According to the latest weekly BofA client data, "smart money" investors have finally tempered their euphoric optimism, and last week during which the S&P 500 climbed to another new high, BofAML clients took advantage of the surge in "greater fools" and turned net sellers of US equities for the first time since the week prior to the US election in early November.
"Speculators often prosper through ignorance; it is a cliche that in a roaring bull market, knowledge is superfluous and experience is a handicap. But the typical experience of the speculator is one of temporary profit and ultimate loss."
Since President Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in November, investors and management teams have been acutely focused on the new administration’s policy proposals. As expected, all 4 key themes discussed on Q4 conference calls are closely linked to Trump's policies and include tax reform, regulation, fiscal spending and trade policy.
Yesterday it was widely reported in the business press that Mary Jo White is returning to her former law firm as a partner representing clients who face government investigations. This news is highly significant because it would appear that the U.S. Senate was seriously misled by White’s ethics letter in its deliberations to confirm her as the top cop of Wall Street.
A quick look at GM's 61+ day subprime securitization delinquencies seems to imply that the tailwinds that have propelling auto sales to record highs over the past several months look set to change course...
When BofA conducted its monthly Fund Managers' Survey, and asked what is the most likely bear market catalysts, the responses were as follows: "protectionism" = 34%, "higher rates" = 28%, "financial event" = 18%, "weaker EPS" = 15%. The "smart money" also said that the best protectionist investment is one: gold.
"A simple count of mentions of the word “better” relative to mentions of “worse” or “weaker” on earnings calls is tracking its highest in over two years. And the word “optimistic” has been used on a record 51% of the calls this quarter, the highest ever in our data history." - BofA
According to BofA, the best ways to hedge increased risks of a potential Eurosceptic win in the upcoming French election is favouring 10y peripheral spread wideners in Spain vs France, longs in 5y5y Germany and 5y Dutch sovereign CDS. In the options space, the banks recommends going long vol with a hybrid 6m10y strangle. In inflation, it likes 5y5y French CPI v HICP widener and a long 30y OATei breakeven vs inflation swap.
In December, Japan - the largest holder of Treasuries following China's recent sharp selloff - saw domestic investors dump their holdings of by the most since May 2013. “It was a deer in the headlights moment,” said Zoltan Pozsar, a research analyst at Credit Suisse, and it may be about to get much worse.