We have been warning for a while that not only is the high-yield credit market sending a warning but that it is critical for equity investors to comprehend why this is such bad news. This week has seen exuberant equity markets start to catch down to high-yield's warning but today's surge in HY credit spreads to six month wides is a rude awakening. Between outflows, a huge wall of maturities (and no Fed liquidity), and corporate leverage, the reach-for-yield just became an up-in-quality scramble. HY spreads are over 70bps wider than cycle tights implying the S&P 500 should be around 1775. When the easy-money-funded buyback party ends, will you still be dancing?
This week, 70 years after Bretton Woods, leaders from China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and several other nations are hard at work in Fortaleza, Brazil creating a new development bank that will compete against the US-controlled World Bank. This is a major step in an obvious trend towards a new financial system. Every shred of objective data is screaming for this to happen. It’s a different world. Everyone realizes it except for the US government, which is still living in the past where they’re #1 and get to call all the shots.
It is always interesting that, following two major bear markets, investors have forgotten that it was these very same analysts that had them buying into the market peaks previously. As we know repeatedly from history, extrapolated projections rarely happen. Therefore, when analysts value the market as if current profits are representative of an indefinite future, they have likely insured investors will receive a very rude awakening at some point in the future. There is mounting evidence, from valuations being paid in M&A deals, junk bond yields, margin debt and price extensions from long term means, "exuberance" is once again returning to the financial markets.
As the markets push once again into record territory the question of valuations becomes ever more important. While valuations are a poor timing tool in the short term for investors, in the long run valuation levels have everything to do with future returns. The current levels of profits, as a share of GDP, are at record levels. This is interesting because corporate profits should be a reflection of the underlying economic strength. However, in recent years, due to financial engineering, wage and employment suppression and increase in productivity, corporate profits have become extremely deviated. This deviation begs the question of sustainability. As we know from repeatedly from history, extrapolated projections rarely happen. Could this time be different? Sure. However, believing that historical tendencies have evolved into a new paradigm will likely have the same results as playing leapfrog with a Unicorn. There is mounting evidence, from valuations being paid in M&A deals, junk bond yields, margin debt and price extensions from long term means, "irrational exuberance" is once again returning to the financial markets.
Did you know that the drought in Brazil is so bad that some neighborhoods are only being allowed to get water once every three days? At this point, 142 Brazilian cities are rationing water and there does not appear to be much hope that this crippling drought is going to end any time soon. Unfortunately, most Americans seem to be absolutely clueless about all of this. And this horrendous drought in Brazil could potentially have a huge impact on the total global food supply. As a recent RT article detailed, Brazil is the leading exporter in the world in a number of very important food categories…
It is now clear why according to the Obama administration there were no glitches plaguing the Healthcare.gov website administering Obamacare: because a whopping six people managed to sign up on the first day it was launched - the same day the government proudly reported previously it had received 4.7 million unique visitors - a conversion factor of, well, Div/0. By the end of the second day: 248 happy participants in a socialized healthcare ponzi scheme. It is also clear why there was nobody happier than the president when the republican party decided to shut down government on the same day as Obamacare was rolled out: because if public attention had focused on the absolute and now confirmed, disaster that the healthcare law's rollout had been, then everyone, not just the Tea Party, would be demanding a substantial delay in Obamacare.
It's possible that the liberal's ultimate objective of achieving a single payer system, might well prove to be their undoing.
A government that is operating under the credo "by the corporation for the corporation", rather than "by the people for the people."
- NASDAQ SAYS WILL WORK WITH OTHER EXCHANGES ON `GLITCH'
- NASDAQ STATEMENT SAYS 'TECHNICAL ISSUES RESOLVED'
- NASDAQ SAYS TECHNICAL ISSUES WERE RESOLVED IN FIRST 3O MINUTES
- NASDAQ SAYS IT COORDINATED WITH OTHER EXCHANGES FOR REOPENING
- NASDAQ SAYS THAT PRICE QUOTES WEREN'T BEING DISSEMINATED BY SIP
- NASDAQ SAYS BALANCE OF TRADING WAS DAY WAS FINISHED IN NORMAL COURSE
- NASDAQ SAYS IT SUPPORTS ANY STEPS NEEDED TO ENHANCE PLATFORM
Recently, Fox News interviewed a self-described beach bum named Jason Greenslate who was very open about the fact that he has no problem sponging off of all the rest of us. When he was asked if he ever had any interest in actually getting a job, his response was "not whatsoever". Instead, he says that his job is to "make sure the sun's up and the girls are out" and he would rather spend his days partying. Of course every American should be free to live their own lives as they see fit, but the problem is that Jason Greenslate is using food stamps to help support his lifestyle. Of course the vast majority of those enrolled in the food stamp program are not like this. But there are also those such as Jason Greenslate that are openly abusing the system and making it more difficult for those that actually need the help to get it. Sadly, he is a product of the system that he was raised in.
In the world these days the markets often believe the rhetoric. This would be political rhetoric, corporate rhetoric or the prayers and hopes of the talking heads. This is especially true in the equity markets. Critical advice in this environment is, "forget what they tell you; just look at the numbers." So what is the Fed doing? As of July 31, 2013 they have parked $1,157 billion in foreign banks as compared with $1,112 billion in U.S. banks. To us this is a telling sign. The European banks are in trouble and the Fed is propping them up. One of the consequences of tapering, when it comes, may well be less available cash for this task and then the cracks in the European banks may well blow into gaping holes... "There is the plain fool, who does the wrong thing at all times everywhere, but there is the Wall Street fool, who thinks he must trade all the time."
An internal Bundesbank document discovered by Der Spiegel states, in opposition to the comments by Germany's electioneering Chancellor Merkel, that Europe "will certainly agree to a new aid program for Greece" by early 2014 at the latest. As Reuters reports, Frau Merkel has repeatedly played down suggestions Greece will require more aid (or debt relief) in light of German voters major skepticism over moar of their money being flushed into the Mediterranean. The document notes that the risks of the current aid package for Greece are "extremely high" and that recent approval of the tranche payments were politically motivated - directly contradicting Merkel's 'praise' for Greek efforts as the report concludes Athens' performance as "hardly satisfactory." Opposition parties suggest Merkel is throwing "sand in the eyes" of the electorate as the Bundesbank warns "there is no private buffer left that could protect the European taxpayer."
Retail investors are piling into the stock market again in the false belief that the worst of the economic crisis is over. Alas, those who are not properly diversified may again be in for a rude awakening.
While it is commendable that Bernanke has generated a wealth effect of some 12% for those few who are planning for retirement, another problem is where the funding for this increase has come from. As Bloomberg explains, while two thirds of the increase came courtesy of the stock market, or some 8% in absolute terms, the rest was from funded (and matched) contributions to accounts. This is equal to $2733 in actual money set aside for retirement in 2012, a far cry from the maximum allowed $17,500 per year, with the actual cash outflow excluding the corporate match substantially less. This amount to a measly $228 per month (less net of matching) that the average American who has a 401(k), has set aside for retirement. We understand now why Bernanke is so hell bent on hitting that Dow 32,000 bogey - without it, the average retired American will wake up very soon one day and realize that the money is gone. All gone.
Asset inflation often produces something called "wealth illusion," the belief that pricier asset holdings necessarily make one permanently richer. Illusions are dangerous. Eventually, painful reality intervenes. The "wealth illusion" of asset inflation is seductive, which is why central banks in charge of a fiat currency and subject to no external disciplines so often drift in that direction. Politicians smile in satisfaction and powerful Washington lobbies cry for more. But an economy built on an illusion is hardly a sound structure. We may be doomed to learn that lesson once again before long.