Guest post by Vix and more.
The biggest change in investor fears over the course of the past two weeks is a growing trend toward the mistrust of the role of institutions such as central banks and governments in economic matters. Concerns about central bankers and politicians are significant enough to poll in the #3 and #4 spots for all respondents, but rate even higher in the U.S., where government and politicians were the #2 concern and excessive central bank intervention worries garnered the #3 spot.
A few Thanksgiving reflections by Biderman.
As we get ready for Thanksgiving, I have a great deal to be thankful for in my personal life. But as to the world, particularly the global economy, there does not appear to be much to look forward to as we approach year end.
Before I talk about our fiscal cliff, the rest of the world seems like bad news. It looks to me as if Iran is hell bent upon creating a war between Hamas and Israel that takes attention away from Persian nuclear weapon building. Greece and Spain are going no where fast. And Japan is now committed to destroying what is left of its economy by undertaking even more massive money printing.
Guest post by Lance Roberts of Streettalklive.
The recent market selloff has not been about the re-election of President Obama but rather the repositioning of assets by professional investors in anticipation of three key events coming between now and the end of this year – the “fiscal cliff”, the debt ceiling and the expiration of the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG). Each of these events have different impacts on the economy and the financial markets – but the one thing that they have in common is that they will all be battle grounds between a dividend House and Senate.
While there has been a plethora of articles and media coverage about the upcoming standoff between the two parties, little has been written to cover the details of exactly what will be impacted and why it is so important to the financial markets and economy.
One of the primary reasons for the market selloff since the announcement of QE3 has been in anticipation of the some of the largest tax hikes in the history of America, which will take place at the end of the year. These tax hikes will impact families and businesses, the middle class and the rich, the economy and the markets.
In 2001, and then again in 2003, President Bush and Congress enacted tax cuts to help restart the economy post the tech bubble, 9/11 terror attack and recession. Primarily these tax cuts were focused on small business owners, families, and investors and, while dubbed the “Bush Tax Cuts”, they became the “Obama Tax Cuts” when they were extended in 2010.
Biderman on the Fiscal Cliff issue.
There are two parts to the fiscal cliff equation. Government spending on services and taxes. Unfortunately almost all the discussion about how to fix the long term problem has been about taxes.
Focusing on taxes to raise revenues to provide government services requires making a key assumption that governments can effectively provide services. But what if the real problem is that the US government by its nature is incapable of providing cost effective services? I say that government spending on services are not only cost ineffective but probably harmful to the overall economy.
Why is no one else saying that government spending is ineffective and harmful? I can even demonstrate that government control of health care has been 70% ineffective.
Guest post by Peter Tchir.
Last week was a feeding frenzy for algos and a disaster for those who were poorly positioned. Crowded complacent trades were pummeled, including, or especially, investment grade CDS. But now we have had some time to think about what happened and the markets seem calmer. On this bond market holiday, let’s just take a look at 5 simple things. These will be the drivers for the market.
If there was ever a case of people lamenting now owning a stock, swearing they would buy more if it ever came down, then dumping en masse when it did come down, this is it. Apple is unique in that it isn’t just a huge component of the indices (which it is) but it has become such an indicator of sentiment, that guessing Apple correctly is very important, if not critical. I like AAPL here. Sadly I started liking it at $570 but added some Friday morning. The sell-off seems overdone, at least for now. All those worried about paying taxes on their “big” gains, now need to worry about the gains. While everyone else was “amazed” by the great Apple products, I went to stores and found the iPhone 5 available on launch date, and remain confused about why the iPad mini which is either a small iPad or a big iPhone with no voice capabilities was such a big deal. But that was at $650 and above. Here I like it and it is oversold by many measures, including my personal favorite – RSI. I am also encouraged how many people were talking about the 200 day moving average. Many were investors who normally would demand you wash your mouth out with soap for saying such a naughty word. Finally, if they finally do something big with their cash, the multiple should look very attractive.
Market commentary by Hussman of Hussman Funds.
In mid-September, our estimates of prospective market return/risk dropped to the lowest figure we’ve observed in a century of market history (see Low Water Mark). That week turned out to be the high of the recent bull market, though it’s certainly too early to establish whether that was the ultimate peak. During the recent correction, I’ve noted a modest improvement in our return/risk estimates – which focus on a blended horizon looking out from 2-weeks to about 18-months. However, last week, the stock market experienced some significant damage to internals (breadth, leadership, price/volume measures, etc). As a result, our estimates of prospective return/risk have plunged lower again, to what is now the second most negative figure we’ve observed in a century of data – the September 14, 2012 weekly close of 1465.77 continues to mark the most negative estimate.
My intent in these weekly comments has always been to share what I am looking at, and what our analysis of the economy and financial market suggests – based on extensive historical data and every analytical tool we can bring to bear. There is no need to present the case as any better or worse than it is, but the simple fact is that our return/risk estimates for stocks dropped into the most negative 1% of historical data way back in March of this year, and the estimates we’ve seen since September have been even more extreme.
The S&P 500 has now underperformed Treasury bills for nearly 14 years, including dividends. The cycle since 2007 has been extraordinary in its economic, monetary and fiscal characteristics, not to mention the need to contemplate Depression-era data along the way. It’s undoubtedly easier to dismiss my present concerns as the rantings of a permabear than to understand the narrative of this particular market cycle. But for the benefit of those who do, I want to share my view that the statistical risk of severe market outcomes, given present observable data, has almost never been worse.
CBO on the Fiscal Cliff situation and implications on the Economy.
Substantial changes to tax and spending policies are scheduled to take effect in January 2013, significantly reducing the federal budget deficit. According to CBO’s projections, if all of that fiscal tightening occurs, real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) will drop by 0.5 percent in 2013 (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013)—reflecting a decline in the first half of the year and renewed growth at a modest pace later in the year. That contraction of the economy will cause employment to decline and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. After next year, by the agency’s estimates, economic growth will pick up, and the labor market will strengthen, returning output to its potential level (reflecting a high rate of use of labor and capital) and shrinking the unemployment rate to 5.5 percent by 2018.
Picture of the day, courtesy Bloomberg Business Week.
And a few thoughts via The Economist.
Barack Obama has just won re-election, but America remains a country bitterly divided, as it has been for well over a decade. The divide is simultaneously very narrow in numerical terms, and gaping in ideological or partisan terms. This is what strikes one most strongly looking back at America from across an ocean: the country seems repeatedly embroiled in savage 51-49 electoral campaigns, and it seems to be increasingly paralysed by irresolvable rancour between right and left.
And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. That situation ought not to be stable. Adherence to these two ideologies ought to shift enough just due to demographics that the 50-50 split should deteriorate. And yet the even split seems to be stable. What’s going on?
Full article here.