Despite warnings from the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking (and of course, Sarah Connor), Ray Dalio’s $165 billion AUM hedge fund Bridgewater will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month. Despite the “new normal”‘s total reversal of any and every historical rational trading pattern, the unit will attempt to create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities, as “machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it.” Does this mean the talking heads of CNBC, with their ‘memes’, ‘myths’, and ‘mumbling’ rationales for it always being a good time to buy are now obsolete? Or did the market just become self-aware?
Despite ending the month with a whimper, after Fed vice-chairman’s hawkish words spooked the market on Friday afternoon, February was the best month for equities in over three years - since October of 2011 – driven by a 7% Nasdaq surge on the back of a gigantic move higher in Apple. And yet, as we have shown time and again, none of this reflects the “decoupling” US underlying economy, which if anything has rapidly recoupled with the rest of the world following 38 data “misses” and only 6 “beats”- the worst “surprise” index in 12 months… Continue reading »
While conflicting economic data leaves hope for both buills and bears, Alan Greenspan warns that, unlike Yellen, “US economic growth is not strong.” He then slays another pillar – suggesting the exuberant job growth is anything but (as he focuses on weak productivity as he pinpoints entitlements as “crowding out capital investment” in America. The maestro then breaks the golden rule of central bankers and explains how The Fed was, in fact, the main driver of the P/E multiple expansion in stocks; and when asked if this ends as badly as last time? He concludes “It depends…When real interest rates start to move up, that’s when the crisis could hit.” The interview is somewhat stunning in its honesty (for a central banker) as he warns global “effective demand is extraordinarily weak – tantamount to the late stages of the great depression.”
When the coming economic crisis strikes, more than half the country is going to be financially wiped out within weeks. At this point, more than 60 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and a whopping 24 percent of the country has more credit card debt than emergency savings. One of the primary principles that any of these “financial experts” that you see on television will teach you is to have a cushion to fall back on. At the very least, you never know when unexpected expenses like major car repairs or medical bills will come along.
And in the event of a major economic collapse, if you do not have any financial cushion at all you will be a sitting duck. Yes, I know that there are millions upon millions of families out there that are just trying to scrape by from month to month at this point. I hear from people that are deeply struggling in this economy all the time. So I don’t blame them for not being able to save lots of money. But if you are in a position to build up an emergency fund, you need to do so. We have been experiencing an extended period of relative economic stability, but it will not last. In fact, the time for getting prepared for the next great economic downturn is rapidly running out, and most Americans are not ready for it at all.
The following are 14 signs that most Americans are flat broke and totally unprepared for the coming economic crisis:Continue reading »
Confirming last year’s warning, The Fed’s Monetary Policy Report has sent a broad message to the markets in what may be Yellen’s Irrational Exuberance 2.0 moment: “Overall equity valuations by some conventional measures are somewhat higher than their historical average levels, and valuation metrics in some sectors continue to appear stretched relative to historical norms… price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios are somewhat elevated, suggesting some valuation pressures… with heightened leverage that is close to levels preceding the financial crisis.”
One year after the great stock market crash in 1987, US President Ronald Reagan launched the “Working Group on Financial Markets.” Conspiracy theorists believe, however, that the real task of this committee is to protect against a renewed slump in the stock market. In the jargon of Wall Street, the working group is known as the “Plunge Protection Team.”
One glimpse at a few days suring 2007/8 and it is clear that ‘someone’ with infinitely deep pockets was able to support markets on several critical days – though, of course, anyone proclaiming intervention was propagandized away as a conspiracy theory wonk. However, as Dr. Pippa Malmgren – a former member of the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets – it is not conspiracy theory, it is conspiracy fact: “there’s no price discovery anymore by the market… governments impose prices on the market.”Continue reading »
With the Federal Reserve printing trillions upon trillions of dollars to keep the economic system afloat, many investors and financial pundits have surmised that the fundamental economic problems facing the United States during the crash of 2008 have been resolved. Stocks are, after all, at historic highs.
But the insiders know different. And if there’s any single person out there who understands U.S. monetary policy and its long-term effects on domestic and global affairs it’s former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. As the head of the world’s most powerful central bank for nearly two decades he’s privy to the insider conversations and government machinations that have brought us to where we are today. Continue reading »
One year ago, when HFT powerhouse Virtu launched its first attempt to go public and finally gave the world a glimpse into its trading perfection engine, we were stunned to learn that through the “miracles” of frontrunning, momentum ignition, quote stuffing, subpennying and all those other market manipulation techniques that have made HFT a staple – if extremely profitable – parasite of fragmented, broken “markets”, in its S-1 it wrote that “as a result of our real-time risk management strategy and technology, we had only one losing trading day during the period depicted, a total of 1,238 trading days.” We urged readers to “let that sink in: one trading loss day and 1237 days of profits.” To paraphrase: one losing day in five years of trading. We said that “that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Holy Grail of the New Normal broken, manipulated markets.“
A month later, Michael Lewis published Flash Boys and finally explained to the common person (if not corrupted, captured and purchased SEC regulators) what we have been pounding the table since 2009: that as a result of HFTs, markets are now two-tiered, unfair, broken, fragmented and manipulated in broad daylight, and since the HFT lobby controls the SEC, nothing will change. Continue reading »
Another is that Goldman Sachs’ Senior US Investment Strategist Abby Joseph Cohen reckons the stock market is relatively cheap, an opinion which she generously gave at a recent Barrons roundtable. Continue reading »
Just 3 short months ago, Greek bank bonds were trading near par and every over-leveraged, over-confident, over-full-of-propaganda hedge fund was buying them “for the yield” – well, S&P had upgraded Greece and implied ‘all-clear’. Today, Greek bank bonds are trading at 60% of face-value, having dead-cat-bounced last week before re-collapsing today. Greek bank stocks are also careening lower with most at record lows (below the lows reached during the peak of the crisis). The reason to focus on these instruments is that, while somewhat illiquid, they are the most sensitive to the day-to-day headlines and overall sentiment on Greece (and Grexit) as a pure reflection (redenomination risk aside) of trouble ahead
In the absence of any notable developments overnight, the market remains focused on the rapidly moving situation in Greece, which as detailed over the weekend, responded to Europe’s Friday ultimatum very vocally and belligerently, crushing any speculation that Syriza would back down or compromise, and with just days left until the emergency Eurogroup meeting in three days, whispers that a Grexit is imminent grow louder. The only outstanding item is what happens to the EUR and to risk assets: do they rise when the Eurozone kicks out its weakest member, or will they tumble as UBS suggested this morning when it said that “the escalation of tensions between the Greek government and its creditors is so far being shrugged off by investors, an attitude which is overly simplistic and ignores the risk of market dislocations” while Morgan Stanley adds that a Grexit would likely lead to the EURUSD sliding near its all time lows of about 0.90. Continue reading »
In case algos still haven’t gotten the message to jump all aboard into the S&P, here comes the CME with a gntle nudge in the form of 90 pages of margin hikes including Brent, RBOB and, just in case there is still anyone who wishes to trade paper precious metals against the BIS, silver. In fact, at first glance it appears the only future whose margin was not hiked was stocks: apparently stocks are never volatile enough for a margin hike.
Presented with little comment aside to ask (rhetorically of course), who is The Fed working for?
Wall Street vs Main Street
As BofAML warns, if Main St. doesn’t recover this year on the back of the powerful cyclical combo of lower oil/rates/currencies then the specter of “policy failure” will haunt investors, and currency wars, debt default and deficit financing will become macro realities.