goldman sachs

goldman sachs

Is Micro Weakness Smelling A Macro Collapse?

Last week we suggested a reason why the market was unable to hold on to the Bernanke bid. The relative plunge in Goldman Sachs 'bottom-up' Analysts Index (GSAI) suggested that the macro 'strength' that market-savants were so focused on, could perhaps be election-biased (blasphemy). It seems this macro 'strength' divergence (highest since 1996!) from micro 'weakness' reality was enough to get the Goldmanites thinking - and unfortunately for all the cautiously optimistic managers out there, they are not hopeful. As Jan Hatzius explains,  "the GSAI remains closely correlated with other bottom-up measures, including the S&P 500 sales guidance diffusion index; and while one possible explanation is that S&P 500 companies are more exposed to non-US demand than the US economy at large, and the US has been a relative outperformer. But it is unclear whether this accounts for all of the weakness, or whether the bottom-up weakness also holds some additional leading information for the macroeconomic data."

On The Idiocy Of Sell Side 'Research' Lemmings

Here's why you shouldn't trust sell-side research analyst expectations. Their 'normal' pattern is extrapolate trends in a lemming-like chase to be the headline-maker of the day ($1111 AAPL price-targets for instance) and then - when it's just too obvious (or when the company in question actually 'misses' what they extrapolated by a mile cough JCP cough) - they knee-jerk react at turning points - when it is already too late. So the next time someone on TV 'projects' value based on earnings or tries to convince you to part with your hard-earned money on a stock with great earnings prospects, perhaps this chart will remind you to reduce that exposure. The simple fact is - they do not know; and with the macro 'forest' becoming increasingly binary in its outlook, focusing on the micro 'trees' and supposed 'diversification' is irrelevant as correlations snap and as Goldman notes 'big revisions are the norm' as bottom-up earnings data (guided by the ever cautiously optimistic CEOs) is always slow to reflect much weaker macro data.

The Three Key Themes From Q3 Earnings

Much like the Beige Book attempts to summarize the 'economic conditions' of all the 12 regional Federal Reserve branches, so Goldman's David Kostin screens the companies in the S&P 500 for common themese from their earnings calls. This anecdotal evidence provides critical insight into the current fundamental and thematic trends. The three key findings are (1) Managements delayed capital investment and hiring and gave conservative guidance given uncertainty about the real economy and near-term policy risk from the ‘Fiscal Cliff’; (2) Companies grappled with slow global growth: stagnation in the US, recession in Europe, and an unclear path in China; and (3) Many firms took strong action to protect high margins against tepid revenue growth, rising input costs, and frugal customers. Meanwhile, a near-record percent of small businesses rank government requirements as their biggest challenge!

Frontrunning: November 8

  • Obama First Since FDR Re-Elected With 7.9% Joblessness (Bloomberg)
  • China Party Meets to Anoint Next Leader (WSJ)
  • Hu Sets China Income Target for Xi as Communists Gather (Bloomberg)
  • Hu Jintao dashes hope for political reform (FT)
  • Spain Sells $6 Billion Debt, Placing Longest Bond Since 2011 (Bloomberg)
  • Japanese Politicians Move to Steer Away From Fiscal Cliff (Bloomberg)
  • Hu says graft threatens state, party must stay in charge (Reuters)
  • Weidmann in Defeat Still Influences ECB Bond-Buying Plan (Bloomberg)
  • Spain Said to Consider Palace Sales to Raise Cash (Bloomberg)
  • First-term headwinds look set to turn (FT)
  • Focus Shifts to 'Fiscal Cliff' (WSJ)
  • Obama Victory Paves Way to Continue Fed Policies (Hilsenrath)
  • Swiss, Greeks Begin Talks on Tax Deal (WSJ)

Frontrunning: November 7

  • Obama Wins Re-election With Romney Defeated in Key States (Bloomberg, Reuters)
  • Romney's last, greatest 'turnaround' falls short (Reuters)
  • Control of Congress set to remain split (FT)
  • Republicans to Hold Most Governor Offices Since 2000 (Bloomberg)
  • Economic Unease Looms After Win (WSJ)
  • Storm-lashed New York, New Jersey scramble as weather threatens (Reuters)
  • Democrats Assured of Keeping U.S. Senate Majority (Bloomberg)
  • Greece to vote on austerity, protests intensify (Reuters)
  • France offers businesses €20bn tax break (FT) ... Wait, what?
  • Putin Fires Defense Chief in Rare Move (WSJ)
  • China premier Wen calls for deeper cooperation on disasters (China Daily)
  • China wrestles over democratic reform (FT)
  • Top-Performing Won Threatens to Hurt Korea Export Rebound (Bloomberg)

Goldman's Guide To The Election In 3 Simple Charts

Ahead of today's presidential and congressional elections, Goldman provides some brief thoughts on various election-night (and beyond) events. From a viewer's guide to the poll-closing times to a discussion of the apparent 'closeness' of the race and post-election market performance, they note that equity performance post 'tight' races has been better than in elections where the winner is more clear-cut. This election has a twist though in that it will be immediately followed by debate on the fiscal cliff, and thus resolution of the election will reduce, but not eliminate policy uncertainty.

