The economic news has turned decidedly negative globally and a sense of ‘quiet before the storm’ permeates the financial headlines. Arcane subjects such as a Hindenburg Omen now make mainline news. The retail investor continues to flee the equity markets and in concert with the institutional players relentlessly pile into the perceived safety of yield instruments, though they are outrageously expensive by any proven measure. Like trying to buy a pump during a storm flood, people are apparently willing to pay any price. As a sailor, it feels like the ominous period where the crew is fastening down the hatches and preparing for the squall that is clearly on the horizon. Few crew mates are talgking as everyone is checking preparations for any eventuality. Are you prepared?
What if this is not a squall but a tropical storm, or even a hurricane? Unlike sailors, the financial markets do not have the forecasting technology for protection against such a possibility. Good sailors before today’s technology advancements avoided this possibility through the use of almanacs, shrewd observation of the climate and common sense. It appears to this old salt that all three are missing in today’s financial community.
Looking through the misty haze though, I can see the following clearly looming on the horizon.
Since President Nixon took the US off the Gold standard in 1971, the increase in global fiat currency has been nothing short of breath taking. It has grown unchecked and inevitably has become unhinged from world industrial production and the historical creators of real tangible wealth.
Do you believe trees grow to the sky?
Or, is it you believe you are smart enough to get out before this graph crashes?
Apparent synthetic wealth has artificially and temporarily been created through the production of paper. Whether Federal Reserve IOU notes (the dollar) or guaranteed certificates of confiscation (treasury notes & bonds), it needs to never be forgotten that these are paper. It is not wealth. It is someone else’s obligation to deliver that wealth to the holder of the paper based on what that paper is felt to be worth when the obligation is required to be surrendered. It must never be forgotten that fiat paper is only a counter party obligation to deliver. Will they?…
I met with Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism on the weekend, at a superb Japanese restaurant that only New York locals could find (and I’ll keep its location quiet for their benefit–too much publicity could spoil a spectacular thing). Yves was kind enough to post details of my latest academic paper at her site in a post she entitled “Steve Keen’s scary Minsky model“.
Yves found the model scary, not because it revealed anything about the economy that she didn’t already know, but because it so easily reproduced the Ponzi features of the economy she knows so well.
I have yet to attempt to fit the model to data–and given its nonlinearity, that won’t be easy–but its qualitative behavior is very close to what we’ve experienced. As in the real world, a series of booms and busts give the superficial appearance of an economy entering a “Great Moderation”–just before it collapses.
The motive force driving the crash is the ratio of debt to GDP–a key feature of the real world that the mainstream economists who dominate the world’s academic university departments, Central Banks and Treasuries ignore. In the model, as in the real world, this ratio rises in a boom as businesses take on debt to finance investment and speculation, and then falls in a slump when things don’t work out in line with the euphoric expectations that developed during the boom. Cash flows during the slump don’t allow borrowers to reduce the debt to GDP ratio to the pre-boom level, but the period of relative stability after the crisis leads to expectations–and debt–taking off once more.
Ultimately, such an extreme level of debt is accumulated that debt servicing exceeds available cash flows, and a permanent slump ensues–a Depression.
There are 4 behavioural functions in the model that mimic the behaviour of the major private actors in the economy–workers, capitalists and bankers. Workers wage rises are related to the level of employment and the rate of inflation; capitalists investment and debt repayment plans are related to the rate of profit; and the willingness of banks to lend is also a function of the rate of profit.…
Thousands of police officers have been laid off all across America since the current economic crisis began. Thousands more are getting ready to be laid off. So could we be on the verge of a new era of chaos and anarchy in America as crime runs wild and there are just far too few police to respond to it all? That is the message that one blood-smeared billboard in Stockton, California is trying to get across. Paid for by the Stockton, California police union, the message of the billboard is chillingly clear: "Welcome to the 2nd most dangerous city in California. Stop laying off cops." As state, city and local governments across the United States continue to be devastated by the ongoing economic crisis, budget cuts are becoming much deeper and police forces have suddenly become a very popular target.
