As Bill Clinton once famously stated; "What is....is" and while the current market "IS" within a bullish trend currently, it doesn't mean that this will always be the case. This is why, as investors, we must modify Clinton's line to: "What is...is...until it isn't." That thought is the foundation of this weekend's "Things To Ponder." In order to recognize when market dynamics have changed for the worse, we must be aware of the risks that are currently mounting.
The global crisis that began in 2007/8 has unmasked many unsustainable economic dispositions. Unfortunately, the proper conclusions have still not been arrived at, as evidenced by the fact that the same old Keynesian recipes that have failed over and over again are being implemented on an even grander scale. One must not be misled by the claims of 'austerity' being imposed, as this has evidently little bearing on government spending as such, but is rather an attempt to squeeze more blood out of an already shriveled turnip, namely what remains of the private sector. Puerto Rico seems – at least so far – not any different in that respect.
The default cycle that should have occurred, given historical patterns of issuance cycles, has morphed (thanks to the Fed) into a refinancing cycle; but while DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach suggests that fundamentals are supportive, "the valuation of junk bonds as a category is at its all-time overvalued versus long-time treasury bonds." So despite Yellen exclaiming that she sees no bubbles, one of the world's largest bond fund managers has never seen corporate bonds (investment grade and high yield) more expensive. Gundlach goes on to note he has sold some Apple (but believes it will remain range-bound), is baffled by the valuation of Chipotle, and sees 10Y Treasury yields dropping to 2.5% or lower.
Back in the years just before the previous housing bubble burst (not to be confused with the current, even more acute one), one person did the math on subprime, realized that the housing - and credit bubble - collapse was imminent, and warned anyone who cared to listen - almost nobody did. That man was Kyle Bass, and because he had the guts to put the money where his mouth was, he made a lot of money. Fast forward to 2014 when subprime is all the rage again and the subprime bubble is bigger than ever: it may comes as a surprise to some that in 2013, subprime debt was one of the best performing fixed income instruments, returning a whopping 17% in a year when most other debt instruments generated negative returns. And this time, while Kyle Bass is busy - collecting nickels (each costing a dime) perhaps - it is someone else who has stepped into Bass' Cassandra shoes: that someone is Jeff Gundlach. “These properties are rotting away,”
Jeff Gundlach recently warned that the trade that could inflict the most pain to the most people is a significant move down in yields (and potential bull flattening to the yield curve). Citi's FX Technicals group laid out numerous reasons why this is entirely possible (technically and fundamentally) but despite this, investors remain entirely enamored with stocks and, as the following chart shows, Treasury Bond sentiment now stands at 20-year extremes of bearishness.
On the heels of his less-than-optimistic presentation, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach tells Europe's Finanz und Wirtschaft "he's concerned about the growing amount of speculation" and draws a parallel between today’s markets and the dot-com boom of the late Nineties. This excellent interview takes the themes of his recent conference call and extends them as he warns "In the over thirty years I’ve been in the financial investment industry, I don’t recall a single year where I saw the year begin with the consensus being so solidified in its thinking across virtually every asset class." His biggest worry (for investors, as opposed to his funds), "the most unthinkable things happen this year and that is a basic pain trade that forces people into treasury bonds."
"Bond King" Bill Gross may not have had a good year following over $40 billion in redemptions from his $250 billion Total Return Fund, but another aspirational Bond King, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach, had an even worse year on an relative basis, when his Total Return Bond Fund saw $6 billion in redemptions ending the year at $30.9 billion in AUM following seven consecutive months of withdrawals. So in his attempt to start the new year on better footing, here is his first webcast (as usual open to the public), titled "Let the Race Begin! 2014 Markets: Year of the Horse", in which as usual Jeff will discuss the economy, the markets and his outlook for the best investment strategiest of 2014. Let's hope that for bond fund manager, that 2014 is not just another "year of the donkey", as was the case in the past year which everyone managing duration would rather forget.
