Today's star-studded Ira Sohn conference was led by two behemoths - Elliott's Paulk Singer and Hayman's Kyle Bass. We recently discussed in detail Paul Singer's perspective on the "most dangerous" investing environment but today he summarized and added to those comments at the Ira Sohn conference. "There is no safe haven in today's markets," he explained, "those holding long-term bonds in US, UK, and Japan own assets that are trading at the wrong price," and went on with more brutal honesty, QE causes a distorted recovery - financiers doing well, ordinary person not experiencing recovery. Kyle Bass also stuck to the script noting that in Japan "mindsets are changing - the beginning of the end has begun," and exclaiming in his subtle and forthright manner, "you have to be shitting me, you're adding a ponzi scheme to a ponzi scheme." We leave the summation up to Singer, "the ultimate question for a fiat money regime is at what point does confidence in money disappear?"
There was no surprise in today's Initial Claims data, which continued the downward trend seen in recent months (despite the data seen in the most recent JOLTS survey which was hardly as optimistic on recent labor trends as the NFP number of the weekly claims data), with the headline number dropping to 323K, down from an upward revised 327K, and below the expected 335K print. On the surface, and at least to algos, this continues to be good news. The question remains whether the improving claim trend is due to fewer layoffs, or a lower marginal detachment workforce due to the labor force participation rate which was at 33 year lows for the second month in a low. At this point any additional substantial drops below the 300,000 range will likely mean a major distortion in the labor force as this is where claims numbers were at a time when the economy was actually strong, as opposed to the current liquified stock-market manipulated sham.
It is rather like sitting in the middle of the desert. We have $100 billion of new sand being pumped in by the Fed each month. Our desert doesn't get much wider as defined by new issuance and so one dune is heaped on another, the compression continues and yields, even from here, will decline. Our sand trap is a fabulous world for borrowers and issuers and a miserable world for investors. The general thinking usually stops here but there is more to this story than that. Over a period of time wealth declines as the bonds markets hold five times the assets of the equity markets and so the lack of yield, of income, begins to take its toll on consumer spending, on corporate revenues and then on profits and on the ability of those dependent of savings to maintain their standard of living. The continual flow of money has helped the banks and helped corporate borrowers but it has not filtered down to the savers and, in fact, their position has been lessened by what the Fed has done.
- Einhorn's advice to investors: don't take my advice (Reuters)
- Next: floating dead vegetables: Chinese inflation rises on soaring vegetable prices (FT)
- The scramble for the bottom dollar is on: McDonald's, Wendy's Battle for Value-Centric Customers (WSJ)
- Cheaper iPhone coming after all: Apple supplier Pegatron boosts China workforce by 40 percent in second quarter (Reuters)
- House set to pass tactical Republican debt bill (Reuters)
- Underwriting bonanza: Goldman Said to Earn $500 Million Arranging Malaysia Bond (BBG)
- G7 finance chiefs to discuss bank reform push (Reuters)
- Big Banks Push Back Against Tighter Rules (WSJ)
- University endowments trim holdings in US Treasuries (FT)
- Ex-Pakistan PM's son abducted as Taliban threaten poll (Reuters)
- China Dowry Filled With Gold Signals Gains for Jewelers (BBG)
- As discussed here over a year ago: China inflation data shows central bank policy dilemma (Reuters)
With another listless macro day in the offing, the main event was the previously mentioned Bank of Korea 25 bps rate cut, which coming at a time when everyone else in the world is easing was not too surprising, but was somewhat unexpected in light of persistent inflationary pressures. Either way, the gauntlet at Abenomics has been thrown and any temporary Japanese Yen-driven export gains will likely not persist as it is the quality of products perception (sorry 20th century Toshiba and Sony), that is the primary determinant of end demand, not transitory, FX-driven prices. And now that Korea is set on once again matching Japan in competitiveness, the final piece of the Abenomics unwind puzzle has finally clicked into place. Elsewhere overnight, China reported consumer price inflation increasing by 2.4%, on expectations of a 2.3% rise, driven by a 4% jump in food costs: hardly the thing of Politburo dreams. Or perhaps the PBOC can just print more pigs, soy and birdflu-free chickens? On the other hand, PPI dropped 2.6% in April, on estimates of a 2.3% decline, as China telegraphs it has the capacity, if needed, to stimulate the economy. This is ironic considering its inflation pressures are externally-driven, and come from the Fed and the BOJ, and soon the BOE and ECB. And thus its economy stagnates while prices are driven higher by hot money flows. What to do?
Kenya, Australia, Poland and now South Korea. The country, whose net exports represent nearly 60% of GDP, and which have been deeply impacted by the recent collapse in the Yen, finally threw in the towel overnight and cut the benchmark seven-day repurchase rate from 2.75% to 2.50%, as only 6 of 20 economists predicted. The reason the move was surprising is that just like China, which overnight reported CPI of 2.4% on expectations of 2.3%, the country still has pent up inflation concerns, however it appears that preserving economic growth and its export potential is more important to the country bordered by North Korea, than price stability. The result of this largely unexpected move is a strengthening in the Yen overnight, if only by some 30 pips in the USDJPY.
