Theory of Interest and Prices in Practice

Medieval thinkers were tempted to believe that if you throw a rock it flies straight until it runs out of force, and then it falls straight down. Economists are tempted to think of prices as a linear function of the “money supply”, and interest rates to be based on “inflation expectations”, which is to say expectations of rising prices.

The medieval thinkers, and the economists are “not even wrong”, to borrow a phrase often attributed to physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Science has to begin by going out to reality and observing what happens. Anyone can see that in reality, these tempting assumptions do not fit what occurs.

In my series of essays on interest rates and prices[1], I argued that the system has positive feedback and resonance, and cannot be understood in terms of a linear model. When I began this series of papers, the rate of interest was still falling to hit a new all-time low. Then on May 5,2013, it began to shoot up. It rose 83% over a period of exactly four months. That may or may not have been the peak (it has subsided a little since then).

Several readers asked me if I thought this was the beginning of a new rising cycle, or if I thought this was the End (of the dollar). As I expressed in Part VI, the End will be driven by the withdrawal of the gold bid on the dollar. Since early August, gold has become more and more abundant in the market.[2] I think it is safe to say that this is not the end of the dollar, just yet. The hyperinflationists’ stopped clock will have to remain wrong a while longer. I said that the rising rate was a correction.

I am quite confident of this prediction, for all the reasons I presented in the discussion of the falling cycle in Part V. But let’s look at the question from a different perspective, to see if we end up with the same conclusion.

In the gold standard, the rate of interest is the spread between the gold coin and the gold bond. If the rate is higher, that is equivalent to saying that the spread is wider. If the rate is lower, then this spread is narrower.

A wider spread offers more incentive for people to straddle it, an act that I define as arbitrage. Another way of saying this is that a higher rate offers more incentive for people to dishoard gold and lend it. If the rate falls, which is the same as saying if the spread narrows, then there is less incentive and people will revert to hoarding to avoid the risks and capital lock-up of lending. Savers who take the bid on the interest rate (which is equivalent to taking the ask on the bond) press the rate lower, which compresses the spread.

It goes almost without saying, that the spread could never be compressed to zero (by the way, this is true for all arbitrage in all free markets). There are forces tending to compress the spread, such as the desire to earn interest by savers. But the lower the rate of interest, the stronger the forces tending to widen the spread become. These include entrepreneurial demand for credit, and most importantly the time preference of the saver—his reluctance to delay gratification. There is no lending at zero interest and nearly zero lending at near-zero interest.

I emphasize that interest is a spread to put the focus on a universal principle of free markets. As I stated in my dissertation:

“All actions of all men in the markets are various forms of arbitrage.”

Arbitrage compresses the spread that is being straddled. It lifts up the price of the long leg, and pushes down the price of the short leg. If one buys eggs in the farm town, then the price of eggs there will rise. If one sells eggs in the city center, then the price there will fall.

In the gold standard, hoarding tends to lift the value of the gold coin and depress the value of the bond. Lending tends to depress the value of the coin and lift the value of the bond. The value of gold itself is the closest thing to constant in the market, so in effect these two arbitrages move the value of the bond. How is the value of the bond measured—against what is it compared? Gold is the unit of account, the numeraire.

The value of the bond can move much farther than the value of gold. But in this context it is important to be aware that gold is not fixed, like some kind of intrinsic value. An analogy would be that if you jump up, you push the Earth in the opposite direction. Its mass is so heavy that in most contexts you can safely ignore the fact that the Earth experiences an equal but opposite force. But this is not the same thing as saying the Earth is fixed in position in its orbit.

The regime of irredeemable money behaves quite differently than the gold standard (notwithstanding frivolous assertions by some economists that the euro “works like” the gold standard). The interest rate is still a spread. But what is it a spread between? Does arbitrage act on this spread? Is there an essential difference between this and the arbitrage in gold?

Analogous to gold, the rate of interest in paper currency is the spread between the dollar and the bond. There are a number of differences from gold. Most notably, there is little reason to hold the dollar in preference to the government bond. Think about that.

In the gold standard, if you don’t like the risk or interest of a bond, you can happily hold gold coins. But in irredeemable paper currency, the dollar is itself a credit instrument backed by said government bond. The dollar is the liability side of the Fed’s balance sheet, with the bond being the asset. Why would anyone hold a zero-yield paper credit instrument in preference to a non-zero-yield paper credit instrument (except as speculation—see below)? And that leads to the key identification.

The Fed is the arbitrager of this spread!

The Fed is buying bonds, which lifts up the value of the bond and pushes down the interest rate. Against these new assets, the Fed is issuing more dollars. This tends to depress the value of the dollar. The dollar has a lot of inertia, like gold. It has extremely high stocks to flows, like gold. But unlike gold, the dollar’s value does fall with its quantity (if not in the way that the quantity theory of money predicts). Whatever one might say about the marginal utility of gold, the dollar’s marginal utility certainly falls.

The Fed is involved in another arbitrage with the bond and the dollar. The Fed lends dollars to banks, so that they can buy the government bond (and other bonds). This lifts the value of the bond, just like the Fed’s own bond purchases.

Astute readers will note that when the Fed lends to banks to buy bonds, this is equivalent to stating that banks borrow from the Fed to buy bonds. The banks are borrowing short to lend long, also called duration mismatch.

This is not precisely an arbitrage between the dollar and the bond. It is an arbitrage between the short-term lending and long-term bond market. It is the spread between short- and long-term interest rates that is compressed in this trade.

One difference between gold and paper is that, in paper, there is a central planner who sets the short-term rate by diktat. Since 2008, Fed policy has pegged it to practically zero.

