It would appear that (apart from Tesla, for now) that any thing related to electric cars is going up in flames. From Fisker's fubar (and blowing all that hard-earned government funding) and Chevy's Volt dysphoria to A-123 Systems (the Lithium-Ion battery-maker) and now Coda - which Yahoo Finance notes was among an emerging crop of California startups seeking to build emission-free electric cars three years ago. After selling just 100 of its $37,250 five-passenger vehicles, Coda filed Chapter 11 today taking a few well-known investors with it. On the bright side, the government was not involved (from what we can tell), but on the even brighter side, none other than former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was among those burned by the company going up in flames (as was Harbinger's Phil Falcone).
With last night's China PMI disappointing expectations and eking out a just-expansionary miasma of hope for the growth enthusiasts, the very real question of global growth sustainability (while not on US equity market participants' minds) is coming to the fore. As Michael Pettis notes, Martin Wolf's recent perspective that it may be useful to think about Japan as a model for understanding the adjustment process in China since the Japanese model shows how risky it is to shift to a slow-growth model. While expectations for a 'relatively moderate' slowdown are common (at rates considered rapid for most economies); Pettis asks rhetorically, if part of the explanation for China’s spectacular growth of the past three decades has to do with the positive feedback loops that are so typical of developing countries with fragile and unsophisticated financial systems, then a moderate slowdown in growth may be an impossible target to achieve. Once growth starts to slow, the self-reinforcing impact on urbanization, on credit growth, on financial distress, and on expectations may force growth rates to drop far more sharply than any 'plausible' analysis would suggest.
We really hate to be negative... but this is positively revolting. Disgusting. Indescribably offensive. In the Land of the Free recently, a California couple had their child kidnapped by the state. At gunpoint. It all started in mid-April when Anna and Alex Nikolayev took their 5-month old son Sammy to the hospital in Sacramento to be treated for flu symptoms...
Cyprus is absolutely the template for Europe now. It is just that the template is far worse than what is narrowly imagined. It is not the small nation of Cyprus nor is it that the specifics of the criminality that was transacted in Cyprus which is any sort of template. This is not the center of the issue. It is what Cyprus means and the horrible implications of what took place. Yesterday the Parliament in Cyprus narrowly passed the EU bailout. There is one set of guidelines for Germany now and Germany still operates under their own laws but when it comes to other nations in the European Union that are in financial difficulty there are no real laws left. All that there is now is the tyrannical demands of Berlin that must be obeyed to receive funds.
A major issue in America today is the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the popular narrative is that the disparity is caused by capitalism run wild and only the firm hand of government can fix the problem. But what if this narrative has it backwards? What if the growing wealth disparity in America is actually caused by the government? Take Warren Buffet, a man often at the center of this debate, as not only is he a billionaire, but also a vocal advocate for higher income taxes on the rich. Many are aware of his acumen in making investments that have a “margin of safety” – or minimal downside – but few are aware of the greatest source of such safety for Mr. Buffet in recent years, the US Government.
Those who have been following the barren wasteland that is the precious metals retail market know that not only is it virtually impossible to get any silver for less than a $3-4 premium per ounce over spot, but it has become next to impossible to find any physical, period. So the fact that Apmex is now selling silver at just a $1.79 over spot - a bargain even in the days when JPM wasn't about to run out of commercial gold (incidentally no change in the gold held at the firm's 1 CMP vault as of yesterday's close), and certainly a blue light special at a time when the entire world is scrambling for anything shiny. There is however one minor catch. Maybe not so minor. Because while most PM afficionados are used to buying silver by the ounce, or at most bar, the Apmex offer involves a very generous dollop of Silver Koala. 1 Kilogram's worth of generous.
Today was a non-POMO day; a day when the Federal Reserve did not actively inject a couple billion dollars into bank reserves. The last 7 POMO days have been wonderfully green for the cash equity session. Today, no POMO, no MOMO, no new highs. What was different? Europe was closed (so we didn;t get the ubiquitous surge post EU close), we had poor data (bad has been good for weeks now), bonds outperformed (equities haven't cared at all for weeks), and the USD weakness 'should' have been equity positive (if correlations held). But it didn't. Trannies were monkey-hammered with their second-biggest drop in almost six months but the S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq are clung together down around 1% (biggest drop in 2 weeks). FX markets were 'sporadic' with periods of silence punctuated by chaos (around the FOMC) - JPY's last 5 days now equal the biggest rally in two years as it tested up to 97 and pulled back. The worst first-day-of-the-month since June of last year for stocks seems to signify a Great Un-rotation as Treasuries were well bid (yields down 4-5bps to new 2013 lows).
