Not much to say here. Hopefully, for the bulls' sake, the Obama reelection odds (which really are Bernanke, and thus QEternity, termination odds) are not a leading indicator to the market. Either that, or the recent spike in Obama's ratings was merely a bubble which got preemptively popped even without 5 consecutive CME margin hikes on the Obama InTrade contract.
As corn prices have rolled over and even the World Bank worries over the impact of financial crises and food prices, we present with little comment, one of the more staple sustenances - now trading at record high prices... transitory we presume?
"The squeeze is on, and people are doing desperate things," is how one independent described the situation in California. As Bloomberg reports, a shortage of supply along with drastically higher wholesale prices of gasoline has caused 'mom-and-pop' gas stations to close down as their margins are destroyed.
- *VALERO SAYS SUPPLY IN CALIFORNIA HAS TIGHTENED
- *VALERO SAYS IT HAS TEMPORARILY HALTED SPOT SALES IN CALIFORNIA
The problem is likely a short-term one, according to some, thanks to the temporary shutdown of local refineries (after Chevron's Richmond refinery fire) and maintenance but it is clear that even a short-term blip in wholesale prices (whether driven by local supply or global geopolitics) causes pain as it would appear we are close to 'inelastic' levels of demand.
Same members, same voters, same views, same tools:
- *FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `SIGNIFICANT DOWNSIDE RISKS' TO GROWTH
- *FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `PERSISTENT HEADWINDS' TO RECOVERY
- *FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW FISCAL POLICY AS A `DRAG' ON ECONOMY
- *FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAID HOUSING MARKET IMPEDING RECOVERY
- *FED OFFICIALS SAW MANAGEABLE BOND BUYING RISKS, MINUTES SHOW
While some have blamed last night's 'performance anxiety' on the President's efforts to save our economy and not having time to practice, and others at Romney's 'bullying' of the moderator, it seems Al Gore has come up with the real reason - it's the altitude, stupid!
Confirming that it is always the markets who make the news, especially when the news is explained by "world renowned commodity experts" who really are only long of newsletter sales in constantly wrong terms, yesterday's slide in oil was quickly and clinically "justified" with the near certainty that Iran's regime was on the verge of collapse following the local currency devaluation. We welcome these same "experts" to justify away why it is that the HFT algos which comprise over 30% of the CME's revenue have decided to send WTI right back to unchanged in yesterday terms. Because it would appear that today the Iranian regime is suddenly more entrenched than ever, and hyperinflation is actually a sure fire way to cement a so called dictator in his throne (as we said previously).
Almost precisely a year ago we posted "268 NY Credit Suisse Employees Learn They Are About To Be Laid Off Via Department Of Labor Website." Now, a year later, irony has struck again, as this time 138 employees from an already substantially trimmed Credit Suisse office in Manhattan, find out courtesy of the DOL's WARN website, but certainly not their HR team who wants everyone as motivated as possible until the "Hammer Hits" day, they have just been made redundant in the critical Christmas bonus season between October and December 29, 2012. Instead now everyone will be undermotivated until they get to learn who gets sacked. All that is left now are the actual identities of the pink slippees. The only other open question is whether the loss to US Federal and NY State tax revenues and US GDP will be offset by the more broken windows that are increasingly being discounted as a result of the ever rising unemployment and greater social unrest (not to mention part time NYPD jobs especially if sharpshooting is actually involved in their training this time).
The nature of what is ‘legal’ has become a truly bizarre concept these days. Developed nations of the west have hundreds of thousands of pages of rules, codes, regulations, laws, decrees, executive orders, etc., many of which are contradictory, archaic, and incomprehensible. Across these ‘free’ nations, the law is selectively enforced, selectively applied, and completely set aside whenever it pleases the state. As such, even the most harmless of activities (operating a lemonade stand, collecting rainwater, etc.) can be cast as illegal… while the direct theft of people’s wealth through taxes and manipulation of the currency is considered legal. There is no morality anymore in the law. And even still, whatever few activities may still be considered ‘legal’ are subject to consequences if the enforcers simply decide they don’t like it.
Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) is broken. That is how we interpret Niels Jensen's (Absolute Return Partners) latest missive as he draws a concerning line between the number of managers who rely sheep-like on the diversifying 'artifacts' of MPT in a new normal world of undiversifiable systemic risks. The shifts in intra- and inter-asset class correlations (both long- and short-term) have been incredible both in terms of direction change and magnitude - for example (as Nielsen notes) - In the 2000-03 bear market commodities were an excellent diversifier against equity market risk with the two asset classes being virtually uncorrelated (+0.05). Nowadays, the two are highly correlated (+0.69). This shift to a risk-on / risk-off world, fed by central bankers, makes the empirical Sharpe ratios of olde and track records of your favorite balanced-fund manager entirely useless for any investor seeking protection from not just volatility risk but ultimate risk - the permanent loss of capital.
If there is any demarcation with profound implications going forward, it isn't the line between the 1% and the 99% or the line dividing the Status Quo into two safely complicit ideological camps: it is the divide between those who squarely face the burden of knowing the present is unsustainable and those who flee into the comforts of denial. Those who accept the burden of knowing are part of the solution, those who cling to denial are part of the problem. Those who accept the burden of knowing do not necessarily have answers, but they are alert to alternatives and potential solutions. Those in denial can only hope that reality can be buried for a while longer.
If you are the person who sold 1,300 tons of Swiss gold in the pre-"New Normal" era, you probably would like to keep that fact to yourself. But not Michael Paprotta, or the guy who did sell 1,300 tons of gold for the Swiss National Bank from 2000 to 2005. As a reminder, the price of gold in the period was between $250 and $450, making Gordon Brown's own dump of a meager 400 tons of UK gold between 1999 and 2002 seem like amateur hour by comparison. Assuming a current price of gold of $1800 and a blended disposition price of $350/oz, this means that Switzerland effectively gave up on just under $60 billion in upside. That's ok though, the SNB's balance sheet is now full to the gills with money-good EURs. Who needs gold in a fiat regime anyway? Certainly not Michael Paprotta who gives up on tens (soon hundreds) of billions in gold upside fiat equivalents in the morning, then goes skiing in the afternoon.
In the weeks leading into QE3 we repeatedly stated that virtually the entire impact of the latest Fed market boosting quantiative easing program has already been priced in. Below, we present this visually, while also comparing the impact of all the other (four of them) easing programs launched previously by the Federal Reserve.
European sovereign bond spreads weakened notably today - extending losses from yesterday - ending the day unchanged to slightly wider on the week. There has been a rather notable pattern though emerging in the last week as from the US Open to EU Close, we see bonds consistently sold off. EURUSD pushed up above 1.30 on a decent stop-run amid Draghi's words. It seemed Draghi was a little less dovish than in recent days - no rate cuts, more pain for Portugal, no concessions on Spain. European equities underperformed European credit for the second day in a row - playing catch down as financials underperformed.
If the US Government were applying for a loan, what would its credit score be? ConvergEx's Nick Colas estimates it at 655 (based on www.myfico.com) - which is higher than we suspected - but consistent with the structural belief in both sovereign and personal debt rating systems that historical payment patterns matter more than ability to pay, leverage, or loan amounts.
There was a time when the world had (somewhat) free markets. Then Lehman failed as the inevitable culmination of a credit bubble that was second in size and severity only to the one being blown currently, and the central planners took over, converting equity, bond and FX markets into nothing but monetary policy tools dominated by central banks. Below is a great summary of how parallel to SkyNet's HFT takeover of stock trading, the central planners conducted their own not so stealthy take over of all capital markets. The chart is open-ended. Expect much more intervention by the Big 4 in the months and years ahead as the circular nature of increased central bank intervention leading to less faith in financial markets leading to increased private sector deleveraging leading to increased-er central bank intervention and so on, accelerates.