"...The negative divergence of the markets from economic strength and momentum are simply warning signs and do not currently suggest becoming grossly underweight equity exposure. However, warning signs exist for a reason, and much like Wyle E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, not paying attention to the signs has tended to have rather severe consequences."
What would happen, for example, if a large number of holders decided to sell a high yield bond ETF all at once? In theory, the ETF can always be sold. Buyers may be scarce, but there should be some price at which one will materialize. But we can’t get away from depending on the liquidity of the underlying high yield bonds. The ETF can’t be more liquid than the underlying, and we know the underlying can become highly illiquid.... no investment vehicle should promise more liquidity than is afforded by its underlying assets. Do these recent promises represent real improvements, or merely the seeds for subsequent disappointment?
- 3 days after Zero Hedge, here's Bloomberg: Company Cash Bathes Stocks as Monthly Buybacks Set Record (BBG)
- Israel's Netanyahu to address Congress in speech that has strained ties with Obama (Reuters), Risks Diplomatic, Political Pain If Speech Falls Flat (BBG)
- Before Key Speech, Netanyahu Hails U.S. Ties (WSJ)
- $1.92 bilion FX rigging charge: Barclays Posts Loss as Foreign-Exchange Provisions Rise (WSJ)
- Barclays Awards Jenkins First Bonus as CEO, Cuts Pay Pool (BBG)
- Exxon’s Russia Exposure Surges as Long View Outweighs Sanctions (BBG)
- Obama says Iran must halt key nuclear work for at least a decade (Reuters)
- Yellen Turning from Friend to Foe for Dollar Bulls (BBG)
- Fed seen remaining patient with rate guidance amid global turmoil (Reuters)
- National Weather Service apologizes for blizzard forecast miss (CBS)
- Greek PM Tsipras pushes on with radical change, markets tumble (Reuters)
- Obama Drops Plan to Raise Taxes on ‘529’ College Savings Accounts (WSJ)
- Hard Choices on Easy Money Lie Ahead for Fed Chief (Hilsenrath)
- Debt That Once Boosted Its Cities Now Burdens China (WSJ)
- Skymark Said to File for Bankruptcy After Airbus Deal Flops (BBG)
- Heavy Fighting Drains Ukraine Government’s Options and Finances (WSJ)
In what has been the most anticipated bankruptcy case in the past several years, hours ago Caesars Entertainment put its main operating unit under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Northern Illinois bankruptcy court (case 15-01153) even as a splinter group of dissident creditors including Appaloosa and Oaktree, holders of about $41 million of Caesars debt and which allege the company has siphoned off billions in value from creditors, put the company into involuntary bankruptcy in Delaware bankruptcy court on January 12. As a reminder, Caesars was one of the sterling LBOs of the last credit bubble, when in 2008 Apollo and TPG decided to take the company private. The problem, as is always the case: too much debt, especially when combined with a broken business model, as Caesars has lost money every year since 2009.
- U.S. Index Futures Decline on Commodities Slump, Growth Concerns (BBG)
- Al Qaeda claims French attack, derides Paris rally (Reuters)
- Charlie Hebdo With Muhammad Cover on Sale With Heavy Security Precautions (BBG)
- How an Obscure Tax Loophole Brought Down Obama's Treasury Nominee (BBG)
- ECB’s bond plan is legal ‘in principle’ (FT)
- Charlie Hebdo fallout: Specter of fascist past haunts European nationalism (Reuters)
- DRW to acquire smaller rival Chopper Trading (FT)
- Oil fall could lead to capex collapse: DoubleLine's Gundlach (Reuters)
No respite for the American oil patch and its investors.
"It’s hard to say what the right price is for a commodity like oil . . . and thus when the price is too high or too low. Was it too high at $100-plus, an unsustainable blip? History says no: it was there for 43 consecutive months through this past August. And if it wasn’t too high then, isn’t it laughably low today? The answer is that you just can’t say. Ditto for whether the response of the price of oil to the changes in fundamentals has been appropriate, excessive or insufficient. And if you can’t be confident about what the right price is, then you can’t be definite about financial decisions regarding oil." - Howard Marks
As an investor, it is simply your job to step away from your "emotions" for a moment and look objectively at the market around you. Is it currently dominated by "greed" or "fear?" Your long-term returns will depend greatly not only on how you answer that question, but to manage the inherent risk. “The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” - Benjamin Graham
- Thanks Fed: Meet the high schooler who made $300K trading penny stocks under his desk (Verge)
- Protesters block NY streets after officer cleared in chokehold death (Reuters)
- U.S. Plans Probe of New York Police Chokehold Death (BBG)
- Sharpton Leads Civil-Rights Meeting on Chokehold Decision (BBG)
- Staten Island on Edge Over Grand Jury Decision In Death of Eric Garner (WSJ)
- Draghi Tests Speed Limit as ECB Awaits Stimulus Evidence (BBG)
- European Stocks Approach Seven-Year High Before Draghi Statement (BBG)
- Britain targets multinationals that try to dodge taxes (Reuters)
- Oil Trains Hide in Plain Sight (WSJ)
- Moody’s Downgrades Japan’s Credit Rating (WSJ)
- China Factory Gauge Drops as Shutdowns Add to Slowdown (BBG)
- Euro zone factory growth stalls in November as new orders sink (Reuters)
- Espírito Santo Faces Money-Laundering Investigations (WSJ)
- Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms Caracas to Iran (BBG)
- Hong Kong warns protesters not to return after clashes close government HQ (Reuters)
- Bond Secrets Decoded 9,539 Miles From Wall Street in Lot (BBG)
- Ruble Rally Turns to Rout as Fortunes Tied to Sinking Oil (BBG)
- Loans Made in Blink as Banks, Funds Vie for LendingClub Clients (BBG)
The news this week of China's largest corporate bankruptcy - Haixin Iron & Steel Group - amid crashing iron ore and steel prices was followed by analysts noting it "will be followed by others," as the major flaw of producers of iron ore, the most traded commodity after oil, is they tend to be "over-bullish." Distressed debt funds are starting to circle in preparation for what they expect to be a bloodbath as Bloomberg reports, bad debts in China are well underestimated because authorities persist in propping up weak companies and bailing out local investors, according to DAC Management, "we've yet to see it because if you look at corporate defaults, they keep getting covered by the government. At some point, they can’t cover every single one." Most worryingly though, as KPMG points out, "when you see restructuring advisers getting hired by SOEs... you know it's coming."
In the past, they were early, but they were right.
Volatility is the academic's choice for defining and measuring risk; but Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks warns Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle that "while volatility is quantifiable and machinable... it falls far short as 'the' definition of investment risk." In fact, he berates, "I don't think most investors fear volatility. In fact, I've never heard anyone say, 'The prospective return isn't high enough to warrant bearing all that volatility.' What they fear is the possibility of permanent loss." With $91 billion under management, perhaps it's worth listening to (and reading) his perspective: "In brief, if riskier investments could be counted on to produce higher returns, they wouldn’t be riskier. Misplaced reliance on the benefits of risk bearing has led investors to some very unpleasant surprises."
This past week has seen the market repeatedly attempt new "all-time" highs only to be found wanting. There has been plenty of headline data for the "bulls" to feast on from the ECB announcing a program to buy bonds, surging ISM data and improvement in productivity. However, the underlying data has kept the "bears" in the game with new orders and employment showing weakness, unit labor costs shrinking and the realization that the ECB's plans are likely be ineffectual.