How “Willy” & “Nicky” Failed To Avert World War I

Originally posted at Agence France Presse,

In the four days before World War I broke out, the Russian tsar and his cousin the German emperor — "Willy" and "Nicky" as they nicknamed each other — traded telegrams in a last-ditch bid to save peace, even as their army chiefs readied for battle.


On July 29, 1914, a day after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia's Nicholas II sent the first of these oddly surreal English-language telegrams to Wilhelm II, pledging his affection and commitment to peace.

"I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and be forced to take extreme measures which will lead to war," read the first message from Nicholas II, sent hours before Russia ordered a general mobilisation that would in turn pull Germany into the war.

"To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far," the tsar wrote.

Writing the same day, informed that Russia was about to mobilise — a clear casus belli for Germany's army chiefs — Wilhelm II pleaded with his cousin to stay out of the Austria-Serbia conflict.


"With regard to the hearty and tender friendship which binds us both from long ago with firm ties, I am exerting my utmost influence to induce the Austrians to deal straightly to arrive to a satisfactory understanding with you," the German wrote, signing off: "Your very sincere and devoted friend and cousin. Willy".

The first two telegrams crossed one another, like most that followed.

"Willy" went on to urge "Nicky" for "Russia to remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed."

Nicholas thanked Wilhelm for his attempts to mediate, and appealed to "the wisdom and friendship" of his German cousin to put an end to Austria's war preparations.

– 'On your shoulders now' –

But on July 30, Wilhelm — having received news that Russia was mobilising its troops — warned Nicholas this would endanger his role as mediator and force Germany to take "preventive measures of defence".

The next day came the admission from Nicholas II that — while he hopes mediation with Vienna can still bear fruit — he was powerless to reverse the military march.

"It is technically impossible to stop our military preparations which were obligatory owing to Austria's mobilisation," he wrote, signing off: "Your affectionate, Nicky".

By this point Wilhelm II had become markedly less affectionate, laying the responsibility for the looming disaster squarely with his cousin.

"The whole weight of the decision lies solely on you(r) shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for Peace or War," he wrote on July 30.

"The responsibility for the disaster which is now threatening the whole civilised world will not be laid at my door," he warned the following day, with Berlin poised to enter the war.

Still, Nicholas II seemed to believe until the last that war could be averted, sending an SOS on the morning of August 1 in which he asked Wilhelm II to confirm that Germany's mobilisation did not mark the end of efforts for peace.

"Our long proved friendship must succeed, with God's help, in avoiding bloodshed. Anxiously, full of confidence await your answer. Nicky."

But the die had been cast.

"Willy" replied tersely that he could no longer discuss the matter short of "immediate affirmative clear and unmistakable" message calling off the Russian mobilisation — something he already knew to be impossible.

"As a matter of fact I must request you to immediatly [sic] order your troops on no account to commit the slightest act of trespassing over our frontiers."

That evening, at 7:00 pm, "Willy" declared war on "Nicky" and the "horror", "bloodshed" and "disaster" foretold by the courteous cousins had begun.



via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Dark Secrets and Ironies of Communists and Communism

The finance and economic literary worlds appear to be going through a kind of Marxist craze. Among other things, this crowd is lecturing the world on how capitalism is to blame for the world’s problems.


It’s pretty staggering when you consider that:


1)   There is literally no example in history in which Marxism or Communism successfully increased wealth or standards of wellbeing.

2)   There is literally no example in the natural world in which Marxism exists.


The biggest monsters in history were Marxists or Communists. Chairman Mao was not a champion of the people. He was a power-crazed, ignorant monster responsible for the death of 60 million people.


You could literally kill EVERY human being in the states of California and New York and STILL not measure up to Mao’s track record. Millions of people were enslaved both literally and spiritually by this man.


Then of course there is Stalin who oversaw the death of some 40 MILLION people due to his misguided and evil policies. People literally starved to death because of this monster of a human being.


Marxism and communism don’t work. They are totally contrary to human nature and basic human rights. The worst human rights offenders in history were communists. In fact, every example of Marxism in history shows that it had to be FORCED on people.


