After Nearly Two Years Of Searching, TrimTabs Still Can't Figure Out Who Is Buying Stocks

A year after Charles Biderman's provocative post first appeared on Zero Hedge, in which he asked just who is doing all the buying of stocks as the money was obviously not coming from retail investors (and came up with one very notable suggestion), today Maria Bartiromo invited the TrimTabs head once again (conveniently in CNBC's lowest rated show, during Christmas Eve eve, at a time when perhaps 5 people would be watching) in an interview which disclosed that after more than a year of searching, Biderman still has no idea who actually buying. In response to Bartiromo's question if the retail investor, who left after the flash crash (thank you SEC), Biderman responds what every Zero Hedger has known for 33 weeks: "Retail investors are not coming back to the US. Those investors that are investing are buying global equities and are buying commodities. We are seeing lots money going into commodity ETF funds: gold, silver..." and the even more unpleasant summation: "individuals have been selling, companies are net selling, insider selling and new offerings are swamping any  buyback and any cash M&A activity since QE 2 was announced. Pension funds and hedge funds don't really have that much cash to invest. So what nobody's asking is what happens when QE 2 stops: if the only buyer is the Fed, and the Fed stops buying, I don't know what is going to happen...When I was on your show a year ago I was saying the same thing: we can't figure out who is doing the buying it has to be the government, and people said I was nuts. Now the government is admitting it is rigging the market." Cue Bartiromo jaw dropping.

As for the simple math of where the money is actually going:

"Money flows come out of income, take home pay of everybody plus money that came from real estate is down about $1 trillion a year. It peaked in the 3rd quarter of 2008, at $7 trillion, that's take home pay for everybody who pays taxes plus the money that came from real estate. It has now bottomed at $5.9 trillion. We are still down $1.1 trillion in money that people have to spend each year, that 16%. And some of the money that is leaving equity markets we think is going to pay bills."

Much more CNBC non-grata truthiness in the full clip, in which Biderman suggest what Zero Hedge readers realized over a month ago, that in June QE3 will likely have at least a partial municipal bond focus.


Update: Charles has just sent in the following addendum to his CNBC appearance:

Due to time constraints, what I didn’t get to address on CNBC today is what will happen after the Fed is either successful or not successful with QE2. The Fed is rigging the market by digitally creating money that is used to buy financial institutions assets —  currently Treasuries, last year all kinds of toxic waste. What will happen when the Fed stops buying assets?

What the Fed is hoping is that QE2 actually works and the economy starts growing at 3+%. If that happens, unlikely as it is, then the Fed will end its QE activities. But for the stock market, if the only source of buying power, the Fed, withdraws its support, the market is likely to plunge to well below fair value. At that point perhaps some new source of money , i.e., China, et al will be able to buy US assets on the cheap. 

The Fed is legally mandated to manage the economy, not the stock market.  If the Fed’s QE is successful and the trickle down impact of higher equities creates a sustainable recovery, the Fed will gladly sacrifice the stock market to its legal mandate to manage the economy.

A more likely outcome is that while stocks will be higher by the end of QE2, economic growth will not be sustainable without government aid. That would then require additional QE. Stock prices could then keep rising for a while. At some unknowable now moment in time, unless the economy starts to grow again, no amount of QE can work forever in keeping the current stock market bubble from bursting.