by ilene - July 3rd, 2015 1:56 am
Courtesy of David Stockman
Yesterday the embattled Greeks delivered still more body blows to the rotten regime of Keynesian central banking and the crony capitalist bailout state to which it is conjoined. By defaulting on its IMF loan, walking away from the troika bailout program and taking control of its insolvent domestic banking system, Alexis Tsipras and his band of political outlaws have shattered a giant illusion.
Namely, that the world’s debt serfs will endlessly and meekly acquiesce to whatever onerous, eleventh hour arrangements might be concocted by their official paymasters——even when these expedients are for no more noble or sustainable purpose than to forestall a Monday moring hissy fit among the gamblers in the world’s financial casinos.
So at midnight on June 30 the proverbial can was not kicked again as scheduled. Instead, Greek democracy kicked back. And it is to be hoped that the end result will be a mighty boot to the tyranny of the status quo in the form of a resounding “no” vote on Sunday.
The latter would clarify that everything at issue between the parties is false. There is no way to pay Greece’s debts, modify the troika austerity plan, save the euro, rescue Greece’ banking system or stabilize Europe’s hideously mispriced and distorted debt markets.
It's all going to blow and it should. The entire European mess has been concocted by statist politicians and policy apparatchiks who falsely and arrogantly believe they can defy the laws of markets, sound money and fiscal rectitude indefinitely.
The truth lost in all the meaningless “puts and takes” of the latest negotiations is that Greek state was bankrupt five years ago; it can not reform, save, skimp, or grow its way out of its crushing debt, and should stop looking for ways to accommodate its paymasters. It urgently needs to default massively and decisively, and is in a ideal position to do so.
That’s because the clowns who run the troika have taken themselves hostage. That is, they have shifted virtually the entirety of Greece’s unpayable debts from private banks and bond funds to the taxpayers of Europe, the US, Japan and even the unwary citizens of Peru, Senegal and Bangladesh.
by phil - July 2nd, 2015 8:36 am
We're waiting on the jobs report.
Nothing really matters until we get that bit of data – certainly not these thrashing indexes that may or may not be in their death throes as the weather heats up and the Global Economy cools down. The question is, do we want a lot of job growth – which will signal economic strength and drive up the Dollar in anticipation of eventual Fed rate hikes, or do we want bad news in weak jobs, that will stop the Dollar from kicking over the 95 line and keep the Fed hikes away for another quarter?
Certainly given the choice between paying higher wages or getting MORE FREE MONEY, it's no choice at all for our Corporate Masters, who are also up to their eyeballs in debt that they've used to buy their own stock at record-high prices (what could possibly go wrong?). We can only pray that they have done their part and refrained from hiring or, if hiring, haven't done anything too crazy like paying their workers more money.
As we were discussing in Member Chat, Seattle has an $11 minimum wage since April 1st (gradually phasing to $15) and is already the fastest-growing part of our country for housing, according to the recent Case-Shiller Report. Not only do higher wages provide an immediate boost to housing which, in turn, boosts the consumption of durable goods and adds construction and service jobs – but it has been a boon for the very businesses that feared the increase as their customers now have more money to spend (as well as their employees). Los Angeles is next but starting at $10 this month.
Lack of wage growth has been the unspoken plague that has been holding back our economy but, ironically, the Fed does everything it can to prevent wage inflation, which is also the kind of inflation that leads to all the rest. That means, in 30 minutes, we're going to be more concerned with the change in hourly earnings, which popped 0.3% last month and sent the S&P down 20 points even though 280,000 jobs were created.
by ilene - July 2nd, 2015 2:53 am
Courtesy of Wade of Investing Caffeine
Just days ago, billionaire investor and corporate activist Carl Icahn called the stock market “extremely overheated,” especially as it relates to high yield bonds. He communicated these comments over Twitter after saying markets are “sailing in dangerous unchartered waters.” Given recent Greek developments regarding its inability to strike a debt repayment deal with eurozone leaders, Mr. Icahn might get exactly the volatility he expected when he made those comments. There’s no question a Greek default could definitely cause a short-term contagion effect, but there will be much larger fish to fry than domestic equity markets (I will have much more to say on the Greek topic in my monthly newsletter).
While it’s difficult to argue with Carl Icahn’s long-term investment track record, currently there is little objective data (unemployment, yield curve, corporate profits, GDP, etc.) signaling an imminent recession or economic collapse. Whether you are an optimist or pessimist, there is no doubt we have come a long ways since the lows of 2009 – see Global Stock Market chart below:
The rapid price appreciation has been undeniable, but Mr. Icahn and other equity bears may be missing the forest for the trees. There has been a disproportional increase in the value of bond assets versus equity assets. More specifically, as can be seen from the chart below, the value of global financial assets increased an estimated +21.5% to $294 trillion from 2007 to 2014. Of the $52 trillion increase in global financial assets, 92% of the increase ($48 trillion) was derived from expanding debt obligations – not stocks. I’ve said it many times before, but if you are worried about the pricking of an equity bubble, make sure to buy some heavy-duty industrial ear plugs for eventual pricking of the bond bubble.
Former Treasury Secretary and Harvard President Larry Summers recently commented in an interview that a potential “Grexit” could have unforeseen consequences just like the situations leading to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Long Term Capital Management, and the subprime market. At the time, those particular circumstances…
by phil - July 1st, 2015 8:13 am
Wheeeeeeee – what a ride!
It's 7:39:11 am and Greece is "fixed" at the moment and we have to time-stamp it to the second or it may change again. European markets are LOVING IT with 1.5-2.5% gains across the board but, on the whole, the DAX (the only one we really care about) isn't even close to our weak bounce line at 11,250 yet – so we don't care. We do care about CHINA!!! (see yesterday's post), who dropped over $200Bn in stimulus this week and they fell another 5% this morning anyway. That's not good, folks…
5% would be a 900-point drop in the Dow in one day. I think I need to put that in perspective because we say "China fell 5% today" and people go "well, isn't that a shame" and that's the end of it. It's not a shame, folks, it's a TRAGEDY! To sum things up, the Shanghai has fallend from 5,200 to 4,000, which is 23%, which would be over 4,000 Dow points and it bounced back to 4,300, which was a weak 25% retrace of the drop that was IMMEDIATELY reversed DESPITE massive stimulus measures.
Of course the 3,900 line is bouncy – it represents a 25% drop from 5,200 so SOMEONE is going to speculate and buy that dip but the dip buyers ran straight into a new round of sellers and now 3,900 MUST HOLD on the Shanghai or Greece will be the last thing you're worried about next week!
We are nowhere near unwinding the 2 TRILLION Yuan ($339Bn) of margin debt that has built up in China, much of it financed at the 22% capped interest rates. When your market is gaining 100% a year, taking a 22% loan out to buy stocks seems to make sense – especially when all of your state-controlled media (not to mention the Corporate Propaganda you pick up in the US) tells you how AWESOME everything is.
There are now more registered stock traders in China (90M) than there are registered Communist Party Members (87.8M) – interesting news on the 94th anniversary of the party's founding. It’s safe to assume this is not…
by ilene - July 1st, 2015 2:21 am
Remember what Phil wrote about CNBC back in Dec. 2010? Of course you do, but I'll help you with the actual words anyway:
CNBC has, overall, a 36% drop in ratings caused, perhaps, by 36% of the people who listen to their advice losing their homes with the Fast Money crew dropping a precipitous 56% in the past 12 months but still holding onto the same audience (41K) as Cramer.
Why is CNBC failing in the ratings? Because they put people like Kudlow and Cramer and Adami and Najarian on TV instead of people (yes, like me) who are going to give you the real news and attempt to actually inform you. Now, here’s the thing you need to think about – what kind of TV show(s) have you ever heard of that lose half their audience in a year and remain on the air? The answer –PROPAGANDA!
Only a show that has an AGENDA other than making money could possibly stay on the air while it’s driving viewers away in droves. It takes years to build up a viewership but, as CNBC has proven, only 12 months to drive half of them away. Fast Money is not the only CNBC show that would have been canceled a year ago by any responsible programming executive – "The Call" is down 37%, "Power Lunch" is off 47%, "Street Signs" is down 45% and hour one of "Closing Bell" is down 43% while poor Maria drives another 8% away in hour 2.
So, is it a sign of a market top when CNBC only has an average of 47,000 suckers tuned in at any given moment? Sadly, in these thin market volumes, 47,000 sheeple mindlessly following Cramer off a cliff can still move the markets, so we have to torture ourselves daily and pay attention to what CNBC is saying as neither Fox Financial or Bloomberg have managed to match CNBC’s impact for moving the markets. Even now, when I go to visit brokers on Wall Street, every office has TVs tuned to CNBC (maybe they are not Nielson families), even though, clearly, the broadcasts did nothing at all to help Wall Street avert the last crash and, in fact, many would argue that their mindless trend-following and their constant cheer-leading
by ilene - June 30th, 2015 5:07 pm
By John Mauldin
(Originally published on June 27, 2015)
“If this were a marriage, the lawyers would be circling.”
