Middle East, we are seeing things happen in the bond markets that we have not seen happen in more than 30 years, and much of Europe has already plunged into a full-blown economic depression. Sadly, most Americans will never understand what is happening until financial disaster strikes them personally. As long as they can go to work during the day and eat frozen pizza and watch reality television at night, most of them will consider everything to be just fine. Unfortunately, the truth is that everything is not fine.