Seth Klarman's comments on "The Truman Show" market and "born bulls" appeared to upset the status quo today on CNBC leaving none other than Joe Kernan and then later, Jim Cramer questioning Klarman's credentials with a passive-aggressive "when did Klarman turn negative? We should look into that..." question. We found it intriguing and wondered how much the investing public weights the differing views of these veritable titans of stock market wisdom. The answer - a market-based answer - lie in the purest measure of all... the cost of acquiring their knowledge...
The world is a strange place. The banks have no money. Or rather, they have no money that they want to lend anyone out there in the real world. So, in their place, it’s the governments that have decided since the financial crash to become the lenders to the economies.
Officially, US debt stands at more than $17 trillion. In reality, it is many times more. So who in his right mind would think it is a good time to start a war with Russia over Ukraine? And worse, who would commit the United States to bail out a Ukraine that will need at least $35 billion to survive the year? Who? The president and Congress, backed by the neocons and the so-called humanitarian interventionists! Cooler heads in the United States are not currently prevailing. There is a danger of an unimaginable conflict between the US and Russia. We must demand a shift away from a war footing, away from incendiary rhetoric. We are broke and cannot afford to “buy” Ukraine. We certainly cannot afford another war, especially with Russia!
The disgusting images of face-mask-wearing Chinese going about their daily business in minimal visibility and lung-busting conditions are strewen across the interwebs. However, even fake sun-rises pale into significance when the full dismal reality of China's pollution problem is put in context. Perhaps the following chart is why China's latest round of reforms appear to 'declare war on pollution'.
Today, far too many people put all their faith in deceitful politicians and bankers to tell them the truth and consequently are dreadfully misinformed.
Over the past three years there has been endless debate over whether the Fukushima radioactive fallout is hitting the US west coast, or if, as the media spin would have it, it is largely isolated, and best to just take their word for it for the simple reason that no federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation. The answer may finally be in sight, and it is not a pleasant one: USA Today reports that "very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster likely will reach ocean waters along the U.S. West Coast next month, scientists are reporting. Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won't harm humans or the environment, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who presented research on the issue last week.
A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality: "U.S. CONSIDERING SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN BANKS, OFFICIAL SAYS. So short London/NYC real estate you say?" How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said "Nein" to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany's own economy and bottom line. But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous: "It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine."
I clearly have a very hard time reconciling a U.S. stock market making new all-time-highs almost daily, especially in the face of what most economists consider to be a weak domestic economy with negligible growth prospects. Moreover, when you layover the thoroughly stalled and certainly weaker overall global economic picture, it’s even harder to rationalize. Finally, throw into the mix the gravity of threatening geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Russia, the two nations with the largest stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons on earth, and the market actually welcomes it. Something majorly does not add up, well, to this Idiot anyways.
There probably isn’t a more over-used phrase thrown across the media landscape than, “It’s different this time.” One can’t look at the financial markets, the political stage, and more without shaking ones head. Nothing seems to make sense. Yet if one wants to lazily answer, “It’s different this time.” Things become crystal clear. Water now seems to run uphill. The definition of words no longer mean what they once did. (we’re still marveling on what is – is) Free society means the loss of only a few freedoms per year, as opposed to everything at once. Work is a bad thing however, if someone else goes to work and pay for your things – then that’s good. You can keep your plan if you like your plan – but if we don’t like it – well – you can’t. The Federal Reserve would never monetize the debt – however if you’re a preferred dealer in the QE (quantitative easing) program – they’ll do it for you. These precarious times leave many scratching their heads. Expressed another way, When everyone is on the band wagon – except the band. You had better take notice.
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."
Everyone agrees that the winter just now winding down (hopefully) has been brutal for most Americans. And while it's easy to conclude that the Polar Vortex has been responsible for an excess of school shutdowns and ice related traffic snarls, it's much harder to conclude that it's responsible for the economic vortex that appears to have swallowed the American economy over the past three months. But this hasn't stopped economists, Fed officials, and media analysts from making this unequivocal assertion. In reality the weather is not what's ailing us. It's just the latest straw being grasped at by those who believe that the phony recovery engineered by the Fed is real and lasting. The April thaw is not far off. Unfortunately the economy is likely to stay frozen for some time to come.
Presented with little comment aside to note that when 'work is punished' the demise of 'opportunity' will continue...
When one studies history, all events seem to revolve around the applications and degenerations of war. Great feats of human understanding, realization and enlightenment barely register in the mental footnotes of the average person. War is what we remember, idealize and aggrandize, which is why war is the tool most often exploited by oligarchy to distract the masses while it centralizes power. With the exception of a few revolutions, most wars are instigated and controlled by financial elites, manipulating governments on both sides of the game to produce a preconceived result. Every major international crisis for the past century or more has ended with an even greater consolidation of world power into the hands of the few, and this is no accident.
Some readers may remember the price of Coca Cola being just 5c back in the early 1950s (for a 6.5oz glass)... meaning the US dollar has lost 93.8% against Coca Cola over the past six decades. Now, we are taught from the time we are children that "a little inflation is good..." And when central bankers tell us they’re targeting an inflation rate of 2% to 3%, that certainly doesn’t seem so bad. 2% is practically just a rounding error. But bear in mind a few things...
We noted last night that Iron Ore futures prices were in free-fall as the vicious circle of China's commodity-collateral-backed shadow banking system unwind hits home amid fears of contagion from the Chaori Solar default. The first domestic Chinese corporate bond default has retail investors running scared as surprise spreads that the local government did not come to the rescue. The deleveraging is now spreading to copper prices (remember the massive cash-for-copper schemes of last year) as borrowers are forced to sell to meet cash calls which in turn drops copper prices, reducing collateral values and tightening credit conditions even more. This is the biggest copper price drop since Dec 2011...