Apple

Why Our Central Planners Are Breeding Failure

Success, we’re constantly told, breeds success. And success breeds stability. The way to avoid failure is to copy successful people and strategies. The way to continue succeeding is to do more of what has been successful. This line of thinking is so intuitively compelling that we wonder what other basis for success can there be other than 'success'? As counter-intuitive as it may sound, success rather reliably leads to failure and destabilization. Instead, it’s the close study of failure and the role of luck that leads to success. In the macro-economic arena, we think it highly likely that the monetary and fiscal policies of the past six years that are conventionally viewed as successful will lead to spectacular political and financial failures in 2015 and 2016. How can success breed failure? It turns out there are a number of dynamics at work.

The Wearable Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Google Pulls Glass

For anyone who has actually worn Google Glass, the news today will not be a surprise, but as The Wall Street Journal reports, Google will stop selling the initial version of Glass to individuals after January 19th and is moving it from the Google X research lab to be a stand-alone unit reporting to Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who heads Nest Labs. Analysts remain confident it will be a cajillion dollar business at some point in the future (along with Apple Watch).

Is Hugh Hendry A Greater Fool?

The current premise is that global equities markets will rise regardless of economic fundamentals. Money must flow into equities [perceived as the only asset class capable of producing “acceptable” returns] because the alternatives offer virtually no return…with interest rates pinned near zero in most western economies. Just buy any equity [akin to dart throwing] and a “greater fool than you” will buy after your purchase, at a higher price, ad infinitum... thus ever increasing the asset’s value This is such an obviously flawed argument on so many levels... albeit, like almost any strategy, is surprisingly effective from time to time.

Greater Fool Theory, Cognitive Dissonance, & Financial Instability

"I am concerned that a sizable equity market correction looms. In order to justify general equity market over-weights, either risk premiums needs to fall further, or the economy and financial markets need to have reached a level of ‘escape velocity’ powerful enough to push them forward, even in the face of Fed rate hikes. I find such a ‘soft landing’ scenario improbable at best."

Frontrunning: January 14

  • U.S. Index Futures Decline on Commodities Slump, Growth Concerns (BBG)
  • Al Qaeda claims French attack, derides Paris rally (Reuters)
  • Charlie Hebdo With Muhammad Cover on Sale With Heavy Security Precautions (BBG)
  • How an Obscure Tax Loophole Brought Down Obama's Treasury Nominee  (BBG)
  • ECB’s bond plan is legal ‘in principle’ (FT)
  • Charlie Hebdo fallout: Specter of fascist past haunts European nationalism (Reuters)
  • DRW to acquire smaller rival Chopper Trading (FT)
  • Oil fall could lead to capex collapse: DoubleLine's Gundlach (Reuters)

Frontrunning: January 13

  • Oil Drops Below $45; U.S. Stockpiles May Speed Collapse (BBG)
  • Pound Drops as Traders Write Off Higher Rates on Inflation Slump (BBG)
  • Oil prices down again as UAE defends holding production (Reuters)
  • The Politics Behind the ECB's Threat to Cut Greece Funding (BBG)
  • France dispatched thousands of police and military personnel to protect synagogues and Jewish schools, as the government warned of continued terror threats after three days of deadly violence (WSJ)
  • Chinese Car Dealers Find Days of ‘Printing Money’ Ending (BBG)
  • Gold Rises to Highest Since October as U.S. Rate Outlook Weighed (BBG)
  • Divers retrieve crashed AirAsia jet's cockpit voice recorder (Reuters)

The Collective Delusion Of Grandeur Fades: Central Bank Inflationism Is Visibly On The Wane

It will be even more disruptive if some among them decide that the only reason for the failure of their collective delusion of grandeur is that they have not been deluded enough and that even more wild-eyed palliatives are therefore needed. Disruption on such a scale is not what the budding entrepreneur wants to contend with as he contemplates whether to risk both his capital and his reputation in launching or expanding a business, in ordering new equipment, or hiring new staff and so fostering a meaningful recovery. Disruption on such a scale is not something we should wish to inflict upon a system we have been both unable and unwilling to fully repair. Either way – damned if they do, damned if they don’t – disruption seems to be what we will get in the months ahead.

