Buy everything I say without limit. Leverage each purchase to the maximum allowed under the law. The markets will only go up and not down and 100,000 is the next stop for the S&P. It is to be Dow without Jones, assets without liabilities and wealth without poverty. The Middle Class has been evacuated and everyone is wealthy beyond belief. It is just there, of course, that the truth lies in this merry old land, “beyond belief.”
"I like fantasy---it wakes up the brain cells.”
- Dr. Seuss
And to think that the market could have learned its lesson by now. Following the planting of an unsourced, glaringly obvious ECB propaganda report such as that attempted yesterday in Der Spiegel, in which nothing of substance was in fact enacted or even proposed (as rate caps is merely a regurgitation of ideas thrown out previously in the summer and fall of 2011), peripheral bonds once again tightened on absolutely nothing, with the Spanish 10 Year now back in the 6.30% territory, over 100 bps inside where it was a month ago. On not a single enacted reform or actual ECB action. Of course, it was a matter of hours before the German FinMin put an end to this latest rumor, and sure enough an hour ago a spokesman for the German FinMin said they were unaware of any ECB plan to target bond spread. Perhaps because there are none? And of course, if there were, the Germans would promptly put an end to what is my implication an open-ended bond buying program without conditionality: something that worked like a "charm" last summer with Italy. And just to make sure Germany's message was read loud and clear, here is the Bundesbank turning on the "just say 9" machine.
"Greece set a precedent for 'Here's what you're going to get, take it or leave it'" is how the WSJ summarizes an analyst's 'shocked' thoughts on the growing game of 'call my bluff' being played among beggars being choosers. Belize is surprise surprise running out of money to pay its debts and is insisting that creditors forgive 45% of what they are owed - OR allow it to delay any debt payments for 15 years (yes, seriously, read that again) - leaving a default on the country's $543.8mm almost inevitable. Three things stand out to us: 1) the nation's government shunned bondholders by simply posting a note on its website that it would be 'skipping a payment' as opposed to telling creditors directly; 2) none other than 'Long GGBs are the slam-dunk trade-of-the-year' Greylock Capital are "mystified" that yet another trade has gone pear-shaped adding that they are "sure every country could benefit from not paying their debt but this isn't the way to do it!"; and 3) this would be one of the worst restructuring terms ever as the "Greek effect" could inspire other countries to pursue restructurings on more favorable terms - especially given that: "Even if you don't need a restructuring you can force one upon bondholders because it's so hard to recover money from a sovereign who won't pay,"
The deleveraging trap is a catch-22; while debt remains excessive, economic activity remains subdued, and while economic activity remains subdued, generating more production than consumption to pay down debt is extremely difficult. As we have seen in Japan — where the total debt load remains above where it was 1991 — fundamentals can remain depressed for years or even generations. Certainly, the modern debt jubilee isn’t going to cure the culture that led to the excessive debt. Certainly, it won’t wash away the vampiristic TBTF megabanks who caused the GFC and live today on bailouts and ZIRP. Certainly, it won’t fix our broken political or financial systems where whistleblowers like Assange are locked away and fraudsters like Corzine roam free to start hedge funds. And certainly it won’t wash away the huge mountain of derivatives or shadow intermediation that interconnect the economy in a way that amplifies small shocks into greater crises.
The modern “debt jubilee” is characterised as “quantitative easing for the public”. It has been boiled down to a procedure where the central bank does not create new money by buying the sovereign debt of the government. Instead, it takes an arbitrary number, writes a check for that number, and deposits it in the bank account of every individual in the nation. Debtors must use the newly-created money to pay down or pay off debt. Those who are not in debt can use it as a free windfall to spend or “invest” as they see fit. This, it is said, is the only way left to restart economic “growth” and finally get the spectre of unending financial crisis out of the headlines. It is the latest of a long string of “print to cover” remedies.
