"Why would anyone pay an advisor and reduce their returns when all one had to do was point-and-click their way to wealth." Near each major market peak throughout history, there has been some "new" innovation in the financial markets to take advantage of individual's investment "greed." In 1929, Charles Ponzi created the first "Ponzi" scheme. In the 1600's, it was "Tulip Bulbs." Whenever, and where ever, there has ever been a peak in "investor insanity," there has always been someone there to meet that need. In that past it was railroads, real estate, commodities, or emerging market debt; today it is investment advice. The latest innovation to come to market is what is termed "Robo-Advisors." That is the cycle of innovation in the financial market place. Despite the best of intentions, and advances in innovation, humans will always seek out the comfort of other humans in times of distress. The rising notoriety of Robo-advisors is very likely the symbol of the current late stage "market exuberance."
When all the dust settles, Palo Alto is definitely going to look a lot more modern than it did when I first moved here. All I can say, though, is that when the current bubble finally bursts, whether it's next month or next decade, there are going to be an awfully lot of expensive, empty, class A office buildings situated around town, holding nothing but the memories of ping-pong games past.
Having learned last week that the world's central banks are their sovereign wealth proxies have secretly pumped over $29 trillion into markets in the last few years, it is not entirely surprising to hear from one of the largest - Norway $888 billion oil fund - that it is buying stocks with bond hands and feet. As The Financial Times reports, Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of Norway's sovereign wealth fund, is hiring aggressively to manage its real estate portfolio and while the oil fund already owns 2.5% of every listed European company on average, it plans to go above 5%. Phew, bagholder found...
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 15:11 -0400
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
With Gen-X and Gen-Y out as buyers, who's left to scoop up the tens of trillions of dollars of Boomer assets at bubblicious prices? Given that other nations face the same demographic dilemma, the answer appears to be: no one.
- The Man Who Broke the Middle East (Politico)
- Kerry presses Maliki as Iraq loses control of Syrian, Jordanian borders (Reuters)
- Hank Paulson takes on global warming next: The Coming Climate Crash - Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession (NYT)
- In Yellen We Trust Is Bond Mantra as Inflation Threats Dismissed (BBG)
- After port fraud, China's vast warehouse sector under scrutiny (Reuters)
- Draghi Says Unlimited Cash Through 2016 Is Rate Signal (BBG)
- Tapes Said to Reveal Polish Minister Disparaging U.S. Ties (NYT)
- CDC reassigns director of lab behind anthrax blunder (Reuters)
- BNP set to receive ban to transact in USD as part of $9 billion settlement (WSJ)
- GE Clears Last French Hurdle to Clinch Alstom Deal (BBG)
- Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt, supporters stunned (Reuters)
- ISDA Asked to Rule If Argentina Credit-Default Swaps Triggered (BBG)
We are sure this will end well. Just as China took the 'if we build it (on free credit), they will come' growth model to extremes in real estate; it appears their ambitions in nuclear energy production are just as grandiose. However, just as they lost control of the real estate market, Bloomberg reports China is moving quickly to become the first country to operate the world’s most powerful atomic reactor even as France’s nuclear regulator says communication and cooperation on safety measures with its Chinese counterparts are lacking. France has a lot riding on a smooth roll out of China’s European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) as it is home to Areva, which developed the next-gen reactor, and utility EdF, which oversees the project. French regulators, speaking in parliament, warned, "the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed."
For over 5 years we have been explaining the hole that the fed has been digging (most ironically here). This morning's op-ed by Warsh and Druckenmiller highlights many of the problems but we leave it to Marc Faber to succinctly sum up the dilemma that the Fed faces (and by dilemma we mean, the plan) - "The more they print, the more inequality there is, the weaker the economy will become." Simply put, "it's a catastrophe," Faber told CNBC, "what the Fed has done is to lift asset prices, and the cost of living. In the meantime, the cost of living increases are higher than the wage increases. The typical American household income is going down in real terms." Recovery?
According to the latest CapGemini wealth report the number of high net worth individuals increased by nearly 1.8 million in the past year, the second biggest surge since 2000, which also happened to be the crazy days of the first tech bubble (not to be confused with the current tech bubble). In other words, the epic, unprecedented stock bubble reflated by the world's coordinated central banks, has succeeded. Succeeded, that is, if its goal was to make the world's richest people wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. As for everyone else, just over 7 billion people, better luck next time.
With a nod to the absurd, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen freely admitted earlier this week that the Fed really has no idea what’s going to happen to the economy.
"Balance-sheet wealth is sustainable only when it comes from earned success, not government fiat," is the ugly truth that former Fed governor Kevin Warsh (amazing what truths come out after their terms are up) and hedge fund billionaire Stan Druckenmiller deliver in the following WSJ Op-Ed. The aggregate wealth of U.S. households, including stocks and real-estate holdings, just hit a new high of $81.8 trillion. No wonder most on Wall Street applaud the Fed's unrelenting balance-sheet recovery strategy.The Fed's extraordinary tools are far more potent in goosing balance-sheet wealth than spurring real income growth. Corporate chieftains rationally choose financial engineering - debt-financed share buybacks, for example - over capital investment in property, plants and equipment. The country needs an exit from the 2% growth trap. There are no short-cuts through Fed-engineered balance-sheet wealth creation. The sooner and more predictably the Fed exits its extraordinary monetary accommodation, the sooner businesses can get back to business and labor can get back to work.
As of this moment, US equity futures are perfectly unchanged despite what has been an almost comical reactivation of the 102.000 USDJPY tractor beam. Considering the pair has been trading within a 75 pips of the 102.000 level for the past month, one has to wonder when and what the next BOJ Yen equilibrium level will be reset to. Oddly enough, even as the USDJPY is very much unchanged, the Nikkei continues to rise suggesting that, as Nikkei reported, the GPIF is already investing Japanese pension funds in stocks. Which is great for the Nikkei catching up with the global bond bubble, what is not so great is what happens when the market realizes that the largest holder (excluding the BOJ) of JGBs is dumping, and the world's most illiquid major sovereign bond market rushes for the exits. Just recall the daily halts of Japanese bond trading from the summer of 2013 - we give it 3-6 months before it returns with a vengeance.
Having spent a week in surprisingly bright and sunny London, ConvergEx's Nick Colas reports that the consensus opinion in this global financial hub is that equities are where the sun shines the brightest. Public companies are intent on tapping those better days with more aggressive global investor outreach, and asset managers/brokers of all stripes feel that the developed economy bull market has a few more years to run. At the same time, everyone agrees that the near term feels a bit damp and acknowledges that the low levels of actual volatility are worrisome for their artificial “Keep calm and carry on” sentiment. Other heard/seen observations: London is no longer a British city, the surge in foreign buyers is creating a world-class property bubble. His conclusion, as long as humans are humans there will always be financial bubbles, either due to groupthink over real estate prices or financial assets. Just as surely as there will always be an England.
I foresee over 35% of Wall Street jobs disappearing over the next 10 years, even as traders bring arbitration suits to Goldman Sachs complaining that they didn't get their full $17M bonus last year. One of us is very, very mistaken!