Muppets Crucified After Goldman Closes One Of Its "Top Trades For 2014" At A 13.5% Loss Less Than A Week Into 2014

That didn’t take long.

On December 2, in its fourth Top Trade recommendation of the year, Goldman urged its clients to go “Long China Stocks, Short Copper.” This is how we decribed the trade: “Goldman is selling China equities (via the HSCWI Index), while buying copper (via Dec 2014 futs), or at least advising its flow clients to do the opposite while admitting that “for the long China equity/short commodity pair trade to “work” best, these two assets, which are usually positively correlated, will have to move in opposite directions.” For that and many other reasons why betting on a divergence of two very closely correlating assets will lead to suffering, read on. Finally – do as Goldman says, or as it does? That is the eternal question, one whose answer is a tad more problematic since the author in this case is not Tom Stolper but Noah Weisberger.” One week into the new year we have the answer.

Yesterday, less than one week into the new year, Goldman closed this “Top Trade for 2014” following a loss of 13.5%. Actually, correction: 13.5% loss to “clients” means a 13.5% profit to Goldman, and all those who followed our advice to trade alongside Goldman, not as a counterparty.

To wit:

Close long HSCEI Index and short Copper Dec 14 LME future, opened at 0.0% (on return basis, corresponding to respective price levels of 11542.1 and 7064.5 in two instruments) on 02 Dec 2013, for a potential loss of -13.5%.

So, as always, losers: Goldman clients. Winners: Goldman’s “flow” desk which took the opposite side of the trades, very much as we expected.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/E3uJqs-ZGMM/story01.htm Tyler Durden

This surprise investment has outperformed Google for the past 10-years

plums 150x150 This surprise investment has outperformed Google for the past 10 years

January 7, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile

Later this year, Google will celebrate its 10th anniversary as a publicly-traded company. And the conventional wisdom is that GOOG has been one of the best performing investments of the last decade.

If you had invested $85 in the Google IPO back in 2004, your investment would be worth over $1,100 today… a 13x return.

Over the same period, the S&P 500 has returned just 66%. And if you had taken the plunge into US Treasuries back in 2004, you would have been paid 4.15% per annum for the last ten years.

In light of all this, Google’s stock performance has been undoubtedly stellar.

But there’s an entirely different asset class that few people ever consider which has beaten the pants off of Google’s long-term performance. It’s agriculture. IMG 0924 300x199 This surprise investment has outperformed Google for the past 10 years

I thought about this yesterday as I was walking around the orchard here picking fresh, ripe plums off the tree. We’ll be starting our harvest soon, and the workers are getting everything ready.

The average plum tree can easily produce over 100 pounds of fruit, starting a few years after you put a well-developed seedling in the ground.

And even on a standard-sized residential lot, you can plant 20+ fruit trees.

Assuming a long-term average price of just $0.50 per pound and a 2004 plant price of $4, investing $85 in plum trees 10-years ago instead of Google stock would have yielded well over $6,000 so far.

Even if you’re not a Do-it-yourselfer and allow for harvest costs, loss, pruning, water, and other expenses, you’d still be up more than GOOG. Plus you’d still be grossing $1,000 per year… not to mention the increase in your home’s market value.

More importantly, you would be owning (and producing) REAL assets instead of paper assets– something that can be traded, sold, stored, or if need be, eaten.

And best of all, you wouldn’t have had Ben Bernanke and his central banking ilk as your silent partner for the past decade, manipulating stock prices and causing asset bubbles.

The soon-departing Mr. Bernanke may be the all-powerful grand wizard of financial markets, but he has absolutely no bearing on the fruit production of well-maintainined trees in your backyard.

It’s not just plums, either. Or even fruit trees for that matter.
tomatoes 300x199 This surprise investment has outperformed Google for the past 10 years
You could have bought $85 worth of organic tomato seeds in 2004 and grown thousands of dollars worth of organic tomatos over the last decade from your backyard.

Of course, this sort of notion makes most serious investors laugh. They can’t think past their own noses and only know how to follow the investment herd off the proverbial cliff.

And while this missive isn’t intended to convince our astute readers to rush out and plant trees, it’s at least worth pointing out that there are always profitable options far from the mainstream investment mentality.

