"Now that the government has reopened and this threat to our economy is removed, all of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict, and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do, and that’s grow this economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, educate our kids, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul."
While Santiago Capital's Brent Johnson believes "anything is possible," he warns "there's a catch." While it may be true for the individual (climb Everest, win a gold medal, walk on the moon), it is not true for the world at large because, as he so eloquently notes in this brief presentation, "the best thing we can learn from history is... that the world does not learn from history." And there is indeed plenty that is occurring once again - in oh-so-predictable cycles - that we have seen time and time again... and apparently choose to ignore the conclusion. As Johnson concludes, "you either believe in magic, or you believe in math."
We predicted (correctly) over a year ago that the Fed's balance sheet would reach the $4 trillion mark by the end of 2013. It took the world a few months to totally buy into the fact that all that matters is the flow from the Fed's POMO but, as the chart below so humbly suggests, with a 0.95 correlation (if its not causation, we're at least on the right path) in proclaiming that for every $3.25 billion printed by the Fed the S&P 500 index will rise by 1 point. Last week, we noted the 'dip' from Fed-based "fair-value" that the debt-ceiling debacle had driven in stocks and in just a few days, that 'pent-up-demand' has all but equalized stocks to the only valuation metric that matters - the S&P 500's Fed Level-Adjusted-Balance Sheet-Indicator-Aggregate...
Today there is a great sense of relief that has swept the nation as news flowed through the media that the government shutdown had come to an end. After all, during the 16 days of the shutdown, there was great hardship inflicted on the average American as the stock market rose by 2.4%, government workers that were furloughed received a 2+ week paid vacation and interest rates fell from a peak of 2.65% on October 1st to 2.59% on October 17th. Outside of the financial markets, which were never concerned of a "default," the reality is that the government shutdown did likely clip up to 0.5% off of 4th quarter's GDP. While that clip to economic growth created by the government standoff is temporary - the ongoing persistant weakness of economic growth is another issue entirely. This is the focus of this discussion. The most disturbing sentence uttered during the debt ceiling debate/government shut down, that should raise some concerns by both political parties, is: "We must increase our debt limit so that we can pay our bills."
Desperate to know what the September payrolls, CPI or PPI really were, or when the October jobs reports is due out now that the government's random number generator is back up and running with the 16 day paid vacation for government apparatchiks is over? The BLS has just released a schedule which answers those and many other questions.
As RealtyTrac observes in its latest flipping report, while home-flipping among high-end homes, or those reserved exclusively for the New Normal aristocracy which buys and sells with reckless abandon almost exclusively on an all cash basis, is up 34% over the prior year with flipping on houses priced between $2 and $5 million was up a ridiculous 350%, overall flipping activity is finally starting to subside and in the third quarter was down by a third from Q3 and over 10% down from the the prior year. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the ultra-luxury flips were limited to New York and the four core California bubble markets. "More than three-fourths of all high-end flips were in five markets: the New York metro area and four coastal California markets — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. Flips on homes priced between $1 million and $2 million increased 42 percent year over year, while flips on homes priced between $2 million and $5 million increased 350 percent year over year."
Last night, after more than two weeks of utterly embarrassing theater, the government in the Land of the Free inked a deal to kick the can down the road a few more months. And in doing so, they set a very dangerous precedent. As part of the bargain codified in HR 2775 (which President Obama signed into law), the Treasury Department is authorized to SUSPEND the debt ceiling. In other words, for all intents and purposes, there is now NO LIMIT government borrowing. This limitless borrowing authority will expire on February 7, 2014. But it sets the precedent that dismissing the debt ceiling is a perfectly viable course of action. Congress has effectively removed their handcuffs… so you can almost assuredly bet down the road that this provision will be extended, and ultimately become permanent.
If only bellwether stock IBM hadn't indicated that earnings hopes for global tech were in the toilet, the world could be celebrating a new Dow record too. What a day... with stocks flash-crashing (Wal-Mart), bond yields screaming lower (2nd biggest 2-day drop in yields in 17 months to 2-month lows), the USD collapsing to 9 month lows, gold (and silver) soaring by their 2nd most in 16 months, and stocks tractor-beaming up to the Fed's balance sheet year-end target of 1800 for the S&P 500; even the talking heads are lost in explaining the charade. The box that the Fed has put itself in is becoming obvious for all to see - there is no argument that this is 'fundamentals' and so the Fed knows it can never leave as the wedge between perception (prices) and reality (value) has grown too wide... Low volumes in stocks on an all-time high day hardly support anything but doubt as 'safety' is sought in bonds and bullion.
As we tweeted earlier, the mainstream media now has its headline for tonight. As earnings look likely to be a disaster, and with nothing but a 3 month can kicked to the next farce in Washington, it is likely becoming just too plain to see for the world that US equities rise on the basis of one thing and one thing only, and the Fed speakers today confirmed that the un-Taper is off the table (as gold confirms).
*S&P 500 CLIMBS ABOVE INTRADAY RECORD TO 1,730.12
Reflecting on the collapse of the USD, the surge in gold, the Chinese ratings agency downgrade, and the groundhog-day-like world in which the US government (and markets) live, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach warns that "America's credibility is slowly eroding." In his typical manner, Gundlach rapidly and efficiently covers a lot of ground in these brief clips; from the growing skepticism of the rest of the world towards the US' full faith and credit, to no end in sight for QE and reignition of bond inflows under an even more interventionist Yellen, to his views on Tesla, Google, and Apple.
One of our favorite indicators of leading "global growth" is the Goldman swirlogram released each month, for two reasons: i) it succinctly summarizes on one chart what the near-term state of the global economy is, and ii) it is rather silly. Regardless of ii), the methodology does look at the entire assortment of available global leading indicators (which in the case of the US isn't saying much(, to determine the current state of the world economy. According to the just released update, as a result of a plunge in leading indicator acceleration, the world has just had its most slowdown-y month in the past year.
U.S. prosecutors and SAC Capital agree in principle on insider-trading penalty exceeding $1billion. http://t.co/hNaBnT26jX
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) October 17, 2013
Obamacare's health exchanges opened on October 1. Hopefully you weren't one of the unlucky guinea pigs who attempted to sign up with a system so crummy that even the Washington Post is calling it a disaster. It's been clear to anyone paying attention that the October "rollout" of Obamacare has been a turbulent, confusing mess. Sloppy IT systems and technological failures combined to cripple Obamacare's sign-up systems. Security flaws put Americans at risk for identity theft. Like a parasite taking over its host, Obamacare will commandeer almost 20% of our economy, crowding out private options. With 2014 fast approaching, what should we expect in its next phase?
The chart shows dollars spent on entitlements for every dollar spent on non-defense discretionary spending (NDDS). This latter category includes education, infrastructure, energy R&D, law enforcement and a wide range of other things that affect the productivity and the general well-being of the US economy (see table), not just today but into the future. The entitlements-to-NDDS ratio is already at an all-time high, and is headed for the stratosphere during the next few years according to CBO projections.
S&P 500 RISES ABOVE RECORD CLOSING LEVEL TO 1,725.60
This is what panic buying looks like: a ramp of over 7 points per hour since the open. At this rate, the S&P should close around 1750, and hit 2000 by Halloween.