Large, centrally-directed systems are inherently fragile. Think of the human body; a spontaneous, unexpected blow to the head can kill an otherwise healthy creature; all the healthy cells and tissue in the legs, arms, torso and so forth killed through dependency on the brain’s functionality. Interdependent systems are only ever as strong as their weakest critical link, and very often a critical link can fail through nothing more than bad luck. Yet the human body does not exist in isolation. Humans as a species are a decentralised network. Each individual may be in himself or herself a fragile, interdependent system, but the wider network of humanity is a robust independent system. One group of humans may die in an avalanche or drown at sea, but their death does not affect the survival of the wider population. The human genome has survived plagues, volcanoes, hurricanes, asteroid impacts and so on through its decentralisation.
Two weeks ago, when summarizing the state of the US vs China escalating patent war (for now manifesting itself in the courtroom brawl between Apple and Samsung, but soon to drag many more comparable companies down in drawn out litigation), we observed that while AAPL may have the upper hand, iPhone 5 map fiasco notwithstanding, that "the Chinese politburo can one day decide to pull FoxConn's operational license, in the process bankrupting AAPL overnight" if China really wanted to turn the tables. Obviously, this was the "thought experimental" MAD outcome which leads to loses for everyone involved: both Apple and China (where Apple's contract manufacturer FoxConn employs over 1 million workers). There is one other alternative: that FoxConn, by now having reverse engineered the peak of Apple's brilliance (whose latest evolutionary step was "lighter" and "longer", which anyone could have come up with), decides to brave it alone, and instead of being a contract manufacturer, to simply slap on a FoxConn sticker, a la Acer and ASUS, and sell all Apple-equivalent products at 50% off while collecting all the revenue. Impossible, you say, Apple would never allow it? It is already happening, first in high-growth Brazil, where FoxConn is now launching its own stores.
Peak career risk. That's how one can summarize what the hedge fund community, long used to "nimbly" outperforming the market populated by slow, dumb money managers and getting paid 7+ digit bonuses, is feeling right now. The last time we looked at relative hedge fund performance, because let's face it: indexing is a polite word for underperforming and anyone who says otherwise is rather clueless about the asset management industry in which the only thing that matters is always outperforming everyone else, only 89% of hedge funds were underperforming the S&P500 through mid-August. A month later, this number is now up to 92% as of September 14. A month later, this number is now up to 92% as of September 14.
Inversely this means that only 8% of hedge funds are outperforming the market with just 3 months left in the year.
Today's Zero Hedge articles in audio summary! "Print me a couple Trillion Ben. I promise I won't tell." Everyday 8-9pm New York Time!
Some have argued that iPhone 5 will single-handedly save the world's economy (as we 'discussed' here) and indeed it seems an entire new category of employment has been created thanks to the pathetic desperation of so many needing the new 'old' iPhone. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, among the thousands of people expected to wait for hours outside of Apple's stores today, at least a couple hundred of them will be paid just to stand there. TaskRabbit appears to be the pre-emptive winner in 'arranging' these 'waiting-in-line' deals as one 'queuer' stated "I am a professional line waiter." Of course, the conspiracist would wonder aloud whether these crowd-fillers and line-waiters are indirectly 'purchased' to create more buzz by the demigod itself. Nevertheless, what an inspiration these Americans are: "I've done other waiting-in-line things. I think it's going to end up being, like, my specialty."
- Europe’s crisis will be followed by a more devastating one, likely beginning in Japan. (Simon Johnson)
- Porsche, Daimler Indicate Europe’s Car Crisis Spreading (Bloomberg)
- No progress in Catalonia-Madrid talks (FT)
- Hilsenrath speaks: Fed's Kocherlakota Shifts on Unemployment (WSJ) - luckily QEternity made both obsolete
- Lenders Reportedly Consider New Greek Haircut (Spiegel)
- Fed Officials Highlight Benefits of Bond-Buying (WSJ)
- ESM to Launch without Leverage Vehicle Options (WSJ)
- Japanese companies report China delays (FT)
- Borg Says Swedish Taxes Can’t Go Into Ill-Managed European Banks (Bloomberg)
- Greek Leaders Struggle With Spending Reductions (Bloomberg)
- Asian Stocks Rise as iPhone 5 Debut Boosts Tech Shares (Bloomberg)
- China government's hand seen in anti-Japan protests (LA Times)
It appears it is after all not Scott Sumner who 'saved the US economy' by urging the helicopter pilot to create even more money ex nihilo than hitherto. What will save us instead is Apple, or rather, its latest product, the iPhone 5. Who needs Bernanke when this wondrous device stands ready to pull the economy up by its bootstraps? A story has made the rounds lately – propagated by 'economist' (we should use the term loosely…) Michael Feroli at JP Morgan, that sales of the iPhone "could potentially add from one-quarter to one-half of a percentage point to the growth rate of U.S. gross domestic product in the final quarter of the year”. If we were to assume that he is correct, then what this would mainly tell us is how useless a statistic GDP actually is. However, what really takes the cake is a small posting of Krugman's on the same topic entitled “Broken Windows and the iPhone 5”. This view is erroneous – economic laws are not dependent on economic conditions. This is akin to arguing that the laws of nature will cease to be operational on Wednesdays. In Krugman's capable hands, a fallacy becomes a 'theory'.
