Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Promise Of The Joker And The Fool

For those amnesiacs who enjoy Tech bubbles, housing bubbles, and EM currency crises, all at the same time, this is their kind of market. For anyone who can fog a mirror and retains a semblance of memory, this is all just human history's biggest fool's errand...

My blog posts have become less frequent lately because there are only so many ways to describe mass idiocy, and I am running out of adjectives. As I tweeted recently, only to a species that is close cousin to the baboon does any of this make sense. In the words of Joe Walsh, Mother Nature has her little surprises. 

First off, the taper news that came via the Fed minutes two weeks ago led to an immediate selloff followed by a short-covering rally.  It was a bear trap. Conversely the follow-on confirmation this past Friday at virtual Jackson Hole that the Fed indeed plans to taper this Fall led to an immediate ramp higher. Time will tell if this last rally is human history's biggest bull trap. The Fed has three meetings remaining in 2021 - Sept. 21-22, Nov. 2-3, and Dec. 14-15. Most pundits are predicting either a September or November taper announcement which means ~4 weeks or 8 weeks. At the same time, Democrats and Republicans will be going head to head over Biden's latest fiscal stimulus proposal. The GOP is hellbent on NOT raising the debt ceiling which could lead to technical default sometime in the next 8 weeks. In August 2011 technical default on Treasury obligations shaved a cool -20% from the S&P 500. But before any of that happens we have the looming expiration of Federal pandemic unemployment assistance on Labor Day this weekend. Which means that regardless of Fed or Congress actions, a major reduction in fiscal stimulus is set to take place imminently, with the economy already slowing and institutions already rotating to recession plays.

Removing unemployment support for the middle class ahead of a looming recession amid Congressional gridlock in world history's largest asset bubble is a recipe for rioting followed by rich man's panic. The house will be moving like a rummage sale. One could not possibly imagine a scenario more conducive to a paradigm shift in "bailout ideology", which is long overdue. 

In addition to all of the U.S. risk which is being assiduously ignored by investors, there is the risk out of China which is slowing even faster than the U.S. Recently, the PBOC has been very actively increasing liquidity and cutting its bank reserve ratios which of course is weakening the Yuan. Meaning, the U.S. is about to tighten monetary policy at the same time as China is easing monetary policy, which is 2015 deja vu. Emerging Market disaster. But as we've already seen twice in the past six years, U.S. investors are firmly in the ignoring risk mode of operation.

Most people don't understand or believe in social mood. They don't acknowledge the extent to which herd thinking guides their own thoughts and actions. They are both beholden to competitive conformity and ignorant of it at the same time. They believe that THEY are fully in charge of their own actions, and it's everyone else who are the blind sheeple. Never before has this widely shared blind spot been more massive and lethal than now. It's clear from this dire set of adverse circumstances that the human mind is only capable of accepting a certain degree of bad news before it enters the mental fetal position which is where this society is hiding right now.

It's clear that the Fed left their foot on the gas too long and now this robo rally in risk assets is out of control. Likewise, they've bailed out corruption so many times that now the record lies are as out of control as this market. 

"FOX Business' Stuart Varney, during his latest "My Take" on "Varney & Co.," argued the markets keep climbing despite "pretty grim" news and argues everyone benefits from the surge in wealth creation"

STUART VARNEY: I've been covering the market since 1975. I've seen crashes and rallies, but I’ve never seen a stock price surge like the one we're in right now. It’s a stunner"

Technically it's true. In a Ponzi scheme, the morons who buy grim news with both hands are the sole reason for the record highs.  

Below are the "record highs" Reg Varney is referring to:

The U.S. Dow, Global Dow, small caps, and cyclicals have yet to confirm the S&P 500's latest all time high. 

Bond yields are at critical support:

Option skew is tracing out a familiar form. Twenty nine out of the top thirty highest skew readings are ALL in 2021 (since 1990), a staggering statistic.

2021 is officially the year in which the smart money secretly made massive bets on a market meltdown while at the same time telling the public this will all end happily ever after. 

As of yesterday's close, semiconductors were up 8 days in a row - the longest streak since the COVID rally began. This pattern is reminiscent of the February high which happened to be a bull trap:

"Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory group, said prices are rising at “a really out of control pace that is unsustainable and unhealthy.”

For now, it's fun and exciting. 

In summary, blatant market manipulation by central banks,  Wall Street momentum algos, and Reddit chat rooms has concealed the tremendous risks that lie under the surface of this market. Which has led investors to become massively complacent in the face of lethal risk. Just because market manipulation is now fully legal doesn't make it a great idea. 

A lesson this Idiocracy is going to learn the hardest way possible.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Point Of No Return

All of the growing divergences emanating from the 2008 collapse were massively amplified by the pandemic and its continuous monetary bailout for the ultra wealthy. Fast forward and we can now boast of having a fully virtualized economy with the virtual prosperity to match. Why that's good, is not for me to say. Sadly, due to investors' sole fixation on return ON investment, their unrealized gains are reaching the point of no return OF investment...

