by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 11:55 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Now that the Chairman’s new mandate is not to prevent disinflation but to generate inflation, he may soon be patting himself on the back… but for all the wrong reasons. As the Bloomberg chart of the day indicates, the world may very soon see a surge in wheat and corn prices, pushing such staples as bread and corn flakes through the roof. The reason, in addition to Bernanke’s flawed monetary policy: “bad weather and a shortage of farmland threaten to create supply shock waves.” As the chart below shows the price of a basket of grains and palm oil has risen almost 50 percent since the 50-day moving average passed through the 100-day line. On the two previous times this occurred the past decade, prices about doubled or tripled over the following two years before peaking. In other words, if history is any indicator, we may see a quadrupling of input prices from here as the last “food inflation” bubble is recreated. Are double digit prices for a loaf of bread in the immediate future for what will soon be a hungry US middle (what’s left of it), and not-so middle class? Quite possibly. Luckily, all their stock gains should more than offset this upcoming price shock. Or not.
More from Bloomberg:
Drought in Russia and other parts of Europe, excessive rains in Canada, dry weather in the U.S. and flooding in Pakistan prompted the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to pare its harvest estimates. The agency forecast a 37.4 million metric ton shortfall in grains production for 2010, which would be the first deficit in at least three years. Global production of grains will be 2.216 billion tons this season, compared with demand of 2.254 billion tons, the FAO said last month.
“Our main concern is the low level of stocks,” Abdolreza Abbassian, secretary of the trade markets division of the agency’s Intergovernmental Group on Grains, said in a phone interview from Rome. “We don’t have enough buffer in the event of a major shortfall in production next year.”
After October and November saw a series of basic staples opening limit up on the commodity exchanges, it appears that the recent brief respite of price moderation may soon be coming to an end:
Wheat futures surged
by Optrader - December 12th, 2010 11:21 pm
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by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 11:06 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Following on our earlier observations courtesy of Sentiment Trader that the Nasdaq has hit its the most extreme bullish reading since 2005, and the dumb money confidence is the highest it has been in the same period of time, we now get confirmation from Bespoke that indeed stocks are now merely floating on a see of excess liquidity and nothing else. As Bespoke notes: “The chart below highlights the level at which the S&P 500 has traded relative to its 50-day moving average (DMA) over the last year (measured in standard deviations). As shown in the chart, today’s close puts the S&P 500 into ’extreme overbought’ territory (2+ standard deviations above 50-DMA) and at its most overbought level since November 2009.” Expect momentum chasers and dumb money speculators to go apeshit and to buy anything and everything in sight on this latest observation.
And while discussing the most euphoric market seen in years, here are John Hussman just released observations on market conditions:
As of last week, the Market Climate for stocks was characterized by an overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome that has historically been hostile for stocks. Clearly, we can’t observe what the outcome will be in this particular instance. We can’t rule out the possibility that investors will continue to speculate on the hope of ever larger deficits and some further combination of illegal or irresponsible Fed actions. From our standpoint, the return/risk profile of the equity market is the most negative that we ever observe historically, so we are willing to speculate neither on the hope for government wisdom, nor on the hope for government recklessness. Investors who are convinced that monetary and fiscal actions will drive the market ever higher can easily offset our hedges by establishing exposure to the S&P 500 or more speculative alternatives. What I can’t do on behalf of those investors is violate our discipline and take a speculative exposure in an environment where the historical evidence indicates an extraordinarily hostile return-to-risk tradeoff.
Our objective remains to significantly outperform our benchmarks over the complete market cycle, with smaller periodic losses. I recognize that it has not been satisfactory simply to lose less than the S&P, but with smaller drawdowns, since the 2007 peak. Still, it would be an understatement to say this has been
Great Atlantic And Pacific Supermarket Chain Files Chapter 11, Cites Excess Leverage And Margin Pressures Among Bankruptcy Causes
by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 10:59 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
And another one bites the dust. Montvale, NJ based grocery chain Great Atlantic and Pacific has filed for bankruptcy, pretty much as had been expected for the past week. The 101-year-old operator of 395 supermarkets and other stores, filed for bankruptcy after failing to turn around its business amid increased competition from wholesale clubs and drugstores. A&P, based in Montvale, New Jersey, listed assets of $2.5 billion and debts of $3.2 billion in its Chapter 11 filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York. The company has 41,000 employees, 95 percent of whom are covered by union agreements, according to the filing. And among the reasons for the filing, most notably ridiculous leverage incurred with the stupid purchase of Pathmark 3 years prior, is, you guess it: margin pressure. “Margin pressure imposed by declining operating cashflow has amplified the bottom line effects of the Debtors’ leveraged balance sheet and significant legacy costs….A&P, like many supermarket operators, continues to cope with the recent economic decline and reduced customer spending while running on narrow profit margins and facing intense competition.” What? Reduced consumer spending? Margin pressure? Huh? Not according to the Chairman, who says inflation and margin collapse is merely in the eye of the beholder: the economic central planners would never allow this, and any bankruptcies that prove the contrary should be ignored and promptly forgotten.
