Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Stocks Stutter, Rise On Fake Fed News; Federal Debt Surges Past $26 Trillion; Argentina Default Triggers CDS

Wall Street got a bit of a shock Monday morning as stocks sold off first in the futures market and transitioned into a gap lower at the opening bell. What looked like a continuation of Thursday's selloff - interrupted by the dead cat bounce Friday - turned out to be a short-lived event.

With the Dow down below 25,000, losing more than 700 points just minutes into the session, buyers began to emerge, pushing stocks higher by 2:00 pm ET, the major indices had made up considerable ground. The NASDAQ was already positive when the Fed issued a press release, rehashing some old news to make it look new to the algos.

The press released looked like the Fed was launching another credit facility for corporations when in fact this facility (SMCCF) had been in the pipeline since March. They announced they'd begin buying individual corporate bonds, so that when companies go looking for a lender - for whatever purpose - they need look no further than the Federal Reserve, now not only the buyer and lender of last resort, but of first resort as well.

Per the Fed's press release:

The Federal Reserve Board on Monday announced updates to the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF), which will begin buying a broad and diversified portfolio of corporate bonds to support market liquidity and the availability of credit for large employers.

As detailed in a revised term sheet and updated FAQs, the SMCCF will purchase corporate bonds to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds. This index is made up of all the bonds in the secondary market that have been issued by U.S. companies that satisfy the facility's minimum rating, maximum maturity, and other criteria. This indexing approach will complement the facility's current purchases of exchange-traded funds.

The Primary Market and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities were established with the approval of the Treasury Secretary and with $75 billion in equity provided by the Treasury Department from the CARES Act.

That sent all indices into positive territory, and everything was again alright with the world as stocks sported gains to start the week.

Whether the "recovery" looks like a V or no V, the US national debt vaulted past $26 Trillion over the weekend without much fanfare (in fact, none). Some thought it would make it by the 4th of July. It came in 45 lengths ahead of predictions, like Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

By the end of June the federal government will have added more than three trillion dollars ($3 trillion) to the national debt, an astonishing pace. At the current run rate of a trillion every two months, by the end of 2020, the debt would rise to $29 trillion, and to $35 trillion by December 2021. What's either frightening or amusing about the growth rate of the national debt is that it is more likely to accelerate than back off as the dollar heads for a fiscal cliff. Combined federal, state, and local government expenditures currently account for nearly half of America's GDP, and, since nearly half of that is borrowed, it means a good quarter of the GDP is an accounting fiction. Government produces exactly nothing of value. They spend. Total combined spending by government will exceed $10 trillion for the fiscal year ending on September 30.

If one were to take from the GDP calculation all government spending that was done on borrowed money, GDP wouldn't be over $20 trillion as the official version purports. Instead, it would be bumping up against $15 trillion. If one took out all the purchases made on credit cards or by mortgages, it would be even lower. The fact is that the GDP calculation is a convenient reference for Wall Street and government, but it does not really reflect the actual condition of the economy. What's happening is that as expenditures are growing, tax revenues are falling, and borrowing must continue to rise to fill the gap.

It's about as an unsustainable condition as one could imagine. With any luck (and even that's in doubt), the entire system might make it through to November, just in time to implode after the elections. That's hardly a certainty. The US and global economic systems are now so fragile that about a third of the entire global GDP is borrowed. Eventually, half of GDP will be borrowed, then all of it, at which time the system will have completely broken down. Companies which must borrow just to meet payroll cannot last. Governments which borrow to meet spending demands cannot last. Consumers with low to no income and piles of debt will default. It's beginning to happen and will accelerate in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Everything is in play. Jobs, retirement funds, even Social Security, a ponzi scheme from the start that may not make it through the end of this decade.

Not to be outdone, Argentina extended the deadline for negotiations for a fourth time, to June 19, on $65 billion in sovereign debt.

They missed a $500 million interest payment in May, prompting the lenders to meet with Argentine officials to discuss a solution. It also triggered a credit default swap (CDS) event. Lenders of Argentina's debt include PIMCO, BlackRock, and Franklin Templeton. Because CDS are private contracts, it's not known whether any of them hold the swaps, which acts as insurance against default.

One thing is for certain. Somebody's out $1.5 billion and some other entities made a killing on the trade. Problem arise in credit default swaps are when the company insuring against the loss doesn't have the funds to cover the bet when it goes south. That's what happened with AIG in the GFC back in 2008. If Argentina doesn't solve this issue soon (it may already be too late) other swaps are sure to be triggered, more people will lose money and the derivative market may begin to look like a pock-marked battlefield.

Could Argentina be the canary in the coal mine that sets off a wave of sovereign defaults? Possibly, though such things tend to take years to develop and there are many attempts at remediation in the interim. Sovereign defaults are at the end of the list of things about which central banks need to worry. For now, they've got global stock markets that will melt down without their tacit support, growing civil unrest, and COVID-19 with which to contend.

Their plate seems rather full for the moment.

At the Close, Monday, June 15, 2020:
Dow: 25,763.16, +157.62 (+0.62%)
NASDAQ: 9,726.02, +137.21 (+1.43%)
S&P 500: 3,066.59, +25.28 (+0.83%)
NYSE: 11,942.91, +75.74 (+0.64%)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stocks Triggered By Federal Reserve EFT Buys, Negative Interest Rate Fears; PTJ Buys Bitcoin

Once more, the Dow Jones Industrial Average failed to break above a key level, giving up morning gains after President Trump reiterated his desire for the Fed to entertain negative interest rates. Bank stocks were especially hard hit as the belief is that rates below zero would further hamper their ability to control the spread and turn profits despite the ability to skim directly from deposit accounts via the minus sign on yields.

Alongside the president's tweeting, the Federal Reserve began purchasing corporate debt ETFs, beginning with investment grade bonds but eventually swinging down the ladder to high yield, among the most dodgy and riskiest of fixed income products. The intent was announced on March 23, as a response to the coronavirus epidemic, and put into practice during Tuesday's session, with investment firm, BlackRock, as the intermediary, using funds from the Fed and US Treasury.

Seen as the ultimate backstop for stocks and the debt market, the scheme is one of nine separate facilities the Fed is employing to help stabilize - or in most cases, pump higher - markets.

The various backstops being deployed by the Fed, in conjunction with the currency-killing qualities of negative interest rates should eventually result in a gigantic bubble in the Fed's balance sheet, holding investment vehicles that are headed straight to the fiat scrapyard, another sign that the world is heading toward a currency crisis and a new monetary regime.

The attempt to vault beyond the 50% retrace of the March collapse was the third in the past month. The Dow peaked on April 17 when it closed at 24,633.86. After Tuesday's selloff, the head-and-shoulders chart pattern is clearly defined, a strong signal that a major decline is likely.

In recent days, and just prior to its halving, Paul Tudor Jones has bought into Bitcoin, expressing his view that the cryptocurrency will act as a hedge against the inflation he sees coming from central bank money-printing, telling clients it reminds him of the role gold played in the 1970s.

In a quote that is certain to become his trademark, Jones, founder and CEO of Tudor Investment Corp., said:
“The best profit-maximizing strategy is to own the fastest horse.”

Unabashedly, Jones believes Bitcoin will win the investment race over the coming years, along with gold, silver and other hard assets.

Jones' entry into the crypto-market stands in stark contrast to famed investor Warren Buffet and his holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet has openly stated that he would never invest in gold or Bitcoin. After selling off his positions in the airlines at a sizable loss, Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on some $150 billion in cash, loathing the concept that he finds nothing of compelling value to purchase presently.

Obviously, one of these investing titans is going to be proven wrong. It appears that at the present time, Jones may be holding the winning hand, or, in racing parlance, the live long shot.


At the Close, Tuesday, May 12, 2020:
Dow: 23,764.78, -457.21 (-1.89%)
NASDAQ: 9,002.55, -189.79 (-2.06%)
S&P 500: 2,870.12, -60.20 (-2.05%)
NYSE: 11,055.58, -225.78 (-2.00%)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Money, Currency, Value, Elusive, Changing, Unequal

This being the final posting for 2019, a divergence...

It's December 31. Do you know where your money is? Better, do you know what your money is?

To the unwashed, money is the crumpled pieces of paper in your pocket with pictures of dead presidents on them and some funny neo-Latin phrases and pulpy words like trust, debt, public, private, America.