Frontrunning: January 9

  • Police Surround Paris Terror Suspects Near CDG Airport (BBG)
  • ECB Said to Study Bond-Purchase Models Up to 500 Billion Euros (BBG)
  • How OPEC Weaponized the Price of Oil Against U.S. Drillers (BBG)
  • German Industrial Production Falls Amid Plunge in Energy Output (BBG)
  • Car Loans See Rise In Missed Payments (WSJ)
  • Jim O'Neill threatens he will replace BRICs with ICs (BBG)
  • Oil heads for seventh weekly loss as supply glut drags (Reuters)
  • Armed man takes hostage in kosher grocery in Paris (AFP)
  • Janus Chairman Didn’t Know Details of Gross’s Investment (WSJ)
  • Kaisa Bondholders Dream of White Knight as Default Becomes Real (BBG)

Frontrunning: January 8

  • French policewoman killed in shoot-out, hunt deepens for militant killers (Reuters)
  • The Bold Charlie Hebdo Covers the Satirical Magazine Was Not Afraid to Run (BBG)
  • Evans Says Fed Shouldn’t Rush Rate Rise as Inflation Undershoots (BBG)
  • Oil holds above $51 as traders search for floor (Reuters)
  • Gross Helps Fuel New Fund With His Own Cash (WSJ)
  • ECB warns Greek funding access hinges on keeping bailout (Reuters)
  • Greece Jolts QE Juggernaut as ECB Gauges Deflation Risk (BBG)
  • Analysts Say There's No Telling How Low Oil Prices Could Go (BBG)
  • Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance (Reuters)

Frontrunning: January 7

  • Twelve shot dead in Paris (Reuters)
  • Eurozone Consumer Prices Fall for First Time Since 2009 (NYT)
  • Euro's Drop is a Turning Point for Central Banks Reserves (BBG)
  • How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything (BBG)
  • Mercedes-Benz Moving U.S. Headquarters to Atlanta (WSJ)
  • Greek 10-Year Bond Yields Exceed 10% for First Time Since 2013 (BBG)
  • How Even Dairy Farmers Get Squeezed by Rigging in the $5.3 Trillion Currency Market (BBG)
  • AirAsia jet tail found underwater, black box may be close (Reuters)
  • Italy Unemployment Rises to New High (Bloomberg)

Hugh Hendry Embraces The Central-Planning Matrix: "I Am Taking The Blue Pills Now"

Hugh Hendry's Eclectica Fund has had a great Q4 (up 3.3%, 4.0%, and 5.0% in the last 3 months) despite portfolio risk being quadruple his 'old normal'. How did he achieve this? He begins... "There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don't necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often... He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now."

Frontrunning: December 31

  • Behind the Scenes at Sony as Hacking Crisis Unfolded (WSJ)
  • Oil Set for Biggest Slump Since 2008 as OPEC Battles U.S. Shale (BBG)
  • Praet Warning of Oil Effects Signals Higher Chance of ECB QE (BBG)
  • U.S. Opening Door to More Oil Exports Seen Foiling OPEC Strategy (BBG)
  • Venezuela confirms recession, inflation hits 63.6 percent in Nov (Reuters)
  • U.S. to station 150 armored vehicles in Europe (Reuters)
  • China Stocks Rise to Finish Off Big Year (WSJ)
  • RBS Suspends Bonuses of 18 Traders Amid FX Rigging Fine (BBG)

NYPD Boycotts de Blasio: New York City Arrests And Citations Plummet As Cops Stage "Virtual Work Stoppage"

First, NYC's cops turned their back on Bill de Blasio, best known for first rushing to side with New York's "oppressed" minorities "threatened" by the local police, and then, when two weeks later 2 NYPD cops were executed in cold blood and in broad daylight in what some hinted was an unintended consequence of the mayor's bashing of the police, scrambling to undo his previous populism and to show his affection for New York's cops. Now, those tasked to protect and to serve the Big Apple, appear to have decided to turn their back on their job entirely, and in what is shaping up to be a long vendetta with the mayor, have succumbed to what the NY Post calls "a virtual work stoppage." This implicit strike by the NYPD is manifesting as follows: "traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety."