It was less than a week ago when Zero Hedge broke the news that for CNBC, 2014 Was The Worst. Year. Ever. Much to the embarassment of CNBC, its staunch defender David Rosenberg, and not to mention its advertisers who realized they overspent substantially for the reach they were promised and received instead, the report promptly went viral. Five days after our Nielsen-sourced report before the Comcast-owned channel announced it would no longer be subject to the humiliation of Zero Hedge periodically revealing its crashing viewership and, as WSJ revealed today, "CNBC will no longer rely on TV ratings specialist Nielsen to measure its daytime audience, beginning later this year. Instead, it has retained marketing and research firm Cogent Reports for the task."
Following a disastrous Manufacturing ISM report last week, today it was the turn for its Service cousin to report. And while it wasn't quite the abysmal faceplant that some had expected the seasonally adjusted number to be, printing at 56.2, down from 59.3 and far below the 58.0 expected (but just above the lowest estimate of 56.0), it still was the biggest miss to expectations since September 2013, and the lowest print since June. And while the details were just as atrocious, with every single ISM component declining in December - something that has not happened since the Great Financial Crisis - a report which literallyh said "Obamacare and wages are still the biggest enemies to profitability", all eyes are focused not so much on the tumble in Business Activity and New Orders, but on Prices, which at 49.5, posted their first contraction since September 2009.
- Average 10-year yield of U.S., Japan and Germany dropped below 1% for the first time ever: Free Money in Bond Markets Shows Global Economy Still Struggling (BBG)
- Brent falls below $52 as oil hits new five and a half year lows (Reuters)
- China Fast-Tracks $1 Trillion in Projects to Spur Growth (BBG)
- Saudi Arabia Raises Price of Main Oil Grade for Asian Buyers (BBG)
- Oilfield Writedowns Loom as Crude Slump Guts Drilling Values (BBG)
- Biggest Oil-Rig Drop Since 2009 Spells Tough Year Ahead (BBG)
- CIA says its inspector general is resigning at end of month (Reuters)
- Pipeline IPOs Climb on Demand for Returns Immune to Oil (BBG)
- Natural Gas No Savior for Investors Seeking Oil Refuge (BBG)
- Euro zone economy ended 2014 in poor shape (Reuters)
David Rosenberg, formerly of Merrill Lynch and currently of Gluskin Sheff, who famously flip-flopped from being a self-described permabear to uber-bull last summer for the one reason that has yet to manifest itself in any way, shape or form, namely declaring that wage inflation as imminent (it wasn't, but perhaps Mr. Rosenberg was merely forecasting the trajectory of his own wages) and generally an end to deflation, has a rhetorical question for his paying clients, as asked in his letter to investors from January 2. To wit: "THIS IS WHAT PASSES FOR ANALYSIS?" We too follow up with an identical question not only for Mr. Rosenberg's clients, but for our own readers.
Another year of putting lipstick on the zombie known as the global economy, kept walking only thanks to $11 trillion in liquidity injections by the world's central banks and tens of trillions of new Chinese credit created out of thin air and promptly misallocated and embezzled, and the results are in. The bottom line: according to Nielsen, is that despite the S&P recording a whopping 53 all time highs, and the Dow rising over 18,000, the channel that was once must watch financial TV for mom and pop, and has since devolved into endless cheerleading of failed policies and rigged markets, namely CNBC, just suffered its worst year in, well, ever.
- U.S. agency gives quiet nod to light oil exports (Reuters)
- China’s Stocks Fall to Pare Biggest Monthly Advance Since 2007 (BBG)
- The Cartel: How BP Used a Secret Chat Room for Insider Tips (BBG)
- BRICs Busted as Stocks Diverge Most on Record on Outlook (BBG)
- Petrobras deadline prompts some bondholders to push for default (Reuters)
- AirAsia Captain at His Happiest When Flying, Family Says (BBG)
- UK housing crisis: brick stocks hit record low (Telegraph)
While the cancellation of 'The Interview' wiped billions off the US Box Office take in 2014 (</sarc>), ticket sales in North America will total roughly $10.5 billion, according to The NY Times, the lowest since 2000 (after inflation). Regal Cinemas and AMX Theatres have seen profits collapse and Carmike Cinemas has plunged to a loss as major movie delays (from Pixar and Universal), "pirating" of several movies (The Expendables 3 and Annie) before their release, and studios suffering one dud after another (Warner Bros.) the 4% YoY decline - for what is ultimately an affordable luxury - suggests the gas-price-savings are going anywhere but discretionary spending (just as we noted previously).
