Several days ago we published the latest seminal paper by Artemis Capital Management, a must read for everyone confused about market dynamics in the "central-planning normal." Since a core focus of Artemis' long-running narrative has been the impact of endless interventions in markets, and their distortions of volatility, the firm's Chris Cole has prepared the following addendum animation showing the vol curve over the past 20 years, which ultimately has led to what we have dubbed a "centrally-planned, liquidity addicted, temperamental abortion".
As Europe approaches the halfway point of the week, equities are suffering losses on the day as North America comes to market, with underperformance observed in the CAC and peripheral bourses. Markets have been weighed down upon from the open with commentary from the Portuguese PM garnering attention in the press, saying that there are ‘no guarantees’ that Portugal will return to the financial markets as planned. A Bank of Spain release has shown the bad loan ratio for the country’s banks has increased to 8.16%, further weighing on sentiment. There was also market talk of stop-loss buying of German Bunds at the cash open, the security had sold off since then but safe haven flows have kept the Bund in positive territory.
Central Banks Favour Gold As IMF Warns of “Collapse of Euro” and “Full Blown Panic in Financial Markets”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/18/2012 - 06:40
The Eurozone could break up and trigger a “full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight” and a global economic slump to rival the Great Depression, the IMF warned yesterday. In its World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund said the collapse of the crisis-torn single currency could not be ruled out. It warned that a disorderly exit of one member country would have untold knock-on effects. "The potential consequences of a disorderly default and exit by a euro area member are unpredictable... If such an event occurs, it is possible that other euro area economies perceived to have similar risk characteristics would come under severe pressure as well, with full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight from several banking systems," said the report. "Under these circumstances, a break-up of the euro area could not be ruled out." “This could cause major political shocks that could aggravate economic stress to levels well above those after the Lehman collapse," said the report. The risks outlined by the IMF are real and are being taken seriously by central banks who are becoming more favourable towards diversifying foreign exchange reserves into gold. Central bank reserve managers responsible for trillions of dollars of investments are shunning euro assets and questioning the currency’s haven status because of the region’s sovereign debt crisis, research has found, according to the FT.... Elsewhere, gold demand in India, the world’s biggest importer, may climb as much as 25 percent during a Hindu festival next week, according to Rajesh Exports Ltd., reviving jewelry buying that was curtailed by a nationwide shutdown.
Following a blistering two days of upside activity in Europe and a manic depressive turn in the US in the past 48 hours, the rally is now be running on fumes, and may be in danger of flopping once again, especially in Spain where the IBEX is tumbling by over 3% to a fresh 3 year low. Still, the Spanish 10 year has managed to stay under 6% and is in fact tighter on the day in the aftermath of the repeatedly irrelevant Bill auctions from yesterday, when the only thing that matters is tomorrow's 10 Year auction. Probably even more important is that the BOE now appears to have also checked to Bernanke and no more QE out of the BOE is imminent. As BofA summarizes, "The BoE voted 8-1 to leave QE on hold at their April meeting: a more hawkish outturn than market expectations of an unchanged 7-2 vote from March. Adam Posen - the most dovish member of the BoE over the last few quarters - took off his vote for £25bn QE, while David Miles judged that his vote for £25bn more QE was finely balanced (less dovish than his views in March)." Even the BOE no longer know what Schrodinger "reality" is real: "The BoE judged that developments over the month had been relatively mixed, with a lower near-term growth outlook, but a higher near-term inflation outlook. However, they thought that the official data suggesting very weak construction output and soft manufacturing output of late were “perplexing”, and they were not “minded to place much weight on them”." Naturally, this explains why Goldman's Carney may be next in line to head the BOE - after all to Goldman there is no such thing as a blunt "firehose" to deal with any "perplexing" issue. Finally, the housing market schizophrenia in the US continues to rule: MBA mortgage applications rose by 6.9% entirely on the back of one of the only positive refinancing prints in the past 3 months, which rose by 13.5% after a 3.1% drop last week. As for purchases - they slammed lower by 11.2%, the second week in a row. Hardly the basis for a solid "recovery."
