Bill Gross may be credited with inventing the term 'the New Normal', although his recommendation to purchase gold above all other asset classes, something which only fringe blogs such as this one have been saying is the best trade (in terms of return, Sharpe Ratio, and the ability to sleep soundly) for the past three and a half years, he is sure to be increasingly ostracized by the establishment, and told to take all his newfangled idioms with him in his exile to less than serious people land. Which takes us to David Rosenberg, who today revisits his own definition of the New Normal. And it, too, is just as applicable as that of the Pimco boss: "The new normal is that the economy doesn't drive markets any more." Short and sweet, although it also is up for debate whether the economy ever drove the markets in the first place. But that would open up a whole new conspiratorial can of worms, and is a discussion best saved for after Ben Bernanke decides to save the "housing market" by buying more hundreds of billions in MBS and lowering mortgage yields further, even though mortgage rates already are at record lows (something that mortgage applications apparently couldn't care less about as we showed last week), while "avoiding" to do everything in his power to boost the S&P, which recently was at 5 year highs, and certainly "avoiding" to listen to Chuck Schumer telling him to do his CTRL+P job, and "get to work" guaranteeing Schumer's donors have another whopper of a bonus season.
Even Bill Gross Admits that Gold Holds Its Value, While - In an Era of Central Bank Money Printing- Paper Money Doesn't
- Jobs Gauge Carries Election Clout (WSJ)
- Draghi Lured by Fractious EU Leaders to Build Euro 2.0 (Blooomberg)
- Rajoy stance sets stage for EU stand-off (FT)
- China Approves Plan to Build New Roads to Boost Economy (Bloomberg)
- Hollande faces questions on tax pledge (FT)
- Putin Looks East for Growth as Debt-Ridden Europe Loses Sheen (Bloomberg)
- Strike Grounds Half of Lufthansa's Flights (Spiegel)
- The weakest will win in the euro battle (FT)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Economic, Interest Rate Forecasts Will Include 2015 Outlook (WSJ) - because he just figured that out
- Obama Presses Plan for U.S. Resurgence (WSJ)
- Hong Kong to Restrict Sales of Homes at Two Sites to Locals (Bloomberg)
- Drought Curbs Midwest Farm-Income Outlook, St. Louis Fed Says (Bloomberg)
The technical picture for Euro gold looks near perfect now. Gold has been trending higher since May. The long term charts show a series of higher lows and higher highs and even in the correction of recent months there have been a series of higher lows and gold gradually consolidated between €1,200 and €1,400/oz. Gold is now comfortably above the 50, 100 and 200 day moving averages. In the last four years, there have been 3 periods of correction and consolidation which have lasted 12 to 13 months (see boxes in first chart) and we appear to be coming to the end of another such period. Break outs from such consolidations often lead to sharp moves higher and thus new record highs above €1,359/oz and possibly over €1,600/oz should be seen before the end of 2012. The fundamental back drop of the unresolved Eurozone debt crisis , deep divisions in the ECB and a high degree of uncertainty regarding the euros long term future strongly suggest that the euro will continue to fall against gold in the coming months. Further confirmation of robust demand for gold is seen in figures showing that exchange-traded products backed by the gold expanded to a record. Smart money from Paulson to Soros to PIMCO continues to diversify into gold. Gold ETFs holdings have now surpassed Italy to become the world’s third-largest gold holdings when compared with national gold reserves.
According to the plethora of long-only managers willing to trot out on the public stage and beg for more commissions, the US has been (and will remain) the cleanest-dirty-shirt in the global risk asset laundry basket; but as David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff points out not only has the S&P 500 hit a new record high in its total return index but it also possesses a rather 'ebullient' valuation premium (2012E P/E) of 13.8x relative to China 9.8x and Europe 11.4x. However, while this is more than enough to slow some investors from backing up the long-truck, Rosie goes on to highlight a very worrisome indicator - that favored by ex-PIMCO's Paul McCulley. The YoY trend in the three-month moving average of core capex orders (which was updated last Friday) has just cracked negative, crushing the hopes of US growth prospects and we assume equity superlatives. However, since the market no longer reflects anything; certainly not the economy, but merely who will ease more when and how, one really can't short much if anything, even if McCulley is 100% spot on.