It's not. Those papers are currency. Money is different. Gold is money. Silver is money. Diamonds and other precious gems are money. The paper is a convenience, a value identifier. In and of themselves, the papers with 10s or 20s or 100s on them are worth roughly the paper and ink, nothing more. But, in the minds of the unwashed, this is all there is. To them it is money. It is not money. It is currency.

The things we crave: food, shelter, cars, jewelry, these things have value. Words and numbers on paper, or digits on a computer or smartphone screen have only perceived value inasmuch as they can purchase the things we want or need, two wholly different things.

It is the thing itself that has value. The house, who some say is "worth" $450,000, others may see as worth less or as a massive misallocation of value. The house is shelter, an environment, a place of safeness, a sanctuary. It's value is derived from the joy or comfort it bestows upon the occupant(s), the safety it provides from threats of other men, from weather which we cannot control, form animal invaders. It's value, while it may be measured by a currency, is subjective. One man's 30,000 square foot castle may be no more comforting or safe than another man's cardboard box on a city sidewalk. It's a matter of perspective.

Further out, beyond the pointlessness of printed currencies, the anonymity of digitized value-measures, the sheer madness of crypto-currencies, are the certificates of ownership, of stocks, bonds, debentures, options, derivatives. Have these any intrinsic value? Not in the least. It is all perception and judgement of crowds. Often judgements are incorrect, inaccurate, altruistic, nonsensical, amusing, boring, tired, obsolete or otherwise jaded.

Like a horse race, the public gets to choose upon which favoritism is bequeathed. One horse may be valued at odds of eight-to-five. Another, sixty-to-one. They are both horses. They both run. Who is to say which horse is better on any given day? The judgement of crowds is more often wrong than right. The eight-to-five stallion does not always win the race. In fact, in practice, public favorites win only a third of the time. Imagine the same measure applied to value? A painting which sold for $300,000 in 2005, may sell for $2 million in 2020, and $45,000 in 2030. Such is the nature of value and currency. None of the numbers are correct indefinitely, but rather, acceptable in a given time, at a given place. Both value and currency are in constant flux and struggle against reality.

There is no real value in a painting.

A painting can neither feed nor clothe you, shelter you (perhaps from a rainstorm for a short period, but it would ruin the colors), but it can provide joy, prestige of ownership, emotion.

There's a number for all of that; it's elusive and always changing.

But, it's not money.

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

-- Robert Burns, 1788

At the Close, Monday, December 30, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,462.14, -183.12 (-0.64%)
NASDAQ: 8,945.99, -60.62 (-0.67%)
S&P 500: 3,221.29, -18.73 (-0.58%)
NYSE Composite: 13,876.15, -67.99 (-0.49%)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dow Lower Again As Investors Ponder Fed Wisdom

Well, if you're content with having a bunch of highly-paid academics controlling your finances, you're in luck. The Federal Reserve has been hard at work for over 100 years to guarantee that they get a cut of everybody's money, mostly because they create it themselves, out of thin air, with no backing with tangible assets, like gold, or silver, or anything like that.

As it says on their debt instruments, full faith and credit.

Therein lies the problem. Most people, if they understood how the Federal Reserve operates - mostly in secret, and outside the boundaries of government (it is a private banking system, after all. Shhh!) - would pine for foregone days when gold and silver were the coin of the realm, so to speak, when people and businesses weren't amortized and taxed to the bare bones of their existence.

Full faith is something the Fed takes for granted, assuming that 99% of the public has no idea how money works. Credit is their life blood. Every dollar created by the Fed is a debt, which is why the so called "national debt" can never be repaid. If it was, there would be no money. Everybody would be broke.

Is that what is occupying the minds of the great investors and traders of Wall Street and their bankers, brokers, cronies and insiders? Probably not. They're more interested in getting and keeping as much of the Federal Reserve money they can, investing it in more stocks, bonds, debentures, options, futures and maybe along the way, some real assets like real estate, gold, silver, art, vehicles, machinery.

Almost nobody really cares about how the Fed or other central banks operate. It's a fact. Most people are caught up in the matrix of jobs, bills, rents, taxes, and debt. They don't have time to study the intricate workings of central banks, which, of course, is how the central bankers wish. The less scrutiny on them, the more they and their member banks (all the big ones) make, unaudited and without interference.

What the traders on the exchanges today were contemplating was whether or not the Fed will actually raise the federal funds rate (the rate banks charge each other for overnight loans) to 2.00-2.25% tomorrow at 2:00 pm EDT when the FOMC policy rate decision is announced.

The simple answer is that they almost certainly will. The market has priced this in. At the least, the 10-year treasury note has gotten the memo. It's holding pretty steady at 3.10% yield, anticipating the Fed's very well-telegraphed interest rate ploy.

To many of the top traders and investors, the Fed's bold actions, in the face of a somewhat gradual economic improvement, are already too much and too soon. Some analysts are suggesting that with the 10-year note over three percent, big money will forego the risks inherent in the stock market and shift more money into bonds. The 10-year is a benchmark. Better returns can be made in corporate debt offerings, junk bonds, shorter term offerings, or munis, all of which carry more risk, but not significantly so.

Thus, the market will tell everybody, including the wizened old men and women at the Fed, what the federal funds rate should be by voting with their feet. If stocks continue to rise, it gives the Fed a free pass to increase rates another 25 basis points in December. If the market declines, the Fed will be on its own.

The Fed has raised rates at a very steady pace since December 2016, adding 0.25% every quarter, in March, June, September, and December. They may be nearing a point at which they need to take a break.

The questions are whether or not they will see it, understand it, and how they will act upon it.

Dow Jones Industrial Average September Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
9/4/18 25,952.48 -12.34 -12.34
9/5/18 25,974.99 +22.51 +10.17
9/6/18 25,995.87 +20.88 +31.05
9/7/18 25,916.54 -79.33 -48.28
9/10/18 25,857.07 -59.47 -107.75
9/11/18 25,971.06 +113.99 +6.24
9/12/18 25,998.92 +27.86 +34.10
9/13/18 26,145.99 +147.07 +181.17
9/14/18 26,154.67 +8.68 +189.85
9/17/18 26,062.12 -92.55 +97.30
9/18/18 26,246.96 +184.84 +282.14
9/19/18 26,405.76 +158.80 +440.94
9/20/18 26,656.98 +251.22 +692.16
9/21/18 26,743.50 +86.52 +778.68
9/24/18 26,562.05 -181.45 +597.23
9/25/18 26,492.21 -69.84 +527.39

At the Close, Tuesday, September 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 26,492.21, -69.84 (-0.26%)
NASDAQ: 8,007.47, +14.22 (+0.18%)
S&P 500: 2,915.56, -3.81 (-0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 13,161.64, -0.42 (0.00%)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Stocks Gain From Oversold Condition; 1Q GDP 2.0%

Nothing really to see here on the second-to-last trading day of the quarter, as stocks were due for a bit of a relief rally, which is exactly what this was, despite the bad news that first quarter GDP was revised lower, to 2.0% annualized.

The final estimate of GDP came as a bit of a shock to the know-it-alls on Wall Street, who collectively were looking for somewhere between 2.2% and 2.3% for the final figure. The fact that GDP underperformed (despite metrics that include everything other than drug dealing and prostitution) speaks volumes about the true state of the US economy, and, to a larger extent, that of the world.

Fading the Fed's favored position that the economy is solid, one would be better advised to consult one's stock broker or neighbor for a more accurate read on economic conditions. Savvy investors realize that GDP, as much as its inflated figures and inclusion of government expenditures belie a weakened state, isn't a very good measure of the health of an economy. The figures can be massaged and pushed around to fit any narrative, and usually are. What's happening in reality is that any growth is easily being eaten away by inflation, and any profits are funneled to the top 10% of the income gatherers, leaving the bottom 90% craving more and spending on credit while saving little to nothing.

A panoply of exaggerated expectations and flimsy figures is what the government number crunchers present, and it is so putrid that even their best efforts to make it appear palatable fall short. The United States has a hollowed out economy, devoid of a thriving middle class, replaced, over the past 20 years, with debt-ridden wannabes whose status is ultimately dependent on enormous wads of credit, from mortgages to school loans, to credit cards, to auto loans and leases, it is all a huge fallacy.

That stocks are able to even maintain some semblance of vigor is owed only to stock buybacks and the largesse of the central bank, which has fueled the massive facade with enough hot money and hot air to lift what is a limp and lifeless corpse off the deathbed... for now.

Numbers don't lie, and the best come from the bond pits, which was relatively calm, but still flatter in the middle, with the spread on 5s-10s falling to a mere 11 basis points. The 30-year bond remained steady at 2.97%, while the ten year ticked up one bip, making the 10s-30s spread just 13 basis points, which is not much interest for 20 years of waiting. Bonds continue to tell the real story, and it's not a happy one. Credit is tightening, slowly but certainly, and the Fed is creating a chokepoint for the economy which will lead only in one direction, to recession.

Dow Jones Industrial Average June Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
6/1/18 24,635.21 +219.37 +219.37
6/4/18 24,813.69 +178.48 +397.85
6/5/18 24,799.98 -13.71 +384.14
6/6/18 25,146.39 +346.41 +730.55
6/7/18 25,241.41 +95.02 +825.57
6/8/18 25,316.53 +75.12 +900.69
6/11/18 25,322.31 +5.78 +906.47
6/12/18 25,320.73 -1.58 +904.89
6/13/18 25,201.20 -119.53 +785.36
6/14/18 25,175.31 -25.89 +759.47
6/15/18 25,090.48 -84.83 +674.64
6/18/18 24,987.47 -103.01 +571.63
6/19/18 24,700.21 -287.26 +284.37
6/20/18 24,657.80 -42.41 +241.96
6/21/18 24,461.70 -196.10 +45.86
6/22/18 24,580.89 +119.19 +165.05
6/25/18 24,252.80 -328.09 -163.04
6/26/18 24,283.11 +30.31 -132.73
6/27/18 24,117.59 -165.52 -298.25
6/28/18 24,216.05 +98.46 -199.79

At the Close, Thursday, June 28, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,216.05, +98.46 (+0.41%)
NASDAQ: 7,503.68, +58.60 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 2,716.31, +16.68 (+0.62%)
NYSE Composite: 12,475.98, +63.91 (+0.51%)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Weekend Wrap: Oil Slips Lower, Stocks Stagnate, Bond Yields Plunge

On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 2:45 pm EDT, down by 124 points on the day. From that point - with an hour and fifteen minutes remaining in the session - stocks magically rose by 68 points to end the day down marginally.

This pattern had been tested on both Wednesday and Thursday, as stocks took deep losses on both days, though Friday's low was much later in the session than it was the previous two days. Friday's low was also more shallow, the implication being that a major force (such as the - hush now - PPT) came to the market's aid in the nick of time.

That there might have been intervention on Friday, and indeed, on all three days, is not far-fetched. Nobody in positions of power were interested in a market crash just before the Memorial Day weekend. That is being saved for a more opportune time, such as just prior to the November mid-term elections.

If this is too much intrigue and conspiracy theory for you, dear reader, you can stop reading right here, though the naivety of burying one's head in a sand dune isn't going to make you any smarter, nor is it going to grant you immunity from market dynamics, be they either contrived or natural.

As seen in the scorecard and weekly data below, the Dow ended with a small 38-point gain and is lower than where it was two weeks ago, the bulk of May's advance made during an eight-day run starting on the 3rd and ending on the 14th, which was, notably a Monday. Tuesday the 15th saw the streak ended with a thud of -193 points. Since then, stocks have essentially gone nowhere and this week saw minor advances on the major indices with the notable exception of the NYSE Composite, which suffered a loss commensurate with the gain on the NASDAQ.

Confused? Not yet. Trading in stocks, always a risky business, is about to become something that defies quantification. Money is moving around markets at a dizzying rate, fueled by geo-politics and, in the main, a massive amount of misunderstanding of how markets are being distorted and defiled.

It's now more than three months since the waterfall effects of February which sent stocks into a state of bearish hibernation or paralysis from which they have yet to recover. The longer stocks fail to reflate towards their all-time highs the stronger the argument for a bear market becomes.

The problem with a bear market at this juncture is that stocks continue to underpin all manner of funds, especially public employee pensions, which are already massively underfunded. An extended market decline would push these funds further underwater and possibly trigger a liquidity trap which would make the 2008-09 financial crisis appear tame by comparison.

States like Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey have the biggest underfunding problem and a bear market would blow out all of their actuarial projections. Not that these massive pension funds are going to go broke right away, rather they would see their future positions eroded to a point at which raising taxes, seeking higher employee contributions, reduction in services, or slashing payouts to retires will all be proposals on the table in an effort to salvage the failed over-promises of delinquent politicians.

A pension crisis might be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the cumulative national debt shared by federal and state governments, businesses and individuals. Of the three, private businesses are most likely the best insulated from a market downturn and subsequent liquidity emergency, though they are by no means standing on safe ground. With the average American family or individual deeply indebted, businesses large and small will suffer from decreased volume and a general deterioration of business conditions. Such conditions are already well underway in small, rural communities lacking sufficiently large markets and audiences. Some largely Northeast and Midwest areas have never recovered from the Great Financial Crisis of a decade ago and another negative event could be potentially devastating. Government would be unable to collect taxes from an overburdened population and businesses would be faced with the indelicate choices of laying off employees, cutting back on goods or services or closing the doors for good.

The heavy reliance on stocks alone to lead the nation out of the deep depression of 2008 has set the stage for a rather unwelcome asset collapse and recent stock market activity is serving fair warning.

The only data this week that suggested a possible way out or easing of the tightening conditions (which the Fed is fueling with reckless abandon) were the decline in oil prices (from above $72 to below $68) and the crunching of yields in the treasury market. The 10-year note topped out at 3.11% before ending the week massively lower, at 2.93%, a huge move in a significant market.

What oil and bonds are foretelling is nothing less than a full-blown recession within six to eight months, signaling that consumers cannot sustain demand for energy and businesses and government cannot withstand rising borrowing costs.

All of these conditions are contributing to a very volatile situation which, thus far, has been contained by the Fed and the deep underground traders, attempting to keep equity prices at premiums. The chances of this lasting though the summer into the fall are Slim to None, and Slim has left town.

Dow Jones Industrial Average May Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
5/1/18 24,099.05 -64.10 -64.10
5/2/18 23,924.98 -174.07 -238.17
5/3/18 23,930.15 +5.17 -233.00
5/4/18 24,262.51 +332.36 +99.36
5/7/18 24,357.32 +94.81 +194.17
5/8/18 24,360.21 +2.89 +197.06
5/9/18 24,542.54 +182.33 +379.39
5/10/18 24,739.53 +196.99 +576.38
5/11/18 24,831.17 +91.64 +668.02
5/14/18 24,899.41 +68.24 +736.26
5/15/18 24,706.41 -193.00 +543.26
5/16/18 24,768.93 +62.52 +605.78
5/17/18 24,713.98 -54.95 +550.73
5/18/18 24,715.09 +1.11 +551.84
5/21/18 25,013.29 +298.20 +850.04
5/22/18 24,834.41 -178.88 +671.16
5/23/18 24,886.81 +52.40 +723.56
5/24/18 24,811.76 -75.05 +648.51
5/25/18 24,753.09 -58.67 +589.84

At the Close, Friday, May 25, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,753.09, -58.67 (-0.24%)
NASDAQ: 7,433.8535, +9.42 (+0.13%)
S&P 500: 2,721.33, -6.43 (-0.24%)
NYSE Composite: 12,634.94, -61.75 (-0.49%)

For the Week:
Dow: +38.00 (+0.15%)
NASDAQ: +79.51 (+1.08%)
S&P 500: +8.36 (+0.31%)
NYSE Composite: -82.48 (-0.65%)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Stocks Continue See-Saw Movement After Outrageously Mindless Fed Minutes

As mentioned yesterday, sharp one-day gains (Dow was up 428 points on Tuesday) should be discounted, since a clear sign of a bear market was issued by the Dow Transportation Index on Monday.

That should be the overriding theme with any and all sharp moves higher (+1.00% or more), or, in more pedestrian terms, we've moved from Buy The Dip to Sell The Rip because there is little confidence amongst traders at this juncture.

Since this is also the heart of earnings season, expect some individual stocks to outperform and those with influence may help carry the market higher. Consensus is for very strong first quarter earnings reports and there is little reason to believe that they won't be good, though probably not as good as many are hoping.

From today's activity, it's clear that there is no follow-though on commitments by traders as the major indices were uniformly in the red today. The Dow Industrials are now clinging to a mere 76-point gain for the month, barely out of correction territory, following a first quarter that was a loser. Prospects for a second quarter rebound in the stock market appear to be increasingly slim and built on false hope from an equally false narrative.

