Back in August, when we wrote that "A Stunning 60% Of All Home Purchases Are "Cash Only" - A 200% Jump In Five Years" based on Goldman data, many laughed, unable to fathom that the majority of the US housing market has become a flippers' game played by institutions and the uber wealthy, who don't need a stinking mortgage to buy that South Beach mansion. As it turns out we were just a little ahead of the curve as usual, and as real estate company RealtyTrac reported overnight, with data that naturally is delayed due to the delayed impact of houses coming out of the much delayed foreclosure pipeline, "All-cash purchases accounted for 42.1 percent of all U.S. residential sales in December, up from a revised 38.1 percent in November, and up from 18.0 percent in December 2012." That's a 10% increase in one month for a 6-9 month delayed series, which means that in reality, roughly about 60% of all homes are now purchased with cold, hard cash.
When it comes to staying relevant (and profitable) in today's rapidly changing technological world, one of the key requirements is constantly being one step ahead of the competition. Which, for tech stocks, implies investing significantly in research and development. So, off the top of one's head, when one thinks who invests more in R&D as a percent of revenue, say between Nokia - which failed to innovate fast enough and as a result got run over, and Apple - which is best known for its innovative (if NSA infiltration-riddled) products, one would be tempted to say Apple. However, the reality is quite the opposite. As the chart below shows, when plotting the R&D to sales ratio for the diametrically opposite Nokia and Apple, one sees a constant increase in research spending at Nokia on one hand, and a consistent decline at Apple, on the other.
With record debt issuance funding record share buybacks and record wage disparity for executives, the "fruits of the rebound" in global asset markets (read - central-bank-inspired liquidity douche) have passed over a whole generation. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, the risk of young people facing long-term unemployment is rising as firms increase payouts to shareholders and executives rather than invest in new workers, the ILO has warned. Structurally high unemployment is the second-biggest concern this year, according to the World Economic Forum’s global risks 2014 report.
- All-time record lows in many Emerging Market Currencies (TRY, ARS, VENZ (unof.) most)
- Nikkei 225 -3.75% - biggest drop in 7 months
- Emerging Market Stocks -3% - (4 month lows)
- USD Index -0.7% - biggest drop in 3 months (2014 lows)
- USDJPY -1.3% - biggest drop in 5 months
- AUDJPY -2.35% - biggest drop in 7 months (4 month lows)
- Dow -1.3% - biggest drop in 5 months (5-week lows)
- 30Y Treasury Yield -9bps - near biggest drop since April 2013 (2-month lows)
- Gold +2.3% - biggest gain in 3 months (2 month highs)
- VIX +1.8vols - biggest jump in 3 months (1 month highs)
- IG Credit +2.5bps - biggest jump in 5 months (1 month wides)
- HY Credit -$0.5 - biggest drop in 4 months (1 month lows)
Nearly two years ago, before the topic of (the great and constantly missing) Capex became a mainstream media mainstay, we said that as long as the Fed was actively engaged in manipulating the capital markets - and this was before the Fed launched its endless QEternity - the bulk of corporate cash would go not into investing for growth, i.e., capital spending and/or hiring, but dividends and (levered) stock buybacks. Nearly $1 trillion in stock buybacks later, and zero growth Capex, we were proven right, much to the chagrin of permabulls who said the capex spending spree is just around the corner again... and again... and. Of course, if this were to happen, it would promptly refute our fundamental thesis that the Fed's presence in the market results in the terminal misallocation of efficient corporate capital. We were not concerned. We are even less concerned now having just read an FT piece forecasting that "capital spending by US companies is expected to grow this year at its slowest pace for four years, in a sign of corporate caution over the outlook for global demand." And like that, dear permabuls, the key pillar beneath all "corporate growth" thesis was yanked. Again. Fear not. There is always 2015. Or 2016. You get it.
Despite his own admission that he is not a 'product guy', Carl Icahn extends his 'pitch' for investors to buy buy buy Apple stock from one of using their offshore capital (or borrowing against it) to buyback inglorious amounts of shares to how great the "wearables" business could be...
- *ICAHN: ULTRA HD REPRESENTS 'PROMISING MOMENT' FOR APPLE
- *ICAHN: APPLE HAS 'COMPELLING OPPORTUNITY' IN WEARABLE DEVICES
- *ICAHN: INVESTING IN APPLE IS HOW GOOD INVESTORS MAKE MONEY
So buy you dummy... oh and don;t worry because Icahn has your back, even if he knows that AAPL does not...
- *ICAHN SAYS TIM COOK IS NOT A 'FINANCE GUY'
- *ICAHN: NO 'IN DEPTH' KNOWLEDGE OF FINANCE ON APPLE BOARD
Apple is - according to Icahn - the most over-capitalized company in corporate history...
UPDATE: The Argentine Trade Balance missed surplus expectations by the most in 3 years (and 2nd most on record).
As those who follow Zero Hedge on twitter know, we have recently shown a keen interest in the collapse of the Argentine currency reserves - most recently at $29.4 billion - which have been declining at a steady pace of $100 million per day over the past week, as the central bank desperately struggles to keep its currency stable. Actually, make that struggled. As of today it is not just the collapse in the Latin American country's reserves, but its entire currency, when this morning we woke to learn that the Argentina Peso (with the accurate identifier ARS), had its biggest one day collapse since the 2002 financial crisis, after the central bank stopped intervening in currency markets. The reason: precisely to offset the countdown we had started several days back, namely "an effort to preserve foreign exchange reserves that have fallen by almost a third over the last year." Oops.
In the aftermath of earlier comments from White House spokesman Carney that the US is considering sanctions for Ukraine violence, a move aimed squarely at Putin, at least several US private sector companies have decided to take matters into their own hands. To wit: "Express delivery companies DHL and FedEx said on Thursday they had suspended foreign shipments to individual customers in Russia because of stricter customs procedures, making it harder for internet users to buy goods from abroad. DHL will suspend all shipments of goods for personal use to Russia from January 27, the company said in emailed comments, after already suspending most such imports already in 2010."
With the ongoing strength in JPY, Japanese stocks (the highest beta to the previous collapse in the Yen) are crumbling. The Nikkei 225 is now down over 500 points from yesterday's highs and at its "cheapest" to the Dow this week... Still think it's all about China?
"Gold gets explosive above 1270. Watch out. With the US $ coming under pressure, the potential further gold gains is high and rising. 1270 IS KEY. A break of the 1270 pivot should be the catalyst for short squeeze higher, exposing the confluence of resistance between 1362/1399."