It appears that the world is awash with Schadenfreude as analysts and pundits are experiencing great satisfaction and joy in the misery of others. Today the European automakers released sales data for March and the numbers were much weaker than the markets had expected. Registrations fell 10 percent and German auto sales dropped 17 percent. It appears that European auto sales in the passenger market are expected to hit 1993 levels. Ford and Peugeot also saw double-digit falls in sales. The euro rally against the YEN is dramatically biting into German car sales and the proof is in the fact that Japanese auto production has increased, and Toyota, Honda and Nissan stock prices have performed very well during the last six months.
Archive for the ‘Commodities’ Category
What ailed the markets yesterday seems to have moved to the back pages and the equity markets recovered most of their losses. Gold and silver staged very tepid rallies considering the massive selling that took place during the past week. The global equity markets are still comfortable with central bank policy and even a terrorist attack on U.S. soil cannot shake of confidence of investors seeing high profits, low inflation and no alternative to the returns on equity. It is an old theme but when a market continues to discount unfavorable data and news the power of momentum is in full bloom.
Last night’s BLOG attempted to make sense out of all the chatter around the gold action of the last few days, and, more importantly, during the last several months. The points I tried to make were:
- A reiteration of a theme I have stated over and over again, that the GOLD MARKET WAS/IS A TIRED BULL and that investors were leaving the moorings of great store of value or haven. The GOLD has been the repository of investor and traders confidence in a very unstable, insecure investment climate. The GOLD has risen for 11 straight years and as any market can correct as the financial landscape changes. As investors have gained comfort that the world central banks have for the moment been successful in generating some economic growth, money has left the precious metals in search of more risk-oriented assets with a yield attached. It is no mistake that it is the large-cap, strong dividend stocks that have led the way. A failure to understand that and react accordingly is just a case of myopia;
- I, IN NO WAY INTENDED TO INFER THAT I HAD INTERVIEWED JIM SINCLAIR AND THAT HE PROVIDED ME WITH A PRICE TARGET FOR THE CHINESE. HE DID NOT AND I CERTAINLY DID NOT INTERVIEW HIM. THE ONLY POINT I WAS TRYING TO MAKE WAS THAT I AGREED WITH JIM’S RECENT COMMENTS ABOUT THE NEED FOR CHINESE AND RUSSIAN GOLD PURCHASES TO PROVIDE THE NEEDED BUYING TO STEM THE AVALANCHE OF SELLING FROM FUTURES, OPTIONS and ETFS. When markets correct, be that housing or stocks, it is THEN YOU LEARN THE PAIN OF LEVERAGE. Gold has been a very popular, profitable investment, which means that in today’s world of financial engineering leverage is involved. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim’s analysis that the massive selling can only be absorbed by a massive buyer, be it a desirous procurer or somebody with a massive short wishing to cover.
This is the question investors all over the world are asking after the massive selloff on Friday. I have argued that gold was a tired bull for the last six months and that global equities had replaced gold as investors’ and traders’ haven and store of value. Gold has done yeoman’s work as a store of value in the world of central bank hyperactivity resulting in negative real yields all over the globe. As gold prices have stagnated, investors have sought out other asset classes to supplant the need for increased risk and hopefully positive returns. Multinational corporations with high dividends have become the new store of value and the rush to unload traditional hard assets for productive real assets has gained traction. The Cypriot debacle scared global investors and sent them scurrying from bank deposits to corporate assets, with a higher yield via dividends and possible appreciation. (Especially if the assets are domiciled in a jurisdiction that has a court system that protects property rights.)
Notes From Underground: George Soros Gets It Right; Cyprus Follows Britain Down An Ugly Yellow Brick RoadApril 10, 2013
Over the last few years of writing Notes From Underground, I have taken his eminence, George Soros (aka the palindrome) to task for advocating that the German polity surrender its sovereign authority to a federal EU entity as he pushed for a harmonization of fiscal authority and then an EU-wide EUROBOND. Previously, Mr. Soros has pushed that the Eurocrats not pursue this Eurobond through a nation-by-nation vote but rather just foist it upon the citizens of Euroland. In a paper released yesterday, Mr. Soros is again pushing a Eurobond backed by a union-wide banking structure and a Euroland harmonized tax system, in which all nations surrender some sovereign authority to a centralized power. There will be no BUNDS, OATS, SPANISH or ITALIAN bonds. It will just be a Eurobond backed by the full credit of the EU fiscal authority. This time around though, Soros does advocate the German government should seek the consent of the electorate.