It's also quite evident that the Federal Reserve System presidents and FOMC governors are either blind, stupid, or deceitful, because in the minutes from the March meeting - released today - they were unanimous in their opinion that the economy was improving and that inflation was growing when the actual condition only mildly supports either viewpoint. Outside the rose-colored offices of the Eccles Building it's easy to see a squeezed middle class, cities that are beginning to look more like third-world sh--holes, complete with tent encampments, than the modern, urban paradise the Fed imagines.

Additionally, with individuals and families tapped out and heavily in debt, price pressure is almost nowhere to be found, except at the gas pump and the local, state, and federal tax offices.

The economy is made of mostly smoke and mirrors, built on mountains of debt.

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
4/10/18 24,407.86 +428.76 +294.66
4/11/18 24,189.45 -218.55 +76.11

At the Close, Wednesday, April 11, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,189.45, -218.55 (-0.90%)
NASDAQ: 7,069.03, -25.27 (-0.36%)
S&P 500: 2,642.19, -14.68 (-0.55%)
NYSE Composite: 12,514.62, -51.35 (-0.41%)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Is The Global Economy About To Roll Over?

Recent pullbacks in stocks, and, more importantly, their inability to recover, is a sure sign that trouble lies directly ahead for the global elite chieftains of central banks which have dominated economics since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008.

The central banks are not the only culprits when it comes to how poorly economies of countries are engaged, elected and unelected officials in government need at least a share of the blame. Both parties promote endless debt in a finite world, a construct which cannot endue without obvious pitfalls and the troublesome realities of mathematics.

Central banks issue currency as debt. Politicians tax and spend money they don't have. Between the two, the only profiteers are those large enough to engage and/or endanger the system, i.e., very, very rich people and large banking interests, otherwise known as commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies and ultra-large, multi-national, monopolistic corporations like McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Google, Facebook, the six big oil companies.

Nothing against big companies and very, very rich people, except that they've benefitted from a very, very unlevel playing field of economics which takes - by way of interest, taxes, and various fees - from the common and remits to the oligarchical controllers of said economies.

This world is ending because of inertia and entropy. Individuals and small business cannot keep up with rising taxes, inflating prices the result of increasing interest rates. Credit has skyrocketed near all-time highs in America, and the wallets of those individuals tasked with repayment are thin - as thin as they've been since 1999, the last time incomes kept pace with inflation or the meanderings and maneuverings of the central banks and governments.

The stock market is not a cause of wealth or decline. It is a symptom, and it is breaking down.

It's only a matter of time before the symptom of excessive valuation falls prey to the reality of diminishing returns.

Dow Jones Industrial Average March Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
3/1/18 24,608.98 -420.22 -420.22
3/2/18 24,538.06 -70.92 -491.14
3/5/18 24,874.76 +336.70 -154.44
3/6/18 24,884.12 +9.36 -145.08
3/7/18 24,801.36 -82.76 -227.84

At The Close, Wednesday, March 7, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,801.36, -82.76 (-0.33%)
NASDAQ: 7,396.65, +24.64 (+0.33%)
S&P 500: 2,726.80, -1.32 (-0.05%)
NYSE Composite: 12,707.01, -13.76 (-0.11%)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dow Sheds Record 1,175 Points, Global Markets in Panic Mode

Anybody already not convinced that stocks have been relentlessly pumped by buybacks and central bank interventions over the past nine years may have had a rude awakening over the past few days and especially on Monday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost a record 1,175 points in the week-opening session.

While the percentage loss was nowhere near record-setting, it still managed to crack the top 20 of all-time percentage losses for a single trading day. Combined with Friday's collapse, the Dow is down over seven percent in just the past two sessions, wiping out all the gains from an over-exuberant January.

What happened?

Interest rates exploded. That was the first salvo from massively intertwined markets. The ten-year note, which has been comfortably below 2.5% for most of the last nine years of "recovery" following the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) from 2008-09, smashed through 2.80% on Friday and continued its ascent Monday before some odd force pushed US treasury rates lower across the curve. The 10-year note ended at 2.79, still higher than anybody expected, but not at a level that would cause a panic.

Other than the obvious villain in the bond pits, the other dynamic at play is the obvious overvaluation of stocks, and that is a global problem. By artificially keeping interest rates too low for too long (avoid the pain that should be measured across the board), boosting asset prices in stocks alone, the Fed, ECB, BOJ, PBOC and Swiss National Bank (SNB) created a market structure with one sure feature: failure.

Because borrowing money was such an easy proposition, many of the major corporations on the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P took to buying back their own shares, enriching only major shareholders and especially top executives with cushy compensation plans. That gambit appears to be over, and it's troubling, because when companies buy their own stock at inflated prices, they own it at those prices. Selling it back into the market at reduced prices causes a loss, which in turn causes earning to collapse. That is the expected conclusion, already evident in some recent quarterly filings. More carnage - much more - is to come.

It has been reported that 84% of all wealth created in 2017 went to the top one percent globally. That's an unsustainable level of wealth inequality largely gone unreported by the news-speakers, analysts and squawkers on Wall Street and the economists in the government. The one percent at the top of the wealth ladder will only be marginally affected by losses, largely because they have more money than they need and probably have been doing most of the trimming over recent days. Who will be harmed? Pension funds, which are already massively underfunded and cannot maintain any measure of credibility in a market crash currently gaining momentum.

Those who have been derided for warning about just this kind of occurrence are now being proven to have seen the most obvious overvaluation and manipulation of markets early. Being early and being wrong are two different animals, but anybody who isn't invested at the moment is - at long last - looking fairly smart.

The global economy has been sputtering and stuttering ever since the crash of 2008. Nothing that caused the problems then has been fixed. In fact, credit has been extended even further than the levels seen prior to that singular solvency event.

Claims (especially those by President Trump, who has unfortunately embraced the massive gains and now will bear the brunt of blame for the losses) that the economy is strong and growing are largely a smoke screen hiding mountains of debt and poor financial management in government. The US Treasury is more than $20 trillion in the hole. Other major governments, especially Japan, are over-leveraged and broke.

The continuing narrative that the economy is strong - which will be heard repeatedly as the market correction (or slow motion crash) extends - is complete garbage, shoveled to an unsuspecting public that desperately wants to hear only good news. The federal government is broke. State governments are broke. Pension plans cannot deliver on the promises made to employees and retirees. Households are deeply in debt and businesses have enriched only their shareholders in recent years. The recipe for collapse has been ripe and the meal is now on the table.

As Wall Street prepares for another onslaught of selling, markets in the East have already taken the low road. In Japan, the NIKKEI was down over 1,000 points. The Hang Song dropped 1,600, or five percent.

This is not over by a long shot. Instead of an end of the bull market, this should be characterized as the beginning of the end for globally-induced monetary madness and an epochal message to believers in what were once known as "free" markets.

Nothing is safe.

At the Close, Monday, February 5, 2018:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 24,345.75, -1,175.21 (-4.60%)
NASDAQ: 6,967.53, -273.42 (-3.78%)
S&P 500: 2,648.94, -113.19 (-4.10%)
NYSE Composite: 12,572.93, -512.42 (-3.92%)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Stocks Rebound Thursday; 3rd Quarter GDP Increases 3%

Stocks bounced off of Wednesday's decline, with the Dow Industrials again leading the way on Thursday, shrugging off any suggestion that the economy or stock market was about to experience a slowdown.

On Friday morning, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the preliminary estimate of GDP for the third quarter, beating most of the positive projections, coming at at three percent growth.

Highlights of the report included a positive contribution from Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), offset by lower residential fixed investment and state and local government spending.

The 3.0% reading follows the second quarter's 3.1% advance, though the figures from the government are always subject to timely revisions (forever).

This should be good news for equity investors. The dollar is strengthening on the news.

Some are skeptical, however, noting that GDP is a very broad measure of economic strength or weakness and the fact that government spending is a component, which, at the federal level, is 40% borrowed money, making a mockery of the statistical importance of the data.

In other words, if a person borrowed $1000 to spend a total of $1800, one would not call that $1800 in spending, but $800 in real spending, plus $1000 in new debt, which, as everyone knows, should be repaid some day. As for the government and its $20 trillion - and growing - mountain of debt, that is probably never going to be repaid.