Heck, Marx himself was so unpopular during his lifetime that when he died only SEVEN people attended the funeral.


Marx, for all his rhetoric on the working class, never started a single business or created a single job in his life. He didn’t work. He just sat around and wrote books about things he never experienced in first person. Four of his seven children died as a direct result of poverty from his failure to provide for his family.


This is not conjecture; Marx knew his life choices directly contributed to his family’s suffering and the death of his children.


Guess who footed the bill for Marx’s moronic aspirations? A worker: someone who gave up his hopes of being a writer because it didn’t pay and went to work in the private sector. Marx’s writings were LITERALLY funded by the private sector.


This is the man revered by communists around the world: someone who let his family starve and die rather than get out of his seat and get a job. A man who literally lived off of others … while writing on and on about worker’s rights.

This is someone we’re supposed to admire and study? This is the man who came up with theories that would make the world a better place?


Give me a break.


Phoenix Capital Research








via Zero Hedge Phoenix Capital Research

Blaming Deflation

Submitted by Alasdair Macleod of,

With the Eurozone going to the extreme of negative interest rates and the IMF belatedly revising downwards their expectations of US economic growth, deflation is now the favored buzzword. It is time to untangle myth from reality and put deflation in context.

Keynesian and monetarist economists commonly use the word to describe the phenomenon of falling prices, or alternatively a rising value for money. Deflation is loosely meant to be the opposite of inflation. But the term inflation originally applied to an increase in the quantities of currency and credit, not to the rise in prices that can be expected to follow. The definition has drifted from cause to supposed effect. Taking its cue from this transfer of definition, deflation is now taken to describe falling prices, usually linked to failing demand, and not a contraction of money in circulation.

Keynes decided that falling prices discourage consumers because they are likely to defer their purchases. He also argued in his Tract on Monetary Reform that deflation benefited the rentier class at the expense of the borrower, calling to mind an image of the idle rich enjoying a windfall at the expense of the hard-working poor. Keynes and his followers subsequently developed this argument against falling prices to justify government intervention as the remedy. No recognition was given to the normal process where stable money leads to lower prices, the hallmark of genuine economic progress. Sound money became tarred with the deflationary brush and ruled out as a desirable objective.

The deflation problem according to another economist, Irving Fisher, is that the losses suffered by businesses from falling prices can lead to collateral being liquidated by the banks, feeding into a debt-liquidation spiral and ultimately banking failure. Fisher was describing the natural response of banks to a widespread slump, and not the normal course of business in a sound money environment.

However, while swallowing Keynes’ and Fisher’s arguments central bankers are ignoring the law of the markets, commonly referred to as Say’s Law. It states that we make things to buy things so you cannot divorce consumption from production, and money is just the temporary lubricant for the process. Tinkering with monetary value solves nothing. This was the accepted wisdom before Keynes turned it on its head in the 1930s. Today governments and central banks think they can do better than markets by monetary intervention and state direction. The result is businesses that should fail are supported and uneconomic activities promoted. And when this support operation shows signs of collapsing, we are told it is deflation.

If the word has any meaning, it is nothing of the sort: markets are merely trying to embrace reality and cleanse themselves of the accumulated distortions. The fact that this cleansing process has been suspended, at least since the Reagan/Thatcher era of the early 1980s, warns us that the accumulation of distortions is great; so great that when they are corrected Irving Fisher’s warning about slumps will be proven to be correct.

The marker of course is the accumulation of debt, which strangles everything. My conclusion is that use of the term deflation is passing off the accumulating problems created by government and monetary interventions as the failure of markets.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

How Americans Spend Their Day: Less Work, More Sleep And TV

It was about a year ago when we were surprised to learn that when it comes to spending their average day, American adults (15+, male and female), the typical American spent just over 3 hours per day working, less than the time allotted to eating/drinking and watching TV. The most time-consuming activity, not surprisingly, was sleep, taking up just over a third of the day, following by leisure and sports to which Americans devote over 5 hours a day.