- Obama, Romney tiptoe around housing morass as they woo voters (Reuters) ... just as ZH expected
- Poll Finds Obama in Better Shape Than Any Nominee Since Clinton (Bloomberg)
- Romney on Offense, Says Obama Can’t Help Middle Class (Bloomberg)
- Fed’s Fisher Says U.S. Inflation Expectations Rising (Bloomberg)
- Citigroup Warns Irish Investors to Plan for Losses (Bloomberg)
- Central Banks Flex Muscles (WSJ)
- China says U.S. auto trade complaint driven by election race (Reuters)
- Brussels sidesteps China trade dispute (FT)
- How misstep over trading fractions wounded ICAP's EBS (Reuters)
- Ex-CME programmer pleads guilty to trade secret theft (Reuters)
- Income squeeze will persist, says BoE (FT)
- South African miners return to work, unrest rumbles on (Reuters)
After last week's presentation, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach (having rotated his spec play from Long Nattie, Short AAPL - which was a winner - to Long SHCOMP, Short SPX) committed the cardinal sin in a great interview this morning with CNBC's Gary Kaminsky. The apocryphal 'new' bond guru noted that he is against big government, doesn't like risk assets at these levels, believes QE will end in higher rates (adding that he would not be surprised to see 10Y yields 100bps higher by the end of the year), but most abhorrently: "the obsession with Apple is a truly remarkable social phenomenon - the stock is over-believed and over-bought. There is NO exit for the Fed, QE3 will be ineffective, and it is more likely that the Fed buys all the Treasury bonds that exist." Two must-see clips covering why buy-and-hold is completely dead thanks to government intervention to his preference for secured credit funds (where have we heard that before?) to the huge risks in buying financial stocks and the vulnerability of risk-assets - as the world realizes the circular financing reality of Europe.
Hmmm, if that is all what JPY 10trn can buy…
Where’s the thrill?
Lot of noon / afternoon official chatter on the wires, but eventually nothing highly conclusive.
And oops… I still have the Blues.
My latest thoughts on the banks & from Max Keiser and Stacey Herbert, a question I've pondered many times - Why do the oil-rich sheiks takes such abuse from American bankers?
Today's Zero Hedge articles in audio summary! "I'm sorry guys. I can't go out. Mum's grounded me for not burning our U.S. embassy." Everyday. Yeah, just everyday.
- Anti-Japan demonstrators protest in New York City (China Daily) ...and the propaganda: Younger generation feels wave of emotions (CD)
- And the retaliation: Obama to launch auto trade case against China (Reuters)
- Spanish Banks Bleeding Cash Cloud Bailout Debate (Bloomberg)
- Chicago teachers extend strike (Reuters); Emanuel Promises He’ll Sue to End Chicago Teacher Strike (Bloomberg)
- China hurts own credibility with Xi's vanishing act (Reuters)
- European Squabbling on Euro Crisis Solution May Test Rally (Bloomberg)
- Two South Africa mines reopen, most don't (Reuters)
- Finance Industry Warns of ‘Cliff Effect’ in ECB’s Bond Plan (Bloomberg)
- China struggles to cure the violent ills of health system (Reuters)
- QE3 is for Main Street, except... it isn't: QE3 hit by mortgage processing delays (FT)
- Probe focuses on JPMorgan's monitoring of suspect transactions (Reuters)
- As explained here before: Spanish Bonds Decline as EU Policy Makers Clash on Bank Plan (Bloomberg)