At the Close, Thursday, October 26, 2017:
Dow: 23,400.86, +71.40 (+0.31%)
NASDAQ: 6,556.77, -7.12 (-0.11%)
S&P 500: 2,560.40, +3.25 (+0.13%)
NYSE Composite: 12,352.43, +15.85 (+0.13%)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Stocks Erase Previous Week's Losses with Monday Gains; US Government Debt Surpasses $20 Trillion

Within the first few moments after the opening bell, the major indices - with the notable exception of the NASDAQ - had eviscerated the losses from last week. The NASDAQ almost wiped off last week's 75-point loss, but not quite. The other indices moved radically higher, the S&P setting a new all-time closing high, as did the NYSE.

Hurricane Irma failed to live up to disaster speculation, President Trump seems to have found his best stride, picking off the budget, debt ceiling and disaster relief debates all in one fell swoop, and the tensions over North Korea seem to have subsided, for the present.

Thus, stock investors saw smooth sailing to push already inflated prices even higher with nary a care for valuation. It is this very sort of nonchalance that usually leads to major corrections, but one has failed to materialize. That's not to say that it won't, but, with the Federal Reserve and their cohorts in centra banking picking up any slack, there is no reason to end any rally.

All of this enthusiasm for stocks occurs after this past Friday the US government debt surpassed the magical $20 trillion mark, which gives one pause to ponder the wisdom of markets. Albeit, the mainstream news media failed entirely to report this salient fact.

As the saying - attributable to John Maynard Keynes - goes, "Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent."

Hedge accordingly.

At the Close, Monday, September 11, 2016:
Dow: 22,057.37, +259.58 (+1.19%)
NASDAQ 6,432.26, +72.07 (+1.13%)
S&P 500: 2,488.11, +26.68 (+1.08%)
NYSE Composite: 12,010.37, +122.39 (+1.03%)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump Wins, America Wins, Fearless Rick Takes A Victory Lap

November has, thus far, been an amazing month.

The Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1904, Donald Trump won the election for president, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average registered a new all time high.

Fearless Rick outside Trump rally this Spring
In the meantime, as an aftermath to the historic, transformative election win for Donald Trump, a businessman, a TV idol, not a politician, students and other dissatisfied people are protesting the result of the democratic voting process.

To some, the protests may appear preposterous, pompous, self-indulgent, or just plain stupid. But, this is what America is all about: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to say and do whatever one pleases, so long as those words or actions don’t impinge upon those of others. It’s a thin, blurry line upon which we traverse with free speech and free assembly, but it is there, and, to a large extent, it is going to be respected.

Truthfully, the number of people protesting the election result is ridiculously small in comparison to the number of people who voted for Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, so, to a large extent, the protests should be easy to ignore. The more one ponders the wisdom of protesting the result of an election, the more absurd the proposition becomes. The election was the result of months and months of free expression by the candidates, their surrogates, supporters, detractors, and the media. The time for marching and shouting was before the election, not after it. With any luck, that concept will sink in to the kids on the streets and college campuses and they’ll slink back to their jobs, classrooms, or parents’ basements and life will go on as usual.

Protests against the president prior to his inauguration, are likely to be ineffective. Maybe that hasn’t gotten through to George Soros and his ilk, who almost surely have funded and promoted these most idiotic of events.

But that’s not the point of this message. The point is to remind readers that the editor of this blog, Fearless Rick, himself called the election result correctly a month prior to it, calling for a Trump landslide, the result of millions of fed up Americans taking back their nation. Honestly, it was more of a hope than an educated prediction, but, as the pollsters and number crunchers themselves have admitted, they blew it. They didn’t see the millions of Americans who felt disenfranchised and disrespected by the likes of liberal goons promoting gay rights and LGBTQ liberties, who lost jobs because the government made moving industries out of America a profitable decision, who pay taxes for schools that don’t teach, elected officials and bureaucrats who don’t represent them, a media that mocks and ridicules them for being old-fashioned, out-of-step, or even selfish.

The backbone of America was awakened by a man who refused to toe the line of political correctness, who stood against open borders, who stood for the working men and women of this country, the middle class, the downtrodden, the forgotten. Donald Trump was a lightning rod for the pissed off, angry folks in the country who had seen enough of their rights stripped away and were afraid the choice of Hillary Clinton as the next president would have brought upon an epochal eventuality wherein the few remaining rights would be stripped in time.

They were probably right. Democrats and liberals alike have worked tirelessly to limit the second amendment, to nullify free speech, flout the immigration laws, disrespect the rule of law, and gradually, slowly, but incessantly, turn all of America into a totalitarian welfare state of chaos and complete government control. That was not the America most of those who voted for Mr. Trump wanted. Many of the Trump voters were older, who remembered a time when America was a safer place, a freer place, a happier place, and they wanted it back.

In electing Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president, they may have taken the first step toward a restoration of the America, a return to morality, to honesty, to civility, to economic and true social justice. Making America great again, to borrow from Trump’s slogan, is not going to occur overnight, or even in the four years Mr. Trump will serve as president. It’s going to take a while to unwind all the bad legislation and trade deals and economic imbalances that were the result of crony capitalism. And Mr. Trump is not going to be able to do it alone. He is going to need not just the House of Representatives and the Senate but also the voices of those who voted for him and support his ideals. Winning the election was just the beginning. The left and their compliant media lapdogs are not about to go away and hide. They are going to fight back, lash out and tear at the fabric of society.

They will fail, and they will fail miserably because their vision of America, complete with free college educations, fifty million people on welfare, twenty trillion dollars of debt, overpaid government employees, and a severe lack of good, fulfilling, well-paying jobs, is not America at all. It is a liberal, dysfunctional, diseased obsession and fantasy.

The America represented by the people who put Donald Trump in office is an America of hard work and good pay, of duty to God, country and family, of fearlessness in the face of adversity, of helping neighbors and those less fortunate, of friendliness, honesty and humility. The America which will be refreshed is one of opportunity, freedom and justice for all.

It’s hard to believe that anybody in their right mind would protest that.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dow, S&P Post New Highs Again, But, Who's Doing The Buying?

In a market that more often resembles a three-ring circus than an amalgamation of the best corporate entities vying for favoritism among investors via increased earnings, revenue and expectations, the recent melt-up in US equities has more than just a few analysts scratching their quickly-balding heads.

It's widely known that equity mutual fund outflows have been more or less continuous for the better part of the past four months, a trend that doesn't seem to be abating, despite the recent runaway rally.

So, with mutuals (institutional investors) out of the picture - and they're a huge part of the landscape - and individuals mostly too scared to tread too deeply into the Wall Street morass since the devastation of the 2008 washout, there aren't many places from which the money to buy up all these loose assets can come, except, of course, if you're the operator of a central bank, such as the Bank of Japan, the ECB or the almighty Fed.

For verification of the central bank buying conspiracy theory (now fact), we turn to the erudite and educated Zero Hedge, which puts the matter to rest in no uncertain terms in his recent post, "Mystery Of Surging Stocks Solved—-It’s The Central Banks, Stupid!"

The Hedge cites Citi's Matt King, who publishes a must-see chart of rolling central bank asset purchases, and there for all the world to see are egregiously large buys by Japan and the ECB.

Yep! Those shifty Asians and super-smart Europeans are buying up US equities at valuations measured at a median rate of 24X. Good for them! When they awaken from their Keynesian stupor somebody must announce to them - they being economists, not investors - that the goal is to buy low and sell high, not the other way around.

Their rude awakening will coincide with the complete financial and societal implosion of their economies and their sovereignty, which, in the case of Europe, has been questionable for at least a couple of decades, and, for Japan, is only a matter of time before demographics and deflation tear the country to shreds.

What the world is witnessing (or not, depending upon how many people are playing Pokemon Go at present) is the beginning of the final phase of complete totalitarian financialization by central banks and their appointed henchmen, which will result in hemorrhaged debt defaults by individuals, corporations, and eventually (but maybe initially) governments.

Unlike people and companies, governments have a unique advantage in that they can run deficits and debt in piles as high as the moon without recourse for the most part, until, that is, the general public and business people have enough of higher taxes, worsening living conditions and runaway inflation.

Central banks are even better off, being the enabler of all debt and fiat folly via their ability to print endless scads of fiat money literally out of thin air.

Both groups, the money-makers and the politicians, are parasites, and they are killing the host, that being the good-will and capital of citizens and businesses, burying them in debt that will never be repaid.

Hope for a debt jubilee has reached new heights with the latest round of stupidity, but it is far from over.

The shackles which bind the citizenry and businesses to debt and drudgery, taxes and regulations, will tighten before they are broken.