Officer Steve Leonesio, the president of the Stockton Police Officers Association, has announced that the police union plans to spend approximately $20,000 on at least 20 more billboards.
Why is the union putting up all of these billboards?
Well, it turns out that Stockton has been considering a plan to lay off 53 police officers in an effort to eliminate a $23 million budget deficit.
But law enforcement in Stockton has already been cut to the bone. Recently, the Stockton Police Department dropped this bombshell….
"We absolutely do not have any narcotics officers, narcotics sergeants working any kind of investigative narcotics type cases at this point in time."
Do you think drug dealers will be flocking to Stockton after they hear that?
But the truth is that so many of these local governments around the nation are just flat broke at this point.
Even major cities are having to admit that they have accumulated such large debts that they cannot even afford to provide the most basic services any longer.
In Oakland, California the battle over police layoffs has made national headlines over the past couple of weeks. Oakland has laid off 80 police officers, and now the police chief says that there are some crimes that his department simply will not be able to…
This relatively boring hearing suddenly turned exciting when Congressman Kevin Brady asked Tim Geithner to step down. The economic team that President Obama put in place (primarily Geithner and Summers) has been largely responsible for the current predicament. This is not to imply that the Republicans and President Bush did not play an equal (or greater) role in the economic crisis, but it’s truly astonishing that the people who helped cause this crisis are the same ones who are attempting to steer us out of it:
A recent piece of research from JP Morgan touches on some frequently asked questions by investors. I’ve provided their responses along with my own:
1) Is the crisis over?
The financial crisis is largely over. The economic crisis, only half so. The recession is over but the recovery has just started. Even the above-trend growth pace that we project for this recovery will require years to get us back to trend levels of activity. This means high unemployment and disinflationary pressures over the next two years.
I have to agree with JP Morgan here. The crisis and the days of 700 point Dow drops are long gone. But the recovery is going to feel a lot like a recession. In other words, jobs are going to be slow to come back, the consumer is going to be sluggish while stocks and the housing market are likely to be range bound for years. What JP Morgan doesn’t mention is that most of our long-term structural problems still exist. Wall Street is back to their old tricks while the consumer struggles under a mountain of debt, job losses and stagnant wages. The Fed is trying their best to keep the boom/bust market alive and well. More likely than not, they are simply inflating the economy in preparation for the next bust. Two years is likely a generous timeframe for the end of our secular problems.
2) Is the recovery sustainable?
Yes, odds are it is given unprecedented and synchronized global policy stimulus, low funding costs, a repaired financial system, and the massive need for inventory rebuilding into next year. What are the main risk factors we should monitor? For the recovery in the world economy and in risky assets to be sustained, the private sector will need to take the baton from the public sector. Corporates are in the driver’s seat here. We need to see them move from a precautionary into an expansionary mode. That means capital spending, jobs, and income creation. Watch these.
A potential Head and Shoulders top has formed. It will be a valid formation but the objective will not be activated until and unless the neckline is broken.
Volumes remain light, with lots of technical gamesmanship that contributes to quite a bit of volatility in the short term, aka a ‘daytrader’s market.’
There is quite a bit of ‘tension’ in the market ahead of the GDP report tomorrow. The consensus is for growth of 1.5%. We are still a couple of weeks short of the timeframe we have projected for a top and the beginning of a leg down in markets, but some data or exogenous surprise could accelerate this.
There is a de facto partnership between the government and the banks with regard to the financial system and the economy which is spilling over to the equity markets. This is a similar arrangement that brought us the housing bubble and the credit crisis after the tech bubble and crash of 2001, which itself was a reaction to the Asian and Russian currency crisis of the late 1990′s.
The financial engineers will likely not abandon their efforts until they either succeed, or finally shake the real economy apart and destroy the US financial system and currency. How they define ‘success’ is likely to be stability at the price of freedom, a classic oligarchy with ‘enlightened despots.’ Their financial engineering will require ever greater control over policy and priorities to maintain its artificial equilibrium.