Expect some serious weakness in grocery and supermarket stores tomorrow as a little piece of reality creeps it way into what we earlier classified as one of the most overbought markets in the five years.
Full first day affidavit below. Read it closely – many more such comparables will soon come to the fore as the Chairman succeeds in pushing input costs higher.
by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 8:09 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
A look at the week ahead
US stimulus and activity The Senate votes on the fiscal package Monday at 3:00 pm. Assuming it passes, the House of Representatives is likely to vote later in the week. Congress plans to adjourn for the year December 17. Fiscal policy remains very important for the medium term USD outlook due to the building tension between stronger demand and potentially widening twin deficits. There will also be some focus on the Philly Fed and Empire surveys next week, which sent a very divergent message on US manufacturing activity last month. Also next week, there will be $24 worth of Fed-given liquidity courtesy of 4 POMOs on every day except Tuesday.
Central banks Following the Fed’s resumption of QE in November, this week’s FOMC meeting will be quiet. Elsewhere, central banks meetings are taking place in Chile, Colombia, India, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Both the CBC in Chile and the Riksbank in Sweden will hike by 25 bps, in line with consensus, reflecting a desire by these central banks to continue normalizing policy rates given relatively strong growth. Central banks in Colombia, India, Norway, and Switzerland will remain on hold, with the SNB especially important to watch given that EUR/CHF is close to its historic lows on the back of ongoing tensions in the Euro zone.
EU Summit EU leaders aim to agree a limited EU treaty change in order to set up a permanent rescue mechanism for countries in financial difficulty. Foreign affairs ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday (13-14) under various formats will prepare the summit’s draft conclusions.
United States Senate The Senate votes on on the fiscal package Monday at 3:00 pm. Assuming it passes, the House of Representatives is likely to vote later in the week. Congress plans to adjourn for the year December 17.
India WPI (Nov) We expect WPI inflation to come in at 7.6%, above the consensus expectation of 7.5% but significantly lower than the 8.6% in October, mainly due to base effects.
UK CPI (Nov) We forecast 0.2% mom inflation in November, a decline from the 0.3% mom pace in October. Consensus expects inflation to remain unchanged from its October level.
Who’s Buying Corporate Bonds, And Why Did The Household Sector, Contrary To Expectations, End Up Dumping $130 Billion In Bonds In Q3?
by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 6:56 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
That is the question BofA’s Hans Mikkelsen tries to answer looking at last week’s Z.1 statement. It is well known by now that the biggest beneficiary of the persistent equity outflows have been inflows into corporate bonds, primarily of the Investment Grade variety, as investors continue to distrust the equity markets. Yet to its surprise, BofA finds that the biggest source of capital for corporate and foreign bonds was not the household sector, but rather commercial banks, and specifically foreign banking offices. As to the “household” sector, which is the key place where retail is traditionally hidden, due to its status as a placeholder plug: it was the biggest seller of corporate bonds selling an annualized $541 billion of paper in Q3. How this number makes any sense in light of all the other data we have been getting recently is yet to be explained. Yet was is even more surprising is that corporate stocks, which ended Q3 about 10% higher than at the start of the quarter, saw net sales of over $80 billion annualized… How that led to an increase in prevailing prices is a riddle, wrapped in mystery, contained inside the Fed’s ES/SPY purchasing JV with Citadel.
More from BofA:
Commercial banks emerged as the biggest (by far) net purchaser of US corporate and foreign bonds in Q3, according to Fed Flow of Funds data. Within commercial banks, foreign banking offices in the US accounted for the bulk of purchases ($440bn annualized, or roughly $110bn during Q3) while bank holding companies purchased the rest. We doubt that foreign banks were this active in corporate bonds and conjecture that a good portion of these purchases took place in foreign assets such as (non-US) US$ sovereign and supranationals (these are included in the category “corporate and foreign bonds”), where net issuance spiked in September. Mutual funds and life insurance companies continued to accumulate significant amounts of corporate and foreign bonds while Households, funding corporations and money market funds were the biggest sellers. Life insurance companies stepped up their purchases of corporate and foreign bonds significantly in Q3 while reducing their purchases of equities. Mutual funds significantly increased their purchases of all debt asset classes in Q3 while Pension funds continued a relatively unchanged strategy of purchasing mainly Treasuries and some corporate and foreign bonds while selling
by ilene - December 12th, 2010 6:43 pm
Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon
An interactive feature at The Atlantic, "This Is What America’s Manufacturing Story Looks Like," shows just how much things have changed in what used to be the world’s industrial powerhouse.
We’re number…5! We’re number…5!