There are a dozen significant economic indicators that are warning that the U.S. economy is heading into a recession. The Dow may have soared past the 15,000 mark, but the economic fundamentals are telling an entirely different story. If historical patterns hold up, the economy is heading for a very rocky stretch. But most average Americans are not that concerned with the performance of the stock market. They just want to be able to go to work, pay the bills and provide for their families. During the last recession, millions of Americans lost their jobs and millions of Americans lost their homes. If we have another major recession, that will happen again. Sadly, it appears that another major recession is quickly approaching. The following are 12 recession indicators that are flashing red...
At the center of any military campaign is the art of deception. In the military nothing is done without a strategy, generally planned well in advance, and the misdirection of the enemy is always part of any campaign. It would be a political disaster for Israel to attack Iran. We may begin our consideration with this premise. On the other hand, it would be politically acceptable for Israel to respond to any aggression that was inaugurated by Iran. Self-protection is always a respectable retort. The Israeli attacks are not irrelevant.
The 'most hated' rally as mainstream media types prefer to call this manufactured 'market' is flashing red warning symbols under the surface wherever one looks (from complacency to earnings and macro) but, for now, none of that matters. All too often valuations for nominal equity prices are justified by data that is just as supported by fiat largesse as the flow-driven headline-making indices themselves. However, as Diapason Commodities' Sean Corrigan points out in this simple-to-understand chart, valuations for stocks are at extremes relative to the 'real' (even nominally inflated) economy. One glance at the chart of equity price relative to core capital goods orders and the message is clear - this is not an attractive time to be 'buying'; instead a time to be 'selling high' from all your gains. But that is not a narrative that plays well with asset-gathering commission-takers (who are just as dependent on the Fed since 'the AUM must flow' to keep them in the way they are accustomed - paging Larry Fink).
The U.S. stock market rally has recently passed its fourth anniversary after the terrifying lows of March 2009. During that time, massive and unconventional reflationary policy from the Federal Reserve has managed to lift the S&P 500 to new all-time highs. But perhaps even more improbably, it has finally (for now?) built a floor under U.S. residential real estate prices. This 'Less Bad' Recovery continues in other ways as well. Jobs have been created. Not good jobs. Not high paying jobs. Not full time jobs. But some rudimentary sets of tasks and responsibilities that could be called jobs. There has also been deleveraging. But here, too, the scale of debt reduction is nothing close to the unadjusted figures often touted in the media. Americans, and more generally, OECD citizens, remain highly burdened by debt. When combined with poor wage growth, this explains the continued suppressed demand so pervasive in developed nations. And of course, oil prices – as expressed through prices at the pump – remain stubbornly elevated and are likely to persist at their new elevated level. Combined, these factors have kept a lid on consumer confidence and make for a precarious disparity between the stock market and the real economy. Welcome to the Great Constraint - a growing failure to thrive.
Wall Street got into the single-family home business about a year ago. The win-win idea is to buy and rent until prices increase enough to make selling profitable. Investors can improve neighborhoods by fixing up vacant or damaged properties and providing lower-cost housing to people who are recovering from a foreclosure. But, as The Sacramento Bee reports, a responsible landlord is not guaranteed, and while no one is bashing renters, experts say it is human nature to care more for where you live when you own. The idea of a long-term home means more attention is paid to its upkeep and more consideration is given to neighbors, but "renters can change the culture of a neighborhood. In West Palm Beach, FL (where landlords are required to get licenses), applications are up from 296 in 2011 to 399 last year with one entity owning 150 'unregistered' homes: "it's a free-for-all, there's no such thing as a community anymore."
Two weeks ago we reported about one of the biggest daily withdrawals of eligible gold from the JPM gold vault, it not on an absolute basis, then certainly on a relative, when in one day over 260k ounces of gold were withdrawn, leaving a record low 141.6k ounces, or just over 4 tons of gold in the vault. Subsequently, we tracked the daily additions and withdrawals of gold from the vault to see if any other major withdrawal request would come, instead discovering instance after instance of JPM reclassifying Registered gold into Eligible, which is how the vault saw its eligible inventory rish back to 195K ounces as of yesterday, without any actual net additions or more importantly withdrawals. It seems the pause of withdrawals has ended, and as of yesterday, another delivery led to a withdrawal of 53,658 ounces, or 28.5% of the total, leaving a fresh record low inventory of only 137,377 eligible ounces in the vault.
The mainstream media was cock-a-hoop to use Warren Buffett's recent diatribe against being a bond buyer (because prices are artificially high due to the Fed creating phony money and at some point the Fed will stop) as more evidence that stocks are the only game in town. TrimTabs' CEO Charles Biderman questions Buffett's seemingly disingenuous one-sided perspective - "stocks are just as vulnerable as bonds to the Fed withdrawing the narcotic known as free money, why does Mr. Buffett say stock prices are reasonable? To me, logic says stocks are just as overpriced as bonds." Biderman's point is that one cannot look at one market without implications for the other, and as we have noted numerous times, the only thing that matters is the flow (not the stock) of the balance sheet expansion. The Fed is buying up the entire US Government deficit and then some, Biderman explains, "that means there is lots of extra cash floating around the financial markets bidding up the prices of not just bonds but stocks as well;" so while we agree with Mr. Buffet that at some point bond prices have to drop significantly, so do stocks.
When a 'blog' puts the words Fibonacci, Gold, and Stocks in the same post, it well and truly earns its 'tin-foil-hat'-wearing "digital dickweed" honors. And so, we present, for the edification of all those who believe in gold as the only sound numeraire for judging value; for those who believe it's never different this time; and for those who believe in dead-cat-bounces; the Dow in Gold in the 30s, 70s, and Now...