In their view, 2013 will likely mark the dawn of the post-crisis era, but it seems the premise for Deutsche's somewhat ebullient 2013 outlook (below) is that central-bankers remain on standby to counter any and all negative risks. Despite the brinksmanship, politicians will act to prevent systemic collapse and while structural long-term issues such as high debts across the developed world and unbalanced growth models in emerging economies remain unsettled, Deutsche argues that 2013 could be a year of stabilization after years of crisis-fighting. The following presentation is broad-based and lays out a "don't fight the central banker" meme perfectly; however, the six key downside risks (from China NPLs to European political unrest) that they highlight (but gloss over in their somewhat Pollyanna-ish way), should at least - in our humble opinion - raise some concerns about the bimodal distribution of outcomes that await risk assets in 2013.
From the start of 2012, AAPL was the beta-transforming game in town. Fund after fund claimed their stock-picking excellence when really, they were just running a higher beta fund being overweight AAPL. Today saw that come to an end (for now). AAPL and Nasdaq have recoupled (both +19.5% from 12/30/11) as the former fell to 11-month lows. One thing is clear, given strength in the indices today, everyone and their mom appeared to be in the long AAPL, short index trade isolating their performance. S&P 500 futures pushed inexorably higher all afternoon (even as bonds rallied, and the USD went bid on Juncker's verbal intervention) - testing unchanged on the week. From soon after this morning's POMO, US equities disconnected almost entirely from the rest of risk assets. Gold and Silver rose, Oil and copper slid, HY Credit snapped lower and recovered in the afternoon as the VIX term structure yawns ever wider across the debt-ceiling deadline, CHF was offered all day, and the short-term T-Bill curve is now inverted (stressed) across the debt-ceiling deadline.
As Germany Prepares To Repatriate Its Gold, We Hope They Have Learned From The "Monetary Sins Of The Past"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/15/2013 14:35 -0400
As initially reported here yesterday, in what is the biggest news of the week, and possibly the year, the Bundesbank has broken away from its "all is well" posturing exhibited as recently as three months ago, and in a dramatic reversal of its diplomatic position, has demanded repatriation of some of its NY Fed and all of its Paris-domiciled gold. We applaud Herr Wiedmann for this move, although we hope that the German people are allowed to witness, and verify, the arrival of the actual gold as opposed to simply empty crates. Of course, at the end of the day the actual delivery is irrelevant: what matters is this first shot across the bow of the current monetary system - one which juxtaposes sound money versus infinitely dilutable electronic fiat more than ever before - by a major conservative central bank, one in possession of the second largest official gold reserve, second only to the Fed itself. That said, we can only hope that the German request for gold repatriation is not met with the same enthusiastic response that France encountered when it too attempted to repatriate its gold held by London back in the 1930s, just before a whole lot of things in the global economy went horribly wrong...
This trend has been in place since the financial crisis, but the fact that it is accelerating is extremely disconcerting. First off, this is not the kind of behavior that should be witnessed in an “economic recovery.” Second, we need to remember the huge percentage of Americans on food stamps and/or disability. As we have discussed previously, many of them also have jobs. So essentially, a wage and a check from the government is still not enough to survive. They still need to tap into a loan from their 401k plans.
We realize the subject matter is about as tangential to the core themes discussed here as possible, but since hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be seen to be believed, and traditionally was only possible when emanating from the Federal Reserve (did we say tangential?) we present: Liestrong... in his own words.
Correlation, causation; cause-and-effect; Birinyi's Ruler; and Bernanke's Hammer. CNBC's Rick Santelli attempts to open some minds to the "nefarious" levels to which banks and politicians will go to infer from data and bolster our crowd-sourced confirmation biases. Santelli dismisses the meme that government dysfunction is the cause of our problems - instead stating that it is the effect. The main cause of this dysfunction is that we have problems we need to solve, politicians who know how to solve them, but that solving them is not only going to be painful for everyone - but most importantly for their respective bases - and therefore dysfunction ensues. From ratings downgrades not being caused by dysfunction (rather by an inability to deal with entitlements spending and debt) to the Federal Reserve losing the nation's trust acting not for liquidity needs but for insolvency; Santelli aims his magic marker finally at the Keynesians, for whom cause-and-effect is all, adding that their answer to everything is "always more money" to paper over short-term pain, as he rhetorically asks "in ten years when we look back, is the weight of all this debt going to take care of all of these impulsive upticks?" Must watch...