Frontrunning: November 6

  • Obama-Romney: Breaking the Tie (BBG)
  • Fiscal cliff looms over campaign climax (FT)
  • Tough Calls on Deficit Await the Winner (WSJ)
  • Election Likely to Leave Housing Unmoved (WSJ)
  • Regulator Investigating Rochdale Trading (WSJ)
  • Greeks Plan Strikes On Eve of Votes (WSJ)
  • China Communists consider internal democratic reform (Reuters)
  • Wen urges Asia-Europe co-op to promote world economy (China Daily)
  • Italy Said to Reject Bad Bank That May Boost Ties to Sovereign (BBG)
  • IMF warning adds to French economy fears (FT)
  • Europe, Central Bank Spar Over Athens Aid (WSJ)
  • Unlimited Lending May Help Weaken the Yen, BOJ Official Says (BBG)
  • PBOC Official Says U.S. Election Won’t Impact Yuan Level (BBG) - Just the USD level to which it is pegged

The Far More Important 'Election' Part 2: China's Market Implications

Having made clear in Part 1 the various policy leanings, uncertainty, and potential reform headlines, we delve a little deeper into the specifics of what the systemic and idiosyncratic implications might be. In two simple tables, Goldman lays out the top-down asset-class perspectives as 'new' China addresses its systemic issues and then looks at how China's equities (and by implication global equity indices) can meaningfully re-rate with a background of economic sustainability concerns as reforms impact various sectors more or less. As Goldman concludes: "Cyclical adjustments can help to restore confidence, but investors will likely be unwilling to meaningfully re-rate the market until more concrete progress is made on the reform front…but reforms may not be good for all sectors."

The Far More Important 'Election' Part 1: China's Political Process

The imminent once-in-a-decade leadership handover in China will likely be one of the most important if not the most important leadership changes in the world this year and beyond in Goldman Sachs' opinion. Not only because it has the potential to mark a shift in policy direction in what has become a global economic giant, but also, as they note, because it comes at a time of substantial economic and social uncertainty in the country, with the economic future of China and the legitimacy of its current power structure potentially at stake. On the eve of this important transition, understanding this somewhat complex power structure, the composition and policy leanings of the likely new leadership, and the potential new policy priorities and reforms ahead is critical.

The Chinese Credit Bubble - Full Frontal

While Chinese government and consumer debt can be whatever China wants it to be (and when it isn't, any discharged and non-performing debt is merely masked over with more debt: China doesn't have $3 trillion in foreign reserves for nothing) corporate debt, in keeping with Western-style reporting requirements, is far more difficult to obfuscate and falsify in recent years. It is here that we get the first glimpse of the true sheer extent of the Chinese credit bubble, which as the chart below shows, is already the largest in the entire world.

Tim Geithner: Next Steps

Tim Geithner's public "servant" tenure has not been without its blemishes: from his deplorable run as the (figure)head of the New York Fed (from 2003 until 2009), when the entire financial system literally imploded under his watch, to his epic failing up as Hank Paulson's replacement as treasury Secretary of the United States, despite his legendary inability to navigate the Minotaurian labyrinth that is the TurboTax income tax flowchart, the Dartmouth alum has had his share of run ins with adversity (and adversity won). Of course, Geithner's tenure in charge of the Treasury in the past 4 years has been somewhat mollified by the fact that here too here was merely a figurehead, and the true entity that runs the US printing presses is none other than the JPM and Goldman Sachs co-chaired Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (for more on the TBAC read here and especially here as pertains to the former LTCM trader and current head of JPM's CIO group), meaning that the US Treasury, just like the Fed, are merely branches of the one true power in US governance: Wall Street. Geithnerian figureheadedness aside, the one undeniable fact is that Tim Geithner's days as head of the Treasury are now numbered: he has made it quite clear that he will not accompany Obama (should the incumbent be reelected) into his second term. So what is a career "public servant" to do once the public no longer has any interest in retaining his services? Bloomberg's Deborah Solomon has some suggestions...

