New York Stock Exchange
Are you ready for the next stock-market crash of the century? The Hindenburg Omen was spotted by eagle eyes on April 15th. It was confirmed by a sighting on May 29th. That gives us 40 days approximately before the market takes a plunge (apparently). That’s enough to spark fears on the market that we are in for a shaky time, but are those fears really justified and will the market plunge as the Hindenburg Omen predicts?
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Unfortunately, the majority appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
About once or twice a month for the past few years, it's been a steady ritual of mine to conduct a Google search for the words "all-time high" and "all-time low". The results provide an interesting big picture perspective on what's happening in the world.
Sell in May and go away will be on every investor’s mind after Friday’s week performance. It’s always been when you sell that’s been the measure for this maxim to be effective. If so the high for SPY would have been May 21st at $167.17. Then there’s the reappearance of the Hindenburg Omen but that’s for another day’s discussion.
While stocks could continue to climb higher that does not mitigate the underlying risks. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is very likely that we are creating one, or more, asset bubbles once again. However, what is missing currently is the catalyst to spark the next major correction. That catalyst is likely something that we are not even aware of at the moment. It could be a resurgence of the Eurocrisis, a banking crisis or Japan's grand experiment backfiring. It could also be the upcoming debt ceiling debate, more government spending cuts, or higher tax rates. It could even be just the onset of an economic business cycle recession from the continued drags out of Europe and now the emerging market countries. Regardless, at some point, and it is only a function of time, reality and fantasy will collide. The reversion of the current extremes will happen devastatingly fast. When this occurs the media will question how such a thing could of happened? Questions will be asked why no one saw it coming.
A cruel twist for an already threatened industry.
Between the actions of the world's central banks and the use of leverage we have built the biggest casino ever built in the history of the world. It is no longer possible to invest. A casino does not have an investment window or an investment game and there is nothing around us but a giant building holding Games of Chance now. You have money and there is now nothing than can be done except to gamble and that is exactly what we are all doing. It will take just one or two rolls on Red when money is lost, more credit demanded and then denied by the House, to cause a seizure in this giant casino. In the end it is almost always leverage that touches off the rush to the exit door and the financial markets are now levered past what we have ever known before.
Because sometimes you just have to laugh...
With everything else in uncharted territory: central bank balance sheets, the stock market, global debt, it was only a matter of time before that old-school indicator of exuberance - margin debt - also joined the ranks of things that are "off the charts." Never one to disappoint (except when Waddell and Reed dumps a "massive" 75,000 ES trade which promptly kills its liquidity replenishment points of course), the NYSE has reported that April margin debt, as expected, hit all time records, just in time for the S&P's own all time high fireworks spectacular. Rising from the just shy of summer of 2007 levels posted in March, or $380 billion, April margin debt not surprisingly rose to a record high of $384 billion. Additionally, even when netting out account credit metrics, such as Free Credit Cash and Credit Balances in margin accounts, total investor net worth just hit an all time record low of ($106) billion.
Over a year ago we wrote "How The Fed's Visible Hand Is Forcing Corporate Cash Mismanagement" in which we explained that due to ZIRP, management teams are left with just two (very shareholder-friendly) capital allocation choices: stock buybacks and dividends, to the detriment of such much more long-term critical uses of funds as capital expenditures, and to a lesser extent M&A. So far, this observation has proven spot on with buybacks (most of which using leverage to arb the record low cost of debt, notably in the case of Apple) dominating cash allocation decisions. However, there is a key drawback to this strategy: corporate assets whose age has hit all time highs across the globe. Naturally, this is a critical issue in a world in which the return on assets is now rapidly declining as seen in two years of deteriorating profit margins, and in which as much utility has been extracted as possible from an asset base which in many cases is well beyond its functional age. Logically, more and more companies will have no choice but to reasses capital deployment and in the coming months formerly very shareholder friendly companies will have no choice but to redeploy cash from dividends and buyback and to long-ignored capex once more. We bring this up because moments ago Dole Food just provided the missing piece to this capital allocation puzzle.
The market’s performance Thursday and Friday are misleading since there is so much destruction in many sectors globally. But the media depends on selling what’s going on with the DJIA. It’s just window dressing for the tourists frankly.
(Milli)seconds after today's market open, utilities NextEra Energy (NEE) and American Electric Power (AEP) did what most stocks in the New Normal do when there is an unexpected event (like a 4 sigma plunge in the Nikkei): they flash crashed. What is different about AEP and NEE is that unlike most other daily stocks that implode in a matter of milliseconds, the collective market cap of the two companies was nearly $60 billion, which in turn sent the broader utilities index down over 10%. Of course, for a few milliseconds it was more like $30 billion: because that is how much in capitalization was lost in under one second, when today's flash crash du jour struck. But fear not: anyone who got stopped out under $76.19 in NEE and under $46.03 in AEP are the "lucky" ones, and the trades were marked as "Aberrant." Alas since that simply means the trades are excluded from daily high and low charts, that is hardly comforting for anyone.
Following the dismissal of KPMG over insider trading 'issues', Herbalife has just announced it will be hiring PricewaterhouseCoopers as their new auditor:
- *HERBALIFE HIRES PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS :HLF US
- *HERBALIFE SAYS PWC TO RE-AUDIT FY10, FY11, FY12 :HLF US
Indications point to a modest rise from the pre-halt close of $49.87. Full PR below:
A quiet day unfolding with just Chicago Fed permadove on the wires today at 1pm, following some early pre-Japan market fireworks in the USDJPY and the silver complex, where a cascade of USDJPY margin calls, sent silver to its lowest in years as someone got carted out feet first following a forced liquidation. This however did not stop the Friday ramp higher in the USDJPY from sending the Nikkei225, in a delayed response, to a level surpassing the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the first time in years. Quiet, however, may be just how the traders at 72 Cummings Point Road like it just in case they can hear the paddy wagons approach, following news that things between the government and SAC Capital are turning from bad to worse and that Stevie Cohen, responsible for up to 10-15% of daily NYSE volume, may be testifying before a grand jury soon. The news itself sent S&P futures briefly lower when it hit last night, showing just how influential the CT hedge fund is for overall market liquidity in a world in which the bulk of market "volume" is algos collecting liquidity rebates and churning liquid stocks back and forth to one another.
Aside from light volume there’s no argument with the tape. It’s quite positive but much overbought. Earnings news is beginning to wane leaving less for bulls to respond to. Many previous reliable technical indicators are succumbing to all the money printing. Looking at those markets where QE is not taking place perhaps reveals the real market conditions.