Goldman Sachs

Are Stocks Still Cheap?

According to the media hype, stocks are never expensive; but if you care a little about the actual price you are paying for stocks, perhaps the following two charts will at least raise a doubt about chasing this fun-and-games. The prospective P/E on both US and non-US equities are now at the top of the post crash range. Multiple-expansion has driven the rally in large part on the basis that central banks have removed the downside tail to investing but at these valuations (and with the expectations that are still priced in for H2 2013 earnings - up 14% vs up 4% in H1) surely caution is warranted.

Frontrunning: May 3

  • U.S. Bulks Up to Combat Iran (WSJ)
  • Taking sides in Syria is hard choice for Israel (Reuters)
  • Gold Traders Most Bearish in Three Years After Drop (BBG)
  • It's a Hard Job Predicting Payrolls Number  (WSJ)
  • EU economies to breach deficit limits as economic picture darkens (FT)
  • IBM Says U.S. Justice Investigating Bribery Allegations (BBG)
  • At Texas fertilizer plant, a history of theft, tampering (Reuters)
  • SAC Sets Plan to Dock Pay in Cases of Wrongdoing (WSJ) - "in case of"?
  • EU to propose duties on Chinese solar panels (Reuters)
  • Billionaire Kaiser Exploiting Charity Loophole With Boats (BBG)
  • SEC Zeroing In on 'Prime' Funds (WSJ)
  • Apple Avoids $9.2 Billion in Taxes With Debt Deal (BBG)
  • China April official services PMI at 54.5 vs 55.6 in March (Reuters)

Meet Canada's New Central Bank Head

As is well known, Goldman's Mark Carney is leaving the Bank of Canada on June 1 to take over the UK money printer in a few months, at which point he will proceed to create about GBP25 billion per month out of thin air, pushing the total monthly G-7 liquidity injection to a healthy $200 billion (an annualized rate of $2.5 trillion). Which meant that a successor had to be found. Moments ago we learned just who that is, and surprisingly it does not appear to be yet another Goldman Sachs Partner, MD or even Vice President. Carney's replacement is Stephen Poloz, the former head of Export Development Canada. Promptly upon the announcement Poloz noted that flexible inflation targeting no threat to credibility, and Canada's monetary policy has helped through crisis, and that experience at EDC gives him a feel for Canada's economy. If nothing else, at least he has held a real job. Unlike those mandarins in the Marriner Eccles building. Either way, his monetary stance is largely unknown, although it will hardly be a hurdle to the other lunatics who have taken over the money printing asylum.

Warren Buffett - Long Of America In Women Terms

Healthy female participation rates in the labor force and in leadership are a reflection of inclusiveness in countries and companies; and as Goldman Sachs recently noted, inclusive institutions lead to more innovation, more enduring competitive advantages and a more efficient use of available resources (capital, physical and people). The idea that empowering women employees and entrepreneurs contributes to a virtuous cycle as higher female disposable income trickles down to increased spending on education and healthcare, is not lost on Warren Buffett who writes at length in his latest Op-ed of the possibilities for America should the other 50% of America become productive, "women should never forget that it is common for powerful and seemingly self-assured males to have more than a bit of the Wizard of Oz in them. Pull the curtain aside, and you'll often discover they are not supermen after all." And with the oracular Omahan now on Twitter, can we expect more bitesize insights - perhaps the anti-Bill-Gross tweet.

Frontrunning: May 2

  • The number of bond funds that own stocks has surged to its highest point in at least 18 years (WSJ)
  • Clubby London Trading Scene Fostered Libor Rate-Fixing Scandal (WSJ)
  • Cheap money bankrolls Wall Street's bet on housing (Reuters)
  • Bank of Japan reveals concerns over easing policy (FT)
  • iPads and low-end rivals propel higher tablet shipments  (Reuters)
  • China Cyberspies Outwit U.S. Stealing Military Secrets (BBG)
  • Draghi Fuels Bets on Rate Cut With Risk of Limited Impact (BBG)
  • China guides renminbi to fresh high against US dollar (FT)
  • Japan is preparing to start up a massive nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant (WSJ)
  • Apple’s Ive Seen Risking iOS 7 Delay on Software Overhaul (BBG)
  • UBS faces calls for break-up at investor meeting (Reuters)

Goldman Confirms Global Slowdown Is Deepening

Downward revisions to previously 'hopeful' levels for Goldman's Global Leading Indicator (GLI) suggest a significantly softer patch for global activity consistent with subdued growth in the near-term. The GLI has now been in 'slowdown' phase for four consecutive months and while it has not reached the 'contraction' phase yet, empirical results show this phase far less supportive of risk-assets than the current exuberance suggests. With Korean Exports, Global PMIs, and Industrial Metals all disappointing, the most concerning aspect is Goldman's three-key-risks (US growth, Euro 'risk', and China growth) have all upticked significantly in recent weeks after consistently falling all year. As the Swirlogram below indicates, the 'Slowdown' is deepening.

