The Gini Is Out Of The Bottle: Did China "Outcapitalism" The US, Or Did America "Outcommunism" China?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/12/2012 18:38 -0400
The patriotic thing preoccupying the lucky successor to Chinese President Hu Juntao will be a simple one: how to promote the well-being, and equality among the people. After all, caring about the people is the primary preoccupation of any good communist country. As such, key concern for the new leader and his government will be the income distribution inequalities and corruption among the Chinese population, something outgoing leader Hu himself stressed. Indeed, as the most recent Chinese Gini coefficient (the measurement of inequality of income in a given society) reading shows, in China this has risen from 0.42 in 2007 to 0.48 in 2009. It is this reason why the Chinese society will have to engage in far more effective wealth redistribution because the last thing the country with no real social safety net can afford is social unrest and upheaval in a time of declining economic growth. So far so good. Where there does arise some confusion, is when juxtaposing Chinese social inequality with that of the US. Recall that China is a de facto communist country, whose society is, at least on paper, equal. One wonders, then, how it happened that US society now has a Gini coefficient that is lower than that of China: did communist China "outcapitalism" the US, or has the US simply, and quite successfully, "outcommunism" China?
The US Presidential election has ended and the market is beginning to return to reality. And reality is not pretty...
Despite the protestation from Juncker that all-is-well and that the Troika report is positive, Europe is not happy. Bonds and stocks across most of the region's continue to weaken. The sacrosanct 2Y Spanish bond yield has leaked back to one-month highs, 10Y Spanish bond spreads are holding above 450bps (as the yield presses back towards 6%), Greek stocks broadly have given back almost 40% of their recent much-aggrandized dead-cat-bounce (remember our Eastman Kodak analogy), as Greek banking stocks are hammered on the day as recaps (as expected) are much worse than it seems hope-filled investors expected... EURUSD is sliding back towards its swap-spread implied reality. Europe's macro data is breaking lower and while some note US' decoupling, we reiterate (below) this is a lag, not a decoupling.
Whocouldanode? Since August 2011, we have know this painful combination of tax-cut cessations and spending cuts (sequestrations) was due to hit as yet another painful decision 'can' was kicked down the road by the 'super committee'. In February 2012, Bernanke coined the term 'fiscal cliff' for this chaos and since then we have been active in discussing the impact (329 ZeroHedge articles). From pointing out the market's total lack of 'pricing-in' to comprehending the contagion and impact of the 'fiscal cliff' or slope or hill, it would appear the world has been numbed into denial by the monetary policy medicine needed to get an incumbent re-elected. The 'efficient' market is now catching on - as are the 'efficient' headlines as we see searches and news stories surge about this critical event horizon. Between Bloomberg's news story count and Google's search volumes, it would appear the American public is waking up to the reality about to beset them now that re-hope is back.
Well, after the Great Disconnect last week, next to the Great Pumpkin, and Sandy, we had Election week and suddenly the great Wake-Up Call. Fiscal Cliff was suddenly all the rage and ramped up equities (disconnect) were beaten flat by bonds.
"Wake Up" (Bunds 1,34% -11; Spain 5,81% +17; Stoxx 2481 -2,4%; EUR 1,271 -130)
Barclays' Barry Knapp has joined the growing crowd of 'sub-1400 year-end S&P 500 target' realists among sell-side equity strategists. With Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker at 1167 and Goldman's David Kostin at 1250, Knapp just reduced his target to 1325 as he notes "the election scenario that unfolded was the one with the most risk, the status quo outcome." In a brief but densely packed interview on Bloomberg TV (the likes of which we suspect we will not see on CNBC), Knapp summarizes his non-rose-colored-glasses view: "In the longer term, while U.S. growth ... remains constrained by policy uncertainty and balance sheet deleveraging. Financial repression has limited the Fed’s effectiveness... We believe a period of significant equity market valuation improvement can’t begin until the Fed initiates the exit strategy process, which is unlikely to occur until Federal government debt sustainability is addressed." From lame-duck impotence to tax-selling pressures, Knapp nails our new reality and explains, as we have been saying, that the only solution lies in a market-forced move: "We suspect, absent a market correction large enough to force compromise, the two sides will not agree on the starting point for tax rates." Must Watch...
When you strip all the politically correct rhetoric, and the carefully sculpted facade is taken off for the night, this is what remains: Via Germany's most popular financial newspaper Spiegel: "There is hardly an issue about which Germans as so united as they are by their desire to see America on its knees. It unites both the left and the right. Wherever they look, they see decay, a lack of culture and ignorance. "A perverse mixture of irresponsibility, greed, and religious zealotry". With a bit of luck, the specter across the Atlantic might even take care of itself. It can't be ruled out. When they are not shooting each other or being fried by dangling power lines then the Americans might simply pop. Two out of every three US citizens are overweight, or even obese! Every child in Germany knows the numbers. The childish excitement over Obama, that once again took hold over Germans during this election -- fully 93 percent of the country would have voted for him in this election -- is the flip side of this desire for America's demise. That the Germans, of all people, should see themselves in a black civil rights attorney from Chicago can only be explained by the fact that they see him as the opposite of what they consider to be normal Americans."
