- Bubble Paranoia Setting in as S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst (BBG)
- But how will math PhDs determine "fair value" - Wall Street Techs Take Secrets to Next Job at Their Peril (BBG)
- U.S., EU Escalate Russia Sanctions as Putin Holds Firm (Bloomberg)
- Australia Becomes First Developed Nation to Repeal Carbon Tax (WSJ)
- Gaza humanitarian truce goes into force, hours after tunnel clash (Reuters)
- Barclays, Deutsche Bank Said to Face U.S. Senate Hearing (BBG)
- ECB Asset Buying Far Off and May Not Come, Hansson Says (BBG)
- Time Warner win would make Murdoch U.S. media king (Reuters)
- Costly Vertex Drug Is Denied, and Medicaid Patients Sue (WSJ)
- China Rallying for All Wrong Reasons to Top-Rated Analyst (BBG)
- GM recalls some cars with problematic switches; judges others safe (Reuters)
I never thought a visit to Omaha would trigger an appreciation of the role Icahn and other activist investors play in corporate America.
A division of the U.S. military known as the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), which studies threats to national security (i.e., the status quo’s grip on power) has listed Bitcoin amongst a number of potential terrorist threats. Of course, as we and many others have noted repeatedly, anything which threatens the prevailing criminal status quo will be merely labeled a “terrorist threat” in order to neutralize it. Just in case you aren’t yet convinced of how insane the folks at CTTSO are, “also on the CTTSO’s list of terrorism research topics were Android, Motorola, social media and virtual reality.” What has happened to this country...
None other than status-quo-hugger Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger took aim at the scourge of HFT this morning; blasting high-frequency traders as "the functional equivalent of letting rats into a granary," and exclaims "it does the rest of civilization no good at all." Buffett reminds that HFT is "not a liquidity provider, " explaining that while it does produce volume, that is not the same as liquidity; and while the Oracle opines (incorrectly) that the small investor has never had it so good, Munger is quick to point out that the money HFT makes does not come from heaven and in fact it is the small investor who is hurt by the fact that large investors (who mostly act on small investors' behalf) are severely impacted. Even the usually abstinent Bill Gates remarks upon HFT as "adding no value.. because when the liquidity is needed, it isn't there." Munger sums it up: "I don't like it."
Echoing Charlie Munger, Oaktree's Howard Marks warns today's institutional and retail investors that "everything that’s important in investing is counterintuitive, and everything that’s obvious is wrong." These words seem critically important at a time when the world and his pet rabbit is a self-proclaimed stock-picking export. Be "uncomfortably idiosyncratic," Marks advises, noting thaty most great investments begin in discomfort as "non-conformists don’t enjoy the warmth that comes with being at the center of the herd." Dare to be different is his message, "dare to be wrong," or as Charlie Munger told him, "it’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid." While Marks philosophically adds that "being too far ahead of your time is indistinguishable from being wrong," he warns the lulled masses that "you can’t take the same actions as everyone else and expect to outperform."
The blog posts and defenses of high frequency trading in the past week have come with dizzying high frequency. Flash Boys has struck many a nerve; the truth can be a bitter pill at times. And of course, the pro-HFT defenses are all made by many who are very, very staked in the status quo of our market structure. Now, bloggers using twitter is one thing; conflicted insiders using television to make their HFT defenses are another.
All you need to know about the New Normal breed of crony capitalism and unbridled hypocrisy is once again best exemplified by the following quote by Charlie Munger - the lifetime business partner of crony capitalist par excellence Warren Buffett - from May 2013, in which he said that "I think it is very stupid to allow a system to evolve where half of the trading is a bunch of short term people trying to get information one millionth of a nanosecond ahead of somebody else. It's legalized front-running. I think it is basically evil and I don't think it should have ever been allowed to reach the size that it did. Why should all of us pay a little group of people to engage in legalized front-running of our orders?" Noble, noble words Charlie. What Munger, however, did not disclose is that as part of the Berkshire Hathaway-owned Business Wire news service, the company was enabling just this "basically evil" frontrunning, by allowing some, those who could afford the hefty fee of course, to make Munger and Buffett even richer and to subscribe to BW's HFT direct news access which gave them a few millisecond headstart and in the process frontrun everyone else.
