by ilene - May 29th, 2010 5:53 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
Yesterday’s WSJ MarketBeat blog took David Einhorn to task for his op-ed in the NY Times titled “Easy Money, Hard Truths“. They make the argument that Einhorn is simply pushing his massive gold position. I fear Einhorn is doing something much worse – helping to scare us all into continued recession.
First off, I have no problem when someone talks their book. In fact, I almost prefer for people to talk their book. There’s a certain trust in someone who is willing to “put their money where their mouth is”. It’s the primary reason why I believe the hedge fund business is such a wonderful advancement beyond traditional mutual funds – the manager’s interests are generally aligned with those of the investor. If you can find a manager who is not only intelligent, but has a sound moral compass you’ve wandered upon quite a gem. From all accounts David Einhorn appears to fit the mold. But I take very serious issue with his recent comments which I believe are filled with half-truths and propaganda that we continually hear from the inflationistas (all of whom have been terribly wrong thus far in terms of their macroeconomic outlook) who are driving the country towards the edge of the cliff.
Einhorn is a great investor and clearly a brilliant man, but for two years I have watched policymakers and fear mongerers misdiagnose the problems that we confront and this is, in my opinion, why we are still wrangling with these issues. In 2008 I wrote a letter to the Federal Reserve saying that this was a classic “balance sheet recession” with problems rooted in the private sector – specifically the consumer. I told them that saving banks was not the solution and that monetary policy would prove as fruitless in the U.S. as it has in Japan. I was shocked to receive a friendly response to my letter but not shocked to see Mr. Bernanke implement his Friedman-like monetarist campaign of “saving the world”. Obviously it hasn’t worked (unless you’re a banker) as we sit here two years later still discussing this wretched credit crisis and the ranks of the unemployed continue to climb. If we cannot properly diagnose the problems we cannot find a proper cure. Thus far, we have failed.…
by ilene - May 20th, 2010 4:48 am
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
- Just a few brief comments on the market at the current levels. I was relatively optimistic about the equity markets coming into the beginning of the year. The themes that had dominated much of 2009 (better than expected earnings, accommodative Fed, continuing stimulus, etc) appeared to be largely intact. To my surprise, the rally ran a bit farther than I expected, but Greece and the downturn in China were game changers in my opinion. I was a few weeks early to lay my short positions, but the market ultimately came around to my thinking (better to be lucky than good). Where are we now? In my opinion, we have a global economy that ispre-Greece and a global economy that is post-Greece. The dominoes appear to be lining up in an eerie fashion at this point in time – there are now dozens of negative catalysts in the coming 12 months (which I will detail in a soon to be released report). Although the markets are once again oversold and at risk of a bounce the fundamentals are quickly deteriorating and my expectation of a weak second half appears to be right on cue. I would continue to approach this market with a great deal of caution despite the current oversold conditions.
- What do the Germans know? This short selling ban is very desperate looking. I hate to speculate, but my gut tells me that they are beginning to realize how bad the situation is over there. They now understand that the problems in the Euro cannot be solved through intra-country debt issuance and bailouts. The short ban looks like one more act of desperation from a group of nations that have severely underestimated the problems they confront. Unfortunately, I still don’t think they’ve realized that this is a currency crisis and not a solvency crisis. That means they’ll continue to kick the can down the road and markets will battle with the turbulence. This truly does have a very Bear Stearns feel to it.
- Will we scare ourselves into a double dip or even a second great depression? Everyone and their mother appears to be in the same camp regarding all the very scary “money printing”. I’ve never in my life heard the drumbeat so loud for fiscal austerity. In fact,
by ilene - April 15th, 2010 2:32 am
"Balance sheet recession" explained. It characterized the Great Depression and Japan’s Lost Decade, and includes weak consumer spending and private sector deleveraging. During this process, the three Ds come into play: debt deflation, deleveraging, and ultimately depression. – Ilene
Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns
In my post Koo, White, Soros and Akerloff videos from inaugural INET conference I highlighted four speeches from the recent George Soros-sponsored pow-wow. I have already written up a post based on the one by William White in "The origins of the next crisis."
This post serves to give you some colour on another of those speeches, the one by Richard Koo and his balance sheet recession.
Koo believes the US, Europe and China are headed for a period of incredibly weak consumer spending not unlike what Japan has been through. Let me say a few words about this balance sheet recession theme, private sector deleveraging, and the related sovereign debt crises. Then, at the bottom, I have embedded a recent paper of his which has a bunch of graphs that explain what Japan has been through as a cautionary tale for the global economy.