This makes for a lopsided “arbitrage”, which is not really an arbitrage. One side is not free to move, even the slight amount of a massive object. It is fixed by law, which is to say, force. The economy ought to allow free movement of all prices, and now one point is bolted down. All sorts of distortions will occur around it as tension builds.

I put “arbitrage” in scare quotes because it is not really arbitrage. The Fed uses force to hand money to those cronies who have access to this privilege. It is not arbitrage in the same way that a fence who sells stolen goods is not a trader.

In any case, the rate on the short end of the yield curve is
fixed near zero today, while there is a pull on the long bond closer to it. Is there any wonder that the rate on the long bond has a propensity to fall?

Under the gold standard, borrowing short to lend long is certainly not necessary [3] However, in our paper system, it is an integral part of the system, by its very design.

The government offers antiseptic terms for egregious acts. For example, they use the pseudo-academic term “quantitative easing” to refer to the dishonest practice of monetizing the debt. Similarly, they use the dry euphemism “maturity transformation” to refer to borrowing short to lend long, i.e. duration mismatch. Perhaps the term “transmogrification” would be more appropriate, as this is nothing short of magic.

The saver is the owner of the money being lent out. It is his preference that the bank must respect, and it is for his benefit that the bank lends. When the saver says he may want his money back on demand, and the bank presumes to lend it for 30 years, the bank is not “transforming” anything except its fiduciary duty, its integrity, and its own soundness. Depositors would not entrust their savings to such reckless banks, without the soporific of deposit insurance to protect them from the consequences.

Under the gold standard, this irrational practice would exist on the fringe on the line between what is legal and what is not (except for the yield curve specialist, a topic I will treat in another paper), a get-rich-quick scheme—if it existed at all (our jobs as monetary economists are to bellow from the rooftops that this practice is destructive).

Today, duration mismatch is part of the official means of executing the Fed’s monetary policy.

I have already covered how duration mismatch misallocates the savers’ capital and when savers eventually pull it back, the result is that the bank fails. I want to focus here on another facet. Pseudo-arbitrage between short and long bonds destabilizes the yield curve.

By its very nature, borrowing short to lend long is a brittle business model. One is committed to a long-term investment, but this is at the mercy of the short-term funding market. If short-term rates rise, or if borrowing is temporarily not possible, then the practitioner of this financial voodoo may be forced to sell the long bond.

The original act of borrowing short to lend long causes the interest rate on the long bond to fall. If the Fed wants to tighten (not their policy post-2008!) and forces the short-term rate higher, then players of the duration mismatch game may get caught off guard. They may be reluctant to sell their long bonds at a loss, and hold on for a while. Or for any number of other proximate causes, the yield curve can become inverted.

Side note: an inverted yield curve is widely considered a harbinger of recession. The simple explanation is that the marginal source of credit in the economy is suddenly more expensive. This causes investment in everything to slow.

At times there is selling of the short bond, at times aggressive buying. Sometimes there is a steady buying ramp of the long bond. Sometimes there is a slow selling slide that turns into an avalanche. The yield curve moves and changes shape. As with the rate of interest, the economy does best when the curve is stable. Sudden balance sheet stress, selloffs, and volatility may benefit the speculators of the world[4], but of course, it can only hurt productive businesses that are financing factories, farms, mines, and hotels with credit.

Earlier, I referred to the only reason why someone would choose to own the Fed’s liability—the dollar—in preference to its asset. Unlike with gold, hoarding paper dollar bills serves no real purpose and incurs needless risk of loss by theft. The holder of dollars is no safer. He avoids no credit risk; he is exposed to the same risk as is the bondholder is exposed. The sole reason to prefer the dollar is speculation.

As I described in Theory of Interest and Prices in Paper Currency, the Fed destabilizes the rate of interest by its very existence, its very nature, and its purpose. Per the above discussion, the Fed and the speculators induce volatility in the yield curve, which can easily feed back into volatility in the underlying rate of interest.

The reason to sell the bond is to avoid losses if interest rates will rise. Speculators seek to front-run the Fed, duration mismatchers, and other speculators. If the Fed will “taper” its purchase of bonds, then that might lead to higher interest rates. Or at least, it might make other speculators sell. Every speculator wants to sell first.

Consider the case of large banks borrowing short to lend long. Let’s say that you have some information that their short-term funding is either going to become much harder to obtain, or at least significantly more expensive. What do you do?

You sell the bond. You, and many other speculators. Everyone sells the bond.

Or, what if you have information that you think will cause other speculators to sell bonds? It may not even be a legitimate factor, either because the rumor is untrue (e.g. “the world is selling Treasury bonds”) or because there is no valid economic reason to sell bonds based on it.

You sell the bond before they do, or you all try to sell first.

I have been documenting numerous cases in the gold market where traders use leverage to buy gold futures based on an announcement or non-announcement by the Fed. These moves reverse themselves quickly. But no one, especially if they are using leverage, wants to be on the wrong side of a $50 move in gold. You sell ahead of the crowd, and you buy ahead of the crowd. And they try to do it to you.

I think it is likely that one of these phenomena, or something similar, has driven the rate on the 10-year Treasury up by 80%.

I would like to leave you with one take-away from this paper and one from my series on the theory of interest and prices. In this paper, I want everyone to think about the difference between the following two statements:

  1. The dollar is falling in value
  2. The rate of interest in dollars must rise

It is tempting to assume that they are equivalent, but the rate of interest is purely internal to the “closed loop” dollar system. Unlike a free market, it does not operate under the forces of arbitrage. It operates by government diktats, and hordes of speculators feed on the spoils that fall like rotten food to the floor.

From my entire series, I would like the reader to check and challenge the sacred-cow premises of macroeconomics, the aggregates, the assumptions, the equations, and above all else, the linear thinking. I encourage you to think about what incentives are offered under each scenario to the market participants. No one even knows the true value of the monetary aggregate and there is endless debate even among economists. The shopkeeper, miner, farmer, warehouseman, manufacturer, or banker is not impelled to act based on such abstractions.