A SmartKnowledgeU Exclusive Interview with World Bank Whistleblower Karen Hudes: "The World Will Reject Central Bankers"Submitted by smartknowledgeu on 09/11/2013 23:29 -0400
An exclusive SmartKnowledgeU interview with World Bank Whistleblower Karen Hudes, in which we discuss the growing adoption of competitive currencies to fiat such as gold and silver, the reasons why the masses still largely remain ignorant of banking criminality, and the turniing tide against immoral Central Banking activities.
Fear, like greed, makes people, and that would include investors, behave irrationally. Two major equity bear markets in the last 13 years have traumatized investors. The belief in Modern Portfolio Theory in general and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis (EMH) in particular has been shaken and finance theory will have to be re-written. So, Absolute Return Partners' Niels Jensen asks, what is it specifically that has changed? Human behavior certainly hasn’t. Greed and fear have been factors to be reckoned with since day nought. When faced with the unknown, people (in this case, fund managers) will use whatever information they can get hold of. Hence we shouldn’t really be surprised that fund managers extrapolate current earnings trends when forecasting future earnings, despite the evidence that it is a futile exercise. Occasionally, the Wisdom of Crowds turns into the Madness of Mobs and all rational behavior goes out the window. History provides many examples of that. EMH is entirely unsuited to deal with froth. What made economists love the EMH is that the maths behind it is so neat whereas the alternative truth is a little messy.
One of the problems with QE is that the Fed is forcing people to buy riskier investments than they otherwise would have. The immorality of their actions aside, they create a significant psychological mismatch between assets and their holders. Stocks are in weak hands, insuring one great stampede for the chairs when the music stops.
The bespectacled Robin to Buffet's Batman is at it again. After casting disparaging remarks about the hard-money fanatics of the world with his "only old jews like gold" comment last year, in a brief interview on CNBC today, Charlie Munger explained how "bankers should not be trusted" adding that "they are like heroin addicts." He was reflecting on the debacle that occurred in Cypriot banks of course - but his perspective is likely useful for a broader remit of investment professionals with endless fungible free money as their backstop. So that's the pair; hard- and soft-money partakers be damned. The irony of his firm reporting dramatically better-than-expected profits on the back of a surge in insurance-selling (not at all like CDS) is not lost on us.
Why do commercial investment advisers always tell you that gold (& silver) and PM assets are all massively risky? Here's the one chart that explains everything.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Here are my thoughts from the VALUEx Vail conference. The idea for this conference came to me when I attended VALUEx Zurich, organized by Guy Spier and John Mihaljevic in February 2011 (you can register for VALUEx Zurich 2013, here). The thought of spending three days learning and sharing ideas with smart, like-minded value investors felt instantly right. Investing on some level is a never-ending pursuit to get better. Most of us are locked up in air-conditioned offices where we learn through reading SEC filings, magazines, blogs, etc.
What makes for a good investment is price. Price is everything. You need to receive value in excess of the price paid. An investment’s value is the amount of real cash its underlying assets can reasonably be expected to deliver to its shareholders in the future, discounted for its risk – period. The investment’s price will either be higher than its value (an uncompensated risk), the same as (neutral) or lower than its value (a compensated risk). But since value is an imprecise measurement, the best one can do is to build in a margin of safety by buying investments that are at deep discounts to a reasonable estimated value. Too many investors let an investment’s short-term price movements, or perceptions of short-term price movements drive their decisions. But since short-term price moves are unknowable, irrelevant and independent of investment merits, this is not worthy of any time spent analyzing. If short-term price moves were knowable, then a cadre of top-performing chartists and market technicians would have far greater net worths than Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and the Saudi Royal Family. They would need only apply leverage to their process and repeat it a few times in order to accrue hundreds of billions of dollars. Question: How many market technicians occupy the Forbes 400? Answer: Zero. Why? Because successfully guessing future price moves based on charts, MACD indicators or tea leaves is not a repeatable process. Investors who do this generally have poor outcomes because they are pursuing answers to the wrong question.
The right question is: where is the value?