The Economist, My Big Fat Greek Divorce, 6/20/2015
Greece is again all the buzz in the media and on the commentary circuit. If you’re like me, you are suffering terminal Greece fatigue. You just want Greece and its creditors to “do something already” rather than continually coming to the end of every week with no resolution, amid finger-pointing and dire warnings from all sides about the End of All Things Europe – maybe even the world.
That frustration is a common human emotion. Perhaps the best and funniest illustration (trust me, it is worth a few minutes’ digression) is the story about one of my first investment mentors, Gary North, who was working in his early days for Howard Ruff in Howard’s phone call center before Gary began writing his newsletters and books. (Yes, I know I am dating myself, as this was the late ’70s and early ’80s, just as I was getting introduced to the investment publishing business. And for the record, I knew almost everyone in the publishing business in the ’80s. It was a very small group, and we got together regularly.)
Howard set up a phone bank where his subscribers could call in and ask questions about their investments and personal lives. One little lady had the misfortune to get Dr. Gary North on the line. (Gary was the economist for Congressman Ron Paul and went on to write it some 61-odd books, 13,000 articles, and more – all typed with one finger. He is a human word-processing machine.)
This sweet lady lived way out in the country and was getting older. She asked Gary if he thought it would be a wise idea for her to move into the city (I believe it was San Francisco) to live with her daughter. Not knowing the answer, Gary helped her work out the pros and cons over the phone, and she decided to move. A few days later she called back and said that she couldn’t bring her dog with her because of…
by phil - June 30th, 2015 8:30 am
Down in the pleasure centre,
hell bent or heaven sent,
listen to the propaganda,
listen to the latest slander.Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it. – Elvis
China has set a new Global record by dumping almost $200Bn (over 1Tn Yuan) in stimulus into their overheated markets in just two days. Sunday night it was a rate cut AND lowering the reserve requirements for banks and yesterday afternoon they dropped another $50Bn in a "Reverse Repo" operation and, to cap it off this morning, the Finance and social Security Ministries published draft rules that would permit the state pension fund to invest up to 30% of its net asset value in securities, potentially allowing ANOTHER 600B yuan ($97B) to enter the market.
Take 30% of our retirement savings and buy stocks that already gained over 100% this year in an attempt to prevent a bear market from wiping out all of the gains – BRILLIANT!!!
Certainly Chinese speculators thought so as the Shanghai went from down 5.6% at the open to up 5.6% at the close! This allowed them to save a little face at the close of the Quarter and, more importantly, promises Fund Managers a whole new round of suckers to dump shares into in July.
10% happens to be a Strong Bounce off the 25% drop, per our 5% Rule™, so we're not going to be too impressed until we see some follow-through. Like us, Bloomberg is skeptical, saying: "China's Magic Tricks Can't Save Its Stock Market" warning us:
Only time will tell if Beijing's bag of tricks is empty. But if it is, the fallout on global markets could dwarf the impact of Greece's flirtation with default. The world, after all, has had a few years to contemplate a Greek exit from the euro. But if the world's biggest trading nation suddenly hit a wall, it would
by ilene - June 29th, 2015 8:30 pm
Courtesy of David Stockman of Contra Corner
Late Friday night a solid blow was struck for sound money, free markets and limited government by a most unlikely force. Namely, the hard core statist and crypto-Marxist prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras. He has now set in motion a cascade of disruption that will shake the corrupt status quo to its very foundations.
And just in the nick of time, too. After 15 years of rampant money printing, falsification of financial market prices and usurpation of democratic rule, his antagonists—–the ECB, the EU superstate and the IMF—-have become a terminal threat to the very survival of the kind of liberal society of which these values are part and parcel.
In fact, the Keynesian central banking and the Brussels and IMF style bailout regime—which has become nearly universal—-eventually fosters a form of soft-core economic totalitarianism. That’s because the former first destroys honest financial markets by falsifying the price of debt. So doing, Keynesian central bankers enable governments to issue far more debt than their taxpayers and national economies can shoulder; and, at the same time, force investors and savers to desperately chase yield in a marketplace where the so-called risk free interest rate has been pegged at ridiculously low levels.