New all-time highs are great when people and funds are doing the buying. That's a sign of a growing, robust economy. When it's central banks doing the heavy lifting, it reeks of desperation and failure.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

-- Fearless Rick

New Highs! Get 'em while you can!
Dow Jones Industrial Average
18,506.41, +134.29 (0.73%)

NASDAQ
5,034.06, +28.33 (0.57%)

S&P 500
2,163.75, +11.32 (0.53%)

NYSE Composite
10,786.63, +52.43 (0.49%)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chinks In The Global Ponzi Armor

What the central banks have constructed today as a "global economy" would make Bernie Madoff blush for all its arrogance and chutzpah.

The Fed buys Treasury bills, notes and bonds from the US government, the French government, Japan, Germany, UK, Australia, China, and the central banks of those countries do likewise. In essence, they are all borrowing from each other, and all of them, in the aggregate - and often enough singularly - are insolvent. It's the world's largest kiting scheme, being played on a global scale with money created out of thin air, backed by debt, most of which will never be repaid.

This kind of scam is typically known as a pyramid scheme, an airplane game, or, a Ponzi scheme, in which the creators and early adopters receive the bulk of the benefit, and those last in are left whining about promises made and unkept, with a loss of their investment and great remorse.

When one views the global economic structure from outside, it's clear that the creators of the Ponzi are the central banks, the early adopters are governments, and the vast majority of losers are savers, investors, retirees and, eventually, the young and future generations, who will inherit literally, a world of hurt, where the assets have been stripped away, wealth belongs to an upper, upper echelon of self-annoited masters, and social mobility is largely a myth.

Already, in the United States - the wealthiest nation in the world - there is evidence that the next generation to retire beyond he baby boomers, will be less well off than the previous one. Baby boomers have been retiring steadily, but their wealth has been neutered by the Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) of the Fed (soon to become NIRP), the COLAs (Cost of Living Adjustment) has been likewise zeroed out due to recalibration of how inflation is measured by the government, and taxes will take care of the rest. And that's just the Social Security end of it.

The Federal government has already put in place methods and scenarios in which they can confiscate the holdings of retirees, in 401k confiscations, wealth extraction taxes and "national emergency" legislation. In fact, senior debt holders (derivatives) would already have priority over depositors in an orderly liquidation of a major bank.

There's only one way to win at this game, and that's to not play. If possible, one would work outside the system, avoiding all taxation and contributions to unemployment insurance, social (in)security, worker's compensation theft, and the latest money extraction scheme, the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare. Savings would likewise have to be outside the system, acquiring and holding everything from undeveloped land to precious metals, gems, to canned food, tools and machinery of trades.

It's a tough game to play, though, as the global Ponzi scheme continues to unravel in front of our very eyes, one which must be given consideration, even as a partial remedy to outright wealth confiscation through inflation, taxation or fiat.

Today's notch in the Ponzi wood:
S&P 500: 1,917.83, -8.99 (0.47%)
Dow: 16,413.43, -40.40 (0.25%)
NASDAQ: 4,487.54, -46.53 (1.03%)

Crude Oil 32.73 -0.76% Gold 1,231.30 +1.64% EUR/USD 1.1112 -0.12% 10-Yr Bond 1.76 -3.30% Corn 366.25 -0.27% Copper 2.07 -0.22% Silver 15.42 +0.28% Natural Gas 1.85 -4.63% Russell 2000 1,004.71 -0.64% VIX 21.64 -3.00% BATS 1000 20,682.61 -0.29% GBP/USD 1.4338 +0.34% USD/JPY 113.2550 -0.74%

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wonder: Getting Past Greece, the Euro, Varoufakis, Travie McCoy and My Best Friends (BFFs)

Wonder.

It's a beautiful word. Maybe not as beautiful a word as White or Bird (It's a Wonderful Day... it's all right, go ahead and listen), but one should always be in wonder at the world -- if only because we DO NOT KNOW.

Events of recent weeks have left some - not many, and certainly not all - bewildered, confused, and wondering what is next to come. Life in Greece has become complicated because of their commitment to debt, and that is the only reason. Not politics, not currency, but only debt has enslaved the peoples of the southern European archipelago, and only because they continue to accept it as a constant, as a commitment, a purpose, an underlying principle of existence.

Long ago, in the days of Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras and Socrates, Greece became the cradle of Western civilization and democracy. Culture flourished with fresh ideas. Freedom of speech, freedom of identity, freedom of thought found roots, grew, and prospered.

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.

-- Thucydides

Today, as the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF divvy up the remnants of a once-great culture and country, there is no secret, no happiness, no freedom. The Greeks are slaves to money, to the Euro, to the US dollar, and that condition will not change because the Greeks themselves - and all of Europe - have lost their ways, their wills, their collective courage. The 20th and 21st centuries have been witness to the willful slavery of entire populations, a kind of "Stockholm Syndrome", in which vast swaths of people are overwhelmed by money, power, greed, corruption and debauchery. It has happened before - in Rome, in London, Berlin, Tokyo - but never before has it happened as quietly and easily as today.

Without will, people have nothing. The people of Greece have no will. Even their "courageous" vote to reject the demands of their creditors a week ago was directed, will-less and rhetorical. As we have seen since then, voting meant exactly nothing, as it always has, when the choices are bad, or worse. Greece chose "bad." By decree of the technocrats and debt-holders of the EU, they are to receive "worse."

Greece Matters.

Greece matters because it is our fate, our shared existence, our future. Anyone believing that "it can't happen here," or "Greece is contained" is a dunderhead, a dolt, a fool, or a psychopath bent on escapism. The woes of Greece will visit every shore. First Europe, then South America, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, and eventually, North America. Canadians may be spared the worst of it, especially those in the hinterlands, but come it must, devour assets it must, devalue life it must. Greece is coming home to you, and me, and yours.

Not wanting to sound depressing or disheartening, but only realistic, this prose offers comfort to those who take heed. Not all is evil. There is good in the world. Life in the United States of America, for instance, has neve been more prosperous, full and enjoyable. If not for odious debt, the USA would be paradise on earth. But it is the odious debt, all $18 trillion on the official books and the countless billions in loose, unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare, that threatens with slavery of the masses. The rich will escape, virtually unharmed, The middle class will be skimmed, as always, without protection. The poor will suffer.

Central banks, which control the capital, have offered solutions. BUY STOCKS. WITH BOTH HANDS. Since March of 2009, Money Daily has been right to some degree, but wrong on a large account, decrying stocks as risky, unsound, unfair, unfulfilling, and dangerous.

Stocks, verily, the riskiest of them all, have never been more wildly valued, but they also have never been more protected than today. An article by John Hussman, here, spells out the current conditions for investment opportunities in lurid detail. While Greece may, and likely, will, get a haircut proportional to that of former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (a complete sellout and traitor to the people of Greece), the remainder of the world does not have to suffer a similar fate.

One only has to play along with the monetary authorities and the central banks for a time, and then... release. Such an investment strategy will require a heavy doses of discipline, and certain timing, which is why most will not even try, and many of those who do will try and fail, and fail, and fail.

The lucky, the daring, the living, and the brave will survive, and prosper, but only if they act boldly, with the conviction in their heart that all is fleeting, money is worthless, and hard assets are still worth having. The single most important asset one can hold, now, and generally, throughout history, is LAND. Real Estate. It's called that because it is REAL and it is an ESTATE asset. The only liability to owning real estate is taxation, which is why the choice of purchase should be well considered, and, beyond living quarters, consist of raw acreage.

Silver and gold one can hold in one's hand, but they cannot produce a single carrot, potato, bean or spinach.

It would also be wise to have good friendships, and to nurture them, cherish them, and honor them. Good friendships will outlast all manners of currency or money, bring more joy and happiness than blood relationships, and sponsor more spiritual wealth than all the gold that even King Midas could conjure.

Good friendship is why I write, why I live, why I try to spread some wisdom, if there is any to be spread.

I have three friends. Two are dogs. The other... I leave to the imagination of the reader.

Go now. Buy stocks, and prosper. Even better, play options or bet on horses. Use massive leverage if it is available. If you lose, you can blame me, because I don't actually care. I will only be here a short while. Besides, there are countless methods for recovery. The central bankers have made it as easy as a day at the beach.

I urge everyone to become self-sufficient. Some solar power and a garden are requisite to peace and happiness.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fake, Fake, Fake Rally After Non-Farm Payroll Jobs Disappointment

With baited breath, the world awaits the January non-farm payroll report, and, when it is released, and it is far worse, far weaker than expected, stocks go straight up.