They react to the incentives of profit and loss. Even the consumer reacts to prices being lower in one particular store, or apples being cheaper than pears. If you can think through how a particular market event or change in government policy will remove old incentives and offer new incentives, then you can understand the likely first-order effects in the market. Of course each of these effects changes still other incentives.

It is not easy, but this is the approach that makes economics a proper science.

 

P.S. As I do my final edits on this paper (October 4, 2013), there is a selloff in short US T-Bills, leading to an inversion at the short end of the yield curve. This is due, of course, to the possible effect of the partial government shutdown. The government is not going to default. If this danger were real, then there would be much greater turmoil in every market (and much m
ore buying of gold as the only way to avoid catastrophic losses). The selloff has two drivers. First, some holders of T-Bills need the cash on the maturity date. They would prefer to liquidate now and hold “cash” rather than incur the risk that they will not be paid on the maturity date. Second, of course speculators want to front-run this trade. I put “cash” in scare quotes because dollars in a bank account are the bank’s liability. The bank will not be able to honor this liability if its asset—the US Treasury bond—defaults. The “cash” will be worthless in the very scenario that bond sellers are hoping to avoid by their very sales. When the scare and the shutdown end, then the 30-day T-Bill will snap back to its typical rate near zero. Some clever speculators will make a killing on this move.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/BBZhchzA4AY/story01.htm Gold Standard Institute

Glenn Greenwald’s Farewell (For Now) Letter: “Stand Against The Attack On Press Freedoms In The US”

Originally appearing in The Guardian:

On leaving the Guardian

Reporting the NSA story hasn’t been easy, but it’s always been fulfilling. It’s what journalism at its crux is about, and we must protect that


As many of you know, I’m leaving the Guardian in order to work with Pierre Omidyar, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and soon-to-be-identified others on building a new media organization. As I said when this news was reported a couple of weeks ago, leaving the Guardian was not an easy choice, but this was a dream opportunity that was impossible to decline.

We do not yet have an exact launch date for the new outlet, but rest assured: I’m not going to disappear for months or anything like that. The new site will be up and running reasonably soon.

In the meantime, I’ll continue reporting in partnership with foreign media outlets (stories on mass NSA surveillance in France began last week in Le Monde, and stories on bulk surveillance of Spanish citizens and NSA’s cooperation with Spanish intelligence have appeared this week in Spain’s El Mundo), as well as in partnership with US outlets. As I did yesterday when responding to NSA claims about these stories, I’ll also periodically post on my personal blog – here – with an active comment section, as well as on our pre-launch temporary blog. Until launch of the new media outlet, the best way to learn of new stories, new posts, and other activity is my Twitter feed, @ggreenwald. My new email address and PGP key are here.

I’m gratified by my 14-month partnership with the Guardian and am particularly proud of what we achieved together over the last five months. Reporting the NSA story has never been easy, but it’s always been invigorating and fulfilling. It’s exactly why one goes into journalism and, in my view, is what journalism at its crux is about. That doesn’t mean that the journalists and editors who have worked on this story have instantly agreed on every last choice we faced, but it does mean that, on the whole, I leave with high regard for the courage and integrity of the people with whom I’ve worked and pride in the way we’ve reported this story.

As I leave, I really urge everyone to take note of, and stand against, what I and others have written about for years, but which is becoming increasingly more threatening: namely, a sustained and unprecedented attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process in the US. That same menacing climate is now manifest in the UK as well, as evidenced by the truly stunning warnings issued this week by British Prime Minister David Cameron:

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday his government was likely to act to stop newspapers publishing what he called damaging leaks from former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden unless they began to behave more responsibly.

 

“If they (newspapers) don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it will be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act,” Cameron told parliament, saying Britain’s Guardian newspaper had “gone on” to print damaging material after initially agreeing to destroy other sensitive data.

There are extremist though influential factions in both countries which want to criminalize not only whistleblowing but the act of journalism itself (pdf). I’m not leaving because of those threats – if anything, they make me want to stay and continue to publish here – but I do believe it’s urgent that everyone who believes in basic press freedoms unite against this.

Allowing journalism to be criminalized is in nobody’s interest other than the states which are trying to achieve that. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in an 1804 letter to John Tyler:

Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

I hope everyone who believes in basic press freedoms will defend those journalistic outlets when they are under attack – all of them – regardless of how much one likes or does not like them.

Finally: thanks, most of all, to my readers and commenters who participate in so many ways in the journalism I do. I’ve always said that my favorite aspect of online political writing is how interactive and collaborative it is with one’s readers: that has always been, and always will be, crucial in so many ways to what I do.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/o-dSIb0Njew/story01.htm Tyler Durden

Glenn Greenwald's Farewell (For Now) Letter: "Stand Against The Attack On Press Freedoms In The US"

Originally appearing in The Guardian:

On leaving the Guardian

Reporting the NSA story hasn’t been easy, but it’s always been fulfilling. It’s what journalism at its crux is about, and we must protect that


As many of you know, I’m leaving the Guardian in order to work with Pierre Omidyar, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and soon-to-be-identified others on building a new media organization. As I said when this news was reported a couple of weeks ago, leaving the Guardian was not an easy choice, but this was a dream opportunity that was impossible to decline.

We do not yet have an exact launch date for the new outlet, but rest assured: I’m not going to disappear for months or anything like that. The new site will be up and running reasonably soon.