Today was a very slow news day and thus little news to slow the steady rise of equities and the sell off in other asset classes. There was a story in the Financial Times about the Brazilian government cutting the tax on ethanol producers. The government is going to cut the tax on sugar-based ethanol producers by 80%–from 120 REALS per cubic meter to 25 REALS. It is an effort “… to support ethanol producers, many of whom are facing bankruptcy because of heavy debts and DIFFICULTIES COMPETING WITH SUBSIDISED PETROL PRICES IN BRAZIL.” There has been a global sugar surplus, which has kept pressure on sugar prices, but this move may help lift sugar prices and allow Brazilian growers to grab some of the agricultural profits that have supported the Brazilian economy. The U.S. economy is a corn-based ethanol producer and this has helped put upward pressure on global grain prices which has benefited Brazil’s farmers.
The recent Italian elections wound up in a very inconclusive result. In a political lineup of the three Bs–(no Chuck, not Biggio, Berkman and Bagwell)–Bersani, Berlusconi and Beppe, the Italian populace dealt a massive defeat to Brussel-appointed technocrat Mario Monti. The vox populi raised its voice against continuing austerity and will look to whatever government is formed to be one of a pro-growth economic agenda. The biggest loser from the Italian election may in fact be another Italian, ECB President Mario Draghi. If European nations say no to more austerity then Draghi’s program of doing anything to stem the Euro crisis comes to an end. WHY? The Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) are based upon ECB intervention and the quid pro quo of conditionality of acceptance of austerity budgets. If you accept that the basis of OMT is a form of quantitative easing and the recipients of the QE won’t accept the severity of conditionality that is demanded by the ECB, then emperor Draghi is truly naked and not dressed in a fine Italian suit.
The Fed’s policy has painted itself into a proverbial corner. A ZEROHEDGE piece shows that in the age group of 16-55 there has been a loss of 2.7 million jobs during the previous few years, while in the 55-69 age group there has been a gain of 4 million jobs. This has been a recurrent theme of Notes From Underground during the last two years. The FED‘s policy of financial repression has resulted in an outcome that its beloved models failed to predict. The baby boomers haven’t been able to retire because their saving plans have been undermined by the zero interest rate policy. Zerohedge shows that debt-ladened college graduates are unable to find jobs and thus are struggling to repay education loans. Recent college grads are forced to live at home and are not creating new households.
The fiscal crisis came and went and yet the Potemkin village remains. So much was made about the looming fiscal calamity and its dire consequences that the probabilities of a compromise were overwhelming. Not only did fiscal sanity fail to show, the final package was beyond my comprehension. As the nation’s focus was supposedly on Congress, these purveyors of fiscal rectitude passed a BILL that was laden with pork. NASCAR, Hollywood, alternative energy et. al. were the recipients of CONGRESSIONAL LARGESSE IN THE TIME OF FISCAL AUSTERITY. There is no shame in the payment of political favors even in the full view of the MIDDLE CLASS.
It was only a year ago that the PRECIOUS METALS were laboring under the continued selling of GOLD and SILVER as the John Paulson hedge funds were liquidating long positions to meet the huge amount of redemptions by long-time investors exiting the decade’s best performing FUNDS. In a repeat, Morgan Stanley announced today that it was redeeming its investors out of Paulson’s two largest funds after another year of questionable performance. In today’s world where one hedge fund can hold massive positions, divestment by disgruntled investors can initiate massive corrections. In 1980, when the Hunt Brothers caused great turmoil in the silver markets, they had a mere BILLION DOLLARS to play with (the Paulson funds control close to $15 billion under management.) As traders and investors it’s our job to be cognizant of all the animals in the jungle. When the elephants retrace their steps from the watering hole, small animals can get crushed (Niederhoffer).