- Barack Obama's 'vacation from hell' (Politico)
- Russian aid convoy checked; military vehicles mass near Ukraine (Reuters)
- Ukraine Says APCs Entered From Russia to Aid Insurgents (BBG)
- Islamic State Said to Challenge Al-Qaeda for Leadership (BBG)
- Missouri protests calmer after governor puts black police captain in charge (Reuters)
- Finally someone will prove the US is a pyramid scheme (in a 1000 page presentation): Ackman’s Pershing Square Sues U.S. Over Fannie, Freddie (BBG)
- Banks, Financial Firms Load Up on Cheap Debt (WSJ)
- Putin to Meet Finnish President as Threat of Cold War Grows (BBG)
For everyone curious how the market's favorite "balls to the wall" barometer did in the second quarter (which ended 45 days ago), here is the full breakdown.
- Police fire tear gas, stun grenades at Missouri protesters (Reuters)
- Putin’s Pipeline Bypassing Ukraine at Risk Amid Conflict (BBG)
- Russia's Largest Oil Company Seeks $42 billion to Weather Sanctions (WSJ)
- Shells hit central Donetsk, Russian aid convoy heads towards border (Reuters)
- U.S. Tightens Sanctions, Putting More Russian Companies at Risk (BBG)
- How to Blindly Score 43% Profit Overnight in China Stocks (BBG)
- Tears guaranteed: San Diego Pension Dials Up the Risk to Combat a Shortfall (WSJ)
- Euro Recovery Halts as Germany Shrinks, France Stagnates (BBG)
- Billionaire Found in Middle of Bribery Case Avoids U.S. Probe (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama 'Hug It Out' on Martha's Vineyard (WSJ)
With everyone focused on China as the source of next systemic risk, most forgot or simply chose to ignore Europe, which through Draghi's verbal magic was said to be "fixed." Or at least everyone hoped that the rigged European bond market would preserve the "recovery" illusion a little longer giving the world some more time to reform pretend it is doing something to fix it. Turns out that was a mistake, confirmed earlier not only by the plunge in German Factory Orders which cratered -4.3%, down from 7.7% and below the 1.1% revised, and UK Industrial production which missed expectations of a 0.6% boost, rising only 0.3%, but most importantly Italy's Q2 GDP shocker, which as we reported earlier, dropped for the second consecutive quarter sending the country officially into recession. As a result, European stock markets, Stoxx600, has joined the DJIA in the red for the year while Germany's 2 Year Bund just went negative on aggressive risk aversion, the first time since 2012.
If clichés reflect overly common (if therefore unappreciated) wisdom, then we finally have a good explanation for why risk assets continue to rally. No, there are actually not “More buyers than sellers” – money flows are negative over the last month for both U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs. And forget about investors “Downgrading on valuation” as stocks climb higher and higher; truth be told, that’s not even really a thing (unless you work on the sell side). Nope, this is a “Flight to quality”, “don’t fight the Fed”, “never short a dull market” environment with “easy comps” from a long rough winter. Want to call a top somewhere around here? Remember that “Markets discount events 6 months in the future.” A “Santa Claus rally” in June? That would fit the one cliché we know is actually the market’s True North: it will do exactly what hurts the most “Smart” investors. And that would be to rally further as the doomsayers double down and the timid cling to their bonds and cash.
We believe ourselves to be credible and intelligent, even though nearly all our working capital, our knowledge, is corrupt and seriously tainted.
- US, Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock (AP)
- Russian forces 'gradually withdrawing' from Ukraine border (AFP)
- Turkish PM Erdogan tells enemies they will pay price after poll (Reuters)
- And Goldman arrives: Credit markets open to Argentina for first time in years (Reuters)
- Regulators Twice Failed to Open GM Probes (WSJ)
- Bad loan writedowns soar at China banks (FT)
- Investors Breathe Life Into European Banks' Bad Loans (WSJ)
- Euro zone inflation drops to lowest since 2009 (Reuters)
- Yellowstone National Park rattled by largest earthquake in 34 years (Reuters)
The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree. In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Tesla has just announced it intends to issue a $1.6 billion convertible note offering "for the development of a "Gigafactory" and a "Gen III" vehicle." While not that unusual - and of course, why not take advantage of low cost financing and a surging momentum in your stock - what we did find at least intriguing was the underwriters included Morgan Stanley. This is the same firm (though we would be very sure that Chinese walls ensured total lack of knowledge) that doubled their price target (from $153 to $320) for TSLA yesterday (following the analyst's now almost clairvoyant questions during the earnings conference call). Paging Henry Blodgett?
If our inner self, our essence, is not centered and at peace, at best we will be ineffective and at worst just a miserable person.
"As we and others have said, the Fed is overly reliant upon models that do not account for real-world elements of instruments, markets and traders in the derivatives age. Models cannot possibly take into account unpredictable interactions among huge positions and traders in new and very complicated instruments. Thus, the Fed should be careful, humble and conservative. Instead, it is just blithely plowing ahead as if it knows exactly what is going on. Intelligent captains sail uncharted waters with extra caution and high alert; only fools think that each mile they sail without sinking the vessel further demonstrates that they are wise and the naysayers were fools. This is a formula for destruction. The crash of 2008 should have been smoking-gun evidence of the folly of this approach, but every mistake leading up to the crash, especially excessive and “invisible” leverage and interest rates that were too low, has been doubled down upon in the years since."
Alan Greenspan's Modest Proposal: Fix Broken Economic Models By... Modeling Irrational "Animal Spirits"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/02/2014 15:26 -0400
We leave it to everyone's supreme amusement to enjoy the Maestro's full non-mea culpa essay, but we will highlight Greenspan's two most amusing incosistencies contained in the span of a few hundred words. On one hand the former Chairman admits that "The financial crisis [...] represented an existential crisis for economic forecasting. The conventional method of predicting macroeconomic developments -- econometric modeling, the roots of which lie in the work of John Maynard Keynes -- had failed when it was needed most, much to the chagrin of economists." On the other, his solution is to do... more of the same: "if economists better integrate animal spirits into our models, we can improve our forecasting accuracy. Economic models should, when possible, measure and forecast systematic human behavior and the tendencies of corporate culture.... Forecasters may never approach the fantasy success of the Oracle of Delphi or Nostradamus, but we can surely improve on the discouraging performance of the past." So, Greenspan's solution to the failure of linear models is to... model animal spirits, or said otherwise human irrationality. Brilliant.
- Troops Forage for Food While Golfers Play On in Shutdown (BBG)
- Police suspect dental hygienist Miriam Carey was behind the wheel of Capitol chase (WaPo)
- Italian Senate committee starts Berlusconi expulsion process (Reuters)
- Swiss Regulator Probing Banks Over Foreign-Exchange Manipulation (WSJ)
- GOP Begins Search for Broad Deal on Budget (WSJ)
- No Jobs Report Means Economists Chew on Football Instead of Data (BBG)
- U.S. default seems unthinkable but investors have options (Reuters)
- Citigroup fined $30 million after analyst sent report to SAC, others (Reuters)
- FBI Snags Silk Road Boss With Own Methods (BBG)
- Recession Warnings Found in Asset Price Falls (BBG)
- Bank of Japan warns of severe global impact from U.S. fiscal standoff (Reuters)
Analyst expectations for top line growth in the back half of 2013 continue to fade, and worries over a looming “Revenue recession” grow commensurately. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the first quarter of 2013 posted an average negative 0.6% revenue comparison for the 30 companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Q2 (with a few companies left to report) looks to be +0.3%. But back out the financials, and he points out that the number goes negative to the tune of (0.3%). Analysts are still chopping away at their back half expectations, now down to 1.9% for Q3 and 2.1% for Q4 2013. Those are down from 4-5% expected comps back in March, so the trend is still clearly not our friend. As we have pointed out previously, equity markets have been powered by multiple expansion year-to-date, but, as Colas asks (rhetorically) do you really want to pay up at this point in the business cycle for still declining expectations?
- Vocal billionaire activist IRR - 150x: Icahn bought $1 billion of AAPL stock, seeks $150 billion buyback (BBG)
- BlackBerry Said to Have Sought Buyers Since 2012 (BBG) - for a phone or the entire company?
- IPhone Fingerprint Reader Talk Boosting Biometric Stocks (BBG) - also, the NSA will need to grow its Utah data center
- UPS Jet Crashes in Birmingham, Ala. (WSJ)
- America's Farm-Labor Pool Is Graying (WSJ)
- Hong Kong Lowers Storm Signal as Typhoon Closes on China (BBG)
- Indian submarine explodes in Mumbai port (FT)
- BofA Banker Sued by Regulator Later Joined Fannie Mae (BBG)
- Software that hijacks visits to YouTube uncovered (FT)
- Chinese Billionaire Huang Readies Iceland Bid on Power Shift (BBG)
- China to launch fresh pharmaceutical bribery probe (Reuters)
- Defeat at J.C. Penney Hurts Ackman as Performance Trails (BBG)