In four months the debate over America's Fiscal cliff will come to a crescendo, and if Goldman is correct (and in this case it likely is), it will probably be resolved in some sort of compromise, but not before the market swoons in a replica of the August 2011 pre- and post-debt ceiling fiasco: after all politicians only act when they (and their more influential, read richer, voters and lobbyists) see one or two 0's in their 401(k)s get chopped off. But while the Fiscal cliff is unlikely to be a key point of contention far past December, another cliff is only starting to be appreciated, let alone priced in: America's Demographic cliff, which in a decade or two will put Japan's ongoing demographic crunch to shame, and with barely 2 US workers for every retired person in 2035, we can see why both presidential candidates are doing their darnedest to skirt around the key issue that is at stake not only now, be every day hence.
While the Achilles heel to the endless "economic data" BS coming out of China may be its electric production and demand, both of which show a vastly different picture than what the Beijing politburo's very wide brush strokes paint, the US itself is not immune from indicators that confirm that anything the BEA dishes out should be taken with a grain of salt. One data set that we showed recently that paints a drastically different (read slowing) picture of the US economy which we noted recently is railcar loading of waste and scrap for the simple reason that "The more we demand, the more waste is generated by that production." Of course, the propaganda manipulation machinery only focuses on the "entrance" of production, and completely ignore the "exit." But an even far more important metric of the general health of the US economy may be none other than broad energy demand, in the form of petroleum deliveries and gasoline demand. If this is indeed the relevant metric to observe, then things are about to get far, far worse. As Dow Jones notes: "U.S. petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, fell by 2.7% in July from a year earlier to the lowest level in any month since September 2008, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said Friday." It gets worse: "Demand in the world's biggest oil consumer, at 18.062 million barrels a day, was the weakest for the month of July since 1995, the API said. Year-to-date demand is down 2.3% from the same period in 2011."
QE-on or QE-off; Growth or No-Growth; Cleanest 'Dirty' Shirt or Un-Decoupling; none of that matters. There are divergences everywhere - intraday and long-term - but none of that matters. What matters is hope, faith, and a little Central Bank charity. That is, of course, until someone drops the bowl of global Kool-Aid (Merkel 'nein'; Bernanke 'no'; Xiaochaun 'bu') or markets believe they want Romney/Ryan. With the equity markets in general making new 2012 highs today (as we noted earlier), on a day with better-than-recent volumes and heavy average trade-size at the highs, we can do nothing but stand back and admire the year-to-date performance of bonds, stocks, commodities, and verbal diarrhea.
There was a time when retail stock outflows were considered a bullish catalyst: after all, retail was always considered the dumb money (not "two and twenty" hedge funds which continue to underperform the stock market, and have done so for the past five years), and would pull money at the bottom and add money at the top. This is no longer the case for the simple reason that while persistent outflows from domestic equity funds continue (and as the recent shuttering of levered ETFs by Direxion shows the infatuation with synthetic mutual fund replacements is now over), for the inverse to be true there have to be inflows, which are now non-existent. In the past two years, or 106 weeks of market data, there here been 17 weeks of inflows, or 16% of the total, amounting to $31 billion. The remainder? Outflows for a total of $300 billion. In the 32 weeks of YTD 2012 money flows, there have been 5 weeks of inflows for a total of $3.6 billion (which was also equal to the outflow in the last week alone) none of which coincided with market tops, and in fact the biggest outflows occurred just as the market hit interim highs. The most recent inflow, as tiny as it may have been, curious occurred during the May lows, proving retail is if anything, the smart money now. In other words, those looking for hints about the market based on retail flows are advised to look elsewhere. What this data does show is that no matter what happens in the stock market, the outflows will persist and are unlikely to reverse direction. Because if the S&P at fresh 2012 (and multi-year) highs is unable to draw retail out of hibernation, nothing will. Where is the money flowing? Why into fixed income of course, proving that as far as the now extinct investor class is concerned, return of capital is the only thing that matters, while HFTs and prop trading desks can fight over all the return on capital scraps provided courtesy of the Chairman. Curious where the volume has gone? Now you know.