- Shale operaters Goodrich, Oasis Petroleum cut spending for 2015 as oil slides (Reuters)
- Greece to hold elections in January if president vote fails (Reuters)
- Norway’s Shock Rate Cut Drives Krone to Lowest Since 2009 (BBG)
- ‘Severe Downturn’ Threatening Norway, Central Bank Governor Says (BBG)
- Russia’s Fifth Rate Increase Fails to Halt Ruble Slide to Record (BBG)
- SNB Says Deflation Risks Increased as Franc Cap Maintained (BBG)
- China eases bank lending restrictions, PBOC targets 10 trillion yuan in loans for 2014 (Reuters)
- Mobius Says China’s Bull Market Is Just Getting Started (BBG)
- How Wal-Mart Made Its Crumbling China Business Look So Good for So Long (BBG)
After last night's marvelous Bloomberg profile of Bill Gross' last days at PIMCO, we were confident that no written material today could surpass Mary Child's fascinating narrative of the fallen bond king. And then we read Cannell Capital's activist letter to one James J. Cramer, of CNBC and TheStreet director infamy, which is hands down the blockbuster reading material du jour.
- Fall of the Bond King: How Gross Lost Empire as Pimco Cracked (BBG)
- Hong Kong 'Occupy' leaders surrender as pro-democracy protests appear to wither (Reuters)
- Ashton Carter, Ex-Pentagon No. 2, Emerges as Obama Favorite for Defense Secretary (WSJ)
- Oil, the Ruble and Putin Are All Headed for 63. A Russian Joke -- for the Moment (BBG)
- New U.S. oil and gas well November permits tumble nearly 40 percent (Reuters)
- Swedish government on brink of collapse (AJ)
- China says Britain has no moral responsibility for Hong Kong (Reuters)
- Indian Labs Deleted Test Results for U.S. Drugs, Documents Show (BBG)
- Yellen Inherits Greenspan’s Conundrum as Long Rates Sink (BBG)
- West African Mining Projects Take Hit From Ebola Crisis (WSJ)
- Saudi oil policy uncertainty unleashes the conspiracy theorists (Reuters)
- Senate Rejection of Keystone XL Measure Sets Up 2015 Showdown (BBG)
- Ferguson, Missouri, remains on edge ahead of grand jury report (Reuters)
- Putin Said to Stun Advisers by Backing Corruption Crackdown (BBG)
- Italian ‘Invasion’ Has Swiss Fuming as Immigration Vote Looms (BBG)
- Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff (WSJ)
Economic forecasting is a dangerous job. As Mark Twain put it in his novel Pudd’nhead Wilson, “October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.” Every wrong prediction could doom a career, or a bank account. Prudence and humility are the only sound tools for building one’s reputation. The talking heads on CNBC appear to know neither. They pledge allegiance to the flag of the tinkering bureaucracy. It explains the loss of ratings, and loss of confidence in the ability of “experts” to see what’s coming down the tracks. Refusing to learn from mistakes will lead to future blunders. Pundits that don’t heed this message are doomed to fail.
This is the net result of commoditization: there's no premium for commoditized capital, labor, goods, services or content.
- No Happy Ending for Investors in Central Bank Fairy Tale (BBG)
- Ebola Response Strains Hospitals (WSJ)
- Obama, foreign military chiefs, to thrash out Islamic State plans (Reuters)
- Draghi’s ‘Whatever It Takes’ Plan on Trial at EU Court (BBG)
- Too-Big-to-Fail Banks Face Up to $870 Billion Capital Gap (BBG)
- Iran’s Message to World: You Need Us to Fight Islamists (BBG)
- Facing new oil glut, Saudis avoid 1980s mistakes to halt price slide (Reuters)
- Ukraine Grannies Outprice Banks on Hryvnia Black Market (BBG)
- HK police use sledgehammers, chainsaws to clear protest barriers, open road (Reuters)
- Gazprom Quarterly Net Rises 13%, Misses Estimate on Ukraine Debt (BBG)
The punchline: this was the lowest rated month in the core demographic since February 1993! In fact, in CNBC's entire Nielsen-rated history, there is only one month in history when demo viewership was lower, back in November 1992, when demo viewership was just 1000 less at 27,000.