Whatever one thinks of the New Normal economy, one sure can't say there is a shortage of flipping opportunities.
Nearly 100 years ago, on December 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law, giving the U.S. exactly what it didn’t need: a central bank. Many people simply assume that modern nations must have a central bank, just as they must have international airports and high-speed Internet. Yet Americans had gone without one since the 1836 expiration of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, which Andrew Jackson famously refused to renew. Not to be a party pooper, but as this dubious anniversary is observed, we should ask ourselves, Has the Fed been friend or foe to growth and prosperity? ... In actuality, the Fed’s modus operandi has been to trick capitalists into doing things that are not aligned with economic reality.
UPDATE: Silver prices just spiked higher also.
The last few months have seen Gold futures halted numerous times. Last week we saw stock futures collapse very rapidly in the middle of the night only to bounce aggressively. Yesterday it was the Treasury Futures turn to melt-up. Today, Copper futures just exploded 4.2% higher in a split second as huge volumes hit the COMEX. And then minutes later, it fades back.
*COPPER FUTURES JUMP AS MUCH AS 4.2%, REACH $3.4475 A POUND, HIGHEST SINCE APRIL
We are sure it will be blamed on a "fat finger" but once again it suggests the algos are losing control of the asylum... Makes perfect sense to try and buy 1100 contracts in 30 seconds on Christmas Eve... so much for fiduciary duty (cue "busted trades" headline).
One of these is an "asset" that produces no profit based on an underlying architecture with low barriers to entry, the other is a virtual currency... and remember: Bitcoin has no intrinsic value, doesn't trade at 1000x 2013 (or 340x 2014) EBITDA, and is nowehere near 40x it next year's revenues. It is, after all, simply a non-fiat currency. Which is why it is a bubble, and why, according to experts, Twitter is a screaming buy.
VIX closed at its lowest in a month as stocks pushed on higher to new record-er highs (and Twitter hit $70). The Nasdaq underperformed today (after yesterday's outpeformance) as the Dow, S&P, and Russell all closed around 0.4% higher (and Twitter added 8.2%). Treasury bond yields rose notably all day with the 10Y at its 2nd highest closing yield of the year +5.4bps to 2.98% today (but Twitter is almost a double off its lows in 2 weeks). Commodities drifted higher all day with Gold back over $1200 (and that so-called fat finger in copper leaving it up large still on the day). The USD ended unch with slight weakness in JPY. From the Taper lows, the S&P is up 3.7% (but Twitter is up 30% in that period).
It seems not a day goes by when the mainstream media (or your local friendly asset gatherer) proclaims the drop in gas prices from a Middle-East-turmoiling Summer as "great news" and very positive and an implicit tax cut... as they try to juice hopes and dreams of a better-than-expected holiday spending season. The sad truth - something unusual in this new normal - is that regular gas prices (at $3.258) have never been higher on Christmas Eve. It seems context does matter...
Procuring physical gold seems to be a rather problematic and time-consuming process, as the Bundesbank is learning. Yesterday Buba head Jens Weidmann told Bild that gold valued at €1.1 billion has been repatriated so far. Putting a weight to this number: to date the Bundesbank has received shipments of a paltry 37 tons of gold from its existing storage place in either New York or Paris to Germany: "The gold reserves of the country will be stored in Frankfurt because it has a special storage with the corresponding equipment,” said Carl-Ludwig Thiele, a Bundesbank board member. The repatriated amount over the course of all of 2013 represents just over 5% of the total stated target of 700 tons, and is well below the 87.5 tons that the Bundesbank would need to repatriate each year if it were to collected the 700 tons ratably ever year in the 8 year interval between 2013 and 2020.
Watching Indian bureaucrats attempt to halt more than one billion human beings’ desire for gold has been one of the more entertaining and pathetic stories of all of 2013. As we noted previously, gold smuggling has now outstripped the illegal drug trade but it appears the trend continues, potentially at an accelerated rate, as we just learned that, incredibly, “almost every passenger on a flight from Dubai to Calicut was found carrying 1kg of gold.” As I have said many times in the past, if an Indian wants their gold, they will have their gold.
While both stock and bond markets are "influenced" by the ongoing flood of central bank liquidity, it is clear that the two "markets" have a very different view of the future. The last few days have seen the longer-term bond term structure (perhaps indicative of future growth hopes) collapse and are now unchanged on the year. Of course, the "taper" has been seen as nothing but great news by stocks which have pushed on to a 28% gain on the year... Which "efficient" market is discounting the future correctly we wonder?
Presenting an economic model as "scientific" and quantifiable is in effect claiming that the bubbling stew of human culture can be reduced to quantifiable models that will yield predictions that are accurate in the real world. This is clearly false, as culture is not a static set of objects, it is a constantly shifting interplay of feedback loops.
Where things get outright bizarre, is when one looks at the series showing the average sales price for New Homes. Keep in mind that an hour ago we showed that mortgage applications have tumbled to a fresh 13 year low, while refi apps slid to the lowest in 5 years. So what happened to the average new home sales price in the month of November? Well, it just hit a new all time high! Why, because why it can.
As the non-government worker 'slaves' away, working 80 hours straight at Toys'r'Us, or earning an 'unlivable' wage at McDonalds, President Obama as used an executive order to activate a 1% pay raise for all government workers. As the WSJ reports, the 4.4 milion federal employees are receiving their first across-the-board pay bump since a 2% increase in January 2010 (though notably agency directors must meet this cost within their existing budgets - not collecting any new funds to pay for it). Of course, even by government statistical standards, this is still not keeping up with inflation, but hey, it's better than nothing.
The chart below looks at the Year over Year change in Durables ex transports for the month of November across 4 different years. What immediately stands out is that while 2010 through 2012 acted just as expected, with SA and NSA data almost identical, in 2013 the data... diverged. In fact, the divergence between the SA and NSA was inexplicably over $2.2 billion. What does that mean? Well, if the SA number was accurate, and in line with what the NSA number predicted, Durables Goods ex-transports would have declined by -0.5% instead of rising by 1.2%. The same would apply to all other key categories from the report. In other words, when all else fails, and when Unadjusted data points to a decline, just do what the government's Arima X 12 model is so good at doing, and adjusted the data.
From its peak in October 2012, mortgage applications have collapsed 66% and this week printed at new 13-year lows. Since rates started to crack on Taper talk in May 2013, mortgage applications have fallen in a one-way street (but hey, rising rates won't affect the housing recovery, right? remember 15% mortgages... as the usual bullshit meme goes, entirely missing the shift in house prices, affordability, and marginal price-setter). Of course, the usual 'seasonal' effect wil be blamed and recovery will re-blossom in the new year... except, seasonally this is among the worse drop in the last few weeks of the year in the last decade. Adding further salt to the wound of wealth generation, the refi index has dropped to a fresh 5-year low as the home equity ATM remains shut (having dropped 73% in the last few months).