This week the BLS released its latest "American Time Use Survey" and unlike last year, this time we were not surprised to learn that not only are Americans far more preoccupied with sleeping and watching TV than working, but they have never slept more and worked less in the past decade. Perhaps in addition to obesity, the ongoing deterioration in the fundamentals of the US economy, already crushed by the Fed's central planning capital misallocation, may have something to do with this latest disturbing trend. Just perhaps.

The hourly breakdown of typical activities the average American engaged in during 2013:


The WSJ, when looking at the numbers, reaches the same conclusion: "Americans slept more and worked less last year, reflecting an economy that remains groggy after the recession and an older population with more time to rest."

How has the average US day changed over the past decade:

The trend is ugly, and it's getting worse:

Averaging together both weekdays and weekends, Americans older than 14 slept for eight hours, 44 minutes and conducted work-related activities for three hours, 28 minutes each day, according to the Labor Department's annual American Time Use Survey, released Wednesday. That is 14 minutes less work a day and 10 minutes more sleep than when the survey began a decade earlier, and a bit less work and more sleep than in 2012. 


Americans have tended to sleep a bit more and work a bit less each year in the past decade. But the deep recession from 2007 until 2009 appeared to have accelerated the trends.

So if they aren't working what are they doing? Watching TV.

According to the survey, Americans' No. 1 hobby remains watching television. In 2013, respondents said they spent an average of two hours, 46 minutes a day watching TV, 11 minutes more than in 2003 but down slightly from the previous year.

As John P. Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, correctly observes,  "The data defies popular expectations. People say they're too busy for leisure and don't have time to sleep, but that seems not to be the case."

Americans lying about their daily routine? Unpossible.

The numbers are collected from about 11,400 individuals via phone interviews where participants are asked to reconstruct a diary of the previous day. Participants are selected to ensure estimates are nationally representative, the Labor Department said.

WSJ's conclusion: "It is difficult to grasp precisely why people have shifted how they spend their days. But demographics and economics play a large role."

Actually, it's not that difficult at all, and the following chart showing the number of hours spent sleeping (a cycle high), compared a work (a cycle low) shows pretty much all you need to know.

So less work, more sleep: with increasing automation, an ever older population and an economy that is still mired in a deep depression only masked by the global central planners' attempts at reflating asset prices and generating a "confidence boosting" wealth effect for some, and welfare for others, this is hardly surprising.

However, perhaps what is most interesting, and what is best known by a regime whose survival depends on preserving confidence in the system, is that as a result of all of the above, the amount of time spent by Americans and by the entire developed, if insolvent, world in front of the TV, is now at an all time high.

Here is Goldman's take on this phenomenon:

From a media perspective, older demographics watch more TV but advertisers are keener on younger audiences – in particular young males with disposable incomes. We believe that this could change, as older demographics are more tech savvy and engage with social media and innovations such as second screen applications. As targeted advertising becomes more widespread, advertisers may come to value older demographics more. BSkyB is in the process of implementing Ad-Smart, a targeted advertising service which marries subscriber data with bought-in public records and credit data. This should allow advertisers to serve different commercials to individual households.

There's that. And there is also the much simpler question of pure propaganda blasting at everyone 24/7 on some 1000 cable channels.


Some of the more stunning details from the BLS study:

Employed persons worked an average of 7.6 hours on the days they worked. More hours were worked, on average, on weekdays than on weekend days—7.9 hours compared with 5.5 hours.


On the days they worked, employed men worked 53 minutes more than employed women. This difference partly reflects women's greater likelihood of working part time. However, even among full-time workers (those usually working 35 hours or more per week), men worked longer than women—8.3 hours compared with 7.7 hours.


On the days they worked, 83 percent of employed persons did some or all of their work at their workplace and 23 percent did some or all of their work at home. They spent more time working at the workplace than at home—7.9 hours compared with 3.0 hours.


Multiple jobholders were more likely to work on an average day than were single jobholders— 77 percent compared with 67 percent.