In the meantime, I’ll continue reporting in partnership with foreign media outlets (stories on mass NSA surveillance in France began last week in Le Monde, and stories on bulk surveillance of Spanish citizens and NSA’s cooperation with Spanish intelligence have appeared this week in Spain’s El Mundo), as well as in partnership with US outlets. As I did yesterday when responding to NSA claims about these stories, I’ll also periodically post on my personal blog – here – with an active comment section, as well as on our pre-launch temporary blog. Until launch of the new media outlet, the best way to learn of new stories, new posts, and other activity is my Twitter feed, @ggreenwald. My new email address and PGP key are here.

I’m gratified by my 14-month partnership with the Guardian and am particularly proud of what we achieved together over the last five months. Reporting the NSA story has never been easy, but it’s always been invigorating and fulfilling. It’s exactly why one goes into journalism and, in my view, is what journalism at its crux is about. That doesn’t mean that the journalists and editors who have worked on this story have instantly agreed on every last choice we faced, but it does mean that, on the whole, I leave with high regard for the courage and integrity of the people with whom I’ve worked and pride in the way we’ve reported this story.

As I leave, I really urge everyone to take note of, and stand against, what I and others have written about for years, but which is becoming increasingly more threatening: namely, a sustained and unprecedented attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process in the US. That same menacing climate is now manifest in the UK as well, as evidenced by the truly stunning warnings issued this week by British Prime Minister David Cameron:

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday his government was likely to act to stop newspapers publishing what he called damaging leaks from former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden unless they began to behave more responsibly.

 

“If they (newspapers) don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it will be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act,” Cameron told parliament, saying Britain’s Guardian newspaper had “gone on” to print damaging material after initially agreeing to destroy other sensitive data.

There are extremist though influential factions in both countries which want to criminalize not only whistleblowing but the act of journalism itself (pdf). I’m not leaving because of those threats – if anything, they make me want to stay and continue to publish here – but I do believe it’s urgent that everyone who believes in basic press freedoms unite against this.

Allowing journalism to be criminalized is in nobody’s interest other than the states which are trying to achieve that. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in an 1804 letter to John Tyler:

Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

I hope everyone who believes in basic press freedoms will defend those journalistic outlets when they are under attack – all of them – regardless of how much one likes or does not like them.

Finally: thanks, most of all, to my readers and commenters who participate in so many ways in the journalism I do. I’ve always said that my favorite aspect of online political writing is how interactive and collaborative it is with one’s readers: that has always been, and always will be, crucial in so many ways to what I do.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/o-dSIb0Njew/story01.htm Tyler Durden

David Einhorn’s Advice On How To Trade This Equity Bubble (Spoiler Alert: Don’t)

Confused how to trade the second coming of the dot com bubble and a world in which irrational exuberance has hit irrationally exuberant levels? You are not alone. Here is some insight from none other than David Einhorn originating in his latest letter to investors.

The game of Earnings Expectation Conflation continues. It’s a bit like limbo – with a twist. Though the bar gets lowered every round, the goal is to make it over the bar, rather than go under it. Here’s what the current round looks like: At the end of June, third quarter S&P 500 index earnings were expected to grow 6.5%. In July, as actual earnings started to come in and companies lowballed the next quarter’s guidance, index earnings expectations were likewise adjusted lower. As more companies reported “beat and lower” earnings, market expectations continued to fall to the point where third quarter index earnings growth is now expected to be half of what was forecast in June. Of course, when earnings are announced in October and they “beat” the guidance set in July, everyone will celebrate with cake and ice cream. (Never mind that the earnings are actually in line with the original June predictions, or that they’ve lowballed guidance for next quarter – if anyone noticed that, they wouldn’t be able to move to the next round by lowering the December bar, which is currently set at 13% growth.) As the S&P 500 index has  advanced this year mostly through multiple expansion, the index is no longer cheap, particularly considering that we are now almost half a decade into an economic expansion and earnings growth is unexciting.

 

There is evidence of much more (and increasingly creative) speculative behavior. Some companies have convinced the market to embrace earnings reports that ignore what they must pay employees to show up to work every day, provided the employees accept equity rather than cash. We don’t understand how some investors view this as economically different from the company selling shares into the market and using the proceeds to pay workers. Then there’s the sizable group of companies (including a number of recent IPOs) that are apparently not subject to conventional valuation methods. Many have no profits and no real plan to make future profits. The market doesn’t seem to mind – in fact, it is hard to fall short of such modest expectations and the prices of these stocks have performed particularly well of late. Finally, there are the market participants whose investment process appears to be “bet on whatever has made money most recently.” They’ve noticed that stocks with large short-interest ratios have materially outperformed over the last year and they continue to invest accordingly. When “high short interest” becomes a viable stock-picking strategy and conventional valuation methods no longer apply for many stocks, we can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. We never expected to find ourselves in an environment like this again, given the savings that were lost when the internet bubble popped.

We are happy (and sad) to take the blame for #3 (see “Presenting The Best Trading Strategy Over The Past Year: Why Buying The Most Hated Names Continues To Generate “Alpha“). After all, when dealing with a stock market designed by a bunch of clueless Princeton academics specifically to cater to idiots, one must trade  accordingly.

Finally for those wondering…

At quarter end, the largest disclosed long positions in the Partnerships were Apple, General Motors, gold, Marvell Technology, Oil States International and Vodafone Group. The Partnerships had an average exposure of 109% long and 72% short.

We must say: we admire Mr. Einhorn’s testicular fortitude to hold a 72% short position in a world in which all “downside risk management” has been outsourced to the politburo in the Marriner Eccles building.


    



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

David Einhorn's Advice On How To Trade This Equity Bubble (Spoiler Alert: Don't)

Confused how to trade the second coming of the dot com bubble and a world in which irrational exuberance has hit irrationally exuberant levels? You are not alone. Here is some insight from none other than David Einhorn originating in his latest letter to investors.

