Showing posts with label QE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label QE. Show all posts

Monday, January 20, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Virginia Lobby Day and Trump Impeachment Trial Take Center Stage

It being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, markets in the US are closed, but that didn't stop what looks to be more than 50,000 (actual number was about 22,000) patriots from heading down to Richmond, Virginia for the state's annual "Lobby Day," usually an opportunity for Virginia citizens to meet with their legislators and discuss various agendas facing the state.

This year, most people won't even get a chance to see a legislator, as Governor Ralph Shearer Northam (he of blackface shame) last week declared a state of emergency for the state capitol from January 17 to January 21, over fears of violence stemming from the gun rights crowds expected.

Northam was wrong to declare the emergency. After all, beyond the extra police presence, there are so many well-armed citizens in attendance, anybody thinking of causing trouble would probably think twice.

It's still early, and very chilly, in Richmond right now, but so far, the crowds have been peaceful. The day should end without incident unless something gets stirred up by anti-gun reactionaries like Antifa or a false flag event staged by one of the three-letter agencies overseeing the ongoings.

With many live streams being broadcast and thousands of people with cell phones, it's unlikely anything underhanded should happen, and if something does happen, it's likely to be recorded. This isn't going to be a rerun of the melee at Charlottesville back in 2017.

If Virginia's Lobby Day doesn't produce any grotesque footage for the fake media, then Tuesday, all eyes will turn to the impeachment trial which opens in the Senate. This is another made-for-TV type event, but Republicans led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are doing their level best to blunt the desired effect the Democrats are seeking, which is to drag out a long trial, complete with new witnesses, demands for documents, calls of a cover-up, issues of executive privilege ruled upon by the Supreme Court and other such nonsense.

The impeachment of President Trump was a sham from the start, when Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff launched a plot and counseled a "whistleblower" over a single phone call made by Trump to Ukraine president Zelensky.

Drawing from shades of the Bill Clinton impeachment, there never was, nor never will be any "there" there.

If cooler heads (Republicans) prevail, this sorry escape into stupidity should be all over in less than two weeks. Many Americans wish it could end in two days, if not sooner.

With all the tumultuous political theater taking place it's a wonder that stocks move at all, especially in an upward direction, though the recent buying spree - which began in September 2019 - has been aptly aided by continuous money printing and liquidity being shoved into the REPO market by the Federal Reserve. Until the Fed ceases its now-daily operations, stocks will never suffer losses. It's just a matter of fact. Like Warren Buffett supposedly quipped, "Give me a trillion dollars and I'll show you a good time, too."

Meanwhile, inflation will be ramping up sooner, as per the wishes of the Fed, whose various voices and charts keep telling the American public that the US economy hasn't yet met their target of two percent inflation, as if higher inflation were a good thing (it's not). All along, however, inflation has been raging in health care, education, and housing, but those factors are not apparently part of the Fed's purview. Therefore, they continue to print at a rate faster than previous bouts of QE while Chairman Jerome Powell insists this round of liquidity pumping is "not QE."

Sure, we'll buy that. And that horse over there is actually a rabbit.

Just how hard has the liquidity pump been working?

Since mid-October, on a weekly basis, the Dow has been up 10 weeks, down three; the NASDAQ, since late September, 14 weekly gains, two weeks with losses; S&P: 13 up, two down; NYSE: 13 up, two down.

That's a nice-looking rabbit ya got there. Mind if I ride him?

At the Close, Friday, January 17, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,348.10, +50.50 (+0.17%)
NASDAQ: 9,388.94, +31.81 (+0.34%)
S&P 500: 3,329.62, +12.81 (+0.39%)
NYSE: 14,183.20, +41.40 (+0.29%)

For the Week:
Dow: +524.33 (+1.82%)
NASDAQ: +210.08 (+2.29%)
S&P 500: +64.27 (+1.97%)
NYSE: +225.23 (+1.61%)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Confluence Of Impeachment, Virginia State Of Emergency, Peter Schweizer Book Could Damage Stocks

With stocks soaring to even higher new record highs again on Thursday, there's little doubt over the levles of irrationality and exuberance being displayed by the hoi poloi investing elite, their magic money spigot at the Fed and their marvelous algorithms which interpret all news as positive for stocks.

It is precisely in conditions such as these (the Dow Jones Industrial Average has vaulted over 29,000 with ease and is up a stunning 3,219 points since October 3rd, a 12.3% gain in just three-and-a-half months. The time period in question coincides neatly with the Federal Reserve's stoking engagement into the repo market, pumping, by some estimates, over $1.5 trillion into the hands of primary dealers and hedge funds, ramping the Fed's own balance sheet by more than $413.7 billion since the end of August.

The Fed's particular brand of irrational exuberance is at a pace reminiscent of prior bouts of QE in 2009, 2010-11, and 2012-14, even though the Fed cutely insists this is "not QE." Balderdash.

Normally, nobody gets alarmed over gigantic gains in stocks, giving their overall pleasant scent (go ahead, you know you want to sniff your currency) and beneficial purchasing power, but this severe repricing of stocks is beginning to look Weimar-like, when stocks in 1920s Weimar Germany rose by obscene percentages, but cashing in hundreds of shares could only purchase a day's worth of food due to the overarching hyperinflation of the currency.

Not to say that the same is or will be happening in the United States, though signs of runaway inflation are prevalent, but something may go wrong at some point that tears the social construct and eventually affects stocks and currency.

Consider that a confluence of events are about to take place between now and Tuesday, January 21. Equity and security markets will be closed over the weekend and on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday. In the meantime, there's already a state of emergency declared in Richmond, Virginia with concern over the gun rights rally set up for Lobby Day on Monday.

On Tuesday, the impeachment trial of President Trump begins in the Senate.

Also on Tuesday, Peter Schweizer's new book, Profiles in Corruption drops. On the book's cover are the faces of Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and others. Uh, Oh, it's already at #3 on Amazon's Best Sellers list.

Tuesday may be too late to get out of positions, so if there's some quiet pullback on Friday, it could be a tell.

At the Close, Thursday, January 16, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,297.64, +267.44 (+0.92%)
NASDAQ: 9,357.13, +98.43 (+1.06%)
S&P 500: 3,316.81, +27.52 (+0.84%)
NYSE Composite: 14,141.78, +88.58 (+0.63%)

Friday, January 3, 2020

Federal Reserve's QE Today is The Big Short Revisited in a Bigger Manner

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in scene from "The Big Short"
On the first trading day of 2020, stocks advanced sharply, fueled by naked capitalism and the desire to not miss out on any profitable opportunity.

That's the truth of the matter, usually every day, so long as the Federal Reserve continues to pump fresh capital into the already bloated financial system. The trouble with the Fed's desire to keep Wall Street flush with cash is that enriching a small number of already-wealthy people hasn't had the desired effect of "trickling down" to the general population.

It didn't work when the Fed rescued the financial system in 2007-09, hasn't since, and won't in the future. Known generally as QE (Quantitative Easing) it's a failed policy that produces nothing other than overpriced financial assets, monstrous bubbles, and eventually, mass damage to the very system it's purported to be protecting. Since September of last year (2019) the Fed has already pumped nearly a trillion dollars into the Wall Street casino and it's balance sheet has exploded by another $500 billion.

To say that the Fed's promotion of QE is as bad as the systemic fraud that ran rampant within the sub-prime mortgage bundling that triggered the GFC in 2007-09 might be taking the comparison a step too far, but it surely is worth nominal consideration.
The players are mostly the same: Wall Street tycoons representing trading firms of the biggest banks bent on maximizing profits, relaxed, corrupted, and often incompetent regulators, an unsuspecting public that eventually gets fleeced.

In comparison to the sub-prime hustle, the rollers and managers of the mortgage bundling are now - as before - manned by the trading desks of the big Wall Street firms. The Fed is the enabler, a la the ratings agencies during sub-prime, and mouth-breathing borrowers with low credit scores seeking to purchase a home are replaced today by anybody participating in a pension fund, college fund, 401k or other managed investment vehicle. That's why sub-prime was called the housing bubble and the ongoing, current arrangement is called the "everything bubble." Everything is up for grabs and everything is at stake.

This all has been tied together neatly since the GFC, as, after $750 billion in TARP was exhausted, three bouts of QE commenced, secret loans from the Fed to foreign banks were proffered, and nobody of any importance went to jail over the excesses of the sub-prime boom and subsequent bust. Nobody. They're mostly all still there, having cashed mammoth bonus checks provided by the TARP bailout, plotting the next windfall.