That means, in turn, that banks, bond funds and fast money traders alike take on increasing levels of unacknowledged and uncompensated risk, and that the natural checks and balances of honest financial markets are stymied and disabled. Short sellers are soon destroyed because the purpose of Keynesian central banking is to drive the price of securities to artificially high and unnatural levels. At the same time, hedge fund gamblers are able to engage in highly leveraged carry trades based on state subsidized (free) overnight money, and to purchase downside market risk insurance (“puts”) for a pittance.
Eventually bond and stock “markets” become central bank enabled casinos—-riven with mispriced securities, dangerous carry trades, massive unearned windfall profits and endemic instability. When an unexpected shock or “black swan” event threatens to shatter confidence and trigger a sell-off of these drastically over-priced securities, the bailout state swings into action indiscriminately propping up the gamblers.
That’s what the Fed and TARP did in behalf of Morgan Stanley and Goldman back in September 2008. And it’s what the troika did in behalf of the French, German, Dutch, Italian and other European banks, which were stuffed with unpayable Greek and PIIGS debt, beginning in 2010.…
by phil - June 29th, 2015 7:38 am
I love a good distraction!
One of the great things about being good at forecasting the Futures is that we were not only 100% prepared for Greece to melt down (our Short-Term Portfolio was already up 152% as of Friday's close) but we're already done talking about it and looking ahead to the much bigger Financial crisis in CHINA!!!
If you are a typical short-term, short-sighted, impatient investor (they kind we make money off every day), now is a good time to click away and look for someone to explain to you what's going on in Greece. I liked Felix Salmon's "I Haven't Been Paying Attention. What's Going On In Greece?" enough to send it to the 1,000 people who asked me that this weekend. Greek markets are closed today (and will be all week along with the banks) but the Greek ETF (GREK) is trading and will open down 15-20% by my estimation.
As I said, I'm bored with Greece, we discussed it all weekend (and all year, and all month) in Member Chat, so you can catch up HERE, and we already played our strong bounce lines in the Futures and took our profits at:
- Dow (/YM) 17,670
- S&P (/ES) 2,075
- Nasdaq (/NQ) 4,430
- Russell (/TF) 1,264.20
Those are the strong bounce lines per our fabulous 5% Rule™ and we were able to predict them last night at 6pm, when the market opened and I tweeted out our long ideas as well as the exits and even used Seeking Alpha's Stock Talks to make sure all my readers got a chance to play. Now it's time to look at CHINA!!!, where the bi-weekly emergency measures to prop up their markets have already FAILED this morning. As I said on Friday in "Let’s Ignore China (again) and Terrorism Today!":
At $47.75, FXI should open lower this morning and we do expect China to step in with more stimulus but the Aug $45.50 puts at $1 are still a fun way to play if you don't like
by Market Shadows - June 28th, 2015 7:17 pm
Talks between Greece and its creditors have broken down over the weekend and stock futures are tanking. The Greek stock market, and Greek banks, will be closed for the next week…. Could anyone have possibly seen this coming…?
Tsipras takes Greece to the edge of the precipice (Financial Times)
The FT takes a harsh view of Mr Tsipras' political tactics while also criticizing the creditors' uncompromising position and the political leadership in the eurozone. The result: an unfortunate, unnecessary standoff.
The threat to the euro has always been a soluble problem cloaked in an aura of political impossibility. But with each day, both sides seem more willing to indulge in blame shifting rather than constructive engagement. Greece now stands on a precipice. It is increasingly hard to detect the path of retreat.
After bailout talks between the leftwing government and foreign lenders broke down at the weekend, the European Central Bank froze vital funding support to Greece's banks, leaving Athens with little choice but to shut down the system to keep the banks from collapsing.
Banks are expected to be closed all next week, and there will be a daily 60 euro limit on cash withdrawals from cash machines, which will reopen on Tuesday. Capital controls are likely to last for many months at least.
The drop in stocks comes after a wild weekend of headlines out of Greece that saw talks between Greece and its creditors break down, Greece call a referendum vote on the latest bailout terms for next Sunday, while Greek banks and the Athens stock exchange have been closed for at least the next week.
Greece also has a €1.6 billion payment due to the IMF on Tuesday, which it appears they will miss.
Brace for a Sell-Off: Here's how the markets will respond to this weekend's debacle in Greece (Mohamed El-Erian at Business Insider)
Given developments over the last 36 hours —