Real estate

(Un)Comfortable Myths About High Yield Debt

There rarely seems to be a “reason” for why market crashes happen. Market observers are e.g. debating to this day what actually “caused” the crash of 1987. It is in the nature of the beast that once liquidity evaporates sufficiently that not all bubble activities can be sustained at once any longer, bids begin to become scarce in one market segment after another. Eventually, they can disappear altogether – and sellers suddenly find they are selling into a vacuum. Once this happens, the usual sequence of margin calls and forced selling does the rest. Risk premiums normalize abruptly, and there doesn't need to be an obvious reason for this to happen. Compressed risk premiums can never be sustained “forever”.

Frontrunning: August 26

  • That will teach the UAE who's boss: U.S. Won’t Consult Syria on Militant Strikes: White House (BBG)
  • Putin Set to Meet Poroshenko as Ukraine Tensions Escalate (BBG)... but the de-escalation algo?
  • Tim Hortons’ Canadian Fans Squeamish of American Hookup (BBG)
  • Israeli air strikes target more Gaza high-rises (Reuters)
  • How Steve Ballmer Became a Rookie Basketball Mogul (WSJ)
  • Buffett to Help Finance Burger King Tax-Saving Deal (BBG)
  • U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals (WSJ)
  • Boehner, Camp Profit From Corporate Bid to Avoid U.S. Tax (BBG)
  • Experimental U.S. hypersonic weapon destroyed seconds after launch (Reuters)
  • The Neo-Neocons (WSJ)

Krugman's Keynesian Crackpottery: Wasteful Spending Is Better Than Nothing!

Janet Yellen has essentially confirmed QE’s demise; good riddance. Unfortunately, I don’t think that is the final end of QE in America, just as it hasn’t been the end time after time in Japan (and perhaps now Europe treading down the same ill-received road). The secular stagnation theory, that we think has been fully absorbed in certainly Yellen’s FOMC, sees little gain from it because, as they assume, the lackluster economy is due to this mysterious decline in the “natural rate of interest.” Therefore QE in the fourth iteration accomplishes far less toward that goal, especially with diminishing impacts on expectations in the real economy, other than create bubbles of activity (“reach for yield”) that always end badly. What Krugman and Summers call for is a massive bubble of biblical proportions that “shocks” the economy out of this mysterious rut, to “push inflation substantially higher, and keep it there.” In other words, Abenomics in America. Japanification is becoming universal, and the more these appeals to generic activity and waste continue, the tighter its “mysterious” grip.

Frontrunning: August 22

  • Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
  • Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
  • U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
  • Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
  • Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
  • Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
  • Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
  • Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
  • Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)

Gold, Complacency, & Why Hookers And Bankers Share The Same Neighborhoods

Sometimes we are convinced it was completely by design, and not a weird little coincidence, that one of Germany’s most sprawling red light districts is just steps away from the European Central Bank. This fact becomes comically obvious right around happy hour... as self-congratulatory ECB economists and their bureaucratic bank underlings crowd the bars and cafes after work which are simultaneously frequented by pimps, thugs, and other assorted low-lifes. One would be forgiven for legitimately asking the question: which of these professions has done more damage to humanity? My [fiat] money’s on the bankers.

GMO: "There Is No Safe Place To Hide"

"Today’s environment, however, is quite distinct, as seen in the chart below, where we lay out the GMO seven-year forecasts in a volatility (an imperfect shorthand for risk) versus return format for the traditional asset classes, or betas. This beta desert is so challenging because not only are there no asset classes that we believe are priced to deliver 5% real return (the red line), there is also no safe place to hide and wait (the green circle)." - GMO

Futures Flat With All Headline-Scanning Algo Eyes On Today's FOMC Minutes

While everyone's (algorithmic) attention will be focused on today's minutes from the July 29-30 FOMC meeting for views on remaining slack in U.S. economy following recent changes in the labor market (especially a particularly solid JOLTS report which indicates that at least on the openings front, there is no more) and any signal of policy change by the Fed ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in Jackson Hole on Aug. 22, a curious thing happened overnight when a few hours ago the BoE's own minutes show the first vote split since 2011, as Weale and McCafferty argue for a 0.75% bank rate. Then again, if the Russians are finally bailing on London real estate, the inflationary pressures at the top of UK housing may finally be easing. In any event, every FOMC "minute" will be overanalyzed for hints of what Yellen's speech on Friday morning will say, even if stocks just shy of all time highs know quite well she won't dare say anything to tip the boat despite her warnings of a biotech and social network bubble.

