Powerplant by powerplant
Buffett Joins Team Whitney; Sees Muni Pain Ahead As He Unwinds Half Of His Bullish CDS Exposure PrematurelySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/20/2012 21:42 -0400
Just under two years ago, Meredith Whitney made a much maligned, if very vocal call, that hundreds of US municipalities will file for bankruptcy. She also put a timestamp on the call, which in retrospect was her downfall, because while she will ultimately proven 100% correct about the actual event, the fact that she was off temporally (making it seem like a trading call instead of a fundamental observation) merely had a dilutive impact of the statement. As a result she was initially taken seriously, causing a big hit to the muni market, only to be largely ignored subsequently even following several prominent California bankruptcies. This is all about to change as none other than Warren Buffett has slashed half of his entire municipal exposure, in what the WSJ has dubbed a "red flag" for the municipal-bond market. Perhaps another way of calling it is the second coming of Meredith Whitney's muni call, this time however from an institutionalized permabull.
Here are my thoughts from the VALUEx Vail conference. The idea for this conference came to me when I attended VALUEx Zurich, organized by Guy Spier and John Mihaljevic in February 2011 (you can register for VALUEx Zurich 2013, here). The thought of spending three days learning and sharing ideas with smart, like-minded value investors felt instantly right. Investing on some level is a never-ending pursuit to get better. Most of us are locked up in air-conditioned offices where we learn through reading SEC filings, magazines, blogs, etc.
Keep kicking that can....
That the US government's activities as a share of GDP have gone from well under 10% at the beginning of the last century to over 40% today – and will go over 50% by the time Obamacare is fully implemented – makes it clear that this country is now operating on principles that run completely contrary to those that promote success and economic well-being. The consequence of continuing to operate on this model will be a steady decline in the quality of life for most Americans, while favoring a ruling elite that produces nothing… except more roadblocks.
The health of the economy is driven by after tax income. We need a big tax increase that does not reduce current income. My plan.
Life ain’t fair
Here We Go: Moody's Downgrade Is Out - Morgan Stanley Cut Only 2 Notches, To Face $6.8 Billion In Collateral CallsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/21/2012 17:26 -0400
Here we come:
- MOODY'S CUTS 4 FIRMS BY 1 NOTCH
- MOODY'S CUTS 10 FIRMS' RATINGS BY 2 NOTCHES
- MOODY'S CUTS 1 FIRM BY 3 NOTCHES
- MORGAN STANLEY L-T SR DEBT CUT TO Baa1 FROM A2 BY MOODY'S
- MOODY'S CUTS MORGAN STANLEY 2 LEVELS, HAD SEEN UP TO 3
- MORGAN STANLEY OUTLOOK NEGATIVE BY MOODY'S
- MORGAN STANLEY S-T RATING CUT TO P-2 FROM P-1 BY MOODY'S
- BANK OF AMERICA L-T SR DEBT CUT TO Baa2 BY MOODY'S;OUTLOOK NEG
So the reason for the delay were last minute negotiations, most certainly involving extensive monetary explanations, by Morgan Stanley's Gorman (potentially with Moody's investor Warren Buffett on the call) to get only a two notch downgrade. And Wall Street wins again.
- Greek radical leftist SYRIZA leader Tsipras says will not join coalition government (as expected)
- Egypt Islamists claim presidency as army tightens grip (Reuters)
- French Socialists vow reforms after big poll win (Reuters)
- Greeks Back European Bailout (WSJ)
- France, Socialists Win a Solid Majority (WSJ)
- Denmark Warns over Pressure on Krone (FT)
- Obama to press Putin on Syria at G20 amid skepticism (Reuters)... Putin to smile
- China Home Prices Fall in Record No. of Cities (Bloomberg)
- Europe Gets Emerging Market Crisis Ultimatum As G-20 Meet (Bloomberg)
- Wolfgang Münchau – What Happens if Angela Merkel Does Get Her Way (FT)
What makes for a good investment is price. Price is everything. You need to receive value in excess of the price paid. An investment’s value is the amount of real cash its underlying assets can reasonably be expected to deliver to its shareholders in the future, discounted for its risk – period. The investment’s price will either be higher than its value (an uncompensated risk), the same as (neutral) or lower than its value (a compensated risk). But since value is an imprecise measurement, the best one can do is to build in a margin of safety by buying investments that are at deep discounts to a reasonable estimated value. Too many investors let an investment’s short-term price movements, or perceptions of short-term price movements drive their decisions. But since short-term price moves are unknowable, irrelevant and independent of investment merits, this is not worthy of any time spent analyzing. If short-term price moves were knowable, then a cadre of top-performing chartists and market technicians would have far greater net worths than Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and the Saudi Royal Family. They would need only apply leverage to their process and repeat it a few times in order to accrue hundreds of billions of dollars. Question: How many market technicians occupy the Forbes 400? Answer: Zero. Why? Because successfully guessing future price moves based on charts, MACD indicators or tea leaves is not a repeatable process. Investors who do this generally have poor outcomes because they are pursuing answers to the wrong question.
The right question is: where is the value?
Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and others besides have fallen into the trap of bribing their electorates with promises that become ever more unsustainable. In each of these states, expectations have been created that cannot be met and that cannot now be undone. This is surely a recipe for social unrest. These will not be the only countries to succumb to failure. The national debt, the unaffordable long-term cost of social security, health care and a myriad other entitlements and the mounting evidence of the insolvent state point to the same outcome for the UK and the US. Failure is ensured; the more pressing question is, what happens next?
Experienced investors try to avoid the "confirmation bias" trap by asking what supports the other side of the trade. Confirmation bias is our instinct to find data to support our position once it is taken. To counter this bias, we must attempt to build a plausible case against our position. If the effort is sincere, we gain a fuller understanding of the market we are playing (or perhaps avoiding). That the global economy is going to heck in a handbasket is self-evident. If you over-weight anecdotal "on the ground" evidence and fade the ginned-up official statistics, it is obvious the global slowdown is picking up speed in Europe and China, two of the world's largest "linchpin" economies.
John Maynard Keynes, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett all said or implied that gold was a barbarous relic. But what’s the barbarous relic? The precious metal that shows prices without a veneer of manipulation, or the paper currency that smudges the true state of supply and demand through money printing, thus misleading markets and society? Charlie Munger says gold is not for civilised people, but in reality gold may be the most civilised currency of all — because it allows civilised people to purchase insurance against the risk of civilisation failing.
Explaining why and how the global monetary system is failing, why it is too late to stop, what will come next, and why the crisis is only financial – not commercial.
- China Industrial Output Growth Slows Sharply In April (WSJ)
- Indian industrial output shrinks unexpectedly (AFP)
- China’s Inflation Moderates, Adding Room for Easing (Bloomberg)... a nickel for every "imminent RRR-cut" prediction
- Drew Built 30-Year JPMorgan Career Embracing Risk (Bloomberg)
- Spain Offered Time to Curb Deficit (FT)
- France Entrepreneurs Flee From Hollande Wealth Rejection (BBG)
- Venizelos Eyes Unity Deal After Agreement With Democratic Left (Ekathimerini)
- Berlin Reaches Out to the Periphery (FT)
- Bernanke Speaks About Risks From End of Pro-Growth Plans (Bloomberg)