With the Fed now openly warning that there may actually come a time when the 'flow' stops; the most recent Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) report has some concerning statistics for those change-ridden hopers who see a smooth Fed exit, deficit-reduction, and blue skies ahead. While they are careful not shout 'sell' in a crowded bond market; hidden deep in the 126 page presentation are two charts that bear significant attention. The first shows what TBAC expects (given the market's expectations) to happen to interest rates in the US as the Fed 'exits' its QE program (taper, unwind, hold) - the result, the weighted-average cost of financing for the US government will almost triple from around 1.6% to around 4.3% over the next ten years. But more problematic is that even with CBO's rather conservative estimates of the growth in US debt over the next decade the USD cost of financing will explode from around $205bn (based on TBAC data) to over $855bn. Still convinced the Fed can exit smoothly?
Stanley Fischer, who cost his central bank a lot of money with his ill-timed bet to invest billions of the Bank of Israel's foreign currency reserves on names such as Apple last year, has demonstrated that Einstein's definition of insanity is alive and well when it comes to central-planners, has just decided to double down on stocks. Alas, this is not a joke. Bloomberg reports that "The Bank of Israel plans to almost double equity holdings by the end of the year after falling bond yields prompted the central bank to invest in European shares for the first time. The bank will increase its stock holdings to as much as 6 percent of foreign-exchange reserves, or about $4.5 billion, from 3 percent at the end of 2012, according to Yossi Saadon, a Bank of Israel spokesman. Investments in shares rose to about 4.5 percent of assets in the first four months of 2013 as the institution made a “small allocation” to European equities in addition to its U.S. funds, he said." Well, if the BOI's investment in AAPL was the beginning of the end for that company, one can start shorting Europe - an academic Keynesian just called the top.
Goldman Sachs saw no major surprises in the May FOMC statement, which, as we noted in the redline, was very little changed from the March statement. The most notable change, however, introduced additional flexibility around purchases, noting that "the Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes." The slightly more aggressive nod towards fiscal policy "restraining" growth as opposed to "becoming restrictive" is perhaps yet another plea for some help from Washington - for, as we noted earlier, "the ability of a central bank, exclusively, without the rest of Washington doing any bit of the task, to turn an economy from a modest recovery to a robust one is an experiment that is untested - and will not prove to be successful."
For the first 15 minutes or so after the Fed's statement, the market was largely unimpressed. EURUSD saw some squirliness but it was silver (and gold and oil) that was moving higher quickest. Bonds sold off modestly and stocks rose a point.That trend persisted into the T+30 minute mark but since then bonds and stocks are basically unchanged while Oil, Gold, Silver, and Copper are rising. EURUSD remains very gappy. VIX is modestly lower as pre-FOMC hedges are lofted but that is not supporting buying for now.
T+45: ES 1583 +1, 10Y 1.63% +1bps, Gold $1456 +$6, WTI $91.12 +$0.45, EUR 1.3208 +8
With the equity market dropping rather notedly into the release of the FOMC decision, chatter was that the 'early release' button had been hit, but...
- *FED SAYS LABOR MARKET HAS SHOWN SOME IMPROVEMENT
- *FED SEES `DOWNSIDE RISKS' TO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
- *FED SAYS IT'S `PREPARED TO INCREASE OR REDUCE' PURCHASES
Which suggests some management of expectations... but more of the same and no big surprise. The only real difference from the March statement, as shown below, is the following sentence added in the fourth paragraph:
The Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes.
While some might scoff, there appears little the European leaders will not swoop to when it comes to papering over cracks and changing rules, we suspect that when they find out that by the mere waive of the May Day holiday they could increase output across the euro area (the majority of which is on holiday today) by an impressive $22.9 billion. Germany and France alone lose $11 billion of output for this holiday, according to Bloomberg Briefs. So is the next 'growth-and-austerity' plan to ban public holidays and boost GDP...