“I don’t envisage, not even for one second, Greece leaving. This is nonsense, this is propaganda.”
– Jean-Claude Juncker, Chairman EuroGroup FinMin Committee
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.’’
– Jean-Claude Juncker, Same guy
While gold is now negative year to date in dollar terms, it remains 0.7% higher in euro terms. Gold prices dropped 3.7% last week and silver fell 5.1% to $28.89/oz. The smart money, especially in Asia, is again accumulating on the dip. Demand for jewellery and bullion in India has dipped in recent weeks but should resume on this dip – especially with inflation in India still very high at 7.23%. Also of interest in India is the fact that investment demand has remained robust and gold ETF holdings in India are soon to reach the $2 billion mark. This shows that recent gold weakness is primarily due to the recent bout of dollar strength. Morgan Stanley has said in a report that gold’s bull market isn’t over despite the recent price falls. Morgan Stanley remains bullish on gold as it says that the ECB will take steps to shore up bank balance sheets, U.S. real interest rates are still negative, investors have held on to most of their exchange traded gold and central banks are still buying gold.
Yep. Now it's official.
We discussed Bob Janjuah's must-read perspective of the market just over a week ago and his appearance on Bloomberg TV this morning reiterates that strongly held view that we are in midst of central bank anarchy and the rules of the game continue to change. While earnestly admitting his miss in Q1, on the back of under-estimation of just how incredibly un-independent central banks are (and will be proved to be in an election year), the bearded bear goes on to confirm his view of short term 10% correction in the S&P 500, a mid-year recovery on Bernanke's bowing to Obama's pressure, and ultimately back to S&P 500 in the 800pt range (and Dow/Gold to hit 1). Dismissing the don't-fight-the-Fed argument with analogies from 2007's 'you have to dance while the music is playing' and the tick-tick-boom carry trades that so many funds and investors follow now, he reminds the interviewer and the audience of how quickly all the trickle of carry gains are lost and then some when the music stops. Must watch to comprehend how smart money is comprehending the ultimate game theory of today's central bank largesse and the clear non-self-sustaining recoveries in global economies.
It's hard being a bear, except this week wasn't so bad.
We have discussed numerous times the surge in Student Loans as the lifeblood of the consumer credit expansion that we seem to be having but now its just getting ridiculous. Smart Money reports on the growing use of student loans for the private K-12 education needs of affluent families. This is not affordable loans for impoverished savants to get their PhD at 14 years old, roughly 20% of families that applied for aid to pay for their children's kindergarten through 12th grade private school education had incomes of $150,000 or more, up from just 6% in 2002-3. 'Pre-college' loans are becoming more popular as the story notes "It used to be that families first signed up for education loans when their child enrolled in college, but a growing number of parents are seeking tuition assistance as soon as kindergarten." These loans, which do not have to be repaid until the child graduates college are expensive (varying between 4 and 20% and average $14,000) which would be on top of the nearly $34,000 average that 1 in 6 parents already carry for college graduates - leaves parents at risk of owing considerably larger sums of debt. Still, perhaps the e*Trade baby will put that cash to good use but one parent sums up the alternate reality that exists within so many US households with regard to debt: "We'll figure out how to pay for it then, or with any luck they'll get scholarships," he says. "Right or wrong, we're hoping our experiment works." Keep buying those Mega Millions tickets too...
We hear a lot of the impending flood of money on the sidelines that will avalanche into the equity market to take us to Dow 20000 as retail sells low and buys high. Besides the arguments over the generally nonsensical argument of where the money comes from, who sold so you could buy stocks and who bought your 'safe' vehicle so that you could use that cash for 'risky' instruments, we note three interesting charts from Nomura today on recent fund flows and technicals that suggest perhaps we should not all be holding our breath for the proverbial money-flow (especially as we see outflows in the last week or so from some of the real high-beta darlings of the rally such as high-yield bond ETFs).
Wherein Tom Day of Sungard drops out of hyperspace just long enough to write the following missive on the PRMIA DC web rant soapbox and get a few hours sleeep. Ode to Frank Partnoy. -- Chris
Back in May of last year, just after the now historic silver slamdown of "Silver Sunday" on May 1, 2011, when the metal imploded by nearly 20% in the span of seconds, a move that some considered 'normal', primarily the CFTC, we presented the extended biopic of the infamous "Silverfinger": Bunker Hunt, who attempted to corner the silver market, and succeeded, if only briefly (and they say Playboy has no good articles). Today, courtesy of Grant Williams, we have dredged up the following clip from the archives, which is a 10 minute overview of just how there is really nothing new ever in the silver market, bringing up memories of Silver Thursday, March 27, 1980, and raising questions whether last year the move in precious metals was not due to the same attempt to corner the silver and gold markets as happened 30 years prior. A far more important question perhaps is how was it that tried a redux of the Hunt brothers (and Warren Buffett of course), and when will someone take their place next?