It's been one of the worst years for gold in a generation. A flood of outflows from gold ETFs, endless tax increases on gold imports in India, and the mirage (albeit a convincing one in the eyes of many) of a supposedly improving economy in the US have all contributed to the constant hammering gold took in 2013. Perhaps worse has been the onslaught of negative press our favorite metal has suffered. It's felt overwhelming at times and has pushed even some die-hard goldbugs to question their beliefs... not a bad thing, by the way. To us, a lot of it felt like piling on, especially as the negative rhetoric ratcheted up. This is why it's important to balance the one-sided message typically heard in the mainstream media with other views. Here are some of those contrarian voices, all of which have put their money where their mouth is...
At 4:15 pm Eastern, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach will be discussing the economy, the markets and his outlook for the future. Readers can register for the webcast at the following link, while for those stuck with phones can dial-in at (877) 407-6050 or (201) 689-8022 international.
End America’s central bank because it caused the crashes of 2008, 1987, and 1929 and will blunder again. That’s what many critics are saying about the Federal Reserve System (the Fed), which turns 100 on December 23. They note that on the Fed’s watch America has endured numerous bubbles, crashes, and inflationary cycles that have greatly devalued the dollar. The Fed, they say, has caused or aggravated several crashes. “If you say the goal of the Fed was to prevent calamities, then you have to say that it has been a failure,” says William A. Fleckenstein. “History and current experience,” Joe Salerno adds, “reveal to us that groups endowed with a legal monopoly over any area of the economy are prone to use it to the hilt to enrich themselves, their friends and allies.”
The third stage of bull markets, the mania phase, can last longer and go farther that logic would dictate. However, the data suggests that the risk of a more meaningful reversion is rising. It is unknown, unexpected and unanticipated events that strike the crucial blow that begins the market rout. Unfortunately, due to the increased impact of high frequency and program trading, reversions are likely to occur faster than most can adequately respond to. This is the danger that exists today. Are we in the third phase of a bull market? Most who read this article will say "no." However, those were the utterances made at the peak of every previous bull market cycle.
- Yellen to defend Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy (Reuters)
- Japan growth slows on global weakness (WSJ)
- Eurozone third-quarter growth falters (FT)
- Fed Debates Its Low-Rate Peg (Hilsenrath)
- Yellen: Economy Still Needs Fed Aid (WSJ)
- ‘Obamacare’ launch fiasco rouses sceptics (FT)
- DoubleLine's Gundlach says U.S. equities 'only game in town' (Reuters)
- Indian Inflation Exceeding Estimates Adds Rate-Rise Pressure (BBG)
- HUD Said to Fail in Bid to Sell $450 Million of Mortgages (BBG)
- Boeing machinists reject labor deal on 777X by 67 percent (Reuters)
Reflecting on the collapse of the USD, the surge in gold, the Chinese ratings agency downgrade, and the groundhog-day-like world in which the US government (and markets) live, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach warns that "America's credibility is slowly eroding." In his typical manner, Gundlach rapidly and efficiently covers a lot of ground in these brief clips; from the growing skepticism of the rest of the world towards the US' full faith and credit, to no end in sight for QE and reignition of bond inflows under an even more interventionist Yellen, to his views on Tesla, Google, and Apple.
Today at 4:15 pm Eastern, Doubleline's Jeff Gundlach will be sharing his latest outlook on the markets via an audio-only webcast, and as usual addressing what he believes are the best investment strategies. The audio for this webcast can be accessed at the link below (link to register here). Phone lines are be available for dial-in at (877) 407-1869 or for international calls (201) 689-8044.
Yesterday, when in the aftermath of the Fed's "shocking" announcement bond yields plunged, the bond kings, both old and new couldn't get to a media outlet fast enough to express their euphoria over the end of the selloff. Gross tweeted immediately that he was "not bragging but what did we tell you" while Gundlach added that he "sees a change in Psychology with the 10 Year below 2.7%." It is unclear just what psychological change he was referring to, because looking at the market it was one of resumed selling: as of moments ago, the 10 Year has retraced over a third of its plunge and is back to 2.75% and rising once again; and the 30Y has retraced over 50% of its gains at 3.80%. We are going to need another un-Taper soon.