New Normal

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Why Housing Will Crash Again - But For Different Reasons Than Last Time





Institutionalizing the speculative excesses that inflated the previous housing bubble has fed magical thinking and fostered illusions of phantom wealth and security.

 
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Stock Buyback Shocker: Companies Using Secured Bank Loans To Repurchase Stock





"US lending to businesses is reaching record levels but banks are privately warning that the activity should not be seen as evidence of an economic recovery." And the stunner: "Much of the corporate lending is going to fund payouts to shareholders, finance acquisitions and fuel the domestic energy boom, bankers say, rather than to support companies’ organic growth."

 
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China's Colonization Of America's Luxury Real Estate Market In One Chart





For all those upwardly mobile middle class Americans (amazing they still exist under the current central planning regime which takes from the middle class and gives to the ultra rich and uber poor) who are eager to buy a better house, and suddenly find themselves priced out due to an ongoing surge in the prices of ultra-luxury segment, here is what you need to know: blame China.

 
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Job Hiring Far Below Pre-Lehman Levels As Yellen's Favorite Labor Metric Redlining





There was some good news in the JOLTS report released earlier today, mostly in the form of the Job Openings category which surged from 4,464K in April to 4.635K in May, well above the 4350K expected and the highest print since 2007 (granted the unadjusted data showed something completely different but that's a different story). And since this is one of Yellen's favorite labor market indicators, it means that the Fed is that much closer to finally turning the liquidity tap off (at least until the market crashes and the market is promptly forced to rush back in and bail everyone out all over again).  Alas, there was also bad news. As the following chart shows, the trend that we have pounded the table on for the past year, namely the lack of actual hiring continues to persist. In fact, while job openings may have soared by nearly 300K in May, the actual number of Hired declined by 52K to 4,718K.

 
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Bed, Bath & Beyond Buybacks Authorizes Another $2 Billion In Stock Repuchases





It was only two weeks ago when Bed Bath and Beyond reported earnings that missed across the top and bottom line. And while the company has little control over contracting revenues, one reason it may have missed on the EPS (at $0.93 vs $0.95) was the "contraction" in buybacks. A contraction, incidentally, which we use loosely, because it followed a February quarter repurchase amount that blew out all historical buybacks out of the water at over half a billion as shown in the chart below.  The bigger problem is that with just $861 million left under its existing buyback authorization, this most popular pathway for New Normal "growth" would have been promptly shut for the company at the current pace of buying up its own stock as soon as two more quarters. So what does Bed Bath and Beyond Buybacks do? Why it promptly authorized just the thing the central-planning doctor ordered: an authorization to buy even more shares back, some $2 billion worth to be precise.

 
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The Arms Race Is Back... With A Twist: US Congressman Urges NATO To Purchase French Warship Destined For Russia





The saga of the French Mistral amphibious assault warship which was ordered by Russia years ago, and whose delivery - at least according to Putin - was the reason behind the US record $9 billion DOJ fine of French BNP (which the Russian president called "blackmail" by the US designed to intimidate France and prevent it from completing the transaction) just took a turn for the bizarre. In a note written in the Atlantic Council's website, Democrat representative for New York's 16th district, Eliot Engel, has proposed that instead of letting France conclude its deal with Russia, now that even the BNP "blackmail" has failed to dent Hollande's intention to see the delivery to its end, that NATO (read the US) should step up and "collectively purchase or lease the warships as a common naval asset."

 
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Slamming The Door Shut On The "Plunging Labor Force Participation Rate" Debate Once And For All





"Many older workers managed to stay employed during the recession; in fact, the population in age groups 65 and over were the only ones not to see a decline in the employment share from 2005 to 2010 (Figure 3-25)... Remaining employed and delaying retirement was one way of lessening the impact of the stock market decline and subsequent loss in retirement savings."

 
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Polish Central Bank Head Refuses To Resign Over Tape Scandal As It Would Set "Dangerous Precedent"





  • BELKA `REJECTS' NOTION TAPED COMMENTS SHOW HIM CUTTING ANY DEAL
  • BELKA SAYS POLISH CENTRAL BANK ISN'T COZY WITH GOVT
  • BELKA REITERATES HE DOESN'T PLAN TO RESIGN
  • BELKA: RESIGNATION FROM C.BANK WOULD CREATE DANGEROUS PRECEDENT
 
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The Inevitable Stock Market Reversal: The New Normal Is Just Another Bubble Awaiting A Pop





Is the New Normal of ever-higher stock valuations sustainable, or will low volatility lead to higher volatility, and intervention to instability? Though we're constantly reassured by financial pundits and the Federal Reserve that the stock market is not a bubble and that valuations are fair, there is substantial evidence that suggests the contrary.

 
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"Optimism Bias" & "Nervous Stasis"; The Sell-Side Fears "It Feels Like 2007 All Over Again"





As with any drug addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem (or waking up naked in Glasgow train station). It seems HSBC - among a number of other sell-side strategists - are starting to wake up to their undying 'faith' and 'hope' that, based on the world's addiction to free money, there will be a return to the old normal status quo. As HSBC's Chief economist Steophen King notes, "there is an optimism bias, largely reflecting an attachment to pre-crisis growth trends which, post-crisis, have mostly remained out of reach," and they are finally facing up to the fact that "the world economy has succumbed to a lower structural rate of economic growth." But it is RBS that is waving the red flag as they warn of a "sense that this nervous stasis is dulling our perceptions about risk... it feels like 2007 all over again."

 
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The USD Is Tumbling; Near 2 Month Lows





Equities have flip-flopped this morning, giving up the new normal opening-squeeze higher gains as USDJPY fades. Bonds are rallying. But it is the USD Index that is the most notable this morning as it tumbles back towards 2-month lows in a hurry... This is the biggest 2-day plunge in 3 months.

 
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Laundering Illegal Money? There's Ultraluxury New York Real Estate For That





Today, we can finally end any debate on the topic of just where the world's illegal money comes to roost. The answer: ultra-luxury real estate, primarily in New York, courtesy of a report in New York magazine that catches up with what we first said in the summer of 2012, and which is titled, appropriately enough: "Stash Pad."

 
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Why "Margin Debt" Is Meaningless In The New Shadow Banking Normal





Pundits enjoy pointing to NYSE margin debt as an indication of overall system leverage, and how prone to margin calls and liquidations the investor class may be at any given moment. However, in the new normal, in which sophsiticated investors fund themselves via completely different mechanism - mostly involving repo and other shadow banking conduits - margin debt has become a very much irrelevant indicator of overall leverage.

 
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Algos Gone Wild? "Technical Glitch" Halts New Zealand Stock Market For 2nd Time This Month





While New Zealand's stock market is the 3rd smallest among AsiaPac exchanges, it is not immune from the "glitches" even the largest exchanges have become used to in the new normal era of 'liquidity providers'. For the 2nd time this month, equities trading in New Zealand (the entire market) is halted after a "technical fault" at the operator of the exchange. As one trader noted understatedly, "there seems to be a reasonably regular occurrence of issues, which is a bit of concern."

 
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