- JPMorgan Report Piles Pressure on Dimon in Too-Big Debate (BBG)
- Employers Blast Fees From New Health Law (WSJ)
- Obama unveils US energy blueprint (FT)
- Obama to Push Advanced-Vehicle Research (WSJ) - here come Solar-powered cars?
- BRICs Abandoned by Locals as Fund Outflows Reach 1996 High (BBG)
- Obama won't trip over Netanyahu's Iran "red line" (Reuters)
- Samsung puts firepower behind Galaxy (FT)
- Boeing sees 787 airborne in weeks with fortified battery (Reuters)
- Greece Counts on Gas, Gambling to Revive Asset Sales Tied to Aid (BBG)
- Goldman’s O’Neill Says S&P 500 Beyond 1,600 Needs Growth (BBG)
- China’s new president in corruption battle (FT)
- Post-Chavez Venezuela as Chilly for Companies From P&G to Coke (BBG)
Though infamous for his doom and gloom more than boom, Marc Faber explains in this brief CNBC clip how the herd-like behavior in stocks and real estate is actually not totally irrational as it is merely a reaction to the central banks forcing people not to hold cash and instead but "gold watches and Ferraris." His point is that if (and when) interest rates are ever normalized, everything changes (and not in a good way) as valuations become severely stretched on all these inflated assets. While the world tells us that bonds are unattractive and stocks are attractive, Faber rhetorically asks, "who knows, maybe the bonds are telling us something about the future return on equities." He warns of paying too much attention to government headline statistics, "what is published does not necessarily reflect the reality," But, just as we have warned, China is his biggest fear for knocking the world' exuberance: "Whether they [Chinese government] can ensure continuous growth will depend on reforms and how to deflate the colossal credit bubble we have in China. This is going to be a huge problem because we have so much underground credit, questionable loans outstanding and questionable investments."
I would say that we are in the void; a place where not much matters. The actions of the world’s central bankers have created not only a global financial bubble but a market assumption that everything is backstopped and that nothing can go seriously wrong. Equities rise, bonds compress and everyone plays along. The last time I felt so strongly about this was in the infamous era of “money for nothing, checks for free” just prior to the subprime prick that sent the financial markets into the balloon careening around the room event. It is Ben and Mario’s ice cream store; open twenty-four seven, dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the “full faith and credit” promise that you won’t put on an ounce. It is a world full of “non-conforming loans” and you might wish to remember what happened last time.
- More black smoke over Vatican: No decision on pope in second day (NBC)
- PBOC Chief Says China Should Be on ‘High Alert’ on Inflation (BBG) - just as predicted last fall
- California Seizes Guns as Owners Lose Right to Keep Arms (BBG)
- U.S. Tax Cheats Picked Off After Adviser Mails It In (BBG)
- In 2012, Samsung spent $401 million advertising its phones in the U.S. to Apple's $333 million (WSJ)
- Coca-Cola probed over mapping in China (FT) - accused of ‘illegally collecting classified information’
- Italy's Bond Sale Meets Tepid Demand (WSJ)
- U.S. Steps Up Alarm Over Cyberattacks (WSJ)
- Mugabe takes on Zimbabwe's Generation X (Reuters)
- Mars Rover Finds Conditions Once May Have Supported Life (BBG)
- Oil demand hit by China refinery outages (FT)
- Big Sugar Is Set for a Sweet Bailout (WSJ) DOA to buy 400,000 tons of sugar to stave off a wave of defaults by sugar processors
- Spectre of stagflation haunts UK (FT)
- As Republicans seek identity, conclave highlights divisions (Reuters)
This is the third day in a row that an attempt to mount an overnight ramp out of the US has fizzled, with first the Nikkei closing down for the second day in a row and snapping a week-long rally, and then the Shanghai Composite following suit with its 5th consecutive drop in a row as the rumblings out of the PBOC on the inflation front get louder and louder, following PBOC governor Zhou's statement that inflation expectations must be stabilized and that great importance must be attached to inflation. Stirring the pot further was SAFE chief Yi Gang who joined the Chinese chorus warning against a currency war, by saying the G20 should avoid competitive currency devaluations. Obviously China is on the edge, and only the US stock market is completely oblivious that the marginal economy may soon force itself to enter outright contraction to offset the G-7 exported hot money keeping China's real estate beyond bubbly. Finally, SocGen released a note last night title "A strong case for easing Korean monetary policy" which confirms that it is only a brief matter of time before the Asian currency war goes thermonuclear. Moving to Europe, it should surprise nobody that the only key data point, Eurozone Industrial Production for January missed badly, printing at -0.4% on expectations of a -0.1% contraction, down from a 0.9% revised print in December as the European recession shows no signs of abating. So while the rest of the world did bad or worse than expected for the third day in a row, it will be up to the POMO and seasonally adjusted retail sales data in the US to offset the ongoing global contraction, and to send the perfectly manipulated Dow Jones to yet another all time high, in direct refutation of logic and every previous market reality ever.