Household Activities in 2013


On the days they did household activities, women spent an average of 2.6 hours on such activities, while men spent 2.1 hours.


On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework—such as cleaning or doing laundry—compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-two percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 68 percent of women.


Leisure Activities in 2013


On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (95 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Of those who engaged in leisure activities, men spent more time in these activities (5.9 hours) than did women (5.2 hours).


Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for more than half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity, accounting for 43 minutes per day.


Time spent reading for personal interest and playing games or using a computer for leisure varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 1.0 hour of reading per weekend day and 20 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure. Conversely, individuals ages 15 to 19 read for an average of 4 minutes per weekend day and spent 52 minutes playing games or using a computer for leisure.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Great Medication: Sri-Kumar Blasts, “The Fed Has Been Wrong Everytime!”

As Komal Sri-Kumar points out in this harsh (but fair) discussion of the Fed, (as Tim Iacono notes) the central bank’s abysmal track record on forecasting economic growth and how they have a fantastic track record for “taking the punch bowl away” far too slowly should worry all. “The Fed has been wrong every time on its growth forecast and overly optimistic,” Sri-Kumar rants, adding that “the Fed is wrong in terms of its  benevolence to the markets.” The current environment reminds him of early 2008 noting there are “lots of characteristics which are similar and it worries me a lot.” Simply out, “they’ve had five years of quantitative easing, big bond purchases, quintupling of the Fed balance sheet. And we don’t have sustainable economic growth,” but the great medication is not working, and “the remedy is that you have to take the shock.”



Transcript with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene:

Q: What was the key moment within the Janet Yellen news conference on Wednesday?

A: I think the key moment was at 2:47 pm. She essentially said the punchbowl is there and she’s simply not going to take it away. I don’t think they’re going to raise interest rates at the end of 2015 either because the Fed has been wrong every time on its growth forecast and overly optimistic. And as growth disappoints in the second half of the year, I think the rate increases are going to be postponed.

Q: Here is a quote from you after the FOMC meeting: ‘Why are we allowing supposedly ‘emergency measures’ introduced in 2008 to go into their seventh year? What will the Fed do when there is a true shock – increase bond purchases to 100 gazillion, to 250 gazillion?’ This was a substantial takeaway on what the Fed has gotten wrong. What’s the remedy right now?

A: The remedy is that you have to take the shock. You have to stop quantitative easing. You have to have a symbolic increase in interest rates. The Federal funds rate has to go up 1/4 or 1/2 a percent. It will cause a shock to the market. It will bring down equities. It will cause bond yields to rise. Take that medicine now or be prepared to take a much stronger medicine later on when the illness gets worse.

Q: Given the fact that we have unemployment at 6.3 percent, that’s good. We have inflation moving up in terms of the CPI, close to 2.1 percent, that’s good. Why is Yellen still keeping the punchbowl here?

A: She’s keeping the punchbowl because she’s worried about the long-term unemployed. She realizes that the 6.3 percent unemployment rate is largely because of the falling participation rate. She knows there is a lot of pain. And that’s where I think the change comes. That’s where I think the Fed is wrong in terms of its  benevolence to the markets.

Q: Is this a bull market you can believe in? Or is it a house of cards developed by not just Chair Yellen but BOE Governor Mark Carney and the other central banks?

A: That’s a great question. I would say this reminds me so much of the first half of 2008. Oil prices were very high and growth prospects were said to be doing very well and everybody was feeling very complacent about the overall in May and June. The ECB raised interest rates in July of 2008 thinking inflation was the major risk. We have lots of characteristics which are similar and it worries me a lot.

Q: You have been persistent in a call for subdued global economic growth combined with a little inflation. What do the optimists get wrong?