- First Japan now... Australia Ready to Help IMF (WSJ)
- "Not if, but when" for Spanish bailout, experts believe (Reuters)
- Spain’s Surging Bad Loans Cast New Doubts on Bank Cleanup (Bloomberg)
- Spain weighs financing options (FT)
- Spanish Banks Gorging on Sovereign Bonds Shifts Risk to Taxpayer (Bloomberg)
- Spain and Italy Bank on Banks (WSJ)
- Chesapeake CEO took out $1.1 billion in unreported loans (Reuters)
- China preparing to roll out OTC equity market – regulator (Reuters)
- Angry North Korea threatens retaliation, nuclear test expected (Reuters)
- North Korea Breaks Off Nuclear Accord as Food Aid Halted (Bloomberg)
One of the great existential debates about U.S. equities is essentially demographic in nature. Nic Colas, of ConvergEx, asks the question, will retiring Baby Boomers cash out of stocks in the coming years, leaving lower valuations in their wake? At least one recent Fed paper pointed to an 8x earnings multiple for stocks – down from 14x currently – in 2025, all due to the changing face (and age) of the typical investor. But all this doom and gloom only fits if every generation has a similar risk tolerance. If younger cohorts – dubbed Generation X and “Next” – have higher risk thresholds, they may actually buy more equities than their parents, alleviating the demographic time bomb behind that dire Fed prediction. Getting a fix on how these nascent investors will evaluate the risk-return tradeoff is tough; they still don’t have much money to put to work. Still, some signs exist. Believe it or not, a third of young Americans have tattoos, an acknowledged sign of risk-loving behavior. And if you think that is just bad decision-making, consider the business rock-stars of the under-30 set. This latest wave of billionaires are all outsized risk takers, and role models to their generation. Stocks may not be dead just yet.
Ten more years of low returns in the stock market. If you are one of the millions of baby boomers headed into retirement - start saving more and spending less because the stock market won't bail you out. Now that I have your attention I will explain why this is the likely future ahead for investors. In this past weekend's newsletter I wrote that “If you put all of your money into cash today and don’t look at the market for another decade – you will be better off..." I realize that this statement is equivalent to heresy where Wall Street is concerned but there is one simple reason behind my apparent madness - the power of "reversion". This is not a new concept by any means as witnessed by Bob Farrell's rule #1 - "Markets tend to return to the mean over time." However, the reality of what "reversion" means is grossly misunderstood by Wall Street, and the mainstream media, as witnessed by the many valuation calls that "stocks are now cheap because the market is now trading in line with its long term average."
Earlier today, thousands listened to Jeff Gundlach live (if with the occasional flash crash) lay out his latest views on the economy and markets. For those who missed it, as well as for those who may want a refresher on why Gundlach is slowly building up a natgas position, or why he is buying gold on dips, here is the full slidedeck used by the DoubleLine manager.
I recently wrote an article that addresses the subject of sociopaths and how they insinuate themselves into society. Although the subject doesn't speak directly to what stock you should buy or sell to increase your wealth, I think it's critical to success in the markets. It goes a long way towards explaining what goes on in the heads of people like Bernie Madoff and therefore how you can avoid being hurt by them. But there's a lot more to the story. At this point, it seems as if society at large has been captured by Madoff clones. If that's true, the consequences can't be good. So what I want to do here is probe a little deeper into the realm of abnormal psychology and see how it relates to economics and where the world is heading. If I'm correct in my assessment, it would imply that the prospects are dim for conventional investments – most stocks, bonds and real estate. Those things tend to do well when society is growing in prosperity. And prosperity is fostered by peace, low taxes, minimal regulation and a sound currency. It's also fostered by a cultural atmosphere where sociopaths are precluded from positions of power and intellectual and moral ideas promoting free minds and free markets rule. Unfortunately, it seems that doesn't describe the trend that the world at large and the US in particular are embarked upon. In essence, we're headed towards economic and financial bankruptcy.