We have long been discussing the fundamental paradox dichotomy that Europe finds itself in, where on one hand the continent needs ECB intervention to keep it together with indirect debt monetization and current account deficit funding via TARGET2, yet on ther other, where ECB intervention always ends up pushing the EUR higher relative to its FX peers as the natural trendline of the artificial currency is to its natural long-term price level: 0.00. The problem of course, is that the higher the EUR goes, the weaker German exports become, and as we observed just this morning, the faster Germany's collapse into recession happens. Sure enough, Europe finally figured out what has been obvious to virtually anyone with half a brain for many months:
- JUNCKER SAYS EURO EXCHANGE RATE 'DANGEROUSLY HIGH'
That's great, and we agree with Juncker for once, but there is major problem with this: the lower the EUR goes, the greater the redenomination risk. Sorry Europe - that's just the way it is. The second the EUR goes back to the mid and lower 1.20s (or below) PIIGS bonds will go bidless, liquidity will go bump in the night, currency swaps will get all banged up, and "redenomination risk", or fear of currency implosion, will once again rear its ugly head. But at least German exports, and thus German GDP, and thus the only viable economy in Europe, will prosper.
As we anxiously await the titanic announcement about to spew forth from Menlo Park, we thought a look at 2013's +20% performance was worthwhile. We would expect to hear a plethora of 'monetizing mobile' and a cajillion eyeballs must mean something. Will the Facebook phone replace the Obama-phone? Will being 'liked' provide external stimulus? Will they be merging with Dell (or Radioshack?) Feeling bullish? Be wary, implied vol is at its most expensivce to realized vol in 7 months... Rest assured, we will bring the critical headlines as they break...
*FACEBOOK SAYS IT'S A PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT :FB US
*FACEBOOK ANNOUNCES GRAPH SEARCH :FB US
FB stumbling now -1.7%
Euro area industrial production decreased in November, for the third month running, and reached its lowest since April 2010. Pictet notes that, in terms of country, the industrial production figures were mixed with 8 out of 12 countries experiencing negative m-o-m growth. It is worth noting that all periphery countries recorded a sharp monthly decrease and while recent 'surveys' have confirmed a stabilization (albeit in negative territory), this week's data (as shown in the following 4 charts) suggests that current optimism may be challenged. The bottom line - despite hope of an improvement in activity in Q1 2013, the overall picture remains very gloomy, especially for the periphery countries. Without external help (ECB unorthodox measures, fiscal federalism, etc.) these countries are likely to remain entrenched in recession.
The S-Curve usefully charts the gradual development, explosive rise and eventual stagnation and collapse of complex systems. Remarkably, natural phenomena such as the spread of bacteriological diseases and financial dynamics both follow S-Curves. The S-Curve also helps us understand why the Expansionist Central State is doomed to inevitable implosion/collapse. The key dynamic in State spending is this: the allocation of public capital is intrinsically a political process, not a market or communal process. We are at the inflection point indicated on the chart below where the lines cross, just before the crisis: tax revenues are lagging spending in an enormous structural deficit. Tweaking tax policy or raising the debt ceiling will not change any of these dynamics. The Expansionist State is on the path to implosion (insolvency) and collapse, i.e. a political crisis. If we understand the core dynamics of the Expansionist Central State - the political allocation of scarce national income to favored constituencies and cartels - we understand why this process is inevitable.