A: The optimists expect that the monetary growth, the quantitative easing, will produce economic growth at a rapid pace. Sometimes when you take a medication and it hasn’t worked for five years, you better change your medication. But that’s essentially the error with the optimists. They’ve had five years of quantitative easing, big bond purchases, quintupling of the Fed balance sheet. And we don’t have sustainable economic growth. Why not say you need a different medication? We started out with a zero interest rate in 2008 and we have evidence again and again from Robert Mandel, Milton Friedman, that monetary policy is ineffective at very low interest rate levels. The other problem is unemployment is becoming structural. That means long-term unemployment cannot be changed via monetary policy.

Q: What kind of short-term fixes are on the table?

A: I don’t think there are any short-term fixes. Especially after five years of not having done much. I’ll go one step further beyond fiscal policy. If you’re saying just spend more money and that will create jobs, we tried doing it in 2009 and 2010. It’s just not going to happen.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Shark Has Jumped the Shark

I’m speechless. Just speechless.

I present to you: Entrepreneur Barbie. This is not a joke. (“Entering the entrepreneurial world, this independent professional is ready for the next big pitch. Barbie Entrepreneur doll wears a sophisticated dress in signature pink that features modern color blocking and a sleek silhouette. Her “smartphone,” tablet and briefcase are always by her side”)

I’m an entrepreneur. A real one. An honest-to-God, up-from-the-bootstraps, take-on-the-world entrepreneur. I assure you that signature pink and a sleek silhouette were never involved. Neither was modern color blocking (unless you count the fact that, when needed, I could match a blue shirt with khakis). “Entrepreneur” has officially lost every shred of its meaning.



Oh, and if you’re not fully-convinced that the current tech bubble makes the one from 1999 seem like the makings of a wise and prudent group of deep thinkers, I offer this bonus:



Hey, world! March 2000 called. It wants its bubble back.

via Zero Hedge Tim Knight from Slope of Hope

New Ranges in FX

There were three important price developments among the major currencies in the past week.


First, encouraged by more hawkish signals from the Bank of England, in contrast to the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, sterling was bid to new multi-year highs.The Commitment of Traders data show the continued building of gross long sterling positions, and this was prior to the pound sustaining the move above $1.70.


Still, sterling was not the strongest of the major currencies and the euro actually narrowly outperformed it (0.4% vs 0.3%). The market appears stretched as sterling approached the upper Bollinger Band. Although sterling closed two consecutive sessions above $1.70, including on a weekly basis, its foothold is precarious near-term. Pullbacks will likely be bought. The key issue is how shallow of a dip. A break of $1.6975 would signal a deeper pullback and the next objective would be closer to $1.6920.


The second important price development was the euro itself. Although a week ago, the euro had appeared poised to fall through the $1.3500 level, the bears ran into a wall of buyers, including, market talk suggested, reserve managers. The euro’s upside though seems to be capped the bearish underlying sentiment and the expected divergence of monetary policy.


This leaves the single currency in a range. The immediate near-term range is roughly $1.3560 to $1.3650, The broader range appears to be $1.3500-$1.3700. This will keep implied volatility grinding lower, even though near 5%, it has already slipped to fresh multi-year lows. The fact that three-month implied volatility is above the historic (realized) volatility is also consistent with this outlook.


The third significant technical development was the breakdown of the US dollar against the Canadian dollar. It took a rise in Canadian retail sales twice what the consensus expected (1.1% vs. 0.6%) and a greater rise in inflation to two-year highs (2.3% on the headline and 1.7% on core) to push the US dollar below CAD1.08 for the first time since early this year. The US dollar closed below its 200-day moving average (~CAD1.0780) for the first time since Q1 13.


While the breakout is noteworthy, the technical readings caution against expecting strong follow through gains in the Canadian dollar immediately. The RSI and MACDs are not generating strong signals, and the US dollar finished below the lower Bollinger Band (~CAD1.0785). That said, the CAD1.0800-20 area should offer initial resistance now. On the downside, a break of CAD1.0740 signals a test on CAD1.07. The Bank of Canad meets on July 16 and after this string of data, it will likely be a bit less dovish in its neutrality.


The Canadian dollar spent most of the first part of the year inversely correlated to oil prices. The correlation has swung positive in recent weeks. At about 0.3 (60-day percent change), it is the highest for this year, but still about half of last year’s peak and a little more than a third of the peak in 2012.


