The market correction that begin in January appears to be subsiding, at least for the moment, as Yellen's recent testimony gave markets the promise of the continuation of Bernanke's legacy. With the markets back into rally mode, for the moment, this week's "Things To Ponder" focuses on some of the bigger issues concerning the effectiveness of QE, investing and "77 reasons you suck at managing money."
With your local friendly asset-gatherer constantly promoting the cheapness of stocks of the TINA (there is no alternative) to BTFATH, TV talking-heads jabbering over 'stock-pickers' markets (infuriating Cliff Asness), and CEOs trotted out day after day to espouse how bright the future looks (even if outlooks in the immediate future are down-down-down-graded); it is hardly surprising that sentiment among the sheeple is so extremely bullish. So, when we saw the chart below... we could only ask - what do the insiders know that the average-joe-investor doesn't?
This morning we showed several charts that "Market Bulls Should Consider", as the mainstream media, analysts and economists continue to become more ebullient as we enter the new year. This weekend's "Things To Ponder" follows along with this contrarian thought process particularly as it appears that virtually all "bears" have now been forced into hibernation.
Cliff Asness would politely request people stop saying "It's a stock picker's market." While pairwise correlations have dropped to post-crisis lows, they remain elevated to 'normal' levels but, as Asness rages, perhaps asset managers who rely on this 'weak' phrase should more honestly note "I think they mean, "We will have to pick stocks now because the market isn’t making us money the easy way."
We wondered previously what happens when there are no more greater fools to sell to? But, US investors have turned the euphoria dial to 11 this week as the percent bullish is the highest since the peak in Fall 2007 and bears are at their lowest percentage since Spring 1987. Thus, the Bull-bear spread (based on AAII's survey) has never been wider (and don't forget, even Cliff Asness knows the unbridled idiocy of the 'money-on-the-sidelines'-meme).
Among Cliff Asness' top peeves are commonly held and oft-repeated beliefs that are wrong or misleading and can potentially hurt investors. The asset manager politely requests people stop saying - "There is a lot of cash on the sidelines." Everyone should pay attention...
Cliff Asness: "Nobody, Left Or Right, Really Thinks The Math Works, No Matter What They Say In Public"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/07/2013 15:47 -0400
The only way to finance a big European-style state is to have it paid for by massive taxation of everyone, mostly the middle class. Right now, we are avoiding honest debate on this fact. The central issue of our time is the debate over the size and scope of government. Two unpleasant but undeniable mathematical truths limit the feasible policy choices. The first truth is that the current tax rates cannot support the promises made to middle-class Americans. The second truth is that you cannot pay for the Life of Julia, or any vision of a cradle-to-grave welfare state, without massive and increasingly regressive middle-class taxes. Not only that, it's easy to tax middle-class assets and transactions but soaking the rich means taxing investments, and problematically, investments are the lifeblood of economic growth. The choice the country faces is simple. What we cannot have is the Life of Julia at no additional burden to 99 out of 100 of us. The way to boil the frog of freedom is slowly.
Cliff Asness, head of the quant hedge fund AQR, has been known to be a vocal opponent of various failed governmental policies in the past few years. Today, he has shared his "dictionary" (of "humorous" persuasion as he himself notes, with definitions "written sarcastically as a faux left-winger, some just conservative/libertarian interpretations of what the left really means.") of the key terms dominant in Progressive America right now. In a world in which other people's money has pretty much run out, and ahead of a rather historic Supreme Court ruling tomorrow, we believe some of these are quite relevant.
An Ever Controversial Cliff Asness Explains Why, He Believes, The Tax Deal Is A Gift To The Middle ClassSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/15/2010 13:36 -0400
AQR's head quant Cliff Asness, who as usual enjoys taking on what he believes is flawed conventional wisdom, takes on the topic of the Bush tax cut extension, and in typical fashion, presentd the upper class' view on things. What results is a piece that will likely not do much to bring the increasingly more polarized social and class extremes of America closer by even one bit.
- Kyrgyz crisis tops Russian headlines for four days, rest of world couldn't care less (Russian Scoop)
- America's municipal debt racket (WSJ) - Notable as the household sector's holdings in munis surpass $1 trillion for first time ever (Z1, p.64)
- Fed to conduct first test auction of bank CDs (WaPo)
- Carry-on charging Spirit Airlines grounds all flights through June 15 as pilots go on strike(Bloomberg)
- BP stock lower as the firm faces containment deadline as Obama seeks escrow (Bloomberg)
- Cost of fixing Fannie, Freddie at $140 billion, $1 trillion worst case (Bloomberg)
- Morgan Stanley: Just say no to double dip (Morgan Stanley)
- John Paulson takes ex-SEC bigs on board (Post)
- Liquid assets: Bordeaux 2009 futures sell 700 cases and hour, freeze computer (Bloomberg)
We have long claimed that any financial reform, determined by the Senator from Countrywide and the Rep from Fannie (thank you Cliff Asness), is worthless, and any debate over it is completely useless as it will achieve absolutely nothing. Sure, it fills blog pages and editorials but at the end of the day, the only thing that can save the financial system is, paradoxically, its destruction. There are just too many vested interests in the status quo, that absent a full blown implosion and subsequent reset of the system, it is all just smoke and mirrors. Luckily D-Day is approaching. We present an opinion by Robert Reich which validates our view that FinReg, and any debate thereof, is a joke.
"The Dodd bill is perfectly designed to create the largest and most powerful crony system in history." Cliff Asness is back to his usual irreverent tactics. Yet we have wonder just how his AQR quant fund did last Thursday...
The latest very much provocative letter from former Goldmanite and current AQRite, Cliff Asness. "All derivative contracts are side bets. They serve a useful economic purpose and our base case should be to let free people who want to make contracts with each other do so. The reviled Goldman transactions did not cause, or even inflate, the real estate bubble, it just made one financial institutional (Paulson) a bigger winner, and another a bigger loser. It was a bet each wanted to make, and was by definition considered a fair one by each party at the time. How do we know this? Easy, it was voluntary. Now government wants to rewrite history and say that this type of fair bet caused all our problems, and they’ll never bother us again if we just give them much more power, again. Do you believe them?"
Well, we certainly lost a big one. Despite hopes I share that this November’s polls will help mitigate the damage, this giant leap towards socialized medicine is a big loss for the Republican Party, and for the American people. And I say “leap towards” socialized medicine as this bill is not nearly the Left’s end game. It’s not meant to work, it’s meant to destroy the private health insurance industry, an industry that realized this only too late.1 It’s meant to help bring on, through socialized medicine, further breaking of the budget, and further conditioning of the American people to dependency and an expectation that government will provide for all their needs, the full European style welfare state. While it is obvious we must fight this, it’s not as obvious how. This note offers a few thoughts on the matter. - former Goldmnaite Cliff Asness of AQR (Quant Hedge Fund)
"The President, in these last few days following the second revolution against big government started in Massachusetts, has come out swinging savagely against “banks” in numerous ways in numerous speeches. Let’s be clear. There are legitimate issues and reforms to be discussed. But my first question is why this exact moment? The answer is simple. When a failing government with totalitarian impulses needs help, it’s pretty standard strategy to call down a pogrom against an unpopular class of citizens. The bankers are nothing if not unpopular. Unfortunately for this President, he will, I hope, find the financial community not cowering from his Cossacks on a shtetl in the Pale of Settlement (Greenwich, CT), but meeting his accusations with logic and patriotism." - Cliff Asness