The game of Earnings Expectation Conflation continues. It’s a bit like limbo – with a twist. Though the bar gets lowered every round, the goal is to make it over the bar, rather than go under it. Here’s what the current round looks like: At the end of June, third quarter S&P 500 index earnings were expected to grow 6.5%. In July, as actual earnings started to come in and companies lowballed the next quarter’s guidance, index earnings expectations were likewise adjusted lower. As more companies reported “beat and lower” earnings, market expectations continued to fall to the point where third quarter index earnings growth is now expected to be half of what was forecast in June. Of course, when earnings are announced in October and they “beat” the guidance set in July, everyone will celebrate with cake and ice cream. (Never mind that the earnings are actually in line with the original June predictions, or that they’ve lowballed guidance for next quarter – if anyone noticed that, they wouldn’t be able to move to the next round by lowering the December bar, which is currently set at 13% growth.) As the S&P 500 index has  advanced this year mostly through multiple expansion, the index is no longer cheap, particularly considering that we are now almost half a decade into an economic expansion and earnings growth is unexciting.

 

There is evidence of much more (and increasingly creative) speculative behavior. Some companies have convinced the market to embrace earnings reports that ignore what they must pay employees to show up to work every day, provided the employees accept equity rather than cash. We don’t understand how some investors view this as economically different from the company selling shares into the market and using the proceeds to pay workers. Then there’s the sizable group of companies (including a number of recent IPOs) that are apparently not subject to conventional valuation methods. Many have no profits and no real plan to make future profits. The market doesn’t seem to mind – in fact, it is hard to fall short of such modest expectations and the prices of these stocks have performed particularly well of late. Finally, there are the market participants whose investment process appears to be “bet on whatever has made money most recently.” They’ve noticed that stocks with large short-interest ratios have materially outperformed over the last year and they continue to invest accordingly. When “high short interest” becomes a viable stock-picking strategy and conventional valuation methods no longer apply for many stocks, we can’t help but feel a sense of déjà vu. We never expected to find ourselves in an environment like this again, given the savings that were lost when the internet bubble popped.

We are happy (and sad) to take the blame for #3 (see “Presenting The Best Trading Strategy Over The Past Year: Why Buying The Most Hated Names Continues To Generate “Alpha“). After all, when dealing with a stock market designed by a bunch of clueless Princeton academics specifically to cater to idiots, one must trade  accordingly.

Finally for those wondering…

At quarter end, the largest disclosed long positions in the Partnerships were Apple, General Motors, gold, Marvell Technology, Oil States International and Vodafone Group. The Partnerships had an average exposure of 109% long and 72% short.

We must say: we admire Mr. Einhorn’s testicular fortitude to hold a 72% short position in a world in which all “downside risk management” has been outsourced to the politburo in the Marriner Eccles building.


    



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

Dubai Gold Demand Increases Eightfold; October Eagle And Kangaroo Sales Strong

Gold slipped to one week lows today despite the U.S. Federal Reserve vowing to maintain its ultra loose monetary policies. Speculators may be taking profits from a recent run up in prices.


Gold in GBP, 5 Year – (Bloomberg)

Gold has risen 8% since hitting a three month trough on October 15 as value buyers bought gold.

The Fed yesterday sounded a bit less optimistic about economic growth as it announced plans to keep buying $85 billion of U.S. bonds per month. The central bank noted that the recovery in the housing market had lost some steam and suggested some frustration at how poorly the labour market remains.

Many of the world’s largest banks have been accused of manipulating the $5.3 trillion a day global foreign exchange market. Citigroup Inc. (C:US) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) are putting their top London currency dealers on leave as regulators and the U.S. Justice

Department are probing the manipulation of foreign exchange rates. The investigation began examining the traders’ use of an instant-message group. The roster of banks in the group changed as the men moved firms and also included Barclays Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG.

The five firms account for about 47% of the massive foreign exchange market. Two other traders, who weren’t part of the conversations and who asked to not be identified because they do business with those involved, said that they and others in the market referred to the message group as “The Cartel.”

Despite a slight drop in physical demand from China in recent days, physical gold demand remains robust in India, the Middle East and amongst coin buyers in western markets.

Demand for gold in the Middle East remains robust and there has been an eightfold increase or 700% increase in demand in recent years. Geopolitical uncertainty in the region, from Libya to Egypt to Syria and Iraq and Iran is leading to demand for bullion.

Thus, the Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange plans to list a spot gold contract in the second quarter of next year. The bourse, which offers gold and silver futures, is talking to local merchants and industry organizations and aims to get regulatory approval for the product by early 2014, Chief Executive Officer Gary Anderson told BloombergDemand for bullion in Dubai expanded eightfold in the last six to 10 years, he said.

Dubai accounts for about 25% of global physical gold trade and the United Arab Emirates will grow as a precious metals trading hub partly because of its location near the largest consuming nations, according to the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, which owns a majority stake in the DGCX.

The size of the spot gold contract will probably be 1 kilogram (32 ounces). While there are “no concrete plans” yet for other precious metals products, a silver spot contract and platinum and palladium contracts may be possible in the future, Anderson said.


Gold in EUR, 5 Year – (Bloomberg)

Sales of gold coins and bars recovered in October, figures from two of the world’s leading mints show, suggesting physical buyers remain robust despite bullion’s 20% fall this year.

While overall volumes remain well below this year’s peak, they are on track for a very robust year that will be close to or surpass levels seen in 2011.

Gold has fallen out of favour with speculators and some investors on expectations that the Federal Reserve will soon start scaling back its money printing programme. However, data regarding physical demand from Asia and mints around the world, shows that store of wealth demand remains very robust and physical buyers are using price weakness to keep accumulating bullion.

