Recession

Ukraine Currency Crashes To Record Low As IMF Blasts "Gross Abuses"

Despite celebrations of de-escalations and truce in US equity markets (by asset-gathering commission-takers), the situation continues to go from bad to worse in the nation almost forgotten now that ISIS is stealing American headlines. The Hryvnia plunged 7.5% this morning - its biggest single-day drop on record - following the release of a scathing IMF letter and devaluation warnings from BofA. The IMF blasted Ukraine's "premature emission of extra money," and demanded it "immediately halt these gross abuses," as BofA warns of risk of "10-20% devaluation" in the next year is high given reserves are at a "critical level."

Frontrunning: September 16

  • Thank you market Chief Risk Officer Bernanke/Yellen: Calpers to Exit Hedge Funds, Divest $4 Billion Stake (BBG)
  • World stocks hit one-month low, caution ahead of Fed (Reuters)
  • U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide (WSJ)
  • Time to throw away some more good money: Sears Borrows $400 Million From Lampert’s ESL Investments (BBG)
  • Wildfires rage in California drought, hundreds forced to flee (Reuters)
  • United Offers $100,000 Buyouts to Flight Attendants (BBG)
  • Biggest Banks Said to Overhaul FX Trading After Scandals (BBG)
  • You mean you have to pay? Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000 (The Hill)
  • RBS Said to Dismiss Most of Team Overseeing Central Europe Debt (BBG) they will be hired by the ECB

Babson's Warning

"[A] crash is coming, and it may be terrific... The vicious circle will get in full swing and the result will be a serious business depression. There may be a stampede for selling which will exceed anything that the Stock Exchange has ever witnessed. Wise are those investors who now get out of debt."

Is Risk-On About To Switch To Risk-Off?

Even the most avid Bulls should grasp that market corrections of 10% to 20% are statistical features of all markets. Cranking markets full of financial cocaine so they never correct simply sets up the crash-and-burn destruction of the addict.

Kohl's And The Rest Of The Retailers Are In Deep Trouble

When you see the headlines touting strong retail sales, you need to consider what you are actually seeing in the real world. RadioShack will be filing for bankruptcy within months. Wet Seal will follow. Sears is about two years from a bankruptcy filing. JC Penney’s turnaround is a sham. They continue to lose hundreds of millions every quarter and will be filing for bankruptcy within the next couple years. Target and Wal-Mart continue to post awful sales results and have stopped expanding. And as you drive around in your leased BMW, you see more Space Available signs than operating outlets in every strip center in America.

The World Order Becomes Disorder

The S&P’s rally has been sustained through near-zero-cost money used to: (1) buy back stock to enrich insiders and please activist hedge funds which have borrowed big to buy big; and (2) prop up the overall market because investors have learned that buying on margin when the costs are minimal - and below dividend yields - just keeps paying off. Stein’s law says, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Too bad it doesn’t say when. Gold loses its luster when: (1) inflation seems to be as remote as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; and (2) even a concatenation of crises fails to send investors rushing into the time-tested crisis consoler. We see geopolitical risks expanding from here - not contracting - and stick to our investment advice that the broad stock market is precariously valued. A range of options is available for those who wish to hedge themselves against even worse news. Gold is part of any such risk mitigation. So are long government bonds. Most importantly, we have entered an era when wise investors will devote as much time to reading the foreign news as they allocate to reading the investment section.

Bob Shiller Warns Of "Parallels To 1937"

The depression that followed the stock-market crash of 1929 took a turn for the worse eight years later, and recovery came only with the enormous economic stimulus provided by the second world war, a conflict that cost more than 60 million lives. By the time recovery finally arrived, much of Europe and Asia lay in ruins. The current world situation is not nearly so dire, but there are parallels, particularly to 1937. Now, as then, people have been disappointed for a long time, and many are despairing. They are becoming more fearful for their long-term economic future. And such fears can have severe consequences.

Chinese Growth Slows Most Since Lehman; Capex Worst Since 2001; Electric Output Tumbles To Negative

China may need to expand its goalseek template to include the other far more important measure of Chinese economic activity, such as Industrial production, retail sales, fixed investment, and even more importantly - such key output indicators as Cement, Steel and Electricity, because based on numbers released overnight, the Q2 Chinese recovery is now history (as the credit impulse of the most recent PBOC generosity has faded, something we have discussed in the past), and the economy has ground to the biggest crawl it has experienced since the Lehman crash. What's worse, and what we predicted would happen when we observed the collapse in Chinese commodity prices ten days ago, capex, i.e. fixed investment, grew at the slowest pace  in the 21st century: the number of 16.5% was the lowest since 2001, and suggests that the commodity deflation problem is only going to get worse from here.

Why PIMCO Thinks "The Bursting Bubble" Is Not The Biggest Risk

Getting out of a Liquidity Trap with monetary policy playing the lead role necessarily involves a Dornbuschian sequence of rational overshooting: The Fed must drive up Wall Street prices, which move quickly, so as to get to Main Street prices that move up slowly, most importantly, wages. This sequencing implies that Wall Street prices must become very rich relative to Main Street prices in order to achieve so-called escape velocity from the Liquidity Trap. At the transition point, Wall Street prices will be rationally “overvalued” relative to their long-term “fair value.” The dominant risk for Wall Street is not bursting bubbles, but rather a long slow grind down in profit’s share of GDP/national income. And you can stick that into a Gordon Model, too! Bonds and stocks may at present be rationally valued, but borrowing from the lyrics of Procol Harum’s Keith Reid: Expected long-term returns are turning a more ghostly whiter shade of pale.

5 Things To Ponder: "Bear-ly" Extant

"It is a bad sign for the market when all the bears give up. If no-one is left to be converted, it usually means no-one is left to buy.” The extraordinarily low level of "bearish" outlooks combined with extreme levels of complacency within the financial markets has historically been a "poor cocktail" for future investment success.

Defying Gravity: The Case For Hedging Against A Market Downturn

Today's markets exist in an Oz-like, fantasy world. For 5 years now, stock and bond prices have risen like Dorothy's balloon, with hardly a puff of downdraft to spoil the fun. Everybody likes higher prices, so let's have them always go up! Forever! But what if...

How The China Boom Unravels: One Person At A Time

The dashing of youthful expectations of open-ended wealth and security for everyone with a college degree is highly combustible when combined with a popping real estate bubble, systemic corruption, the implosion of a shadow banking credit bubble and the impending global recession.

Alan Greenspan's Nine Reasons "Why The Economy Stinks"

Yesterday, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was the keynote speaker at KPMG’s 2014 Insurance Industry Conference Tuesday, where he answered questions such as 1) where the economy is going, 2) why, and 3) when (if ever) is it likely to improve. The answers, as reported by Property Casualty 360, are: 1) nowhere fast, 2) because nobody is willing to invest, and 3) eventually, but nobody can tell when. He listed 9 specific reasons why the "economy stinks", although surprisingly, nowhere did he mention the fact that the current and future economic disaster is all a direct result of his ruinous reign at helm of the Fed where as a result of his "great moderation" and the Fed's catastrophic monetary policies conceived mostly under Greenspan himself, the economy is now perpetually stuck in a boom-bust cycle, and where every time a bubble bursts another has to replace it or else the entire western way of life will be gone in a heartbeat.