The banks must be restrained, the financial system reformed, and the economy brought back into balance before there can be a sustained recovery.
The chart below, which summarizes 5 years of Fed "forward guidance" on that most critical of variables - the Fed Funds rate - proves two things:
i) there is nothing worse in this world than being a Fed Funds, or Eurodollar, trader, considering 5 years of forecasts have been systematically destroyed by a Fed which has failed time and time and time again to stimulate the economy enough to push it away from ZIRP (and why any hope for the first rate hike in mid-2015 are idiotic), and
ii) when it comes to central planning, the economists that now openly control the bond and stock market and increasingly more of global capital flows, have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings perversely, since it i...
Chinese manufacturing remains in contraction for 2014. Output and new orders were down for the 4th consecutive month, but at a slightly reduced pace according to the HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI.
Commenting on the Flash China Manufacturing PMI survey, Hongbin Qu, Chief Economist, China & Co - Head of Asian Economic Research at HSBC said:
“The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI stabilised at 48.3 in April, up from 48.0 in March. Domestic demand showed mild improvement and deflationary pressures eased, but downside risks to growth are still evident...
We continue in this "V shaped" move off last week's touch of the 200 day moving average on the NASDAQ. The S&P 500 gained 0.41% and the NASDAQ 0.97%. The indexes are nearing overbought near term so a day or two of rest would serve the bulls well to try to attempt a new leg higher. In economic news existing home sales hit 4.59 million in March, versus a 4.55 million estimate.
In terms of the indexes the S&P 500 stalled at the trend line that connected the lows of summer 2013; some congestion lies ahead at year highs.
The NASDAQ has come back from deeply oversold conditions as this index is heavy with biotech and momentum stocks. The dotted blue line is the previous high; since early March we have not seen the NASDAQ make...
Bunge Limited (BG) is the world’s largest processor of soybeans. It is also a major producer of vegetable oils, fertilizer, sugar and bioenergy.
When commodities got hot in 2007-08, Bunge’s EPS shot up and the stock followed, rising 185% in 19 months.
The Great Recession took its toll on operations, dropping EPS to a low of $2.22 in 2009. Since then profits have recovered. They ranged from $4.62 - $5.90 in the latest three years. 2014 appears poised for a large increase. Consensus views from multiple sources see BG earning $7.04 - $7.10 this year and then $7.83 - $7.94 in 2015.
Shares in Las Vegas Sands Corp. (Ticker: LVS) are up sharply today, gaining as much as 5.7% to touch $80.12 and the highest level since April 4th, mirroring gains in shares of resort casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd. (Ticker: WYNN). The move in Wynn shares appears, at least in part, to follow a big increase in target price from analysts at CLSA who upped their target on the ‘buy’ rated stock to $350 from $250 a share. CLSA also has a ‘buy’ rating on Las Vegas Sands with a $100 price target according to a note from reporter, Janet Freund, on Bloomberg. Both companies are scheduled to report first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Thursday.
Yesterday, the market continued its winning ways for the fifth consecutive day. The S&P 500 closed within 1% of its all-time high, and the DJI was even closer to its all-time high. Healthcare, Energy and Technology led the sectors while Financials, Telecom, and Utilities finished slightly in the red. All three sectors in the red are typically flight-to-safety stocks, so despite lower than average volume, the market appears poised to make new highs.
Mid-cap Growth led the style/caps last week, up 2.87%, and Small-cap Growth trailed, up 2.22%. This week will bring well over 100 S&P 500 stocks reporting their March quarter earn...
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[Facebook] The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval in Ireland for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process.
The authorisation from Ireland’s central bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow ...
I just wanted to be sure you saw this. There’s a ‘live’ training webinar this Thursday, March 27th at Noon or 9:00 pm ET.
If GOOGLE, the NSA, and Steve Jobs all got together in a room with the task of building a tremendously accurate trading algorithm… it wouldn’t just be any ordinary system… it’d be the greatest trading algorithm in the world.
Well, I hate to break it to you though… they never got around to building it, but my friends at Market Tamer did.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
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