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11 января, 16:45

Bill Gross: The bond bear actually began 18 months ago, after the Brexit vote

Even though commentary focused on the prevailing bond levels today, what Gross is saying is that the bottom in yields was actually July 2016, 18 months ago. Related posts: What will policy normalization mean for credit markets (wonkish) What are credit markets signalling about the US economy? Why the flattening yield curve doesn’t worry me yet

Выбор редакции
10 января, 15:49

Gundlach vs Gross: Here’s how a bond bear market starts

It’s semantics whether 2.50%, 2.63% or 3.00% is the right level to declare a bear market in bonds. What matters is that the two best-known bond market investors are now saying we are in or near a bond bear market. Related posts: Policy divergence revisited The divergence in equity and credit markets What will policy normalization mean for credit markets (wonkish)

23 декабря 2017, 19:57

Dave Collum's 2017 Year In Review: "The Bubble In Everything Grew"

Authored by Dave Collum via PeakProsperity.com, A downloadable pdf of the full article is available here, for those who prefer to do their power-reading offline. Introduction “He is funnier than you are.” ~David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital, on Dave Barry’s Year in Review Every December, I write a survey trying to capture the year’s prevailing themes. I appear to have stiff competition - the likes of Dave Barry on one extreme and on the other, Pornhub’s marvelous annual climax that probes deeply personal preferences in the world’s favorite pastime. (I know when I’m licked.) My efforts began as a few paragraphs discussing the markets on Doug Noland’s bear chat board and monotonically expanded to a tome covering the orb we call Earth. It posts at Peak Prosperity, reposts at ZeroHedge, and then fans out from there. Bearishness and right-leaning libertarianism shine through as I spelunk the Internet for human folly to couch in snarky prose while trying to avoid the “expensive laugh” (too much setup). I rely on quotes to let others do the intellectual heavy lifting. “Consider adding more of your own thinking and judgment to the mix . . . most folks are familiar with general facts but are unable to process them into a coherent and actionable framework.” ~Tony Deden, founder of Edelweiss Holdings, on his second read through my 2016 Year in Review “Just the facts, ma’am.” ~Joe Friday By October, I have usually accrued 500 single-spaced pages of notes, quotes, and anecdotes. Fresh ideas occasionally emerge, but most of my distillation is an intellectual recycling program relying heavily on fair use laws.4 I often suffer from pareidolia—random images or sounds perceived as significant. Regarding the extent that self-serving men and women of wealth do sneaky crap, I am an out-of-the-closet conspiracy theorist. If you think conspiracies do not exist, then you are a card-carrying idiot. Currently, locating the increasingly fuzzy fact–fiction interfaces is nearly impossible thanks to the post-election bewitching of 50 percent of the populace. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” ~David Ogilvy, marketing expert You might be asking, “What’s with the title, Dave? My 401K is doing great, and I own a few Bitcoin!” Yes, indeed: your 401K fiddled its way to new highs day after day, but this too shall pass—it always does—and not without some turbulence. This year was indeed a tough one to survey. As many peer through beer goggles at intoxicatingly rising markets, I kept seeing dead people (Figure 1). “We seem to be living in the riskiest moment of our lives, and yet the stock market seems to be napping: I admit to not understanding it.” ~Richard Thaler, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics Figure 1. An original by CNBC's Jeff Macke, chartist and artist extraordinaire. A poem for Dave's Year In Review The bubble in everything grew This nut from Cornell Say's we're heading for hell As I look at the data…#MeToo [email protected] Some will notice that in decidedly political sections, the term “progressives” is used pejoratively. Their behavior has become nearly incomprehensible to me. My almost complete neglect of the right wing loonies may reflect some bias, but politically, they have taken a knee. They have become irrelevant. Free speech is a recurring theme, introducing interesting paradoxes for employee–employer relationships. Some say I have no filter. They obviously have no clue what I want to say. In case my hints are too subtle, I offer the following: Sources I sit in front of a computer 16 hours a day, at least three of which are dedicated to non-chemistry pursuits. I’m a huge fan of Adam Taggart and Chris Martenson (Peak Prosperity), Tony Greer (TG Macro), Doug Noland (Credit Bubble Bulletin), Grant Williams (Real Vision and TTMYGH), Raoul Pal (Real Vision), Bill Fleckenstein (Fleckenstein Capital), James Grant (Grant’s Interest Rate Observer), and Campus Reform—but there are so many more. ZeroHedge is by far my preferred consolidator of news. Twitter is a window to the world if managed correctly. Good luck with that. And don’t forget it’s public! Everything needs an open mind, discerning eye, and a coarse-frit filter. “You are given a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you are given a front row seat, and some of us get to sit there with notebooks.” ~George Carlin, comedian Contents Footnotes appear as superscripts with hyperlinks in the “Links” section. The whole beast can be downloaded as a single PDF xxhere or viewed in parts—the sections are reasonably self-contained—via the linked contents as follows: Part 1 Introduction Sources Contents My Personal Year in Review Investing Economy Broken Markets Market Valuations Market Sentiment Volatility Stock Buybacks Indexing and Exchange-Traded Funds Miscellaneous Market Absurdities Long-Term Real Returns and Risk Premia Gold Bitcoin Housing and Real Estate Pensions Inflation versus Deflation Bonds Banks Corporate Scandals The Fed Europe Venezuela North Korea China Middle East Links in Part 1  Part 2 Natural Disasters Price Gouging The Biosphere and Price Gouging Sports Civil Liberties Antifa Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood Political Correctness–Adult Division Political Correctness–Youth Division Campus Politics Unionization: Collum versus the American Federation of Teachers Political Scandals Clintons Russiagate Media Trump Las Vegas Conclusion Books Acknowledgements Links in Part 2 My Personal Year in Review Who cares what an academic organic chemist thinks? I’m still groping for that narrative. In the meantime, let me offer a few personal milestones that serve as a résumé while feeding my inner narcissist. I remain linked into the podcast circuit, having had chats with Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert (Russia Today aka RT),5 Chris Martenson,6 Jim Kunstler (The KunstlerCast),7 Lior Gantz (Wealth Research Group),8 Anthony Crudele (Futures Radio Show),9 Susan Lustick (News-Talk 870 WHCU),10 Jason Burack (Wall St. for Main St.),11 Dale Pinkert (FXStreet),12 Lance Roberts (Lance Roberts Show),13 and Jason Hartman (Hartman Media Company).14 I also spoke at Lance Roberts’s Economic and Investment Summit discussing campus politics15 and the Stansberry Conference (Figure 2) arguing the merits of price gouging.16 I got into a big spat with the American Federation of Teachers and some local social justice warriors that made it to the national press (see “Unions”) and dropped 30 pounds unaided by disease. “And, before anyone should doubt what a chemistry professor would know about unions and what effect they would have, it should be noted that Collum has amassed a following for his annual 100-page papers on the state of business and politics. Turns out, he knows a thing or two about economics and politics as well.” ~Joe Cunningham, RedState Figure 2. The lovely Grant Williams, brainy Danielle DiMartino Booth, and one of the Paddock brothers in Las Vegas. On the professional side, I had a great year: I finished my stint as department chair; started a sabbatical leave; broke my single-year total publication record; and broke my single-year record for papers in the elite Journal of the American Chemical Society. I attempted to extend a contiguous string of 20 federal grants without a rejection by submitting two NIH grants and subsequently got totally blown out of the water. (OK. I’m still walking that one off. I think the panel finally noticed that I am deranged.) I was accepted into an organization called the Heterodoxy Academy, whose membership includes hundreds of tenured professors standing up for free speech on college campuses.17 “My job is to write the exact same thing between 50 and 100 times a year in such a way that neither my editors nor my readers will ever think I am repeating myself.” ~Jason Zweig, Wall Street Journal columnist Investing “I dig your indefatigable bearishness, my friend.” ~Paul Kedrosky, one of the earliest bloggers I’m sensing a tinge of Paul's sarcasm. My net worth from January 1, 2000, has compounded at a ballpark annualized rate of 7 percent. That’s not so bad, but the path has been rather screwy. From mid ’99 through early ’03, I carried cash, gold, silver, and a small short position. I kept buying gold through about 2005 (up to $700 an ounce), resumed in 2015, and bought several multiples of my annual salary’s worth in 2016. I’m done now. Gold is up 8 percent, and silver is down –2 percent in 2017 thanks to a minor end-of-year sell off. The spanking from ’11 to ’15 seems to have subsided. Precious metals, etc.: 29% Energy: 0% Cash equivalent (short term): 62% Standard equities: 9% “Most people invest and then sit around worrying what the next blowup will be. I do the opposite. I wait for the blowup, then invest.” ~Richard Rainwater I was totally blindsided by the downturn in gold starting in ’11 and energy in ’13. (Energy peaked in ’08 but was on the mend until ’13.) I bought energy steadily starting in ’01 with broadly based energy funds and a special emphasis on natural gas. The timing of entry was impeccable and all was going swimmingly—I was a genius!—until the Saudi oil minister attempted to talk oil down from $110 to $80 per barrel18 in '13. He thought he could blow the frackers out of the game fast, but it was a hold-my-beer moment for our credit system. The frackers kept fracking, the oil price overshot the Sheik's target by $50 per barrel, and I got whacked for 30–45% losses over four years starting in '14.19 It is impossible to know when you’re being a highly disciplined buy-and-hold investor—a Microsoft and Apple gazillionaire refusing to sell—or just an idiot. I sensed that the rotten debt had been purged and we were through the worst of the energy downturn. I worried that a recession could do a number on me, but it took years to get to my position through incremental buying. I’m holding on, goddammit! We seem to be running out of downside. Unbeknownst to me until October, however, my employer had liquidated my energy funds—every last one of them—and put me in a life-cycle fund in April. Sell ’em after they plummet? Thanks guys. A rational investor, if committed to hold them, would undo the general equity fund restrictions—I did—and buy the energy funds right back—I didn’t. Friends in high places all said to wait. About a week later, the Middle East erupted in what looked like a sand-to-glass phase transition (see “Middle East”), and energy started to move in sympathy. Peachy. Fidelity actually saved me a little money, but I am still white-knuckling the cash, growing a long wishlist, waiting for a generalized sell-off/recession to offer some serious sub-historical-mean bargains (see “Broken Markets”). The correction in ’09 at the very bottom brought us to the historical mean, but not through it. For this reason, I have largely skipped this equity cycle. The current expansion is long in the tooth and founded on poor fundamentals. I hope that the wait won’t be too long. Until then . . . “Remember, when Mr. Market shows up at your door, you don’t have to answer.” ~Meb Faber, co-founder and CIO of Cambria Investment Management Economy “A decade after the biggest crisis since the Depression, a broad synchronized recovery is under way.” ~The Economist, March 2016 Whoa! Fantastic! Goldilocks survived another bear. There is just one hitch: that was a total load of crap in 2016, and it’s a colossal load now. Let’s take a peek at a few gray rhinos—“large and visible problems in the economy that are ignored until they start moving fast.” GDP growth rates from 1930–39 and 2007–16 were as follows:20 GDP growth in the 1930’s 1930: –8.5%     1935: 8.9%1931: –6.4%     1936: 12.9%1932: –12.9%   1937: 5.1%1933: –1.3%     1938: –3.3%1934: 10.8%     1939: 8.0% GDP growth in the new millennium 2007: 1.8%       2012: 2.2%2008: –0.3%     2013: 1.7%2009: –2.8%     2014: 2.4%2010: 2.5%       2015: 2.6%2011: 1.6%       2016: 1.6% Whether you use the arithmetic or geometric mean, both gave us 1.3 percent annualized growth. Let’s spell this out: during the recent era in which markets soared, the economy tracked the Great Depression. It is instructive to look at the economy with a little more granularity than the writers at The Economist-Lite. According to John Mauldin, total domestic corporate profits have grown at an annualized rate of just 0.1 percent over the last five years.21,22 Goldman’s Abby Joseph Cohen says R&D spending is down to 2.5 percent of GDP from 4.5 percent and is a drag on the economy.23 Economic bellwether General Electric saw revenue drop 12 percent and earnings fall 50 percent year-over-year,24 and these numbers are aided by the company’s legendary creative accounting schemes.25 Meanwhile, corporate America witnessed a 71 percent rise in business debt since 2008. According to economist Lacy Hunt, “It’s the investment, the real investment, which grows the economy,” prompting the legendary market maven @RudyHavenstein to state dryly, “I like Hunt.” Where are they spending all that borrowed money? Hold that thought. Long-term demographic problems—“quantitative aging” (Figure 3)—exacerbated by dropping sperm counts26 suggests the economy will continue to shoot blanks. Figure 3. Demographics looking sketchy. Putative job gains affiliated with this low growth are fragile if not dubious as hell and are being boosted by the “Dusenberry effect”—consumers’ reluctance to stop spending even after their income drops—which will cause the next recession to be a real Dusey. (Sorry.) Eventually, common sense prevails as companies run out of credit and savings-deficient consumers reassume the fetal position. According to extensive work by Ned Davis Research, cash levels among households are near their lowest levels of all time; consumer resiliency is always temporary. “When it is all said and done, there are approximately 94 million full-time workers in private industry paying taxes to support 102 million non-workers and 21 million government workers. In what world does this represent a strong job market?” ~Jim Quinn, The Burning Platform blog The Bureau of Labor Statistics has turned to Common Core math. How can we have 100 million working-age adults—40 percent of the working-age population—not working, 4 percent unemployment, and employers claiming the labor market is tight? Are 90 percent of those without jobs professional couch potatoes? Let’s first look at employment in some detail and then address that whole “tight” part. Googles of pixels have been dedicated to the obligatory labor force participation rate (Figure 4), a critical component of any economic debunking. Of those employed, 26 million people are in low-wage, part-time jobs (Figure 5), 8 million hold multiple jobs, and 10 million are “self-employed.”27 Another 21 million work for the government, which means they are a tax on the free market. In 2016, 40 percent of new jobs were fabricated through the specious “birth and death model.”28 2017 will presumably post similar numbers. Occasional reports of large job growth are deceptive. July, for example, witnessed 393,000 benefit-free, part-time, low-skill jobs offset by a drop of 54,000 full-time workers. Payroll numbers keep coming in lower than expected, which economists invariably blame on some big, yet unseen effect they are paid to notice. Nine out of 10 millennials living on their parents’ couches a year ago are still clutching TV remotes.29 There are now 45–50 million Americans on food stamps, up from 14 million in December 2007,30 when the last recession was already underway. Figure 4. Labor force participation. I am going to let Jeff Snyder take a crack at explaining the tight labor market:31 “The economy is tight, not favourably tight as in no slack in the labour market, but more so tight in that there is little margin for addition. . . . The reality in the markets is this: executives are reluctant to pay wages at a market-clearing rate.” ~Jeff Snyder, Alhambra Investments Figure 5. Low-paying service jobs versus manufacturing jobs. Poor economic numbers are pervasive. Auto sales are canaries in the coal mine and getting crushed despite aggressive incentives.32 Ford is already suffering and predicting a multi-year slowdown.33 A car industry crunch analogous to that in ’09 may appear in ’18 as expiring leases leave consumers underwater owing to dropping used car prices, and decreasing profits in the auto industry may “then turn from secular to structural problems.”34 Morgan Stanley predicts a 50 percent drop in used car prices over the next 4–5 years,35 which will gut the new car business. The auto downturn has already begun. Wells Fargo is reporting large drops in auto loans after a long stretch during which subprime car loans flourished yet again.36 That should put a fork in the new car market. Yield-starved investors are chasing cash- and income-starved car buyers. Subprime auto-asset-backed securities will take yet another beating. Chrysler is teaming up with Santander Consumer USA to push out “unverified income” subprime auto loans using “automated decision making.” Santander seems to have nine lives, and they’ll need all of them. The hyperdeveloped loan market for used cars, however, is already faltering (Figure 6); delinquency rates are rising. Goldman expects “challenging consumer affordability” and has downgraded General Motors to “sell.”37 Those cars y’all bought on cheap credit yesterday will not be bought tomorrow. Claims that the hurricanes cleared out auto inventory38 are grotesquely underestimating the magnitude of the overhang and will be paid for by reduced consumption in other sectors. Any consumption pulled forward with debt has a deferred cost. Figure 6. Some key auto industry stats (a) loans and leases, (b) loan delinquencies. We’ll take a crack at the housing market in its own section and simply note here that the cost of renting or buying normalized to income has never been higher. Approximately half of tenants spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, doubling from a decade ago.39 A survey of 20 cities showed that housing costs are growing at a 6 percent annualized pace. Our paychecks are not. Housing is a bubblette and likely to offer fire-sale bargains again. What many fail to grasp is that the reduced cost of borrowing owing to low rates is offset by higher prices. When interest rates were 15 percent, houses were cheap. Austrian business cycle theory says easy money policies generate overdevelopment and other malinvestment. The day of reckoning appears to be here. (I say that every year…channeling Gail Dudek.) Familiar brands like Toys “R” Us (my keyboard has no backwards R), JCPenny, Abercrombie & Fitch, Sears, Bon-Ton, and Nordstrom are gasping their last gasps before drowning in debt with no customers to save them. Total retail revenues and sales (including online) are up only 28 percent from the 2007 high.40 The management of Ascena Retail referred to an “unprecedented secular change.”41 More than 100,000 retail jobs have vaporized since October 2016.42 Credit Suisse estimates that more than 8,000 retail outlets closed this year.43 Consumer goods companies have held up better because consumers generally put off starving or freezing to death until all options are exhausted. Restaurants are extending the longest stretch of year-over-year declines for 16 consecutive months (last I looked).44 Business Insider blames millennials because they are “more attracted than their elders to cooking at home” (particularly when it’s their parents’ home.) Manhattan retail bankruptcies are called “horrifying.”45 Chapter 11s and company reorganizations in foreign courts increased sevenfold.46 Mall owners are using jingle mail—a term from the ’08–’09 crisis referring to leaving keys to creditors. Commercial retail will be coming into its own refinancing wave in 2018. Bears are sniffing around commercial-mortgage-backed securities as malls around the country begin to die.47 The next downturn will finish many of them off. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are positioning to short the brick-and-mortar retail. (Quick: somebody grab the ticker symbol “MAUL.”) Some suggest the Rout in Retail is merely a secular shift to online. Sounds logical except online sales represent only 8.5 percent of total retail sales.48 This argument might be masking a huge downturn in retail corresponding to the bursting of yet another Fed-sponsored bubble. As Amazon encroaches on every nook and cranny of retail sales, what began as a murmur has turned into a chorus: “This isn’t fair; somebody must do something!” Walmart knows this plotline. Market dominance does not connote “monopoly,” but Amazon has an image problem. Amazon gets a $1.46 subsidy (discount) per box from the USPS, well below its cost.49 Seems cheesy. Congress is showing concern out of self-interest. A monopoly is when a company uses its power to blow its competitors out of the water garishly. Who decides what is garish and when enough is enough? A judge under political pressure. A detailed summary of the breadth of Amazon’s market share and its anti-competitive pricing suggests that we are getting close.50 There’s nothing like a protracted anti-trust suit to mute the growth of a large conglomerate. Just ask the Microsoft high command. If our problems are not Amazon, what are they? Austrian business cycle theory says that our debt-driven, consumer-based economy endorsed by sell-side economists and analysts worldwide is unsustainable. Wealth is made, mined, grown, or coded, only then do you get to consume it. Wealth is extinguished by consumption, depreciation, and destruction. Central bankers seem to believe you can will wealth into existence by generating animal spirits. The next recession will start unnoticeably. Economists seem to miss every single one, often declaring telltale indicators irrelevant. Then you will hear phrases like “technical recession,” “growth recession,” or “earnings recession,” all eventually giving way to somebody opening the Lost Arc. If the next recession flushes the waste products (malinvestment) left behind by the central-bank-truncated ’08-’09 recession, it will reveal the central bankers to be charlatans. Even a typical recession witnesses near 40 percent losses in equity portfolios, which will leave already immunocompromised consumers vegetative. Banks will constrict lending to preserve capital, further slowing the economy. Weak businesses living off easy credit will become pink mist. An accelerating vicious cycle downward will take with it formerly viable businesses that could have survived a less arrogant monetary policy. This collateral damage was avoidable at least in its magnitude, but it can’t be avoided now. Are we on the cusp of the next recession? Citigroup “clients” say not even close (Figure 7). I think we are staring into the abyss. Figure 7. June 2017 Citigroup client survey of recession odds. Will this expansion continue because it has been pathetic or die because it is old? I cast my vote for the latter. The Fed and its central bank brethren, whether to retrieve residual credibility—they have precious little—or out of the deep-seated, albeit misguided belief that they are in charge of the economy, have decided it is time to “normalize rates” and undo quantitative easing. (We are now forced to accept the equally silly term “quantitative tightening.”) You can blame the ensuing problems on the tightening if you wish, but the huge mistakes were made long before this tightening cycle commenced. Every postwar recession until now was been preceded by a tightening cycle (although not all tightening cycles lead to recessions). Why not simply refuse to tighten? It won’t work, but the Fed governors are probably entertaining this possibility. “The central banks did their job. Unfortunately, almost nobody else has done theirs.” ~Martin Wolf, Financial Times “As has come to be commonplace, almost everything Mr. Wolf suggests is incorrect.” ~Tim F. Price, Cerberus Capital and author of Investing Through the Looking Glass (see “Books”) I’ll close this discussion with a brief mention of “creative destruction,” the process by which the new (and improved) ushers out the decrepit and out-of-date. It is a central tenet of capitalism—survival of the fittest—but has a disruptive dark side. McDonald’s (and every other service industry) is turning to kiosks to replace more costly human labor. Driverless cars will be awesome but also force car-based workers—potentially millions of them—to find new work. The financialization of the economy by central bankers has tipped the capital–labor balance profoundly toward capital. We will produce goods better and more efficiently, but the Darwinian adjustments will rock the system. Accelerated product cycles facilitated by excess capital can also be highly inefficient. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and faced its own black swan—railroads—that same year. Blockbuster was offed by Netflix as fast as it appeared. Can creative destruction happen too fast? Have product cycles become too short? Bulldoze your house every five years to build a better one and tell me how that works. Loose credit accelerates creative destruction, but not without a price. “A high initial saving rate has been associated with subsequently stronger economic growth, while a low saving rate produces a lower growth pattern.” ~Lacy Hunt, economist, noting soaring consumer debt Broken Markets “I think we have fake markets. . . . Everything is so tight, it is hard to pick a winner from a group that is fake.” ~Bill Gross, Janus "One word characterizes why the bull market can go on for years…'Goldilocks'" ~Sam Ro, Yahoo Finance “I’m not worried about the economy so much; what I’m concerned about is valuation.” ~David Swensen, Yale University’s longtime CIO "I think the bull market could continue forever." ~Jim Paulsen, Wells Fargo Regression to the mean is a force of nature. It is also a mathematical truism that markets reside below the mean for half of their price-weighted existence. The failure to go through the mean in ’09 is an anomaly caused by global central bankers that remains as an IOU on investors’ balance sheets and foreshadows trouble to come. Our system is constantly being overtly displaced from equilibrium by central bankers who view displacement as their mandate. Physical scientists know that any system displaced from equilibrium tends to return to equilibrium. The French physicist Carnot, often called the father of modern thermodynamics, showed that the round trip necessarily comes at a cost no matter how efficient the process: it’s a law of physics. Any chemist will tell you that a system massively displaced often returns with a considerable cost: you blow up your laboratory. Geologists? Volcanoes and earthquakes. Ski bums? Avalanches. How far are asset markets from equilibrium? The pros have some opinions: “Asset valuations historically aren’t way out of line, but elevated I would say, relative to historical averages.” ~Lael Brainard, Federal Reserve governor “Measured against interest rates, stocks actually are on the cheap side compared to historic valuations.” ~Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, channeling the Fed model “Compared to the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1637, stocks still look undervalued.” ~Rudy Havenstein (@RudyHavenstein), Funniest Tweeter of the Millennium Case closed. Let’s get a six-pack and watch football. The problem is that Brainard is a Fed governor, Havenstein is nuts, and Buffett is known for spewing some serious bullshit. Buffett’s favorite indicator—market cap to GDP—is double the historical mean (vide infra)—what market analyst John Hussman calls “historically offensive valuations.” Buffett also wrote an article in 1999 stating without qualification that returns are not about the economy at all.51 Secular bull markets are powered by falling interest rates and secular bear markets by rising rates. With interest rates at multi-century lows, it seems likely the old codger knows that his implicit reliance on the Fed’s valuation model is lunacy. As an aside, Berkshire has the largest cash hoard in its history—$100 billion—and it’s not being used to buy stocks that are “on the cheap side.” Others, only partially impeded by cognitive dissonance and the task of selling assets at any cost, seem to have neurons firing spasmotically (sense something): “We think the market still has the potential to move higher as investors capitulate into equities.” ~Merrill Lynch “Folks, I have been in this business for over 46 years, and observing markets with my father for 54 years, and I have never experienced anything like what is currently happening. . . . There are years left to run in this one.” ~Jeff Saut, Raymond James “It seems like uncertainty is the new norm, so you just learn to live with it.” ~Ethan Harris, global economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch The fear of missing out (FOMO) is driving the markets way out over their skis. Markets could get much crazier, of course, but as any serious blackjack card counter will tell you, when the deck is stacked against you, size your bets accordingly. "If you pay well above the historical mean for assets, you will get returns well below the historical mean." ~Paraphrased John Hussman This Hussman quote is a recycle from last year but well worth repeating to make sure you understand it. He goes on to channel Ben Graham by noting that the devastating losses come from purchasing low-quality securities when times are good. The Hussman quote also pairs well with ideas about valuation I cobbled together from a well-known maxim about savings: “Overvaluation is appreciation pulled forward.” “Undervaluation is deferred appreciation.” ~David Collum This one passed the Google test for originality. I don’t know about you, but I want my appreciation in the future, or as James Grant (channeling Joe Robillard) likes to say, “I want everybody to agree with me . . . only later.” Valuations are meaningless as long as market participants are determined to buy stocks, but that mood will change at some point. Once markets are overvalued, however, you will give back those and any further gains during the next irrepressible regression to the mean, more so as you linger below the mean. I hasten to add that slight overvaluation is not a problem: the regression will be embedded within the noise. If, however, markets are way overvalued, an unknowable but inevitable combination of price drop and time—a retrenchment that could last decades—will usher invested boomers to the Gates of Hell. What do current valuations tell us about future returns assuming the laws of thermodynamics have not been repealed? Market Valuations “The median stock in the S&P has never been valued higher than it is today.” ~Jesse Felder, The Felder Report “There’s just no other way to say it: the market is insanely overvalued right now. It’s the longest recovery in history. It’s also the weakest. But you’d never know it from the stock market.” ~ David Stockman, former Reagan economic advisor and former Blackstone group partner “We are observing an episode that will make future investors wince. Just like the two closest analogs, the 1929 high and the tech bubble, I expect that future investors will shake their heads in wonder at the stark raving madness of it all, and ask what Wall Street could possibly have been thinking.” ~John Hussman, Hussman Funds “The gap between the S&P 500 and economic fundamentals can now be measured in light years.” ~Eric Pomboy, president of Meridian Macro Research "I believe fragilities today are much more systemic on a global basis than back in 2007. Where’s the Bubble? Virtually everywhere… The scope of today’s global Bubble goes so far beyond 2007." ~Doug Noland, McAlvaney Wealth Management It took a few years to blow up yet another equity bubble—referred to fondly by Jesse Felder and others as the “everything bubble”—but determined central bankers are not in short supply. A host of metrics point to a very mean regression cited below. As I rattle off a few stats, bear in mind the serious yet unknowable losses possible if regression rips through the mean. “Russell 2000 with a 75 p/e is just astronomical.” ~Jesse Felder Starting simple: McDonald’s saw zero revenue growth between 2008 and 2016 but had a 154 percent growth in debt. Its share price is up more than 200 percent. This is not an outlier. Additional examples assembled by Mike Lebowitz of 720Global are shown in Figure 8. I know it’s a table, but look at the contrasting revenue growth versus share price gains! Figure 8. Revenue growth versus price change. “And please don’t claim corporate profits are soaring, so the valuations are justified. . . . Corporate profits are unchanged since 2014—no growth at all.” ~Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds blog The S&P 500 resides 70 percent above its ’07 high even though nominal GDP and total sales rose 10 percent during the same period. Price-to-revenue ratios are sharing the nosebleed seats with 1929 and 2000 (Figure 9).52 Buffett’s market cap–to-GDP indicator is no better, prompting Felder to guesstimate prospective 10-year returns—returns going to somebody else, apparently—at -2.6% annualized.53 In case you suck at math, you will be 10 years older, 33 percent poorer, and in need of a 50 percent gain to stumble your way back to even. Ever the optimist, John Hussman and his relatively complex valuation model, which shows high correlations when back-tested, predicts 60–70 percent losses over the next 10 years.54 To help the value-driven bottom-feeders, Hussman broke down the markets by valuation “deciles” and found that even the deep-value guys are looking at a >50 percent haircut—“haircut” sounds better than “castration” or “blood eagle”—at the end of the current market cycle.55 “Given the performance of certain stocks, we wonder if the market has adopted an alternative paradigm for calculating equity value. . . . What if equity value has nothing to do with current or future profits and instead is derived from a company’s ability to be disruptive, to provide social change, or to advance new beneficial technologies, even when doing so results in current and future economic loss? . . . After years of running into the wind, we are left with no sense stronger than, ‘it will turn when it turns.’ . . . Just because AMZN can disrupt somebody else’s profit stream, it doesn’t mean that AMZN earns that profit stream. For the moment, the market doesn’t agree. Perhaps, simply being disruptive is enough.” ~David Einhorn with tongue in cheek The legendary Howard Marks, using non-GAAP earnings (with a 25 percent fictional fudge factor)56 to calculate trailing P/E ratios, sees a 40 percent regression to the mean. The Case-Shiller weighted P/E ratio—far superior to the non-GAAP alternatives—is in the top 3 percent of historical readings,57 prompting Bob Shiller to dryly note that the markets are “at unusual highs.” (By the way, it was Shiller who slipped Greenspan the phrase “irrational exuberance.”) Dividend yields have flopped around over the centuries. A 56 percent equity decline is required to attain the 150-year historical average of 4.4 percent—assuming reduced cash flows owing to the price collapse don’t lead to dividend cuts.58 Tobin’s Q—essentially price-to-book value ratio and the favorite of Mark Spitznagle—is at all-time highs. The Economist sounds dismissive by suggesting that “a high Tobin’s Q signals that an industry is earning a lot from its assets,"59 which suggests that The Economist is underutilizing its intellectual assets. Figure 9. Valuation metrics from Grant Williams’s World of Pure Imagination.60 Consistency aside, how can these predictions possibly be correct? The reported P/Es are not that bad. The high-growth QQQ index, for instance, is sporting a P/E of only 22, and the Russell 2000—the small-cap engine of economic growth—is in the same neighborhood. Alas, Steve Bregman of Horizon Kinetics notes that the P/E of the QQQ is calculated by rounding all P/Es above 40 down to 40 and assigning a P/E of 40 to all negative P/Es—companies losing money, aka Money Pits.61 For some of the largest companies in the QQQ—think Amazon—with almost no GAAP earnings, these little fudge factors are not just rounding errors. In the scientific community, we call such adjustments “fraud.” Bregman pools the market caps and earnings to give a more honest analysis, which gently nudges the QQQ P/E to 87. In short, Wall Street is “making shit up.” Mark Hulbert, noting that more than 30 percent of the Russell 2000 companies are losing money, concurs with Bregman and suggests that the rascals at the parent company would get a P/E of 80 if they weren’t fibbing like teenagers.62 Market Sentiment Which FANG Stock Will Be The First To Break Out? ~Headline, Investor’s Business Daily (September) I couldn’t care less about market sentiment except to understand how we got to such lofty valuations and how investors have become drooling idiots babbling incoherently about their riches. Nothing scares these markets. Previous bubbles always had a great story, something that investors could legitimately hang their enthusiasm on. The 1929 and 2000 bubbles were floated by dreams of truly fabulous technological revolutions. The current bubble is based on a combination of religious faith in central bankers and, as always, investors’ deluded confidence in their own omnipotence as market timers. Oh gag me with a spoon, really? Unfortunately, some group of prospective toe-tagged investors with silver dollars on their eyes are going to own these investments to the bottom. For now, though, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Veni vidi vici. “This is not an earnings-driven market; it is a momentum, liquidity, and multiple-driven market, pure and simple.” ~David “Rosie” Rosenberg, economist at Gluskin Sheff The FOMO model is not restricted to Joe and Jane Six-pack. Norway’s parliament ordered the $970 billion sovereign wealth fund to crank up its stock holdings from 60 percent to 70 percent.63 Queuing off an analysis I did last year, a collective (market-wide) allocation shift of such magnitude would cause a 55 percent gain in equities.64 The percentage of U.S. household wealth in equities is in its 94th percentile and above the 2007 numbers.65 A survey of wealthy folks shows they expect an annualized 8.5 percent return after inflation.66 Good luck with that if you wish to stay wealthy. At current bond yields, a 60:40 portfolio would need more than 12 percent each year on the equities. Venture capitalists think they can get 20 percent returns (despite data showing this to be nuts.)67 Maybe they can set up an ETF to track the 29-year-old high school dropout and avid video gamer who professed to love volatility and got himself a 295 percent gain in one year trading some crazy asset (probably Tesla or “vol”).68 He actually ordered a Tesla and proclaimed, “I will soon get my license!” Better get that Tesla ordered soon, young Jedi Knight, given the company’s annualized $2+ billion burn rate and stumbling production numbers. Meanwhile, the legendary Paul Tudor Jones' fund saw 50 percent redemptions.69 (Boomers: Insert Tudor Turtle joke here.) Prudence disappoints investors in the final stages of a market cycle. Unsurprisingly, the complacency index is at an all-time high.70 The oft-cited Fear and Greed Index (explained here71) is pegging the needle on extreme greed (Figure 10). A survey by the National Association of Active Investment Managers found investment managers to be more than 90 percent long the market.72 An American Association of Individual Investors survey showed that retail portfolios were at their lowest cash levels in almost two decades.71 High “delta,” which supposedly reflects investors’ willingness to use levered calls to catch this rally,72 suggests that investors perceive that risk has been eradicated in these central-bank-supervised markets. The few investors retaining a modicum of circumspection are “suffering extreme mental exhaustion” (PTSD) watching the consequences of the “deadweight of [the] US$400 trillion ‘cloud’ of financial instruments . . . supported by ongoing financialization” levitate anything with a price tag on it.73 Booyah Skidaddy. Let’s not forget, however, that traders make tops and investors make bottoms. In the next bloodletting, we may see bonds and stocks compete in synchronized diving. While traders run with the Pamplona bulls, investors sit in the shadows waiting for their day in the sun. Figure 10. Fear and Greed Index. Volatility Market pundits hurl around several definitions of volatility, and both have gotten huge press this year. A narrow dispersion of prices has arisen from the collusion of sentiment, $3 trillion of quantitative easing this year alone,74 trading algos, and programmed contributions to index investments that have created markets that seem very tame (not volatile). Headlines reported all sorts of records such as days without a 1 percent drop,75 consecutive S&P 500 closes within 0.5 percent of previous closing price,76 longest streak of green closes on the S&P, consecutive months without a loss,77 index advances accompanied by new 52-week lows,78 and days without a 3 percent draw down.79 Often the records were kept intact thanks to late-day panic-buying by the FOMO crowd. For the short sellers, it has been the Bataan Death March, particularly in February, when a leveraged fund was forced to liquidate billions of dollars of short positions.80 Even the treasury market shows an “implied volatility” at its lowest level in more than 30 years,81 which highlights historic investor complacency. Some say it is a new era; others see a calm before the storm. A second definition of volatility is explained in Investopedia:82 Volatility: A variable in option pricing formulas showing the extent to which the return of the underlying asset will fluctuate between now and the option’s expiration. Volatility, as expressed as a percentage coefficient within option-pricing formulas, arises from daily trading activities. How volatility is measured will affect the value of the coefficient used. Glad to have cleared that up. It’s no surprise the market players found a way to turn an arcane market indicator into a trading device: you can buy and sell vol through various indices such as the “VIX,” XIV, and “SVXY.” What’s more, the buying and selling of vol influences the markets (10× leveraged according to Peter Tchir). As the vol indices go down, the markets go up, and if I have this right, there is causality in both directions. Vol has been plumbing record lows. Indeed, those shorting vol (driving it down) are making fortunes—a one-decision trade—at least until buying vol becomes the new-and-improved one-decision trade. Billions have flooded into vol short funds each week.83 It is estimated to be a $2 trillion market. Barron’s called shorting the VIX “the nearest thing to free money.”84 References to exceptionally high “risk-adjusted returns” leave me wondering: How do you adjust for risk on the vol trade? Maybe we should consult the logistics manager at a Target store who made a cool $12 million in five years by shorting the VIX.85 He reminds me of those Icelandic fishermen-turned-bankers. They did quite well for a while, but they returned to fishing the hard way. In an incisive analysis of the risks of the vol trade,86 Eric Peters notes that “to sell implied volatility at current levels, investors must imagine tomorrow will be virtually identical to today.” Seems like a reach given that such an assumption has no precedent in the recorded history of anything. The fact that 97 percent of VIX shares are sold short also seems a wee bit lopsided (Figure 11).87 The VIX even had a flash crash88: how ironic is that? JPM’s Marko Kolanovic—reputed to be one of the best technical traders in the known universe—says that a regression of the VIX to the historical norm could cause “catastrophic losses” because of all the shorts.89 Given that volatility begets volatility, forcing an epic short squeeze on $2 trillion of vol shorts at some point, one wonders what comes after “catastrophic”? Figure 11. Volatility (VIX) short positions. Stock Buybacks “Companies might have to start rotating out of the debt that they incurred to buy back their stock and start issuing stock.” ~Chris Whalen, The Institutional Risk Analyst In 2016, I referred to Whalen’s vision of stock buybacks as “buying high–selling low.”90 Peter Lynch’s original enthusiasm for buybacks was that clever management sneakily buys back undervalued shares, not overvalued shares. This buyback ploy began to turn into a scam in 1982, when buybacks were excluded from rules prohibiting price manipulation.91 Buybacks are so large now that they correlate with and quite likely cause large market moves (Figure 12). Since 2009, U.S. companies have bought back 18 percent of the market cap, often using debt—lots of debt.92 The 30 Dow companies have 12.7 billion fewer shares today than in ’08: “the biggest debt-funded buyback spree in history.” An estimated 70 percent of the per-share earnings—24 percent versus only a 7 percent earnings gain since 2012—is traced to a share count reduction from buybacks.93 Pumping the share prices at the cost of rotting the balance sheet (which gullible investors ignore) achieves two imperatives: it prolongs executive employment and optimizes executive compensation. Contrast this with paying dividends to enrich shareholders to the detriment of option holders. The rank-and-file employees might be comforted if companies plugged the yawning pension gaps instead (vide infra), but such contributions would have to be expensed, lowering earnings and, stay with me here, reducing executive compensation. Figure 12. (a) S&P real returns versus margin debt. (b) S&P nominal returns versus share buybacks, and (c) buybacks versus corporate debt. In one hilarious case, Restoration Hardware, a loser by any standard except maybe Wall Street’s, used all available cash and even accumulated debt to buy back 50 percent of its outstanding shares to trigger a greater than 40 percent squeezing of the short sellers who, mysteriously, think the company is poorly run.94 In the “eating the seed corn” meme, the 18 biggest pharmaceutical companies’ buybacks and dividends exceed their R&D budgets.95 Market narrowing—the scenario in which a decreasing number of stocks are lifting the indices—is acute and ominous to those paying attention.96 The so-called FAANGs + M (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft) have witnessed a 50 percent spike in their P/E ratios in less than 3 years.97 The FAANGs compose 42 percent of the Nasdaq and 13 percent of the S&P. An astonishing 0.2 percent of the companies in the Nasdaq have accounted for 45 percent of the gains.98 This is a wilding. The average stock, by contrast, is still more than 20 percent off its all-time high. What is going on? Indexing and Exchange-Traded Funds “When a measure becomes an outcome, it ceases to be a good measure.” ~Goodhart’s Law Charles Goodhart focused on measuring money supply,99 but his law loosely applies to any cute idea that becomes widely adopted (such as share buybacks). This is total blasphemy, but market indexing may be a colossal illustration of Goodhart’s Law. John Bogle was the first to articulate the merits of indexing in his undergraduate thesis at Princeton.100 Columbia University professor Burt Malkiel provided a theoretical framework for the notion that you cannot beat the market, which was translated into the best-selling book A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Even Warren Buffett endorses the merits of indexing, although once again, his words belie his actions. Bogle’s seminal S&P tracking fund now contains 10% of the market cap of the S&P 500 after quadrupling its share since ’08. (Behaviorist Peter Atwater attributes the recent enthusiasm to investors who are PO’d at active managers.)101 “When the world decides that there is no need for fundamental research and