Another reason to buy stocks? [Editor's note: lol].
by Zero Hedge - December 12th, 2010 5:59 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
Below is Erik Nielsen’s latest dose of European permabullishness. At this point it is pretty much pointless to keep track of who is who at Goldman – the last attempt to reignite “The Ponz” is going gull blast, and every single person has forsaken their credibility in order to pitch the propaganda line. How Goldman’s strategists pretend to be even remotely relevant any more is a mystery to anyone. The bottom line, and cutting through all the bullshit, is that Germany will do almost everything to keep the Euro, and thus import the periphery’s monetary weakness, keeping its exports cheep, absent a fiscal union, no matter what the petrified bureaucrat Schauble says. Luckily Angela Merkel gets it… for now. Which is why all those who were expecting the WSJ interview with the German finance minister to push the EURUSD higher in Monday trading are in for a disappointment judging by the early action in the pair.
From Erik Nielsen
It’s a beautiful winter day here in Chiswick today: cold and crisp and high blue sky. For Northern Europe, you couldn’t ask for more in mid-December. And Europe is still standing; here’s the way I see it:
- Merkel’s and Sarkozy’s statements on Friday provide a welcome return to the German-French leadership of Europe.
- Whatever scepticism one might have had, one cannot doubt the political commitment to the European project – and we haven’t yet seen even half the intrusive measures implemented elsewhere.
- Last week provided a mixed bag of data – still strong, but less clear-cut than expected.
- The European Commission has – finally – come around to accept a more appropriate accounting of payments to pension funds. Good for – particularly – Central Europe.
- Lots of great feedback on our numbers for Euro-zone financing needs in Thursday’s European Weekly Analyst; but look out for the definitions used.
- Next week will see the last EU summit of the year; we’ll get approval on the permanent rescue mechanism.
- The Irish parliament is scheduled to debate the overall package (the conditionality) on Wednesday.
- Euro-zone data this coming week will focus on the PMIs; they should move slightly higher.
- UK data this coming week includes inflation (3.1%) and unemployment numbers.
- The Swiss National Bank is likely to leave rates unchanged at their meeting this week; their monetary policy assessment is likely to be
by ilene - December 12th, 2010 5:11 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
The biggest piece of news in Thursday’s Z1 statement was not that consumers continue to deleverage, that corporate cash levels are at $1.9 trillion (of which $1 trillion is financial and half of the rest is held offshore: maybe instead of copying Zero Hedge charts, the WSJ could have actually focused on the story behind the headlines) or that the stock market continues to be the only manipulated delta in household net worth (even as wealth in real terms is dropping). A far more relevant and important data highlight has to do with the only thing that actually matters for the reflation of the monetary bubble: namely the fact that the contraction in the shadow banking system is continuing. Or so was the conventional wisdom. As of September 30, Bernanke has successfully stopped the net decline of monetary aggregates even when including the massive shadow banking system.
As we have long claimed, every action by the Fed, every attempt at reflation, every bond purchase directly, and ES purchase indirectly courtesy of Citadel, have had the sole goal of counteracting the impact of the collapsing shadow banking liabilities. Compared to shadow liabilities, which topped out at $21 trillion in March of 2008, all other monetary aggregates are irrelevant: this includes both their representation in bank balance sheets, such as traditional banking liabilities and the broadest representation of money stock tracked by the Fed, M2 (since as of 2006 M3 is no longer tracked due to the egregious costs of keeping track of this data). And the biggest, and so far most credible, argument that deflationists have had, is that the shadow banking system, and its reconstructed M3 proxy is plunging far faster than Bernanke is reflating other parallel aggregates. Well, that is now over. As of Q3 2009, the sequential change in shadow and traditional bank liabilities was net positive by $3.8 billion: this is the first time this number has posted an increase since December 2008! This fact should send a wedge of terror into the hearts of all those, both deflationists and inflationsts, who realize the significance of this inflection point: it appears that Bernanke has finally succeeded at offsetting the drop in the shadow banking system.
by phil - December 12th, 2010 4:54 pm
If you want to know why the powers that be hate the New York Times – read this!
"The Paper of Record," one of the few remaining news entities not controlled by Rupert Murdoch or some other Billionaire or major corporation, still has the guts to tell it like it is as they are actually pointing a finger right at the Gang of 12 (well 9 of them) and those not-so-secret meetings they have been having for years where they sit down and think of new and exciting ways to control the World. It takes a lot of guts to write an article like this, especially one which actually names ICE (I got my ass handed to me with legal BS when I dared mention them in conjunction with the word "manipulation." Fortunately they straightened me out and we now know that clearly there is no manipulation in the energy markets – can I have my Grandma back now?).
Anyway, those fools at the NY Times have thrown caution to the wind without naming specific names using the phrase "giants LIKE JPM, GS and MS" – something I have learned to do as well because, if you don’t – THEY WILL GET YOU! And what are they saying about our friendly Banksters?:
In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks. The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available. Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small,
According to the Times, the marketplace as it functions now “adds up to higher costs to all Americans,” said Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates most derivatives. More oversight of the banks in this market is needed, he said. Big banks influence the rules governing derivatives through a variety of industry groups. The banks’ latest point of influence are clearinghouses like ICE Trust, which holds the monthly meetings with the nine bankers in New York.