Australia’s Perth Mint gold sales – including the iconic Australian kangaroo coin series – up to October 25 reached 75,040 troy ounces, according to preliminary numbers obtained by CNBC.

They are on track for a near 10% month on month gain from 68,488 ounces in September.
Perth Mint gold sales surged to a record in April this year after the peculiar ‘flash crash’ that saw gold plummet in minutes due to a massive bout of concentrated selling on the COMEX. April sales surged to over 111,505 ounces which was more than double the sales in March.

Smart money accumulated on the dip, again.

Meanwhile, sales of American Eagle gold coins more than tripled on month in October to 46,500 ounces. While they remain well off the 209,500 ounce high recorded in April, according to daily updated numbers obtained from the U.S. Mint’s website, they are also on track for another good year.

April represented a banner month for sales in both the Perth Mint and the U.S. Mint after buyers jumped at the opportunity to accumulate gold coins, following gold’s biggest ever one day loss on April 15, when it tumbled $125. The concentrated selling on the COMEX precipitated the month’s sharpest decline since December 2011 and led to further allegations of manipulation of gold prices by Wall Street banks.

Physical demand from store of wealth buyers in Asia and internationally who continue to ‘stack’ or gradually accumulate physical coins and bars is supporting gold  and silver at these levels and should contribute to higher prices in the coming months.

Gold is down 20.2% year to date but has advanced 14% since reaching a 34 month low in June as lower prices led to increased demand for gold jewelry, bars and coins, particularly in Asia.


Download GoldCore’s Essential Guide To Silver Eagles here


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/0-r_5eUCTbc/story01.htm GoldCore

Reggie Middleton’s Apple Q4 2013 Analysis: RDF In Full Effect As Analysts & Press Go GaGa Over Garbage!

I’d like to start this report off with an excerpt from the last report, which ironically excerpted the one before that – to wit:

Possibly the biggest indicator of past research being of high quality is the ability to regurgitate it in the future as new research and have said research be considered of value, or better yet of extreme value and high quality. With that being said, I’d like all to realize that Our Q1 Report Said It All – Let’s Revisit How We Started That Report…

“Apple Is In Trouble – Plain & Simple!”

Apple has successfully transformed itself from a portable and desktop computer company to a mobile device company, and managed to do so right at the crux of the mobile computing boom. As such, it has benefitted mightily, briefly becoming the largest and most respected company in the world. Alas, what goes up must eventually come down. The largesse revenues and margins gleaned by Apple brought massive competition, and in the case of Google’s Android, business models specialized in gutting the fat margins which caused Apple to prosper. As a result, margin compression ensued, but very few actually saw a sign of it until it was too late (referenceDeconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever).”

This quick traipse down memory lane is quite useful for Apple is now paying for the perceived above average margin displays of its recent past by reaping the extreme margin compression to be seen as it has now full transformed itself into a mobile device company. Again, as quoted from our Q1 report,

“Apple is now paying the piper for its shift into mobile by having its pipeline effectively saturated with mobile products, thus nullifying the margin expansion that the move into mobile products has brought on. Mobile products had higher margins than their desktop/laptop counterparts...

 The entire Apple story can be encapsulated in just two relatively simple charts. The first, found directly below, is profitability. Thus far, only the iPhone has been able to hold some ground but it has slowly been stripped of margin. The iPad business’s profitably is being gouged.

For those who haven’t done so, I strongly recommend that you read the last three Apple research reports. They have been absolutely on the money. Now, on to Apple’s most recent quarter…

Apple Still Has The Business and Financial Press Mesmerized With It’s RDF (Reality Distortion Field)

For some reason when I read management comments and financial statements I seem to see something totally different from Sell Side Analysts and the financial and business press. This is an excerpt from “Business Insider” on Apple’s Q4 earnings results:

Apple’s numbers are out, and they’re good. 

Revenue, EPS, and iPhone sales are ahead of expectations. iPad sales were a little worse than expected, but not too bad. 

The stock initially tanked after the numbers were out thanks to weaker than expected margin guidance. Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. 

On the company’s earnings call, it explained why margin was lighter than expected and the stock came roaring back. At last check it was down slightly in after hours trading. 

Apple’s margin will be hit by a combination of factors. It is selling new iPads that cost more to make, new laptops, foreign exchange issues, and most importantly, a $900 million sequential increase in deferred revenue thanks to all the software it is giving away with iOS and Macs. 

On the earnings call, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said the real margin would have been closer to 38.5%, and Apple basically confirmed it. This sent the stock climbing. 
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-q4-earnings-2013-10#ixzz2jDN1vWa4

Let’s parse this piece by piece.

“Revenue, EPS, and iPhone sales are ahead of expectations.”

Three and a half years ago I released analysis that puts this myth to rest. Apple is one of the most accomplished of sandbagging management. Paying subscribers, reference Apple Earnings Guidance Analysis 08/12/2010

apple sandbaging1 apple sandbaging1

 

 apple sandbaging3 apple sandbaging3

 

iPad sales were a little worse than expected, but not too bad. “

I wonder how one defines “not too bad”…

ipad sales miserable and getting worseipad sales miserable and getting worse

“Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. “

I’ve warned, and warned, and warned…. 

Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. 

Apple hardware costs spikingApple hardware costs spiking

On the company’s earnings call, it explained why margin was lighter than expected and the stock came roaring back. At last check it was down slightly in after hours trading. 

Apple’s margin will be hit by a combination of factors. It is selling new iPads that cost more to make, new laptops, foreign exchange issues, and most importantly, a $900 million sequential increase in deferred revenue thanks to all the software it is giving away with iOS and Macs. 

On the earnings call, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said the real margin would have been closer to 38.5%, and Apple basically confirmed it. This sent the stock climbing. 