Industrial unrest hobbling the South African platinum industry deepened yesterday, prompting fears of a broader mining crisis in one of the main platinum and gold producing countries. Platinum and gold prices continued to soar partly due to real concerns of supply disruptions after 44 people died during strikes at a pit owned by Lonmin. About a fifth of global platinum production capacity is idled in South Africa today as the nation holds a day of mourning for 44 miners and policemen killed in the deadliest police violence since apartheid ended (see Newswire). Massive discontent has spread to two other important platinum mines. Amplats, the world’s largest platinum producer that is 80% owned by Anglo American, disclosed it had received demands for pay rises at its Thembelani mine. Meanwhile, another miner, Royal Bafokeng, said about 500 people were protesting outside its Rasimone mine, and preventing others from going to work. It seems likely that the protests will spread from the platinum sector, to other sectors, including the gold mining sector.
Moments ago, the FOMC members formalized their opinion on where inflation is heading: "Most members continued to anticipate that, with longer-term inflation expectations stable and the existing slack in resource utilization being taken up very gradually, inflation would run over the medium term at a rate at or below the Committee’s objective of 2 percent." The only conclusion one can derive from this is that since the perpetually wrong FOMC committee, which has never accurately predicted any one thing in its entire history, sees little to no inflation, inflation is most likely about to soar. A convenient independent confirmation of this assumption comes from none other than bond manager PIMCO which moments ago announce that it was adding to its gold holdings "on inflation concerns...as it bets that global inflation rates will pick up over the next three to five years." Specifically, "The Pimco Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund, which has about $20 billion in assets, has increased its gold holdings to 11.5% of total assets recently, from 10.5% two months ago, and has been adding to the position when gold prices dipped toward $1,500 a troy ounce, says Nic Johnson, the fund's co-portfolio manager." And with global asset managers allocating about 1% of their AUM to the precious metal, should the majority of them copycat PIMCO in this move, then gold would cross the psychological $2,000 barrier in minutes. The irony is that for a bond manager, which Pimco just happens to be the biggest in the world, inflation is your worst friend. So acknowledging its imminent creep, is hardly "talking one's book."
A week ago we brought you Elliott Management's summary opinion on US paper: "We Make This Recommendation To Our Friends: If You Own US Debt Sell It Now." Today, Bill Gross doubles down.
Gross: The #Fed is where bad bonds go to die. Today it was 10-years. Tomorrow 30-years. Stay short my friends.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) August 14, 2012
GROSS: Do bond markets take heart from Ryan selection? Not me. He talks lower deficits but really believes in lower taxes – exact opposite.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) August 13, 2012
What a difference a revisionist market rally makes. Remember when everyone was involved in Libor manipulation? No? Curious what a few hundred DJIA points will do especially when the corporate revenues and supporting them simply are not there, and one goes all in on multiple expansion. One entity which, however, has not forgotten about Lieborgate is Pimco parent and Europe's largest insurance firm, Allianz. And they are not happy: "Europe's biggest insurer, Allianz, is worried about the role central banks may have played in an interest rate rigging scandal that has enveloped some leading international lenders, the insurer's chief financial officer said on Friday. "We do not find it funny, what has happened, in particular the arising implication that it is not just the banks but central banks being involved in this," Oliver Baete told a conference call with analysts. "That really gives us cause for concern," Baete added." Of course, neither the ECB nor the FED could care much, considering that Allianz would be immediately insolvent if the same central banks who manipulated Libor stopped manipulating interest rates... which is implicitly what Allianz is unhappy about.
While the attached interview between the Casey Report and HFT expert Garrett from CalibratedConfidence will not reveal much unknown new to those who have been following the high frequency trading topic ever since ZH made it a mainstream issue in April of 2009, it will serve as a great foundation for all those new to the topic who are looking for an honest, unbiased introduction to what is otherwise a nebulous and complicated matter. We urge everyone who is even remotely interested in market structure, broken markets and the future of trading to read the observations presented below.
