by phil - February 27th, 2012 8:02 am
This is frustrating isn't it?
The S&P fell to 1,355 in the Futures, breaking our rule to get bullish as they must hold 1,360 for 2 consecutive days so we're back to watching and waiting now as it's been two full weeks of teasing this line as the index creeps back into the bottom of David Fry's SPY channel.
We thought we were going to fail back at 1,300 but we caught a nice bounce off the bottom at the beginning of the month and flew up another 5.5% since then but now we're almost 10% over the 200 dma on less and less volume and that's one hell of an air pocket below us on the S&P so of course the lack of more free money from the G20 is going to hurt today – the question is – how much?
We discussed the G20 over the weekend, so no need to re-hash it here. Let's take a little time today to delve into the logic of S&P 1,360 and see if we can find some good reasons for it to stick. In his letter to shareholders this weekend, Warren Buffett very plainly says that his entire bullish premise is based on his believe that housing will make a comeback. Jim Bianco had an article on that this weekend noting Homebuilder Optimism has risen for 5 straight months, back to the highest level since May of 2007, at the early stages of the slowdown BUT – let's keep in mind that the sentiment level is 29 and anything below 50 is still NEGATIVE – so we have a long way to go!
We have been playing XRT short, expecting it to have been rejected at $56, like it was last summer prior to a 20% drop. Now XRT is at $58, up 31% from it's October lows and we have to wonder if the situation for Retail has REALLY gotten 31% better than high-volume investors were pricing it AFTER seeing last July's earnings reports or is this another major air bubble that's about to burst?
The January Retail Sales Report showed $361Bn in sales and that was up 5.6% from last year's $342Bn. This month we'll see an automatic 3.5% bump as February has an extra day (people fall for that one every 4 years) and we have strong…
by ilene - November 9th, 2010 4:56 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
Some people want you to believe that the Fed just injected the economy and stock market full of
Before we begin, it’s important that investors understand exactly what “
This is a crucial point that I think a lot of us are having trouble wrapping our heads around. In school we are taught that “cash” is its own unique asset class. But that’s not really true. “Cash” as it sits in your bank account is really just a very very liquid government liability. What is the difference between your checking and savings account? Do you classify them both as “cash”? Do you consider your savings accounts a slightly less liquid interest bearing form of the same thing a checking account is?
What is a treasury note account? It is a savings account with the government. So now you have to ask yourself why you think cash is so much different than a treasury note? What is the difference between your ETrade cash earning 0.1% and that t note earning 0.2%? NOTHING except the interest rate and the duration. You can’t use your 13 week bill to pay your taxes tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a slightly less liquid form of the exact same thing that we all refer to as “cash”. They are both govt liabilities and assets of yours.…
by ilene - November 3rd, 2010 11:52 am
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Given that the economy faces $15 trillion in writedowns in collateral and credit, the Fed’s $2 trillion dollars in new credit/liquidity is insufficient to trigger either inflation or another speculative bubble.
"Don’t fight the Fed" is supposed to be a strong argument for being bullish on the U.S. economy and stocks. We all know the Federal Reserve is about to unleash a torrent of money into the financial markets via its QE2 (quantitative easing) campaign of buying Treasury bonds directly and pulling various other monetary levers to open the liquidity gates.
But before we succumb to the excitement that accompanies the unleashing of the Fed’s supernatural powers, perhaps we should look at some numbers first.
Size of U.S. economy: $14 trillion. Probable size of QE2: $1 trillion. That means QE2 is perhaps 7% of GDP. Even a whopping $2 trillion QE would equal about 14% of GDP.
In contrast, by some measures China opened the floodgates of credit to the tune of fully 35% of their GDP to combat the contraction caused by the global financial meltdown in late 2008: China’s Creative Accounting.
How much collateral and credit will be destroyed as the U.S. economy rolls over into recession/depression in 2011-14? Based on the latest (September 17, 2010) Fed Flow of Funds, here is my back-of-the-envelope estimates of losses yet to be booked in assets (collateral) and credit (debt):
1. Residential real estate: current value, $18.8 trillion. Estimated value in 2014: $13.8 trillion, i.e. a decline of $5 trillion or 26%. If all impaired mortgages are written down or sold for fair market value, I am guessing the full $5 trillion will need to be written off by somebody, somewhere.
My 26% estimate is conservative; according to the Case-Shiller Index chart, a decline of 40% would be required to return the index to the year-2000 level.
2. Commercial real estate (CRE): The Flow of Funds only reports "nonfarm nonfinancial corporate business" so the CRE number of $6.5 trillion is a few trillion light (that is, we need to add in CRE owned by financial corporations). I am estimating writedowns of $3 trillion--a number others have also guesstimated.
by ilene - October 29th, 2010 3:18 am
Courtesy of Gordon T Long of Tipping Points
In September 2008 the US came to a fork in the road. The Public Policy decision to not seize the banks, to not place them in bankruptcy court with the government acting as the Debtor-in-Possession (DIP), to not split them up by selling off the assets to successful and solvent entities, set the world on the path to global currency wars.
