Almost a year ago we shared a calculation according to which "Over $120 Billion In Federal Student Loans In Default", suggesting that the next credit crisis has already arrived. Since then the topic of the student loan bubble has become a household topic. Sadly, that does not mean it has gotten any better. In fact, according to the latest Education Department data it has gotten as bad as it has ever been. As Bloomberg reports, not only have overdue student loans reached an all-time high but the number of young people aged 20-24 out of school and unemployed is at a record high: not quite astronomic by European standards, but hardly a ringing endorsement of an economy set to transition labor tasks to the next generation, especially with the employment of those 55 and older at all time highs.
David Einhorn's Q1 Investor Letter: "Under The Circumstances, It Is Curious That Gold Isn’t Doing Better."Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2013 14:27 -0400
Sadly, not much in terms of macro observations this quarter or discussions of jelly donuts, but a whole lot on the fund's biggest Q1 underperformer, Apple and the hedge fund's ongoing fight for shareholder friendly capital reallocation as well as proving Modigliani-Miller wrong. And then this cryptic ellipsis: "Under the circumstances, it is curious that gold isn’t doing better." Say no more, David. We get it.
As is well known, Goldman's Mark Carney is leaving the Bank of Canada on June 1 to take over the UK money printer in a few months, at which point he will proceed to create about GBP25 billion per month out of thin air, pushing the total monthly G-7 liquidity injection to a healthy $200 billion (an annualized rate of $2.5 trillion). Which meant that a successor had to be found. Moments ago we learned just who that is, and surprisingly it does not appear to be yet another Goldman Sachs Partner, MD or even Vice President. Carney's replacement is Stephen Poloz, the former head of Export Development Canada. Promptly upon the announcement Poloz noted that flexible inflation targeting no threat to credibility, and Canada's monetary policy has helped through crisis, and that experience at EDC gives him a feel for Canada's economy. If nothing else, at least he has held a real job. Unlike those mandarins in the Marriner Eccles building. Either way, his monetary stance is largely unknown, although it will hardly be a hurdle to the other lunatics who have taken over the money printing asylum.
- Boston bomb probe looking at pressure cooker, backpacks (Reuters), Boston Bomb Clues Surface (WSJ) Forensic Investigators Discover Clues to Boston Bombing (BBG)
- China local authority debt ‘out of control’ (FT)
- Gold Wipes $560 Billion From Central Banks as Equities Rally (BBG)... or the same impact a 2% rise in rates would have on the Fed's balance sheet
- More Wall Street leakage: Stock Surge Linked to Lobbyist (WSJ)
- China's bird flu death toll rises to 16, government warns of spread (Reuters)
- Chinese official endorses monetary easing (FT)
- As global price slumps, "Abenomics" risks drive Japan gold bugs (Reuters)
- North Korea rejects US call for talks (FT)
- IMF Renews Push Against Austerity (WSJ)
- India Gains as Gold Plunge Boosts Scope for Rate Cuts (BBG)
- Germany set to approve Cyprus aid (FT)
- Easing Is an Issue as G-20 Meets (WSJ)
The present confusion is legitimate: it is far too early to be projecting much from Cyprus except a continued erosion of faith in Eurozone banks and leadership, and by default, the euro as a placeholder of purchasing power.
When it comes to popular finance myths, cash hoarding by corporates may be one of the most perpetuated. It's not that the data is wrong; US companies are holding more cash on their balance sheets than at any time in the past, as a report by Moody's this week notes. What's misguided is the narrative, in Citi's view, in particular among equity investors. What they most take issue with is the implication that corporates have lots of cash to return to shareholders. Indeed, there's plenty of data to the contrary that challenges the prevailing notion that corporates are the picture of good health.
Blackrocks's Larry Fink "doesn't really care" about Cyprus, "it's really not something of concern," he tells Bloomberg TV. While gesturing that he can't really discuss specifics as Blackrock is an adviser to Cyprus, he then goes to explain how European and US markets have it all wrong and that "It has some symbolism impact on Europe, but it’s not a really major economic issue." This dip is "just clients taking some chips off the table and reaping some gains from the huge rally," he goes on, dismissing the interviewer's question as nonsense, "this is temporary," and adding that he "is hyperbullish on the US economy," and that "global markets will be up 20% this year." However, what is most fun to watch is his arrogant dismissal of the interviewers question over US depositor fears, there are two reasons that is foolish, he notes "a) we have insurance, so that will not happen; [ZH: umm, so did Cyprus]; and b) we have always prioritized the liabilities [ZH: umm, except for GM]." So all good then, storm in a teacup. Carry On - though he has some stern words for the French and for the Russians.
While the supposed common-knowledge is that rising short-interest is where to look for epic squeezes (and indeed it appears to the case in individual stocks); in ETF-land, it tends to be the opposite (especially when the underlying of the ETF is relatively illiquid). Absolute short interest in the high-yield bond ETF HYG is at a record - surging to over 23mm shares - heralded by many as evidence that HY can squeeze higher. However, given the incredible rise in shares outstanding in HYG (as flows drove creation until around six months ago) the more reliable indication is the short-interest-ratio. The SI ratio is back at the same levels it was at the highs of the Oct 2007 period - we humbly suggest that this (as was clear in 2007) is anything but contrarian as professional bond managers using ETF liquidity to hedge their over-stuffed and over-flowing illiquid HY bond portfolios. With HY 'yields' at record lows, HY spreads near record lows (and crossover having only been tighter during 1946-65 repression), leverage rising notably, and valuations extreme (only 22% of CCC credits priced with yields over 10%!!!) is it any wonder that the professionals are as confidently hedged as they were as the credit crisis exploded and Lehman struck.