investors can just blindly purchase index funds and ETFs without any regard to valuation, we say the time to be fearful is now.” ~FPA Capital Then there are the massively popular ETFs that allow you to index while picking your favorite basket of stocks (have your cake and eat it too). Is there anybody who disagrees with the merits of indexing? Didn’t think so. Do ya see the problem here? Goodhart might. Maybe I was oblivious, but acute concerns about indexing seem to have emerged only in the last year or so. Let’s ponder some of them, but only after a brief digression. “There is no such thing as price discovery in index investing.” ~Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management In his must-read book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki posits that a large sample size of non-experts, when asked to wager a guess about something—the number of jelly beans in a jar, for example—will generate a distribution centered on the correct answer. Compared with experts, a crowd of clueless people offers more wisdom. I submit that this collective wisdom extends to democracies and markets alike. A critical requirement, however, is that the voting must be uncorrelated. Each player must vote or guess independently. As correlation appears, the wisdom is lost, and the outcome is ruled by a single-minded mob. Thus, when everybody is buying baskets of stocks using the same, wholly thoughtless protocol (indexing), the correlation is quite high. Investors are no longer even taking their own best guesses. The influence of correlation is amplified by a flow of money (votes) putting natural bids under any stock in an index, even such treasures as Restoration Hardware. What percentage of your life’s savings should you invest without a clue? Cluelessness has been paying handsome rewards. A big problem is that index funds and ETFs allocate resources weighted according to market cap and are float-adjusted, reflecting the market cap only of available shares not held by insiders. You certainly want more money in Intel and Apple than in Blue Apron, but indexing imposes a non-linearity that drives the most overpriced stocks to become even more overpriced. That is precisely why the lofty valuations on the FAANGs just keep getting loftier. The virtuous cycle is the antithesis of value investing. The float adjustment drives money away from shares with high insider ownership. Curiously, an emerging strategy that is not yet broadly based (recall Goodhart’s Law) is to find investments that are not represented in popular indices or ETFs on the notion that they have not been bid up by indexers. “With $160-odd trillion global equity market capitalization, we have much more opportunities for ETFs to grow, not just on equities, but in fixed income. And I believe this is just the beginning.” ~Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, the largest provider of ETFs The indexed subset of the investing world could be at the heart of the next liquidity crisis. In managed accounts, redemptions can be met with a stash of cash at least for the first portion of a sell-off. This is why air pockets (big drops) often don’t appear early in the downdraft. By contrast, ETFs trade shares robotically—quite literally by formulas and algos (the robots)—with zero cash buffer. The first hint of trouble causes cash inflows to dry up and buying to stop. Redemptions by nervous investors cause instantaneous selling. Passive buying will give way to active selling. The unwind should also be the mirror image of the ramp: FAANGs will lead the way down owing to their high market caps. Once again, selling begets selling, and the virtuous cycle quickly turns vicious. Investors will get ETF’d right up the...well, you get the idea. “You’re better off knowing which ETFs hold this stock than what this company even does. . . . That’s scary to me. . . . The market needs to have a major crash.” ~Danny Moses, co-worker of Steve Eisman “Throw them out the window.” ~Jeff Gundlach, CIO of DoubleLine Capital, on index funds I would be remiss if I failed to note that there are also some really wretched ETFs. What are the odds, eh? I’m not sure I even believe this, but it has been claimed that a 3×-levered long gold mining ETF lost –86 percent while a 3×-levered short gold mining ETF lost –98 percent, both over the same time frame that the GDX returned zero percent. You wouldn’t want to pair-trade those bad boys. It is also rumored that the SEC has approved 4×-levered equity ETFs. Investors are going to be seeing the inside of a wood chipper at some point. A 3×-levered Brazilian ETF (BRZU) lost 50 percent in a single day. Apparently none of these investors ever saw The Deer Hunter. We might as well set up ETFs in which investors choose the leverage multiple. One quick click, and it's gone. “ETFs are the new Investment Trusts (similar vehicles in 1920’s) that led to the Great Crash and will lead to the next crash.” ~Mark Yusko, CEO and CIO of Morgan Creek Capital Management “Passive investing is in danger of devouring capitalism. . . . What may have been a clever idea in its infancy has grown into a blob which is destructive to the growth-creating and consensus-building prospects of free market capitalism.” ~Paul Singer, founder and president of Elliott Management Corporation Miscellaneous Market Absurdities “Last time this mood took over, it ended very badly. Look at your investments with 2009 eyes. Did you tail hedge then? Should you risk up now?” ~Jeff Gundlach Recent initial public offerings (IPOs) get routinely flogged. SNAP’s 33 percent drop has become onomatopoetic. What would you expect for a company whose customer demographic is 12- to 18-year-olds with no income? GoPro (GPRO) has lost 95 percent in two years. A few more show precipitous drops from post-IPO highs: FIT, TWLO, FUEL, TWTR, ZNGA, and LC. Blue Apron (APRN) dropped 45 percent from its highs in the 36 days after its IPO. The company also cut 1,200 of a total of 5,000 jobs, prompting one veteran to ponder: “Seriously, how is that not illegal?” This is a new era, dude. The froth creeps into the screwiest places. The hard asset purchase of the year was the da Vinci painting of Salvatore Mundi that sold for $450 million. It was the only known da Vinci in private hands. A Modigliani nude sold for $170 million. A Basquiat painting purchased in 1984 for $19,000 moved across the auction block at a snot-bubble-blowing $111 million (23% compounded annualized return). The fabulously creative modern artwork, The Unmade Bed (Figure 13), sold for a cool $4 million.102 (I have one of those in my bedroom that I got for a lot less.) According to CBS News, a Harambe-shaped Cheeto sold for almost $100K on eBay.103 An obscure Danish penny stock company (Victoria Properties) surged nearly 1,000 percent in a few days, prompting management to remind investors that “there has been no change in Victoria Properties’ economic conditions. . . . The company’s equity is therefore still equal to about zero kroner.”104 Ford is valued at around $7,000 per car produced. Tesla is valued at $800,000 per car produced—they are literally making one model by hand on a Potemkin assembly line.105 A company called Switch has a “chief awesomeness officer.106 Ding! Ding! Ding! Figure 13. A $4 million masterpiece of modern art. Long-Term Real Returns and Risk Premia “Maybe it’s time to quietly exit. Take the cash, hide it in the mattress, and wait for the next/coming storm to pass.” ~Bill Blain, Mint Partners “People have just gotten so immune to any pain and anguish in any of these markets that when it happens it is going be very psychologically painful.” ~Marilyn Cohen, Envision Capital Management If the next correction is only 20–30 percent, I was simply wrong. Mete out a 50 percent or larger thwacking, and I am declaring victory (in a twisted sort of way). When the pain finally arrives, the precious few positioned to take advantage of the closeout sales will include idiots sitting in cash through the current equity binge buying (me). In theory, the short sellers would be in great shape too, but they all reside in shallow graves behind the Eccles Building. Some wise folks, like Paul Singer, have had the capacity and foresight to be raising billions of dollars for the day when monkey-chucking darts can find a target.107 "We think that there has never been a larger (and more undeserved) spirit of financial market complacency in our experience.” ~Paul Singer after raising $5 billion to buy distressed assets in the future There will be few victory laps, however, because boomers will be living on Kibbles ’n Bits. How painful will it be? Figure 14 from James Stack shows the fractions of the last 100 years’ bull markets that were given back.108 On only one occasion were investors lucky enough to hang onto three-fourths of their bull market gains. One-third of the bulls were given back entirely. Two-thirds of the bulls gave half back. The results are oddly quantized. How much will the next bear take back? It depends on how much the reasoning above is out of whack. Do ya feel lucky? Figure 14. Fraction of the bull taken by the bear.108 “The vanquished cry, but the victor doesn’t laugh.” ~Roman proverb Ethereal gains bring up an interesting point, more so than I first thought. In a brief exchange with Barry Ritholtz, I asserted that the “risk premia” on equities—the higher returns because of underlying risk—will be arbitraged away in the long run because occasionally risk turns into reality, and you get your ass kicked. I’m not talking inefficient high-frequency noise but rather the long term—call it a century if you will. With his characteristically delicate touch, Barry noted that I was full of hooey. Refusing to take any of his guff, I dug in. Certainly a free market would price equities much the way junk bonds are priced relative to treasuries to account for mishaps. Look back at Figure 14 in case it didn’t sink in. There is also the problem with interpreting index gains owing to survivor bias. Economist David Rosenberg claims that if the eight companies who left the Dow in April 2004 had remained, the Dow would still be below 13,000.109 Of course, presumably investors swapped them out as well if they were indexing (although somebody ate those losses). “I will get back to you next week with the answer to your singular investment question. Should you have further easy questions such as: is there a God and what gender he/she may be, that will necessarily be part of a separate email chain.” ~Brian Murdoch, former CEO of TD Asset Management on bonds versus stocks Start with the inflation-adjusted principle gains on the Dow (Figure 15), which returns less than 2 percent annualized. Think that’s too low? Take a look at my all-time favorite chart—the Dow in the first half of the 20th century, when inflation corrections weren’t needed (Figure 16). Now throw in some dividends (4 percent on average) and some wild-ass guesses on fees and taxes (including those on the inflated part of the gains). I get a real return on the Dow in the 20th century—a pretty credible century to boot—of only 4–5 percent annualized. Let’s adjust recent returns using the Big Mac inflation metric.110 Big Macs have appreciated sixfold since 1972 (4–5 percent compounded) with little change in quality. Over the same period, the capital gains on the Dow rose twentyfold. Adjusted for Big Mac–measured inflation, the Dow averaged less than 3 percent compounded (ex-dividends). An eightfold rise in the price of extra-large pizzas since 1970 (cited in my now-extinct blog for Elizabeth Warren) paints an even bleaker picture of inflation-adjusted S&P returns. Figure 15. Inflation-adjusted DOW. Figure 16. Non-inflation-adjusted Dow: 1900–1940. Those 4–5 percent inflation-adjusted equity gains do not account for the fourfold increase in the U.S. population, which should be included because the wealth of the nation was shared by four times as many carbon-based life-forms. The returns are also not in the same zip code as the 7–8 percent assumed by many pensioners. Back to the debate, the 4–5 percent inflation-adjusted equity gains contrast with 30-year treasuries returning about 4–5 percent nominally. Hmm...Seems like equities still won, and that Ritholtz appears to have been right. I consulted both digital and human sources (Brian Murdoch, Benn Steil, and Mark Gilbert), and everybody agreed: that punk Ritholtz was right. Even more disturbing, is it possible that Jeremy Siegel is not being a total meathead by asserting that you should buy equities at all times (BTFD)? The explanations for why markets fail to arbitrage the risk premia are said to be rather “mysterious.” According to Brian Murdoch, “academics have been remarkably unsuccessful in modeling it. . . . Despite three decades of attempts, the puzzle remains essentially intact.” Benn Steil concurred. Academic studies (warning!) claim that bonds do not keep up with stocks even over profoundly long periods, and no amount of fudging (fees, taxes, disasters, or survivor bias) accounts for the failure to arbitrage the marginal advantage of stocks to zero. Schlomo Benartzi and Richard Thaler suggest that short-term losses obscuring long-term gains—“myopic loss aversion”—is the culprit.111 (Ironically, I read this paper a week before the Nobel committee told me to read this paper.) Elroy Dimson et al. dismiss all the possible errors that could be root causes and put the sustainable risk premium on stocks at 3–5 percent.112 Let’s flip the argument: Why would you ever own a bond? There are rational answers. To the extent that you do not buy and hold equities for 100 years (unless you are Jack Bogle), you also pay a premium for the liquidity—the ability to liquidate without a huge loss because you were forced to sell into a swoon. You also forfeit the ability to sell into a rally, however, and certainly wouldn't want to sell into a bond bear market either. Of course, the role of financial repression—sovereign states’ ability to force bond yields well below prices set by free markets—could explain it all. Governments like cheap money and have the wherewithal to demand it. Maybe the message is to never lend to governments. I remain in an enlightened state of confusion. Gold “Gold is no more of an investment than Beanie Babies.” ~Gary Smith, economist “If you don’t have 5–10% of your assets in gold as a hedge, we’d suggest you relook at this. . . . [I]f you do have an excellent analysis of why you shouldn’t have such an allocation to gold, we’d appreciate you [sic] sharing it with us. ~Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates Ray is rumored to have ramped Bridgewater’s gold position fivefold this fall. He cites geopolitical risk as a reason to own the barbecued relic. “If we actually see missiles in the air, gold could go higher.” ~CNBC trader on thermonuclear war Since the early 1970s, gold has had an annual return of 8 percent (nominal). Gold bears are quick to point out it doesn’t pay interest. Nor does my bank, and by the way, what part of 8 percent don’t they understand? By that standard, the 8 percent gain in 2017 was good but not statistically unusual. Coin sales are down,113 which suggests that either retail buyers are not in the game or the bug-out plans of hedge fund managers—I’m told they all have them—are complete. Sprott Asset Management made a hostile move on the Central Fund of Canada, a gold–silver holding company, in a move that might portend promising future returns.114 “Significant increases in inflation will ultimately increase the price of gold. . . . [I]nvestment in gold now is insurance. It’s not for short-term gain, but for long-term protection. . . . We would never have reached this position of extreme indebtedness were we on the gold standard. . . . It wasn’t the gold standard that failed; it was politics. . . . Today, going back on to the gold standard would be perceived as an act of desperation.” ~Alan Greenspan, 2017, still babbling On the global geopolitical front, Deutsche Bundesbank completed repatriation of 700 tons of gold earlier than originally planned.115 The urgency may be bullish, but a possible source of demand is now gone. Chinese gold companies have been actively searching for domestic deposits and international acquisitions as they push to quadruple their reserves to 14,000 tons by 2020.116 (The U.S. sovereign stash is less than 9,000 tons.) The gold acquisitions of China (Figure 17) show a curious abrupt and sustained increase in activity in 2011. When did gold begin its major correction? Right: 2011. Makes you wonder if geopolitics somehow preempted the supply–demand curve. Because gold can leave Shanghai but not China, it’s a one-way trip. The Shanghai Gold Exchange must get its bullion from other sources. Russia continues to push its reserves up too. Rumors swirl that China and Russia are colluding for something grand, possibly a new global reserve currency based on the petro-yuan and gold. This would change the global landscape way beyond generic goldbuggery. Figure 17. Abrupt changes in Chinese gold acquisitions through Hong Kong in 2011. “Bringing back the gold standard would be very hard to do, but boy would it be wonderful. We’d have a standard on which to base our money.” ~Donald Trump, 2016 The gold market continues to be dominated by gold futures rather than physical gold. The bugs think this will end. I can only hope. In this paper market, gaming is the norm. On a seemingly monthly basis, gold takes swan dives as somebody decides to sell several billion-dollar equivalents (20,000–30,000 futures contracts) when the market is least liquid (thinly traded). Stories of fat-fingered trades abound, but I suspect these are just traders molesting the market for fun and profit, unconcerned that a regulator would ever call them on it. The silver market looked even creepier for 17 days in a row (Figure 18). I never trust that kind of linearity. Figure 18. Silver acting odd over 5 minutes and 17 days. Price changes often appear proximate to geopolitical events, but everything is proximate to a geopolitical event somewhere. India’s success at destroying its cash economy—the only economy it had—via the fiat removal of high-denomination bills117 was akin to announcing that only electric cars are legal starting next week. Some suggested that the move was also an attempt to flush gold out of households and into the banking system.118 Gold inched toward currency status at a more local level as Idaho, Arizona, and Louisiana voted to remove state capital gains taxes on gold—baby steps toward an emergent gold standard.119 The Brits are going the other way by banning salary payments in gold.120 Finishing with some fun anecdotes, a massive gold coin worth millions was stolen from a German museum.121 Some guy restoring a World War II tank found $2.5 million in gold bullion tucked in a fake fuel tank.122 A piano repairman discovered 13 pounds of gold in an old piano.123 According to British law, the repairman gets half, and the folks who donated the piano get squat. Beyond that, the gold market has been quiet for almost five years (Figure 19). Some wonder whether Bitcoin is sucking oxygen away from gold. Which way is gold gonna break if Bitcoin or the dollar tanks? Inquiring minds want to know. Figure 19. Five years of gold price discovery. Bitcoin “Worse than tulip bulbs. It won't end. Someone is going to get killed. . . . [A]ny [JPM] trader trading Bitcoin will be fired for being stupid. . . . [T]he currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think the people buying it are really smart. It’s worse than tulip bulbs." ~Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPM Unbeknownst to Dimon, his daughter was trading Bitcoin: “It went up and she thinks she is a genius.” More to the point, traders at JPM were already firing up crypto exchanges (while Goldman and the CFTC seemed to be positioning to enter the game). Dimon decided it was a prudent time to STFU (shut up) by declaring, “I'm not going to talk about Bitcoin anymore.” The joke was on us, however; nobody seemed to notice that Dimon slipped in an earnings warning the same day his Bitcoin quotes hit the media.124 Well played, Jamie. “Bitcoin owners should appeal to the IRS for tax-exempt status as a faith-based organization.” ~Andy Kessler, former hedge fund manager I wish I had a Bitcoin for every time somebody asked me about it. Cryptos and goldbugs share a common interest in escaping the gaze of the authorities. My ignorance of blockchain technology is profound, but I suspect that is true for many who talk the talk. I wonder if somehow blockchain might play a role in bypassing the SWIFT check-clearing system used by Western powers to shake down opposition (Russia).125 I also wonder, however, if the miracles of blockchain should not be confused with those of Bitcoin. Any mention of price or gains below should be followed with an implicit "last time I checked" or even “as of two minutes ago.” My failure to jump on Bitcoin leaves no remorse: (a) I never take a position that risks a you-knew-better moment, and (b) I would have been flushed out, and then I really would have kicked myself. Recall the legendary founding shares in Apple that were sold for $800 and are now estimated to be worth maybe $100 billion?126 There’s rumor of a guy who lost his Bitcoin “codes” that are now estimated at more than $100 million. That’s real pain. I offer my current view of cryptos from a position of total technical ignorance guided by an only slightly more refined understanding of history and markets. Please forgive me, crypto friends. I know you are tired of hearing the counter arguments and the cat calling. I am restrained by the words of a famous philosopher: “Only God is an expert. We’re just guys paid to give our opinion.” ~Charles Barkley, former NBA star What would have flushed me out of a Bitcoin long position? Let’s take it to the hoop: The price action. Exponential gains, even wildly bent on a semi-log plot, have few analogs in history, all of which led to legendary busts (Figure 20). The South Sea bubble, Tulipmania, Beanie Baby, and Mentos-in-a-Coke analogies are legion. They all had a story that convinced many. Figure 20. One-year price chart of Bitcoin (as of 2 minutes ago). The participants. I have a friend—a very smart former Wall Street guy—who swears by it and is up 100,000 percent. You do not need to size your position correctly with that kind of gain. But then there is the clutch of camp followers emblematic of all manias. We have grad students speculating in Bitcoin. A 12-year-old bought his first Bitcoin in May 2011 with a gift from his grandmother.126a At more than $17,000 per coin, his stash is more than $5 million. On MarketWatch, he declared he had a price target of $1 million. “I’m obviously very bullish, but I expect to make a couple million dollars off very little money. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Finance is getting its Internet.” ~Bitcoin investor Competitors. A Bitcoin competitor issued by Stratis soared to more than 100,000 percent since its initial coin offering (ICO) this past summer. As of December 1, there were 1,326 cryptocurrencies with a total market cap of >$400 billion.127 Paris Hilton has a cryptocurrency.128 The market is saturated more than the dot-com market ever was. It is a certainty that more than 99 percent will die much like most of the 270 auto companies in the ’20s and dot-coms in the ’90s. A site called Deadcoins shows that some already have.129 The debate is whether 100 percent is the final number. Volatility. Massive corrections followed by ferocious rallies akin to a teenager on driving on black ice would have convinced me it was too crazy for my style. Corrections last seconds to hours, with wildly enthusiastic buyers poised to BTFD. Isaac Newton got into the South Sea bubble, was smart enough to get out, and then reentered in time to go bankrupt. I am decidedly dumber than Isaac. Figure 21. Bitcoin photo bomber (acquiring $15K of Bitcoin via crowdsourcing). For Bitcoin to become a currency in its current form, out of reach of sovereigns, seems to require a society-upheaving revolution, which is a rare event that usually gives way to new, equally ham-fisted regimes. The chances seem slim to none for several reasons. “No government will ever support a virtual currency that goes around borders and doesn’t have the same controls. It’s not going to happen.” ~Jamie Dimon (again) The competition. I am doubtless that central banks and sovereign states will never endorse Bitcoin in its current form. They have their own digital currencies and a monopoly on the power to create more, and they commandeer our assets through taxation. Existential risk will bring on the power of the State. When sovereigns decide to do battle, the cryptos will be brought to heel or forced underground. Instabilities. Digital currencies are showing digital instabilities that could just be growing pains or evidence of more systemic problems. How software buffs who know that software is duct tape and bailing wire could think that a software-dependent currency is invincible is beyond me. Ethereum dropped 20 percent in a heartbeat when a hacker theft was reported.130 It dropped 96 percent after the Status ICO clogged the network.131 One user put a stop-loss on Ethereum at $316 on GDAX, which executed at $0.10 during a flash crash.132 So-called “wallets” have been freezing up, although there is some debate as to whether the owners lost the Bitcoins.133 This stuff happens with all risk assets now but not with usable currencies. Volatility. Nobody will use a currency to pay for groceries if prices move 10 percent a day or even 5 percent as you move from the frozen food to the vegetable aisle. This, by the way, is the same explanation for why I don’t consider gold “money” or a “currency.” As long as there exists a Bitcoin–dollar conversion, a sovereign wishing to keep Bitcoin in the realm of a speculative plaything could use its unlimited liquidity to trigger price swings with a little day trading. Legality. If up against the wall, sovereigns will use arguments about fighting crime, stemming ransomware, or controlling monetary policy and declare a War on Cryptos akin to the potential War on Cash. China has already blown shots across the Bitcoin bow by shutting down exchanges as well as ICOs as they struggle with excessive sovereign debt and capital outflows.134 Britain has also done some sabre rattling.135 The IRS has declared gains taxable (akin to gold) and is paying companies to locate digital wallets.136 The fans of BTC declare invincibility—freedom! The average blokes may smoke pot and drive too fast, but they seem less likely to risk a spat with the State on this stuff. “Right now the trust is good—with Bitcoin people are buying and selling it, they think it’s a reasonable market—but there will come a day when government crackdowns come in and you begin to see the currency come down.” ~Mark Mobius, executive director at Franklin Templeton Investments Others have unshakeable faith even in the more obscure cryptocurrencies. I’m unsure what I’m hoping for on this bet (Figure 22): Figure 22. John McAfee, technology pioneer, chief of cybersecurity, visionary of MGT Capital Investments, going all in on cryptocurrencies. Housing and Real Estate “We bailed out the financial system so that financiers with access to cheap credit can buy up all of America’s real estate so that they can then rent it back to you later.” ~Mike Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg blog Greenspan claimed those who predicted the housing bubble were “statistical illusions” (as were those who saw Greenspan as a charlatan). There are, once again, housing bubbles littered across the globe at various stages of expansion and contraction owing to central banks providing in excess of $3 trillion dollars of QE this year. Credit is fungible, so the flood of capital can come from anywhere and migrate to anywhere it finds an inflating asset. Hong Kong’s spiking prices are rising by dozens of basis points per day. Attempts by authorities to cool the market only fanned the flames, resulting in “a sea of madness.”137 Australian authorities tried to cap the dreaded interest-only loans at 30% of the total pool, prompting one hedge fund to return money to investors and declare that “Mortgage fraud is endemic; it’s systemic; it’s just terrible what’s going on. When you’ve got 30-year-olds, who have never seen a property downturn before, borrowing up to 80% to buy three and four apartments, it’s a bubble.”138 Prices in London are now collapsing.139 Why would anything collapse with so much global credit? Simple: top-heavy structures tend to collapse from even small shocks. I will focus, however, on only two countries—the U.S. because it is my home turf and Canada because it is the most interesting of the markets. The U.S. appears to be in a bubblette, an overvalued market that does not approach the insanity of 2007 (detected by statistical illusions as early as 2002).140 Twenty percent down payments have become passé again. A survey of 20 cities reveals 5.9 percent annualized price rises.141 The median sale price of an existing home has set an all-time high and is up 40 percent since the start of 2014141 despite what seems to be muted demand (Figure 23). Thus, home ownership has dropped by 8 percent since ’09 because soaring prices have rendered them unaffordable. More than 40 percent of 25-34 year olds, a group historically en route to home ownership, have nothing set aside for a down payment.141 Those who scream about the need for affordable housing don’t notice that we have plenty of low-quality houses. We lack low-cost houses. And the Fed says inflation is good. Figure 23. Median new home sales price in the U.S. versus number sold and versus home ownership rate. In 1960, California had a median home price of $15,000—three times the salary of an elementary school teacher.142 The median home price in San Francisco is now $1.5 million,143 which is unlikely to be three times a teacher’s salary. A couple earning $138,000 will soon qualify for subsidized housing in San Francisco. California housing seems to be interminably overvalued, possibly owing to the draw of droughts, mudslides, crowds, and, fires. Despite modest 6 percent population growth since 2010, housing units have shown an only 2.9 percent increase. There could be a supply–demand problem, especially when the fires subside. Florida is rumored to have eager post-hurricane sellers—those with something left to sell, that is.144 Condo flippers drove prices skyward in Miami, but they are heading earthward with a glut of units scheduled to come online in 2018. It’s not just the sand states starting to see softness. In New York City, rising rates seem to be nudging commercial and residential real estate down and foreclosures up to levels not seen since the 2009 crisis (79 percent year-over-year in Q3).145 Sam Zell is, once again, a seller and claims "it is getting hard."146 Recall that Zell nailed the real estate top by selling $38 billion in real estate in ’07.147 “The condo market at the high-end [in Manhattan] . . . is a catastrophe and will get worse.” ~Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Property Trust Those who already own houses can once again “extract equity” from their homes using home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).148 They then wake up with more debt on the same house. Pundits claim consumers’ willingness to mortgage their future is “a healthy confidence in the economy.” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also entered phase II of the catch-and-release program. Their regulators have authorized them to once again engage in unchecked, reckless lending, prompting some to begin estimating the cost of the next bailout.149 What happened to all that inventory from the colossal boom leading to the Great Recession? Some fell into the foundations, but a lot found its way into private equity firms. Mind you, single-family rentals are a low- or no-profit-margin business under normal circumstances. As long as rates stay low—Where have I heard that one before?—inherently thin profits can be amplified to a significant transitory revenue stream through leverage. A proposed merger of Invitation Homes (owned by Blackstone Group) and Starwood Waypoint Homes (owned by Starwood Capital) would spawn the largest owner of single-family homes in the United States with a portfolio worth over $20 billion.150 Of course, rates will rise again, and these sliced-and-diced tranches of mortgage-backed securities must be offloaded to greater fools. Private equity guys are already frantically boxing and shipping.151 To avoid costly and time-consuming appraisals, market players are using “broker price opinions,” which can be had by simply driving by the house and taking a guess (or just taking a guess). In ’09, the legendary “Linda Green” signed off on thousands using dozens of different signatures.152 U.S. securities regulators are investigating whether bonds backed by single-family rental homes and sold by Wall Street’s biggest residential landlords used overvalued property assessments.153 Let me help you guys out: yes. “The main risk on the domestic side is a sharp correction in the housing market that impairs bank balance sheets, triggers negative feedback loops in the economy, and increases contingent claims on the government.” ~IMF, on the Canadian housing market Heading north, we find that Canada’s real estate market never collapsed in ’09 (Figure 24), an outcome often ascribed to the virtues of the country’s banking system. An estimated 7 percent of Canadians work in housing construction,154 and Canadians are using HELOCs like crazy.155 After Vancouver tried to burst a huge bubble in 2016 with a 15 percent buyers’ tax,156 Chinese buyers chased Toronto houses instead. Annualized gains of 33 percent with average prices of $1.5 million are pushing even the one-percentile crowd to remote ’burbs.157 Toronto authorities have now imposed the Vancouver-like 15 percent foreign buyers tax,158 causing a single-month 26 percent drop in sales and ultimately chasing the hot money to Montreal,159 Guelph, and even Barrie.160 “Make no mistake, the Toronto real estate market is in a bubble of historic proportions.” ~David Rosenberg   Figure 24. Canadian versus U.S. median home prices and what they buy ($700,000 for that little gem). The most interesting plotline and a smoking gun in Canada’s bursting bubble was failing subprime lender Home Capital Group (HCG). Marc Cahodes, referred to as a “free-range short seller” and “the scourge of Wall Street,” spotted criminality and shorted HCG for a handsome profit.161 HCG was so bad it was vilified by its auditor, KPMG.162 Imagine that. HCG dropped 60 percent in one day when news hit of an emergency $2 billion credit line at 22.5 percent interest by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.163 (The CEO of the pension plan sits on Home Capital’s board and is also a shareholder.) Cahodes was printing money and ranting about jail sentences when, without warning, the legendary stockjobber Warren Buffett took a highly visible 20 percent stake in HCG at “mob rates” (38 percent discount).164 The short squeeze was vicious, and Cahodes was PO’d. As Paul Harvey would say, “now for the rest of the story.” HCG is, by all reckoning, the piece of crap Cahodes claims it is. Buffett couldn’t care less about HCG’s assets—Berkshire can swallow the losses for eternity. Warren may have bought this loser as a legal entry to the Canadian banking system, which is loaded with hundreds of billions of “self-securitized” mortgages. The plot thickened as a story leaked that Buffett met with Justin Trudeau (on a tarmac).165 When the Canadian real estate bust begins in earnest, Buffett will have the machinery of HCG and the political capital to feed on the carcasses of the big-five Canadian banks. Pensions “This massive financial bubble is a ticking time bomb, and when it finally goes off, it is going to wipe out virtually every pension fund in the United States.” ~Michael Snyder, DollarCollapse.com blog The impending pension crisis is global and monumental with no obvious way out. The World Economic Forum estimates the pension gap—unfunded pension liabilities—at $70 trillion and headed for $250 trillion by 2050.166 Conservative but still conventional assumptions about prospective investment returns and spending patterns in old age suggest that retiring into the American dream in your mid 60s requires you bank 20–25 multiples of your annual salary (or a defined benefit plan that is the functional equivalent) to avoid the risk of running out of money. A friend—a corporate executive no less—retired with 10 multiples; he could be broke within a decade (much sooner if markets regress to historical means). Of course, you can defiantly declare you will work ’till you drop, but then there are those unexpected aneurysms, bypass surgeries, layoffs, and ailing spouses needing care. I’ve seen claims that more than 50 percent of retirees do not fully control their retirement age. “Companies are doing everything they can to get rid of pension plans, and they will succeed.” ~Ben Stein, political commentator The problem began as worker compensation became reliant on future promises—IOUs planted in pension plans—often assuming the future was far, far away. However, a small cadre of demographers in the ’70s smelled the risk of the boomer retirements and began swapping defined-benefit plans for defined-contribution plans.167 (A hybrid of the two traces back to 18th century Scottish clergy.168) The process was enabled by the corporate-friendly Tax Reform Act of ’86.169 Employees were unknowingly handed all the risk and became their own human resource specialists. Retirement risk depends on the source of your retirement funds. Federal employees are backstopped by the printing press, although defaults cannot be ruled out if you read the fine print.170 States and municipalities could get bailed out, but there are no guarantees. Defined-benefit corporate plans can be topped off by digging into cash flows provided that the cash flows and even the corporation exist. The depletion of corporate earnings to top off the deficits, however, will erode equity performance, which will wash back on all pension funds. The multitude of defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs managed by individuals are totally on their own and suffer from a profound lack of savings. Corporate and municipal defined-benefit plans assumed added risks by falling behind in pension contributions motivated by efforts to balance the books and, in the corporate world, create the illusion of profits. The moment organizations began reducing the requisite payments by applying flawed assumptions about prospective returns, pensions shifted to Ponzi finance. My uncanny ability to oversimplify anything is illustrated by the imitation semi-log plot in Figure 25. The red line reflects the assumed average compounded balance sheet from both contributions and market gains. The blue squiggle reflects the vicissitudes of the market wobbling above and below the projection. If the projections are too optimistic—the commonly reported 7–8 percent market returns certainly are—the slope is too high, and the plan will fall short. If the projected returns are reasonable but management stops contributing during good times—embezzling the returns above the norm to boost profits—the plan will fall below projection again. Of course, once the plan falls behind, nobody wants to dump precious capital into making up the difference when you can simply goose projected returns with new and improved assumptions. In a rational world, pensions would be overfunded during booms and underfunded during busts. Assuming we can agree that we are deep into both equity and bond bull markets and possibly near their ends, pensions should be bloated with excess reserves (near a maximum on the blue curve), and bean counters should keep their dirty little paws off those assets and keep contributing because we won’t stay there. Figure 25. Childish construct of pension assets. That’s a good segue to drill down into the contemporaneous details. Public pensions are more than 30 percent underfunded ($2 trillion).171 A buzzkiller at the Hoover Institution says that the government disclosures are wrong and puts the deficit at $3.8 trillion.172 Bloomberg says that “if honest math was being used . . . the real number would actually be closer to 6 trillion dollars.”173 What is honest math? Using prevailing treasury yields for starters. Bill Gross—the former Bond King—says that if we get only 4.0 percent total nominal return rather than the presumed 7.5 percent, pensions are $5 trillion underfunded.174 Assuming 100 million taxpayers, that’s $50,000 we all have to pony up. California’s CalPERS fund dropped its assumption to a 6.2 percent return—still seriously optimistic in my opinion—leaving a $170 billion shortfall.175 The Illinois retirement system is towing a liability of $208 billion with $78 billion in assets ($130 billion unfunded).176 Connecticut is heading for a “Greece-style debt crisis” with $6,500 in debt per capita (every man, woman, and child?).177 The capital, Hartford, is heading for bankruptcy.178 South Carolina’s government pension plan is $24 billion in the hole. Kentucky’s attempt to fill a gigantic hole in its pension fund (31 percent funded) was felled by politics.179 A detailed survey of municipal pension obligations shows funding ranging from 23 percent (Chicago) to 98 percent (Suffolk).180 My eyeball average says about 70 percent overall. Notice that despite being at the peak of an investment cycle, none are overfunded (Figure 26.) Large and quite unpopular 30 percent hikes in employee contributions are suggested. The alternative of taking on more municipal debt to top off pension funds is a common stop-gap measure of little merit long term; somebody still has to pay. Figure 26. State pension deficits. The 100 largest U.S. corporate defined-benefit plans have dropped to 85 percent funded from almost 110 percent in 2007. During the recent market cycle that burned bright on just fumes, the companies gained only 6 percent above the 80 percent funding at the end of 2008. Of the top 200 corporate pensions in the S&P, 186 are underfunded to the tune of $382 billion (Figure 27). General Electric, for example, is $31 billion in the hole while using $45 billion for share buybacks. Figure 27. Underfunding of 20 S&P pension funds. When are serious problems supposed to start, and what will they look like? Jim Bianco says “slowly and then suddenly.” Some would argue “now.” The Dallas Police and Firemen Pension Fund is experiencing a run on the bank.181 They are suing a real estate fund who slimed them out of more than $300 million182 and are said to be looking at $1 billion in “clawbacks” from those who got out early trying to avoid the pain.183 The Teamsters Central States and the United Mineworkers of America plans are failing.184 The New York Teamsters have spent their last penny of pension reserves.185 The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation has paid out nearly $6 billion in benefits to participants of failed pension plans (albeit at less than 50 cents on the dollar), increasing its deficit to $76 billion. CalPERS intends to cut payouts owing to low returns and inadequate contributions (during a boom, I remind you). “The middle 40% [of 50- to 64-year olds] earn $97,000 and have saved $121,000, while the top 10% make $251,000 and have $450,000 socked away.” ~Wall Street Journal Looks like those self-directed IRAs aren’t working out so well either. Two-thirds of Americans don’t contribute anything to retirement. Only 4 percent of those earning below $50,000 a year maxes out their 401(k)s at the current limits.186 They are so screwed, but I get it: they are struggling to pay their bills. However, only 32 percent of the $100,000+ crowd maxes out the contribution. When the top 10 percent of the younger boomers have two multiples of their annual salary stashed away, you’ve got a problem.186 If they retired today, how long would their money last? That’s not a trick question: two years according to my math. Half the boomers have no money set aside for retirement. A survey shows that a significant majority of boomers are finding their adult children to be a financial hardship.187 Indeed, the young punks aren’t doing well in all financial categories; retirement planning is no exception. Almost half of Gen Xers agreed with this statement: “I prefer not to think about or concern myself with retirement investing until I get closer to my retirement date.” Moody’s actuarial math concluded that a modest draw down would cause pension fund liabilities to soar owing to a depletion of reserves.188 There is a bill going through Congress to allow public pensions to borrow from the treasury; they are bracing for something.189 This is a tacit bailout being structured. The Fed cowers at the thought of a recession with good reason: Can the system endure 50% equity and bond corrections—regressions to the historical mean valuation? What happens when monumental claims to wealth—$200 trillion in unfunded liabilities—far exceed our wealth? Laurence Kotlikoff warned us; we are about to find out.190 Beware of any thinly veiled claim that the redivision of an existing pie will create more pie. My sense is that we are on the cusp of a phase change. Stresses are too large to ignore and are beginning to cause failures and welched promises. Runs on pension funds akin to runs on banks would be deadly: people would quit working to get their pensions. At this late stage in the cycle, you simply cannot make it up with higher returns. Enormous appreciation has been pulled forward; somebody is going to get hosed. It’s only fourth grade math. Bankruptcy laws exist to bring order to the division of limited assets. We got into this mess one flawed assumption at a time. On a final note, there is a move afoot to massively reduce contributions to sheltered retirement accounts. This seems precisely wrong. (I have routinely sheltered 25–30 percent of my gross income as a point of reference.) Congress is also pondering new contributions be forced into Roth-like accounts rather than regular IRAs. I have put a bat to the Roth IRA both in print191 and in a half-hour talk.192 Here is the bumper sticker version: Roth IRAs pull revenue forward, leaving future generations to fend for themselves; Fourth grade math shows that Roth and regular IRAs, if compounded at the same rate and taxed at the same rate, provide the same cash for retirement. Roth IRAs are taxed at the highest tax bracket—the marginal rate—whereas regular IRAs are taxed integrated over all brackets—the effective tax rate. If you read a comparison of Roth versus regular IRAs without reference to the “effective” versus “marginal” rate, the author is either ignorant or trying to scam you. Phrases like “it depends on your personal circumstances” are double-talk. This synopsis of a Harvard study has two fundamental errors: Can you find them? “If a worker saves $5,000 a year in a 401(k) for 40 years and earns 5% return a year, the final balance will be more than $600,000. If the 401(k) is a Roth, the full balance is available for retirement spending. If the 401(k) is a traditional one, taxes are due on the balance. Let’s say the person’s tax rate is 20% in retirement. That makes for a difference of $120,000 in spending power, which a life annuity will translate into about $700 a month in extra spending.” ~John Beshears, lead author of a Harvard study Inflation versus Deflation “Deflation does not destroy these resources physically. It merely diminishes their monetary value, which is why their present owners go bankrupt. Thus, deflation by and large boils down to a redistribution of productive assets from old owners to new owners. The net impact on production is likely to be zero.” ~Guido Hülsmann. Mises Institute “My own view is that we should be cautious about tightening policy further until we are confident inflation is on track to achieve our target.” ~Lael Brainard “Inflation is a tax and those least able to afford it generally suffer the most.” ~Esther George, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City “Barring major swings in value of the dollar, inflation is likely to move up to 2 percent over the next couple of years.” ~Janet Yellen, Federal Open Market Committee chair Barring major swings in the value of the dollar? What kind of circular reasoning is that? The Fed tells us inflation is too low relative to their arbitrary 2 percent target. I say they are lying—through their teeth—and I have company. John Williams of ShadowStats has been ringing the alarm for decades, currently putting inflation at 6 percent compared with official numbers of less than 2 percent (Figure 28).193 A study by the Devonshire Group concurs with Williams.194 The most notable support for the official consumer price index (CPI) inflation numbers comes from MIT’s Billion Prices Project (BPP).