Ironically, the confab planned for Jackson Hole Wyoming has been virtualized due to the delta variant. The same Fed that predicted this variant would have no effect on the economy just canceled their own in-person convention, but of course they kept their economic outlook the same. Why? Because they only trust data that's at least three months old. 

Fittingly, we also learned that Jackson Hole Wyoming is the wealthiest enclave in the United States. The only place more ironic to discuss inequality being Davos Switzerland, site of the annual World Economic Forum for the rich and famous. With a massive fiscal cliff in unemployment benefits looming just over a week away, these JHole virtual attendees will discuss how they can solve the problem they intentionally created aka. the fake wealth effect. 

"The wealth effect is a behavioral economic theory suggesting that people spend more as the value of their assets rise. The idea is that consumers feel more financially secure and confident about their wealth when their homes or investment portfolios increase in value. They are made to feel richer, even if their income and fixed costs are the same as before"

Any blind man can see below that monetary policy is no longer working. It's now having a negative effect on the economy as over-leveraged consumers realize their liabilities are going UP in lockstep with the super asset bubble. Those who have any assets at all.  

In other words, the virtualization of prosperity is not as good as it sounds. 

Heading into this meeting, risk asset markets are celebrating a massive short covering inequality rally attended by chasmic divergences not just in U.S. markets but in global markets as well.

After all, you never know what the Wizards of Oz will say about their money printing plans. 

This weekly chart of Nasdaq highs-lows indicates that market participation is now going in the OPPOSITE direction of the index. In the lower pane I calculated the number of new weekly lows attending an all time high in the index. This is by far the largest number in the life of the dataset (1986).

Also as we see, this week gamblers are pushing the index even higher into the point of no return of investment:

From a cyclical standpoint, the divergences are equally dire. Here we see last week's NYSE new highs going in the opposite direction from the S&P 500:

The Dow has yet to confirm this week's S&P high, and Transports have yet to confirm last week's Dow high.

Which is a major violation of Dow Theory which posits that Industrials and Transports must confirm the rally or it will fail.

On the weekly view, here we see banks are three wave corrective ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium due to massive short covering ahead of the meeting:

Zooming out to the global perspective, we see that Nasdaq Highs-Lows are now tracking Chinese stocks 1:1.

We also see that Chinese stocks (black line) are tracing out a pattern very similar to the pattern in 2015/2016 ahead of the global crash. This time around however, global central banks are already ALL IN monetary dopium so they will be shooting blanks in this global crash.

The impending infrastructure bill which is now stuck in Congress due to the debt limit is putting some bid back in cyclicals this week, however oil is trading like a brick. 

Oil's crash in 2015/2016 seemed like a big deal at the time until last year's meltdown. Here we see inflation expectations are trading 1:1 with crude oil. Which is why inflation pundits are ALWAYS wrong.

In summary, in two weeks pandemic unemployment benefits are ending for 7.5 million people, with payrolls stuck at 2017 levels. 

The pandemic is officially over and everything is back to normal. 

With the virtual economy at their back, gamblers are ALL IN virtual prosperity.

The term tempting fate comes to mind. 

Unfortunately, amid all of these massive divergences, bulls are ignoring the fact that recession stocks are now leading this rally. 

Why that's good, is not for me to say.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Fool Me All The Time, Shame On Me

Blogging in a denialistic society is like pounding sand up one's own ass. The lonely sheeple are on a permanent vacation from reality. They have outsourced all thinking to their trusted psychopaths. Millennials at least have an excuse for not seeing this coming, this will be their first margin call of a lifetime. Very exciting. The rest of this society has made a way of life out of ignoring risk, and central banks have ensured they are highly incentivized to do so...

Mid-week the Fed minutes monkey hammered markets when it was "revealed" the Fed plans to taper their asset purchases starting this year. Deja vu of the retail sales "shocker" earlier in the week, this "news" should have come as no surprise to markets and yet it did. Why? Because there is nothing priced into these markets except for fantasy, delusion, denial, and misallocated capital on a biblical scale.

Even before the Fed actually tapers, this shift in policy means that U.S. monetary policy is now out of synch with the rest of the world. This is putting a strong bid under the U.S. dollar to the detriment of Emerging Markets which were already weak in the first place.

Here we see the Hang Seng has ended this week in a very precarious position, which is highly reminiscent of late August 2015. The combination of ever-increasing restrictions placed on Chinese companies by Chinese authorities and the U.S. restrictions on Chinese companies is shellacking Sino-Asian markets.

And, as we see, the contagion is spreading:

On the tapering news, U.S. bond yields collapsed as inflation expectations fell in anticipation of tighter monetary policy. This decline in T-bond yields is the opposite of what most pundits expected since they assume the Fed is the only one buying Treasury bonds. In other words they STILL don't understand the bond market.

Then there is the issue of the impending fiscal cliff which will further monkey hammer already collapsing consumer sentiment when Federal unemployment benefits end on Labor Day of all occasions.

You can't make this shit up. 

Here we see a death cross of the 50/200 dma on the Thirty Year Yield:

Oil was crushed on the week and oil stocks rolled over into third wave down. A very good indicator of where we stand on this economic delusion. 