The Big Short By Michael Lewis
Lewis' book is revealing and riveting,
available everywhere, for a song.
Michael Lewis' great book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and the movie it spawned, The Big Short, offer a reveal of just what happened in the run-up to the sub-prime crisis and how a number of smart and/or lucky investors were able to capitalize on the general greed, stupidity, and fraud perpetrated by wall Street banks.

In the film, Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett, the fictional character based on the real-life Deutsche Bank trader, Greg Lippman. Christian Bale plays the real-life Michael Burry, the Scion Asset Management leader who risked his firm and cashed in when MBS and CDOs went bust, but the lion of the story comes n the character of Mark Baum (Steve Eisman in real life) played passionately by Steve Carell as the angry, perplexed head of Frontline Partners, the independent Morgan Stanley trading unit that bet against CDOs and made millions in the sub-prime collapse.

Carell, as Mark Baum, sets up the character and the film's premise in his first scene, railing against big banks charging outrageous fees for overdrafts. His defiant, conflicted, crusading manner defined, Carell storms through the film wide-eyed and aghast at what's about to happen to the global financial structure, outspoken and often outrageous. Nearing the end, he - and the character of Ben Rickert (based on real life, former JP Morgan trader, Ben Hockett, and portrayed in a sublimated, almost solemn manner by Brad Pitt) - realizes that he is betting on the collapse of the bedrock of global finance, the US housing industry, and trillions of dollars will be lost, millions of people will lose homes. The fate of the world weighs heavy upon him.

The Big Short film is well worth watching again, as is a thorough reading of the original Michael Lewis book by the same name. In case you haven't seen the movie or read the book, this qualifies as a MUST, if you have money at risk in any kind of investment because it all is happening again, in a different venue, on an even larger, more obscene scale. Sub-prime took years to grow, metastasize and engulf the financial system. The ongoing "everything bubble," with pension and other long-term passive investments as the target, will literally take decades, and it's already well underway.

It's all happening again in a bigger and more destructive way and it's happening right NOW.

The book and film are available at screaming low prices on Ebay, Amazon and various streaming services (for the film). A purchase is likely to be some of the best investment money ever spent and an understanding of the process will reveal the fraud and deceit being parlayed right beneath the public's noses. Both the book and the film are revealing, frightening, and true.

EDIT: Money Daily may not always be on top of the news, but today's major blast posting may turn out to be prescient. Just moments ago, Wall Street On Parade, the noteworthy blog published by Wall Street insiders, Russ and Pam Martens, released a related post: The Doomsday Machine Returns: Citibank Has Sold Protection On $858 Billion of Credit Default Swaps. In the article, the writers contend that the dark doom of 2008 may be hanging over the canyons of Wall Street once again, as not just Citibank, but JP Morgan Chase as well, have taken big positions in Credit Default Swaps "that are being used to reignite the synthetic Collateralized Loan Obligation (synthetic CDO) market - which vastly added to the leverage that blew up Wall Street in 2008."

Stay tuned.

A few choice clips from the film:

At the Close, Thursday, January 2, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,868.80, +330.36 (+1.16%)
NASDAQ: 9,092.19, +119.58 (+1.33%)
S&P 500: 3,257.85, +27.07 (+0.84%)
NYSE Composite: 14,002.49, +89.46 (+0.64%)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Global Stock Rout Deepens; Dow Loses Another 500 Points; NASDAQ Down 16.7% Since August

The pain is spreading, and it doesn't seem to be about to abate any time soon.

According to Dow Jones Market Data, the S&P 500 closed at its lowest level since October of 2017, the NASDAQ finished at its lowest since November of 2017, while the Dow closed at lowest level since March 23. Only a rally in the final 15 minutes of trading kept the Dow from closing at its lowest level of the year.

The Dow had plunged as low as 23,456.8 with just minutes to the closing bell, but short-covering boosted the industrials more than 100 points in the final minutes of trading. Not that it matters very much, but the closing low for the year was 23,533.20. Prior to that, the Dow closed at a low of 23,271.28 on November 15, 2017.

Both of those levels are likely to be subsumed, as the stock rout about to be hit with another dose of reality. Trumping anticipation, the Fed meeting which ends Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm ET, is almost certain to include a 25 basis point raise to the federal funds rate. On Friday, the federal government, unable to reach a suitable compromise on President Trump's border wall, will go into a partial shutdown.

Neither event - especially the federal shutdown - is of the earth-shattering variety, but they come at a very inopportune time for the market, which is struggling to find any good news upon which to hang a rally.

Europe is either in flames (France), in a bear market (Germany), or about to enter a recession thanks to the end of the ECB's brand of QE. Beyond that, there's the uncertainty of an orderly departure from the EU by Great Britain. The official date for Britain to separate itself from the EU is March, but there have been rumblings of an extension and more than just a little unrest from the island nation to the continent concerning what effect a member country departing will have on the solidarity of remaining members.

In China and Japan, an economic slowdown is already well underway, so it appears that the sellers have reason enough to move away from stocks, and rapidly. There are just too many negatives floating around geopolitical and financial circles for all of them to be resolved in the near term. Rather, these worries turn into realities which the market doesn't appreciate, such as the actual imposition of tariffs rather than mere rumors and threats of them. The same goes for the Fed's upcoming rate hike and the government shutdown. It's become a market that's twisted the old saw into "sell the rumor, sell the news." Everything is on sale and buyers have been heading to the sidelines beginning in February. Since October, the pace has picked up noticeably, but December threatens to be the worst month of the year for the Dow, at least.

For perspective, February's loss on the Dow was 1120.19 points.

March saw a decline of 926.09.

In October the Dow lost 1341.55 points.

So far this month, the Dow is lower by 1945.58 points, making the October through December (November's gain was 426.12 points) period worse than the February-March spasm.

The NASDAQ is down 16.7% since August 29. WTI Crude was seen at $49.45 per barrel, the lowest price since September, 2017.

Throughout the years of experimental financial chicanery of QE and ZIRP, and NIRP (negative interest rate policy) by the Federal Reserve and fellow central bankers following the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007-09, the question was always, "how is this all going to end?"

Now, we have the answer, firsthand, and, as many predicted, it's not pretty and likely to get worse.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58

At the Close, Monday, December 17, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,592.98, -507.53 (-2.11%)
NASDAQ: 6,753.73, -156.93 (-2.27%)
S&P 500: 2,545.94, -54.01 (-2.08%)
NYSE Composite: 11,532.12, -223.27 (-1.90%)

Monday, April 9, 2018

It's OVER! Dow Transports Confirm Dow Theory Primary Trend Change Bull to Bear

Right off the bat, here's the theme for today's trading: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons 1964 hit, "Dawn."

For the uninformed, today's epic pump-and-dump collapse on all the major indices was more than just "the usual." It was, simply put, a day to be marked in financial history, the day the most phony, contrived and manipulated bull market that ever existed, died an overdue death and gave birth to a bona fide bear market, something most of today's millennial day-trading demons have never experienced.

Why would the death of a bull market and the beginning of a bear market be something suitable for celebration?

Good question.

Here's an even better answer: because the bull market, which started March 9, 2009 - nine years and one month, to the day - was one built on fumes and Fed happy talk, endless fiat money printing, rounds and rounds of Quantitative Easing (QE), artificially low interest rates approaching zero (ZIRP) and corporate stock buybacks of unprecedented quantity. Almost nowhere was there a single sign of real growth; much of the gains in stocks were due to buyback manipulation as gross revenue stagnated for nearly a decade.

It was a decade of fakery, of spoofing and high frequency trading as GDP never reached three percent until nearing the end, and never actually did for a full year, including 2017, the last. Almost all of the supposed growth in the "recovery" was due to inflation, nothing else. A false sense of security was promoted by the governors and presidents of the Federal Reserve System and their regional banks and the public gobbled it up.

Meanwhile, in the real world, mark to market had been replaced by mark to fantasy, and price discovery was banished from the equity world.

According to Dow Theory - a nearly infallible projecting tool - as the Dow Transportation Index closed today below the February 9 low of 10,136.61, at 10,119.36, confirming the primary trend change, the bull market can be properly buried and a bear market born.

For anyone unfamiliar with Dow Theory, the primary trend change goes like this:
New Closing Low
Interim High, Below Previous High
New Low Below Previous Low.

This simple pattern must occur on both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Dow Jones Transportation Index (confirmation), and here's how it happened.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made a new all-time high on January 26, 2018 (26,616.71).
On February 8, it closed at 23,860.46 (new low).
On February 26, it closed at 25,709.27 (interim high, lower than previous high).
On March 23, the Industrials closed at 23,533.20 (new low, lower than previous low).

For confirmation, the Dow Jones Transportation Index had made it's new high on January 12, 2018 (11,373.38).
On February 8, it closed at 10,136.61 (new low)
On February 26, it closed at 10,769.84 (interim high, lower than previous high)
On April 9, the Transportation Index closed at 10,119.36 (new low, lower than previous low = primary trend change, bull becomes bear).

Why is this good?

This is good because markets in a stable, trustworthy financial system must have a mechanism to clear mal-investment. Otherwise, stupid money must be purged from the system in order to create real value.

For instance, Facebook, Google, and many other stocks should not be trading as high as they currently are. They are overvalued, promoted by shysters and traded up by fools, one fool greater than the previous one. In other words, this is money chasing an unrealistic return. In order to get back to a realistic, fair, honest market, these stocks must lose value. Some companies will achieve their true value, which is zero. Others will lose 20, 30, maybe even more than 50%. The market will sort out the winners (there will be a few) from the losers (there will be many).

In the end, stocks will be properly valued, but when that time is to come, nobody knows. The perma-bulls out there can take heart that bear markets generally last 14-18 months, some like the one during the Great Depression which began with the stock market collapse in 1929, last much longer. How deep this one will be depends on how quickly stocks revert to an undervalued position, because the market always overshoots on the upside and the downside. There will be a bottom, when it will be wise to buy stocks. The only winning position presently is to sell stocks at a profit, park the money in bonds or money markets and wait for the bottom, which, just like the primary change from bull to bear, will be repeated - in reverse - according to Dow Theory.

For those wishing for the good old days of January 26, a return to those levels may take four to seven years, possibly longer, and, judging by the general insanity plaguing the human race presently, one should prepare for the much longer period. There are mountains of bad investments and onerous debts to be flushed from the system, since they were not flushed out in 2008-09, only papered over by TARP, QE, and ZIRP.

If you must, cry in your beer over the death of the bull. The rest of us will be having a cold one with the new-born bear.

Dow Jones Industrial Average April Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
4/2/18 23,644.19 -458.92 -458.92
4/3/18 24,033.36 +389.17 -69.75
4/4/18 24,264.30 +230.94 +161.19
4/5/18 24,505.22 +240.92 +402.11
4/6/18 23,932.76 -572.46 -170.35
4/9/18 23,979.10 +46.34 -134.01

At the Close, Monday, April 9, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,979.10, +46.34 (+0.19%)
NASDAQ: 6,950.34, +35.23 (+0.51%)
S&P 500: 2,613.16, +8.69 (+0.33%)
NYSE Composite: 12,380.55, +31.44 (+0.25%)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Witch Doctors at the Fed Brewing Something Wicked?

Eventually, everything matters.

Whether it's a hurricane ravaging Houston, Miami, or Puerto Rico, Toys 'R Us going chapter 11, or JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon bashing cryptocurrencies in general and Bitcoin in the specific, all actions have consequences. It's the butterfly flapping its wings in Africa resulting in the subtropical windstorm, pure physics, action, reaction, cause and effect.

Thus it is consequential that the Fed's announcement in June indicating that it would begin to sell off it's hefty bag of assets - confirmed just yesterday - beginning in October (a scant ten days from now) should have some noticeable effect.

Market reaction to the announcement three months ago was muted. It was more serious yesterday and took on a gloomy tone today as all of the major indices retreated from all-time highs, the hardest hit being the speculative NASDAQ index, though one could posit that the knee-jerk nature of the selling today was nothing more than casual.

Suppose it is more than that.

Wouldn't the biggest players in the investing universe be monitoring market movements closely, making incremental moves, buying insurance? Of course. None of them want to tip their hand, but, they are concerned that the Federal Reserve has lost control of the monetary side of the equation. After all, ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) didn't work, nor did quantitative easing (QE). With all of their bullets spent, the Fed has nonchalantly called the financial crisis over and done and signaled to the market that they are going to raise interest rates, sell off the assets they've been hoarding for some six, seven, or eight years and the economy of the United States - and the world - will suddenly and magically be wonderful again.

As Dana Carvey playing the "Church Lady" might say, "how convenient!"

The Fed is at a loss and has been for eight or nine years running (some may say longer), because they cannot control distant event, geological occurrences, sunrises, or the whims of people with money. They are what Ayn Rand and Rollo May might have called witch doctors whose power is derived from people's belief in their so-called powers.

When the Fed begins selling their cache of securities (mostly treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities) expect some degree of howling from various quarters, notably those who have been calling the central bank's attempts to control global markets a scam, sham, or film-flam from the start.

Especially when it comes to the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) there will be great gnashing of teeth, especially deep inside the bowels of the Eccles Building, where it cannot be heard, as Fed governors (a number of them already jumping ship) bemoan their dissatisfaction over the task at hand.

They are about to become scorned, and with good reason. They've mismanaged other people's money (practically everybody's) to their own profit. Bernie Madoff would look like a saint compared to the crimes the people at the Fed have committed. Those crimes continue, and they will be manifest in the "great unwind."

As the case may be, all of these high priests and witch doctors of finance will claim they didn't see the carnage coming, but come it will. There's a place for people who use deceit and obfuscation to achieve their ends, and it's certainly not in heaven.

Keep a close eye on three things: the price of silver, the price of corn and wheat, and the performance of the major stock indices. If suspicions play out, all three (or two of three, with the only gainer being silver) will decline for months before there's true confirmation that, in the long scheme of things, the Fed officials, from Greenspan to Bernanke to Yellen, knew exactly what they were doing but did it anyway.

Today's position: Fetal.

At the Close, Thursday, September 21, 2017:
Dow: 22,359.23, -53.36 (-0.24%)
NASDAQ: 6,422.69, -33.35 (-0.52%)
S&P 500: 2,500.60, -7.64 (-0.30%)
NYSE Composite: 12,133.62, -13.88 (-0.11%)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

More NASDAQ Losses Cause For Concern

There are those in the financial hinterlands who believe that the latest bout of indigestion in equities is simply another round of petty games played by central bank elitists who continue to exert extreme control, especially at times when it seems a correction may be at hand.

There are others who believe that the entire eight years of QE-and-ZIRP-inspired gains have been the exclusive province of the central banks and that they are preparing to pull the proverbial rug out from under markets via interest rate hikes and a general cessation of currency creation.

Both parties may be right, insofar as the central banks have been the epicenter of all financial activity, surreptitiously aiding the money center banks and primary dealers closest to the Fed's largesse.

Thus, the declines on the NASDAQ - not just today, but for the past three weeks - are sending signals to smaller market participants and there has been the beginning of a realignment of asset allocations, from tech to cash, from consumer staples and cyclicals to dividend-payers and utilities.

The issue at present, as was the case in 2008-09 and most other major market corrections or reversals from bull to bear, is that nowhere is there a safe place to hide, though the usual standouts are cash, precious metals and treasuries. On the latter, the 10-year note continued its ascent, finishing the day at 2.37, a multi-month high. That's a notable move, signifying that money may be indeed becoming tighter, even though that is a relative term, heading north from a real rate approaching zero.

At this juncture, it's still too early to raise the alarm bells, though the heavily-leveraged may be getting margin calls in short order. The NAZ is closing in on a five percent decline from the June 9 high of 6341.70, currently at a level of -3.98%. The even one percent loss on the NASDAQ today was followed in close order by the other major indices.

Caution is advised. Do NOT buy this dip as there are far too many worrying factors in the mix.

At the Close, 7/6/17:
Dow: 21,320.04, -158.13 (-0.74%)
NASDAQ: 6,089.46, -61.39 (-1.00%)
S&P 500: 2,409.75, -22.79 (-0.94%)
NYSE Composite: 11,702.42, -107.07 (-0.91%)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Stocks Rage into the Close; PPT Mentioned on CNBC

Good stuff on Zero Hedge, when Asher Edelman brought up the PPT (Plunge Protection Team) on CNBC's "Fast Money."

People really don't mention the Plunge Protection Team much anymore, ever since the Fed and their central bank cohorts began their financial asset buying spree in 2009. The Fed money-printing machine puts the PPT (otherwise known as the President's Working Group on Financial Markets) to shame.

The Federal Reserve added liquidity to markets by directly intervening through outright asset purchases of mortgage-backed securities and treasury bills and notes. Known as Qualitative Easing (QE), those in the know simply call it "money printing" or "creating money out of thin air." Both are correct, and, despite all the best intents of Keynesian economics, those actions are supposed to create inflation, which has occurred in stocks, housing and elsewhere, but not in the many and varied consumer staples and discretionary items.