On The Goldman Path To Complete World Domination: Mark Carney On His Way To Head The Bank Of England?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/17/2012 - 17:44
Back in November we penned "The Complete And Annotated Guide To The European Bank Run (Or The Final Phase Of Goldman's World Domination Plan)" in which we described what the long-term reality of Europe, not that interrupted by the occasional transitory LTRO cash injection and other stop-gap central bank measure, would look like. And yet there was one piece missing: after Goldman unceremoniously set up its critical plants in Italy via Mario Monti and the ECB via Mario Draghi, one key target of Goldman domination was still missing. The place? Why the center of the entire modern infinitely rehypothecatable financial system of course: England, which may have 1,000x consolidated debt/GDP, but at least it can repledge any asset in perpetuity thus giving the world the impression it is solvent (no wonder AIG, MF Global, and now the CME are scrambling to operate out of there). Which is why we read with little surprise that none other than former Goldmanite, and current head of the Bank of Canada, is on his way to the final frontier: the Bank of England.
Presented with little comment but given the seemingly unlimited balance sheet of the JPMorgan CIO office and the ability to sell as much protection (implicitly bullish) and gather premium as credit derivative index notionals soared at an incredible rate, are we stretching the point a little too far to claim that perhaps, just perhaps, one of the new transmission mechanisms for the global central banks' liquidity flows is leveraged credit - which implicitly enables stocks to be supported by lower funding costs and exhibit the kind of portfolio rebalancing effect that was desired. Perhaps even more critical is the fact that IG9 (the credit index in question) contains some of the most worrisome of the major corporate credits and thus the highest short-interest in stock-land - which implicitly exaggerates any non-MtM-based entity's ability to create a short-squeeze? Is the entire market now a function of one prop trader (hence forbidden by the Volcker Rule) being forced to (un)wind his trade now that he is finally in the public spotlight as we wonder - are recent market jitters merely the byproduct of Iksil selling some of his excess exposure, and being the marginal price setter across virtually every asset class?
Flashing headlines to conclude tax day:
- BUFFETT DIAGNOSED WITH STAGE I PROSTATE CANCER
- WARREN BUFFETT SAYS NO INCIDENCE OF CANCER ELSEWHERE
- BERKSHIRE SAYS CONDITION ISN'T 'REMOTELY LIFE-THREATENING'
- BUFFETT: TESTS SHOW NO INCIDENCE OF CANCER ELSEWHERE IN BODY
CNBC adds that Buffett will start a two-month treatment course in July.
NASDAQ managed its largest gain in four months as Apple came back into vogue and saved the day. The equity indices were alone in their magnificent exuberance after the European close as Gold, Treasuries, and the USD all tracked sideways in a very narrow range. As we have been warning, the mania is back in equity (and credit markets but less so) as April has now seen six of the last nine days swinging between 2 sigma gains and 2 sigma losses (for the NASDAQ). Volume was average today in ES (the S&P 500 e-mini futures) and NYSE (stocks) but high in Apple's equity and options markets as the schizophrenic behavior pushed the stock from under $572 at the open to almost $610 by the close (though notably stuck between Friday's close $605.19 and its closing VWAP at $610.74). The last day to fund your IRA combined with tomorrow's VIX futures/options expiration likely helped some of this momentum (as we note VIX is about 1 vol higher than it was when the S&P closed at these levels on Friday). Just as in Europe, credit markets were simply not as enamored with the Spanish auction or Apple's awesomeness as equities and drifted sideways to weaker all afternoon (with some late-day weakness in HYG as it starts to fall back towards its NAV). Financials and Materials lost some ground into the close and ES gave all its post-Europe-close gains back as volume and trade size picked up significantly at last Thursday's swing highs (near pre-NFP levels again). The Treasury complex saw all its 'losses' in the early going and went sideways in an extremely narrow range for much of the US day session - ending the day slightly higher in yield (0.5-1.5bps) on the week. Commodities surged early on as the USD slipped but drifted back from mid-morning on (except WTI which broke above $105 (ended above $104) for the first time in 2 weeks. Gold and Silver nose-dived right after the US open only to recover it all by the European close. EUR strength (and USD weakness) occurred early this morning on the Spanish auction and aside from a rip in CAD the rest of the day was relatively tight ranges with a very small drift higher in DXY. All-in-all, it seemed like an oversold snap that saw opportunistic sellers coming in at the end as average trade size surged and ES closed back above its 50DMA again - echoing last week's mania and worryingly raising realized vol for all those hopes and dreamers. Equities look over-their-skis again relative to risk assets in general.