By lowering interest rates and effectively guaranteeing a weak dollar through undisciplined fiscal policy, the US ignited an almost riskless global US$ Carry Trade and triggered an uncontrolled Currency War with the mercantilist, export driven Asian economies. We are now debasing the US dollar with reckless spending and money printing with the policies of Quantitative Easing (QE) and the expectations of QE II. Both are nothing more than effectively defaulting on our obligations to sound money policy and a “strong US$”. Meanwhile with a straight face we deny that this is our intention.
It’s called debase, default and deny.
Though prior to the 2008 financial crisis our largest banks had become casino like speculators with public money lacking in fiduciary responsibility, our elected officials bailed them out. Our leadership placed America and the world unknowingly (knowingly?) on a preordained destructive path because it was politically expedient and the easiest way out of a difficult predicament. By kicking the can down the road our political leadership, like the banks, avoided their fiduciary responsibility. Similar to a parent wanting to be liked and a friend to their children they avoided the difficult discipline that is required at certain critical moments in life. The discipline to make America swallow a needed pill. The discipline to ask Americans to accept a period of intense adjustment. A period that by now would be starting to show signs of success versus the abyss we now find ourselves staring into. A future that is now significantly worse and with potentially fatal pain still to come.
Unemployed Americans, the casualties of the financial crisis wrought by the banks, witness the same banks declaring record earnings while these banks refuse to lend. When the banks once more are caught with their fingers in the cookie jar with falsified robo-signing mortgage title fraud, they again look for the compliant parent to look the other way. Meanwhile the US debt levels and spending associated with protecting these failed…
by ilene - August 1st, 2010 8:19 pm
Barry Ritholtz made this comment in summarizing the article:
In short, the party became more focused on Politics than Policy.
I bring this up as an intro to David Stockman’s brutal critique of Republican fiscal policy. Stockman was the director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. His NYT OpEd — subhed: How the GOP Destroyed the US economy — perfectly summarizes the most legitimate critiques of decades of GOP economic policy.
I can sum it up thusly: Whereas the Democrats have no economic policy, the Republicans have a very bad one.
By DAVID STOCKMAN, NY Times
This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy. More specifically, the new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one.
The first of these started when the Nixon administration defaulted on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world. Now, since we have lived beyond our means as a nation for nearly 40 years, our cumulative current-account deficit — the combined shortfall on our trade in goods, services and income — has reached nearly $8 trillion. That’s borrowed prosperity on an epic scale.
The second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt.
The third ominous change in the American economy has been the vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector. Here, Republicans have been oblivious to the grave danger of flooding financial markets with freely printed money and, at the same time, removing traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation. As a result, the combined assets of conventional banks and the so-called shadow banking system (including investment banks and finance companies) grew from a mere $500 billion in 1970 to $30 trillion by September 2008.
But the trillion-dollar conglomerates that inhabit this new financial world are not free enterprises. They are rather wards of the state, extracting billions from the economy with a lot of pointless speculation in stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives. They could…
by ilene - May 1st, 2010 4:24 pm
Beijing Real Estate Association Admits There’s A ‘Big Bubble’, Supports New Measure To Ban Home Buying
Beijing on Friday announced a ban on families buying more than one home, in addition to other measures aimed at cooling the city’s hot property market.
As of Friday, "one family can only buy one new apartment in the city for the time being," the municipal government said in a statement. The government also ordered the implementation of central government policies that ban mortgages for purchases of a third or third-plus home.
It also instigated a central government ban on mortgages to non-local residents who cannot provide more than one year of tax returns or proof of social security payments in Beijing. The statement called for "resolutely curbing unreasonable housing demand." It ordered the implementation of measures earlier unveiled by the State Council on second-home purchases.
One of these days, property market tightening measures are going to hit the market hard. It’s fat chance that these regulatory efforts can perfectly balance out the market so that prices simply stop rising and all is calm.
The latest measures, more harsh than those released by the State Council, are aimed clearly at curbing speculation and promoting healthy and stable development of the property sector, Chen Zhi, deputy secretary-general of Beijing Real Estate Association, told Xinhua.
Speculation is the main reason behind high home prices in Beijing, Chen said.
"There exists a rather big bubble in the city’s real estate market. Housing has become more unaffordable for many," he added.
So even the Beijing real estate association is worrying about a bubble. At least give them some credit here. Did America’s National Association of Realtors (NAR) ever caution that the U.S. housing market has a ‘big bubble’? If they did, we don’t recall it.