Yes, that's exactly what happened. Yes, it defies logic. NO, we're not buying it.

Just in case anybody hasn't noticed, banks, brokers and high government officials have variously been accused - and some even admitted (though untried and none convicted) - of manipulating Libor rates, FX markets, precious metals, mortgages, commodities, municipal bonds and probably every other financial asset where a market is made.

So, should it surprise anyone if stocks are manipulated, rigged, fixed, flogged, whipped and played to the whims of the rentier class?

No, it certainly should not.

While the handwriting is plain as day on the Wall Street walls, scrolled in the signature style of the PPT.

When the announcement was made at 8:30 am ET Friday morning, that the US created a mere 113,000 jobs in January - after posting a horrifying 74,000 (upgraded to 75,000 this morning) for December - stock futures headed due south, sending the implied opens for the major indices to morning lows.

However, within minutes, those losses in the futures markets were wiped away, as the futures galloped up, up and away, pointing to a counterintuitive higher open for US markets.

The Dow, together with Thursday's vapor ramp, put in the best two-day performance since October, and US markets still haven't had a 10% correction since August of 2011.

Apparently, one should believe that the lower jobs numbers are somehow good for the economy, in that the Fed may begin to "un-taper" their recent tapering of bond purchases and bring the legendary punch bowl back to the Wall Street jubilee, where the connected truly do get "money for nothing" and the chicks (and coke) for free.

Apparently, one should believe that $100-per-barrel crude oil and $3.50-4.00-a-gallon gas are good for the economy.

We wisened investors should also believe that gold is permanently priced at $1250 per ounce, silver at $20, all mortgage-backed securities are worth 100% of their par value, real estate never goes down, Janet Yellen and the rest of her Fed brethren have the best interests of the US citizenry at heart, pigs fly and flying unicorns that poop rainbows are real and are stabled in the basement of the Mariner-Eccles building.

We should embrace a president who openly lies, a congress which will not impeach, a spy agency who reads this, knows you are reading it, listens in on everything, everywhere, all the time, a steadily-declining median household income even in the face of the top 10% making more than ever, part-time jobs replacing full-time ones, taxes that only go up, regulations on everything and penalties for anything not covered by regulations.

It's all good, all the time, even if you're losing your home, having your kids taken from you and starving to death. At this pace, as the US economy plunges even deeper into depression than it already has, stocks should set all-time highs endlessly, without pause, forever.

For the record, Money Daily will stick to its call made days ago, that the market has turned from bull to bear, be proven wrong, but understand that nothing is really as it seems. As conditions in the real world worsen, they'll only get better on Wall Street, in Washington and on the paper facade that is CNBC and Bloomberg. Buy it, own it, be it.

Good is evil. War is peace. Love is hate. Stay short and get slaughtered. After all, if Wall Street doesn't take your phony paper money, Washington will.

Emerging market economies will always be emerging, and never become "developed" even if their GDP is larger than that of all the developed nations combined. And, besides, they don't matter.

George Orwell would be proud.

We have always been at war with Eastasia... or Eurasia.

DOW 15,794.08, +165.55 (+1.06%)
NASDAQ 4,125.86, +68.74 (+1.69%)
S&P 1,797.02, +23.59 (+1.33%)
10-Yr Note 100.57, +0.44 (+0.44%) Yield: 2.68%
NASDAQ Volume 1.92 Bil
NYSE Volume 3.75 Bil
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4216-1466
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 141-44
WTI crude oil: 99.88, +2.04
Gold: 1,262.90, +5.70
Silver: 19.94, +0.008
Corn: 444.25, +1.25

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ho-Hum, Another Record Close for the S&P, Dow

Well, since last Tuesday (October 22) when we issued our missive that one should be prepared for 100-point gains on the Dow for no reason, we at last have our first winner, and just five trading days hence. To boot, it propelled the Dow Industrials to a new all-time closing high (though we had to check because we didn't hear Maria Bartiroma hooting and hollering about it).

Today's close topped the September 18 close of 15,676.94, at the time, the all-time high. Something else interesting about our call from a week ago, which was implicitly a bullish "BUY STOCKS" advisory: the Dow is up about 213 points since then and has closed down on two days, up three, though the down days amounted only to a total of 55 points, while the gains were 268, or an order of magnitude of roughly five times better for the bulls.

If this isn't a sign of an imminent breakout, then nothing is. Since the debt ceiling and government shutdown masqueraded over all the internal financial problems facing the government and kept QE at a solid $85 billion a month without any slowdown even considered for another six months, there could be no more bullish news.

While the tone here at Money Daily is often flip and at times mistaken for an inherent pessimism, we are in the end nothing other than realists, now having come, somewhat reluctantly and late, to the sad realization that nothing in the equity market matters besides the official narrative from sources like the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes and Bloomberg and the continued loose money policies of the Fed, the latter, naturally, the most important.

Government debt and massive annual deficits ceased to have any meaning with Obama's first term, at the depths of the financial collapse, have since continued to grow, and will continue until they don't. What earth-shattering event it will take to upend the global liquidity spooning through the banks that is happening worldwide is as yet unknown, and the globe may be further from it now than it was just five years ago, the level of rampant money creation having gone from stimulus to necessity in the interim.

In the short term, this means that ordinary things like work, income, taxes and debt have little to no meaning and that getting onto the Federal Reserve's gravy train via the smorgasbord of handouts and/or entitlement programs is a sure path to immediate gratification, though not necessarily riches (though bankers with huge bonuses may beg to differ).

As with all gambling or investing, it's all about knowing who the other players are and what they're holding that is the key to success. With the Fed intent on creating more and more and more debt, ad infinitum (because they truly have no plan for tapering or unwinding their enormous balance sheet), one can either hunker down with real assets like gold or land, or play the paper chase with stocks, bonds, derivatives, options, and the rest.

The paper game has won for the past five years, and, as long as the economy keeps shrinking instead of growing, people, governments and businesses will continue borrowing, spending and defaulting, keeping the Fed busily creating more money in a vicious, non-virtuous cycle.

At some point, the debts will become so large as to be unpayable, and maybe we've already reached that point, so that the Ponzi scheme of unlimited money creation will have to continue and grow, a la Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany.

Fiat currencies have a perfect record, having failed 100% of the time, though this time the fiat is a global phenomenon. There is no currency in the world that is backed by anything but faith, and faith can be shattered any time the central bankers of the world deem necessary.

That, in the end, is the point. They control. We are but slaves on the global plantation, devoid of rights or wealth, with the means to exploit the system in whatever ways we find convenient. It surely won't last forever, and many are absolutely amazed it has lasted this long. Since we are five years into this global liquidity experiment without adequate capital, inflating assets willy-nilly all along the way, the only measures are the forex measures of currencies against the US dollar. When the dollar erodes to a point at which it is no longer maintaining itself as the reserve currency of the planet, the game is up.

Until then, party like its 2013.

Dow 15,680.35, +111.42 (0.72%)
Nasdaq 3,952.34, +12.21 (0.31%)
S&P 500 1,771.95, +9.84 (0.56%)
10-Yr Bond 2.51%, -0.01
NYSE Volume 3,335,803,750
Nasdaq Volume 1,840,704,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3376-2221
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 427-25
WTI crude oil: 98.20, -0.48
Gold: 1,345.50, -6.70
Silver: 22.49, -0.046
Corn: 432.00, +1.25

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Stock Market Makes Perfect Sense...

...if you are a card-carrying bankster, politician or broker-dealer.

Otherwise, when every available Fed Governor is squealing at the top of his or her lungs that the Fed is going to taper its bond-buying in September ...bond yields should rise.

They keep going down...

And the stock market indices are sitting near all-time highs, or, in the case of the wildly-inflated NASDAQ, 13-year highs.

If you really believe the real estate market is is god shape, unemployment is really 7.4% and that ObamaCare is going to lower premiums and provide for better medical care nationwide, then the stock market at these levels makes perfect sense.

BUY MORE STOCKS.

(The preceding message was brought to you by people who remember when the economy was functioning, when America was a net EXPORTER, and when the federal debt was below $4 billion - which wasn't all that long ago.)

For those of you in your teens and 20s, carrying, or about to embark upon college and student loans, you are toast, debt slaves and completely hoodwinked by people who could care less about your future or the future of this country. Good luck with that four-year degree when you're asking "do you want fries with that?"

That's enough for today. Anybody who can't stand the current economic climate (of uncertainty), post a comment. Or don't. We here at Money Daily don't really care.