Balestra Capital: "If Government Programs Were Cancelled, The Economy Would Collapse Back Into Severe Recession"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/12/2012 19:52 -0500
While hardly an opinion that would be questioned around these parts, it is still good to see that even some of the smart money shares our views about the Schrodinger Economy ('alive' and 'dead' at the same time, depending if the BLS or anyone else is observing it) and we are not totally insane vis-a-vis one-time, non recurring government bailouts, which just incidentally have become perpetual and endless: "The Federal government has manfully stepped up to fill the gap left by consumers who have been forced to retrench and who are trying to repair their finances by paying down debt and increasing their savings. So the next question has to be: Is this recovery self-sustaining or is the economy still on life support, held together by periodic massive liquidity injections and ultra low interest rates, and accompanied by a dangerous, if not reckless, expansion of government debt? We think that if government programs were canceled, the economy would collapse back into severe recession." And here Balestra's Chris Gorgone explains quite astutely why anyone betting on a decoupling or perpetual USD reserve status may want to reconsider: "the U.S. is no longer in complete control of its own destiny. We exist now in a world of increasing correlation in the arenas of economics, finance, trade, politics, etc. What happens in Europe, China, the Middle East, etc. will have major impacts on American economic, political, and social outcomes. The world is changing rapidly. The old rules that so many investors rely upon may no longer apply the way they did during the great growth years after World War II." Alas, this too is spot on.
In what should come as no surprise to anyone who has a frontal lobe, yet will come as a total shock to the central planners of the world and their media marionettes, the latest attempt to sucker in retail investors courtesy of a completely artificial 20% stock market ramp over the past 4 months driven entirely by the global liquidity tsunami discussed extensively here in past weeks and months, has suffered a massive failure. Exhibit 1 and only: as ICI shows today, following what is now a 20% ramp in the stock market, not only have retail investors continued to pull out cash from domestic equity mutual funds (about $66 billion since the recent lows in October, the bulk of which has gone into bonds and hard commodities), but the week of February 29, when the market peaked so far in 2012, saw the biggest weekly outflow of 2012 to date, at -$3 billion. Alas, this means that the traditional happy ending for the authoritarian regime, whereby stocks get offloaded from Primary Dealers, and GETCO's subsidiaries, to the retail investor, is not coming, and soon the scramble for the exits among the so-called "smart money" will be a sight to behold.
I ask myself everyday: if I am buyer today will I be able to get out of this market safely and without a parachute?
Want to get into the head of a hedge fund manager, and see how they view the market: why just buy Apple of course, however good luck explaining to your LPs why you deserve 2 and 20 for "active asset management" aka just following the herd into the biggest hedge fund hotel in history (for at least 216 hedge funds it may be a tough sell). So for everyone else, Goldman's David Kostin (who still has a 1250 year end S&P target - the definitive indicator to sell everything will be when he too gives up) has compiled the data in all the just released 13Fs and has summarized the results as follows...
While the rest of the world is conveniently distracted by events in Europe, where conventional wisdom dictates that even an all out default of Greece would be manageable, whatever that means, the smart money in the room - the world's now 21 Primary Dealers (ex MF Global, whose CEO is "almost", but not quite, about to be prosecuted for the theft of billions in client funds) has been quietly bracing for impact in the only way they know - buying up Treasurys. In fact, according to the US Trasury's weekly update, in the most recent week ended February 8, 2012, Primary Dealer Treasury holdings of Dealers surged to an all time high of $102 billion, a whopping increase of $37 billion on the week, which matches only the surges seen during the post end of quarter window dressing discussed extensively before. The driver were exclusively bonds in the "Bills" and "Under 3 Year" category, which rose by $37.7 billion. As a reminder, courtesy of ZIRP through 2014, bonds with a sub-3 Years maturity are the functional, and liquidity equivalent, of Bills - or cash equivalents from a liquidity standpoint, with the added benefit that these are repoable at a moment's notice, to the Fed or anyone else. The last time we have seen such a dramatic increase in Dealer Bill and Coupon concentration was in early 2009 when the world was ending and when Dealers went from zero Bill holdings to tens of billions in Bill holdings overnight. These holdings only declined as QE1 starting to improve risk conditions, and dropped further in the aftermath of QE2. This time, there is no backstop from the Fed, at least no public one. Which means that, for all intents and purposes, Dealers are hunkering down in anticipation of something that affords maximum liquidity yet is not stocks.