Apple’s margins have been and will be hit harder as I’ve predicted.  This non-sense about the deferred revenue from giving away software and Gene Munster’s “real margin” comments are utter nonsense. Apple’s reported margin IS ITS “REAL MARGIN”! The reason it is giving away its core software products for free is to compete with the entry and the threat of Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet that comes bundled with a real, the real, office suite – Microsoft Office. This makes it real deal contender in the enterprise, where Office is not on the de facto standard – it is the standard. It also has to compete with Google’s Android who bought Quick Office and is now giving that office suite for free. For those who don’t think that makes a difference, what OS do you think took the iPad from 92% market share in 2010 to 32% market share last quarter?

There is a lot more contained in the upcoming (as in a few hours) Apple analysis for subscribers. Apple will have a very active year next year. The reason(s) is contained in the subscriber only report, in explicit detail, to be released in a few hours. I will update this post with links when it is ready for download. Yes, the truth is now for sale, and in Apple’s case you can get a month of it for $275.

I refer my subscribers to the research documents below for the answers… 

Subscribers, download the Q3 2013 valuation reports (click here to subscribe).

 The update from two months ago is also of value for those who haven’t read it. It turns out that it was quite prescienct!

 File Icon Apple 1Q2013 update – Pro & Institutional

 See also:

 What Sell Side Wall Street Doesn’t Understand About Apple – It’s Not The Leader Of The Post PC World!!!

 The short call – October 2012, the month of Apple’s all-time high and my call to subscribers to short the stock:  Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made – Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/rpBq85N1Zxc/story01.htm Reggie Middleton

Reggie Middleton's Apple Q4 2013 Analysis: RDF In Full Effect As Analysts & Press Go GaGa Over Garbage!

I’d like to start this report off with an excerpt from the last report, which ironically excerpted the one before that – to wit:

Possibly the biggest indicator of past research being of high quality is the ability to regurgitate it in the future as new research and have said research be considered of value, or better yet of extreme value and high quality. With that being said, I’d like all to realize that Our Q1 Report Said It All – Let’s Revisit How We Started That Report…

“Apple Is In Trouble – Plain & Simple!”

Apple has successfully transformed itself from a portable and desktop computer company to a mobile device company, and managed to do so right at the crux of the mobile computing boom. As such, it has benefitted mightily, briefly becoming the largest and most respected company in the world. Alas, what goes up must eventually come down. The largesse revenues and margins gleaned by Apple brought massive competition, and in the case of Google’s Android, business models specialized in gutting the fat margins which caused Apple to prosper. As a result, margin compression ensued, but very few actually saw a sign of it until it was too late (referenceDeconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever).”

This quick traipse down memory lane is quite useful for Apple is now paying for the perceived above average margin displays of its recent past by reaping the extreme margin compression to be seen as it has now full transformed itself into a mobile device company. Again, as quoted from our Q1 report,

“Apple is now paying the piper for its shift into mobile by having its pipeline effectively saturated with mobile products, thus nullifying the margin expansion that the move into mobile products has brought on. Mobile products had higher margins than their desktop/laptop counterparts...

 The entire Apple story can be encapsulated in just two relatively simple charts. The first, found directly below, is profitability. Thus far, only the iPhone has been able to hold some ground but it has slowly been stripped of margin. The iPad business’s profitably is being gouged.

For those who haven’t done so, I strongly recommend that you read the last three Apple research reports. They have been absolutely on the money. Now, on to Apple’s most recent quarter…

Apple Still Has The Business and Financial Press Mesmerized With It’s RDF (Reality Distortion Field)

For some reason when I read management comments and financial statements I seem to see something totally different from Sell Side Analysts and the financial and business press. This is an excerpt from “Business Insider” on Apple’s Q4 earnings results:

Apple’s numbers are out, and they’re good. 

Revenue, EPS, and iPhone sales are ahead of expectations. iPad sales were a little worse than expected, but not too bad. 

The stock initially tanked after the numbers were out thanks to weaker than expected margin guidance. Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. 

On the company’s earnings call, it explained why margin was lighter than expected and the stock came roaring back. At last check it was down slightly in after hours trading. 

Apple’s margin will be hit by a combination of factors. It is selling new iPads that cost more to make, new laptops, foreign exchange issues, and most importantly, a $900 million sequential increase in deferred revenue thanks to all the software it is giving away with iOS and Macs. 

On the earnings call, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said the real margin would have been closer to 38.5%, and Apple basically confirmed it. This sent the stock climbing. 
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-q4-earnings-2013-10#ixzz2jDN1vWa4

Let’s parse this piece by piece.

“Revenue, EPS, and iPhone sales are ahead of expectations.”

Three and a half years ago I released analysis that puts this myth to rest. Apple is one of the most accomplished of sandbagging management. Paying subscribers, reference Apple Earnings Guidance Analysis 08/12/2010

apple sandbaging1 apple sandbaging1

 

 apple sandbaging3 apple sandbaging3

 

iPad sales were a little worse than expected, but not too bad. “

I wonder how one defines “not too bad”…

ipad sales miserable and getting worseipad sales miserable and getting worse

“Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. “

I’ve warned, and warned, and warned…. 

Apple guided to 36.5%-37.5%, which suggests a flat margin despite a new iPhone. 

Apple hardware costs spikingApple hardware costs spiking

On the company’s earnings call, it explained why margin was lighter than expected and the stock came roaring back. At last check it was down slightly in after hours trading. 

Apple’s margin will be hit by a combination of factors. It is selling new iPads that cost more to make, new laptops, foreign exchange issues, and most importantly, a $900 million sequential increase in deferred revenue thanks to all the software it is giving away with iOS and Macs. 

On the earnings call, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said the real margin would have been closer to 38.5%, and Apple basically confirmed it. This sent the stock climbing. 

