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US Retail Investors Throw Up On Bernanke's Invitation To Buy Stocks





Another week, another retail outflow from domestic equity mutual funds - but this time it's different. Now 11 weeks-in-a-row of outflows have led to this week's highest outflow since August 2011 - just as stocks hit multi-year highs. It seems no matter how much Bernanke says 'come on in, the water is fine', the newly-smart money (or fooled one too many times perhaps - is it any wonder when only yesterday CNBC was discussing Selling AAPL Puts as a viable strategy?) of the retail investor is smelling sharks and fading the strength. With $250bn in outflows since the start of 2011, and $50bn alone in the last 11 weeks (as the market inexorably rises on Johnny-5's instruction), we can't help but think this week's $10.6bn outflow is redemptions at the end of Q3 - not exactly what the performance-chasing, money-on-the-sideline-hoping, recovery-is-around-the-corner-believing long-only commission-taking 'managers' wanted to see.

 
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Did COMEX Gold Futures 'Glitch' Hint At The Future Awaiting Us?





Call it a fat-finger, or a deus ex 'aurum' machina, but during this morning's COMEX gold futures trading, we wonder if the obvious 'glitch' gave us a premonition of things to come?

 
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Netanyahu Shoots Down Hezbollah Drones Over Israel





It would seem things are going from worse to worserer as, while US citizens prepare to see 30,000 drones over their own 'domestic' heads, Israel's Benjamin Natanyahu accuses Lebanon's Hezbollah of launching a previously unidentified drone (which has been shot down) over Israel last week. As the Globe and Mail reports (via AFP) -

"We are acting with determination to protect our borders," his office quoted him as saying during a visit to the frontier with Egypt.

 

"As we prevented last weekend an attempt by Hezbollah. We shall continue to act aggressively against all threats," Mr. Netanyahu said.

 
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Visualizing Central Bank Mal-Investment-Driven Excess





One of the most egregious aspects of the Great Moderation was the issuance (and thus demand for) of large amounts of grossly mispriced extremely 'junky' debt at the peak as investors stymied by the lack of spread (return) pushed further and further out the credit risk spectrum. The driver at the time was the liquidity flood triggered by large-scale securitizations (and that ended well eh?); this time it is central banks providing the fuel for investors to seek yield through leverage (either through fundamental leverage in riskier firms or technical leverage through riskier instruments). To wit, the last few weeks have seen a resurgence of issuance of PIK-Toggle bonds.

 
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Guest Post: The Pursuit Of Happiness And The Sociopathology Of Prosperity





The notion that increased consumption leads to increased happiness is self-evidently false, yet consumption remains the focus of our economy and society. The appeal of consumption is understandable once we grasp that it is the only empowering act in a neofeudal society where we are essentially powerless. In the mindset of the consumerist economy, purchasing something feels empowering because the act of consuming is experienced as renewing our sense of identity and social status. But since that identity is inauthentic, the sense of euphoric renewal is short-lived and soon defaults to the base state of insecurity. Since the consumer is only empowered by buying and displaying status signifiers, the balance of their lives is experienced as powerless – that is, a chronic state of social defeat. In the act of consuming, the only feature that continues on after the initial euphoria fades is the debt taken on to make the purchase.

 
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Apple Slide Halts Yet Another Rumor-Driven Risk Rally





Yesterday even as the broader market slid materially, much to the dismay of permabulls everywhere, taking out post QE3 lows, one stock that obstinately refused to join the trend was Apple, which as we have noted before is the vanguard of the index known as NASDAAPL, and whichever way the NASDAAPL goes, so go America's hedge funds, all of which have decided to piggyback on the stock in hope of catching up to the market performance and avoid being redeemed to death. Today, we get a mirror image of yesterday, when after opening at its highs, AAPL has since tumbled 2.5% from its highs, following news that an Apples court has allowed sales of Samsung Galaxy to continue. Finally, the broader market, which ramped early on hope that the intolerable Basel III requirements would be delayed by 1 year (they will be eventually as they demand that banks sell trillions in assets: something they can't do), is about to slide not only with AAPL as the catalyst but following news from Dow Jones that the "EU Trialogue Didn't Discuss Basel III Delay Thursday." In other words, we ramped on a completely bogus rumor originating in Europe once again. What else is new?

 
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Charting The 'Housing Recovery' Subsidy: Foreclosures Slide To Five Year Lows





A month ago, when RealtyTrac posted their latest US foreclosure numbers for the month of August, we presented what we called was the "Foreclosure Stuffing" thesis, explaining the explicit subsidy by the banks for the housing market, whereby the entire foreclosure process has now ground to a halt, and in doing so removing millions in inventory flow from the distressed end market, forcing limited buyers to chase what supply there is, and in the process boosting prices of existing inventory higher. In other words a traditional inventory removal-based subsidy. It is therefore not surprising that today RealtyTrac reported the latest foreclosure data, and lo and behold, just as we expected, the great foreclosure collapse has taken another leg lower, with the total number of foreclosures for the month of September sliding to 180.4K, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from September 2011, and the lowest in five years!

 
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Guest Post: The Mathematicization Of Economics





Economics would benefit from self-restraint in regard to the usage of mathematics. Alfred Marshall made some useful suggestions:

  1.  Use mathematics as shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry.
  2.  Keep to them till you have done.
  3. Translate into English.
  4. Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life
  5. Burn the mathematics.
  6. If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This I do often.

I hope the blowout growth in mathematics in economics is a bubble that soon bursts.

