The American economic and financial landscape is vastly different than it was following World War II. The wealth gap between the rich and the poor has shifted sharply to the upper 10% of the population. For that group, the economic picture is considerably brighter than for those in the bottom 80%. For Byron, whose personal net worth is in the billions, this is truly a "Picasso economy," for the majority of everyone else it is more like a "starving artist sale."
While the predictions of Blackstone's Byron Wien (born in 1933) have been all over the place in the last few years, they nevertheless provide some color on just what the mainstream does not believe... This is the 30th year Byron has given his views on a number of economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. From "our luck running out on cyberterrorism" to "shock and awe no longer working in Japan", Wien's non-predictions range from The Fed to China and from Oil to Hillary Clinton...
The predictions of Blackstone's octogenarian Byron Wien (born in 1933) have been all over the place in the past 10 years, some correct, most wrong (with a recent hit rate of about 25%) - his 2013 year end S&P forecast was for 1300 - yet always entertaining. Which is the only value in the latest release of his 10 forecasts for 2014. Naturally, take all of these with a salt mine.
Just as markets can stay irrational longer than traders can stay solvent, so Byron Wien warns all the market-watching self-confirming bulls that "markets slough off bad news until they don't." Blackstone's top-man fears the "oblivious markets" are missing the point that nothing has been solved and that a "big battle between entitlement cuts and raising the debt ceiling" is coming. Shrugging off the anchor's insistence that earnings have been 'pretty good', Wien states reality as expectations are rolling over and performance following. With people complacent and investors euphoric (ignoring European risk re-emergence and depression and Middle East tensions), Wien's brief clip concludes with his expectation of a 200 point correction in the S&P 500 in H1 2013.
While the predictions of Blackstone's Byron Wien (born in 1933), who may not be in the senate or "sleep-deprived", but this year will become an octogenarian, may have been all over the place in the past 10 years, some correct, but most miserably wrong (with a recent hit rate of about 25%), he always does provide entertainment value. Which is the only value in the latest release of his 10 forecasts for 2013. Naturally, take all of these with a salt mine.
Following on the heels of Byron Wien, Morgan Stanley's Surprises, and Saxo's Outrageous Predictions, Deutsche Bank's FX strategy team has created a who's who of 13 outliers for 2013. Quite frankly, given the extreme nature of monetary (and now fiscal) policy, asset allocation decisions, and bankers' and politicians' willingness to go into the media and lie directly to our faces, the comprehension of the possible (no matter how improbable) is far more important for risk management than the faith in the centrally-planned unreality our markets (and therefore ourselves) currently find themselves in. As they note, all too often, the tendency to not stray too far from a self-anchoring recent-history-extrapolated consensus (while apparently highly profitable for some for a microcosm of time) leads to unrecoverable drawdowns exactly when career-risk was the limiting factor. From Malaysian elections and EM bubbles bursting to Fed monetizing equities and South China Sea escalation, these outliers seem all to 'normal' in our brave new world.
Just as Byron Wien publishes his ten surprises for the upcoming year, Morgan Stanley has created a heady list of seventeen macro surprises across all countries they cover that depict plausible possible outcomes that would represent a meaningful surprise to the prevailing consensus. From the "return of inflation" to 'Brixit' and from the "BoJ buying Euro-are bonds" to a "US housing recovery stall out" - these seventeen succinctly written paragraphs provide much food for thought as we enter 2013.
"The consensus view was that QE3 was going to send the stock market to the moon. Yet the peak level on the S&P 500 was 1,465 on September 14th, the day after the FOMC meeting. The consensus view was that the lagging hedge funds were going to be forced to play some major catch-up and take the stock market to the moon too. Surveys show that the hedge funds have already made this adjustment...Q3 EPS estimates are still coming down and now stand at -3% YoY from -2% at the start of October....this is the first time the Fed embarked on a nonconventional easing initiative with the market overbought and with profits and earning expectations on a discernible downtrend. Not only that, but the fact the pace of U.S. economic activity is still running below a 2% annual rate, which is less than half of what is normal at this stage of the business cycle with the massive amount of government stimulus, is truly remarkable. Keep an eye on the debt ceiling being re-tested — the cap is $16.394 trillion and we are now at $16.119 trillion. This is likely to make the headlines again before year-end — the rating agencies may not be taking off much time for a Christmas break."
The most popular talking-head on financial TV (after Bill Miller and Byron Wien), Whitney Tilson, has not had a #winning year so far. In fact the simple pair trade Anti-Tilson (Long GMCR-Short Netflix which we closed when it returned 50% in just over a month), that was so popular last year, has been expanded to include his biggest shorts (as we promised yesterday). While we do not know weightings (obviously), on an equal-weighted basis from today's price, Tilson's 10 largest shorts have managed an impressive 7.37% gain on the year, handily outperforming his 15 largest longs which have managed a sub-market performance gain year-to-date of 1.45%. So being long Whitney's shorts and short the-ever-smiling manager's longs (on an equal weighted basis) would have made you around 6% year-to-date - considerably better than the +2.5% move in the S&P itself.
The abysmal hit rate of Byron Wien's predictions over the past several years (ostensibly since the inception of this silly practice nearly three decades ago) has been the source of much laughter on the pages of Zero Hedge: see here and here. It has also been the source of much profit, due to the Blackstone Vice Chairman's uncanny ability to bat just over 0.000 with laser-guided precision and consistency. Below, as reported by Bloomberg, are the latest set of forecasts which are to be faded with impunity as soon as is possible.
The one man in finance, who after Buffett and Munger is way overdue for retirement, Blackstone's Byron Wien who at 77 is only made relevant once a year with his atrocious following year forecast, which due to its ongoing track record of being right approximately on zero out of ten predictions, provides Wall Street with an annual bout of uncontrollable laughter. So far this has been an innocuous exercise in worthlessness, but not any more. According to Bloomberg, Wien's latest forecast may have so infuriated the New York pension system that they may no longer invest money with Blackstone. "The New York City Comptroller’s office backed out of a scheduled meeting with Blackstone Group LP and trustees for the city pension funds who want the firm to repudiate chief strategist Byron Wien’s statement that public- employee retirement benefits are too high." The reason: "Last January, Wien, 77, said in his annual forecast that taxpayers 'literally can’t afford the benefits we have given our retirees in state and local governments and we have to change that.'" The result: New York State pension administrators are not amused.
Instead of wasting time with Byron Wien's Top 10 "predictions for 2011" we have decided to skip this latest and greatest worthless charade in prognostication, and instead we believe that presenting the list of what the man whose retirement age has come and gone, thought would happen in the past year, is a great example of why all these so called institutional Wall Street experts are nothing but two bit hacks. As may be expected, somehow Wien got exactly zero out of ten correct! The man is the contrarian indicator on Wall Street. Also keep in mind: it takes a lot of skill to be this bad.
To all the bulls out there, we have a Wien-er just for you. In an essay that is basically a sequel to last week's job application in a second-tier position in the administration by a Moody's strategist and a Princeton economist (yes, yes, we know... oxymorons), the BlackStone head of something, Byron Wien, says the fututre for the market, the economy, and pretty much everything else is brighter than a nuclear bomb (incidentally one going off today would likely send the market into the greatest melt up in history). Lest there be any confuction what Byron's view is: "My view is that the economy is going through a temporary lull and business conditions will improve later this year and in 2011." At least Wien is honest: "In preparing this essay I used research from Goldman Sachs, Lord Abbett, Credit Suisse and International Strategy and Investments for arguments on both sides of the double-dip issue." Mmhmm - that some serious "both sides" source list. And the piece de resistance: "The factors that argue against a resumption of the recession are the strong liquidity position of corporations which have 6% of their assets in cash, a level not seen since the 1960s, and the fact that both housing and autos are at low levels of production and not likely to drop further." Over the weekend we will present an extended analysis finally putting to rest the inane argument that corporations are flush with cash: while true on a gross basis, the net level of cash vs debt, and especially vs equity, is at one of the worst levels in history. This ongoing childish avoidances of the liability side of the corporate balance sheet must stop and someone has to finally shut up these so called sophisticated economists and their endless lies. Feel free to print out two copies of the attached Wien essay: we hear his work "product" is much better in two ply format.
Rosenberg Points Out That The Stock Market Is Now A Lagging Indicator; Discusses Byron Wien's Beliefs In The Tooth FairySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/05/2010 10:43 -0500
"The consensus sees $76 operating EPS for the S&P 500 in 2010, which would be a 36% increase from 2009
Meanwhile, the consensus basically sees 4% nominal GDP growth for 2010, which would suggest a 10% profit rise in 2010, which would imply a solid but somewhat less exuberant $62 EPS call for the year. Remember that this time last year the consensus was at $77 operating EPS for 2009 and we got $56 — what saved the market was the Geithner & Bernanke show. What do they do for an encore this year?
Forget all the calculations off the “artificial” March lows. Forget the 25% slide in the first 10 weeks of the year to that awful trough. Here is the reality. The S&P 500, from point to point, rallied 23% in 2009 even though earnings for the year as whole came in a whopping $22 a share or 27% below what was being priced in at the start of the year. Now that is remarkable. It almost wants to make you believe in the tooth fairy." - David Rosenberg
Optimistic visions from the Pequot man.