I strongly suspect that Ms. Holmes' delusions that she's going to pull herself out of this mess will, at long last, be dismissed when the reaction she gets to this "3 for 1" offer is the sound of crickets.
Maybe the "smart money" knows the real numbers are now so far from the central planners' rigged statistics that the carefully constructed narrative of "recovery" is doomed to an unwelcome intrusion of reality.
"In the US, muted growth will be offset by P/E multiple contraction, suggesting a flat US equity market in the next 12 months. Stock valuations stand at historical extremes. The median trades at a forward P/E of 18.2x, ranking in the 98th percentile since 1976. Rising wage inflation will weigh on profit margins and limit further P/E expansion. Expectations of additional Fed tightening by year-end represent another headwind to higher equity prices"
In the second quarter, the Swiss National Bank added $7.3 billion to its US equity portfolio, and according to its just filed 13-F, is now long a record $61.8 billion in US stocks, up from $54.5 billion a month ago. In fact, rising from $41.3 billion in total US stock holdings as of December 2015, this means that the Swiss central bank increased its total US holdings by a record 50% in the first half of 2016.
Active managers are now more exposed to beta than they have been since 2008. And with the rally off of February’s lows driven largely by cyclical reflation plays, cyclical vs. defensive sector exposure is now the highest we have seen since 2012.
July may have been a good month for the S&P 500, which is up over 3.5%, generating more than half of the S&P's entire YTD 2016 return (6.4%) in just one month, but it was another painful month for the active investing "smart money" - of the roughly 40 (rotating) marquee names in our hedge fund tracking universe, only one is beating the broader market this month.
The slow motion LBO of the market by the market continues, as more debt is issued fund stock buybacks and push stocks briefly, and artificially, higher, even as corporations lever themselves up to all time highs now that the even the merest risk of rising rates has been buried for years to come.
For the rates market, the significance of this acceptance phase by pensions cannot be understated, in our opinion. A $3 trillion industry running a $500 billion funding gap and a significant duration gap waking up to reality is likely to have major implications for the market. In the extreme case, entire pensions could be offloaded from corporate balance sheets to insurance companies (increasingly like the UK, Exhibit 1)–generating significant demand for long-end duration during such transactions.
While we sarcastically pointed out back in 2013 that with the Fed (and now every other central bank) as the market's Chief Risk Officer, there is no longer a need for anyone to do fundamental analysis, this has not only come true but the outcome is now is far worse. Because it confirms what we have said all along: not only is there no market left aside from what Central Banks decide will happen to "risk assets" on any given day, but the smart money- both hedge and mutual funds - have now completely lost the plot.
The new normal sure is strange: with the S&P flirting with all time highs, not to mention staging another dramatic V-shaped comeback from the post-Brexit crash which saw S&P futures trade limit down a week ago, investors keep on selling. According to Lipper data, U.S.-based stock mutual funds, which are held by retail mom-and-pop investors, posted cash withdrawals of $2.8 billion over the weekly period ended Wednesday; this was the 16th consecutive week of outflows.