Apple’s margins hav
e been and will be hit harder as I’ve predicted.  This non-sense about the deferred revenue from giving away software and Gene Munster’s “real margin” comments are utter nonsense. Apple’s reported margin IS ITS “REAL MARGIN”! The reason it is giving away its core software products for free is to compete with the entry and the threat of Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet that comes bundled with a real, the real, office suite – Microsoft Office. This makes it real deal contender in the enterprise, where Office is not on the de facto standard – it is the standard. It also has to compete with Google’s Android who bought Quick Office and is now giving that office suite for free. For those who don’t think that makes a difference, what OS do you think took the iPad from 92% market share in 2010 to 32% market share last quarter?

There is a lot more contained in the upcoming (as in a few hours) Apple analysis for subscribers. Apple will have a very active year next year. The reason(s) is contained in the subscriber only report, in explicit detail, to be released in a few hours. I will update this post with links when it is ready for download. Yes, the truth is now for sale, and in Apple’s case you can get a month of it for $275.

I refer my subscribers to the research documents below for the answers… 

Subscribers, download the Q3 2013 valuation reports (click here to subscribe).

 The update from two months ago is also of value for those who haven’t read it. It turns out that it was quite prescienct!

 File Icon Apple 1Q2013 update – Pro & Institutional

 See also:

 What Sell Side Wall Street Doesn’t Understand About Apple – It’s Not The Leader Of The Post PC World!!!

 The short call – October 2012, the month of Apple’s all-time high and my call to subscribers to short the stock:  Deconstructing The Most Accurate Apple Analysis Ever Made – Share Price, Market Share, Strategy and All


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/rpBq85N1Zxc/story01.htm Reggie Middleton

The Fed’s Choice: A Balance Sheet That Is $4.5 Trillion Or $5 Trillion… Or Much More

Now that an October taper is out of the question, bored investors, in a world in which fundamentals no longer matter, are looking forward to the next possible FOMC meetings and potential taper announcement dates, with three specific dates sticking out: December/January, which are really one cluster, and June, as possible announcement dates. Why are these dates important: because while a September tapering announcement would have resulted in a $4 trillion final Fed balance sheet (assuming the tapering proceeded to a full QE halt) before even more QE was unleashed, any subsequent taper dates imply a nice round number to the final Fed balance sheet at the end of 2014: either $4.5 trillion, assuming a January 2014 taper, or $5 trillion if the Fed waits until June to announce a tapering.

This can be seen on the following chart from Bank of America.

BofA commentary:

Markets will be especially focused on the discussion around the timing and conditions of tapering. Our Chart of the day illustrates three scenarios, the first of which is a useful reference despite not actually happening: a September 2013 start to tapering that follows the June “framework” laid out by Chairman Ben Bernanke for a mid-2014 end to asset buying. In that case, the Fed’s asset holdings would have grown to around US$4tn. A January start and a slower pace of unwind results in nearly US$4.5tn in Fed assets, while a June start (and similar slow pace to conclude) yields nearly US$5tn. Those are sizable differences.

Another way of seeing the change in market expectations, is the following chart which shows what the current tapering path looks like.

There is of course an increasingly likely third possibility: forget $4.5 or $5 trillion – with increasing chatter of a Fed that is prepared to unleash NGDP targeting, or as it is better known without its technical term: even more turbo printing in an attempt to unanchor future 2% inflation expectations, the Fed’s balance sheet may just grow forever and ever.

And with every passing day in which the Fed demonstrates a complete lack of concern about the collapsing pool of high quality collateral which the Fed monetizes at an ever faster daily net basis, this becomes the most probable outcome.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/6kApaTLwd60/story01.htm Tyler Durden

The Fed's Choice: A Balance Sheet That Is $4.5 Trillion Or $5 Trillion… Or Much More

Now that an October taper is out of the question, bored investors, in a world in which fundamentals no longer matter, are looking forward to the next possible FOMC meetings and potential taper announcement dates, with three specific dates sticking out: December/January, which are really one cluster, and June, as possible announcement dates. Why are these dates important: because while a September tapering announcement would have resulted in a $4 trillion final Fed balance sheet (assuming the tapering proceeded to a full QE halt) before even more QE was unleashed, any subsequent taper dates imply a nice round number to the final Fed balance sheet at the end of 2014: either $4.5 trillion, assuming a January 2014 taper, or $5 trillion if the Fed waits until June to announce a tapering.

This can be seen on the following chart from Bank of America.

BofA commentary:

Markets will be especially focused on the discussion around the timing and conditions of tapering. Our Chart of the day illustrates three scenarios, the first of which is a useful reference despite not actually happening: a September 2013 start to tapering that follows the June “framework” laid out by Chairman Ben Bernanke for a mid-2014 end to asset buying. In that case, the Fed’s asset holdings would have grown to around US$4tn. A January start and a slower pace of unwind results in nearly US$4.5tn in Fed assets, while a June start (and similar slow pace to conclude) yields nearly US$5tn. Those are sizable differences.

Another way of seeing the change in market expectations, is the following chart which shows what the current tapering path looks like.

There is of course an increasingly likely third possibility: forget $4.5 or $5 trillion – with increasing chatter of a Fed that is prepared to unleash NGDP targeting, or as it is better known without its technical term: even more turbo printing in an attempt to unanchor future 2% inflation expectations, the Fed’s balance sheet may just grow forever and ever.

And with every passing day in which the Fed demonstrates a complete lack of concern about the collapsing pool of high quality collateral which the Fed monetizes at an ever faster daily net basis, this becomes the most probable outcome.


    



via Zero Hedge http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/zerohedge/feed/~3/6kApaTLwd60/story01.htm Tyler Durden