"I was having lunch with a very dear friend of mine yesterday, who is also a very successful financial planner and advisor, who stunned me with an obvious question: 'Has the dumb money become the smart money?'"
"Some highly respected market commentators, most recently Ray Dalio from Bridgewater, have raised the possibility that Fed rate hikes risk a 1937-like slump. It is indeed a dilemma but likely already too late to avert another crisis.... In that respect it is probably too late already. We believe that the die is now cast, the cake is baked and coming out of the oven, and the financially fattened goose is well and truly cooked!"
There is a much larger structural risk for markets and investors than HFT and the whole Flash Boys brouhaha, it’s just totally under the radar and hasn’t surfaced yet. Investors may not know better yet, but they will soon, one way or another. Tomorrow a handful of governments will influence aggregate political behaviors by triggering small communications that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual citizens, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “popular” actions. Tomorrow a handful of hedge funds will influence aggregate market behaviors by triggering small trades that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual traders, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “market” actions. Tomorrow Big Data will be primarily an instrument of social control, with a powerful and ubiquitous impact on all citizens and all investors.
While Bridgewater's Ray Dalio "hopes that The Fed will be very cautious about tightening," Saxobank CIO Steen Jakobsen explains in this brief clip that The Fed "is wrong, always wrong," and will likely raise rates in June no matter what. The Fed is boxed in, Jakobsen notes, and despite the weak macro data, changing direction now is unlikely - leaving the market surprised as it recognizes that "this is a margin call on assets," seemingly confirming Dalio's conclusion that, "inadequate attention is being paid to the risks of a downturn in which central bankers' abilities to ease are significantly impaired."
"To make money in the markets, you have to think independently and be humble. You have to be an independent thinker because you can’t make money agreeing with the consensus view, which is already embedded in the price. Yet whenever you’re betting against the consensus, there’s a significant probability you’re going to be wrong, so you have to be humble."
"On October 15, the deepest and most liquid market in the world demonstrated a six standard deviation move in less than two hours, a move that happens once in 506,797,346 days and a recent report by BlackRock highlights how “the secondary trading environment for corporate bonds today is broken. These examples signal that the probability of an accident is high and the stage is set for an adverse event meeting with an outsized impact on markets and possibly economies."
Despite warnings from the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking (and of course, Sarah Connor), Ray Dalio's $165 billion AUM hedge fund Bridgewater will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month. Despite the "new normal"'s total reversal of any and every historical rational trading pattern, the unit will attempt to create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities, as "machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it." Does this mean the talking heads of CNBC, with their 'memes', 'myths', and 'mumbling' rationales for it always being a good time to buy are now obsolete? Or did the market just become self-aware?
- Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal (Reuters)
- Germany rejects Greek claim for World War Two reparations (Reuters)
- Greece to Seek $11.3 Billion in Financing to Avoid Funding Crunch (BBG)
- Lazard Sees $113 Billion Greek Debt Cut as ‘Reasonable’ (BBG)
- U.S. Navy Considers Setting Up Ship Base in Australia (BBG)
- Dalio’s Bridgewater Fund Said to Rise 8.3% in January (BBG)
- As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role (WSJ)
- EU money funds cut exposure to bank debt (FT)
- China Inflation Drops to Five-Year Low in January (WSJ)
- Oil-Price Rebound Predicted (WSJ)
With less than two hours until the ECB unveils its first official quantitative easing program, the markets appear to be in a unchanged daze. Well, not all markets: the Japanese bond market overnight suffered its worst sell off in months on a jump in volume, although for context this means the 10Year dropping from 0.25% to 0.32%. Whether this is a hint of the "sell the news" that may follow Draghi's announcement is unclear, although Europe has seen comparable weakness across its bond space as well and the US 10 Year has sold off all the way to 1.91%, which is impressive considering it was trading under 1.80% just a few days ago. Stocks for now are largely unchanged with futures barely budging and tracking the USDJPY which after rising above 118 again overnight, has seen active selling ever since the close of the Japanese session.
Is the world's biggest hedge fund going all-in on HFT and Dark Pools? We ask because Ray Dalio's Westport, CT-based Bridgewater, which at last check manages around $160 billion between its Pure Alpha and All Weather fund products, and which according to preliminary data had a solid performance in 2014, has just hired Jose Marques, the former global head of the quant and algo-heavy electronic trading at Deutsche Bank, to become Bridgewater's new head of trading.
From Bill Gross: "I’ll leave the specific forecasting for a few weeks’ time and sum it up in a few quick sentences for now: Beware the Ides of March, or the Ides of any month in 2015 for that matter. When the year is done, there will be minus signs in front of returns for many asset classes. The good times are over.... Be cautious and content with low positive returns in 2015. The time for risk taking has passed."
"Oil is incredibly important right now. If oil falls to around $40 a barrel then I think the yield on ten year treasury note is going to 1%. I hope it does not go to $40 because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be – to put it bluntly – terrifying."
As an investor, it is simply your job to step away from your "emotions" for a moment and look objectively at the market around you. Is it currently dominated by "greed" or "fear?" Your long-term returns will depend greatly not only on how you answer that question, but to manage the inherent risk. “The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” - Benjamin Graham
For the fourth consecutive night, futures attempted to storm higher, and were halted in their tracks when the USDJPY failed to rebound from the recalibrated 107 tractor beam, following a statement by the BOJ's former chief economist and executive director (until March 2013) who said that now is the time for the Bank of Japan to begin tapering. Needless to say, there could be no worse news to bailout and liquidity-addicted equities as the last thing a global rigged market can sustain now that QE is about to end in two weeks, is the BOJ also reducing its liquidity injections in the fungible world. This promptly took away spring in the ES' overnight bounce. Not helping matters is the continuing selloff in oil, which as we reported first yesterday, has hit the most oversold levels ever, is not helping and we can only imagine the margin calls the likes of Andy Hall and other commodity funds (ahem Bridgewater -3% in September due to "commodities") are suffering. But the nail in the coffin of the latest attempt by algos to bounce back was the news which hit two hours ago that a second Ebola case has been confirmed in Texas, and just as fears that the worst is over, had started to dissipate.
If you were raised in a religious household, or were sent to a Catholic school, you have heard of the seven deadly sins. These transgressions -- wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony -- are human tendencies that, if not overcome, can lead to other sins and a path straight to the netherworld. In the investing world, these same seven deadly sins apply. These "behaviors," just like in life, lead to poor investing outcomes. Therefore, to be a better investor, we must recognize these "moral transgressions" and learn how to overcome them.