Economists the world over can take comfort that the laws of supply and demand still largely rule the marketplace. However, we believe there is a noted exception for a yellow, largely useless metal. A metal that just happens to have shaped the world’s monetary systems for the last several thousand years. Gold’s “supply” traditionally defined as global mining production is virtually meaningless in determining its’ price. How can this be? Gold, even when viewed as a commodity, is unique in that it is not consumed. Rather than supply in the traditional sense, what drives the gold price is the percentage of the existing stock (170,000 tons) that is available for sale on any given day. Gold, in our opinion is what is often referred to as a Giffen good. We believe that a massive revaluation of gold denominated in dollars can happen quite suddenly, almost overnight. But not because of any sustained long term demand for gold, but simply because owners of metal simply withdraw it from sale, sending the stock to flow ratio to infinity. This is why understanding gold’s stock to flow ratio is so vital. What happens to the “price” of gold when it ceases bidding for dollars? Zero. Or infinity. Take your pick.
Sometimes, it just pays to keep it simple stupid. At some point, the dismal economic reality of our post-credit-creation-miracle boom world will reassert itself in asset prices. The catalyst may not be obvious (like a close-election reminding a nation of sheep just how divided we are as a people and implicitly as a political class - and what that means for our future fiscal probity); but it is coming. 'Cycles' cycle; the Fed has fired its bazooka; and OMT omnipotence is in doubt;and the only way we get 'moar money' from our central planners is if their hand is forced by a reversion to reality...
Cash equity markets closed the day very marginally in the green - ending the worst week in over five months. S&P 500 futures are bleeding red after-hours as we note significant volume came in after the President began speaking - from which we closed down 1%. Cross-asset correlations were extremely high today as it seemed all about equities (and equities were all about AAPL). Credit markets (and volatility) were not enjoying the morning party as much as stocks but by the close equities reverted back down to reality. Gold remains the week's big winner (post-election) but we note that 10Y yields fell from over 1.75% into the election to under 1.60% at their lows today. The USD ended the week +0.6% and Treasury yields down 10-15bps. AAPL gained 1.75% (phew) but traded extremely technically with heavy volume around VWAP into the close which helped Tech slightly outperform Financials on the week (-2.5% vs -3.1%). A day of technical bounces and all eyes on stocks...
In mid 2008, when macro data surprises were very weak, equity markets continued to push inexorably higher; happily ignorant of reality as The Fed has your back, 'bad is good', and the impossible was still impossible. This rally front-ran the economic surprise data - as economists had (in their ubiquitously extrapolant manner) over-cooked the downside and a reflexive bounce and rate cuts swung us into the green economically and market-wise. That surge in macro surprise data proved fleeting and we crashed a few short months after. Four years later and once again we are told that 'bad is good', every central bank is just dying to add more liquidity fuel to the fire, and macro data is 'surprising' to the upside. However, instead of following the 2009, 2010, and 2011 patterns, we are mimicking that 2008 pattern as 3-month S&P return turns red while ECO data is still rising. We suspect the hope-driven 'magic' in that ECO data will rapidly fall to the bottom-up-biased earnings data we discussed earlier and while 'expecting' a 30% plunge in stocks is a little much - we've seen this kind of hopeful optimism dashed before on the rocks of reality.
Now that I've released my early Apple research and the collapsing stock cat's out the bag, I hear very, very few Margin Compression theory bashers. Crickets anyone? Let's dissect the near 25% drop and how I made the call.
Last week we suggested a reason why the market was unable to hold on to the Bernanke bid. The relative plunge in Goldman Sachs 'bottom-up' Analysts Index (GSAI) suggested that the macro 'strength' that market-savants were so focused on, could perhaps be election-biased (blasphemy). It seems this macro 'strength' divergence (highest since 1996!) from micro 'weakness' reality was enough to get the Goldmanites thinking - and unfortunately for all the cautiously optimistic managers out there, they are not hopeful. As Jan Hatzius explains, "the GSAI remains closely correlated with other bottom-up measures, including the S&P 500 sales guidance diffusion index; and while one possible explanation is that S&P 500 companies are more exposed to non-US demand than the US economy at large, and the US has been a relative outperformer. But it is unclear whether this accounts for all of the weakness, or whether the bottom-up weakness also holds some additional leading information for the macroeconomic data."
Just out from Bloomberg:
- RBS, UBS TRADERS SAID TO FACE ARREST WITHIN MONTH IN LIBOR CASE
Note the word "traders" - not CEOs, not COOs, not General Counsels, not Managers, not Supervisors... Traders. Because remember: it was a scheming 28-year old Frenchman that was the mastermind behind Goldman's CDO fraud for years. Nobody else. Just him. That said, we are looking forward to the latest minimum prison reality TV show: "How Many Cigarettes* For A Bollinger?"
Perhaps those sage English philosophers 'The Vapors' were on to something 32 years ago when they asked if we were "Turning Japanese" for it seems the following charts from Nomura certainly suggest the US bond market is heading in that direction. From demographics to monetary policy; from investor allocations to flows; and from bond bubbles and volatility to long-term interest-rate paths, it seems we share a lot more than a love for sushi and pachinko with our neigbours across the ocean as we seem to be chasing after many Japanese models (of asset allocation and macro-economics).