I have described Koo’s thesis this way:
Nomura’s Chief Economist Richard Koo wrote a book last year called “The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics” which introduced the concept of a balance sheet recession, which explains economic behaviour in the United States during the Great Depression and Japan during its Lost Decade. He explains the factor connecting those two episodes was a consistent desire of economic agents (in this case, businesses) to reduce debt even in the face of massive monetary accommodation.
When debt levels are enormous, as they are right now in the United States, an economic downturn becomes existential for a great many forcing people to reduce debt. Recession
by Chart School - January 29th, 2010 12:05 am
Courtesy of Corey Rosenbloom at Afraid to Trade
Here’s another perspective on the comparison charts of the Dow Jones between the 1929 crash and recovery and the 2009 crash and recovery.
Let’s take a quick view of the line charts of the daily Dow Jones in 1929 structure and how it compares with today’s weekly Dow Jones structure.
First, the Daily Dow Jones: 1929 Crash and Recovery
I drew the numbers not so much as an Elliott Wave notation, but so that comparing key swing highs and lows would be easier.
The peak to trough crash lasted 72 days as the Dow Jones fell 47% (peaking in September 1929 at 386 and falling to 195 in November 1929). It unfolded roughly in a 5-wave progression.
The rally began off the November lows and lasted 155 days, peaking up 47% at 295 during April, 1930.
This shows an important principle in investing and trading, namely that if your account (or an index) falls 50%, then it would take a full 100% rally off the lows to recapture the prior highs, and not a 50% rally off the lows as seen above.
The rally phase took twice as long as the ‘crash’ phase and also unfolded in a 5-wave affair (with smaller waves).
I found it interesting that the daily chart showed an almost identical head and shoulders reversal pattern that failed – which is similar to the June/July failed head and shoulders pattern in 2009.
Because the 2008-2009 crash and recovery took longer, I am showing the weekly line chart of the Dow Jones.
Finally, the Current Weekly Dow Jones 2008-2009 Crash and Recovery:
Again, we see a similar 5-wave slow-crash down to the final March 2009 lows.
Price peaked in October 2008 at 14,198 and then fell 52% to the March 2009 lows of 6,469 – 72 weeks (510 days). The decline also fell in a similar 5-wave decline (with the 3rd wave ‘fractalizing’ into its own mini-five wave decline).
From the March 2009 lows, price has – so far – rallied 65% to the January high of 10,723 over the last 320 trading days… or almost all of 2009.
Again, despite the 65% rally, price is still 5,000 points lower than its 2007 peak.
by ilene - January 6th, 2010 4:55 pm
Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns
The latest piece of big news in the sovereign debt crisis comes, remarkably, from Iceland. The country collapsed into depression after its experiment as an open economy with a large banking
After a debt-fuelled boom and a huge influx of hot money due to high interest rates, its currency and banks collapsed under a fleeing of foreign money and huge losses. The government nationalized the bank’s debt only to find the banks were too big to bail. The Icelanders rioted on the streets, a sovereign crisis ensued, and the government was toppled.
Iceland was rescued and it seemed all was well. They was even talk of fast-tracking Iceland into the EU. Then, suddenly, the population balked at the prospect of bailing out the banks. Now, the sovereign debt crisis is on again. At issue is Icesave, an Icelandic bank that operated in the UK and the Netherlands whose bust caused great hardship amongst British and Dutch savers who were attracted by high
See the video below on why Fitch is now downgrading the country’s debt status to junk despite the lack of immediate liquidity concerns.
I think this is big news and have a number of sources on this story below. Watch the Dutch and British stories for signs of European tensions as this is where the affected Icesave savers reside. The FT headline says it all. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s commentary is the most comprehensive and balanced in my view. The Norwegian headline, on the other hand, is “Iceland not on the verge of collapse” in huge typeface. The fault lines are definitely opening in Europe. I will discuss this later on the latest story on Greece and the likelihood of EU help.
Iceland leader vetoes bank repayments bill – BBC News
Angry Iceland defies the world – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph
by ilene - January 4th, 2010 4:23 am
You kind of saw this coming didn’t you. Asians remember the Depression that began there a decade ago all too vividly. Many still see the West to blame because of the draconian economic policy solutions meted out by the IMF, including now-US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner amongst others.
