When the same management teams that sell record amounts of their own company stock to the companies they control - companies which are now buying back record amounts of stock, this is not only the worst possible conflict of interest, it means, for lack of a better word, that the Nasdaq, bubble or not, has become the biggest circle jerk in history!
It has been over 4 months since The Fed ended QE3, and something odd has happened... Stocks have stopped going up. The world's largest stock index by market capitalization has, thanks to today's weakness, given up all of the gains since Janet wrenched the punch-bowl away...
As the Goldman Apple Industrial Average drops below 18,000, the cash-open bounce in stocks has now been erased and the major US equity indices are making fresh lows. Despite AAPL's gains, the Nasdaq is now red for March and the S&P 500 down 1%...
Since the start of February, 48 US macro data items have missed expectations and 8 have beaten. Since then the S&P 500 has risen over 5.5% (and the Nasdaq even more) and 10Y yields are up 50bps. Bloomberg's US Macro Surprise index is now as weak as it was just after Lehman and is falling at the fastest pace since Summer 2012. While everyone is well aware that markets can stay irrational longer than a trader can stay liquid, one has to wonder just how long this farce can continue before even the most effusive talking head has to admit... things ain't great.
- China Lowers Growth Target to About 7% (WSJ)
- Obesity Is Hurting the U.S. Economy in Surprising Ways (BBG)
- Embattled Hillary Clinton urges State Department to release emails (Reuters)
- Washington Strips New York Fed’s Power (WSJ)
- U.S. Supreme Court split over Obamacare challenge (Reuters)
- Citigroup Loses $800 Million as It Exits Turkey’s Akbank (BBG)
- Justice Who Once Tried to Kill Obamacare Now Potential Savior (BBG)
- Buyers of Espírito Santo Debt Face Financial Uncertainty (WSJ)
One interpretation is that we are living in the best of all possible worlds. Another is that we are being led to financial slaughter.
Just over a year ago, we warned that while the world of speculative capital is focused intently on the Twitter and Facebook #Ref/0 fundamental valuations in the publicly-traded equity markets, the real dot-com 2.0 bubble is occurring in the private markets. Few paid attention, prefering the head in the sand "well the music is still playing" meme; but one (or two) billionaires noticed, and with all eyes intently focused on Nasdaq 5,000 (as some indicator that we made it back to Nirvana), Mark Cuban unleashes uncontestible exposition why is this bubble far worse than the tech bubble of 2000.
What people and central bankers do not understand, is that you can't devalue your way to prosperity. Absolutely nothing has changed since the last crisis. The same too big too fail banks have only gotten much bigger. The same people that were in charge leading into the crisis and during it, are the same people who are in charge of fixing it. New regulations were established to try and regulate the industry, but they will be proven to be ineffective. Why? Because the Volcker Rule and Dodd-Frank have had all the important elements removed, thanks to the massive lobbying power of the TBTF banks and the Fed.
So today what is different is not the Wall Street spiel that Nasdaq is anchored by the likes of Apple rather than Webvan. Since the two days of March 9 and 10 in the year 2000 when the Nasdaq closed over the 5,000, the financial markets have been converted into central bank managed gambling halls and the global economy has bloated beyond recognition by 15 years of non-stop financial repression. Back then, a few hundred stocks were wildly over-valued based on monetizing eyeballs; now the entire market is drastically overvalued owing to the false financial market liquidity generated by $14 trillion of central bank asset monetization - mostly public debt - since the turn of the century. As a result, the global financial system and economy are orders of magnitude more fragile and vulnerable to collapse than they were 15 years ago.
The BLS put out their monthly CPI lie last week. They issued the proclamation that inflation is dead. Did you know your costs are 0.1% lower than they were one year ago. They then used these deflation numbers to proclaim your real wages soared last month. It’s all good. The American consumer is so flush with cash, they decided to spend less money for the second month in a row. The Wall Street shysters are so happy with declining consumer spending, declining corporate profits, and a global recession, they pushed the NASDAQ up to 5,000 for the first time in 15 years.
Just 2 days ago everything was awesome (according to stocks). Nasdaq hit 5000 proving it's different this time, despite the total collapse in macro and earnings data. So perhaps - just perhaps - as buybacks slow, US equity markets are exposed to reality underneath them. VIX has snapped back above 15, its highest in 10 days, and the S&P is back at 2-week lows... retracing all the "Greek Deal" gains.
Going into 2015 the economic outlook held by the U.S. investment establishment could not have been much more positive, and more unified. Pundits saw all the variables aligning to create the best of all investment worlds, a virtual "no-brainer" of optimism. High degrees of certainty can be dangerous. Herd mentality can cause investors to chase returns en masse and pile into positions that may already be overvalued. But herds can be spooked, most often by unexpected developments which can catch the herd wrong-footed and spark major movements when the masses scatter at the same time. When that occurs, those who resisted the herd may find themselves rewarded. We believe that we are approaching such a point.