More to follow on this soon.

from SOVErEIGN MAN http://www.sovereignman.com/trends/this-surprise-investment-has-outperformed-google-for-the-past-10-years-13364/
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India Minister Warns Of “The Return Of The Ugly American”

Authored by Shashi Tharoor (India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development), originally posted at Project Syndicate,

Nearly a month after American authorities arrested India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, outside her children’s school and charged her with paying her Indian domestic worker a salary below the minimum wage, bilateral relations remain tense. India’s government has reacted with fury to the mistreatment of an official enjoying diplomatic immunity, and public indignation has been widespread and nearly unanimous. So, has an era of steadily improving ties between the two countries come to an end?

Judging from Indian leaders’ statements, it would certainly seem so. India’s mild-mannered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared that Khobragade’s treatment was “deplorable.” National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon called her arrest “despicable” and “barbaric,” and Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid refused to take a conciliatory phone call from US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Emotions have run high in India’s Parliament and on television talk shows as well. Writing to her diplomatic colleagues after her arrest, Khobragade, who has denied the charges against her, noted that she “broke down many times,” owing to “the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping, and cavity searches, swabbing,” and to being held “with common criminals and drug addicts.” A former Indian foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, has publicly called for retaliation against gay American diplomats in India, whose sexual orientation and domestic arrangements are now illegal after a recent Supreme Court ruling. The government has not taken him seriously, but his suggestion indicates how inflamed passions have become.

Some retaliation has occurred. The initial American rationale (that foreign consuls in the US enjoy a lower level of immunity than other diplomats) led India’s government to re-examine privileges enjoyed by US consular officials that are unavailable to their Indian counterparts in the US. These privileges – including full-fledged diplomatic ID cards, access to the restricted customs areas of airports, tax-free shipments of items for personal consumption, and no questions asked about the terms of their employment of local domestic staff – were swiftly withdrawn. The cardinal principle of diplomatic relations is reciprocity, and India realized that it had been naïve in extending courtesies to the US that it was not receiving in return.

Likewise, the police have removed bollards and barriers that the US Embassy had unilaterally placed on the street in front of its complex in New Delhi, creating an obstacle to free circulation on a public road that India had tolerated in a spirit of friendship. (The government has, however, reiterated its commitment to the US Embassy’s security, even reinforcing the police presence outside.)

Tempers remain inflamed, with US Ambassador Nancy Powell, in a New Year’s message to Indians, ruefully acknowledging that ties have been “jolted by very different reactions to issues involving one of your consular officers and her domestic worker.” Kerry has also expressed “regret” over the incident. But the US has shown no signs of moving to drop the charges to defuse the crisis.

Indians remain bewildered that the US State Department would so willfully jeopardize a relationship that American officials had been describing as “strategic” over a practice routinely followed by foreign diplomats for decades. Most developing-country diplomats take domestic staff with them on overseas assignments, paying them a good salary by their national standards, plus a cost differential for working aboard. In Khobragade’s case, perquisites included a fully furnished room in a pricey Manhattan apartment, a television set, a mobile phone, medical insurance, and tickets home.

The cash part of the salary may be low by US standards – Khobragade herself, as a mid-ranking Indian diplomat, earns less than what the US considers a fair wage – but, with the other benefits, the compensation is attractive for a domestic helper. More to the point, Khobragade did not find her maid in the US labor market and “exploit” her; she brought her from India to help her in her representational duties, on an official passport, with a US visa given for that purpose. In almost no other country are local labor laws applied in such a manner to a foreign diplomat’s personal staff.

Privately, US diplomats express frustration at their helplessness in the face of theatrical grandstanding by the ambitious federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, an Indian-American who has launched a series of high-profile cases against Indians in America. For once, however, the zealous Bharara seems to have slipped up, because Khobragade was arrested at a time when she enjoyed full diplomatic (not just consular) immunity as an adviser to India’s United Nations mission during the General Assembly. The State Department’s handling of the matter – which included approval of Khobragade’s arrest – has been, to say the least, inept.

Worse, just before the arrest, the maid’s family was spirited out of India on US visas for victims of human trafficking. The implication that an Indian diplomat in a wage dispute with her maid is guilty of human trafficking understandably riles Indian diplomats as much as the treatment of Khobragade after she was detained. The American habit of imposing its worldview self-righteously on others is deeply unwelcome. To most Indians, common discourtesy cannot be repackaged as moral virtue.