- Must defend against Chinese colonial expansion and get the Nigerian oil: U. S. Boosts War Role in Africa (WSJ)
- BOJ nominee Kuroda sets out aggressive policy ideas (Reuters)
- China becomes world’s top oil importer (FT)
- Baby Cured of HIV for the First Time, Researchers Say (WSJ)
- Obama to nominate Walmart's Burwell as White House budget chief (Reuters)
- Wal-Mart Anxious to Combat Amazon’s Lead in Web Vendors (BBG)
- Nasdaq executing trades at a loss (FT)
- Spending cut debate casts pall over Obama's second-term agenda (Reuters)
- Russell Indexes to Reclassify Greece as Emerging Market (BBG)
- Bond Bears Collide With Swaps Showing Low Rates (BBG)
- Buffett Deputies Leaving Billionaire in the Dust Get More Funds (BBG)
- Brazil's leftist president fights to win back business (Reuters)
- U.S. Special Forces train Syrian Rebels in Jordan (Le Figaro)
- Carlos Slim Risks Losing World’s Richest Person Title as Troubles Mount (BBG)
China Tumbles On Real-Estate Inflation Curbs: Biggest Property Index Drop Since 2008; Japan Downgraded On AbenomicsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/04/2013 04:28 -0400
As we have been warning for nearly a year, the biggest threat facing China has been the fact that contrary to solemn promises, the problem of persistent, strong and very much relentless real-estate inflation has not only not been tamed but has been first and foremost on the minds of both the PBOC and the local government. After all with the entire "developed" world flooding the market every single day with countless billions in new cheap, hot money, it was inevitable that much of it would end up in the mainland Chinese real estate market. And since both the central bank and the politburo are well aware that the path from property inflation to broad price hikes, including the all critical to social stability pork and other food, is very short, it was inevitable that the issue of inflation would have to be dealt with eventually. Tonight is that "eventually", when following news from two days ago that yet another Chinese PMI indicator missed, this time the Services data which slid from 56.2 to 54.5, the government announced its most aggressive round of property curbs yet. The immediate result was that the Shanghai Stock Exchange Property Index slumped by a whopping 9.3%, the steepest drop since June 2008, and pushing it down to -11% for the year. The weakness also spread to the broader market, with the Composite closing down 3.65% the biggest drop in months, and now just barely positive, at +0.2%, year to date. We expect all 2013 gains to be promptly wiped out when tonight's risk off session resumes in earnest.
The great trade, capital flow and debt imbalances that were built up over the preceding two decades must reverse themselves. Michael Pettis notes, however, that these imbalances can continue for many years, but at some point they become unsustainable and the world must adjust by reversing those imbalances. One way or the other, in other words, the world will rebalance. But there are worse ways and better ways it can do so. Pettis adds that, any policy that does not clearly result in a reversal of the deep debt, trade and capital imbalances of the past decade is a policy that cannot be sustained. It is likely to be political considerations that determine how quickly the rebalancing processes take place and whether they do so in ways that set the stages for future growth or future stagnation. Pettis' guess is that we have ended the first stage of the global crisis, and most of the deepest problems have been identified. In 2013 we will begin to see how policymakers respond and what the future outlook is likely to be. The following 10 themes are what he will be watching this year in order to figure out where we are likely to end up.
- Obama Paints Wider Role for Government in Middle Class Revival (BBG)
- Obama to Seek a New Trade Deal With EU (WSJ)... or this is strawman why 2016 GDP will be higher
- Mobile phone sales fall for the first time since 2009 (Telegraph)
- Sequester Looms, No Deal in Sight (WSJ)
- Neither US party swallows a compromise (FT)
- Embattled Economies Cling to Euro (WSJ)
- For China, Spending Is Harder Than It Looks (WSJ)
- Bank of England's Sir Mervyn King says recovery in sight (BBC) - just a little more inflation first
- G7 fails to defuse currency tensions (FT)
- Japanese Leader Urges Firms to Boost Wages (WSJ) - so does the US one
- Fed Bank Chiefs Back Money-Fund Overhaul (WSJ), or force everyone out of MMFs and into stocks
I Empirically Show Facebook Getting "My Space[d]" As They Actually Lose Users With Not A Single Analyst Noticing!!!!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 02/02/2013 10:20 -0400
The Truth About Facebook That No Media Outlet Or Analyst Has Bothered To Notice
From a valuation perspective, Chinese equities do not, at first glance, look to be a likely candidate for trouble. The PE ratios are either 12 or 15 times on MSCI China, depending on whether you include financials or not, and do not scream 'bubble'. And yet, China has been a source of worry for GMO over the past three years and continues to be one. China scares them because it looks like a bubble economy. Understanding these kinds of bubbles is important because they represent a situation in which standard valuation methodologies may fail. Just as financial stocks gave a false signal of cheapness before the GFC because the credit bubble pushed their earnings well above sustainable levels and masked the risks they were taking, so some valuation models may fail in the face of the credit, real estate, and general fixed asset investment boom in China, since it has gone on long enough to warp the models' estimation of what "normal" is. Of course, every credit bubble involves a widening divergence between perception and reality. China's case is not fundamentally different. In GMO's extensive discussion below, they have documented rapid credit growth against the background of a nationwide property bubble, the worst of Asian crony lending practices, and the appearance of a voracious and unstable shadow banking system. "Bad" credit booms generally end in banking crises and are followed by periods of lackluster economic growth. China appears to be heading in this direction.
In this piece, I re-examine what many economists call "financial repression" and I find it to be sorely lacking as a description of what is happening. I also look at a related concern about the loss of central bank independence. Color me skeptical.