David Fry's picture

Fed Day May Day

“… current policies come with a cost even as they act to magically float asset prices higher…, a bond and equity investor can choose to play with historically high risk to principal or quit the game and earn nothing."  Bill Gross, PIMCO

What Causes The Growing Wealth Gap In America?

A major issue in America today is the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the popular narrative is that the disparity is caused by capitalism run wild and only the firm hand of government can fix the problem. But what if this narrative has it backwards? What if the growing wealth disparity in America is actually caused by the government? Take Warren Buffet, a man often at the center of this debate, as not only is he a billionaire, but also a vocal advocate for higher income taxes on the rich. Many are aware of his acumen in making investments that have a “margin of safety” – or minimal downside – but few are aware of the greatest source of such safety for Mr. Buffet in recent years, the US Government.

FOMC Statement Post-Mortem

Goldman Sachs saw no major surprises in the May FOMC statement, which, as we noted in the redline, was very little changed from the March statement. The most notable change, however, introduced additional flexibility around purchases, noting that "the Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes." The slightly more aggressive nod towards fiscal policy "restraining" growth as opposed to "becoming restrictive" is perhaps yet another plea for some help from Washington - for, as we noted earlier, "the ability of a central bank, exclusively, without the rest of Washington doing any bit of the task, to turn an economy from a modest recovery to a robust one is an experiment that is untested - and will not prove to be successful."

Frontrunning: May 1

  • Physical demand up: U.S. Mint Sales of Gold Coins Jump to Highest in Three Years (BBG)
  • Paper demand down: Gold ETP Holdings Cap Record Drop as $17.9 Billion Wiped Out (BBG)
  • It's May 1 not April 1: Fed Seen Slowing Stimulus With QE Cut by End of This Year (BBG)
  • Another great step for Abenomics: Sony leadership to forgo bonuses after broken promise on profits (FT)
  • High-Speed Traders Exploit Loophole (WSJ)
  • It's peanut Breaburn jelly time: How Google UK clouds its tax liabilities (Reuters)
  • Frowny face day at the Mark Zandi household: Obama Said to Choose Watt to Lead Fannie Mae Regulator (BBG)
  • Russia’s 20 Biggest Billionaires Keep Riches From Putin (BBG)
  • China Affair With Cheap Diamonds Heats Mass Market (BBG)
  • China's emotional ties to North Korea run deep in border city (Reuters)
  • US companies must use cash piles for capex (FT) ... and yet they aren't. Tax anyone who doesn't spend for CapEx!
  • Chinese Way of Doing Business: In Cash We Trust (NYT)

Sergey Aleynikov Suffers The Full Wrath Of A Vindictive US Judicial System

'Commingle' hundreds of millions in client funds which are subsequently stolen rehypothecated as collateral by JPMorgan while your firm goes bankrupt as a result of your idiotic prop trading decisions, and what happens? Your toughest choice is whether to vacation in Fiji or St Barths. That said, being former CEO of the world's biggest TBTF hedge fund also known as Goldman, a former governor and senator, and most importantly bundler for the president of the "transparent" administration certainly helps. On the other hand, be a lowly algo trader and quant programmer working at the aforementioned hedge fund, and having dared to "steal" secret trading client code what can "manipulate markets" and what - you get the full wrath and anger of the FBI, the Federal Court System, and now the Supreme Court.

Apple Files Bond Prospectus, Names Goldman Lead Underwriter

Who could have thought, one year ago, that we would one day see an AAPL bond prospectus for floating and fixed rate notes (due between 2016 and 2043). And yet here we are, as the preannounced AAPL bond prospectus goes live and proves what we said months ago: that some $100 billion of the company's offshore held cash is non-US recourse courtesy of repatriation taxes, forcing the company to raise even more cash to fund US-based capital decisions. Perhaps the most surprising (or least) thing is who the lead underwriter would be. No surprise anymore: Goldman Sachs.

Frontrunning: April 29

  • Gold Bears Defy Rally as Goldman Closes Short Wager (BBG)
  • Still stuck on central-bank life support (Reuters)
  • Ebbing Inflation Means More Easy Money (BBG)
  • So much for socialist wealth redistribution then? François Hollande to woo French business with tax cut (FT)
  • Billionaires Flee Havens as Trillions Pursued Offshore (BBG)
  • Companies Feel Pinch on Sales in Europe (WSJ)
  • Brussels plan will ‘kill off’ money funds (FT)
  • Danes as Most-Indebted in World Resist Credit (BBG)
  • Syria says prime minister survives Damascus bomb attack (Reuters)
  • Syria: Al-Qaeda's battle for control of Assad's chemical weapons plant (Telegraph)
  • Nokia Betting on $20 Handset as It Loses Ground on IPhone (BBG)
  • Rapid rise of chat apps slims texting cash cow for mobile groups (FT)
  • Calgary bitcoin exchange fighting bank backlash in Canada (Calgary Herald)