by ilene - July 26th, 2014 8:00 pm
Courtesy of Pater Tenebrarum of Acting-Man blog
It Can't Be A Bubble!
Articles claiming that the current situation in financial markets does not deserve the epithet “bubble” are a dime a dozen – we come across several every week since at least late 2013. Before continuing, we should point out that there is a big difference between recognition of a bubble and forecasting the timing of its actual bursting. For instance, we were well aware that there was a bubble in the late 1990s, but not only did it still take a good while before it hit its peak (a peak that was then retested in terms of the broader market half a year later), it also expanded considerably further before it did so, and only started collapsing in earnest in late 2000.
It is important to realize in this context that this particular bubble – the one in technology stocks that peaked in early 2000 – is not some sort of “standard measure” for what constitutes a bubble. It was certainly the most extreme stock market bubble in all of history in a major developed market (in terms of valuation expansion in this particular sector) – beating even the Nikkei's famous 1989 blow-out by a huge margin. Again, only if one compares the tech sector's then trailing P/E of more than 300 to the Nikkei's trailing P/E of more than 80 in 1989.
In terms of the broader market's valuation, the bubble peak in 2000 was less than half as spectacular as the Nikkei's, but it was still the top of the greatest valuation expansion ever experienced in the US stock market. We merely want to point out here that it would be wrong to claim that “well, the year 2000 was a bubble, and therefore anything that doesn't look quite as extreme as this one outlier isn't”.
We came across another article of this type recently and want to discuss what we believe the flaws in its arguments are. The article in question is “Bubble paranoia on S&P 500 is a storm in a teacup”, which was posted at Saxo's tradingfloor.com by Mr. Peter Garnry. Note here that we don't want to make an argument about the likely timing…
by ilene - July 26th, 2014 4:59 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
Despite the widely touted success of Abenomics, a few charts will prove success is all hype and no reality. Let’s start with a chart of the Yen.
$XJY Yen Monthly
The Yen went on a tear from mid-2007 to mid-2011, rising from 80.55 to 132.18. Since then, the Yen declined to and 94.83 and is currently at 98.26. The Yen was in this general area, at times, in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2014.
One intent of Abenomics was to devalue the Yen to aid exports. How did that work out?
Japan Left Behind
Bloomberg reports Japan’s Export-Champ Days Are Left Behind.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows the value of Japan’s exports is 23 percent below a March 2008 peak, even as those of South Korea, the U.S. and Germany have grown. The yen has lost 16 percent in value against the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012. That hasn’t been enough to spur growth in outbound shipments.
Japan’s government and central bank have blamed weak overseas demand, especially in emerging markets, for export sluggishness. This weakness is negative for an economy that suffered a blow to domestic demand from an April sales-tax increase.
“Japan is being left behind in the export recovery mainly because Japanese companies accelerated the shift of production abroad when the yen appreciated after the Lehman shock,” said Toru Suehiro, a market economist at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The loss of global market presence by Japan’s companies, especially electronic appliance makers, is also a factor.”
The impact of the move overseas by Japanese companies is striking in the U.S. automobile market, said Suehiro. U.S. sales for Japanese automakers in the six months through June rose 6.2 percent from a year earlier to 3.04 million, according to researcher Autodata Corp. Auto exports from Japan to the U.S. for the same period were down 8.5 percent, according to finance ministry data.
No Export Recovery for Japan (Chart of the Day)…
by ilene - July 26th, 2014 2:37 pm
By Patrick Cox
Technological civilization runs on energy. Second only to health care in economic clout, energy accounts for slightly less than 10% of GDP depending on the actual fuel prices. Everything depends on energy, even the biological world inside and around us.
Energy is a cost component in all goods and services, from manufacturing to overhead and transportation. As such, the price and availability of energy is a major determinant of all price levels and, inversely, the standard of living.
The cost of power generation is not the only aspect of energy that we should be paying attention to, as members of the human race and as investors. In this article, I’m going to ask you to consider the financial impact of power availability and its many implications. At this point, this may be confusing, but all will become clear shortly.
Traditionally, most electrical power has been consumed as it is produced. This isn’t because scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs haven’t wanted the ability to store energy, separating its generation and its use. They do.
The inability to story electrical energy is a serious burden because it means that power plants must be large enough to handle peak demand even though they operate far below capacity most of the time. There would be significant savings if power could be cost-effectively stockpiled. For one, generating capacity, maintenance, and overhead could then be reduced.
Unfortunately, electrical energy storage is hard, meaning expensive. While most media attention has focused on the supply side of electrical power, the development of storage technologies may prove to be just as important. One impact of a solution would particularly benefit the solar-energy industry. The lack of an inexpensive electrical storage technology is a major obstacle to the widespread use of solar and other renewable energy sources.
Compared to other associated technologies, the science of batteries has seriously lagged. Your television and phone have undergone radical transformations over the last few decades. Batteries have not, yet.
Modern batteries work well enough to power your devices, but that’s not what I’m talking about. We need batteries that will store large
by ilene - July 26th, 2014 3:58 am
Courtesy of Mish.
Here's the question, not of the day, but of the month: Who's Winning the War in Ukraine?