One of the biggest "givens" of the New Normal was that no matter what happens, US corporations would build their cash hoard come hell or high water. Whether this was a function of saving for a rainy day in a world in which external liquidity could evaporate overnight, whether it was to have dry powder for dividends and other shareholder friendly transactions, or to be able to engage in M&A and other business transformations (but not CapEx, anything but CapEx), corporate cash swelled to over $2 trillion (the bulk of it held in deposit accounts, or directly invested in "cash equivalents" i.e. risk assets, in banks in the US and abroad). Whatever the use of funds, the source was quite clear: ever declining interests rate which allowed corporate refinancings into ever lower cash rates, a "buyer's market" when it comes to employees, the bulk of which have been transformed into low paid geriatric (55 years and older), part-time workers: the only two categories that have seen a steady improvement in employment since the start of the second great depression, and low, low corporate taxes (for cash tax purposes; for GAAP purposes it is different story altogether). So some may be surprised that the great corporate cash hoard build appears to have finally tapered off. As the chart below from Goldman shows, after hitting an all time high of 11.2%, the ratio of S&P500 cash to total assets has once again started to decline.
With price-targets now apparently nothing more than a 'talking-point', it is, perhaps, of little surprise that the gap between the average sell-side analyst's price target for AAPL and the current price is the widest it has ever been. And of course, the 'buys' versus 'sells' has not budged at all... for your reading pleasure, the 50 analysts' price targets for AAPL... and the two non-lemmings (Per Lindberg and Edward Zabitsky) that see potential downside for AAPL.
Just as the president reminded us yesterday we are not a deadbeat nation, merely borrowing money today to pay the bills of yesterday, so, as the NY Times reports in this all-too-real article, many of the citizens of the US are also living not just paycheck-to-paycheck but short-term-loan-to-short-term-loan. As one debt-consolidation service noted "They've been borrowing just to meet payments on previous loans; it builds on itself." Rings an awfully loud bell eh? (and yes, we know the government's finances are not run like a households - though at some point the check book needs to balance). People in tough 'economic' situations fall into the 'poverty trap', borrowing money at ever higher interest rates in a shell game to keep previous borrowers at bay. The average debt for households earning $20,000 a year or less more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010 - as people dig deeper, precisely because they long to escape. As the focus of the article notes, "the belt-tightening was the easy part... the larger problem was cash-flow." Critically, experiments show that 'economic' scarcity by itself - independent of personality or any other factors - fuels a drive to borrow recklessly.
2012 was an odd year in many senses. The Fed and the ECB are both verging on $4 trillion balance sheets, the total for all of the world’s central banks is $14 trillion and these small pieces of paper float around in the breeze and are plucked at will to feed the fires of Wall Street. When all of the central banks on the planet work in concert then, without off-world bourses, there is no place else left to go and the spatial restraints of our planet are the same boundaries for the investment of money. Here then we find the explanation of 2012. It is not a dot-com bubble or a real estate bubble or a specific bubble of any type at all or any we have ever seen but the Big Lebowski, the giant squid, the mother of all Blue Whales and the days of living in some place that we have never occupied before. Those that bet with the central banks have prospered, made fortunes, become vastly richer but how long does this game go on and is there a way out that is devoid of the usual pain to be found in contractions. The bet of last year was to place your money with the bankers-at-large but will that be the correct bet of this year as the plastic is stretched so thin now that a misstep, the politics of nationalism either of the funding or the funded bursts the balloon and sends it cascading around the room in some wildly gyrating manner.
In what could be a watershed moment for the price, provenance, and future of physical gold, not to mention the "stability" of the entire monetary regime based on rock solid, undisputed "faith and credit" in paper money, German Handelsblatt reports in an exclusive that the long suffering German gold, all official 3,396 tons of it, is about to be moved. Specifically, it is about to be partially moved out of the New York Fed, where the majority, or 45% of it is currently stored, as well as the entirety of the 11% of German gold held with the Banque de France, and repatriated back home to Buba in Frankfurt, where just 31% of it is held as of this moment. And while it is one thing for a "crazy, lunatic" dictator such as Hugo Chavez to pull his gold out of the Bank of England, it is something entirely different, and far less dismissible, when the bank with the second most official gold reserves in the world proceeds to formally pull some of its gold from the bank with the most. In brief: this is a momentous development, one which may signify that the regime of mutual assured and very much telegraphed - because if the central banks don't have faith in one another, why should anyone else? - trust in central banks by other central banks is ending.