According to BofA's Jill Hall, "BofAML clients were big net sellers of US stocks in the amount of $4.1bn, following four weeks of net buying. Net sales were the largest since January 2008 and led by institutional clients—after three weeks of net buying, institutional clients’ net sales last week were the largest in our data history."
As we move toward the second half of 2015, signs of financial turmoil are appearing all over the globe. Slowly but surely, we are starting to see the smart money head for the exits. As one Swedish fund manager put it recently, everyone wants “to avoid being caught on the wrong side of markets once the herd realizes stocks are over-valued“.
There has been an odd trend of late in stock sentiment readings. Despite major averages that are near all-time highs, sentiment has dropped considerably across many of the measures we track. One such example comes from options trading on the VIX. The interesting thing about present conditions in VIX options is that the Put/Call Ratio (using a 21-day average) is at the lowest level since the summer of 2008. That means that there are more bets on a rising VIX versus bets on a falling VIX than we have seen in 7 years. And again, a rising VIX is associated with bad markets. Contrarians would say this is extremely bullish but history shows it is anything but...
A rumour has been making its way around the blogosphere suggesting that gold coins are not available for purchase from retail outlets across Europe. This information is misleading and incorrect.
At the end of every quarter there is a scramble by the financial public to peek at what the biggest hedge fund holdings were as of 45 days ago. And yet, one wonders why: as Goldman notes, "the low dispersion market continues to challenge stock-pickers as the average hedge fund lags the S&P 500 for the seventh straight year (2% vs. 4% YTD)." In fact, even the barbarous relic known as gold has outperformed the average hedge fund YTD. Then again, as we have said since 2012, the only informational value comes not from looking at hedge fund longs, but their biggest shorts, since short squeezes remain perhaps the only source of major outperformance. So for all those curious, here are the biggest hedge fund shorts as of March 31, 2015.
Smart money continues to maintain allocations or accumulate positions. U.S. mining financier Oskar Lewnowski is preparing to launch a base and precious metals fund. The 50 year old New Yorker has already invested almost $1 billion and hired a physical metals trader to handle supply.
"Loans take time to season and go bad, and Wall Street loves to package and pass along risk. The music will stop — it always does — and this will not end well.”
Artificially low prices for the metal have forced mines to close in recent years. Supply may not be able to match increasing demand in the coming years.
Q: How do you make a small fortune on Wall Street?
A: Start with a large fortune.
~ old investing adage
Operating and reported earnings have turned sharply lower over recent quarters which has historically been associated with major market peaks. As shown below, it is also important to notice that revenue has tended to lag these downturns in earnings previously. This is because the measures used to substantially boost profitability from each dollar of revenue generated through accounting gimmickry, share repurchases, and cost cutting are finite in nature. When the effect of those manipulations fade, so does the inflated profitability generated from each dollar of revenue. This will be something worth watching closely over the next few quarters particular as the commentary of a "continued secular bull market" continues to hit the headlines.
The put/call ratio of open interest on S&P 100 (OEX) options has historically been a "smart money" indicator. The stock market peaked (anbd has drifted sideways for the last 6-7 weeks) since March 3rd saw an unprecedented string of bearish readings. The bearish OEX put/call readings have not relented, however. In fact, the bearishness has accelerated to an extreme level never seen before.
Of course no two financial crashes ever look exactly the same. The crisis that we are moving toward is not going to be precisely like the crisis of 2008. But there are similarities and patterns that we can look for. Sadly, most people are not willing to learn from history. Even though it is glaringly apparent that we are in a historic financial bubble, most investors on Wall Street cannot see it because they do not want to see it. This next financial crisis will be strike number three. After this next crisis, there will never be a return to “normal” for the United States.