That may sound like a simple question, but it isn't.
That question leads to a second question "In whose eyes?" It also depends on the definition of "war". And it also depends on the definition of "win". And finally it depends on which media source you believe.
From a military aspect, I have seen reports from both sides. The Western media portrays Ukraine on the march with the rebels surrounded, and losing ground. Is that accurate reporting?
I will let you be the judge. Please consider this video released on Friday.
[Click here for youtube.]
Diving into the details here is my rough translation: "Ukraine's 72nd brigade is now an additional battalion short."
Where the bodies are, I don't know . But that is highly unlikely to be a fake video.
And contrary to Western media reports, my sources have said for a week "various Ukraine forces are trapped, looking for a way to escape to Russia".
by ilene - July 26th, 2014 12:00 am
By The Banker
Wow. I mean. Just, wow.
You gotta love these guys.
Two phrases came to mind when I read the headline today about CIT Group taking over OneWest Bank.
First: “History does not repeat itself, but it certainly does rhyme.”
Second: “Madness consists of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
The casual reader of financial headlines will neither recognize nor care about this acquisition by a middle-market business lender (CIT Group) of a California retail branch banking institution (OneWest).
But it’s not the relatively anonymous companies that matter, but rather the people behind the takeover, and the historical provenance of the companies, that matters. This acquisition involves some of the key chess pieces of the 2008 Crisis and the worst excesses of that time. Let me go through some of the key names and highlights.
OneWest Bank – This is really IndyMac bank with a new name.
“A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.”
You haven’t heard of IndyMac?
IndyMAC was kind of a ground zero mortgage lender in the 2007/2008 time period. Before failing, it was the seventh largest mortgage originator in the United States, and when it was taken over by the FDIC in July 2008 it was the fourth largest bank failure in history.
Of course it was originally founded by the later notorious Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo, who spun off IndyMac as an independent company in 1997.
IndyMac did the usual thing as everyone else, borrowing with short-term debt, and lending out in the form of illiquid dicey mortgages.
IndyMac in particular was a leader in the intermediate “Alt-A” mortgage lending segment – mortgages too risky to be considered ‘Prime,’ but not entirely as shaky as Sub-prime either.
OneWest Bank became a newly formed bank in March 2009 when it took over the remains of IndyMac, via an FDIC auction of the failed mortgage lender.
Leading up to this transaction, the CEO of OneWest is Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and member
by ilene - July 25th, 2014 11:48 pm
By The Banker
In the bad old days of the 2008 Crisis, a casual reader of the financial news might have been fooled into thinking that “short-sellers,” those financial firms that bet on the price of some financial instrument (like a stock, or bond, or currency, or commodity) going down, rather than up, ranked on the financial attractiveness scale somewhere between Renee Zellwegger and Quasimodo - simpering, disfigured, unpatriotic, and untrustworthy.
For a brief time in the midst of the October 2008 panic, the financial regulators nearly outlawed short-sellers, as if there was some moral difference between short sellers and their counterparts “long buyers.” (We don’t refer to them of course as “long buyers” but rather ”investors,’ but finance folks do use the ‘shorts’ and ‘longs’ monikers when describing market participants.)
Only people who have never participated in financial markets could reasonably argue that ‘short selling’ has any better or worse effect on markets than ‘long buying.’ In fact, brokering most markets absolutely requires short selling, both to offer a product to a client that the broker does not currently have in inventory, as well as to hedge purchases from a client that a broker can not immediately dispose of in the market.
When a client needs to sell a block of a stock, or a pile of bonds, the broker will often sell (sometimes selling short) a similar-characteristic block of stocks or bonds right away, to minimize the market-directional risk of holding the client’s recently dumped position. The ability to sell short, for a hedge, is a key tool in the arsenal of brokers.
Short-selling by hedge funds
The ability to short sell is also the fundamental differentiating tool of 80% of hedge funds vis-a-vis mutual funds: Namely, the former can sell short a stock (or bond, or currency, or commodity) whereas a traditional mutual fund may only deploy money on the ‘long’ side, by buying a financial product. Financial products tend to go both down and up, but your typical mutual fund may only be able to deliver a positive return when the markets go up in aggregate.
A hedge fund by contrast – in theory at least – can deliver positive results regards of
by ilene - July 25th, 2014 8:59 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
An image from the Security Service of Ukraine (“SBU”) that purportedly showed a Buk heading back to Russia at nighttime, has now been removed from the cite.
I made a screenshot of the image and posted it in Ukraine Caught in Third Major Lie? Magic Number 312.
The image once was at the bottom of this SBU page: Russia is trying to hide the evidence of his involvement in a terrorist attack in the skies over Ukraine.
Here is the image I posted, now removed.
CNN Complicit as Well?
Shortly after the crash, CNN’s Kyung Lah conducted an interview with Vitaly Nayda, Ukraine’s Director of Informational Security.
Nayda made serious, unfounded charges, pointed straight at Russia. He also showed Lah the evidence, including those bogus photos.
There are now two versions of the CNN video, both still available, if you know how to find them. One has the bogus photos and associated comments stripped, the other doesn’t.
