"The recent trading environment has felt something like walking into a place and having a sense that something is wrong and dangerous but not knowing exactly what will happen or when. “QE Infinity” has so distorted the prices of stocks and bonds that nobody can possibly determine what the investing landscape would look like, or what the condition of the economy and financial system would be, in the absence of Fed bond-buying."
-Paul Singer, Elliott Management
If ever there was a few minutes of television to confirm the deep-seated disconnect between reality and the ivory-tower academics pulling the levers behind the curtain, CNBC's Rick Santelli just exposed it. For once, simple questions were enough to allow none other than Nobel-Prize-winning economist Eugene Fama to show Santelli (who did his best not to explode in incredulity) that the "smartest people in the room" just don't get it (just as they didn't get it in 2007). Santelli was gracious and polite as he asked what the great professor's thoughts were on QE... (and the entire brief clip is worth watching in its entirety) but his conclusion is perhaps the most stunning (and left Santelli almost silent)... when asked the impact of the Fed 'Tapering' or even selling down its $4 trillion in assets, Fama calmly says "it's basically a neutral event... It's No Big Deal!" Indeed, professor, that is so clear...
Following the humiliation of having a US ambassador summoned so he would explain the spying conducted by the US government, in liberated Paris of all places (because while the NSA spying on your own citizens is an absolute travesty and trampling of basic human rights and smacks of Stalingrad circa 1960, spying abroad is permitted, accepted and largely forgiven by all the developed nations - after all everyone does it) the US has struck back in the most poetic way imaginable: it said that whatever phone records the NSA acquired were passed on to it by the local spy agencies of none other than France and Spain. The implication is simple: the local people understandably furious at the US and screaming blood, have just been given a far more convenient target at which to fume: their own governments.
As we pointed out a month ago (and initially over a year ago) in this completely broken, levered-beta, mad dash for yield market, the only alpha-generating strategy that even remotely works, is to be long the most shorted stocks. This was confirmed based on the return of the S&P vs the "most shorted sotcks" - a trade we first suggested in September 2012 - demonstrated by the chart below. Amusingly, as part of the trading basket of only stocks worth owning, i.e., the most shorted ones on the Russell 2000, where the beta is by far the highest, the top stock listed, the one with the highest short interest as a percentage of the total float, was none other than Blyth, Inc., as per the chart from one month ago. According to the latest Bloomberg data, since then the short interest only rose even more, hitting an unprecedented 82.79% of all shares in the float held short. Well, overnight a lot of shorts suddenly screamed out in terror and were suddenly silenced, not to mention carted out feet first, when none other than the most shorted Rusell 2000 stock received an unsolicited takeover proposal valuing the stock at $16.75/share.
Obama Knew Most Americans Would Not Be Able To Keep Their Existing Insurance Under Obamacare As Early As 2010Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/29/2013 07:56 -0400
The news keeps going from worse to worse-er for the administration and Obamacare. The latest hit, however, does not revolve around the dysfunctional healthcare.gov website, whose hundreds of millions of lines of faulty code will take a very long time to fix, but relates to Obama's promises that individuals would be able to keep their existing healthcare plans following the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. The truth, as NBC reports, is they can't but what's worse is that Obama knew as early as July 2010 that 40 to 67 percent of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And that's not all: since the 14 millions consumers who buy their insurance individually will be forced into comparable plans, they are all set to experience a "sticker shock" when "opting" for the mandatory alternatives.
I have a business I would like to sell you. Let’s run over the numbers first. First and foremost, I have to be honest, this business has not implemented a budget in five years. I know that seems like an insane way to run a business, but I can assure you that management is comprised of highly intelligent, ethical people.
Continuing to play Obama like a fiddle, the Snowden revelations have done more to change US foreign policy in a few short months, than all laws passed since the advent of the Patriot Act. In the latest example of just this, moments ago, USA Today first and the WSJ and others subsequently, reported that according to Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and an NSA supporter, the National Security Agency has stopped gathering intelligence on allied political leaders, a practice that has drawn global criticism. "The White House has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue, which I support," according to Feinstein. It was not immediately clear if this is an implicit admission that the White House actually did know about the NSA's spying on foreign leaders over the past decade, and lied about being unaware. Recall that Obama denied just this last night, but at this point the pit of lies is so deep, few actually care or are keeping track.
The kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we’ve become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It’s almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.