Indian-American relations had been strengthening, owing to both sides’ shared commitment to democracy, common concerns about China, and increasing trade and investment. The Khobragade affair suggests, however, that all of this is not enough: sustaining a strategic partnership requires, above all, mutual respect.

India had handled American diplomats with a generosity of spirit that it felt the bilateral relationship deserved. Now, with the same spirit shown to be lacking from the other side, the friendship has suffered. Until the US displays appropriate deference to the sensitivities, pride, and honor of other peoples and cultures, it will continue to be resented around the world.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/x04wR6J_5FQ/story01.htm Tyler Durden

India Minister Warns Of "The Return Of The Ugly American"

Authored by Shashi Tharoor (India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development), originally posted at Project Syndicate,

Nearly a month after American authorities arrested India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, outside her children’s school and charged her with paying her Indian domestic worker a salary below the minimum wage, bilateral relations remain tense. India’s government has reacted with fury to the mistreatment of an official enjoying diplomatic immunity, and public indignation has been widespread and nearly unanimous. So, has an era of steadily improving ties between the two countries come to an end?

Judging from Indian leaders’ statements, it would certainly seem so. India’s mild-mannered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared that Khobragade’s treatment was “deplorable.” National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon called her arrest “despicable” and “barbaric,” and Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid refused to take a conciliatory phone call from US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Emotions have run high in India’s Parliament and on television talk shows as well. Writing to her diplomatic colleagues after her arrest, Khobragade, who has denied the charges against her, noted that she “broke down many times,” owing to “the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping, and cavity searches, swabbing,” and to being held “with common criminals and drug addicts.” A former Indian foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, has publicly called for retaliation against gay American diplomats in India, whose sexual orientation and domestic arrangements are now illegal after a recent Supreme Court ruling. The government has not taken him seriously, but his suggestion indicates how inflamed passions have become.

Some retaliation has occurred. The initial American rationale (that foreign consuls in the US enjoy a lower level of immunity than other diplomats) led India’s government to re-examine privileges enjoyed by US consular officials that are unavailable to their Indian counterparts in the US. These privileges – including full-fledged diplomatic ID cards, access to the restricted customs areas of airports, tax-free shipments of items for personal consumption, and no questions asked about the terms of their employment of local domestic staff – were swiftly withdrawn. The cardinal principle of diplomatic relations is reciprocity, and India realized that it had been naïve in extending courtesies to the US that it was not receiving in return.

Likewise, the police have removed bollards and barriers that the US Embassy had unilaterally placed on the street in front of its complex in New Delhi, creating an obstacle to free circulation on a public road that India had tolerated in a spirit of friendship. (The government has, however, reiterated its commitment to the US Embassy’s security, even reinforcing the police presence outside.)

Tempers remain inflamed, with US Ambassador Nancy Powell, in a New Year’s message to Indians, ruefully acknowledging that ties have been “jolted by very different reactions to issues involving one of your consular officers and her domestic worker.” Kerry has also expressed “regret” over the incident. But the US has shown no signs of moving to drop the charges to defuse the crisis.

Indians remain bewildered that the US State Department would so willfully jeopardize a relationship that American officials had been describing as “strategic” over a practice routinely followed by foreign diplomats for decades. Most developing-country diplomats take domestic staff with them on overseas assignments, paying them a good salary by their national standards, plus a cost differential for working aboard. In Khobragade’s case, perquisites included a fully furnished room in a pricey Manhattan apartment, a television set, a mobile phone, medical insurance, and tickets home.

The cash part of the salary may be low by US standards – Khobragade herself, as a mid-ranking Indian diplomat, earns less than what the US considers a fair wage – but, with the other benefits, the compensation is attractive for a domestic helper. More to the point, Khobragade did not find her maid in the US labor market and “exploit” her; she brought her from India to help her in her representational duties, on an official passport, with a US visa given for that purpose. In almost no other country are local labor laws applied in such a manner to a foreign diplomat’s personal staff.

