The reality is, like dominoes, that once one of these issues becomes a problem, the rest become a problem as well. Central Banks have had the ability to deal with one-off events up to this point by directing monetary policy tools to bail out Greece, boost stock prices to boost confidence or suppress interest rates to support growth. However, it is the contagion of issues that renders such tools ineffective in staving off the tide of the next financial crisis. One thing is for sure, this time is "different than the last" in terms of the catalyst that sparks the next great mean reverting event, but the outcome will be the same as it always has been.
The economic data has continued to disappoint on virtually all fronts, earnings are weak and markets are grossly extended. Yet, investors are more bullish than ever...
No matter how bad the overall profitability picture got, S&P500 earnings per share (assisted almost exclusively by a record amount of stock buybacks in 2015 putting downward pressure on the PS in EPS) would grow by the tiniest of amounts, just so the profit recession stigma could be avoided in a world in which the stock market is the last remaining bastion of faith in central planning and confidence in the economy. No more. Overnight, Deutsche Bank finally did the unthinkable, and "broke the seal" of optimistic groupthink, when its strategist David Bianco became the first sell-sider to forecast that not only will 2015 EPS not grow (at 118 on a non-GAAP basis, this will be unchanged Y/Y), but "down a bit ex bank litigation costs."
Why Monetary Policy Is Failing
The "conundrum" between lower gasoline prices and retail sales is not really one at all. Furthermore, the real story behind the weakness in retail sales also suggest that something is "amiss" within the broader economic backdrop. When combined with the deterioration in earnings, the risk of a "gotcha" moment in the market has risen markedly.
A Permabull Throws In The Towel: "Stocks Are Massively Overvalued", Key Multiples Are Post-War RecordsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/10/2015 23:15 -0400
"The median New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) stock is currently at a postwar record high P/E multiple, a record high relative to cash flow, and near a record high relative to book value! As of June 2014, the median U.S. stock was priced at a post-war high at slightly more than 20 times earnings! Similarly, at about 15 times, the median stock is also currently priced at a record high relative to cash flow. Finally, the median price to book value ratio has only been higher than it is currently in two years since 1951 (in 1969 and in 1998 which were both followed by significant declines)!" - Jim Paulsen
It was less than a week ago when Zero Hedge broke the news that for CNBC, 2014 Was The Worst. Year. Ever. Much to the embarassment of CNBC, its staunch defender David Rosenberg, and not to mention its advertisers who realized they overspent substantially for the reach they were promised and received instead, the report promptly went viral. Five days after our Nielsen-sourced report before the Comcast-owned channel announced it would no longer be subject to the humiliation of Zero Hedge periodically revealing its crashing viewership and, as WSJ revealed today, "CNBC will no longer rely on TV ratings specialist Nielsen to measure its daytime audience, beginning later this year. Instead, it has retained marketing and research firm Cogent Reports for the task."
David Rosenberg, formerly of Merrill Lynch and currently of Gluskin Sheff, who famously flip-flopped from being a self-described permabear to uber-bull last summer for the one reason that has yet to manifest itself in any way, shape or form, namely declaring that wage inflation as imminent (it wasn't, but perhaps Mr. Rosenberg was merely forecasting the trajectory of his own wages) and generally an end to deflation, has a rhetorical question for his paying clients, as asked in his letter to investors from January 2. To wit: "THIS IS WHAT PASSES FOR ANALYSIS?" We too follow up with an identical question not only for Mr. Rosenberg's clients, but for our own readers.
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
This weekend's reading list is a collection of articles discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of the dive in crude oil prices.
Bob Farrell's rule #9 says: "When all the experts and forecasts agree, something else is going to happen." Why should you care? Because hardly anyone expects US Treasuries to outperform in 2015… and that’s exactly why they might. In the following analysis, we’ll look at 5 reasons why the long bond might be the best trade of next year.
“Money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong.”
While we fully understand that when selling institutionally-priced newsletters to institutions (not retail for one simple reason: lack of "other people's money" to spend) one will have a far more lucrative career as a bull than as a bear simply because insecure (that would be most of them) institutional "strategists" prefer to surround themselves in cognitive bias-reinforcing groupthink just to convince themselves they are right, as the rating-agency era confirmed, one thing we are very confused by is whether David Rosenberg, who famously flipped from bear to bull a little over a year ago (recall David Rosenberg: Here’s why I’m bullish on the US economy), preaching a "wage-inflation" driven bout of economic growth which has not only not materialized, but the 10 Year recently hit 2014 lows, is now back to being a bear.
David Rosenberg, in one of his recent missives, wrote: "...based on the current trend in the LEI and the level of the diffusion index, history suggests that the next recession is at least four years away." While anything is certainly possible, it is highly unlikely that the current economic environment is supportive of another four years of a "struggle along" economy. Given the artificial supports during recent years, the extreme extension in assets prices, record levels of margin debt and the chase for yield in "junk credits," it is highly possible that the next recessionary decline could be much larger than the historical average.
This weekend’s “Things To Ponder” is comprised of a variety of readings that cover a fairly broad spectrum from educational to informative and even a little bit sarcastic.