Meanwhile, the dollar remains confined to its two-month trading range against the yen between JPY101 and JPY103. In fact, within that range, a narrower JPY101.60-JPY102.60 contained the bulk of the price action. Three-month implied volatility finished last week at its lowest level since at least 1996 (~5.7%) and, similar to the euro, is about 100 bp on top of the historic (realized) volatility.


The 200-day moving average is found at the lower end of the dollar-yen’s narrow range (~JPY 101.65) and the greenback has not sustained a break of this since before Abe was elected. On the other hand, the euro broke below its 200-day moving average against the yen on June 9-10. The downside momentum has not been sustained, but the euro’s upticks have been capped by it in recent days (now just below JPY139). A move back above it could spur a quick move to JPY140, but may offer more formidable resistance.


The Australian dollar has been confined to a clearly identifiable range since the start of the Q2 between $0.9200 and $0.9400. It managed to finish the North American session about six times above the $0.9400 level, four of those times have been in the last fortnight, but there has been no breakout. The Australian dollar has been fairly resilient to the decline in iron ore prices and a somewhat more dovish central bank. Yet, the rule of alternation suggests that after testing the top side in vain, a push lower is likely. The initial target is near $0.9335.


The US dollar posted a reversal in the form of an outside down day against the Mexican peso on June 18 and experienced follow through selling the subsequent two sessions. Even though before the weekend the dollar briefly traded above the June 19 high, it finished on its lows. A break now of the MXN12.95-MXN12.96 area would signal a move to MXN12.90 and possible a re-test of the lows near MXN12.80, which has held since last October.


Lastly, turning to the technical condition of the 10-year US Treasury yield, we note that it remains above the downtrend line drawn off the January, April, May and early June highs. However, rather than signal a new uptrend, it appears it has entered a new trading range. The 2.66% area has capped the upside, while the buyers seem to pullback as yields approach 2.55%. In a broader picture and over the slightly longer term, the 2.50% on the downside looks secure and on the upside, a combination of factors, like more supply, stronger growth, uptick in inflation, could see yields can approach 2.80%, which has been the larger range since mid-January.


Observations from the speculative positioning in the futures market:


1.  There were three significant position adjustments in the latest Commitment of Traders report for the week ending June 17.  The  gross short euro positions were extended by 12.3k contracts to 113.2k.  However, the net position changed by about 4.6k contracts because, it appears that  new buyers came in when the $1.35 spot level help.  The gross longs rose by 7.7k contracts to 51.4k contracts.  Sterling bulls have been emboldened by the more hawkish commentary from the BOE and the gross longs rose by 15.2k to 100.4k contracts.  This is the largest gross long position in seven years.   The gross long peso position was cut by 15.3k contracts to 91.2k, putting it in second place behind sterling for the largest gross long positions.  


2.  The net speculative position in the Swiss franc swung back to the long side for the first time since late May.  It was a product of new gross longs being established (5.7k contracts), perhaps encouraged by ideas negative rate by the ECB will see franc test its ceiling.  Frankly, switch back to net long position is also a product of the general light participation (small numbers).  


3.  A combination of an almost 50% increase in gross long yen positions (to 17.8k contracts) and a paring of gross short positions (-8.2k contracts to almost just below 86k) stopped the four-week streak during which the net short yen position rose.  At 68.0k contracts, it is the smallest net yen position in a month.  


4.  In the US Treasury market, neither bull nor bear seemed inspired.  The gross long position was trimmed by 6.2k contracts to 365.7k.  The change was little more than a rounding error.  The gross short position grew by 7.7k to to 451.6k contracts, which is also too small to read much of a signal.  Over the CFTC reporting period, the price of the September 10-year note futures changed by five ticks.  

via Zero Hedge Marc To Market

This is a Trader`s Market

By EconMatters  


Market Themes


The one that has really characterized financial markets over the last couple of years, and by financial markets I mean everything from Forex and Natural Gas to Bonds and Equities, is that sure buy and holding works in certain asset classes given the bull market in equities, but even in regards to equities trading around the market had been the most profitable strategy by a large amount. Many markets like bonds which are currently dominated by Yield Chasers trade in tight ranges, and it is so much more profitable to just swing trade the range because bonds really haven`t gone anywhere for months. Any Bond Bull who didn`t take profits on positions when the 10-year yield was 2.40% is regretting that decision today, and this goes for many markets with ever contracting volatility. 