Most consumer prices (and incomes) have somewhat stagnated since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09, and, with the Fed threatening another rate increase in June, they probably won't be moving soon. The dislocations in the housing market and the massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the very rich, however, have been direct results of Fed action.

So, it's somewhat funny that the commentator would single out the PPT, though he's probably spot on in his general assessment. The bigger issue would be the almost total control of the equity markets by key players, notably, central banks and large commercial firms, i.e., Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, et. al.

Whatever method was in play today, it certainly worked wonders as stocks levitated after 2:00 pm ET into the close.

At The Close, 5/24/17:
Dow: 21,012.42, +74.51 (0.36%)
NASDAQ: 6,163.02, +24.31 (0.40%)
S&P 500: 2,404.39, +5.97 (0.25%)
NYSE Composite: 11,621.23, +16.61 (0.14%)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Tough Times For People Are Beginning To Appear

See-saw trading marked the first day of August, traditionally one of the quietest times for traders, so excuse your author for not offering a great deal of commentary as the "dog days" wear on through the hot month.

Stocks were up and down without direction. Japan's fiscal stimulus, largely expected to consist of some form of "helicopter money" (i.e., central bank largess via government spending and/or handouts), and, while there were some measures designed to prop up the poor and stimulate spending, it's more likely that - like everything else the BOJ has attempted the past 25 years - the plan will backfire because Japanese people are more concerned with squirreling away cash for rainy days than spending to keep the government promise of prosperity and growth.

It's the same all over the world. Governments and central banks have themselves painted into a not-so-agreeable corner, flanked by negative interest rates on one side, stagnant growth prospects on another, and a phalanx of QE, ficsal irresponsibility, crony capitalism, global income insecurity, and political instability dropping from the ceiling and oozing up through cracks in the floor.

While the political and business hoi poloi continue preaching the narrative of rosy economic successes, the average people have had enough of being lied to, cajoled and insulted by appeals by the financial authorities to their better interests, which, in truth are in nobody's good interest.

A couple of possible scenarios might emerge from the continuing diddling by the Fed and their crony central banker kin. One is that extreme lawlessness reigns, as laws are multiplied beyond the system's ability to prosecute them, or, political forces morph into ugly totalitarianism.

A good bet might be a hedge between the two, as both are already emerging in various forms, everywhere from dictatorships like the one evolving in Turkey, right down to the tin-horn generals at local levels who attempt to enforce zoning and municipal codes on wary citizens.

If there appears to be unease in every neighborhood, it's because below a calm surface is a boiling pot of anger, resentment, fear, and distrust.

Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,404.51, -27.73 (-0.15%)

5,184.20, +22.06 (0.43%)

S&P 500
2,170.84, -2.76 (-0.13%)

NYSE Composite
10,730.20, -55.31 (-0.51%)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Oil Glut Yet Prices Higher; Gold, Silver Demand Up, Prices Down

There is a serious disturbance in the Farce called the global economy, and it is the role of central bankers who create absurd amounts of fiat currencies, literally out of thin air.

Policies adopted by the financial elite experts who control nearly all currencies worldwide have caused markets to virtually stop functioning. After seven years of base interest rates at near zero - and recently, below zero - endless stimulus programs otherwise known by the catchy name, quantitative easing, and a serious lack of transparency, regulation, and discipline in all markets, global growth is a non-starter for 2016 and the foreseeable future.

Businesses, fed a diet of easy money for nearly a decade (two decades, if one includes the Greenspan "put" years) are loathe to spend on capital improvements, labor or infrastructure. Businesses are, so to speak, "living off the land," by cutting budgets while fattening the salaries and bonuses of crony CEOs and others occupying the executive suites and boards of directors.

It's a horrible condition, with disinflation and outright deflation popping up in pockets like food production, energy, and most hard commodities (see natural gas and copper). Price discovery has become a function less of supply and demand and more driven by derivative bets, options, credit default swaps, and hedging. Over-finacialization of nearly all markets that matter has turned fundamentals on their heads and what once were functional markets into nothing more than trap-laden casinos. The effect has been to alienate a generation of investors (millenials), impoverish another (retirees) and overburden those not yet ready to enter the economy (the youth). In the middle is generation X, condemned to toil away towards an uncertain future.

The argument that fundamental supply and demand is defunct rests largely on the oil market, currently carrying the largest global glut on record, yet pushed to levels indicative of a shortage. Oil was ranging toward $25 per barrel just a month or so ago; today it is approaching $40, mostly a function of short-covering and naked short selling.

Much the same can be said of the markets for precious metals, the price held down by nefarious forces while the demand continues to expand. In many quarters, gold, silver, and gemstones are considered the only investments worth having and holding. They carry no counterparts risk, are relatively easy to transport and can be converted into money or any other asset with relative ease.

As Bill Bonner and his enlightened crew love to postulate, a day of reckoning is coming, though just exactly when that day arrives and how it is manifested are known to exactly nobody.

It's a mess. Better to put money in a mattress or buy canned goods than risk in capital markets, as moribund and compromised as they are. US equity indices peaked in May of 2015. It's nearly a year from the all-time highs without any rally catalysts in sight.

All eyes and ears will be tuned to the ECB tomorrow, when Mario Draghi does what he can only do, signal more easing, more fraud, and more of the relentless can-kicking that has typified the past seven years.

Nobody is holding his or her breath on this coming non-event because there is no longer any air to breathe.

Wednesday's Wackiness:
S&P 500: 1,989.26, +10.00 (0.51%)
Dow: 17,000.36, +36.26 (0.21%)
NASDAQ: 4,674.38, +25.55 (0.55%)

Crude Oil 38.23 +4.74% Gold 1,253.90 -0.71% EUR/USD 1.1001 -0.06% 10-Yr Bond 1.8920 +3.28% Corn 360.25 -0.07% Copper 2.23 +0.54% Silver 15.31 -0.52% Natural Gas 1.76 +2.92% Russell 2000 1,072.77 +0.46% VIX 18.34 -1.77% BATS 1000 20,677.17 0.00% GBP/USD 1.4217 +0.03% USD/JPY 113.3350 +0.60%

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Yellen's Rate Hike Timing Might Be A Little Off... Like Five, Six Or Seven Years

Now that the Fed has restored its own venerable credibility, the markets seem to think, "well, yeah, the fed is credible, but still wrong." Fed Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, will go down in history as the worst chairperson in the 102-year history of the Federal Reserve, followed closely by her predecessor, Ben Bernanke.

Hiking the federal funds rate even a measly 1/4%, as they did on Wednesday, seems to be anathema to all kinds of markets, except maybe the dollar index, which, unlike just about everything else, rallied today.

Stocks erased all of yesterday's gains and then some, sending the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 into the red for the year. For investors of all stripes (and most importantly, hedge fund managers, who have gotten murdered this year), what's worse is that the year is almost over and there doesn't seem to be a catalyst available to overcome what damage the Fed has done with its unmistakable policy error.

Anybody with brain cells saw this coming well in advance. The global economy is virtually on its knees and the Fed thought it was time for a hike in interest rates. The hike amounted to the political equivalent of a punt. There was nowhere else to go, so they went through the only door open. Bad mistake, especially since that door had been open since 2009.

What were they thinking? Maybe the question should be "what were they not thinking?" because they ignored the obvious signs of slowing, not only in emerging markets, but in commodities, high yield bonds, corporate profits, sales, housing, and a plethora of other indicators that were signaling recession ahead rather than recovery accomplished.

The Federal Reserve is comprised of some of the worst thinkers on the planet, whose sole interest is in keeping their credibility intact, and they are quickly losing control over that. They've managed, in the short span of seven years - thanks to their dual policies of zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and quantitative easing (QE) to completely dismantle the fabric of capitalism, enriching only the upper, upper crust of wealthy individuals while dashing the hopes and savings of millions of would-be retirees.

With any luck, the Fed's failed policies will lead to outright rejection of the currency, not just around the world, but right here in the United States as well. These are control freaks, and they've lost control, implying simply that worse decisions are already in the making.

In case anybody's paying attention, the Federal Reserve is busy wrecking what's left of the global economy by bringing the US economy into line with the rest of the world, which, if one would like to take a look at Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, is already suffering deeply.

Global depression and a debt jubilee are on the plate for 2016. You can have it served directly or order it to go. Zombie banks, which should have gone out of business in 2008, don't deserve to be repaid again, as they've already stolen so much taxpayer money that they've bankrupted the US government.

It's a good thing there's only a few weeks left in the year, because the losses for 2015 will stop suddenly on December 31.

Sadly, those losses will resume promptly, when markets reopen on January 4, 2016.