One of the reasons that Europe is so difficult to assess is the tremendous amount of jargon and hype that comes pouring out from all across the Continent. Each separate nation sends out stuff and then Brussels sends out their fluff and then the ECB makes proclamations and there is no harmonization as each group has its own distinct platform. We are bombarded daily with national interests, Federal interests and finally an ECB that supposedly is beholden to no one but is, in fact, beholden to everyone and especially Germany as the paymaster. Almost every day there is a new bandwagon to jump on and a new disappointment to be found some days later as one plan after another does not come to fruition. So to make sense of it all you have to stop, come to a full halt and give due consideration to the totality of what is happening in Europe.
Up until now we were a lone voice in the wilderness, with our "dry-humored" Transatlantic colleagues, working for a newspaper funded with Goldman Sachs advertisements, periodically mocking our "misunderstanding" of credit and money creation. We are now delighted that none other than one of the foremost opinions on all topics "shadow" stood up this week, and admitted that indeed, it is Zero Hedge whose view on money creation is the correct one. Behold several absolutely critical observations by Citi's Matt King. The same Matt King who a week before the collapse of Lehman wrote "Are The Brokers Broken" and explained to all those who had heretofore been reading and basing their understanding of finance on the above-mentioned Transatlantic newspaper, why everything they know about the modern financial system is wrong. Lehman filed for bankruptcy 12 days later. Unless and until this $3.8 trillion 'shadow banking' hole is plugged, one thing is certain: risk is not going anywhere.
For once the squid is actually 100% correct, with or without the usual dose of dodecatuple reverse psychology.
Metaboring: it’s getting boring to make the comment that equities are again boring. Or maybe that’s called boring-squared. Here’s to hoping tomorrow is boring-cubed. To reinforce the point that nothing much is moving, our US portfolio strategy team has 20 ‘thematic baskets’ (that I can see on BBG anyways), and not a single one moved more than 1% today. None of the 8 ‘macro baskets’ moved more than 50bps.
And there you have it. What is unsaid is that unless vol, and volume, pick up as we cross the half way mark of Q3, bank earnings for the quarter ended September 30 are going to be absolutely horrific. So get ready: the Goldmans of the world want to inject some major vol (and volume) into the market. And what Goldman wants, Goldman gets.
Dedicated to Charles Hugh Smith, Cog Dis, Banzai and All of the Other ZH Writers Fighting to Make the World a Tad Wiser ...
"Personally, I look at the Americans and I see a people who have been very effectively brainwashed, or who simply have given in to the entirely human tendency to shuffle unquestioningly onto the path of least resistance and let themselves go. I see a people who, on a wholesale basis, have consciously or unconsciously decided to trade the idea of America for the false security of a totalitarian state."
And the hard reality is that the vast majority would raise their hands in favor of the current system that has the state deeply involved in pretty much every aspect of the economy and society at large. The level of support for the very same tangled body of state-controlled handouts, regulations and central economic planning now choking the last gasps of life out of the body politic is obvious and overwhelming. The champions of liberty are fighting against a very entrenched and increasingly dangerous public mindset. Today the enemy (of true freedom) is within. In fact, the nation is overrun by them... they dominate in most every community, in most businesses and even in most families.
Fisker, whose Karma superburningcar made headlines two days ago for being the latest addition to America's New Spontaneously Combusting Green Normal, has decided to double down on that elusive spark, and has released the incendiary news that it has hired as CEO none other than head of that other hot selling eco-car, the Chevy Volt. From Reuters: "Fisker Automotive named the former head of General Motors Co's (GM.N) Chevrolet Volt program as chief executive on Tuesday, marking the second time the troubled, government-funded start-up has replaced its top executive this year. Tony Posawatz, who oversaw the development of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid for six years before he left GM this summer, will replace outgoing CEO Tom LaSorda. "I've been recruiting him for quite a while and certainly had some people assist me in giving him the full story," LaSorda said during a conference call with reporters. "He's come in with eyes wide open."" Hopefully he's also come in with a fire extinguisher.