Why So Much Anger In Ferguson? 10 Facts About The Massive Economic Gap Between White & Black America

When people feel like they don't have anything else to lose, they are likely to do just about anything. Many in the mainstream media seem absolutely mystified as to why there is so much anger in Ferguson, but as I pointed out yesterday, all of this anger did not erupt out of a vacuum. Economic conditions in Ferguson, and for African-Americans as a whole, have been deteriorating for years. Sadly, many white Americans are totally oblivious to any of this.

Fed Fueled M&A Destroys Capital

The world’s central bankers have given companies the urge to merge. Merger and Acquisition (M&A) activity has already reached $2.2 trillion this year according to Thomson Reuters Deals Intelligence, up 70% from this time a year ago. The deals are big, with eight acquisitions, each over $5 billion, being announced in just a single week in July. However CEO buying sprees do not create new jobs and new products that make our lives better, but are instead just wasteful malinvestments that destroy capital. The cost of capital is integral to making these assumptions. The lower the assumed interest rate or cost of capital, the higher the price for the acquisition that the models will justify. Once interest rates go up, these valuation models will be blown to pieces.

Are Capital Inflows Propping Up U.S. Markets?

Nobody really believes the official narrative that the "recovery" is powering the remarkable strength of U.S. stocks, bonds and real estate. The real Main Street economy is quite obviously struggling, outside the energy and Federal government sectors, and so many see the Federal Reserve's free money for financiers (a.k.a. quantitative easing) bond and mortgage-buying programs as the real reason bond yields have declined and stocks have soared. This leads us to wonder if capital inflows into the U.S. aren't a largely overlooked driver of rising U.S. markets.

Absolute Bubble Insanity: For Nearly Half A Billion Dollars, Here Is The World's Most Expensive Penthouse

Forget Hong Kong, London and New York: when it comes to the pinnacle in absolute real estate insanity - perhaps in all of history - look no further than James Bond's favorite gambling mecca, Monaco. It is in this tiny Riviera principality where we find the Tour Odeon, a double-skyscraper being built by Groupe Marzocco SAM near Monaco’s Mediterranean seafront, which will contain a 3,300 square-meter (35,500 square-foot) penthouse with a water slide connecting a dance floor to a circular open-air swimming pool. The description is nice, but it is the bottom line that is mindblowing: Bloomberg reports that the apartment may sell for more than 300 million euros ($400 million) when it goes on the market next year, French magazine Challenges reported. That would make it the world’s most expensive penthouse, according to broker Knight Frank LLP.

Frontrunning: August 19

  • Just how many rats are there? Steven Cohen's Firm Loses Another Top Executive (WSJ)
  • Iceland Sees a Potential Volcanic Eruption, and Airlines Cower (Bloomberg)
  • Iraqi forces battle to drive jihadists from Saddam's home town (Reuters)
  • Israel, Palestinians Agree to Extend Gaza Truce for 24 Hours (BBG)
  • Pimco now buying junk (BusinessWeek)
  • Pakistan arrests 147 in Punjab towns as protests in capital continue (Reuters)
  • Ex-Rabobank Employee Pleads Guilty in Libor-Rigging Probe (BBG)
  • Ebola Orphans Targeted by Aid Groups as Newest Victims (BBG)
  • Two California youths accused of plotting high school shooting spree (Reuters)
  • Only Rich Know Wage Gains With No Raises for U.S Workers (BBG)

Is The Correction Over?

While the markets are currently suggesting that the "dip" is over, there are several immediately prevailing risks that could catch unwitting investors.