23 декабря 2017, 12:41

Ten Top Alt-Fin posts that marked 2017 - Peter Diekmeyer (22/12/2017)

Ten Top Alt-Fin posts that marked 2017 Written by Peter Diekmeyer, Sprott Money News   Increasing questions regarding the big financial institutions and mainstream media platforms that cover them (such as CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times) are highlighting the importance of looking elsewhere for investment ideas. To help, we propose a subjective list of ten top Alt-Fin posts during 2017. There is no guarantee that this collection of geniuses, eccentrics and quacks will be any more accurate than the big guys. But in a world in which governments measure progress in fiat dollars whose value changes daily, financial statistics must be regarded as little more than manipulated approximations. The best ideas are thus more likely to be found “out of the box” than in. We have deliberately chosen more video presentations than written articles, as many of the themes raised are strategic in nature and are best reflected upon away from work. So put on your hats. Because “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”   1. Grant Williams: A World of Pure Imagination Grant Williams, in A World of Pure Imagination, highlights the emergence of huge stock, bond and real estate bubbles sparked by world governments that have grown their spending, borrowing and money-printing at a faster pace than GDP for five decades. Williams, whose charm and humor belie the deadly seriousness of this cold insight, doesn’t use the words “Ponzi Scheme.” However, the implications of trends he identifies will affect all investment decisions during the coming years. If you watch one economic presentation this year, this should be it.   2. David Stockman: Free markets are dead Like most Alt-Media,Contra Cornerr author David Stockman is highly skeptical of current economic data, debt levels and bubble-like asset valuations. His unique contention, outlined in a presentation to the Mises Institute earlier this year, is that free markets no longer exist. According to Stockman, huge spending power in Washington (which he calls “the Imperial City”) and the Federal Reserve (the “monetary policy politburo”) are so distorting price discovery that valuations can’t be trusted. Stockman’s credentials are impeccable. His 1986 classic The Triumph of Politics, penned shortly after he first came to prominence during his stint as Reagan’s budget director, foreshadowed almost all current developments.   3. Spengler: Who is China having for lunch? The key global macro trend for gold investors to watch during the coming years will be China’s rise and the yuan’s growing share of the global reserve currency balances. It’s a zero-sum game: the faster those balances rise, the faster the US economy will implode. David Goldman’s extensive work in Hong Kong (where long-time Asia Times readers know him as “Spengler”), has provided him with unique insights into the Middle Kingdom, many of which he shared in a recent presentation to the Westminster Institute. Goldman, contrary to consensus, is bullish. He argues that Westerners seriously underestimate the importance of Chinese historical traditions, entrepreneurism, work ethics and the millions of Chinese STEM and music students.   4. Harry Dent: It’s the transmission mechanism, stupid Forecasting is a brutal world. No one has been more severely punished for being right than Harry Dent, whose deflationary collapse theory was first outlined in his 2011 work The Great Crash Ahead. Dent’s biggest readers appear to have been central bankers. Shortly after the book appeared, governments began printing unprecedented amounts of money, in part to boost stock prices. This has obliterated the timings of Dent’s initial stock crash thesis (which draws extensively on Robert Prechter’s 2002 work Conquer the Crash). Still, in an interview with Peak Prosperity, Dent said the strategy won’t work due to their reliance on large financial institutions to lend out and expand the money they print—a process hampered by worsening demographic trends. Many in the precious metals community doubt Dent’s thesis that a coming collapse in asset prices will affect gold. But everyone listens to him.   5. Jeff Berwick and Doug Casey: A Bitcoin of wisdom Renegade thinkers Jeff Berwick, publisher of the Dollar Vigilante newsletter, and Doug Casey, founder of Casey Research, made the year’s most spectacular investment call: buy Bitcoin. Berwick’s broad philosophy, which he outlined at the Texas Bitcoin Conference, is that Bitcoin—which is backed by an existing blockchain, database and user community—has many of the qualities of traditional currencies. Casey, an early crypto-currency sceptic, outlined his thinking about why he reversed course at the Nexus Embassy Conference in September. Note: the sheer success, timing and apparent brilliance of Berwick’s and Casey’s calls would normally have rated them much higher rankings. However, Bitcoin’s opacity, and the fact that neither expert has issued a full “sell” call, mean that this story is not yet over. We’ll be more than happy to update their rankings if they get out with their skins intact.   6. MK. Bhadrakumar: Is India a BRIC or a card? MK. Bhadrakumar, an India-based blogger and former diplomat, has been far ahead of the curve in analyzing the return of balance of power politics, in which weaker nations—such as Russia, China and Iran—are increasingly banding together to protect themselves from larger predatory powers. India, which will soon be the world’s most populous nation (and possibly one day its biggest economy), will be crucial in determining how the global chess match will unfold. Current thinking is that the US should play the “India card,” to form an alliance against China (similarly to the way that it played the “China card” against the Soviet Union during the Cold War). Others think that India will lean towards a BRICs alliance. Indian politics, which are currently dominated by the religious/conservative Modi regime, are incredibly complex, and Bhadrakumar is not a big YouTube guy, so it is hard to point to one particular presentation. But his blog is required reading.   7. Alasdair Macleod: America’s use of the dollar for financial war Macleod, a long-time favorite of hard money proponents, hit the nail on the head with his America’s Financial War Strategy blog earlier this year, which outlined the country’s use of the dollar as a weapon. In it, Macleod identifies a crucial presentation by Qiao Liang, a senior Chinese government official, which characterizes America’s abandonment of the gold standard in 1971 as the most important development of the century.   8. Bill Gross: Correlated asset classes magnify risks Gross, the former head of bond giant Pimco and a major player in the bond world, was promoted to Alt-Fin status in 2015 after he was ousted from the company he founded. In his last blog of 2017, Gross reminds us that with interest rates so low as we approach a recession, central banks won’t be able to protect investors as much during the next market crash. (During previous economic implosions, declines in stock prices were offset by rises in fixed income securities, as central banks responded to events by cutting interest rates).   9. Gordon T. Long: Will central banks nationalize the economy? Veteran investment analyst Gordon T. Long’s video posts and interviews (many of which are with fellow bloggers Charles Hugh Smith and Mish Shedlock) are among the Alt-Fin world’s most under-rated. Long’s modus operandi is to lay out current economic developments and macro-trends in a shy, matter of fact way, through charts and graphs, which leave little room for argument. One of Long’s more compelling recent theses is that the US Federal Reserve and the ECB could do as the Bank of Japan and Switzerland’s national bank are—by buying stocks and/or ETFs (directly or indirectly) to artificially keep prices up and thus mask the scale of economic decline.   10. Doug Noland: Is credit the new form of money? Doug Noland, author of the Credit Bubble Bulletin, whom we profiled last month, is a long-time favorite of precious metals investors. Money is notoriously hard to quantify, says Noland, and thus a better way to understand the amount of liquidity in the system is to track credit.   One of Noland’s unique contributions has been to highlight the crucial importance of the US Federal Reserve’s Z.1 Flow of Funds Report. Noland’s quarterly analyses of the Z.1 (which lists the progress of all of the debts in the economy—not just individual government, business and household portions, as do mainstream media) is required reading for serious precious metals investors.   Questions or comments about this article? Leave your thoughts HERE.   Ten Top Alt-Fin posts that marked 2017   Written by Peter Diekmeyer, Sprott Money News Check out these other articles by our contributors: The Dorothy Chronicles - Gary Christenson (21/12/2017) Prominent Names Within the Crypto Space Cash Out Their Positions - Nathan McDonald (21/12/2017) Kite in a Tree - Jeff Thomas (21/12/2017) Precious metals are up, cryptocurrencies are down. Why Eric Sprott thinks 2018 could be an interesting year (Weekly Wrap-Up, December 22, 2017)

11 декабря 2017, 23:30

Интервью с Джеком Швагером (Jack Schwager): Секреты лучших трейдеров мира

Убытки, которые несут трейдеры и инвесторы всего мира — одни из самых крупных в глобальной финансовой индустрии. И не случайно многие богатейшие люди мира (сегодня и в прошлом) были успешными инвесторами. Имена таких людей, как Уоррен Баффет, Джордж Сорос, Джон Паулсон, Дейвид Айнхорн, Билл Гросс и Джон Темплтон, стали синонимами стратегий достижения ошеломляющего успеха. О них написано множество книг, а аналитики внимательно изучают их биографии, чтобы разгадать «магическую формулу».Помимо этих супертяжеловесов мира торговли, сотни тысяч индивидуальных трейдеров по всему миру используют прекрасные стратегии, которые позволяют стабильно генерировать прибыль (только поисковик Google по запросу «лучшие стратегии торговли» выдает более чем 10 миллионов результатов). На макро-уровне, теория долгосрочного эффективного рынка утверждает, что ни одна стратегия не может быть эффективной. Но в течение нескольких последних десятилетий мы наблюдали постепенный отход от этой теории в сторону признания информационной асимметрии и шаблонов поведения, которые создают на рынке неэффективность (возможности для торговли). Как в таких сложных условиях некоторым трейдерам удается достигать такого ошеломляющего успеха? Читать дальше: https://utmagazine.ru/posts/20761-intervyu-s-dzhekom-shvagerom-jack-schwager-sekrety-luchshih-treyderov-mira Рекомендуем: -------------------------------------- Готовимся к курсу скальпинга: Aurora для скальпера Лучшая мультирыночная платформа Самое полное руководство по трейдингу Торговые сигналы Работа трейдером --------------------------------------

08 декабря 2017, 14:36

Богатые тоже плачут: финансовые ошибки миллиардеров

У вас может сложиться мнение, что богатые люди совершенно точно знают, что работает в бизнесе, и на основе этого знания они выстраивают свое богатство и свой финансовый успех. Но это совсем не так. Даже богатые люди совершают ошибки.

08 декабря 2017, 14:36

Богатые тоже плачут: финансовые ошибки миллиардеров

У вас может сложиться мнение, что богатые люди совершенно точно знают, что работает в бизнесе, и на основе этого знания они выстраивают свое богатство и свой финансовый успех. Но это совсем не так. Даже богатые люди совершают ошибки.

07 декабря 2017, 17:08

Bill Gross: "The Financial System As We Know It Can Be At Risk"

In his latest monthly investment outlook, Janus Henderson's Bill Gross takes a trip to the dark side of monetary machinations and examines the signals (from credit, yield curves, and bitcoin) to comprehend how long this 'dance' can continue, "until the system itself breaks down." 1. Prior market tops (1987, 2000, 2007, etc.) allowed asset managers to partially “insure” their risk assets by purchasing Treasuries that could appreciate in price as the Fed lowered policy rates. Today, that “insurance” is limited with interest rates so low. Risk assets, therefore, have a less “insurable” left tail that should be priced into higher risk premiums. Should a crisis arise because of policy mistakes, geopolitical crises, or other currently unforeseen risks, the ability to protect principal will be impaired relative to history. That in turn argues for a more cautious and easier Fed than otherwise assumed.   Economists prior to Keynes viewed “modeled” as well as “real time” economies as self-balancing, but subject to imbalances from external shocks like oil prices. Rarely did theory incorporate finance and credit as one of those potential earthquakes.   It took Hyman Minsky to change how economists view the world by introducing the concept of financial stability that leads to leverage and ultimate instability. He alerted economists to the fact that an economy is a delicate balance between production and finance. Both must be balanced internally and then the interplay between them balanced as well. 2. Credit creation begins at the central bank level, but in reality is predominantly expanded via fractional reserve banking and near zero reserved shadow banks. This model allows substantial leverage and can overprice AAA assets at the core then expand outward until it reaches the periphery of financial markets. At that point or even before, credit usually leaks out into the real economy via purchases of real assets, plant and equipment, commodities and other factors of production. It is this process that has become the operating model for 20th and 21st century capitalism – a system which ultimately depends on asset prices for its eventual success.   This model, however, is leverage dependent and – 1) debt levels, 2) the availability, and 3) cost of that leverage are critical variables upon which its success depends. When one or more of these factors deteriorates, the probability of the model’s success and stability go down. 3. Our entire financed-based system – anchored and captained by banks – is based upon carry and the ability to earn it. When credit is priced such that carry can no longer be profitable (or at least grow profits) at an acceptable amount of leverage/risk, then the system will stall or perhaps even tip. Until that point, however (or soon before), investors should stress an acceptable level of carry over and above their index bogies. The carry may not necessarily be credit based – it could be duration, curve, volatility, equity, or even currency related.   But it must out carry its bogey until the system itself breaks down. Timing that exit is obviously difficult and perilous, but critical for surviving in a new epoch. We may be approaching such a turning point, so invest more cautiously. 4. Money/cash is different than credit. High-quality credit can at times take the place of money when its liquidity, perceived return, and safety of principal allow for its substitution.   When the possibility of default increases and/or the real return on credit or liquidity decreases and persuades creditors to hold classical “money” (cash, gold, bitcoin), then the financial system as we know it can be at risk (insurance companies, banks, mutual funds, etc.) as credit shrinks and “money” increases, creating liquidity concerns. 5. Someone asked me recently what would happen if the Fed could just tell the Treasury that they ripped up their $4 trillion of T-bonds and mortgages. Just Fugetaboutit! I responded that that is what they are effectively doing. “Just pay us the interest”, the Fed says, “and oh, by the way, we’ll remit all of that interest to you at the end of the year”.   Money for nothing – The Treasury issuing debt for free. No need to pay down debt unless it creates inflation. For now, it is not. Probably later. Have a great December. Be careful in 2018.

Выбор редакции
07 декабря 2017, 16:20

Gross warns Fed should be 'more cautious' amid investor bond binge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Influential bond investor Bill Gross of Janus Henderson Investors warned Thursday the Federal Reserve should be "more cautious and easier" in its interest-rate hiking campaign,...

07 декабря 2017, 12:49

Гросс называет ставку ФРС в 2% пороговой в свете плоской кривой

(Bloomberg) -- Билл Гросс говорит, что инвесторы, которые тревожатся по поводу уплощения кривой доходности США, фокусируются не на том.Важнее обратить внимание на ориентир Федеральной резервной системы по краткосрочной ставке, который в настоящее время составляет 1-1,25 процента, написал он агентству Блумберг по электронной...

07 декабря 2017, 12:33

Гросс называет ставку ФРС в 2% пороговой в свете плоской кривой

(Bloomberg) -- Билл Гросс говорит, что инвесторы, которые тревожатся по поводу уплощения кривой доходности США, фокусируются не на том.Важнее обратить внимание на ориентир Федеральной резервной системы по краткосрочной ставке, который в настоящее время составляет 1-1,25 процента, написал он агентству Блумберг по электронной почте в среду.

07 декабря 2017, 11:24

Гросс: ставка ФРС выше 2% станет проблемой для США

Гуру долгового рынка Билл Гросс считает, что инвесторам важнее обратить внимание не на уплощение кривой доходности в США, а на целевой диапазон ставок Федеральной резервной системы (ФРС), который сейчас составляет 1-1,25%, пишет Bloomberg.

07 декабря 2017, 11:24

Гросс: ставка ФРС выше 2% станет проблемой для США

Гуру долгового рынка Билл Гросс считает, что инвесторам важнее обратить внимание не на уплощение кривой доходности в США, а на целевой диапазон ставок Федеральной резервной системы (ФРС), который сейчас составляет 1-1,25%, пишет Bloomberg.

08 ноября 2017, 15:08

A Key Treasury Yield Spread Narrows To Lowest Level In A Decade

A widely followed measure of the Treasury yield curve dipped on Tuesday (Nov. 7) to its flattest level in a decade, based on daily data published by Treasury.gov. The gap between the 10-year and 2-year rates fell to 69 basis points yesterday – the lowest since Nov. 2007. The flatter yield curve follows in the […]

07 ноября 2017, 17:42

Stock and Awe, Bears in Bondage

The following article by David Haggith was published on The Great Recession Blog: The Trump Rally pushed ahead relentlessly through a summer full of high omens and great disasters, all which it swatted off like flies. Even so, all was not perfect in the market as nerves began to jitter midsummer beneath the surface even among the most longtime bulls. Wall Street’s fear gauge (the CBOE Volatility Index) lifted its needle off its lower post to a nine-month high after President Trump’s comments about “fire and fury” if North Korea didn’t toe the line. (Mind you, the high wasn’t very far off the post because of how placid the previous nine months had been.) As volatility stirred languidly over the threat of nuclear war, stock prices took a little spill with all major stock indices seeing their biggest one-day drop since May. The SPX fall amounted to a 1.4% drop in a day — nothing damaging. The Dow dropped about 1% in a day. But beneath the surface, the market is looking different and shakier. For example, trading narrowed to fewer players as more stocks in the Nasdaq 100 finally moved below their fifty-two week lows than moved above them. Likewise in the S&P. This phenomenon is known as the “Hindenburg omen,” and tends to precede major crashes.     It’s a serious signal that highlights times of decoupling within an index or an exchange. The S&P hasn’t suffered five signals so tightly clustered since 2007 and 2000…. This year the pattern has been popping up more often in all four indexes … 74 omens so far in 2017, second only to 78 recorded in November 2007…. That they are manifesting in several indexes and forming so frequently are good reasons to brace for weakness. (MarketWatch)   Long credit cycles like the current one always end with a crash. But first they deteriorate. The headline numbers remain positive while under the surface a growing list of sectors start to falter. It’s only when the latter reach a critical mass that market psychology turns dark. How far along is this process today? Pretty far, it seems, as some high-profile industries roll over: ‘Deep’ Subprime Car Loans Hit Crisis-Era Milestone…. Used Car Prices Crash To Lowest Level Since 2009 Amid Glut Of Off-Lease Supply…. Junk Bonds Slump…. The worst is yet to come for retail stocks, says former department store executive Jan Kniffen…. U.S. Stock Buybacks Are Plunging…. “Perhaps over-leveraged U.S. companies have finally reached a limit on being able to borrow simply to support their own shares.” (–John Rubino, The Daily Coin)   The fact is that the market is breaking down beneath the shrinking number of Big Cap stocks and levitating averages. This has all set-up a severe downside shock within the coming weeks. As to the market’s weakening internals, consider that there are 2,800 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Back in early 2013 when the bull market was still being super-charged with massive QE purchases by the Federal Reserve, 85% or 2,380 of them were above their 200-DMA. By contrast, currently only 1,050 of them (37.5%) are above that level, meaning that the bull is getting very tired. (–David Stockman, The Daily Reckoning)     Trading shifted this summer from the major players (often called the “smart money”) buying to smaller buyers trying to jump in, which is also the typical final scenario before a crash where the smart money escapes by finding chumps who fear missing some of the big rush that has been happening. And buybacks seem to be slumping as corporations hope for a new source of cash from Trump’s corporate tax breaks. In spite of those underlying signs of stress, the market easily relaxed back into its former stupor, with the fear gauge quickly recalibrating, from that point on, to absorb threats and disasters with scarcely a blip as the new norm. The market now yawns at nuclear war, hurricanes and wildfires, having established a whole new threshold of incredulity or apathy, so the fear gauge stirs no more. With the New York Stock Exchange eclipsed by the larger number of shares that now exchange hands inside “dark pools” — private stock markets housed inside some of Wall Street’s biggest casinos (banks) where the biggest players trade large blocks of stocks in secret during overnight hours —  the average guy won’t see the next crash when it begins to happen. He’ll just awaken to find out it has happened … just like much of the nation woke one Monday to find out that northern California had gone up in flames over the weekend.   Bulls starting to sound bearish   While concern over these national catastrophes never came close to letting the bears out of their cages, it did change the dialogue at the top as if something was beginning to smell … well … a little dead under the covers. Perhaps these slight and temporary tremors in the market are all the warning we can expect in a market that is now almost entirely run by robots and inflated by central bank largesse. While the bearish voices quoted above can be counted on to sound bearish, many of the big and normally bullish investors and advisors became more bearish in tone as summer rolled into fall. For the first time in years, Pimco expressed worries about top-heavy asset valuations, particularly in stocks and junk bonds, advising its clients in August to trim risk from their portfolios. Pimco argued that that the new central bank move toward reversing QE could leave equities high and dry as the long high tide of liquidity slowly ebbs. Pimco’s former CEO said much the same:   Bill Gross … perhaps the preimminent bond market analysts/ trader/ investor of the age… has gone on record as stating only just recently that the risks of equity ownership are as high as they were in ’08, and that at this point when buying weakness “instead of buying low and selling high, you’re buying high and crossing your fingers.” (Zero Hedge)   Goldman Sachs even took the rare position that the stock market had a 99% chance that it would not continue to rise in the near future, and places the likelihood of a bear market by year’ send at 67%, prompting them to ask “”should we be worried now?” The last two times Goldman’s bear market indicator was this high were right before the dot-com crash and right before the Great Recession. In fact, there has only been one time since 1960 when it has been this high without a bear market following within 2-3 months. Of course, everything is different under central-bank rigging, but some central banks are promising to start pulling the rug out from under the market in synchronous fashion, starting last month. (Though, as of the Fed’s own latest balance sheet shows, they have failed to deliver on their promise, cutting only half as much by the close of October as they said they would.) Morgan Stanley’s former chief economist said at the start of fall that the combination of high valuations and rising interest rates is about to reck havoc in the market. He claimed the Fed’s commitment to normalization should have come much earlier, as the market now looks as frothy as it did just before the Great Recession. Citi now calculates the odds of a major market correction before the end of the year at 45% likelihood. Even Well’s Fargo now predicts a market drop of up to 8% by year’s end. Speaking of big banks, their stocks look particularly risky. Two years ago, Dick Bove was advising investors to buy major banks stocks aggressively. Now, he’s taken a strikingly bearish tone on the banks:   A highly-respected banking stock guru warns that financial storm clouds loom for Wall Street’s bull rally. The Vertical Group’s Richard Bove “warns that the overall market is just as dangerous as the late 1990s, and he cites momentum — not fundamentals — as what’s driving bank stocks to all-time highs,” CNBC.com explains. “If we don’t get some event in the economy or in politics or in somewhere that is going to create more loan volume and better margins for the banks, then yes, they would come crashing down,” Bove told CNBC. “I think that the risk in these stocks is very high at the present time,” he said. (NewsMax)   It’s a taxing wait for the market   These are all major institutions and people who are normally quite bullish. Some of the tonal change is because of concern about the Fed’s Great Unwind of QE, while much is because enthusiasm over Trump’s promised tax cuts has become muted among investors deciding to wait and see, having been burned by a long and futile battle on Obamacare. In fact, the market showed more interest in Fed Chair Yellen’s suggestion of a December interest-rate hike than in Trump’s release of a tax plan. Retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker predicts the fighting over tax reform will make the attempt to rescind Obamacare look like a cakewalk, and he intends to lead the fight as one of the swing voters to make sure it is not a cakewalk now that he and Trump are political enemies. The Dow took a 1% drop in the summer when Bannon was terminated so that anti-establishment resellers felt they were losing the battle and when the Republican government seemed deadlocked on all tax-related issues, which it still may be. On the bright side, with Mitch McConnel’s Luther Strange losing his senate race and Bob Corker quitting, anti-establishment forces appear to be gaining a little power. That’s, at least, something. On the other hand, Trump has just chosen an establishment man to run the Fed, and Trump, who once ridiculed Janet Yellen for propping up Obama’s economy with low interest rates, said a few days ago,   I also met with Janet Yellen, who I like a lot. I really like her a lot.   President Trump’s new Federal Reserve chair, Jerome “Jay” Powell, “a low interest-rate kind of guy,” was obviously picked because he is Janet Yellen minus testicles, the grayest of gray go-along Fed go-fers, going about his life-long errand-boy duties in the thickets of financial lawyerdom like a bustling little rodent girdling the trunks of every living shrub on behalf of the asset-stripping business that is private equity…. Powell’s contribution to the discourse of finance was his famous utterance that the lack of inflation is “kind of a mystery….” Unless you consider that all the “money” pumped out of the Fed and the world’s other central banks flows through a hose to only two destinations: the bond and stock markets, where this hot-air-like “money” inflates zeppelin-sized bubbles that have no relation to on-the-ground economies where real people have to make things and trade things…. The “narrative” is firmest before it its falseness is proved by the turn of events, and there are an awful lot of events out there waiting to present, like debutantes dressing for a winter ball. The debt ceiling… North Korea… Mueller… Hillarygate….the state pension funds….That so many agree the USA has entered a permanent plateau of exquisite prosperity is a sure sign of its imminent implosion. What could go wrong? (–James Howard Kunstler)   Powell doesn’t sound like a man who sees a need for change in the current Fed programming, but he is the very best Trump could think of for carrying out his desire to make America great again.   Bulls still climbing to dizzying heights   While some of the leading bulls have started sounding like bears of late, the bulls still lead the bears by more than 4:1, and investors remain in love with technology almost as much as they were before the dot-com crash. ”Still, as Sir John Templeton famously said,   Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.   We are clearly in the euphoric stage where the market just cannot stop itself from rising. It’s been a year-long euphoria now as the Trump Rally, which stalled for some time midyear, found a second wind. It is now on track to soon become the greatest rally in 85 years. You have to go back to FDR and the recovery from the Great Depression to find anything greater. No euphoria there, given that is all based on tax cuts that have as much likelihood of failing as the Obamacare repeal had. What is peculiarly interesting at present is the euphoria over volatility itself. Look at the following two graphs: (The first indicates what is happening in terms of market volatility. The second shows where people are betting volatility will go from here.)       The CBOE Volatility Index dove 8% last Friday to close the week just a hair’s breadth above its lowest volatility record ever! So, at a time when volatility in the stock market is essentially as low as it has ever gone, bets that volatility will go lower have risen astronomically. Yeah, that makes sense. Essentially, hoards of investors are so certain that volatility is down for the count that they are betting it will practically cease to exist months from now. As Mauldin Economics has argued, we are now, among all our other bubbles, in a volatility bubble. Such low volatility when the market is priced to its peak means market investors see no risk even at such a high top and even in an environment that has been literally plagued for months by external risks from hurricanes to wildfires to endless threats of nuclear annihilation by a lunatic. That’s because all investors know the market will stay up for as long as the Federal Reserve chooses to keep propping it up. Investors must not be taking the Fed’s threat of subtracting that support seriously, or they are choosing to stay in to the last crest of the last wave and then all hoping to be the first ones out before the wave crashes. Is that rational or irrational euphoria? This market is not just notable for how long its low-volatility euphoria has gone on but also for how low the volume of trades have been. We are almost at a point of no volatility and no volume. That means nobody is selling stocks if they don’t get a higher price, but there aren’t many buying either. The few companies whose stocks are pushing the market up are trading less and less. That trend holds in both the US and Europe. European trading volume is its lowest in five years; and in the US, it is 22% below last year and still falling. That things are so calm in the middle of global nuclear threats, devastating hurricanes and wildfires and constant political chaos on the American scene and with such a do-nothing congress strikes me as surreal. The Wall Street Journal concludes,   The collapse in trading volumes is closely tied to the recent fall in volatility, where measures of daily stock price movements have plumbed multiyear lows. When markets aren’t moving, there are typically fewer people scrambling to protect their portfolios against further losses or seizing an opportunity to buy things that look cheap.” (The Wall Street Journal)   What does it mean; where do we go from here?   Even the WSJ says it isn’t sure what this low-volatility/low-volume stasis means. I have to wonder if the market will reach such a lull in volatility that everyone just sits there, looking at each other, wondering who will be the first to move again. Is that finally the moment panic breaks in? Even the Journal wonders if the eery calm means investors have simply become so bullish they refuse to sell. Or is it that everyone is already in the market who wants in at current prices now that the Fed has stopped QE and is now even reversing it. Is the lull extreme narrowing happening because there is no longer excess new money in the market to invest but no one scared enough to drop their price and sell? Is there no money that wants in at current prices and under the current knowledge that money supply will now be deflating for the first time in years? Is this the way the unwind of QE starts to suck money back out of the market … by reducing the number of interested traders to a thin trickle while the fewer number of interested players who do have money to invest keep bidding up prices? If you’re already in this hyper-inflated market, where earnings only look good on a per-share basis because companies keep spending a fortune buying back shares, then you may see no reason to sell; but, if you’ve been sitting on the side with a pocketful of cash, it may look awfully late in the game to jump in. (Consider also that growth in earnings throughout the first half of 2017 was easy to show because it compared to the first half of 2016, where earnings were terrible. Now the climb in earnings has to steepen in order to show growth year on year.) So what if the tax reform that everything seems to be depending on flops? Charles Gaparino warns,   If tax reform bellyflops the way ObamaCare repeal did, many smart analysts are coming to the conclusion that the market will turn sour. Without tax cuts, one Wall Street executive told me, “the markets will drop like a rock….” This is a significant change in investor attitudes…. As much as stock values represent economic and corporate fundamentals, they also represent raw emotion known as the “herd mentality.” And that mentality, according to the investors I speak to, has begun to shift in recent weeks…. The market mentality that once said anything is better for the markets than Hillary is now saying to the president and Congress: Deliver on those promised tax cuts or face the consequences. And they won’t be pretty.(The New York Post)   Evidence of how reactive the market will be if tax cuts are less than expected came a couple of weeks ago when the Russel 2000 fell the most it has since August on news that the Republicans’ proposed corporate cuts would be phased in over a period of years. That demonstrated that the Trump Rally is mostly about the tax cuts; they are fully priced in; so, if the tax cuts fail or even get dragged out over years, the market fails. With savings way down, personal debt extremely high, corporate debt quite high, and central banks threatening to reduce liquidity, consumption will have no means of support if asset prices also fall; so, the whole broader consumer-based economy goes back down if the stock market fails. Of course, central banks will revert to more QE if that happens; but each round of QE has been less effective dollar-for-dollar. And where have we arrived under complete Republican leadership in the midst of all this? As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget stated,   Republicans in Congress laid out two visions in two budgets for our fiscal future, and today, they choose the path of gimmicks, debt, and absolutely zero fiscal restraint over the one of responsibility and balance. While the original House budget balanced on paper and offered some real savings, the Senate’s version accepted today by the House fails to reach balance, enacts a pathetic $1 billion in spending cuts out of a possible $47 trillion, and allows for $1.5 trillion to be added to the national debt…. The GOP is now on-the-record as supporting trillions in new debt for the sake of tax cuts over tax reform…. “Tax cuts do not pay for themselves; they can create growth, but in the amount of tenths of percentage points, not whole percentage points. And they certainly cannot fill in trillions in lost revenue. Relying on growth projections that no independent forecaster says will happen isn’t the way to do tax reform. (TalkMarkets)   This is progress? The Republicans are proving month after wearying month they are incapable of doing everything they have sworn for years they would do if they were in power. They could complain as an obstructionist body about the other sides, but they have no solutions they can agree on. The Republican answer in the budget and tax plan that have just come out guarantees mountains of additional debt as far as the eye can see … with the perennial promise that cuts will eventually be made in some distant future by a congress that will not in any way be beholden to the wishes and slated demands of the present congress. (Always tax cuts now, spending cuts promised to be made by other people far down the road.) If the program passes, however, it will shore up the stock market which has been banking entirely on that possibility; but at the cost of deeper economic structural problems to be solved (as always) by others later on. If it doesn’t pass, you do the math as to what that likely means for all the underlying weaknesses presented above when huge tax breaks are already baked into stock prices. If you want to see whether or not tax cuts have EVER created sustained economic growth, read the last article linked above, but here is a chart from that article for a quick representation of the truth:  

11 октября 2017, 18:55

"It Is Pretty Rare That Emerging Markets See This Type Of Euphoria"

For all "doom and gloom" predictions of an imminent crash in Emerging Markets (here and here, among many others), not only have these not materialized, but as of last week the average yield on corporate junk bonds issued by emerging markets dropped to 5.53% late last week, the lowest on record, according to the WSJ citing J.P. Morgan. Indicatively, two years ago, that yield was over 9%. For a case study of the yield-chasing insanity unleashed by central bankers, look no further than Tajikistan. The central Asian country last month raised $500 million in its first-ever international bond sale, paying just 7.125% in annual interest on the debt after the U.S.-dollar offering drew a swarm of American and European buyers. Bankers had earlier shopped the 10-year bonds from the former Soviet satellite with an 8% yield, which was pulled down by strong investor demand. The reason for the scramble into any piece of yielding debt, even Tajik junk bonds is simple: as the IMF shows today in its latest financial stability report, there are virtually no IG bonds left with yields above 4%, and in the junk bonds space, whether in the US or offshore, it isn't much better. But whatever the reason (and, spoiler alert, central bank and especially ECB nationalization of the bond market is what is causing this), the outcome is clear, and as the WSJ notes, "investors’ thirst for income is enabling governments and companies in some of the world’s poorest countries to sell debt at lower and lower interest rates. Greece, which was on the brink of default a few years ago, issued new bonds this past summer, and the country’s National Bank launched a bond sale Tuesday, marking the return of Greek banks to the credit markets since the country’s sovereign-debt crisis." The numbers are staggering, junk bond issuance in the developing world has hit a record $221 billion this year, already up 60% from the full-year total in 2016. For buyers, the numbers don't matter however: the justify the record purchases by claiming that the debt "pays a healthy yield and carries few immediate risks." Furthermore, they claim that "the global economy appears robust and emerging-market defaults are low. Bankers say they expect emerging markets to sell tens of billions of dollars in new junk bonds by year-end." And why not: with billions in IG debt yielding negative, and "high yield" having become a laughable misnomer, investors desperate for any yield will go wherever it exists. Even in Tajikistan. Still, the euphoria is worrying some investors, who warn that frenzied buying of risky assets sometimes presages market turning points. One such worrier is Wilbur Matthew of Vaquero Global Investments, who told the WSJ that “while I am not shouting the end is near, it is normally pretty far down the line that emerging markets start to see this type of euphoria.” He said he has been selling some riskier debt to buy higher-rated bonds and securities that mature sooner. But back to Tajikistan's oversubscribed issuance: its bonds were rated B- by S&P, with the ratings firm estimating the country’s GDP per capita at $900, putting it among the lowest of the sovereign nations it rates, but said it sees Tajikistan’s growth prospects improving gradually. Of course, that sale followed the previously discussed June bond-market debut of the Maldives, a tiny nation in the Indian Ocean that raised $200 million in a sale of five-year bonds with a 7% coupon. “Investors are very bullish on bonds from emerging markets and very keen to diversify into new names,” said Peter Charles, a Citibank managing director who handled the Tajikistan bond sale. The country plans to use some of the proceeds to finance a power plant project. To be sure, not everyone rushed at the opportunity to hand over other people's money to some of the world's poorest, most corrupt nations: Samy Muaddi, who manages a portfolio of emerging-market bonds at T. Rowe Price Group , said he didn’t buy the Tajikistan debt because he lacked information about the country’s repaying history and financial strength. “We are seeing a lot of aggressively priced deals, as many new entrants are coming to the market with less-established track records,” he added. T. Rowe has about $16 billion in emerging-market debt. Poor Samy: he will likely be fired at the end of the year for being "too prudent and conservative." Meanwhile, at the corporate level, it is an absolute feeding frenzy, and companies that previously struggled to raise money in the credit markets had no trouble doing so recently. Geo Energy Resources, an Indonesian coal-mining group, canceled a $300 million bond sale in July when investors were demanding a yield of close to 9%. In late September, the company returned to the markets and sold the bonds with an 8.3% yield. Euphoria, indeed. But wait, it gets better: "even issuers with a history of defaults have been able to find buyers for their debt. Argentina in June sold 100-year bonds, even though the South American nation has defaulted multiple times over the past few decades." And some more narrative goalseeking by those who participated: “We’re at a part of the credit cycle globally that’s really benign. Risk-taking is really high,” said Jay Wintrob, CEO of Oaktree Capital Management, during a recent visit to Hong Kong. Los Angeles-based Oaktree has $99 billion under management in corporate debt and other investments. Unlike Samy, Jay will collect a hefty bonus this year: after all he traded alongside the central banks, who have made a mockery of what Bill Gross called "fake", manipulated markets. Adding insult to injury for those who still hold financial logic in high regard, "prices of emerging-market junk bonds have gained sharply this year, pushing their “spreads,” or the additional yield that investors demand over interest-rate benchmarks, to multiyear lows. That spread over U.S. Treasurys was just 3.48 percentage points at the end of last week, the tightest level in 10 years, according to J.P. Morgan. A year ago, the spread was 5.3 percentage points." Buyers of such bonds have been collecting hefty returns. A J.P. Morgan index that tracks high-yield corporate bonds in the emerging markets has risen 9.2% this year through September, significantly outperforming U.S. junk bonds, which have returned 6.7% over the same period. And while one can justify such purchases until one is blue in the face, claiming "synchronized global growth", improving balance sheets, or simply central bank herding, the reality is that - as we have discussed before - buyers of bonds issued by low-rated companies and countries in the emerging world could be exposed to multiple risks should markets turn. In previous times of market stress and economic weakness, junk bonds and emerging-market debt were among the asset classes that suffered sharp price declines as investors dumped riskier holdings for safer ones. The recent tightening in spreads raises questions about whether investors are getting adequately paid for the risk they are taking on. A faster-than-expected interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve could also hurt bonds broadly, because bond prices fall when rates and yields rise. Even so, almost nobody is concerned: "Polina Kurdyavko, co-head of emerging-market debt at BlueBay Asset Management, a fixed-income firm with $57 billion of assets under management, said she isn’t worried yet. Junk bond issuance, which makes up less than half of overall emerging-market debt supply, has so far been increasing proportionally to the broader sector." “I’ll start worrying when high yield dominates new bond issuance in emerging markets,” she said. There may be a simpler catalyst: the end of central bank liquidity injections.   As Deutsche Bank's chief macro strategist Alan Ruskin said earlier today... "As we look at what could shake the panoply of low vol forces, it is the thaw in Central Bank policy as they retreat from emergency measures that is potentially most intriguing/worrying. We are likely to be nearing a low point for major market bond and equity vol, and if the catalyst is policy it will likely come from positive volatility QE ‘flow effect’ being more powerful than the vol depressant ‘stock effect’. To twist a phrase from another well know Chicago economist: Vol may not always and everywhere be a monetary phenomena – but this is the first place to look for economic catalysts over the coming year." Ruskin is right, of course, but where he is wrong is the assumed reaction by central bankers: having cultivated the 'wealth effect' for the 1% for nearly a decade, will central banks suddenly turn their backs on the capital markets, their primary "wealth expansion pipeline", and see the fruit of their labor crushed? Judging by the record low volatility and credit spreads, and record high stocks, the market's verdict is simple: never.

10 октября 2017, 22:39

Со-основатель PIMCO: Глобальная финсистема превратилась в тотальный фейк! (alexsword)

На АфтерШоке постоянно говорится, что глобальная финансовая система, с момента запуска бейлаутов в 2008 и последующих QE, превратилось в некое исчадие ада, совершенно оторванное от физической экономики, в котором комфортно чувствуют себя лишь паразиты и монстры хайпа, порожденные "дешевой ликвидностью" - такие как сланцевые аферисты или те же криптобесы. А вот что по этому поводу думают профессиональные спекулянты - на линии Билл Гросс, сооснователь PIMCO (под управлением $1,6 трюлей резаной): 38 комментариев

10 октября 2017, 20:46

Bill Gross: "We Have Fake Markets Because Of The Fed"

Repeating an argument he has made increasingly more forcefully over the past few years, former bond king, Bill Gross, now at Janus Henderson where he oversees the $2.1 billion Unconstrained Bond Fund, said late on Monday that financial markets are artificially compressed, in the process distorting capitalism because of the U.S. Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy. "I think we have fake markets," Gross said at a Janus Henderson event quoted by Reuters. He added that investors should brace for higher bond yields as the Fed begins to unwind its quantitative easing program but yields will edge up "only gradually."  Repeating observations made here, and elsewhere countless times, Gross said the Fed's loose monetary policy had resulted in investors chasing yield and thus producing tight corporate spreads everywhere around the globe (but especially in Europe where junk bonds now yield less than matched maturity US treasurys due to the monetization distortions of the ECB). "Even China and South Korea - perfect examples of the risk trade - are at very narrow (corporate spread) levels. There is no real advantage in the global marketplace. Everything is so tight, it is hard to pick a winner from a group that is fake." Gross also reiterated his previous warning that Fed Chair Janet Yellen and other global policy makers should not rely on historical models such as the Taylor Rule and the Phillips curve "in an era of extraordinary monetary policy."  Of course, if Gross doe put his money where his mouth is - so to speak - and acts in a fiduciary duty in line with his convictions, he should return capital to investors immediately and wait until such time as market are no longer "fake" and where investors such as Gross have an edge. Somehow we doubt this will happen, however, prompting the question whether one needs fake traders to navigate these fake markets...

Выбор редакции
09 октября 2017, 23:48

Bill Gross of Janus blames Fed for 'fake markets'

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Influential bond investor Bill Gross of Janus Henderson Investors said on Monday that financial markets are artificially compressed and capitalism distorted because of the U.S....

28 сентября 2017, 01:59

Pimco Total Return Bond Fund, since Gross exit, outperforms most peers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three years after Bill Gross shocked the financial world by exiting Pacific Investment Management Co and ending his reign over the Pimco Total Return Bond (PTTRX) fund, investors...