BTW: Silver closed above $20 per ounce for the first time since July 29. Will it hold this time? Bear in mind that the London Fix was at $31.75 on February 7 (again, not that long ago). Since then, it's been straight down to around these levels, with a low of 18.61 on June 27. It's still a bargain all the way back to $23 an ounce, and, it's still REAL MONEY.

Dow 15,498.32, +27.65 (0.18%)
NASDAQ 3,669.12, +15.12 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,697.48, +6.57 (0.39%)
NYSE Composite 9,634.47, +66.21 (0.69%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,641,758,375
NYSE Volume 3,475,672,000
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 4175-2345
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 270-112
WTI crude oil: 103.40, -0.97
Gold: 1,309.90, +24.60
Silver: 20.19, +0.685

Monday, March 4, 2013

Central Bank Bubbles Cause Dow to Hit 2nd-Best All-Time Closing High

There's been an ongoing debate over whether there is a bond bubble and whether - and when - it will finally burst.

With the Fed carrying the water for the US Treasury to the tune of 40-45% of all new debt issuance there's abmple evidence that Chairman Bernanke and his henchmen and women have had the bubble-blowing pipes surgically implanted into their collective mouths. They've managed to keep all interest rates at historically-low, bargain basement prices for the past four years, though the net results of their efforts have been widely different depending upon one's perspective.

For the nation's largest banks, Fed largesse has meant easy money with which to rebuild their badly-damaged balance sheets after the real estate debacle which ended in the 2008 crash. This easy money has also inspired rampant speculation by those very same banks and has trickled down to hedge funds, the marginal buyer in this runaway stock market.

Whether the bond bubble will eventually burst is a matter of conjecture and even more speculation, though one can be relatively assured that if such a bubble exists and does burst, rates will escalate higher in a disorderly fashion which will make any previous stock market crash look like a summer picnic. In sum, higher interest rates would wreck the global economy. Everyone from the marginal student lender to the great sovereign nations of the world would be unable to service debt at higher - and rising - interest rates. Cue the oompah band from the days of the Weimar Republic.

Where there exists a bona fide, can't miss, no-doubt-about-it bubble is in stocks. Friday will mark the four-year anniversary of the bottom of the 2008-09 slide into the abyss. In those four short years, the major indices have embarked upon one of the longest uninterrupted stock rallies in global history. The Fed's insistence to throw $85 billion per month at the market through the purchase of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities is like traders drinking from an endless champagne fountain, drunk in the knowledge that any slight pullback will be shortly erased by the ungodly amounts of capital flowing into the markets.

Because the Fed has crushed interest rates (and with them, savers), stocks are the only financial instruments by which one can expect a return in excess of inflation, which is, after all, the key to maintaining and developing a wealth portfolio.

One method by which one can identify a bubble is by watching the dips and subsequent rebounds. In the stock market, this phenomenon is readily apparent. Just looking at today's intraday loss of 61 points and the middday reversal and eventual positive close is evidence enough that - turning an old adage on its side - what goes down will go up.

Last week's 200-plus-point drop on Monday was snuffed out and overwhelmed in the next two days of trading. The pattern is unmistakable and repeatable throughout the four years of excessive Federal Reserve easing and zero interest rate policy. To say that such extraordinary measures are unsustainable would be the understatement of the millennium. Never before in recorded history have interest rates been held so artificially low for such an extended period of time.

The problem with the Fed's policies are that they are reckless and untried in practice. Based entirely upon a groupthink methodology of Keynsian economic theory, the Fed has taken a free-market demand economy and turned it into a manipulated, command-driven socialism experiment, and the results are not and will not be understood until there is an attempt to undo whatever good or damage has been done and return to a semblance of "normalcy," a term becoming more quaint and misunderstood each passing day.

Other than stocks and bonds, the Fed has created - with ample assistance from the inept federal government apparatus - a bubble in student loans, which last year exceeded the total amount of credit crad debt outstanding, approaching a trillion dollars.

One can argue that an education is a worthwhile investment, though, comparing to credit cards, at least most people would have something tangible to show for their monthly statement of debt-slavery. For the graduates and soon-to-be grads, they have a peice of paper attesting they have some rudimentary knowledge in some broad field of endeavor. In an economy long on promise and short on actual paying jobs, those sheepskins are, and maybe become even more, worthless.

The US Federal Reserve is not alone in blowing bubbles, though one can rest assured they were cheering the Chinese all the way toward creating what now must be considered the most massive real estate bubble in the history of the world, dwarfing the sub-prime fiasco by a matter of degrees.

As mentioned by many over the year and documented by CBS' 60 Minutes on the Sunday, March 3rd broadcast, the Chinese have created at least a dozen "ghost cities" complete with high-rises, shopping malls, streets and thoroughfares, infrastructure and amenities, just no people. The simple fact is that the Chinese people were sold a bill of goods by their own versions of snake oil salesmen, buying up properties in developments on the outskirts of most major cities, even though the apartments, housing and commercial rental units are far beyond the reach of the average Chinese working-class individual or family. The 12-minute clip is embedded below.

Whether the timing of the 60 Minutes report was coincidental or just dumb luck (being of the conspiracy mind, we think it's the former), the Chinese central government has imposed new rules designed to slow down the real estate frenzy or the piercing of the bubble, which will, without a doubt, eventually burst. The question is simply a matter of how long and how well Chinese officials can lie and obfuscate the reality that they have created a bubble that has - during the buildup - resonated worldwide, and will do the same as it deflates.

The new measures, which involve higher down payments and higher interest rates on second home buyers and a 20% capital gains tax on the sale of any housing unit that is not a primary dwelling. The Shanghai Composite lost 3.7% on the day, with a number of property development firms down the maximum allowable one-day drop of 10%.

With those results in tow, US stocks began the day lower, but, thanks to our own financial fantasy-land bubble machine, ended higher.

Once again, it seems the three most basic tenets of investment practice have been ignored: buy low, sell high, and do your own due diligence. People never seem to learn.

Oh, well. It's only money.



Dow 14,127.82, +38.16 (0.27%)
NASDAQ 3,182.03, +12.29 (0.39%)
S&P 500 1,525.20, +7.00 (0.46%)
NYSE Composite 8,901.07, +26.88 (0.30%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,716,599,625
NYSE Volume 3,701,113,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3483-2956
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 411-81
WTI crude oil: 90.12, -0.56
Gold: 1,572.40, +0.10
Silver: 28.50, +0.006

Friday, March 1, 2013

Stocks Reverse Early Losses, Close Near All-Time Highs

Does it really matter why?

The Dow was down 116 points in early trading (9:45 am ET) after the monthly report on personal income and spending showed a modest (.02%) increase in spending but a 3.6% decline in income, the worst such loss in 20 years.

Futures markets had been pointing to a lower open to the first day of March, and the data exacerbated the condition.

However, stocks began to grind higher, eventually staying positive after turning into the green at noon. The remainder of the session was fairly undramatic, with traders speculating on just when the new all-time highs would be breached.

It's inevitable, no matter how bad the news is.

Meanwhile, the top clowns in Washington - Obama, Boehner, McConnell, Reid and Pelosi (the Fumbling Five) agreed to disagree about the sequester and allowed the cuts to happen, the president taking to the podium to announce the foolishness just before the lunch hour.

The it was off to the golf course for a quick round and afterward, martinis with the "in" crowd.

Ugh. Really, it's that bad.

On the bright side, the number of new 52-week lows has been slowly but steadily rising. Nothing close to parity yet, but it is a trend worth watching. One could make a case that the Dow and S&P might make new all-time highs just in time for a market reversal. After all, the current bull market is entering its 49th week with only one correction of more than 10% (August 2001), and as bulls go, this one's getting a bit long on the hoof.

Additionally, oil finished at its lowest price of the year, hovering just above $90 per barrel. Now, if that trend continues and translates into lower fuel prices, this sequestration idea might just turn out to be OK after all.

At the end of the week, a colleague pointed out this well-researched article which points up the real US debt. And you thought it was just $16.6 trillion.

Dow 14,089.66, +35.17 (0.25%)
NASDAQ 3,169.74, +9.55 (0.30%)
S&P 500 1,518.20, +3.52 (0.23%)
NYSE Composite 8,874.19, +5.48 (0.06%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,869,785,125
NYSE Volume 4,125,383,750
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3447-2852
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 250-78
WTI crude oil: 90.68, -1.37
Gold: 1,572.30, -5.80
Silver: 28.49, +0.058