Privately, US diplomats express frustration at their helplessness in the face of theatrical grandstanding by the ambitious federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara, an Indian-American who has launched a series of high-profile cases against Indians in America. For once, however, the zealous Bharara seems to have slipped up, because Khobragade was arrested at a time when she enjoyed full diplomatic (not just consular) immunity as an adviser to India’s United Nations mission during the General Assembly. The State Department’s handling of the matter – which included approval of Khobragade’s arrest – has been, to say the least, inept.

Worse, just before the arrest, the maid’s family was spirited out of India on US visas for victims of human trafficking. The implication that an Indian diplomat in a wage dispute with her maid is guilty of human trafficking understandably riles Indian diplomats as much as the treatment of Khobragade after she was detained. The American habit of imposing its worldview self-righteously on others is deeply unwelcome. To most Indians, common discourtesy cannot be repackaged as moral virtue.

Indian-American relations had been strengthening, owing to both sides’ shared commitment to democracy, common concerns about China, and increasing trade and investment. The Khobragade affair suggests, however, that all of this is not enough: sustaining a strategic partnership requires, above all, mutual respect.

India had handled American diplomats with a generosity of spirit that it felt the bilateral relationship deserved. Now, with the same spirit shown to be lacking from the other side, the friendship has suffered. Until the US displays appropriate deference to the sensitivities, pride, and honor of other peoples and cultures, it will continue to be resented around the world.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/x04wR6J_5FQ/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Italian 2Y Yields Drop Below 1% – Record Low

With record high unemployment at 12.3%, a banking system on life support, and a teetering-on-the-brink-of-recession GDP print; it only makes sense that on the heels of this morning’s trip to the capital markets by Ireland, the other peripheral bond markets in Europe are well bid. But in context, at 99.6bps, Italian 2Y yields are now at all-time record lows – is everyone in the world front-running an ECB QE? EURUSD is back under 1.3600 and even Turkish 2Y notes tumble to a mere 10.02%.

 

 

Charts: Bloomberg


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/6G_fOAOrUXA/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Goodyear “Boss” Hostages Freed With Police Help

The latest example of French labor relations has ended after two days with police rescuing the two executives from Goodyear Tire from the French factory…

  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS FREED UNDER FRENCH POLICE PROTECTION: AP
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS FREED AFTER 2 DAYS CAPTIVITY BY WORKERS:AP
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS HAD BEEN HELD HOSTAGE BY UNION
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS’ LIBERATION CONFIRMED BY LOCAL OFFICIALS

We are sure management will be much more open-minded and flexible after this fracas. We await Maurice Taylor’s next exortation on the “stupidity” of hiring in France.

 

Via AP,

Two Goodyear managers held captive for two days by angry French workers have been freed after police intervened.

 

The director and human resources chief at the plant in Amiens in northern France walked out of the factory Tuesday afternoon. Minutes earlier, two police officers had entered the facility while a dozen others waited outside.

 

The plant in Amiens, which Goodyear has tried to sell or shutter for five years, has become an emblem of France’s labor tensions. The seizure Monday morning of the two managers appeared to resurrect the once-common practice of “boss-napping.”

 

The Goodyear plant’s workers, having failed to get guarantees to keep the factory open, are demanding larger severance payments.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/AdnVDaSW4ls/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Goodyear "Boss" Hostages Freed With Police Help

The latest example of French labor relations has ended after two days with police rescuing the two executives from Goodyear Tire from the French factory…

  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS FREED UNDER FRENCH POLICE PROTECTION: AP
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS FREED AFTER 2 DAYS CAPTIVITY BY WORKERS:AP
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS HAD BEEN HELD HOSTAGE BY UNION
  • *GOODYEAR MANAGERS’ LIBERATION CONFIRMED BY LOCAL OFFICIALS

We are sure management will be much more open-minded and flexible after this fracas. We await Maurice Taylor’s next exortation on the “stupidity” of hiring in France.

 

Via AP,

Two Goodyear managers held captive for two days by angry French workers have been freed after police intervened.

 

The director and human resources chief at the plant in Amiens in northern France walked out of the factory Tuesday afternoon. Minutes earlier, two police officers had entered the facility while a dozen others waited outside.

 

The plant in Amiens, which Goodyear has tried to sell or shutter for five years, has become an emblem of France’s labor tensions. The seizure Monday morning of the two managers appeared to resurrect the once-common practice of “boss-napping.”