Incongruously, the very same Tim Geithner of “deeply unpopular, deeply hard to understand” economic policy fame is part of an American economic policy making group now perpetrating perhaps the largest financial and economic bailout in history. I certainly doubt this policy will be effective over the long-term. Even so, this hypocrisy has been noted in Asia. The political fallout is just now coming due.
Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Properties in Hong Kong writes in the FT:
While the world debates the future of its financial system, global rebalancing or even power shifts along five dimensions are quietly taking place. Their implications are profound and may well lead to a more stable world.
The first is a rebalancing of moral authority. The system that the west touted as superior has failed. Why should developing countries blindly follow its model now? Remember the moral high ground that western leaders took during the Asian financial crisis? Hong Kong was bashed when its government intervened in August 1998 in the stock market to fend off the western investment
banksand hedge funds bent on destroying the city’s currency.
Yet only a month later, the US government intervened in the market to bail out Long-Term Capital
Management, a move that proved to be the harbinger of the western bail-outs of financial institutions in the past year. Hong Kong’s government was not allowed to save its citizens, yet by a double-standard the US could save its companies.
The waning of the west’s moral authority is also due to the many conflicts of interest inherent in investment banking as it is currently structured. The west turned a blind eye to them. What can developing economies do? Nothing, for the wealthy countries dictated the rules of the game, which became a licence to misbehave.
The moral superiority of the west was also expressed through its ideology. China was barred from being a member
Key Theme In Interview With ShadowStats’ John Williams (You Guessed It) – Hyperinflation And The Death Of The US Economy
by ilene - December 30th, 2009 1:38 pm
Key Theme In Interview With ShadowStats’ John Williams – (You Guessed It) Hyperinflation And The Death Of The US Economy
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
If you thought John Williams, who a month ago prophesied that the US could be facing hyperinflation as soon as 2010, has changed his tune, think again. In an interview conducted by Phil Maymin of the Fairfiled Weekly, the man who has made a business out of debunking the government’s data fabrication machine, dishes out some very hard to swallow truths about the US economy and where the fiat world is headed. As always, Williams’ perspectives are debate-worthy by all, whether inflationist or deflationist: in a field of media sycophants, JW is not afraid to speak what we all know, yet rarely wish to acknowledge.
Maymin: So we are technically bankrupt?
Williams: Yes, and when countries are in that state, what they usually do is rev up the printing presses and print the money they need to meet their obligations. And that creates inflation, hyperinflation, and makes the currency worthless.
Obama says America will go bankrupt if Congress doesn’t pass the health care bill.
Well, it’s going to go bankrupt if they do pass the health care bill, too, but at least he’s thinking about it. He talks about it publicly, which is one thing prior administrations refused to do. Give him credit for that. But what he’s setting up with this health care system will just accelerate the process.
Where are we right now?
In terms of the GDP, we are about halfway to depression level. If you look at retail sales, industrial production, we are already well into depressionary [territory]. If you look at things such as the housing industry, the new orders for durable goods we are in Great Depression territory. If we have hyperinflation, which I see coming not too far down the road, that would be so disruptive to our system that it would result in the cessation of many levels of normal economic commerce, and that would throw us into a great depression, and one worse than was seen in the 1930s.
What kind of hyperinflation are we talking about?
by Zero Hedge - December 10th, 2009 10:31 am
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
With December almost done, and all the banks having already issued their rosy outlooks for 2010 (don’t ask us how the trading desks are axed, but you be sure a certain sense of "contrarianism" permeates Goldman’s traders), the objective third party strategists begin chiming in. We present Rosie’s 2010 outlook from Today’s Breakfast with Dave piece, courtesy of Gluskin Sheff.
The credit collapse and the accompanying deflation and overcapacity are going to drive the economy and financial markets in 2010. We have said repeatedly that this recession is really a depression because the recessions of the post-WWII experience were merely small backward steps in an inventory cycle but in the context of expanding credit. Whereas now, we are in a prolonged period of credit contraction, especially as it relates to households and small businesses (as we highlighted in our small business sentiment write-up yesterday).
In addition, we have characterized the rally in the economy and global equity markets appropriately as a bear market rally from the March lows, influenced by the heavy hand of government intervention and stimulus. But in classic Bob Farrell form, 2010 may well be seen as the year in which we witness the inevitable drawn out decline that is typical of secular bear markets. There may be some risk in industrial commodities if global growth underperforms, but the soft commodities, such as agriculture, may outperform in the same way that consumer staple equities should outperform cyclicals in an environment where economic growth disappoints the consensus view. Gold is operating on its own particular set of global supply and demand curves and should be an outperformer as well, especially when the next down-leg in the U.S. dollar occurs. We are not alone in espousing this view — have a look at Why Consumes Are Likely to Keep on Saving on page C1 of today’s WSJ.
