For an update on the sad state of the hedge fund industry, we go to the FT which confirms what we had been reporting every week in 2011 courtesy of the periodic HSBC hedge fund industry report, namely that less than one third of all hedge funds in 2011 paid material bonuses to their employees (or if they did, they better have done it without the knowledge of their LPs), because "more than two-thirds of hedge funds are below their high water mark., the point at which they are able to charge investors performance fees." And since performance fees, or the 20 in the "2 and 20 part", is where the discretionary component of analyst, trader and PM compensation comes from, it is safe to say that the bulk of hedgies did not have a good year in 2011. And, in fact, for many the anger goes far back: "It can be a long way back. Credit Suisse calculates that 13 per cent of hedge funds have not earned any incentive fees since at least 2007. Most of these are small funds with assets of less than $100m, which struggle to retain staff without the income available from performance fees." One such fund was of course Citadel which after its abysmal performance in 2008 only managed to climb above its high water mark in the past week for the first time since 2007. And while this is not really news, what is far more curious is that according to Credit Suisse hedge funds have resumed levering once again.
Goldman Confirms Smart Money Is Now Offloading To Retail; Sees 1.2880 As A EURUSD Short Covering ThresholdSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/18/2012 21:26 -0400
Earlier today we got our first clue that the smart money has stopped "distribution" and is now offloading to retail after we saw the first equity fund inflow, however tiny, in months, and only the second one out of 37 outflows since April, as reported by ICI. The second and far more important one comes from today's Goldman sales roundup, which confirmed that following today's latest borderline ridiculous meltup, retail investors looking for the sucker at the poker table, wouldn't be able to find one. Here's why. Quote Goldman: "As has been the recent trend, our cash flow remains better to sell, both from long-only and hedge funds." And there you have it: smart money (well, relatively so) has "recently" been using every melt up chance it gets to dump the bags with the E*Trade baby. Third and final proof: "ETF flow however skewed toward better buying." At this point retail investors may want to ask themselves: what do they know that the others, who are actively selling to them, don't.
One of the more useful Wall Street fictions is the naive notion that big players and small-fry equity owners alike love low-volatility "melt-up" markets that slowly creep higher on low volume. The less attractive reality is that big trading desks find low-volatility "melt-up" markets useful for one thing: to sucker retail buyers and less-adept fund managers into an increasingly vulnerable market. Beyond that utility, low-volatility "melt-up" markets are of little value to big trading desks for the simple reason that there is no way to outperform in markets that lack volatility. The retail crowd may love a market that slowly gains 4% for the year, barely budging for months, but such a market is anathema to big traders. It's always useful to ask cui bono--to whose benefit? In this case, highly volatile markets don't benefit clueless retail equities owners, as they are constantly whipsawed out of "sure-thing" positions. From the big trading desk point of view, this whipsawing provides essential liquidity, as retail traders and inept fund managers trying to follow the wild swings up and down provide buyers. I have a funny feeling the "smart money" has built up a nice short position here and as a result the market is about to "unexpectedly" decline sharply. The ideal scenario for big trading desks here is a sudden decline that panics complacent retail traders and managers into selling (or leaving their stops in to get hit).
As the following update from Goldman's David Kostin demonstrates, after dropping to third place with 173 hedge funds owning AAPL (behind Microsoft at 181 and Citigroup at 178) as of March 31, the company that Steve Jobs built was back at the very top of hedge fund holdings with 181 hedge funds holding on to AAPL. The question is what will they do tomorrow and will the first game theory defection bring an end to the fairytale story?
UBS have raised their 3 month forecast for silver sharply from $30/oz to $50/oz. They suggest that investors are too nervous to short gold and may be preferring to buy silver instead. Silver remains more than 16% below the record nominal high seen in late April 2011 and in January 1980. While gold at $1,888 is now 120% above its nominal 1980 high of $850/oz. The inflation adjusted high for silver is over $130/oz and those who understand the fundamentals of the silver market are positioning themselves for the possibility of a move to these levels in the coming months. Speculative fever in the silver futures market remains muted with COT data showing net longs well below the records seen in April. Silver is volatile but in the current climate what isn’t? Recently, there has been huge volatility in currency and bond markets and entire equity indices have been as volatile as silver. While silver is volatile, what makes silver valuable is the fact that like gold it has no counterparty liability or risk (with silver coins, bars or allocated storage) and therefore cannot go bankrupt unlike banks and sovereign governments. Media coverage of silver remains minimal with big brother gold getting some of the limelight recently.
Smart Money Europe - New Bold Prediction: By 2015, 10 percent of the S&P 500 will consist of Gold & Silver Stocks!Submitted by Smart Money Europe on 06/18/2011 12:57 -0400
Approved by our political and monetary ‘leaders’!
China has been ranked as the top growing country among the G20 since 2001 and is expected to retain that title for at least another five years. However, the news coming out of China for the past three months has not been good.
While this data point is of interest, I would always ask the question: why use something if it doesn't work?
Zero Hedge readers already know that in the latest week the insider selling to buying ratio hit unprecedented levels. Obviously, corporate officers and insiders have decided to take advantage of the artificial wealth effect and bail, especially since it is still unclear whether capital gains taxes will be the same in the following year. However, it is not only insiders who see between the lines. As the following charts demonstrate, the smart money is now either bailing from the stock market in droves or hedging for a market crash like never before...
More insights from "smart money"....
While not there yet, the indicators are heading in the direction that one would expect to see at a market top.