On March 3, we said that Bitcoin is interesting technology, and a useful currency, but it's not money. Yesterday it crashed to $37. What happened??
Yo Liz: Subsidies for the zombie banks total more than $3 annually for every dollar in income reported by the industry...
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
Departing a socialist regime to avoid paying taxes is not just a French thing anymore: Bloomberg reports that one of the most famous hedge fund managers of the late 2000s, if not so much recently, John "Boricua" Paulson "is exploring a move to Puerto Rico, where a new law would eliminate taxes on gains from the $9.5 billion he has invested in his own hedge funds, according to four people who have spoken to him about a possible relocation." In moving to Puerto Rico, Paulson would merely be the latest person to avoid paying any taxes associated with Paulson & Company: virtually every other investor in Paulson's hedge funds also has no taxes to worry about, for a far simpler reason: taxes are generally incurred on profits, not three years in a row of relentless losses.
Just like a week ago, when the futures experienced an unprecedented event when they actually slid overnight (only to recoup all the losses and then some, in the US trading session), so today sentiment appears to be driven by China which over the weekend once more posted its worst economic numbers to start the year since 2009, with purposeful economic weakness telegraphed by the politburo coupled with higher than expected inflation in what is a harbinger to the end of the global reflation, just as it was in 2011. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.3%, while the Nikkei was in a world of its own, closing up 0.5%, tracking nothing but the USDJPY nowadays. Additionally, while the US stock market took Friday's downgrade of Italy in stride, and in fact Getco's algos used it to catalyze a late day ramp to close the DJIA just around the "psychological" 14,400 (just like Dow 36,000 is apparently psychological), Europe is less sanguine, and so far Italian bonds have been pressured compared to the rest of PIIGS, rising with yields rising to 4.65%, hitting 4.694% earlier. That's ok though: as we reported over the weekend, there is nothing for widening BTP spreads that a few hundred billion in Fed reserve reallocations to European banks can't fix. And with no macro events or news on today's calendar, perhaps the most notable event so far is the lack of the overnight ramp, which we have all grown to love and expect almost as much as the mysterious 3:30 pm intraday clockwork DJIA ramp.
You could even make a case that QE is part of TBTF. Chew on that for a while Shirley.
Consensus suggests India is a basket case while China is recovering. We think both views are incorrect and therein lies opportunities for contrarian investors.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
The same pattern we have seen every day for the past week is back - slow overnight levitation as bad news piles on more bad news. What bad news? First as noted earlier, a collapse in Chinese imports and a surge in exports, which as SocGen explained is a harbinger of economic weakness in the months to follow, leading to yet another negative close for the Shanghai Composite. Then we got the UK January construction data which plunged by 7.9% according to ONS data. Then the Bank of Italy disclosed that small business lending was down 2.8% in January. We also got a negative Austrian Q4 GDP print. We also got Spanish industrial output plunging 5% in January (but "much better" than the downward revised -7.1% collapse in December). Capping the morning session was German Industrial Production which not unexpectedly missed expectations of a 0.4% increase, printing at 0.0%, although somewhat better than the horrifying Factory Orders print would have implied. Finally, the ECB announced that a total of EUR4.2 billion in LTRO 1+2 will be repaid in the coming week by 8 and 27 counterparties, about half of the expected, and throwing a monkey wrench in Draghi's narrative that banks are repaying LTRO because they feel much stronger. Yet none of this matters for two reasons: i) the Japanese Yen is back in its role as a carry funding currency, and was last trading at 95.77, the highest in four years, and with Jen shorts now used to fund USD purchases, the levitation in the stock futures was directly in line with the overnight rout in the Yen; and ii) the buying spree in Spanish bonds, with the 10 Year sliding overnight to just 4.82%, the lowest since 2010.
When it comes to assets, there are two kinds: hard, tangible assets such as real estate, equipment and durable goods, and then there are financial assets, or "things" that only have an actual worth in the context of a capital market and a smoothly functioning financial system allowing for value-for-value exchanges and mark-to-market: among these are corporate equities, mutual and pension fund shares and reserves, credit instruments and equity in non-corporate businesses. We bring this up because today, as it does every quarter, the Fed released its Z.1, Flow of Funds report, which shows total US household assets and liabilities. Not surprisingly, with the ongoing surge in the stock market courtesy of the Fed's open-ended QE ticking time bomb, and the second housing bubble courtesy of the banking subsidy known as foreclosure stuffing, in the quarter ended December 31, 2012, at least according to the Fed, the US household's total net worth rose by another $1.2 trillion, taking it to $66.1 trillion. However, one thing was particularly notable in this latest update, and as implied by the above paragraphs, is that as of Q4, 2012, total US household financial assets hit an all time high of $54.4 trillion, well over the previous peak of $52.8 trillion in Q3 2007, and nearly $1 trillion higher compared to the past quarter. In other words, as of Q4 2012, the US household's net worth has never been more reliant on the stock market, which by implication means: Ben Bernanke and his centrally printing colleagues around the world.