Bad breadth, flaccid flow, and bonds bid - what could possibly go wrong?
Large speculators (read - hedge funds or the supposed "smart money") have shifted their S&P 500 positioning to net short, increased their Russell 2000 short positioning and decreased their NASDAQ longs to one-year lows. Market-neutral funds have dropped exposure notably in the last week and long/short funds are well below market norms for their long positioning. But what has the bond bears really scratching their heads (as they added to their shorts in the last week) is that the last time so many people were convinced that rates can only go higher (based on CFTC data), bad things happened in stocks.
The big question remains: will the current signal be a sign of complacency, which suggests that lower prices are ahead or will the current signal be a failed signal leading to significant market gains?
Recent developments indicate that North Korea is very quietly beginning to expand its commercial interests. Some of this is due to internal change, but it would seem that much larger geopolitical forces are at work.
There is no edge.
Francine Lacqua (Interviewer): Jim, you also have this new book out, right, saying "The Death of Money" and this basically argues that if a number of things come together, we could have financial warfare, deflation, hyperinflation, market collapse. And yet the markets are merrily going along. Are we in a fictitious world?
As if the question actually needs to be asked, we thought the following 3 charts would provide at least some defense against the constant barrage of "healthy rotation" bullshit currently being used to maintain assets-under-management as professionals unwind their levered longs into a newly-willing retail public. As Gavekal notes, the following chart show that the median stock is trading at valuation levels only seen at the previous stock market highs of 2007 and 2000.
Confirming and continuing a trend we first described a year ago, overnight RealtyTrac reported, as part of its Q1 institutional investor and cash sales report, that the percentage of all-cash buyers has soared in the past year with "42.7% of all U.S. residential property sales in the first quarter were all-cash purchases, up from 37.8% in the previous quarter and up from 19.1% in the first quarter of 2013 to the highest level since RealtyTrac began tracking all-cash purchases in the first quarter of 2011."
From 110 slides of Ackman-inspired Fannie Mae bullishness to Tudor-Jones "Central Bank Viagra", and from Jim Grant's "Buy Gazprom because it's the worst-managed company in the world" to Jeff Gundlach's housing recovery bearishness and "never seeing 1.5 million home starts ever again"... there was a little here for every bull, dick, and harry at the Ira Sohn conference. Perhaps noted behavioral psychologist said its best though: "be careful about the quality of advice you get."
Large speculators reduced ther S&P 500 positioning to net short this week and their NASDAQ longs to a one-year low as BofAML reports on CFTC data. Macros funds decreased their long exposure to S&P500 and NASDAQ to now hold short exposure. They also decreased their long exposure to US Dollar (raising their AUD longs to a record high) and maintained their long exposure to 10-year Treasuries. They decreased their long exposure to commodities and increased their long exposure to EM. Across all asset classes, positioning is at extremes.
Based on Bloomberg's Smart Money Flow indicator, there is a very significant amount of distribution going on... the question is just who is soaking up the smart money selling? Company buybacks, Johnny 5, or a greater-fool retail investor?
We have bad news for hedge funds who, like Hugh Hendry in December of last year, threw fundamentals and caution to the wind and, with great reservations, jumped into this momo bandwagon in which mere buying beget more buying until nobody knew why anyone bought in the first place... and then everything crashed, leading to the worst day for hedge funds in a decade: according to Goldman's David Kostin, whose job is to be a cheerleader for the intangible "wealth effect" leading to all too tangible Goldman bonuses: "The stock market will likely recover during the next few months... but not momentum stocks."
I am sure those who were buying the "Kool-aid" at the market highs feel that way, but the numbers tell a different story.
It’s perplexing that analysts are perplexed by the rout.
The market has had a rough start of the year flipping between positive and negative year-to-date returns. However, despite all of the recent turmoil from an emerging markets scare, concerns over how soon the Fed will start to hike interest rates and signs of deterioration in the underlying technical foundations of the market, investors remain extremely optimistic about their investments. It is, of course, at these times that investors should start to become more cautious about the risk they undertake. Unfortunately, the "greed factor," combined with the ever bullish Wall Street "buy and hold so I can charge you a fee" advice, often deafens the voice of common sense. "Not surprisingly, lessons learned in 2008 were only learned temporarily. These are the inevitable cycles of greed and fear, of peaks and troughs."