The defining characteristic of this asset deflation and credit contraction has been the implosion of the largest balance sheet in the world — the U.S. household sector. Even with the bear market rally in equities and the tenuous recovery in housing in 2009, the reality is that household net worth has contracted nearly 20% over the past year-and-a-half, or an epic $12 trillion of lost net worth,
by ilene - November 29th, 2009 12:21 am
Our choices are dramatically influenced by the chemicals circulating through our bodies – so how much free choice do we really have? Is free will just an illusion? - Ilene
By John Cloud, courtesy of TIME
Humans have expended a great deal of intellectual energy over the past few thousand years trying to understand the morality (or amorality) of seeking pleasure. Most of philosophy begins with the question of what defines the (or a) good life. But what if the answer to what makes us happy comes down to how much of a particular chemical is circulating in our brain at any particular moment?
(As with risk taking, romantic love, religousness…. – Ilene)
The neurotransmitter dopamine isn’t quite that powerful, but evidence has been mounting for the past 40 years that its activity is key to helping the brain recognize experiences that cause pleasure. The more dopamine a certain event (having sex or eating ice cream, say) triggers, the more strongly that event gets hard-wired in the brain, and the more intensely your brain drives you to revisit it.
That knowledge also helps the brain figure out how much pleasure it can expect from future experiences and, therefore, influences virtually any decision you make about what you might like or not like: whether you should buy the red shirt or black one, whether you’ll enjoy watching Top Chef over Mad Men, whether you should leave your job or whether you should move in with your boyfriend.
Now a new paper in the journal Current Biology shows for the first time that by tinkering with levels of dopamine in the brain, researchers were be able to influence people’s future decisions in a reliable, predictable way. Led by Tali Sharot and Tamara Shiner of the the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London, scientists presented 61 healthy volunteers with 80 different vacation locations, such as Brazil, Thailand and Greece, and asked the volunteers to rate how happy they thought they would be visiting each place. Later, 29 of the participants were given 100 mg of levodopa (or L-DOPA), a drug that increases dopamine in the brain; the other 32 were unwittingly given a sugar pill. Forty minutes later, each participant was given a questionnaire about their emotional state, then a list…
by ilene - October 31st, 2009 1:09 am
Simon Maierhofer of ETFguide.com writes Whats Next – Minor Correction or Major Collapse?:
Over the past few months, every attempt by the bears to depress prices has been met with renewed buying pressure, resulting in even higher prices. What goes up, however, has to come down and some subtle signs are indicating that this decline might be more than a simple correction, much more.
It was after midnight on April 15th, 1912 when the unsinkable did the unthinkable. Built and labeled as unsinkable, the Titanic was the most advanced and largest passenger steamship of its time.
Even though the Titanic’s crew was aware of the fact that the waters were iceberg-infested, the ship was heading full-steam for a destination it would never reach.
Being aware of danger is one thing; acting prudently for protection is another.
Today, investors find themselves in an environment that is infested with symbolic icebergs. For savvy investors willing to pay attention and heed warnings, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a financial shipwreck, while others might soon be reminded of the Titanic when they look at their account balance.
Iceberg cluster #1: Lack of leadership
Throughout the financial meltdown financials, real estate, and homebuilders fell harder and faster than broad market indexes a la S&P 500 and Dow Jones. Beginning with the miraculous March revival (more about that in a moment), the broad market rose while financials, real estate, and homebuilders soared.
Those three sectors led the decline and led the subsequent (mock) recovery. Since it is reasonable to assume that those sectors will continue to lead the market throughout this economic cycle, it behooves investors to watch such leading sectors closely.
The S&P 500 recorded a closing high on October 19th at 1,097. The Financial Select Sector SPDRs reached their closing high a few days earlier on October 15th. Since their respective closing highs, the S&P 500 has dropped 2.82%, while XLF has already shed 5.64%.
A more pronounced performance slump is visible in the home builders sector. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF peaked on September 16th and has fallen 9.97% since. Keep in mind that XHB’s lackluster performance comes on the heels of the biggest monthly increase in total