Remember when the retail investor was the butt of all jokes, abused by the "smart money" hedge funds and prop desks to soak up hot potatoes and even hotter grenades? Well, to quote Matthew, those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last: because the dumb money just got very smart. As the latest update from ICI shows, in the last week of May, when all the "smart" money was selling hand over fist, it was the retail investor who bottom-timed the market perfectly.
The problems facing the U.S. economy are daunting especially when it comes the issues of Government spending and the current deficit. We recently wrote about the dependency on Government programs which is currently making up as much as 35% of personal incomes. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare make up the largest portions of the current spending requirements of the Federal Budget. The current administration has promised that cuts will not be made to government "entitlement" programs but is that a promise that any administration can actually keep? When it comes to Social Security the facts are rather alarming. By 2017 the Social Security Administration will pay out more in benefits than it takes in. This is not surprising given that in the 1950's there were roughly 5 workers for every retiree. Today, it is roughly half of that. With 78 Million "baby boomers" moving into retirement the demands on social security are set to spiral higher in the coming years ahead. Is it really any wonder then that with demographics heading in the wrong direction, not to mention a much slower growth economy, that the Social Security Administration has moved up its estimate that the Social Security Fund will be exhausted entirely by 2033?
Instead of a "botched" event, the Facebook IPO is actually a total success by Wall Street standard, since concerted effort appeared to have been made to ensure an "acceptable" return for the insiders.
Initiative comes to thems who wait...--A Clockwork Orange
“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.