For almost three years there has been one recurring simple strategy to outperforming the market - find the worst company you can, and buy its stock with both hands and feet... As we have discussed numerous times, the massive outperformance of "weak balance sheet" companies over "strong balance sheet" companies - the absolute sign of a massive mal-investment boom - has been a straight line to profits with hardly a hiccup since the Fed unleashed QE2. However, the last week or so, as geopolitical risks rise and it appears ever more likely that the Fed's free money pipe will dry up, the dash-for-trash has reversed. The last 5 days saw "strong" companies outperform "weak" companies by the most in 3 years... something is changing.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide Congress with an update on the state of the economy, how rosy the future is, why she needs to keep rates lower for longer, and that there are no bubbles (oh apart from in bonds which everyone should sell because we need the collateral). These are her first comments since the FOMC press conference in mid-June and stocks have soared since then (as bond yields have tumbled) and she will have to tread a fine line between exuberant over headline job improvements and the need to keep over-inflated bubbles pumped full of cheap/free money for longer...
Market participants are far too levered up, all on the same side, and well behind the monetary normalization curve of when the first rate hike is actually going to occur.
Maybe its time for a new version of the old regime at the Fed. That is, for the Eccles Building to eschew interest rate-pegging and ZIRP entirely, and thereby allow financial markets to once again engage in honest price discovery and two-way trading; and to allow the natural business cycle to meander along its own capitalist path as determined not by the 12 members of the monetary politburo, but the 317 million consumers, producers, investors, entrepreneurs and even speculators who comprise the real main street economy.
Those who own the resources and influence the political control of those resources are the New Nobility in a pernicious Neofeudalism enforced by the very government that claims to serve the debt-serfs and tax donkeys.
The overpowering and incessant statist economic management of the American economy, as reflected in the Ex-Im extension mobilization now underway, is causing the engines of capitalist prosperity to shutdown. The main culprit, of course, is our monetary central planners in the Eccles Building. But they are only the leading edge - the exemplar that tells Washington day in and day out that without constant ministrations by agencies of the state, our capitalist economy would continuously under-preform and tumble into the ditch. So what is at stake in the Ex-Im battle is the future of market capitalism itself. If Washington lacks the capacity to say no to the shareholders of a few big US corporations that can be counted on one hand, then the statist predicate will triumph finally and for ever more.
History suggests that previously sound assumptions about financial security and recession-proof sectors may not apply in the next recession.
Poor algos: after they got no love on Monday from the overnight USDJPY selling team which took the all important pair back to the 200 DMA, today, inexplicably (it is a Tuesday after all, and if one can't frontrun a rigged market surging higher on Turbo Tuesday may as well throw in the towel on free money and learn about fundamental analysis) the same overnight USDJPY selling team has pushed the key carry pair to below the 200 DMA, and has dragged US equity futures lower with it for the second day in a row.
Many in Ukraine are talking about major revisions to the Constitution (leading one local journalist to ask – “Why don’t we use the American Constitution? It was written by really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and they’re not using it anymore…”) He’s right. Much of the West, in fact, has descended into the same extractive system as Ukraine. There’s a tiny elite showering itself with free money and political favors at the expense of everyone else. Ukraine may be in the midst of turmoil right now, but they at least hit the big giant reset button and are looking to build something new. The West, meanwhile, continues down its path of more debt, more money printing, more regulations, and less freedom. How long can this really go on without consequence?
Having surrendered our independence for the quick, easy fix, we will inevitably surrender our health, liberty and freedom.
Opinions about the U.S. economy boil down to two views: 1) the recovery is now self-sustaining, meaning that the Federal Reserve can taper and end its unprecedented interventions without hurting growth, or 2) the current uptick in auto sales, new jobs, housing sales, etc. is as good as it gets, and the weak recovery unravels from here. The reality is that nothing has been done to address the structural rot at the heart of the U.S. economy. You keep shoving in the same inputs, and you guarantee the same output: another crash of credit bubbles and all the malinvestments enabled by monetary heroin.
The smart money had a goal, which it now reached via the “multiplier effect.”
Is the New Normal of ever-higher stock valuations sustainable, or will low volatility lead to higher volatility, and intervention to instability? Though we're constantly reassured by financial pundits and the Federal Reserve that the stock market is not a bubble and that valuations are fair, there is substantial evidence that suggests the contrary.
The USD is unchanged; Commodities are unchanged; and Treasury yields are up only 2-3bps... but that didn;t stop July 1st from being a banner day for US equity markets (on the back of missed PMI and ISM data). The Dow, Russell 2000, and S&P closed at record highs but sadly the Dow missed out on 17,000 by a mere 1.5 points (despite the best VIX and AUDJPY manipulation $189 billion of repo liquidity free money can buy). Stocks got their start with yet another epic short squeeze at the open then ramped higher thanks to carry to record-er highs; stalling when it seemed Dow 17,000 was elusive. VIX traded with a 10-handle once again.
As with any drug addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem (or waking up naked in Glasgow train station). It seems HSBC - among a number of other sell-side strategists - are starting to wake up to their undying 'faith' and 'hope' that, based on the world's addiction to free money, there will be a return to the old normal status quo. As HSBC's Chief economist Steophen King notes, "there is an optimism bias, largely reflecting an attachment to pre-crisis growth trends which, post-crisis, have mostly remained out of reach," and they are finally facing up to the fact that "the world economy has succumbed to a lower structural rate of economic growth." But it is RBS that is waving the red flag as they warn of a "sense that this nervous stasis is dulling our perceptions about risk... it feels like 2007 all over again."