01 ноября 2016, 17:25

О текущей ситуации в мировой экономике

Данную публикацию сделал вчера на Афтершоке, где она вызвала довольно серьёзный интерес и высокое количество просмотров, посему решил продублировать и у себя в ЖЖ.В данной публикации я объединил две статьи одного русского финансового аналитика, которого сам очень люблю читать, но который к великому сожалению очень не часто выступает в публичном пространстве. Данные публикации вышли в разное время (17 июля и 30 октября), но в связи с тем, что носят теоретический характер, то первая нисколько не может считаться устаревшей, а вторая недавняя отлично дополняет первую.Прошу прощение за некоторые авторские стилистические ошибки - я не взял на себя смелость редакторской правки чужого текста.17 июля 2016   Сегодня решил выложить некоторые выдежрки из инвестиционной стратегии на второе полугодие, подготовленной для клиентов. Кому будет интересно, может ознакомиться с мыслями по поводу происходящего.   События, связанные с референдумом по выходу Великобритании из ЕС, падение доходности государственных облигаций стран G7, смещение доходностей в отрицательную зону, относительное облечение для развивающихся рынков (ЕМ), выражающиеся в увеличении (отскоке) valuations, стабилизации их валютных курсов – закономерная стадия развития глобальной ситуации на рынках. Как мы в прошлый раз указали – так называемый рефляционный момент будет доминировать в текущем году (хотя его влияние во втором полугодии будет сходить на нет). Последние аналитические отчеты, касающиеся ЕМ, даже поменяли резко тональность и стали описывать перспективы восстановления и даже роста на ЕМ, повышение таргетов и прогнозов по валютным курсам (от рубля до бразильского реала и т.д.). К сожалению, большинство аналитиков плохо понимает логику развития экономики, в какой точке находится глобальная экономика и закончился ли кризис или нет.   Попытаемся восстановить картинку происходящего, а также заглянуть немного в будущее.    События 2008 года знаменовали собою не столько кризис, а сколько завершение многолетнего долгового суперцикла, который начался в развитых странах в послевоенное время. Долговая пирамида, построенная в частном секторе оказалась настолько большой, что больше долгов домохозяйства развитых стран брать не могли, а банки оказались не готовы продолжать кредитовать их в прежних объемах. Для стабилизации экономик банки развитых стран приступили к агрессивной политики монетарного смягчения. Первым на сцену вышел ФРС – запустив в марте 2009 большую программу количественного смягчения. Казалось, решение найдено и кризис завершен. Уже летом 2009 доходность трежерис превысила 3%. Однако, буквально спустя полгода пошли первые звонки с другого континента – из небольшой страны Греции, которая начала сталкиваться с проблемой обслуживания своего государственного долга. Таким образом, начался второй этап кризис (или вторая волна, кому как удобно) – кризис теперь уже суверенного долга. Начало трясти Еврозону. И только вмешательство нового главы ЕЦБ Марио Драги, который вернул ЦБ статус кредитора последней инстанции, купировал кризис, разрастающийся на финансовых рынках. Впоследствии, ЕЦБ пошел по пути ФРС, запустив программу QE. Аналогичным путем пошли и два других крупнейших мировых центробанка – Банк Японии и Банк Англии. Пока западные центробанки боролись с кризисом в своих странах – очередная волна, на рубеже 2013-2014 года накрыла теперь уже развивающиеся страны. Последовало резкое падение стоимости активов в этих странах, девальвации этих валют, появились разные акронимы типа fragile 5 и тп. Причем это сопровождалось падение цен на весь товарный комплекс – от цен на металлы на нефть и газ. Наконец, в 2016 году дал старт еще одному этапу кризиса – развалу искусственных государственных образований – Британия проголосовала за выход из ЕС. Европейский встал на путь СССР, который прекратил свое существование. Голосование в Британии во многом симптоматично. Во-первых, во многих СМИ подаются и тиражируются абсолютно ложные утверждения, будто те, кто голосовал за выход, плохо были осведомлены о последствиях выхода Британии из ЕС или что основным мотивом их голосования было недовольство миграционной политикой. Как показывают повторные опросы – 92% голосовавших за выход Британии из ЕС – happy о готовы еще раз, если понадобится проголосовать за выход. Но самая главная причина – это то, что британцы во многом не видят экономических перспектив улучшения их жизни. Согласною статистики Банка Англии, которая ведется с 1850, реальные доходы британце постоянно росли, кроме последних 15 лет. Они даже падают в реальном выражении, это беспрецедентно. Фактически мы видим отдаление британских элит от народа, как бы пафосно это не звучало. Аналогичная ситуация наблюдается в континентальной Европе и за океаном. Отсюда мы видим, как быстро набирают силу разного рода популисты. Главный вывод, который мы можем сделать – это падение доверия к элитам со стороны населения. За последние 25-30 лет основными бенефициарами ускоренной глобализации стали жители развивающихся стран, чей уровень жизни существенно вырос, а также собственники активов или владельцы капитала развитых стран. Отсюда, эта картинка про Уоррена Баффета, чье состояние стало стремительно расти именно в последние 25 лет. А проигравшим оказался средний класс развитых стран – все 25 лет – это стагнация доходов, никакого роста. Отсюда и ломаются разного рода корреляции и экономические эффекты, такие как зависимости инфляции от роста доходов (заработных плат). Они не работают, как по причине отсутствие — это роста доходов. Весь рост производительности труда за эти годы ушел в пользу капиталиста, а не работника.   Теперь понятно, что мы подошли к еще одному этапу кризиса или волне, которая будет самой сложной и тяжелой, поскольку требует смены экономической модели.   Итак, что мы видим. Глобально идет падение доходностей по гос облигациям развитых стран, нулевые процентные ставки и агрессивная монетарная политика со стороны центральных банков. Такие страны как Германия, Швейцария, Япония фактически занимают средства под отрицательные процентные ставки. Это является следствием недостаточного совокупного спроса в мировой экономике – большой закредитованности домохозяйств и низким уровнем инвестиций со стороны бизнеса. В Европе, это особенно заметно, еще и политической невозможностью принятия фискальных мер. В результате, по оценке МВФ, каждый год глобально не находят своего применения в инвестиции около двух триллионов долларов сбережений, который через финансовых посредников – банки и инвестиционные фонды оседают в как раз в правительственных облигациях. Центральные банки, такие как ЕЦБ и Банк Японии выкупают эти облигации на свой баланс, превращая деньги коммерческих банков в избыточные резервы, которые опять начинают оседать на счетах в центробанках, не идя в реальный сектор. Центральные банки в ответ перешли к тому, что стали пенализировать (наказывать) коммерческие банки, вводя плату за размещение избыточных резервов на счетах в ЦБ. Но это не помогает, денежные мультипликаторы стран G7 все время после 2008 года продолжают падать.   Большинство удивляет такая конфигурация процесса – когда центральны банки накачивают финансовую систему ликвидностью, а инфляция не только не растет, а наоборот мы видим усиление дефляции. Это приводит к тому, что в условиях большого количества денег в экономике безрисковых активов становится все меньше (не забываем, что в ходе последних пяти лет многим государствам срезали рейтинги и ААА – это уже исключение). Иными словами, говоря, сколько ни создавай ликвидности, настоящих power money (денег №1), на которых оперирует вся глобальная финансовая система, становится все меньше. И по факту мы видим не монетарное расширение вследствие этого процесса, а наоборот – сжатие. Поэтому любое ужесточение монетарной политики со стороны США вызывает и будет вызвать тряску финансовой системы – падение стоимости активов, девальвацию валют против доллара, падение цен на сырье. Мы видим как в этой среде не работает экономическая догматика. Так, например, в теории, если страна имеет свободный плавающий валютный курс, то по большему счету для не важен рост доллара. Однако, мы это наблюдали в 2013-2015 годах, когда ФРС последовательно свернула программу QE и повысила процентную ставку, буквально все валюты стали падать против доллара. В итоге мы имеем zero sum game – когда все валюты развивающихся стран девальвировались против доллара и в итоге никому легче не стало. В результате, когда в течение 2008-2016 годов одни страны в ответ на кризис снизили ставки до нуля, другие девальвировали свои валюты, а темпов роста экономик мы так и не увидели, дефляция как была так и осталась, то теперь у стран остался только один способ абсорбции экономических шоков – таким абсорбентом будет выпуск или ВВП. Поэтому те доходности, которые мы видим в развитых странах по длинным гос облигациям свидетельствуют о том, что в ближайшее десятилетие, а может быть и не одно, нас ждет стагнация экономик, дальнейшее их замедление и падение темпов экономического роста.   То есть мы будем наблюдать уменьшение экономического пирога в развитых странах. И единственным инструментом борьбы с таким кризисом (явлением) является создание некого механизма перераспределения благ в экономике между теми, кто получает доход от капитала и доход в виде заработной платы. Любое перераспределение благ в пользу работника, а не капиталиста – это большой минус для рынка. К примеру, те кто сейчас решит инвестировать в индекс S&P 500, к примеру, через 10 лет будет иметь отрицательный результат на свои вложения. Более того, если политики или элиты не смогут найти такой механизм перераспределения доходов между условно бедными и богатыми, как это было, например, в первой половине 20-го века, когда в кризис была создана система welfare, то человеческой истории известны только два естественных механизма корректировки это процесса – война, в результате которой происходит потеря благосостояния богатого класса, либо революция. И самой уязвимой в этом отношении является Европа или ЕС, который единым является только на бумаге. Кризис 2010-2012 в Европе казалось должен был подтолкнуть ее к созданию единого финансового механизма, результатом которого явилась бы коллективная, солидарная ответственность по долгам своих стран-участников, единая система гарантирования депозитов и тд. В результате мы видели порою прямо противоположенные действия, когда, например, в прошлом году в разгар переговоров между ЕС и Греций ЕЦБ просто на несколько дней закрыл программу ликвидности для греческих банков – ELA. У стран же участников этого союза нет возможности абсорбции экономических шоков – собственных валют. Единственное, что может смягчать этот процесс – это действия центральных банков. Например, как только ФРС сделала паузу и не повысила ставку в первом полугодии 2016 года – это принесло временное облечение для развивающихся стран, куда хлынули денежные потоки в поисках доходности и кэрри. Как только ФРС намекнет на обратное, эти потоки также легко устремятся в узкую входную дверь, только в противоположенном направлении.30 октября 2016    Примерно последние полгода наблюдается процесс «превращения» бывших спекулянтов в долгосрочных инвесторов. Поиск инвестиционных идей выходит из узких границ локального рынка и перекидывается на самый ликвидный, большой и с самой богатой историей рынок – американский. Теперь даже российские управляющие компании предлагают инвестировать своим пайщикам в акции американских компаний, создавая разные фонды от специализированных (например, инвестиции в акции технологического сектора) и заканчивая  общими фондами типа – «акции Мира», предлагая уникальные методики анализа и отбора акций в состав таких фондов. То есть, такая УК хочет поконкурировать с местными американскими игроками, используя свой локальный опыт управления активами. Насколько он будет успешным покажет время, но это напоминает поведение российских компаний, например, металлургического сектора, акционеры которых решили в 2008 году выйти за пределы российского рынка и купить активы в США. Причем сделали это очень талантливо – прямо на пике рынка. Чем эта история закончилась хорошо известно. Аналогично поступают российские портфельный инвесторы в лице УК, которые на пике рынка 2016 года создают фонды для инвестирования в рынок акций США. Также предлагаются различные идеи во что инвестировать на американском рынке лет так на 10, чтобы получить кратный рост своих инвестиций.    Я уже писал, что на отрезке  в 10 лет (2016- 2026 года) реальный возврат на инвестиции, которые делаете сегодня в рынок акций США, будет стремиться к нулю. Одурманенные трендом роста, который берет свое начало в марте 2009 года, российские инвесторы буквально смеются над этой мыслью. Это, может не удивительно, особенно если под маской такого инвестора скрывается человек, пришедший на рынок в 2009 году, как раз после кризиса 2008 года, который ничего кроме роста американского рынка за свою карьеру на рынке и не видел. Тем более было столько поводов для обвала, а разные гуру и эксперты предрекали его с завидным постоянством. Более того, отдельные участники используют такой момент в маркетинговых целях, создавая иллюзию бесконечного роста рынка США, начинают привлекать потенциальных инвесторов, умело жонглируя разными именами известных инвесторов, главным из которых является Уоррен Баффет. Действительно, американский рынок дал миру много известных имен инвесторов – Билла Гросса, Сета Клармана, Питера Линча, Джона Богла, Билла Миллера, Уильяма О Нила, Дэвида Дремана и, конечно же, главной вишенкой на торте уже упоминавшегося Уоррена Баффета. Это разные люди, с разными методиками и подходами к инвестициям, но их объединяет одно. Все свои деньги и имена они сделали в последние 35 лет.Поэтому прежде чем делать долгосрочные инвестиции в американский рынок и привлекать на него инвесторов, нужно разобраться в фундаментальных причинах роста рынка акций США, сделать такой анализ и понять, что способствовало появлению такого количества громких имен среди инвесторов и почему Баффетов станет меньше. А сделав фундаментальный анализ и поняв причины роста рынка акций США, показывать потенциальным российским инвесторам реальную картину относительного того, чего ожидать от долгосрочных инвестиций, сделанных в 2016 году.Жизнь так устроена, что зачастую не ясно, что привело к успеху (или власти, к примеру) того или иного человека – случай или какое-то стечение обстоятельств, порою пускай даже невероятное. Почему одни добиваются успеха, а другие – нет, почему одни делают себе имя в какой-то области человеком деятельности – а другие терпят крах. Почему в конце концов в русском языке мы часто говорим выражение – «потерпеть неудачу»? Как бы намекая на то, что всему причина- это отсутствие удачи. Или, вот к примеру, можем сказать, говоря о каких-то долгосрочных вещах – что «я родился в не в свое время». Поэтому очень сложно, а порою и невозможно, понять критерии успеха и факторы, которые повлияли на него. Оставляю читателя самостоятельно подумать на эту тему. Вернемся к фундаментальному анализу американского рынка акций.   Любопытно, что к 1980 году на американском рынке акций не было инвесторов, которые бы сделали состояние на нем. Что же произошло после этого? Почему в следующие годы они начали появляться один за другим?   Это были великолепные три декады для владения американскими активами – и неважно будь то акции или облигации. Без разницы! Покупай, что хочешь и держи! Вот оно золотое время стратегии buy and hold! Инвестиционный портфель, составленный наполовину из акций и из 30-ти летних правительственных облигаций принес 8% на инвестированный капитал в годовом выражении в период с конца 1982 года по конец 2013 года. Используя данные с 1871 года, не было такого 31- однолетнего периода с такой высокой доходностью. Были периоды, когда портфель акций показывали лучшую, были когда облигации опережали в доходности акции. Но не было ни одного промежутка сравнимого по времени, чтобы и акции и облигации одинаково хорошо перфомили. Этот период, несмотря на крахи рынка 2000 и 2008 года, действительно был самым уникальным в истории американского рынка.Какие же фундаментальные факторы лежали в основе этого 35-ти летнего периода, который дал миру столько известных имен звезд фондового рынка? Таких драйверов было шесть.Ключи будущего великого (даже величайшего) bull market лежали в неглубоком кармане Пола Волкера, главы ФРС начала 1980-х годов. Именно он положил начало борьбе с инфляцией, которую потом все его последователи центробанкиры сделали своим приоритетом, такой особенной мантрой. Как показал опыт 1970-х годов – инфляция стала главным врагом экономики и рынка акций, которая как коррозия разъедала их. Инфляция к началу 1980-х была около 20%. И повышение процентных ставок ФРС к 18% стало решительным шагом в борьбе с инфляцией, которая к середине 1990-х снизилась до однозначных величин. Такое снижение инфляции стало главным драйвером роста для всех финансовых активов – как облигаций, так и акций.Вторым драйвером, соответственно, стали падающие процентные ставки. Они были естественным отражением падающей инфляции. Это было хорошим знаком как для облигаций, так и для акций, которые испытывали переоценку вследствие снижения стоимости денег. Когда рынок акций показал свое дно в середине 1982 года, 30-ти летние трежерис имели доходность 14,2%, а трех месячные векселя приносили 13,5%. Движение с этих уровней привело нас к уровням 2,3% по 30-ти летним облигациям в 2016 году и нулевым ставкам по краткосрочным векселям.Третьим драйвером стало значительное улучшение прибыльности компаний США и их финансов. В начале 1980-х корпоративные финансы американских компаний были  в ужасном состоянии. Годы высокой инфляции нанесли серьезный ущерб балансам американских компаний. В то время еще, к примеру, даже не было возможности учета амортизации. Рост производительности труда был очень низок, а, соответственно маржинальность бизнеса низка. Высокая инфляция давала возможность компаниям не думать о контроле затрат и думать об улучшении эффективности бизнеса. До тех пор пока компании чувствовали, что они могут просто повышать цены, а не ограничивать рынок труда в его стремлении требовать больших зар плат или вкладываться (инвестировать) в инновации или просто улучшать производительность труда. Все существенным образом поменялось, когда инфляция начала падать. Компании стали бороться за эффективность бизнеса, улучшать производительность. К этому стали подталкивать их также, то рост доллара в первой половине 1980-х, дерегулирование многих отраслей во второй половине 80-х, а также глобализация, которая дала еще один толчок (и самый существенный) в 1990-х и первой половине 2000-х.  Еще один толчок дали технологические улучшения, которые привели стремительному росту производительности и вывели маржинальность бизнеса на максимальные значения.Следующим драйвером рост valuations – оценок компаний инвесторами. В середине 1982 года S&P 500 торговался на уровне только лишь 7.7 Р/Е – 31-м летнем дне. Мультипликатор Шиллера составлял 9.7 – это было еще одно дно, аж с 1945 года, окончания Второй мировой войны. Другими словами рынок был экстремально дёшев и был огромный потенциал для его переоценки вследствие падения инфляции и процентных ставок, а также улучшения корпоративной эффективности.Пятым драйвером роста рынка явился интерес населения к рынку акций. Рынок акций США находился в 14-ти летнем цикле падения, прежде чем цены достигли своего дна в середине 1982 года. С двузначной инфляцией и такими же ставками инвесторы предпочитали депозиты акциям. В середине 1982 года акции составляли 24% от портфеля активов домохозяйств (исключая активы, удерживаемые пенсионными фондами и страховыми компаниями), а в депозитах 55%. Но по мере роста рынка акций у инвесторов просыпалась любовь  к акциям, предвещая драматический разворот в этом соотношении. И к 2013 году аллокация в акции и депозиты изменилась в обратную сторону – 54% — акции и только 29% депозиты.Ну, и наконец, последний драйвер. Это — так называемый ДОЛГОВОЙ СУПЕРЦИКЛ. Комбинация из падающих процентов ставок и эпоха дерегулирование рынка, начатая в начале 1980-х годов привели к массивному кредитному буму в американской экономике. Этому тренду начали активно подыгрывать члены ФРС – предоставляя стимулы экономике при  каждом снижении деловой активности (рецессии). Выбор в пользу перезапуска кредита в экономике всегда был проще, нежели чем ликвидация накапливающихся дисбалансов в экономике. Такой долговой суперцикл оказал существенную поддержку рынку акций, а ФРС до сих пор пытается разными путями возобновить новый кредитный цикл.Поэтому очень сложно, смотря в зеркало заднего вида, судить чего больше было у известных инвесторов удачи или умения. Но можно точно сказать, что они родились в нужное время и как говорят у нас – попали в струю.Следующие 30 лет будут непростыми и мы наверняка увидим в действии концепцию mean reversion, которая выравнивает на долгом временном промежутке эксцессы, которые случились на предшествующем временном отрезке. Конечно, люди найдут выход из ситуации, испытав очередные потрясения и кризисы. Можно с уверенностью говорить, что это будут годы не лучшие для владельцев капитала. Некоторые получат на него совсем маленький возврат, а некоторые его потеряют в бурлящей и кипящей воде рынка. Наверняка, появятся люди, которые сделают себе имя на обвалах рынка, и ими также будут восхищаться и подражать. Все в этом мире циклично.В любом случае, в этот период времени придется решать дисбалансы, накопившиеся в экономике. Можно предполагать, что они будут решаться через налоговую систему, с помощью которой будет произведена болезненная редистрибьюция доходов и богатства от владельцев активов в пользу социально незащищенных слоев общества, поскольку мы видим угрожающий стабильности разрыв между самыми богатыми и самыми бедными. Да, в общем то, мы уже наблюдаем сокращение среднего класса в Америке, рост популизма и недовольство элитой.В этой ситуации приходится пожелать только удачи тем российским инвесторам, которые терпели долгие 35 лет и ждали точки входа в рынок, пропускали коррекции в 50%,  и вот, наконец, в 2016 году, на 35-м топе рынка решили инвестировать в рынок акций США. Не зря филологи говорят, что метафизическая сущность русского человека, выражение его ментальности проявляется в таких словах как – авось, небось, да как-нибудь.Отсюда http://smart-lab.ru/my/Endeavour/blog/all/

05 мая 2016, 01:03

Гросс: роботизация приведет к "социализму поневоле"

Билл Гросс, один из самых успешных управляющих за всю историю современных рынков облигаций, считает, что власти западных стран в дальнейшем будут вынуждены все активнее печатать деньги для поддержки своих экономик и населения.

25 июля 2015, 06:23

Новые фото 9/11

В основном Скандализа и Чейни и помощники, можно посмотреть здесь. по 9/11 тэг стоит вспомнить,что китайская биржа фактически перестала функционировать, а за ней перестала работать американская, правда, на время- Нью-Йоркская фондовая биржа остановила торги всеми бумагамиЧто касается Чейни, то я уже переводила:Вице-президент США Дик Чейни взял на себя управление государством после того,как вошел в правительственный бункер и это произошло по его словам около 10:00 утра, через 20 минут после того, как в Пентагоне погибло более 100 человек.Министр транспорта Норман Минета сообщил комиссии 9/11,что он присоединился к Чейни и к остальным в бункере уже в 9:20 и услышал разговор между ним и молодым человеком, когда "самолет направлялся в сторону Пентагона"Когда молодой человек в третий раз запросил Чейни, так как самолет приближается и "все ждут приказа", Чейни решительно ответил, что "он обдумывает".Норман Минета не единственный свидетель, кто подтверждает нахождение Чейни в бункере уже в 9:20. Помимо него об этом говорят Ричард Кларк  и фотограф Белого дома Дэвид Борер.Сам же Чейни утверждает,что он вошел в бункер после того,как был атакован Пентагон.Казалось бы- ну и что? Какое это имеет отношение к экономике? А самое прямое. Напомню,что во время 9/11 были объявлены банковские каникулы, после которых в течении недели рынок потерял более 1 триллиона капитализации:Эти атаки оказали значительное экономическое воздействие на американский и мировой рынки. ФРС временно сократил контакты с банками из-за нарушений коммуникационного оборудования в финансовом районе Нижнего Манхэттена. Обратная связь и контроль над денежной массой, включая мгновенную ликвидность банков, была восстановлена в течение нескольких часов. Нью-Йоркская фондовая биржа (NYSE), Американская фондовая биржа и NASDAQ не открылись 11 сентября и оставались закрытыми до 17 сентября.Объекты NYSE и её центры обработки данных не пострадали, но члены биржи, клиенты и другие биржи потеряли с ней связь из-за разрушений телефонного узла около ВТЦ. Когда 17 сентября биржи открылись, после самого долгого периода бездействия со времён Великой депрессии в 1929 году, Индекс Доу-Джонса («DJIA») потерял 684 пункта, или 7,1 %, до 8920, это было самым большим его падением в течение одного дня. К концу недели DJIA упал на 1369,7 пунктов (14,3 %), это было самым большим недельным падением в истории. Американские акции потеряли 1,2 триллиона долл. в течение недели.Стоит обратить внимание на слова Билла Гросса "The Good Times Are Over, The Time For Risk Taking Has Passed" о том, что :"институциональные инвесторы финансовой экономики такие как, фонды денежного рынка, страховые, пенсионные, банковские и даже потребительские балансы больше не могут обеспечить уровень доходности, необходимых для оправдания своих будущих обязательств  и их стало невозможно достичь. Доход по депозитам слишкам мал,чтобы покрыть обязательства. В связи с чем доход по многим классам активов станет отрицательным. По мере снижения ливидности можно будет наблюдать, как ряды рискованных активов будут пополняться , напоминая всем известную игру с музыкальными стульями. И то, что 2015 год или ближайшие 12 месяцев- это время принятия рисков, можно судить по тому,что активов с положительным денежным потоком становится все меньше".Вы мне скажете: а при чем тут Дик Чейни? Прямое отношение, конечно, он уже не имеет, просто надо иметь в виду,что США действуют всегда шаблонно, поэтому, например, не исключен вот какой вариант:прогнозирует Байрон Уин из Blackstone Group LP:По словам Уина, в этом году по настоящему проявят себя киберпреступники, которые становятся более ловкими, чем полиция.«Хакеры захватят частные и корпоративные счета одного крупнейшего банка, а Федеральная резервная система закроет это учреждение на пять дней для проверки его счетов»А хакеры- ,понятно, кто- Федеральное бюро расследований США расследует кражу данных из американского банка JP Morgan Chase. Она произошла в середине августа, сообщило агентство Bloomberg со ссылкой на двух сотрудников, имеющих отношение к следствию. По данным агентства, под подозрение попали российские хакеры. Они украли петабайты закрытой информации настолько умело, что эксперты подозревают — хакеры действуют при поддержке российских властей. ФБР расследует, является ли взлом JP Morgan местью российских властей за санкции США из-за конфликта вокруг Украины.или :Блумберг:"элитные российские хакеры взломали биржу Nasdaq и заложили туда цифровую бомбу".Я , надеюсь, что понятно. В условиях, когда ставки находятся на нуле и практически все активы показывают отрицательное значение, то есть идут убытки по причине невозможности капитал воспроизводить, происходит органический рост - за счет поглощения конкурентов. В США давно поглощены мелкие банки, настала очередь крупного финансового капитала выяснять, кто будет сидеть на стуле. В свою очередь, Россия только вступила в данный этап , когда крупные банки выживают за счет разорения мелких, в чем немало способствует ЦБ РФ. Во всяком случае, мы наблюдаем назревание явно революционной ситуации:"верхи не могут, низы не хотят". Вернее: верхи разбираются, для кого стул лишний, а когда разберутся, то назначат мальчика для битья, коим,скорее всего, будет российская элита,этакий хакерский Бен Ладен. Хотя проблемы финансового капитала США должны решаться несколько иными решениями, но американская элита иначе не может- виноват в их проблемах всегда кто-то другой, вот они и решают их, как могут- за чужой счет. И если это кто-то другой согласен его оплачивать- то тем более.

29 апреля 2015, 22:18

Бернанке станет консультировать PIMCO

Бывший глава Федеральной резервной системы США занял пост старшего советника крупнейшего облигационного фонда Pacific Investment Management Co. - PIMCO Total Return.

07 января 2015, 14:33

Во время 9/11 Дик Чейни был не там, как это он утверждал официально.

Напомню, что я - аналитик и подборка информации идет соответственно- аналитическая, предполагающее самостоятельное изучение материалов.сначала с вами вспомним как звучит официально:Википедия:9:32: Диспетчеры аэропорта Даллеса в Виргинии наблюдают «цель на первичном обзорном радаре, двигающуюся с высокой скоростью в восточном направлении», относя это к рейсу 77.9:33 до 9:34: Руководитель башни аэропорта Рейган сообщает центру Секретной Службы Белого дома, что «в вашу сторону летит самолёт, который не выходит с нами на связь.» имея в виду рейс 77. Белый дом готовится к эвакуации, когда башня сообщает, что рейс 77 повернул, и заходит на посадку в аэропорт Рейган.9:34: Командный центр ФАА передает штаб-квартире ФАА имеющуюся информацию о рейсе 93.9:37: Вице-президент Чейни направляется в подземный бункер по туннелю.9:37:46: Рейс 77 врезается в западное крыло здания Пентагона, отчего начинается сильный пожар. Это крыло Пентагона находится на ремонте, и большинство офисов в нём не заняты. Погибают все 64 человека на борту и 125 человек в здании.1 канал, Россия:В 8:46 первый самолет врезался в северную башню Всемирного торгового центра в Нью-Йорке. Мэр города и руководитель службы спасения немедленно выехали к башням-близнецам. "Подъехав к торговому центру, мы убедились, что все намного хуже, чем мы думали, - рассказывает мэр Нью-Йорка в 2001 году Рудольф Джулиани. - Мы пытались дозвониться до начальника полиции, начальника пожарного департамента, даже до Белого дома. Но сотовая связь почти не работала".В 9:03 в южную башню Всемирного торгового центра врезался второй самолет. После этого первым лицам США стало понятно, что это нападение на страну. Президенту Бушу доложили о втором самолете.В этот момент новость о втором самолете получили журналисты президентского пула. Встреча со школьниками подошла к концуПервый звонок Буша – вице-президенту Дику Чейни. Они обсудили, с какими словами президент должен обратиться к нации. Оба понимали, что это террористический акт и они обязаны об этом сказать.В то время как президент завершал свое обращение к нации, в Центре управления ПВО возникла новая кризисная ситуация. Был замечен самолет в 10 километрах к востоку от Белого дома. При угрозе нападения на Вашингтон Белый дом должен быть немедленно эвакуирован. "Я работал за своим столом, когда в кабинет ворвался один из руководителей охраны. Он приказал следовать за ним без каких-либо объяснений. Потом одной рукой схватил меня за ремень, а другой за плечо и буквально вынес меня из кабинета сначала в коридор, а потом в туннель, ведущий в подземный оперативный центр", - вспоминает Дик Чейни.Оперативный центр находится в бункере. Он предназначен для управления страной в случае начала ядерной войны. Отсюда Чейни мог руководить организацией обороны страны и подготовкой ответного удара. Задача №1 – нейтрализация рейса 77 American Airlines, взявшего курс на Вашингтон.В 9:37 третий угнанный самолет врезался в здание Пентагона. В это время министр обороны Дональд Рамсфелд находился в своем рабочем кабинете. Выйдя на улицу, чтобы оценить ситуацию, он увидел пламя, дым и раненых и бросился помогать пострадавшим. Почти полчаса его не могли найти. Но затем он вернулся в свой кабинет, чтобы связаться с президентом и вице-президентомА теперь обращаемся к всежим американским источникам, коим является ранее мною упоминаемая согласительная комиссия по альтернативному (официальной точке зрения) расследованию этой трагедии. Ранее она находила свидетелей, которые утверждали,что черные ящики от врезавшихся самолетов в ВТЦ, были найдены: Новые доказательства отрицают,что не были найдены черные ящики самолетов.Пожарные, работающие в Граунд Зеро, утверждают,что были найдены три из четырех черных ящиков, так как они находятся в коробках, которые практически не поддаются разрушению. Эта информация была предоставлена согласительной комиссии из 24 членов по 9/11.Сейчас эта же комиссия утверждает,что слова Дика Чейни расходятся с показаниями свидетелей:Point MC-3: The Claim about the Time of Dick Cheney’s Entry into the White House Bunker  Поставим точку в MC-3: заявление относительно того времени, когда Дик Чейни находился в подземном бункере.The Official Account Официально:Vice President Dick Cheney took charge of the government’s response to the 9/11 attacks after he entered the PEOC (the Presidential Emergency Operations Center), a.k.a. “the bunker”. 9/11 Commission Report said1that Cheney did not enter the PEOC until almost 10:00 AM, which was at least 20 minutes after the violent event at the Pentagon that killed more than 100 people.Вице-президент США Дик Чейни взял на себя управление государством после того,как вошел в правительственный бункер и это произошло по его словам около 10:00 утра, через 20 минут после того, как в Пентагоне погибло более 100 человек.(1)The Best Evidence  Лучшее доказательство:Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta told the 9/11 Commission that, after he joined Cheney and others in the bunker at approximately 9:20 AM, he listened to an ongoing conversation between Cheney and a young man, which took place when “the airplane was coming into the Pentagon.”2After the young man, having reported for the third time that the plane was coming closer, asked whether “the orders still stand,” Cheney emphatically said they did.However, testimony that Cheney was in the PEOC by 9:20 was reported not only by Mineta but also by Richard Clarke3 and White House photographer David Bohrer.4 Cheney himself, speaking on “Meet the Press” five days after 9/11, reported that he had entered the PEOC before the Pentagon was damaged.5The 9/11 Commission’s attempt to bury the exchange between Cheney and the young man confirms the importance of Mineta’s report of this conversation.Министр транспорта Норман Минета сообщил комиссии 9/11,что он присоединился к Чейни и к остальным в бункере уже в 9:20 и услышал разговор между ним и молодым человеком, когда "самолет направлялся в сторону Пентагона".(2)Когда молодой человек в третий раз запросил Чейни, так как самолет приближается и "все ждут приказа", Чейни решительно ответил, что "он обдумывает".Норман Минета не единственный свидетель, кто подтверждает нахождение Чейни в бункере уже в 9:20. Помимо него об этом говорят Ричард Кларк (3) и фотограф Белого дома Дэвид Борер (4)Сам же Чейни утверждает,что он вошел в бункер после того,как был атакован Пентагон.(5)References for Point MC-31. 9/11 Commission Report (2004), note 213, p. 464.2. “911 Commission: Trans. Sec. Norman Mineta Testimony.”3. Richard Clarke, Against all Enemies (New York: Free Press, 2004), pp. 2-5.4. See “9/11: Interviews by Peter Jennings,” ABC News, September 11, 2002.5. “The Vice President Appears on Meet the Press with Tim Russert,” MSNBC, September 16, 2001.Казалось бы- ну и что? Какое это имеет отношение к экономике? А самое прямое. Напомню,что во время 9/11 были объявлены банковские каникулы, после которых в течении недели рынок потерял более 1 триллиона капитализации:Эти атаки оказали значительное экономическое воздействие на американский и мировой рынки. ФРС временно сократил контакты с банками из-за нарушений коммуникационного оборудования в финансовом районе Нижнего Манхэттена. Обратная связь и контроль над денежной массой, включая мгновенную ликвидность банков, была восстановлена в течение нескольких часов. Нью-Йоркская фондовая биржа (NYSE), Американская фондовая биржа и NASDAQ не открылись 11 сентября и оставались закрытыми до 17 сентября. Объекты NYSE и её центры обработки данных не пострадали, но члены биржи, клиенты и другие биржи потеряли с ней связь из-за разрушений телефонного узла около ВТЦ. Когда 17 сентября биржи открылись, после самого долгого периода бездействия со времён Великой депрессии в 1929 году, Индекс Доу-Джонса («DJIA») потерял 684 пункта, или 7,1 %, до 8920, это было самым большим его падением в течение одного дня. К концу недели DJIA упал на 1369,7 пунктов (14,3 %), это было самым большим недельным падением в истории. Американские акции потеряли 1,2 триллиона долл. в течение недели.Стоит обратить внимание на слова Билла Гросса "The Good Times Are Over, The Time For Risk Taking Has Passed" о том, что :"институциональные инвесторы финансовой экономики такие как, фонды денежного рынка, страховые, пенсионные, банковские и даже потребительские балансы больше не могут обеспечить уровень доходности, необходимых для оправдания своих будущих обязательств  и их стало невозможно достичь. Доход по депозитам слишкам мал,чтобы покрыть обязательства. В связи с чем доход по многим классам активов станет отрицательным. По мере снижения ливидности можно будет наблюдать, как ряды рискованных активов будут пополняться , напоминая всем известную игру с музыкальными стульями. И то, что 2015 год или ближайшие 12 месяцев- это время принятия рисков, можно судить по тому,что активов с положительным денежным потоком становится все меньше".Далее мы с вами наблюдаем любопытные вещи, происходящие в крупнейших финансовых учреждениях США.Зерохедж. Is Citi The Next AIG? Citi  - это новый AIG? Напомню, что в Сити работает Саммерс. Тот самый, который организовал в свое время провалившийся фонд Гарварда в России, планировавшийся для того,чтобы организовать то,что сейчас происходит на Украине. Стоит вспомнить о том,что война довольно затратное, а зачастую убыточное мероприятие. И не исключено,что пополнение баланса деривативами как-то связано с тем,что происходит на Украине- Украина банкрот, но , например, Обама подписал закон о поддержке Укрианы на 400 миллионов, к тому же он(Обама) довольно плотно работал с Саммерсом и только общественность заставила отклонить его кандидатуру на пост председателя ФРС, удовольствовашись кандидатурой Фишера на "вторых ролях", хотя Фишер от этого не испытывает никаких страданий.Мы обнаружили,что Citigroup, ранее пролоббировавшая деривативы за счет FDIC, увеличили деривативы на своем балансе в третьем квартале до $70.2 трлн, опередив в этом даже  JPM!Ну раз завели дело о JPM, то давайте поговорим о нем. Этот мегабанк уже довольно давно испытывает давление от регуляторов в том плане, что у них Джейми Даймон одновременно является и генеральным директором и председателем совета директоров. Но, как нам сообщает Зерохедж, основная опасность исходит от конкурента гиганта- Голдман Сакс, чьи люди как раз и работают в регуляторе. Кого заинтересовало, могут подробнее прочитать в оригинале:Зерохедж Goldman's Modest Proposal: It May Be Time To Break Up JPMorgan  Скромное предложение от Голдмана: может, пришло время разбить JPMorganЕще в 2008 году, после падения фондовых рынков, Голдман избавился от двух своих конкурентов: от Bear и Lehman, когда ФРС отказалась спасать эти банки. Теперь, волне возможно, пришла очередь и для JPM.Голдман: недавно было озвучено ФРС,что капитал JPM необходимо поднять до 11,5%,что на 100%-200% выше, чем у всех остальных, то, может быть имеет смысл говорить о целесообразности разделения акционерного капитала, учитывая,что он сейчас является отрицательным. Распад может создать стоимость ниже на 20% и его можно разделить на:  (1) трастовый банк, инвестиционный банк и бизнес по управлению активами и (2) все остальное (то есть более традиционный банковский бизнес). Разделение банка будет способствовать росту акционерного капитала.Вы мне скажете: а при чем тут Дик Чейни? Прямое отношение, конечно, он уже не имеет, просто надо иметь в виду,что США действуют всегда шаблонно, поэтому, например, не исключен вот какой вариант:прогнозирует Байрон Уин из Blackstone Group LP:По словам Уина, в этом году по настоящему проявят себя киберпреступники, которые становятся более ловкими, чем полиция.«Хакеры захватят частные и корпоративные счета одного крупнейшего банка, а Федеральная резервная система закроет это учреждение на пять дней для проверки его счетов»А хакеры- ,понятно, кто- Федеральное бюро расследований США расследует кражу данных из американского банка JP Morgan Chase. Она произошла в середине августа, сообщило агентство Bloomberg со ссылкой на двух сотрудников, имеющих отношение к следствию. По данным агентства, под подозрение попали российские хакеры. Они украли петабайты закрытой информации настолько умело, что эксперты подозревают — хакеры действуют при поддержке российских властей. ФБР расследует, является ли взлом JP Morgan местью российских властей за санкции США из-за конфликта вокруг Украины.или :Блумберг:"элитные российские хакеры взломали биржу Nasdaq и заложили туда цифровую бомбу".Я , надеюсь, что понятно. В условиях, когда ставки находятся на нуле и практически все активы показывают отрицательное значение, то есть идут убытки по причине невозможности капитал воспроизводить, происходит органический рост - за счет поглощения конкурентов. В США давно поглощены мелкие банки, настала очередь крупного финансового капитала выяснять, кто будет сидеть на стуле. В свою очередь, Россия только вступила в данный этап , когда крупные банки выживают за счет разорения мелких, в чем немало способствует ЦБ РФ. Во всяком случае, мы наблюдаем назревание явно революционной ситуации:"верхи не могут, низы не хотят". Вернее: верхи разбираются, для кого стул лишний, а когда разберутся, то назначат мальчика для битья, коим,скорее всего, будет российская элита,этакий хакерский Бен Ладен. Хотя проблемы финансового капитала США должны решаться несколько иными решениями, но американская элита иначе не может- виноват в их проблемах всегда кто-то другой, вот они и решают их, как могут- за чужой счет. И если это кто-то другой согласен его оплачивать- то тем более.

03 октября 2014, 09:23

Программа "Финансовая стратегия" от 3 октября 2014 года

Вкладчики забирают свои деньги из американского фонда PIMCO . он потерял больше 20 миллиардов долларов. Так инвесторы реагируют на уход из компании одного из основателей Билла Гросса. А вот акции фонда Janus Capital, в который легендарный инвестор устроился на работу, стали пользоваться повышенным спросом. Как на этом заработать?

26 апреля 2013, 12:44

Странглия, Мервин Кинг и Сергей Игнатьев

На графике ВВП Великобритании (картинка из свежайшей речи одного из лидеров Банка Англии, там другие есть). Красным показан докризисный тренд, а синим жизнь. Вчера все с напряжением ждали, объявят ли народу об уже ТРЕТЬЕЙ по счету рецессии, но бог миловал и объявили о небольшом росте в первом квартале. Почему нет роста в любимом россиянами Лондонграде и его окрестностях?Кругман, ДеЛонг и другие уверяют своих читателей, что это из-за бюджетной консолидации бюджетного аскетизма, как в России.  Они видят на этой картинке ошибку в статье Рейнхарт-Рогофф 2010 года, и письмо о бюджетной дисциплине, которое в феврале 2010 года подписал Кеннет Рогофф вместе с другими экономистами. Статья и письмо подтолкнули правительство Камерона на ужасную экономическую политику и лишили британцев благосостояния, измеряемого разницей между красной революционной линией и синей, преступной. Чтобы убедиться, что красная линия является для Кругмана и ДеЛонга критерием успеха, желающие могут почитать свежую заметку ДеЛонга про США или поискать его и Кругмана многочисленные атаки на Великобританию, а про Латвию с Эстонией я лучше промолчу.Вопрос на засыпку про бюджетный аскетизм упирается в Великобританию по ряду причин.  У страны своя валюта, которая, как постоянно повторяет Кругман и Ко. необходима для успеха.  С начала кризиса фунт стерлингов подешевел процентов на 20-25, что, по мнению Кругмана, должно было привести с скачку экспорта.  Инфляция была намного выше 2%, к чему тоже призывали Кругман и другие экономисты.  Много чего было в Великобритании в кризисные годы. А роста не было и пока нет.  Поэтому для Кругмана, ДеЛонга и их единомышленников  главным виновником преступления должен быть бюджетный аскетизм.  В Великобритании, по их мнению, нужен был значительный бюджетный стимул, достаточный для быстрого возвращения к красной черте.  На всякий случай напомню сразу, что дефицит бюджета в Странглии на автомате сразу скакнул к 10-11% ВВП (картинка).  Этого, по мнению борцов с бюджетным аскетизмом, было мало, надо было гораздо больше. По мнению Кругмана, инвесторы бы этого совсем не испугались, потому что никакой "Волшебницы доверие" нет (добавим от себя следствие: нет и "Волшебницы Недоверие").  Вот свежая заметка ДеЛонга, где он обвиняет Камерона и "правых" экономистов в попытке реализовать в Великобритании "стимилирующее сокращение" дефицита бюджета а ля Алесина.Как и в случае российских дебатов о замедлении роста, за более объективным мнением я обратился к уходящему руководителю центрального банка - Банка Англии - Мервину Кингу, коллеге Сергея Игнатьева. В своей январской речи Кинг подробно рассказывал о диагнозе, лечении и будущем экономики Великобритании.  Речь советую почитать. В отличие от Банка России, британцы публикуют речи своих руководителей, чтобы каждый желающий не гадал, какие у них мысли, а мог прочитать речь и поглазеть на иллюстрации к ней и даже почитать указанную дополнительную литературу.Кинг сразу же напомнил слушателям об избыточном докризисном энтузиазме:Much of this reflects the inevitable correction of exuberance on the part of borrowers and lenders, the conditions for which were created by the failure to tackle the global imbalances that left most major countries with unsustainable exchange rates, unsustainable paths of consumption, saving and borrowing, and unsustainably low long-term real interest rates.Затем отметил три фактора, сдерживающих рост, некоторые из них внутренние, некоторые внешние. Не буду пересказывать, но среди них упомянуты цены на еду и энергию.  Системный финансовый кризис привел к нарушениям в банковском секторе, толкнул банки к осторожности и затруднил доступ к кредиту, особенно для мелких и средних предприятий. Но среди причин анемичного роста у Кинга нет даже намека на излишний бюджетный аскетизм.  Единственное упоминание о бюджетной политике во всей речи сводится к ограничениям в ее использовании из-за большого госдолга:In many countries, including the UK, fiscal policy is constrained by the size of government indebtedness, and monetary policy has come to be seen as the only game in town.Нет бюджетного стимулирования и среди нескольких рецептов лечения (помимо денежно-кредитной политики КуЕ). Рецепта три, включая укрепление банков, увеличение экономического потенциала за счет структурных реформ и (все еще надежда на)  восстановление еврозоны и слабый фунт стерлингов/экспорт:What are those other policies? They come under three headings: restoring confidence in our banks, reforms to raise the future potential supply of our economy, and changes in the world economy and exchange rates.Этот диагноз, рецепты лечения и прогноз мы услышали от одного из сотен британских экономистов, которые в свое время в открытом письме возмутились преступным бюджетным аскетизмом Маргарет Тэтчер :). Кто-нибудь наверняка скажет мне, что старик Кинг кривит душой, что не хочет осложнять жизнь правительству Камерона. Но ведь он пожилой уже человек, ему нечего терять, кроме своего доброго имени. Не боится же он требовать значительного дополнительного увеличения акционерного капитала у всесильных банков, которые могли бы его подкармливать в старости. Неужели Кинг промолчал бы, если бы действительно верил во вред бюджетной дисциплины?Что такое ужасное делает правительство Великобритании, какой такой особый аскетизм в Лондонграде?  Смотрим еще раз на сокращение дефицита, ожидаемое в разных странах за три года 2011-2013, и видим, что у британцев сокращение дефицита очень похоже на небольшое сокращение в других странах, как у Франции или Бельгии, и меньше, чем в США, не говоря уже о больных еврозоны Испании, Ирландии и Ко., которым Кругман, кстати, тоже раньше регулярно предлагал активнее стимулировать экономику дополнительными бюджетными расходами (?!).Можно допустить, что сейчас, когда инвесторы успокоились после испуга 2008-2011 гг., британцы могли бы сокращать дефицит чуть медленнее, как это может себе теперь легко позволить Эстония или Латвия. Сейчас, а не в 2010, когда инвесторы, включая Билла Гросса, буквально тряслись от страха. И американцы могли бы сейчас дать слабину. Но надо же быть реалистами. К красной линии они бы все равно долго не вернулись. И Кругман с ДеЛонгом все равно будут ругать всех и вся во всю силу своих легких.  Никакого чрезмерного аскетизма в Великобритании нет, просто не нашли там вовремя сланцевый газ, банковский сектор там побольше и еврозона поближе. Разница между Великобританией и США еще и в том, что в Америке нет никаких бюджетных планов, а есть секвестр, знакомый нам по предкризисным 1990м. Там правит политический паралич. Планы же британцев известны заранее, и за выполнением планов уже давно следят специально обученные независимые люди в Офисе бюджетной ответственности, как и учил реалист Кеннет Рогофф.ДОП: Пока я кропал и выдергивал из интернета чужие мысли и картинки, появился пользительный пост zhu_s...Как я уже заметил в тексте, мы не можем ознакомиться с речью Сергея Игнатьева о причинах замедления роста российской экономики и посмотреть на познавательные картинки-иллюстрации к его увлекательному рассказу.  Но у нас есть zhu_s, который думает и пишет на эту важную для экономической политики тему.