Frontrunning: November 5

  • Obama and Romney Deadlocked, Polls Show (WSJ)
  • NYC Commuter Week Faces Uncharted Ground as Storm Brews (Bloomberg)
  • New York region struggles to move on a week after Sandy (Reuters)
  • Europe's Bank Reviews Collateral (WSJ)
  • Less circuses to pay for the bread? Time Warner Cable misses on falling demand (Reuters)
  • Spanish unemployment total jumps by 128,242 as recession continues to take its toll on economy (Independent)
  • Goldman Sachs Partner List Drops 31 Since February, Filing Shows (Bloomberg)
  • China's mission impossible - a date for Hu's military handover (Reuters)
  • German-Iranian trade booming (Jerusalem Post)
  • Russia supplying arms to Syria under old contracts: Lavrov (Reuters)
  • Russia endorses Egyptian-led regional group on Syria (Reuters)
  • Election Winner Must Win Over Wall Street (Bloomberg)
  • On Google, a Political Mystery That's All Numbers (WSJ)
  • Richard Koo: explain to Americans why $22 trillion in debt in 4 years is good for them.. or something (FT)

Is This Why Markets Can't Catch A Bernanke Bid?

While top-down macro headlines, anchoring-biased surveys, and election-oriented government-aided statistics suggest a world of unicorns and teddy bears where everyone and their pet rabbit 'Dave' should be buying stocks with both hand and feet for the 'upside' when the fiscal cliff is 'solved' and 'Bernanke has got your back'; why-oh-why is every rally faded? In Size? Perhaps this is the answer? Goldman Sachs Analysts Index (GSAI) - a quantified bottom-up look at firm-by-firm views of the current and expected economic reality aggregated across all of the company's analysts - is bad and getting worse in a hurry. The main index slumped to 32.9 in October from 44.1 in September, with all sub-components falling 'suggesting depressed business activity from the bottom-up'. Perhaps worse, the employment index remains weak and price indices suggest a deflationary future. This index of real economic activity is its lowest since the 2008-9 recession and sends a considerably more pessimistic message than many of the business 'surveys' from the Philly Fed or Chicago PMI. Perhaps it is this reality on the ground that is stalling the wealth-building stock-levitation that is so economically required by our central planners - as it seems the broad improvement in September was transient.

Charles Ferguson: "Standing Behind Every Great Con Artist Is Someone Like Glenn Hubbard "

Mitt Romney has a credibility problem. He changes his beliefs like laundry (abortion, medical insurance, whether Bin Laden was worth killing, attacking Iran), refuses to disclose his tax returns, and won't explain how he could possibly pay for the tax cuts he proposes. But there is another scandal in Romney's campaign -- namely Glenn Hubbard, Romney's chief economic advisor, who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush, and is now Dean of Columbia Business School. I interviewed Hubbard for my documentary film Inside Job, and analyzed his record again for my book Predator Nation. The film interview became famous because Hubbard blew his cool after I interrogated him about his conflicts of interest: "This isn't a deposition, sir. I was polite enough to give you time, foolishly I now see, but you have three more minutes. Give it your best shot." But the really important thing about Hubbard isn't his personality; it's that as an economist and an advisor, he is a total, unmitigated disaster.

The Case Against Corzine

As the one year anniversary of the MF Global Bankruptcy is upon us, the WSJ has now joined the NY Times in writing a ‘woe is me’ piece on behalf of Jon Corzine. The WSJ continues bemoaning the pitiable situation of “restlessness and frustration” of the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former Governor of New Jersey, and former Senator from New Jersey who apparently isn’t content with being “confident about the likelihood that he will avoid any criminal charges related to MF Global.” Corzine is still estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars despite presiding over the failure of the largest non-bank commodity broker where $1.6 billion in customer money was stolen. I cry for him, I really do... Trying to portray Corzine as being focused on mundane things like finding a job rather than worried about doing jail time for his obvious crimes appears to be another prong of Corzine’s attorneys’ use of the Chewbacca Defense, along with saying that the fraud charges “Make No Sense,” because the money “Vaporized” and he had no motive since he had a de minimis portion of his net worth invested in MF Global stock. However, proving Corzine committed fraud and perjury would be relatively simple for any motivated prosecutor. Since the Department of Justice clearly is not motivated to prosecute Corzine after he bundled $500,000+ in campaign contributions to their boss, I provide this quick and easy guide for any ambitious state prosecutor to bring charges themselves: