Howard Marks

The New "Hope"

What you think about the market doesn’t matter. What everyone thinks about the market (the consensus) doesn’t matter. What matters is what everyone thinks that everyone thinks about the market, and the way you get ahead of this game is to track the “Missionary statements” of politicians, pundits, and bankers made through the four media microphones where the Common Knowledge of markets is created: The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, and CNBC. Today the investment hope that has crystalized into an investment theme is the notion that soon, just around the corner now, perhaps as a result of the next mystery-shrouded meeting of the world’s central bankers, perhaps as a result of the U.S. election this November, we will enjoy a coordinated global infrastructure spending boom.

Hedge Fund Billionaire Slams Democracy, Says The "Tyranny Of The Majority Is An Unhealthy Development"

In his latest letter to investors, OakTree Capital's Howard Marks goes political (slamming Trump's tariffs and Bernie's minimum wage machinations), shedding some blinding light on the economic reality of America, the dismal failure (and increasing impotence) of central bankers, and the ongoing "tryanny of the majority" warning that if everyone wants to tax-the-rich, soon there will be no rich to tax. As he concludes, short-term fixes simply cannot create wealth out of thin air (see Venezuela), as Churchill once said "for a nation to try to tax [or stimulate or devalue] itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

Is Trump's "Recession Warning" Really All Wrong?

There is currently no evidence of a recession now, or even in the few months ahead. There never is. While Trump’s call of a “massive recession” may seem far-fetched based on today’s economic data points, no one was calling for a recession in early 2000 or 2007 either. By the time the data is adjusted, and the eventual recession is revealed, it won’t matter as the damage will have already been done.

"Manic Depressive" Market Needs "Wholesale Panic" Before It Bottoms

"The market is manic depressive and it swings from seeing only the positives to seeing only the negatives," notes the world’s biggest distressed-debt investor, Howard Marks, but for now, as Bloomberg reports, the extremes (in risk pricing and sentiment) that usually signal opportunity (or capitulation) are not present. As Guggenheim's Scott Minerd warns, "wholesale panic" is what's needed before the market turns, and as RBS notes, "1,800 might come pretty quick."

Howard Marks Warns "Investor Behavior Has Entered A Zone Of Imprudence"

"Security prices are not low. I wouldn’t say high, but full. So people are thinking cautiously but they’re acting bullish and they’re behaving in a pro-risk fashion. While investor behavior hasn’t sunk to the depths seen just before the crisis, in many ways I feel it has entered the zone of imprudence... The market is not an accommodating machine. It will not go where you want it to go just because you need it to go there."

Your Brain Is Killing Your Returns

In the end, we are just human. Despite the best of our intentions, it is nearly impossible for an individual to be devoid of the emotional biases that inevitably lead to poor investment decision making over time. This is why all great investors have strict investment disciplines that they follow to reduce the impact of human emotions. Take a step back from the media and Wall Street commentary for a moment and make an honest assessment of the financial markets today. Does the current extension of the financial markets appear to be rational? Are individuals current assessing the "possibilities" or the "probabilities" in the markets?

World's Largest Leveraged ETF Halts Orders, Citing "Liquidity Constraints"

First The Bank of Japan destroyed the Japanese bond market, and then, back in May we warned that The Bank of Japan had 'broken' the stock market. Now, it appears the all too obvious consequences of being the sole provider of buying power in an antirely false market are coming home to roost as Nomura reports the "temporary suspension" of new orders for 3 leveraged ETFs - the largest in the world - citing "liquidity of the underlying Nikkei 225 futures market."

Weekend Reading: Fed Rate Failure

The current surge in deflationary pressures is not just due to the recent fall in oil prices, but rather a global epidemic of slowing economic growth. While Janet Yellen addressed this "disinflationary" wave during her post-meeting press conference, the Fed still maintains the illusion of confidence that economic growth will return shortly. Unfortunately, this has been the Fed's "Unicorn" since 2011 as annual hopes of economic recovery have failed to materialize.

Frontrunning: September 10

  • Compare: S&P 500 Futures Advance After U.S. Stocks Ignored Global Rally (BBG)
  • And contrast: Global Stock Rally Grinds to a Halt (BBG)
  • And be very confused: Global Stocks Lower on U.S. Interest Rate Uncertainty (WSJ)
  • Hilsenrath: Fed Wavers on September Rate Rise (WSJ)
  • Time for more QE: Abe Adviser Says Next Month Good Opportunity for BOJ Easing (BBG)
  • Brazil downgraded to junk rating by S&P, deepening woes (Reuters)
  • Kiwi dollar tumbles after New Zealand cuts interest rates (Reuters)

Was Monday's ETF Collapse Just A Warmup?

During Monday's flurry of tripped circuit breakers and flash crashing mayhem, ETF investors learned the hard way that Howard Marks was precisely correct when he warned that ETFs "can't be more liquid than the underlying and we know the underlying can become highly illiquid." The question now, is whether subsequent flash crashes will trigger even more spectacular divergences between fair value and ETF unit prices on the way to proving, once and for all, that ETFs may indeed be the new financial weapons of mass destruction.