In advance, Happy New Year (if we make it).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Stocks Confused in Advance of Yellen, Fed Rates; A Glimpse into the Collapse of Upstate New York

Shockingly, the Dow industrials were lower on the day while the momentum-chasing NASDAQ stocks finished with a gain on the day before Janet Yellen and the FOMC issue a rate announcement.

Obviously, rates are not going to move at this meeting, but, what most market observers will be glued to come 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday is the wording of the FOMC statement, specifically, the use of the "patient" in terms of how the Federal Reserve is viewing their pre-announced rate increase.

The Fed has been careful not to give an exact date or attach any hard figures to any proposed rate increase, only to remain in a prudent position of non-committed bliss.

That they prefer to be shrouded in this kind of monetary mystery has been more than a little disturbing to markets. Many operators would prefer the good old days of endless QE and ZIRP without any mention of a dreadful, future rate increase. However, the Federal Reserve has itself backed into a corner in which it will damage the equity markets with a rate increase and potentially upset the delicate bond-balancing act which has kept rates too low for too long.

It is self-evident that the Fed must do something. The only questions remaining to be answered are what will they do and when will they do it. Traders, speculators, and gamblers of all stripes are hoping to glean some knowledge from the Fed's statement tomorrow.

In the meantime, many are saying this prayer:

The FED is my shepherd, I shall not want.
They maketh me to lie down in fields of digital plenty; they leadeth me to financial liquidity;
They safeguard my portfolio; they leadeth me in paths of security for their financial sake.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of default, I shall fear no Credit Default Swaps,
For they art with me; their words and actions comfort me.
They have prepared a table of ZIRP and QE before me, in the presence of China and Russia; they have annointed me with POMO; my balances runneth over.
Surely, the American reserve currency shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Almighty Dollar forever and ever.

...and hoping for the best.

A Glimpse Into the Collapsing Nature of Upstate New York

Up here in Rochester, NY, there's a 1/2 hour show every Sunday by the area's largest real estate firm, called the "Nothnagle Gallery of Homes."

It's a good idea to catch it every week, because it provides a fascinating insight into a market that predominantly is a shuffling from one generation to another, without growth, and nearing death thoes due to a variety of economic ad social forces.

At the start of the show are the nice, expensive, executive homes, all over $400,000, some of them pretty decent with acreage, about half of them vacant. As the show continues, they display the moderately-priced category, 135k-250k. Not so good, smaller lots, older houses, more than half vacant, but, this week, a twist. They showed two houses under construction. Really, with the Tyvek™ showing and all. Priced over 200K.

Dead stop. Builders around here are nailed to a cross with with steel. Population is declining, there's a glut of bank REO that's been sitting and deteriorating for years and about 20-30% of everybody in the metro area is either in foreclosure, pre-foreclosure, about to be, underwater, or owes back taxes of two years or more. A massive implosion is coming to upstate NY (Syracuse and Rochester; Buffalo already in the proverbial pooper) which will take down not only the real estate market but the city governments and some of the older suburbs (hopefully state .gov too, but that's another story). Population decline and aging, lack of jobs, crumbling infrastructure, huge municipal pension costs and ineffective (and that's being nice) local governments are feeding the descent into chaos. Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo's inner cities are crime-ridden, FSA (welfare) strongholds. The city school districts are a complete and utter disaster. High wages for teachers, low graduation rates, scandals, union vs. administration fights are common, as are fights, stabbings, gun confiscations, etc. TPTB are trying to ship some of the little minority cretins out to the suburbs in what they call something like "city-county partnership opportunity" or employing some other liberal wonderland imagery, but the voters in more than a few suburbs have shot down the school board recommendations, saying, in effect, "keep my schools white."

Trouble is brewing here, where the property taxes are the highest in the nation. Shocked was a fellow from South Carolina last week when told that a 30-year mortgage on a $100,000 house here would cost less monthly than the taxes.

That's the truth from an area of the country that's been stripped bare of manufacturing over the years and suffers from too many social programs, sponsored by too few - and becoming fewer every week - taxpayers.

Dow 17,849.08, -128.34 (-0.71%)
S&P 500 2,074.28, -6.91 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ 4,937.44, +7.93 (0.16%)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Stcks soar on No News; Michael Hudson's Scathing Remarks on Wealth Inequality

On a day in which there was an absolute vacuum of substantial news concerning the economy or stocks in general, markets did what they have become used to doing on such days in the era of ZIRP and QE. Stocks went straight up at the open and added to gains throughout the day.

It is specifically on days like today that the banks and brokerages make their best money, capturing the gains right at the opening bell, without interference from retail riff-raff, and holding them up with small trades during the session. Anybody even thinking about shorting or playing puts against the small tide of buyers gets what's come to be known as having one's face ripped off.

As gruesome as it sounds, the reality of losing money because one is not a member of the 1% tribe and does not believe stocks should be trading at astronomical levels, is painful to the pocket and a cause for many small-time investors and traders to throw in the towel completely.

Such is the nature of markets completely under the control of the biggest and most well-heeled players, complete with front-running HTF computer algos that are able to nab 20% or more of any gains simply by being there a millisecond ahead of any order. while that fact may not be disturbing to some, it should be a concern to anybody who feels that wealth inequality is consistently changing the nature of society, markets and money, and not in any good way.

To that effect, professor Michael Hudson recently provided a glimpse into the new world of finance - unregulated, unbalanced and utterly destructive - in an article published at Counterpunch called Quantitative Easing for Whom?

Hudson, a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, was interviewed by SHARMINI PERIES, and his commentary spells out in detail how zero interest rates and quantitative easing has helped the elite to the detriment of the rest of society.

It's quite a read and elegant in its straightforward honesty and truthful simplicity. Perhaps the most poignant phrase is the following:
Banks lend money mainly to transfer ownership of real estate. They also lend money to corporate raiders. They lend money to buy assets. But they don’t lend money for companies to invest in equipment and hire more workers. Just the opposite. When they lend money to corporate raiders to take over companies, the new buyers outsource labor, downsize the work force, and try to squeeze out more work. They also try to grab the pensions.

or this:
...when hedge funds and the big banks – Goldman Sachs, Citibank – see a pension fund manager coming through the door, they think, “How can I take what’s in his pocket and put it in mine?” So they rip them off. That is why there are so many big lawsuits against Wall Street for mismanaging pension fund money.

It's a very good read for such a short article, and points up just how enslaved the middle class (what's left of it) has become and how government and the Fed have completely distorted the economy to the exclusive benefit of a small handful of very, very wealthy families.

The condition of the world is sad and true.

Dow 17,977.42, +228.11 (1.29%)
S&P 500, 2,081.19, +27.79 (1.35%)
NASDAQ 4,929.51, +57.75 (1.19%)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Biggest Bubble of All Time is About to Be Popped

Money Daily stopped being a daily post blog in March, 2014. While the name remains the same, the posts are now on an intermittent basis, as conditions warrant, though it is advised to read the archives (from 2006-2014) regularly, even daily, for insights and historical perspective.

The handwriting, so to speak, is all over Wall Street. What has been the biggest financial bubble in the history of the world is on the verge of busting, or, what could be better still, slowly deflating.

After the crash of 2008-09, the Federal Reserve, in conjunction with central banks around the globe, injected massive amounts of liquidity into the fiat world currency markets, bolstering everything from junk bonds to consumer credit, but especially equities, otherwise known as stocks.

Since March 9, 2009, the major equity indices in the US - and, to a large degree, around the world - have rebounded on the strength of the Fed's largesse, nothing else. Now that the Fed has begun unwinding QE, the "juice" is being withdrawn. There will be no backstop for equities in the guise of unlimited liquidity from the Fed. The plan - already underway - is to reduce the amount of asset (bond) purchases by the Fed from their high of $85 billion per month, to zero. While it is unlikely the Fed will ever get to zero without reversing course or, at least, slowing the pace of their withdrawal, the March FOMC meeting will mark the third consecutive lowering of the monthly purchase level, timed in accordance with the 10-per-year FOMC schedule.

The Fed first announced in December, 2013 that it would be reducing purchases in January, 2014, and did the same in their first meeting of 2014, in January, lowering their purchase level to $65 billion in February. Since there was no meeting in February, they are expected to announce another $10 billion reduction at the March meeting next week (March 18-19). If they carry through with this expected drop to $55 billion, the market cracks which first occurred in January of this year, may turn into wholesale breaks, sending index levels below their recent lows, highlighted by the January 31 selloff.

With the S&P recovering all of its January and February losses and making new all-time highs earlier this month (the NASDAQ also made new 14-year highs), the Dow Jones Industrials did not, setting up the scenario for a bear market, according to strict Dow Theory.

If the Dow, having fallen short of its most recent high (16,588.25), continues on its path lower, exceeding the interim low of 15,340.69 (Feb. 4), this will confirm that a change in the primary tend has occurred, and a secular bear market is underway. This bear market could last anywhere from five to 20 years, possibly longer, because the recent, primary bull market - the second longest in market history - was built upon a foundation of incredibly easy money, low interest rates and global fiat currencies, unprecedented in financial history.

The fallout could be severe, popping the biggest financial asset bubble of all time, in stocks, affecting everything from individual stocks to your pension, IRA or 401k to muni bonds. In other words, be prepared for the biggest financial collapse of all time, because the last five years have been nothing but pure financial fantasy, and it's all about to come crashing to an end.

There are sure signs that the global economy is shrieking and straining to remain relevant and above water, but after blowing bubbles recently in dotcom stocks (1997-2001) and real estate (2003-2007), the Fed has reflated the economy with trillions of paper dollars, augmented by similarly spurious activities in Europe, China and Japan. The financial bubble created by central banks is of a magnitude much larger - possibly four to six times larger - than the sub-prime-induced housing meltdown, putting the figure of financial assets seriously at risk somewhere between $20 and $40 trillion dollars, an amount so unfathomable that nothing short of pure currency collapses can sufficiently make account.

(As this post is being composed (March 13, 2014, 1:10 pm EDT), the Dow Jones Industrial average has broken through its 50-day-moving average, down 194 points on the day.)

Beyond just charts and the scary finances of the central banks, China is the linchpin by which the financial dam may be breached. For the past two to three months, data out of the world's second-largest economy has been trending lower, especially in the areas of industrial production and exporting. In fact, China actually released data that showed it suffered a current account deficit, with imports exceeding exports, a very frightening development for one of the world's few export economies and a major trading partner with the US and Europe.

What the China data underscores is the overall weakness in US and European (developed) markets. The fraud of financialization has finally produced a result incompatible with the ponzi-scheme-like mantra of the central bankers. Consumers have been and are strapped for cash, a result of over-exuberant government spending, massive income disparity between the rich and poor and stagnant or declining wages in the middle of a labor shortfall crisis.

There are signs everywhere that the global economy is about to be brought back to reality, including, but by no means limited to, recent poor US unemployment data, a false housing recovery (inundated with cash buyers, flippers and speculation), inability of the government to prosecute bankers and financial operatives for mortgage and other frauds, declining adherence to the constitution and the trampling of civil rights, bogus car sales data with channel stuffing rampant, blaming the weather for poor economic results (seriously, the holiday shopping season was a complete bust), and overvaluation of speculative IPOs, tech stocks and other momentum stocks, enterprise valuations of stocks in the billions of dollars, based on nothing but pure speculation.

Nothing will stop the wreckage that the Fed and global central banks working in collusion have set in motion. The numbers are ghastly and overwhelming and the warnings have been written about for years. The time to prepare was yesterday, though there is still time, but thought processes must change. Status and wealth should not be measured by the size of one's McMansion, the price of one's car or the depth of one's stock portfolio. True wealth consists of something along these lines: a fully-paid-for home on five or more acres of land, two-thirds of it arable, food and water storage to last at least a year, a horde of cash, gold and/or silver, absolutely ZERO DEBT, and the ability and weaponry to defend it all.

Ask yourself, who among you can make claim to that, because that is real wealth, not the paper promises from Wall Street or Washington.

It's coming. And it may be approaching even faster than anyone wants to consider (think Ukraine).

Good luck.

Friday, February 14, 2014

So, This is Good-bye; Good Luck with Janet Yellen

After 1828 posts, spanning nine years (started in 2006), this may be the last post for Money Daily - at least in its current form. Perhaps at some point I will change the name to Finance Weekly or Rick's Occasional Posts on the Economy or something like that, but the effort involved in producing a relevant post every day (as opposed to the ridiculous ranting often seen here) seems to be not worth the effort anymore.

Since the economic collapse of 2008-09, the global financial system has been wildly distorted by the actions of central banks, primarily by the US Federal Reserve, via their Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) and Quantitative Easing (QE) mechanisms.

While Wall Street regulars laud praise upon former Chairman Ben Bernanke, and surely they will do the same with Janet Yellen, the Fed policies of the past six years have benefitted only banks and speculators, often those two disparate entities being one and the same. Surely, anybody who receives money at close to zero percent interest can make a buck, and it's even easier when you're in collusion with other bankers or speculators, as is the case with our current system.

Nothing other than the Fed matters when it comes to stocks, bonds, or even money in general. The Fed creates it out of thin air in copious amounts, and, even though they've recently cut back on their rampant printing - from $85 billion to a mere $65 billion per month - it's still a hugely distorting factor in all markets.

There is no stopping it, and any kind of qualitative analysis of financial markets must factor this element in as a major bulwark.

Thus, there is little to discuss on a day-to-day ongoing basis, because, in the end, nothing else matters or makes perfect sense, and, in economics, as in any "science," perfection is demanded, though all too often it is lacking, covered up by innuendo and a false sense of security supplied by the Fed and their lackeys in the financial media and Wall Street hack talkers, disguised as "analysts" for public consumption.

Since a more balanced, sustainable approach is preferred by your humble author, it's time to move on to other creative pursuits. I may, from time to time, pen a financial piece and post it here, but the numbing daily schedule will be no more.

It's been fun, for the most part, and I wish anyone and everyone who has gained from this the best in their investment and financial decisions. For my money, I prefer to keep stacking silver (which made an enormous move today), learn more about and engage in sustainable farming and leave the financial gimmickry to those better suited (pun intended) to that kind of soulless lying.

In closing, since we are engaged in a world that often makes little sense, a few lines from George Orwell's 1984:


Via con Dios, mis amigos!


DOW 16,154.39, +126.80 (+0.79%)
NASDAQ 4,244.03, +3.35 (+0.08%)
S&P 1,838.63, +8.80 (+0.48%)
10-Yr Note 100.06, +0.02 (+0.02%) Yield: 2.74%
NASDAQ Volume 1.73 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.10 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3417-2261
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 278-24
WTI crude oil: 100.30, -0.05
Gold: 1,318.60, +18.50
Silver: 21.42, +1.026
Corn: 445.25, +4.75

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Markets Pause After Monday's Pummeling; Stocks Bounce Is Feeble

When markets get roiled like they did on Monday, especially following four weeks in January of steady declines, the usual reaction is for investors to nibble at the edges, like rats who have been spooked by sprung traps on their coveted cheese.

The only data drop worth noting on the day was Factory Orders, which fell 1.5% in December, the most since July. Inventories of manufactured durable goods reached an all-time high for the series in December, to $387.9 billion, marking the fastest year-over-year inventory build in 6 months.

That same inventory build has been responsible in part for much of the two past GDP figures, from the third and fourth quarters of 2013, and, unless consumers come out of hiding soon, those inventories are going to sit and eventually be marked down, further stifling the Fed's efforts to re-inflate the economy, which continues to stall out at a moribund inflation rate well below two percent.

While lower costs for manufactured and consumer goods comes as pleasant news for individuals and small business, it works against the Fed's perverse mandate of "stable prices," which, in actuality, is defined in Fedspeak as "stably-increasing prices at a rate of at least two percent and preferably higher, stealing purchasing power from people, everywhere, all the time, while debasing the currency."

Since 2008, the Fed's playbook has been redesigned to include trick plays like ZIRP, QE, reverse-repos, re-hypothecation and other arcane financing stylings, most of which have had limited success. Now, with their implicit desire to end QE this year, the fruits of their laborious injections of trillions of dollars into the global economy are proving impotent as first, emerging markets are crushed, soon to be followed by developed markets, already occurring in Japan, where the Nikkei fell by more than 600 points overnight, and is clearly into "correction" territory.

While today's pause offered some relief for the bulls, the bears seem to be still in charge. Advances in early trading on the major indices were pared back throughout the session, the closing prices barely denting the declines of just Monday, to say nothing of the drops from January.

Everybody is going to get something of a clue Wednesday morning, when ADP releases its January private jobs report, a precursor to Friday's non-farm payroll data for January. Expectations are high that the US created 185,000 jobs in January, which would be a masterstroke of statistical wizardry, after the December reading of 74,000 jobs, sure to be revised higher.

Unless this January was both a statistical marvel and a reality-defying month in which auto sales and retail sales were well below estimates and blamed on the weather, the take-away is that while people were discouraged to brave the elements to shop, the very same weather encouraged job creation and the seeking of employment. The math does not match the reality. The truth is probable that while the weather was poor in some areas of the country, it was fine elsewhere, so the localized Northeast mindset likely has everything calculated improperly.

Whenever weather is blamed for anything - unless it's a localized event like a hurricane, flood or fires - one can be nearly certain the assumption is at least partially false, as will be proven in this case. Therefore, if Friday's jobs report blows the doors off estimates, one can assume the economy, based on auto and retail sales, is much weaker than propagandized, and that the BLS modeling, their birth/death assumptions and general massaging of data is flawed and should be disregarded.

Of course, a good-feeling jobs report will boost stocks, just as a continuation of the trend from December will send them even lower. Along with the weather as a culprit, other terms being bandied about include "correction" (a 10% decline off recent highs) and "bottom" (where stocks stop declining). Most of the analysts are saying the recent action is expected, following the massive gains of 2013, but that it is also temporary and investors should be looking at this as a buying opportunity.

Others have differing opinions, believing the US and global economy are contracting instead of expanding, that inflation is nowhere to be found and all of those corporate stock buybacks from the past three to four years are going to be painful to unwind. With corporations buying back their own stock at high prices, reducing the flow while increasing the price, what happens when they want to sell back into the market, at lower prices? The internal damage done to balance sheets will be dramatic and will only accelerate any downward pressure.

That's what investors have to look forward to in coming months, unless some economic miracle occurs. And, as we all are well aware, miracles don't usually just come along as needed.

Particularly telling, considering today's advance, was the new high-new low metric, which heavily favored new lows, indicating that today's advance was not broad-based nor technically supported. Additionally, late in the day, S&P downgraded Puerto Rico's debt to junk status, a move that was widely expected, but still a huge negative.

A disturbing trend is the slight rise in commodity prices. Corn, soybeans, wheat, crude oil and natural gas have been bid up recently, as money, needing a safe place to rest, may find a home in such staples, artificially raising prices, though the gains may (and probably should) prove to be arbitrary and temporary, a certain sign of naked speculation.

DOW 15,445.24, +72.44 (+0.47%)
NASDAQ 4,031.52, +34.56 (+0.86%)
S&P 1,755.20, +13.31 (+0.76%)
10-Yr Note 101.05, -0.10 (-0.10%) Yield: 2.63%
NASDAQ Volume 2.00 Bil
NYSE Volume 4.05 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3738-1977
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 49-111
WTI crude oil: 97.19, +0.76
Gold: 1,251.20, -8.70
Silver: 19.42, +0.013
Corn: 441.75, +6.00

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Dismal Day in the Dumps for Stock Owners

Certainly, nobody is going to feel sorry for the Wall Street lemmings, vultures and whales for another losing day on stocks. After all, the major averages are up more than 25% on the year and a good number of individual issues are up much more than that, many having doubled in price over the past 48 weeks.

So, excuse us if we cry crocodile tears for well-heeled investors and speculators.

There is, however, a little bit of a problem in the markets, and it is completely and everlastingly tied to the Federal reserve and their Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) and continuing quantitative easing (QE), about which there is much debate, constrnation and confusion.

The final meeting of the year for the FOMC is slated for next Tuesday and Wednesday, and, while nobody in their right mind expects this august body to announce any rate policy changes, there is the small matter of decreasing the amount of securities the Fed is buying every month (QE) from the current $85 billion to something less than that, otherwise known as "tapering."

CNBCs Steve Liesman, who has a pipeline directly to and from the Fed, announced today that tapering would be announced at the December meeting. That news, and the final acceptance and future implementation of the Volker Rule, sent stocks backpedaling from the outset. The Volker Rule, in essence, disallows banks from engaging in speculative trading with depositors' money, something the various agencies feel was responsible for at least a part of the financial crisis of the past five years.

The rule puts severe restrictions on what banks can and can't do in terms of proprietary trading (i.e., speculating), but it is dense, long, deep, and riddled with potential loopholes for crafty lawyers and bankers to slither all kinds of nefarious doings through. The Volker Rule document - three years and 585 pages in the making - is, in reality, nothing more than a full-employment bill for litigation attorneys. Bully for them.

QE, and, more specifically, the tapering of QE, is another animal altogether. The Fed has been jawboning about the possibility of scaling back their bond purchases - $45 billion in treasuries and $40 billion in MBS - since May, with varying degrees of success. Wall Street banks, being the main beneficiaries of the program, would like the policy to extend to infinity and beyond, though they know in their dark heart of hearts that it must come to some kind of conclusion. The US economy cannot be force-fed money by the central bank forever.

Besides the program being excessively beneficial to banks and somewhat harmful to small businesses, consumers and emerging market nations, there is another problem that the Fed may never have considered. Due to their monopolizing of the MBS and treasury markets, the available bond issuance is dwindling, so much so, that the Fed may have no choice but to wind down such programs.

The other side of the equation is such that the Fed has so far crowded out potential bidders that there may not be many who actually want to participate. Thus, many in the bond world see even a slight decrease of buying by the Fed as a potential for higher interest rates, including interest on government debt itself, which is already a large portion of the Federal budget but could grow into a behemoth should the federal government have to begin paying back interest at higher and higher rates.

These are the unforeseen, though somewhat predictable, ramifications of the Fed's actions, actions that forestalled an implosion of the financial system and the insolvency of many of the world's largest financial institutions, dating back to the halcyon days of 2008 and $800 billion in TARP money and then-Fed Chairman Hank Paulson holding a gun to the economy's head.

So, Liesman may be bluffing at the behest of the Fed, or he could have just issued the warning shot to the markets that the plundering of assets with free money is about to come to an end.

The signs that the policy has run its course are profligate: record art and collectible car auctions, record high-end real estate prices, record stock prices.

Enough is enough. The party is about to come to a crashing, cataclysmic conclusion, and as cataclysms usually are, this one is not likely to be pretty.

Technically speaking, the advance-decline line deteriorated again today, the gap between new highs and new lows continues to show signs of shrinking and potentially flipping, and outside of Friday's massive vapor-rise, stocks have fallen every day since Thanksgiving.

The good news (for some) is that commodity prices took a lift today, with silver and gold leading the way.

DOW 15,973.13, -52.40 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ 4,060.49, -8.26 (-0.20%)
S&P 1,802.62, -5.75, (-0.32%)
10-Yr Note 99.43, +0.37 (+0.37%), Yield: 2.80%
NASDAQ Volume 1.71 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.07 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2115-3553
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 206-113
WTI crude oil: 98.51, +1.17
Gold: 1,261.10, +26.90
Silver: 20.32, +0.614
Corn: 436.00, -2.00

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fed Keeps QE at Full Throttle, Stocks, Markets Still Unhappy; ADP Misses

In September, when everybody thought the Fed was going to announce a scaling-back of their $85 billion-a-month bond buying bonanza, stocks rallied when they did nothing.

Today, when the Fed did exactly what the market expected, keeping the bond buying going full force with no mention of "tapering," stocks sold off, extending a decline that started in slow motion shortly after the opening bell.

It's probably asking too much to try and comprehend exactly what the algos or stock pickers were reading in the FOMC tea leaves, because a commitment by the Fed to continue easy money policies is exactly the best reason for equities to rise. Chalk it up to profit-taking by the slickest of the slick, on an old, "buy the rumor, sell the news" scenario.

As we've stated recently, stocks should continue to rise through the end of the year and beyond, being that there are now some unwritten rules in the market that say stocks can't decline during the Christmas season, there must be a "Santa Claus Rally" and a "New Year Rally."

So, despite this little blip of a disturbance in the force, investors should be good to go unless something really awful happens, like the economy suddenly shows unequivocal signs of strengthening.

OK, OK, stop the laughter. we all know that the economy is stuck in neutral since the Fed programs of QE and ZIRP are only beneficial to the top 1% of earners, those people you and I will never get to know personally, and that the government is going to do everything in its powers to see to it that the economy stumbles along at about 1.5-2.0% GDP growth, just enough to keep the recession dogs off the porch.

Investors and markets will digest today's losses and decide, around midnight tonight, that tomorrow morning would be a great time to add to their positions or open new ones in some of the more speculative, momentum stocks. That's really the mantra and it doesn't get any simpler.

In case nobody noticed, the October ADP jobs report showed that employment continued its gradual slowdown, adding just 130,000 net new private sector jobs - and revised September's 166,000 gain down to 145,000 - all blamed conveniently on the 16-day government shutdown earlier this month. Never mind that these are PRIVATE sector jobs and government is in the PUBLIC sector. Whatever scapegoat is available, that's the one that gets the blame.

As this missive is being prepared for publication, the president is pleading with less-than-enthusiastic supporters that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or, ObamaCare) is going to work and actually good for America, despite all indications to the contrary.

You have officially entered the bizarro-zone and there is no escape if you keep watching the teevee.

Buy stocks. Can't miss.

Dow 15,618.76, -61.59 (0.39%)
Nasdaq 3,930.62, -21.72 (0.55%)
S&P 500 1,763.31, -8.64 (0.49%)
10-Yr Bond 2.53%, +0.02
NYSE Volume 3,486,428,250
Nasdaq Volume 1,795,014,125
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1596-4053
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 487-42
WTI crude oil: 96.77, -1.43
Gold: 1,349.30, +3.80
Silver: 22.98, +0.491
Corn: 430.25, -1.75 (new 52-week low)

Friday, August 16, 2013

End-Game Begins as Stocks Are Sold, Bond Yields Rise, Precious Metals Take Off

What happened over the latter part of this week should be the stuff of history books for future economic historians, given there will even be an economic history after the worst crisis in history begins its second leg down.

Forget about Friday. That was mostly churn, finger-pointing, squaring of positions in options and a great deal of nail-biting by the financial elite and central bankers. The real action was on Wednesday and Thursday, and, more specifically, the close of the trading day Wednesday and the pre-market Thursday, when St. Louis fed president, James Bullard, made comments, first to a Rotary club in Paducah, Kentucky, at 3:15 pm EDT Wednesday, and then reiterated and expanded upon those comments Thursday prior to the opening bell.

Both attempts to jawbone the market back into a state of control were, as they say in current parlance, epics fails, because market fundamentals - those things like economic data and earnings reports - finally came to the forefront and overtook what little control the Federal Reserve had over markets - both stocks and bonds.

Wednesday was shaping up to be a painful session when Bullard attempted to soothe the pain by saying that the Fed needed more data in the second half of the year before committing to a slowdown in their bond-purchase program (aka QE) in September or sometime near that time frame. The market's knee-jerk reaction was a swift erasure of 30 losing Dow points, but almost as quickly, sellers swamped back in, with the Dow closing near the lows of the day.

After the close, Cisco (CSCO) released second quarter earnings, with a penny miss on EPS and a small shortfall in revenue. Making matters worse was the conference call afterwards, in which the company issued some negative guidance, as has been the mantra this earnings season, sending the stock down roughly 10% in after hours trading.

On Thursday morning, Wal-Mart (WMT) released their second quarter earnings report, eeril similar to Cisco's complete with negative guidance for the remainder of the year. Around 7:30 am EDT, when pre-market trading opened, Dow futures, already down substantially, took a nosedive.

Queue James Bullard, reiterating Wednesday's comments and adding some new verbiage, in a desperate attempt to satiate the trading community. Once again, Bullard's comments failed to incite any kind of rally in futures. The day was setting up to be a bad one for the bulls.

At 8:30 am, the final nail in the coffin was hammered home by the weekly unemployment claims report, which came in at 320,000, a six-year low and a complete misread by anyone thinking a better jobs picture would be a salve for jittery traders. It was the exact opposite, the thinking being that if the jobs picture was indeed improving, the Fed would be more than willing to begin curbing QE in September. Futures were pounded even lower and the market opened in a sea of red ink, the Dow quickly down 150, then 200 points, the other major indices following along in a coordinated dive. Interest rates spiked higher, prompting even the most steadfast into a selling frenzy.

The upshot is that unemployment claims, despite being at multi-year lows, is a complete canard. The jobs created over the past past year, and primarily the last six months, have been mostly low-paying, service-type, part-time varieties, due to the coming slaughter of the jobs market via Obamacare, which mandates employer-provided insurance for companies with more than 50 full-time employees. While there are no real new jobs being created, nobody's leaving to look elsewhere for work and the slack caused by full-time jobs being split into part-time increments means more jobs overall, just not good ones and, especially, not full-time ones.

Thus, unemployment claims henceforth must be viewed with a skewed eye, despite the glad-handing by the media, financial pundits and politicians. Evidence that the overall economy is not even close to the so-called "recovery" we've all been anxiously awaiting since 2009, was amply provided by Cisco and Wal-Mart, two huge employers and both Dow components.

With the close on Thursday, the market was pointed for the worst week of the year heading into Friday, and, despite a lame attempt at tape-painting late in the session, it was delivered, with all of the indices closing marginally lower.

Treasuries hit their highest yields in two years, anathema to stocks and the housing market, further clouding the picture for the Fed and their plans for a graceful exit by Mr. Bernanke later this year. The Fed has lost control of all markets; they likely cannot slow their bond purchases in September, lest they risk a complete meltdown in stocks and melt-up in yields.

Gold and silver - especially the latter - had their best week in two-and-a-half years, with both hitting three-month highs and breaking out of the recent, depressed range.

Looking out a month to three months, the Fed is completely boxed in. On one hand, they can say that the economy is improving enough - even though the data doesn't remotely support such a claim - and begin tapering in September, even October. Or, they could face reality, admit their policies have been utter failures and continue the current pace of QE. Neither scenario is particularly bullish for stocks, the reality case the worst, as the decline off the August 2nd closing high has begun to accelerate with a strong downward trajectory, sending the Dow straight through its 50-day moving average, and the S&P closing out the week resting right upon its 50-day.

Nothing good will come from the politicians' return from their month-long hiatus, when they will once again entertain the markets with their rituals of piercing the debt ceiling and coming up with a budget or suitable continuing resolution. No matter what the Fed decides in September can be perceived as good, though from a trading standpoint, keeping QE at its current $85 billion per month will appear as a victory of sorts for the Wall Street crowd, when in reality it is admission that all has failed and the Fed can do nothing, other than continue debasing the currency until is ceases to exist.

The mathematical certainty that the experiment with fiat currency, back with nothing but promises and lies, will fail, is entering the second leg, or the third, after the crash in '08-09 and the nearly five years of false, liquidity-driven recovery. Any astute observer will immediately comprehend that lost faith in the currency foreshadows another crisis, this one likely more severe than that of 2008.

While many of the status quo will cringe at the prospect of the greenback's death throes and a complete collapse of the global economy, those fed up to their eyeballs with the current regime of lies, uncertainty, complete fraud by the major banks and totalitarian fear-mongering will welcome the change with open arms.

One can only hope that it won't drag on and out for years, as in europe and the Middle East, but the best advice at this point is to stay in precious metals, away from large population centers and hope for the best while preparing for the worst.

Other than those dire words, it looks to be a fine summer weekend in most of the US. Get out and enjoy some sun and taste the bounty of our land. Food, the fuel we humans - at the most basic level - need to survive, is still readily produced and relatively inexpensive. And that, my friends, is one shining silver lining.

Dow 15,081.47, -30.72 (0.20%)
NASDAQ 3,602.78, -3.34 (0.09%)
S&P 500 1,655.83, -5.49 (0.33%)
NYSE Composite 9,465.19, -24.10 (0.25%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,458,862,12
NYSE Volume 3,532,477,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2554-3882
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 77-369
WTI crude oil: 107.46, +0.13
Gold: 1,371.00, +10.10
Silver: 23.32, +0.387

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thanks to Bernanke, Stocks Can Only Go Up

It was another completely uneventful day on Wall Street - no earnings news outside of Alcoa (trading at a 34 p/e, wow!), no economic data - so the computer algos were free to ramp stocks higher, and they did so.

A small dip around 10:30 am EDT gave the bears some hope, but that faded fast, and stocks resumed their levitation, hovering listlessly around the highs of the session right into the close.

At these levels of (dis)interest and lack of meaningful news flow, the Dow could conceivably gain 1200-1500 points per month for the remainder of the year. Since nobody seems to give a whit about fundamental valuations, unchecked, Dow 20,000 becomes a distinct possibility by the end of the year.

Seriously, that's how warped these markets are.

God bless you, Ben Bernanke. You've brought untold wealth and prosperity to almost seven percent of Americans, those being the already rich and already prosperous, while denying safe investments bearing standard interest to hard-working, middle and lower-class savers. You are a scion. The bankers you've bailed out and bankrolled with ZIRP and QE should kiss your naked feet and bedeck you in roses and lavender.

Dow 15,300.34, +75.65 (0.50%)
NASDAQ 3,504.26, +19.43 (0.56%)
S&P 500 1,652.32, +11.86 (0.72%)
NYSE Composite 9,341.40, +75.11 (0.81%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,588,836,625
NYSE Volume 3,460,031,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4438-1990
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 585-49
WTI crude oil: 103.53, +0.39
Gold: 1,245.90, +11.00
Silver: 19.14, 0.10