The last time the Fed tried to exit a period of massive balance sheet expansion coupled with ZIRP - back in 1937 - its strategy completely failed. The Fed tightening in H1’37 was followed in H2’37 by a severe recession and a 49% collapse in the Dow Jones. This is the ghost of 1937 and it is about to make a repeat appearance.
The Economist is a quintessential establishment publication. Keynesian shibboleths about “market failure” and the need to prevent it, as well as the alleged need for governments to provide “public goods” and to steer the economy in directions desired by the ruling elite with a variety of taxation and spending schemes as well as monetary interventionism, are dripping from its pages in generous dollops. The magazine has one of the very best records as a contrary indicator whenever it comments on markets. While gold hasn’t yet made it to the front page, but the Economist has sacrificed some ink in order to declare it “dead” (or rather, “buried”).
"If you dont own gold... there is no sensible reason other than you dont know history or you dont know the economics of it"
"Bridgewater’s assets under management increased from $150 billion as of 12/31/13 to approximately $154 billion as of 12/31/14."... "Bridgewater generally requires that its Clients have a minimum of $5 billion of investable assets."... "For new client relationships, Bridgewater’s standard minimum fee is expected to be $500,000 for its All Weather strategy, $1,000,000 for its Pure Alpha and Pure Alpha Major Markets strategies, and $4,750,000 for Optimal Portfolio."
With the Fed supposedly steeling itself at last to remove a little of its emergency ‘accommodation’, it has suddenly become fashionable to warn of the awful parallels with 1937 as an excuse The Fed must not act today. We strongly refute the analogy. Instead, the real Ghost of ’37 takes the form of mean-spirited and, counter-productive 'pitchfork populism' politics and the spectre should not be conjured up to excuse the central bank from further delaying its overdue embarkation on the long road back to normality and policy minimalism.
In all the annals of investing, few seemingly innocuous phrases incorporate as much by way of grave implication as those four words, “a shift to banknotes”. 2008 was bad. With central bank policy now at the outer reaches of the possible and even of the theoretical, the outlook is certainly uncertain. Not wishing to participate in the terminal stages of a momentum-driven bubble is not bearish so much as simply sane.
"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.