Want to buy stocks on anything than a greater fool theory, or hope and prayer that someone with "other people's money" will bail you out of a losing position when the market goes bidless? That may change after reading the latest monthly letter from Pimco's Bill Gross whose crusade against risk hits a crescendo. Yes, he is talking his book (and talking down his equity asset allocation), but his reasons are all too valid: "The cult of equity is dying. Like a once bright green aspen turning to subtle shades of yellow then red in the Colorado fall, investors’ impressions of “stocks for the long run” or any run have mellowed as well. I “tweeted” last month that the souring attitude might be a generational thing: “Boomers can’t take risk. Gen X and Y believe in Facebook but not its stock. Gen Z has no money.”.... So what is a cult chasing figure supposed to do? Well, the cult of equities may be over. But the cult of reflating inflation is just beginning: "The primary magic potion that policymakers have always applied in such a predicament is to inflate their way out of the corner. The easiest way to produce 7–8% yields for bonds over the next 30 years is to inflate them as quickly as possible to 7–8%! Woe to the holder of long-term bonds in the process!... Unfair though it may be, an investor should continue to expect an attempted inflationary solution in almost all developed economies over the next few years and even decades. Financial repression, QEs of all sorts and sizes, and even negative nominal interest rates now experienced in Switzerland and five other Euroland countries may dominate the timescape. The cult of equity may be dying, but the cult of inflation may only have just begun."
- U.S drought wilts crops as officials pray for rain (Reuters)
- Obama backs aid for drought farmers (FT)
- Greek leaders identify two-thirds of spending cuts (FT)
- Central bankers eyeing whether Libor needs scrapping (Reuters)
- Markets Face a Life Sentence of Hard Libor (WSJ)
- World Bank chief warns no region immune to Europe crisis (Reuters)
- China big four banks' new loans double in early July (Reuters)
- Nokia Loss Widens as Smartphone Sales Slump (WSJ)
- Bundesbank Expected To Buy Australian Dollars In 3Q (WSJ)
Macroeconomic issues currently playing out in Europe, Asia, and the United States may be linked by the same dynamic: over-leveraged banking systems concerned about repayment from public- and private-sector borrowers, and the implication that curtailment or non-payment would have on their balance sheets. Global banks are linked or segregated by the currencies in which they lend. Given the currencies in which their loan assets are denominated, market handicapping of the timing of relative bank vulnerability is directly impacting the relative value of currencies in the foreign exchange market, which makes it appear that the US dollar (and economy?) is, as Pimco notes, “the cleanest dirty shirt”. Is there a clean shirt anywhere – creased, pressed and folded? QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky (in a deep dramatic voice-over) sets the scene: In a world where time series stand still... and real purchasing power value has no meaning... a few monetary bodies stand between economic death and destruction... between commercial hope and financial despair... between risk-free returns and return-free risk. Amid this set of conditions it seems entirely prudent to position purchasing power in vehicles that would benefit as the nominal stock of base money grows at a rate far in excess of the gold stock growth rate.
A lack of transparency, a lack of enforcement of law and a compliant media which failed to ask the hard questions and do basic investigative journalism led to the price fixing continuing and the manipulation continuing unchecked on such a wide scale for so long - until it was exposed recently. Similarly, the gold market has the appearance of a market that is a victim of “financial repression”. Given the degree of risk in the world – it is arguable that gold prices should have surged in recent months and should be at much higher levels today. The gold market has all the hallmarks of Libor manipulation but as usual all evidence is ignored until official sources acknowlege the truth. However, like LIBOR the gold manipulation 'conspiracy theory' is likely to soon become conspiracy fact. It will then – belatedly - become accepted wisdom among 'experts.' Experts who had never acknowledged it, failed to research and comment on it or had simply dismissed it as a “goldbug accusation.” Financial repression means that most markets are manipulated today - especially bond and foreign exchange markets.