 
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New Sheen In Gulf Of Mexico Linked To Macondo Spill By Coastguard





Just when we all thought the Macondo disaster could be put behind us and TV ads proclaim the Gulf's recovery, a sheen of oil has reappeared and the coastguard confirms it is directly linked to the Macondo well. According to WDSU, the sheen is a light oil and would be difficult to clean up. "The exact source of the sheen is uncertain at this time but could be residual oil associated with wreckage and/or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010," the agency said in a release Wednesday night.

 
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Data Massaging Continues: Initial Claims Tumble To 339K Lowest Since 2008, Far Below Lowest Expectation





This is just getting stupid. After expectations of a rebound in initial claims from 367K last week (naturally revised higher to 369K), to 370K (with the lowest of all sellside expectations at 355K), the past week mysteriously, yet so very unsurprisingly in the aftermath of the fudged BLS unemployment number, saw claims tumble to a number that is so ridiculous not even CNBC's Steve Liesman bothered defending it, or 339K. Ironically, not even the Labor Department is defending it: it said that "one large state didn't report some quarterly figures." Great, but what was reported was a headline grabbing number that is just stunning for reelection purposes. This was the lowest number since 2008. The only point to have this print? For 2-3 bulletin talking points at the Vice Presidential debate tonight. Everything else is now noise. It is also sad that the US "economy" has devolved to such trivial data fudging on a week by week basis, which makes even the Chinese Department of Truth appear amateurish by comparison. Needless to say, Not Seasonally Adjusted initial claims jumped by 26K to 327K in the past week but who's counting. Finally, what is the reason for ongoing QEternity if the employment situation is now back to normal. Finally, in completely ignored news, because who needs global trade when you have toner cartridge, and generally ink, the US trade deficit in August rose by 4.1% to $44.2 billion, on expectations of a deterioration to $44.0 billion. Then again nobody talks about the US trade deficit during presidential debates so all good here.

 
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S&P Will Downgrade France And Italy Next, CDS Implies





With government bond markets increasingly manipulated directly via central-bank intervention - and becoming increasingly illiquid - the odd situation we find ourselves in once again is that CDS markets perhaps provide a 'cleaner' picture of where credit risk is actually being traded between market participants (hedgers or speculators). To wit, Bloomberg's ever-insightful Michael McDonough has noticed a significant divergence between market-implied perceptions of risk (CDS) and ratings-agencies perceptions among several nations. Most notably France and Italy (with Belgium close behind) appear considerably 'over-rated'. Italy's implied rating is equivalent to BB+ at S&P - well below its average rating of BBB+ and France's implied rating of A is around four notches below its composite rating. Spain also appears set for more pain as its market price implies a sub-investment grade rating is imminent.

 
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The Bump In The Night





We know it is sometimes difficult. Europe puts out the numbers which many assume are real. Then they talk about the data as if it was real. Then they point to the numbers time and time again as if they were real and finally people make decisions and act upon the figures thinking they are real and then the train begins to go bump in the night and derailment is possible on the next track and people wonder how it happened. We are at that point where “bump” is about to happen because there is nothing left that can happen. The dream is about over. Soon everyone will be waking up. It will not be a good morning.

 
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The Collapse Continues: Greek Unemployment Rises For 35th Consecutive Month, Passes 25%





When we reported on the 34th consecutive month of Greek unemployment increases, following the June number hitting a record high 24.4%, the only good news was that the May number had been revised higher from 23.1% to 23.5%, making the monthly jump seem just under 1%. Well, that revision was re-revised, with Greek Statistic Service ELSTAT reporting that the original 24.4% number has now been revised to 24.8%, meaning in June unemployment rose officially by 1.3%. That's in one month! ELSTAT also reported the July number, and at 25.1% (pre-revision higher next month), it just hit a new all time high, increasing for the 35th month in a row. More than one quarter of those eligible for work in Greece (not many), are working. THis means labor related taxes are now being levied on a record low percentage of the population. Indicatively, Greek unemployment at the end of 2011 was "only" 21.2%. It also means that in order to restore even a tiny iota of confidence, the Greek labor department needs to hire a BLS consultant or two, or least license an old version of the ARIMA goalseek software, to find a seasonally adjusted decimal comma in there somewhere, and report that the jobless rate is really only 2.5%, which would be on par in credibility with everything else out of Europe these days. Finally, our question is at what point does anyone finally admit the Greek situation is not only a depression but outright economic death and the merciful thing to do at this point is to just pull the plug?

 
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Frontrunning: October 11





  • Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
  • And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
  • With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
  • IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
  • Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
  • IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
  • Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
  • Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
  • Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
  • EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
  • Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
 
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Overnight Sentiment: Short Squeezy





The overnight session started with broad weakness following last night's downgrade of Spain to BBB- by S&P, once again led by Egan Jones, due to fears that an outright junking by one or all rating agencies is on deck, now that the status quo means business and is hard pressed to advice Mariano Rajoy that the ECB will not be toyed with, and if need be the same tactics used to oust Silvio Berlusconi just under a year ago can be applied to Spain which is now proving very difficult to handle: all Spain needs to do to ensure at least a few more months of banker pay is to demand a bailout. And yet it remains unwilling to stick to the simple script so far. Sure enough, Spanish bond prices tumbled, as did the EURUSD. Yet sometime around 4 am Eastern, a levitation commenced across all risk assets, EURUSD, and US futures, with Spanish bonds retracing the entire earlier loss, showing that the ECB has now once again shot itself in the foot and that any attempt to recreate the same playbook as was used to remove Silvio, will be far more problematic when applied to Spain.

 
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