Contracting Volatility


The other trend in markets is that with contracting volatility and so many trading strategies revolving around spread trading and yield carry arbitrage trades prices move a lot less on a 23 hour basis, it boils down to fewer opportunities than before regarding the Asian markets, whereas just 4 years ago it made sense from a volatility standpoint to trade the futures markets overnight for some robust moves, it really isn`t worth one`s time these days. Basically, prices move at the European open and the US Pre-market and open, the European close, Gold and Oil close, and are dead until the equities close unless there is a big Fed day. 


Risk Aversion Strategies: Better to make less money, but have perceived lower volatility strategy on Street – becomes self-reinforcing for Industry Trend


Markets have been characterized in the low volatility environment by bot trading, i.e., the machine algos trading back and forth with each other in very, very tight price ranges. This past Wednesday and Jobs day offer some of the best trading opportunities and glimpses of what markets used to be like to trade before the Central Banks started mucking things up with five years of near zero percent liquidity, and the fact that modern finance just loves risk-free arb strategies that are facilitated if they are able to keep volatility in a tight range at low levels.


Central Banks & Market Intervention: Markets became Instruments for Social & Monetary Policy


Once Central Banks get out of markets, and I know some critics think that once they get in they are here to stay, healthy volatility and actual price discovery should come back to asset classes. Oil has been characterized by a trader`s market; one outperformed the buy and holding strategy as no real trends have emerged by and large for the last five years, just sell tops and buy bottoms of the five year trading range between $80 and $110, of course the key is to pay attention to when this trend changes and to use healthy stops, because oil can always make a 2007 run if all the stars align in the market.

Learn to argue both sides of an issue


But the broader theme of this article is just to say that prices move around a lot in many asset classes but don`t really go anywhere in the overall big picture, and savvy traders have taken full advantage of this state of affairs to outperform the market. Don`t ever fall in love with any view, position or asset class because chances are traders will be taking the low hanging fruit, and moving to greener pastures. In short, this is a trader`s market.


Don`t Fall in Love with Positions


And even when the inevitable selling begins and the market declines don`t just position your portfolio with market blinders! For example, there were always powerful snapback rallies during the Financial Crisis and subsequent Market Crash in equities like Citigroup and Bank of America, so don`t fall in love with your shorts, get in get out, and outperform the broader market.



AUM versus Performance


Of course that is easier said than done as so many hedge funds underperform the broader market, but as we have noted before there are a lot of incompetent people managing money these days, and I blame a lot of this on the pension funds and institutional money like endowments who seek diversification just for diversification`s sake, and a bunch of hedge funds and fund of funds have sprung up to take advantage of this trend that couldn`t analyze or trade their way out of a paper bag. 


But they get paid for raising money, and shoot it isn`t their money, and as long as pension funds and endowments are this enabling, the game continues to be played by these rules. Wall Street is an AUM game, not one which attracts the best minds in the world from other fields like technology and science, they try to outsource these minds, but they usually are of the lower echelon, and relegate these types to support functions like programming. 


Punctuation & Grammar Police


Just as an aside as I love that our readers point out the predictable mistakes in our articles, keep up the good work as this keeps us from falling too far in the modern finance cliché, “that if one spends too much time on editing emails, analysis and write-ups, then one isn`t really doing anything substantial in the business.” 




There can be many effective investing strategies and they all have their merits, but if you`re frustrated that your position keeps bouncing back and forth, giving up large profit chunks and seemingly going nowhere you might want to develop a trader`s mindset!


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via Zero Hedge EconMatters