Despite Joe Lavorgna's seemingly gigantic cognitive dissonance in the face of this report, the pending home sales data collapsed in September (and remember this is before the shutdown and was heralded at the time as buyers rushing to buy before the risk of the shutdown slowed acceptances). Affordability, argued by some serial extrapolators as still being 'relatively' positive - has drastically weighed on housing at the margin just as we argued previously. This is the first annual drop in 29 months, the biggest drop in 40 months, and the biggest miss against expectations in 40 months. Even the typically full of spin, NAR Chief economist had to admit "this tells us to expect lower home sales for the fourth quarter, with a flat trend going into 2014." Apparently, if one is to believe the spin, overheard everywhere in September: "Hmm, government may shut down next month - let's not buy a house."
How do we get a fundamental change away from this extend-and-pretend which prevails not only in Europe but also the world? History tells us that we only get real changes as a result of war, famine, social riots or collapsing stock markets. None of these is an issue for most of the world - at least not yet - but on the other hand we have never had less growth, worse demographics, or higher unemployment since WWII. This is a true paradox that somehow needs to be resolved, and quickly if we are to avoid wasting an entire generation of youth. Policymakers try to pretend we have achieved significant progress and stability as the result of their actions, but from a fundamental point of view that’s a mere illusion..
This artificial prosperity plan for Wall Street has the added benefit of allowing the captured politicians in Washington D.C. to continue their $1 trillion per year deficit spending with no consequences for their squandering of future generations’ wealth. Bernanke and Yellen will never taper, because they can’t. The Fed balance sheet will continue to grow by at least $1 trillion per year until they crash the financial system again. Except this time, there will be no money printing solution. We are all trapped like rats in this monetary experiment being conducted by evil mad scientists. No one will get out alive. Welcome to the new normal. Now eat your cheese.
Russell Brand's excited exchange with stoic Brit Jeremy Paxman this week is a must-see "exchange of new ideas vs old." Among Brand's clearer moments were "stop voting, stop pretending, wake up. Be in reality now, time to be in reality now. Why vote, we know it's not going to make any difference, we know that already." The excellent discourse has prompted this open letter supporting the comedian.. concluding so legitimately nowadays, with Upton Sinclair's infamous quote "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
It's happening again. The US lack of intervention in Syria (and implicit and explicit support for the rebels) has apparently emboldened none other than Al-Qaeda. As the WSJ reports, a flurry of recent attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq - strengthened by their alliance with jihadist fighters in Syria - is threatening to undo years of U.S. efforts to crush the group, widening sectarian conflict in the Middle East. Iraqi security officials say al Qaeda-linked fighters from the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, are moving aggressively to re-establish a base of operations in Anbar province, the stronghold of the Sunni insurgency during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
As frequent readers will recall, one of our favorite series of posts describing the "Walking Dead" monetary zombie-infested continent that is Europe is the one showing the abysmal state Europe's credit creation machinery, operated by none other than the Bank of Italy's, Goldman's ECB's Mario Draghi, finds itself in. As a reminder, it was as recently as September when we found that "Mario Draghi's Nightmare Gets Worse" because "European Loans Declined At Record Rate." To our complete lack of surprise, when a few hours ago the ECB released the latest monetary and credit creation update for the month of September, it showed... no change. Or rather, while loans to the private sector are at all time record lows, that other metric which Draghi at least has some direct control over (since he obviously can't control the amount of confidence in the system aside from threats of brute force), M3, just had its lowest pace of increase since January 2012.
Busy, Lackluster Overnight Session Means More Delayed Taper Talk, More "Getting To Work" For Mr YellenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/25/2013 07:00 -0400
It has been a busy overnight session starting off with stronger than expected food and energy inflation in Japan even though the trend is now one of decline while non-food, non-energy and certainly wage inflation is nowhere to be found (leading to a nearly 3% drop in the Nikkei225), another SHIBOR spike in China (leading to a 1.5% drop in the SHCOMP) coupled with the announcement of a new prime lending rate (a form a Chinese LIBOR equivalent which one knows will have a happy ending), even more weaker than expected corporate earnings out of Europe (leading to red markets across Europe), together with a German IFO Business Confidence miss and drop for the first time in 6 months, as well as the latest M3 and loan creation data out of the ECB which showed that Europe remains stuck in a lending vacuum in which banks refuse to give out loans, a UK GDP print which came in line with expectations of 0.8%, where however news that Goldman tentacle Mark Carney is finally starting to flex and is preparing to unleash a loan roll out collateralized by "assets" worse than Gree Feta and oilve oil. Of course, none of the above matters: only thing that drives markets is if AMZN burned enough cash in the quarter to send its stock up by another 10%, and, naturally, if today's Durable Goods data will be horrible enough to guarantee not only a delay of the taper through mid-2014, but potentially lend credence to the SocGen idea that the Yellen-Fed may even announce an increase in QE as recently as next week.