Archive for December, 2017

Notes From Underground: Beginning Of the End?

December 28, 2017

Happy and healthy New Year to all of my readers! Thank you for another GREAT year of contributions to make this BLOG a voice of reason in an effort to undermine the accepted NARRATIVE of conventional media investment pabulum. Today, one of the more astute anchors sustained the nonsense that the ECB and Mario Draghi have a SINGLE MANDATE (inflation), which renders the ECB policy easier to decipher as the FED has its self-defined DUAL MANDATE. This narrative as opined by the mainstream analysts is JUST DEAD WRONG. When Mario Draghi seized control of European fiscal and monetary policy in 2012, he said, “WE will do whatever it takes to preserve the EURO ….” and there would be no TABOOS. The ECB’s MANDATE is UNLIMITED and OPEN-ENDED whiles Draghi works to sustain QE and NEGATIVE INTEREST RATES. Economic data has no weight in thwarting the WILL of the ECB.This is going to be a major story in global finance 2018 as the Italians head to the polls.

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Notes From Underground: Quackser Fortune + Horse Manure

December 26, 2017

In the famous Gene Wilder movie, “Quackser Fortune and His Cousin In the Bronx,” Wilder plays a character who picks up horse manure in the street and sells it for its rich nutrients. As horses are outlawed in the Dublin streets Quackser finds himself an unemployed manure sweeper, a negative outcome from Schumpeterian creative destruction. However, it seems Quackser resurrected his business and is now packaging horse excrement as an item of political discourse. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was the recipient of the newest symbol of public disdain for the recent tax “reform.”

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Notes From Underground: Ghosts (Past, Present and Future)

December 21, 2017

I want to wish every one who celebrates Christmas a very joyous season, and, most importantly I want to wish all my readers a year of good health and peace. The meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah and the spirit of the season should resonate with us everyday of the year. As I have told my children over the years about their wedding day: It is the least important day for it is the next day that matters most as does every day that follows. May we experience the meaning of the season each and every day of the coming year. I was always amazed that wars would halt for a Christmas truce but begin hostilities 12 days later. If you could stop for 12 days why not 12 months?

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Notes From Underground: Yields Increase But Watch Out, Take Care, Beware

December 19, 2017

The long-end of the U.S. Treasury curve steepened Monday and Tuesday as bond futures did some technical damage, closing under the 200-day moving average. It joined the 2-, 5- and 10-year Treasuries, which have been below the important technical level since September. U.S.Treasury yields rose as the ECB failed to lift European sovereigns. The BUNDS, FRENCH OATS and Italian BTPs all saw significant increases in their yields. BUT I ADVISE PATIENCE AND CAUTION BECAUSE THE ECB IS SUPPOSEDLY SET TO FINISH ITS MONTHLY PURCHASES BY DECEMBER 21. As of the close of last Friday the ECB had bought ONLY 33 billion of assets leaving it 27 billion EUROS of its QE quota. It has two days in which to push yields lower and we don’t know how much they have purchased over the past two days.

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Notes From Underground: Did I Miss Anything?

December 17, 2017

There were myriad central bank meetings last week as the FED, ECB, BOE, SNB, Bank of Mexico and others rendezvoused. With the exception of the Fed, all maintained their current policies. (The U.S. FED raised rates, which was 99% baked in.) The ECB was as dovish (as expected) and President Draghi has a few new issues to confront as Italian elections are scheduled for March 4, 2018. The Italian situation is already impacting sovereign bonds as the Italian 10-year yield rose against the German and French equivalents. BUT I FULLY EXPECT FOR THE ECB TO BREAK THE CAPITAL KEY RULES BY PURCHASING MORE ITALIAN DEBT THAN ALLOWED. POLITICS WILL BE DRAGHI’S MAIN CONCERN.

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Notes From Underground: Hell Has Frozen Over. Greenspan and Harris Agree

December 7, 2017

Over the last 30 years I have not had much regard for Alan Greenspan. He has been wrong on many of the issues on which he has opined, not least his speech on home bias and his pleadings for U.S. homeowners to refinance their mortgages and use home equity as a piggy bank. But like Holden, I digress. In his CNBC interview Wednesday he was adamant that fiscal stimulus was ill-advised, but tax reform was necessary. He said Congress should use the reform to close tax loopholes and run budget surpluses while we are at some modicum of full employment. I agree with this and as Greenspan maintained, the beginning of this tax reform OUGHT to be the reconsideration of Bowles/Simpson. Greenspan also stressed “… the folks in Washington do not understand that reducing the size of the system portfolio is a necessary condition for normalizing the price of credit.” I also agree with this viewpoint. And, in regards to BITCOIN, Sir Alan explained you can’t create VALUE out of nothing.

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Notes From Underground: Putting Things In Perspective

December 5, 2017

Just a few quick points that are relevant to the markets at the end of the year:

1. Tonight I am including charts of the U.S/German two-year yield differentials. The U.S. two-year note is yielding 256 basis points above the German rate. This is relevant because both instruments are high quality assets that play an important role as collateral in the funding markets. I’ve also included a 25-year chart of the U.S. 2/10 yield curve. Note that the last two INVERSIONS occurred before significant equity market corrections. Does this current flattening portend a stock market correction? We can’t be certain because the role of the central banks has certainly created an investment environment where markets suffer from a lack of RISK PREMIA in all asset prices.

 

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Notes From Underground: In An Algo-Driven World Headlines Matter

December 3, 2017

Friday: Dateline. INACCURATE NEWS.

There is GOLD to be found in the digital world where headlines can move financial markets faster than your eyes can blink or your brain can separate fact from fiction. ABC investigative journalist Brian Ross published a report that said President Trump asked Michael Flynn to reach out to Russia during the campaign. The network was forced to correct the story, clarifying that the request was carried out during the transition period, and suspended Ross. President Trump tweeted that investors harmed by ABC’s action should sue for damages. Trump may actually have a legitimate opinion but I believe the President’s Tweets carry the same litmus test.

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