Long gone is the illusion of: an elected body by the citizenry. Today, it’s become demonstrably self-evident the economy is run by an elected body – by the elected. And the consequences of this change is only now beginning to openly reverberate both in amplitude and frequency with every passing day.
Most just scoff at the notion that there has been a historic global Bubble, let alone that this Bubble has over recent months begun to burst. Talk of an EM and global crisis is viewed as wackoism. Except that the Federal Reserve clearly sees something pernicious in the world that requires shelving, after seven years, even the cutest little baby step move in the direction of policy normalization. The Fed and global central banks responded to the 2008 crisis with unprecedented measures. When the reflationary effects of these policies began to wane, the unfolding 2012 global crisis spurred desperate concerted do “whatever it takes” monetary stimulus. This phase has now largely run its course, and there is at this point little clarity as to what global central bankers might try next.
Ever since Simon Potter's 2012 arrival as head of The NYFed's trading desk, the manipulation of VIX (and thus its reflexive levered tail wagging the algo-driven dog of the indices) has been front-and-center day-after-day in the so-called US equity 'market'. While only fringe-blogs have noticed this in the past, now The FT admits that not only was recent volatility in markets exacerbated by VIX ETFs (thus confirming the tail-wagging-dog analogy), and further, the nature of the link between VIX ETFs and VIX Futures (rebalancing) enables frontrunning which serves to reinforce any trend into the close and thus manipulate the markets.
Land of the Fleeced ... Home of the Slave
What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and acclimated to life in the American Surveillance State.
The volatile sell-off in global equities from Thursday August 20th through Tuesday August 24th, alongside a relatively muted diversification benefit from fixed income, led many risk parity funds to suffer a sudden and sharp drawdown over the four-day period. The performance drawdown and subsequent spike in the volatility of risk parity funds likely triggered a significant deleveraging in their assets.
When paying a premium for equities, or any asset for that matter, one runs the serious risk of capital impairment. Worse, most professional investment managers falling prey to the bullish sentiment currently surrounding this period of extreme valuations will likely not live up to their overriding fiduciary duty – the preservation of wealth. Following the herd may have its benefits at times, but following the herd over a cliff never ends well. As Seth Klarman warned. “Risk is not inherent in an investment; it is always relative to the price paid”
Wondering why stocks are surging this morning - aside from Fischer's comments, OPEC rumors, Greek bank recaps, and JPY ignition? Perhaps it is the veritable swarm of professional technical analysts out with notes warning of significant problems ahead. From John Hussman's refined Hindenberg Omen and Carter Worth's "sell stocks, breadth is a problem," to Oppenheimer's warning of "seasonals and weak internals," and Louise Yamada's "stocks are vulnerable, keep cash on sidelines" warning - it appears today's early bounce is as much about contrarian oversold bounce as it is about any macro news. But with 73% of the largest 1000 stocks at least 5% off their highs, stocks remain fragile as they push back towards highs.
The omens are not good when momentum and quality become highly correlated, warns SocGen's cross-asset research group. Quality is now essentially price momentum and vice versa, and history tells us when these two strategies collide the omens are not usually good, as it is a phenomena usually associated with equity markets turning bearish. This becomes even more evident when they plug the factors into their bear market indicator... simply put, we are in a bear market!
Should a person or group that has never experienced what is known by all as “real life” while simultaneously being seen by many legal standards as not having the full credentials to be recognized as an “adult” have the ability to vote directly for, or vote for candidates responsible in the setting of the nations wage laws, tax laws, business law, national debt, business tax structures, business mandates, international trade policies, monetary policy, or most importantly – whether to send their brethren off to war where people die for real – not in some video game or movie?
We need to wake up....and FAST!!!
Sitting in Silicon Valley, it feels like we’ve reached the peak again. Hot money is chasing deals at ridiculous valuations. Housing prices are more than incomes can cover. Optimism is high. Jobless Claims are at cyclical lows. We’ve seen this before, in 2000 and 2007.
"An alternate, more sophisticated approach to explaining why QE may not work to stimulate aggregate consumption is, perhaps, because the demographic mix of the U.S. (and most parts of the developed world) has shifted toward older people. Unlike 30 or 40 years ago, the enormous baby boomer generation, and even retirees, are much wealthier (including human capital) than in the past, and they are wealthier than current generations earlier in their life cycle. So the wealth effect does not lead to an increase in consumption and, potentially, has the opposite outcome."
- Robert Merton
Next week is all about the Fed, and the positioning or should I say De-Positioning will be taking place right up until the last minute of this all-important Fed Meeting.