Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Once again oil is not even the biggest story today. It’s plenty big enough by itself to bring down large swaths of the economy, but in the background there’s an even bigger tale a-waiting. Not entirely unconnected, but by no means the exact same story either. It’s like them tsunami waves as they come rolling in. It’s exactly like that. That is, in the wake of the oil tsunami, which is a long way away from having finished washing down our shores, there’s the demise of emerging markets. And we're not talking Putin, he’ll be fine, as he showed again yesterday in his big press-op. It’s the other, smaller, emerging countries that will blow up in spectacular fashion, and then spread their mayhem around. And make no mistake: to be a contender for bigger story than oil going into 2015, you have to be major league large. This one is.
Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad trades in the coming year.
Do you want to know if the stock market is going to crash next year? Just keep an eye on junk bonds. Prior to the horrific collapse of stocks in 2008, high yield debt collapsed first. And as you will see below, high yield debt is starting to crash again.
Russia Busts "Gold-Selling" Rumors, Reports It Bought Another 600,000 Ounces Taking Gold Holdings To New Record HighSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/19/2014 09:40 -0500
Moments ago, as if to sway further speculation that Russia is indeed converting hard money earned from real resources for fiat paper, the Russian monetary authority made it quite clear, that at least in November, Russia not only did not sell any gold, but in fact bought another 600K ounces in the month of November.
With great delight we present the latest blowback from Obama's "brilliant" strategy to cripple Putin: in addition to the default wave about to crush America's own shale industry, America's biggest foreign ally and military partner when it comes to "ideologically pure missions of liberation" - the UK, and specifically its North Sea oil industry which according to the BBC is in a "crisis" and according to Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers' association Brindex, the industry was "close to collapse". "It's almost impossible to make money at these oil prices", said a director of Premier Oil. "It's a huge crisis. It's close to collapse. In terms of new investments - there will be none, everyone is retreating, people are being laid off at most companies this week and in the coming weeks. Budgets for 2015 are being cut by everyone."
"It appears possible that the Central Bank of Russia has started to sell off some of its gold reserves in December, with some sources reporting that official gold reserves dropped by $4.3 billion in the first week of the month."
With Emerging Market debt, equity, and FX rates coming under significant pressure once again, 48-year-old veteran EM fund manager Stephen Jen has a message for the new breed of EM fund managers, brace for more pain. As Bloomberg reports, with echoes of 1997-98's crisis at hand, Jen explains, "many [current managers] became EM specialists after the term ‘BRIC’ was coined in 2001 and don’t know any serious crisis," adding "they are about to be schooled."
Let’s see. Between July 2007 and January 2009, the median US residential housing price plunged from $230k to $165k or by 30%. That must have been some kind of super “tax cut”.
The global oil price collapse now unfolding is not putting a single dime into the pockets of American households - the CNBC talking heads to the contrary notwithstanding. What is happening is the vast flood of mispriced debt and capital, which flowed into the energy sector owning to the Fed’s lunatic ZIRP and QE policies, is now rapidly deflating. That will reduce bubble spending and investment, not add to economic growth. It’s the housing bust all over again.
"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."
It's a wonderful life on Wall Street, yet here is a holiday wish list to make it even better...
Lots of old market hands are talking about how its similar to the Russia default and crash of ‘98 all over again.. Actually... its worse. Much worse.
Yields spike, damage spreads. Investors try to bail out while they still can.
Let's pause for a moment, take a breath, and reflect on what has happened. As Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann notes, "The current market environment means that prices of securities can move wildly and to previously unforeseen and unexpected levels. For many, P&L management and financial survival will trump economic valuation." But what does all this mean for The Fed tomorrow?
The shale oil “miracle” was an epochal stunt. Thanks to ZIRP, what every pom-pom carrying cheerleader failed to note was how much of the day-to-day shale operation was being run on junk bond financing. ZIRP destroyed the most fundamental index in the financial universe: the true cost of borrowing money. Finance was the lifeblood of the global economy and scam after scam left it riddled with wormholes of fragility. That fragility has been waiting to express itself and the ability of bank wizards to squelch and conceal it may have come to an end. There will be no quick cure for cratering oil prices and the damage it will wreak among the shale drillers.