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.
Our friends at Themis Trading, who continue the good, if seemingly futile fight, for a fair and untiered market, refresh on their late 2010 market structure forecast, only to find that with a 1 out of 10 "success" track record, they have the same predictive hit rate as Byron Wien and Joe LaVorgna. Which, incidentally, is not a good thing: it simply means the US stock market is now more broken and corrupt than ever, a development that is not lost on US investors, who later today we will find have redeemed a near record amount of cash from US equity mutual funds in 2011, and have pulled cash for 34 out of 35 weeks in a row, leaving mutual funds with virtually zero cash buffer, massive leverage and dreading that day when the Santa rally coupled with low volume levitation is no longer sufficient to mask the massive capital hole in the heart of the S&P 500.
For today's humorous detour, we go back in time, some could say to prehistoric days, and pull the 2011 year end predictions by Blackstone's grizzled (date of birth Valentine's Day, 1933) Vice Chairman Byron Wien posited back on January 1, who for 26 years in a row tries to predict the future. And fails. Well, technically he did get gold right. And yes, there are two more weeks left in 2011: Wien may still be proven right... crazier things have happened.
Billion Dollar Fund Managers Agree: The Government Never Fixed the Underlying Economic Problems, So We'll Have Another CrashSubmitted by George Washington on 05/31/2011 13:54 -0500
What the smart money is saying ...
Move over Jack Meyer and David Swensen, there's a new woman on the mighty US endowment block...
Once again we are reminded why we like Jim Grant so much. From his latest Grant's Interest Rate Observer (which, trust us, is worth the subscription): "Almost 30% of the respondents to a poll conducted by UBS a few weeks back said they anticipate a third round of so-called quantitative easing... We count ourselves among the expectant 30%. To its congressional directed dual mandate the Bernanke Fed has unilaterally added a third. It has undertaken to make the markets rise. The chairman himself has more than once taken credit for the post-2008 bull market (on one such occasion in January, he reminded the CNBC audience how far the Russell 2000 had come under Fed ministrations). Could he therefore stand idly by in the face of a new bear market. Byron Wien, vice chairman of Blackstone Advisory Services, went on record the other day predicting a summer swoon in stocks following the scheduled winding down of QE2 in June. Let us say that Wien is right, and that, furthermore, drooping stocks are accompanied by sagging house prices and a weakening labor market. Bernanke was hard put to explain why he chose to let Lehman go while acting to save Bear Stearns. He would be harder put to explain why he chose to implement QE1 and QE2 but, in another hour of need, refused to launch QE3." And "Sooner or later, gravity turns speculative markets into investment markets. When this transformation occurs, the Fed will confront the need to bail out the innocents it had previously bailed in. Hence, QE3." And therein lies the rub. Simple, sweet, and, for the US dollar, suicidal.
The lack of animal spirits in the gold and silver bullion markets is also seen in the decline of the gold ETF holdings (see chart above) and the Commitment of Traders open interest (see below). Neither show any signs of speculative fever whatsoever. This would suggest that the recent record prices are due to short covering on the COMEX (possibly by Wall Street banks with concentrated short positions as alleged by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee or GATA and being investigated by the CFTC) and buying of bullion in the Middle East and Asia, particularly in China. While all the focus is on the geopolitical risk in the Mediterranean, the not insignificant risks posed by the European sovereign crisis, the possibility of a US municipal and sovereign debt crisis and continuing currency debasement internationally are the prime drivers of gold today. Quantitative easing, debt monetisation and competitive currency devaluations have not gone away and are leading to deepening inflation which will likely result in much higher prices in 2011 and 2012.
Gold’s all time record nominal high yesterday was barely reported in most of the mainstream business and financial press today - slightly more online but there was little or no coverage in print. This is an indication that gold and silver remain far from the “bubbles” that some have suggested. Speculative manias and bubbles are characterised by mass participation and widespread enthusiasm and “irrational exuberance” by all sectors of society including the media and particularly the retail investor and the “man in the street”. The majority of investors and savers in the western world do not know what gold bullion is and could not tell you the price of an ounce of gold or silver in dollars – let alone in pounds, euros or other local currencies. The majority are unaware of the huge developments in the gold markets (only reported by specialist financial press) such as China’s emergence as one of the largest buyers of gold in the world (see news and our video below) and the fact that central banks and astute hedge funds are some of the largest buyers of gold in the world today.
Some people just don't know when to keep their mouth shut...