 

The Goodyear plant’s workers, having failed to get guarantees to keep the factory open, are demanding larger severance payments.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/AdnVDaSW4ls/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The Fed In 2014: A Story Of Unintended Consequences And Goldilocks

Commentary from Scotiabank’s Guy Haselmann

How Did the Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears End? – She Ran Away

  • Janet Yellen is inheriting a policy framework precisely at the time when the FOMC is in the midst of pivoting policy.  History suggests that financial crises usually arise when central banks pull back from periods of over-accommodation or when Atlas-complex policy-making tries to do too much. 
  • The FOMC has a tricky balance as accommodation needs to be removed quickly enough so that investors do not become too worried about asset bubbles or inflation, but not too quickly so that investors jump well-ahead of the Fed. (Not too hot, but not too cold – just right)
  • The FOMC’s hope is that its decision to initiate ‘the taper’ has been timed appropriately-enough to allow artificially-boosted risk asset valuations to be validated by the fundamentals, thus navigating a soft landing.  The intent is to anchor the front end of the yield curve, so that markets can adjust to the new policy direction in an orderly manner and with muted volatility. 
  • After ‘pedal to the metal’ policy, Bernanke has indicated that the new plan is to ease the foot off the accelerator at a steady rate of decline.  The Fed is swapping asset purchases with forward promises; however the switch may not result in the expected off-set anticipated by officials.  Using the QE “dimmer switch” approach – as Rosengren called it – to recalibrate during the unwind process may not be a strong enough tool to prevent the Fed from losing control of the process.
  • Unintended consequences may have developed from QE policies that are not fully understood.  They may materialize more clearly during the withdrawal process.  Any of a number of obstacles could push the Fed ‘off course’ from the smooth landing that its baseline scenario suggests: 
    • Certainly, expanding the balance sheet by over $3 trillion has had a significant impact on valuations, market functioning, and asset allocation, so those effects could cause some market turbulence as they revert back to normal.
    • Emerging markets, which benefited heavily in the early years of QE, have recently shown some disruptions, such as, slowing economic growth, weakening currencies, and capital outflows.
    • Political and social concerns about income and wealth inequalities have grown due to the use of asset prices as a policy tool.
    • Structural unemployment from long-term joblessness and technological advancement cannot be addressed through easy money.
    • Politics is still polarizing, which in turn creates on-going economic headwinds.
  • Vast uncertainties remain; yet, financial markets appear priced closer to perfection with expectations that sustainable private sector-led growth will propel equity markets ever-higher.
  • “Help” – Goldilocks 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/aczQmNlp35k/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Commodities Are Crumbling

Despite the surge in prices for NatGas (and record time-of-year prices for gasoline),  WTI crude oil prices are stumbling back to $93.50 this morning. Copper is also sliding but the real action – once again – is in Gold and Silver. Following yesterday’s flash crash in gold, silver is having a conniption this morning as the 8amET period once again brings volatility. The selling coincided with the smaller-than-expected trade deficit – perhaps indicating indirectly less room for Fed QE? But in this new normal market, do they really need a reason to smack them down. Stocks are not moving as this occurs but bonds and the USD are modestly bid.

 


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/Vw07w3QTuMY/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Surge Pricing: New York Nat Gas Prices Soar To Record

It’s Winter, so it’s cold; but even relative to the worst year in recent records, this is extreme. Demand for heat is seemingly surging as the price for delivery of Natural Gas in New York City and New Jersey has soared to a record high. Uber would be proud of the surge as prices for Northeast Transco Zone 6 gas reached almost 9 times its seasonal average and other East Coast hubs reached 10-year highs.

Nat Gas prices for delivery in NYC and NJ…

 

more than 8 times the seasonal average…

 

Via Bloomberg,

Spot gas prices for New York City surged to a record for today while other East Coast hubs climbed to 10-year highs. Transco Zone 6, which includes deliveries to New York City, reached $90 per million British thermal units in IntercontinentalExchange Group Inc. trading before ending at $55.49, an all-time high based on data going back to 2001. Gas at the Algonquin City Gates in New England more than doubled to $34.10 after reaching $50, the most since January 2004.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/YqxkM-04AIg/story01.htm Tyler Durden