BEIJING: The city of Beijing has issued rules limiting families to one new apartment purchase as authorities try to rein in rampant property speculation and soaring prices, state media reported Friday. More here.>>
by ilene - April 1st, 2010 2:15 pm
About Bill Fleckenstein
by ilene - March 30th, 2010 5:13 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Inquiring minds are reading a GMO white paper on China’s Red Flags
In the aftermath of the credit crunch, the outlook for most developed economies appears pretty bleak. Households need to deleverage. Western governments will have to tighten their purse strings. Faced with such grim prospects at home, many investors are turning their attention toward China. It’s easy to see why they are excited. China combines size – 1.3 billion inhabitants – with tremendous growth prospects. Current income per capita is roughly one-tenth of U.S. levels. The People’s Republic also has a great track record. Over the past thirty years, China’s Gross Domestic Product has increased sixteen-fold.
So what’s the catch? The trouble is that China today exhibits many of the characteristics of great speculative manias. The aim of this paper is to describe the common features of some of the great historical bubbles and outline China’s current vulnerability.
Past manias and financial crises have shared many common characteristics. Below is an attempt to list ten aspects of great bubbles over the past three centuries.
1. Great investment debacles generally start out with a compelling growth story. This may be attached to some revolutionary new technology, such as railways in the nineteenth century, radio in the 1920s, or more recently the Internet. Even when the new technology is for real, prospective rates of growth may beexaggerated. Early growth spurts are commonly extrapolated into the distant future. ….
2. A blind faith in the competence of the authorities is another typical feature of a classic mania. In the 1920s, investors believed that the recently established Federal Reserve had brought an end to “boom and bust.” A similar argument was trotted out in the mid-1990s when it was widely believed that the Greenspan Fed had succeeded in taming the business cycle. The “New Paradigm” disappeared in the bear market of the new millennium. It was soon replaced with the “Great Moderation” thesis of Ben Bernanke, which suggested that high levels of mortgage debt made sense because monetary policymaking was so vastly improved. …
3. A general increase in investment is another leading indicator of financial distress. Capital is generally misspent during periods of euphoria. Only during the bust does the extent of the misallocation become clear. As the nineteenth century economist John Mills
by ilene - February 17th, 2010 11:39 am
In his latest note, David Rosenberg details the massive sentiment swin from hating the dollar and loving the euro to the mirror opposite.
So, as we see in the latest Commitment of Traders report, the massive swing in the U.S. dollar from a huge net short position to a record net long position in the futures and options pits has seen its best days. The net speculative long position that took the greenback up 8% from the lows has surged to an all-time high of 40,972 contracts; even cutting this excess exuberance over the U.S. dollar by half would require more of what we saw yesterday, which is a giveback in the currency. (As confirmation on the excess optimism that now prevails over the greenback, investor optimism on the U.S. dollar (a net 57%) in the just-released Merrill Lynch Global Fund Manager survey hit a 10-year high). So long as the U.S. dollar is softening as sentiment recedes from these lofty levels, risk appetite is bound to come back for a little while, as we saw yesterday with that impressive triple-digit up-move in the Dow.
The flip-side, of course, is the Euro, which has an unprecedented amount of net speculative short positions against it. Again, this net short position is now in the process of reversing course and in this process we are likely to see risk assets enjoy a counter-trend bounce. (We should add here that another “defensive” currency that has commanded a lot of attention from the noncommercial accounts is the Japanese Yen, which also has the most pronounced net speculative long position in nine weeks). These are rallies worth renting but not owning.
by ilene - November 14th, 2009 1:06 pm
Phil to Ilene:
This is a complicated issue as it’s not just the act of creating a contract.
Let’s say there are 100,000 barrels of oil in the world and 10 are sold each day and they are shipped from various places in various amounts but generally there are, at any given time, 30 days of oil at sea (300 barrels). If I am taking straight delivery, I would contract with the producers to deliver me 1 barrel of oil per day for a year or 5 years or whatever for $50 a barrel. My interest is to have a steady supply and the producers interest is to have a steady demand. He wants to charge as much as possible, I want to pay as little as possible.
Enter the speculators. Rather than me (the actual user) haggling with the producer directly (as is done in most business transactions), the speculator steps in and offers to buy as much oil as the guy can produce for $40. I can’t do that because I only need one barrel a day but if the guy can make 1.3 or 1.6 barrels a day or he can add a new pump and make 2 barrels a day, knowing he has a buyer at $40, he will be thrilled (assuming the profits work selling 2Bpd at $80 vs 1Bpd at $50).
In a perfect world, the speculator is simply taking on some risk and will make the difference between the $40 they are paying and the $50 I am willing to pay and they will sell the excess for $40-50 and make a nice overall profit.
But then the speculators get greedy. They know I NEED 1 barrel per day and perhaps there was some seasonality to pricing or natural fluctuation but all the speculator has to do is wait for the price to rise and then hold it there. If supply is uneven, they can divert some to storage. They are still buying it, creating demand but they are not delivering it so there is suddenly a “shortage” where none existed before. As they accumulate more barrels in storage (say 100) they realize that getting the price up to $60 makes them not only $10 a day more per barrel they sell me,…