Copper, Iron Ore, Rebar, Rubber, and now Cotton are all at multi-year lows as the Qingdao CCFD ponzi probe continues to broaden to all the commodities we warned about previously. As CottonCN reports, the probe's increased uncertainty and scrutiny of shipments may hurt imports of of cotton in the form of consignment sales, as international traders delay shipments or deliveries to wait for clear policies as authorities continues their investigation. Even soybeans and palm oil have been on a notably downswing since the probe intothe collateral evaporation started. Then comes the news that Chinese commodities trading firm CITIC admission that over half of its 220,000 tonnes of alumina are missing. This is far from over...
Now, for the first time, we have empirical proof that hedge funds are indeed on the verge of extinction. In its hedge fund quarterly note (which it clearly ripped off from Goldman), Bank of America has concluded what we said in the beginning of the decade: "Hedge Funds are less attractive post the financial crisis with lower alpha and less diversification benefits." Or, in other words, hedge funds (for the most part: this excludes those extortionists also known as activists who successfully bully management teams into levering up in order to buyback record amounts of stock, in the process burying their companies and employers when the next downturn arrives) no longer provide a service commensurate to their astronomical fees.
As if the market needed any further proof it is not only manipulated and rigged (at least under a legal system that classifies trading on insider information as illegal), but is constantly abused by those with material, non-public information - i.e., insiders - here comes a study conducted by professors at McGill and New York Universities, which, as the NYT summarizes, finds that "A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading."
As a helpful hint for the Federal Reserve - who appear concerned about "financial instability" - we thought the following chart might suggest where to look for 'irrational' investors...
Back in Feb 2013 we introduced the "Brent Vigilantes" and reminded traders how stock markets (and macro economies) react to shifts in the oil price with the two trading together to a 'tipping point' at which point strocks belief in growth breaks. We further confirmed that this is even more worrisome in the case of an oil price shock which strongly suggests that VIX at 12 is not pricing in the volatility that we have seen in the past when the oil complex starts to shake.
Bad data, don't worry, the central bank's got your back; Good data, don't worry, the central bank promised to stay easier for longer and longer (no matter how good things appear from the data). That's the meme that has driven the short-end of the world's largest bond markets to record lows. And then, just as the world's bond traders think they have the central banks understood, the Bank of England drops a tape-bomb...
While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."
IMF Slashes US Growth Expectations; Pushes Higher Minimum Wage, Removing Tax Loopholes & Fiscal StimulusSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/16/2014 09:43 -0400
Who could have seen that coming? The IMF has slashed US growth expectations for 2014 from 2.8% to 2.0% (with 2015 hockey-sticking back to 3.0%) due to weather. The IMF also warned the Fed should be "mindful of financial stability," but that is not the most surprising aspect of the IMF's mea culpa as they plunge head first into policy decisions...
*IMF RECOMMENDS RAISING U.S. MINIMUM WAGE, ADDITIONAL U.S. INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE, & LIMITING OR ENDING ITEMIZED TAX DEDUCTIONS
One wonders, rhetorically of course, if the IMF also pulled a "Polish Central Bank" and suggested that the US fire all Republicans in return for this suggestion; and we wonder how El-Nino is "priced-in" to this forecast.
With the 2014 calendar nearly half way done, and the macro hedge fund community not only underperforming the S&P 500 for the 6th year in a row, but generating a negative return YTD, what is a macro hedge fund universe to do? Why lose all pretense of being sophisticated fundamental trend pickers and do what Bernanke and Yellen have been forcing everyone to do from day one: go all in stocks of course! According to JPM as of this moment there is no difference in the positioning of both traditional long/short hedge funds and macro funds, both of which have increased their equity exposure to the highest since May 2011!
More and more investors are struggling...
Today's financial markets make a mockery out of sanity and logic. The difference between what SHOULD happen and what IS happening is perhaps the greatest it has been in our investing lifetimes. If you're perplexed, flummoxed, frustrated, stymied, enraged, bored, irritated, insulted, discouraged -- any or all of these -- by the ever-higher blind grinding of asset prices over the past several years, despite so many structural reasons for concern, you have good reason to be.
As the global election cycle begins to slow down we turn our attention back home to give investors a working roadmap for the Midterm Elections in the US.
Volatility is depressed, micro dominates and as Goldman notes several of the key emerging themes of the last few years have lost their discovery value. There are many questions that investors should be asking as the second half of 2014 approaches (and the much hoped for 'recovery' picks up steam); but perhaps the most important one given the taper is "In a sea of liquidity, what happened to all the liquidity?" The supply of stock and volumes are down. Did you know Verizon’s current market cap is larger than Russia’s float?
This week’s news certainly WASN’T BORING. Big events and small add up to unfolding CHAOS around the WORLD. This week’s subjects: American Empire on FIRE!, Out on a LIMB: Credit Unions facing INSOLVECY, Is rising indebtedness a sign of economic strength?, Bond YIELDS continue to collapse as the race for yield INTENSIFIES, George Orwell in Action, Showdown looming at the OK corral!, Simply UNBELIEVABLE SOVEREIGN credit market action, PHANTOM GDP, Rare INDEED, Must watch video interview with Charles Nenner,European BANKING SYSTEM INSOLVECY
As human beings, we are remarkably poor at predicting our future selves. We know that our personalities, preferences and values have certainly changed in the past, but, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas explains, we tend to dramatically underestimate what changes might be in store on these fronts in the future. That’s the upshot of a recent bit of research by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, and it helps explain how we process decisions as varied as whether to get a tattoo or how we invest financial capital. Stasis is our default setting when it comes to considering our futures, and that lack of imagination seems to inform how much we can predict about how other people and systems will change as well. The most important takeaway: no matter how much you think your life will remain the same, you are almost certainly wrong. And the same goes for capital markets.