The only timestamps that I can see mark them from the same day. Perhaps both were edited.
Both are highly inflammatory. Play either one and it’s crystal clear Lah plays straight into hands of Nayda.
by ilene - July 25th, 2014 6:45 pm
Courtesy of ZeroHedge
Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy Ukraine war just like that in Syria preceding it, "is all about energy."
Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine's shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin which lies in the hotly contested eastern part of the nation and where as everyone knows by now a bloody civil war is raging, is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production and according to EIA may have 42 tcf of shale gas resources technically recoverable from 197 tcf of risked shale gas in place.
R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations. On his new appointment, he commented: “Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine. As a new member of the Board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the Company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.”
R. Hunter Biden is also a well-known public figure. He is chairman of the Board of the World Food Programme U.S.A., together with the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the United Nations World Food Programme. In this capacity he offers assistance to the poor in developing countries, fighting hunger and poverty, and helping to provide food and education to 300 million malnourished children around the world.
Burisma Holdings is a privately owned oil and gas company with assets in Ukraine and operating in the energy market since 2002. To date, the company holds a portfolio with permits to develop fields in the Dnieper-Donets, the Carpathian and the
by ilene - July 25th, 2014 5:09 pm
C’mon Alan! Bubbles Are Caused By Central Bankers, Not “Human Nature”
Alan Greenspan just cannot give up the ghost. During his baleful 18-year reign, the Fed was turned into a serial bubble machine—and thereby became a clear and present danger to honest free market capitalism and an enemy of the 99% who do not benefit from the Wall Street casino and the vast inflation of financial assets which it has enabled. His legacy is a toxically financialized economy that has extracted huge windfall rents from main street, and left it burdened with overwhelming debts and sharply reduced capacity for gains in real living standards and breadwinner jobs.
Yet after all this time Greenspan still insists on blaming the people for the economic and financial havoc that he engendered from his perch in the Eccles Building. Indeed, posturing himself as some kind of latter day monetary Calvinist, he made it crystal clear in yesterday’s interview that the blame cannot be placed at his feet where it belongs:
I have come to the conclusion that bubbles, as I noted, are a function of human nature.
C’mon. The historical record makes absolutely clear that Greenspan panicked time and again when speculation reached a fevered peak in financial markets. Instead of allowing the free market to cleanse itself and liquidate reckless gamblers employing too much debt and too many risky trades, he flooded Wall Street with liquidity and jawboned the speculators into propping up the casino. Within months of his August 1987 arrival, for example, he panicked on Black Monday and not only inappropriately flooded with liquidity a Wall Street that was rife with rotten speculation and a toxic product called “portfolio insurance”, but also intervened directly to garrote the markets attempt at self-correction.
In that context he sent his henchman, Gerald Corrigan who was head of the New York Fed, down to Wall Street to break arms and bust heads in an effort to insure that firms continued to trade with each other and extend credit where their own risk control managers appropriately wanted to cancel credit lines to insolvent counter-parties. Then and there, the Greenspan “put” was born, and the stock market was en route to becoming a Fed-driven casino rather than an honest venue for real price discovery. Indeed, the entire Greenspan-Corrigan mission in the wake of Black Monday was to force Wall…
France Unemployment New High, Output Down 15th Month; Prices Drop 27th Month; Activity Up in Peripheral Europe; Outlook for Germany
by ilene - July 25th, 2014 3:19 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
The grim economic news from France keeps piling up. Today, Europe Online reports Number of Unemployed in France Hits New High.
The number of unemployed people in France has hit a new high as the country grapples with the fallout of the financial crisis and a sluggish eurozone recovery, the Labour Department reported Friday.
At the end of June, there were 3.398 million people who were registered as being without a job in the eurozone‘s second-largest economy – 0.3 per cent more than in the previous month.
Compared to June of last year, the number of jobless was up 4 per cent.
In a glimmer of positive news, the number of unemployed youth was down compared to last year: those under 25 without a job decreased by 3.1 per cent to 535,000.
France‘s 10.1-per-cent unemployment rate is nearly twice as high as in neighbouring Germany, which registers a 5.1-per-cent rate.
French Private Sector Employment Contracts 9th Month
According to the Markit Flash France PMI, French private sector output contracts again, albeit at slower pace.
The latest flash PMI data signalled that France’s private sector remained in contraction at the start of the third quarter. Output was down for the third month in succession, although the rate of decline eased to a marginal pace that was the weakest in that sequence.
Driving the headline index higher was an improvement in the performance of the French service sector. Activity there increased for the first time in three months, albeit marginally.
On the other hand, the manufacturing sector sank further into contraction, with output falling at the sharpest rate in 15 months. New business received by French private sector firms decreased for a fourth consecutive month in July. Although moderate, the rate of decline was quicker than in June. Lower new work was signalled in both the services and manufacturing sectors, with the latter reporting the sharper fall.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that client budgets were under pressure, leading to a squeeze on new orders despite further reductions in prices charged by French private sector firms. Indeed, output prices fell for a twenty – seventh successive month in July , with the rate of decline accelerating since June. A number of panellists indicated