While the Nasdaq aka. Microsoft, continues to retain its bid, I noted yesterday that the divergence of stocks BELOW their 50 day moving average with the index ABOVE the 50 day average is at a 20 year high (life of dataset), only eclipsed by the breakout last April. Meaning that record breadth divergence now bookends this entire central bank fabricated rally.

Here we see a weekly view of Nasdaq breadth which is at the lowest levels since March 2020:

In summary, the risks and divergences coalescing at the end of this summer far exceed those we witnessed one year ago when the market tanked in late August/early September.

Next week is the Fed's annual symposium in Jackson Hole Wyoming. A chance for the Wizards of Oz to communicate their money printing plans for the future.

Ironically, the topic of this year's annual symposium is how to address the income inequality that is the intended outcome of monetary policy. We know one thing, there will be no "solutions" offered at this year's symposium, which means it will be left to markets to "fix" inequality.

The same way that financial stability was "fixed" in August 2008:

The hard way.

"It’s a risk that many investors appear to be overlooking ahead of the annual conference for central bankers

“Markets abhor equality to the extent that it stands in the way of rapid earnings and dividend growth”

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Bread And Circuses To The End

"Bin Laden wanted to lure the United States into Afghanistan, which was already being called the graveyard of empires. The usual object of terror is to draw one’s opponent into repressive blunders, and bin Laden caught America at a vulnerable and unfortunate moment in its history"
Wright, Lawrence. The Looming Tower 

I think we all see where I'm going with this...
This society has not even the slightest clue about world history,  and more importantly they don't want to learn. Their entire existence is now predicated upon denial and amnesia. There is no audience for truth. The world is burning, so what else to do but focus on spectacle. 

Twenty years in Afghanistan was not enough we are told. No doubt this pullout was a gong show - eerily reminiscent of the fall of Saigon in 1975. There is always going to be panic at the end when the empire is leaving. We are to believe that Biden was going to solve the riddle left by Bush, Obama/Biden? and Trump i.e. how to get a Stone Age Islamic patriarchy to embrace McDonald's, DisneyWorld and The Kardashians. No mean feat. America's longest blunder by far - twice as long as Vietnam the blunder it was ostensibly meant to erase. 

Similarly in markets, forty years of deflation later and the greatest concern today is inflation. There has been no sign of inflation since 1980, nevertheless that is the number one fear. None of these fools realize that under the current global paradigm inflation is no longer possible. There is far too much debt and and the slightest rise in interest rates would implode the super credit bubble - a process that may already be underway. The next bailout will be for governments only. I predict no public appetite for a private sector bailout this time around. Which is going to leave far more bankrupt and margined out bagholders than existed in 2008. These sheeple are up shit creek already but they don't know it because they are dazzled by their asset supernova. I recently showed that social mood has collapsed vis-a-vis consumer confidence and yet somehow today's retail sales miss "surprised" markets. This is the first time in market history when the market is lagging even the most stale of data. Any blind man could see that consumer sentiment has collapsed, but not an economist. Case in point, perma bull Ed Yardeni says we are on the verge of the holy grail of Supply Side Voodoo Economics - a jobless economy. 

Sheer nirvana. 

Now, we only need to figure out how get robots to go shopping.

Meanwhile, at the cusp of jobless nirvana we just learned that the only faster market double off a bottom was 1933 when markets imploded soon after. 

"It took the market 354 trading days to get there, marking the fastest bull market doubling off a bottom, according to a CNBC analysis of data from S&P Dow Jones Indices going back to WWII. On average, it takes bull markets more than 1,000 trading days to reach that milestone, the analysis showed"

As I mentioned in my last post, markets are going cold turkey on BOTH fiscal and monetary stimulus at the same time in September. In other words, the only "valid" reason to buy these insanely overvalued markets is going away in under a month. Which means the dilemma facing gamblers today is whether markets will crash BEFORE or AFTER stimulus removal. Either way, not long to find out. 

In the meantime, Wall Street will continue to dump junk IPOs into this market until the market breaks and the inevitable global margin call arrives. Every time a new IPO is issued, money managers must sell an existing (usually) Tech stock to make room in their portfolios. Which is a big reason why Nasdaq breadth is imploding:

Another reason is because Emerging Markets and China in particular are now going bidless:

In summary, the biggest rally since 1933 sports the largest breadth divergence in forty years - driven by a Wall Street pump and dump that is now bet against by the same guy who predicted  the subprime meltdown.

What's not to like?

Fool me all the time, shame on me

What we learn from history is that hubristic morons don't learn from history.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Human History's Biggest Sucker's Bet

Deja vu of 2011 the GOP are playing brinkmanship with the Federal debt limit. Once again, the suckers at the table are bluffing with a pair of fours...

Republicans are REALLY pissed off. Partly due to the election fiasco, partly due to the social justice mob rule, but mostly due to self-inflicted problems. I am referring of course to Supply Side trickle down economics which has been the mainstay of Republican policy since Reagan. The theory behind it is that as the rich get richer everyone else gets the bread crumbs falling off the table. Think deck hands on mega yachts and so forth. The "success" of this policy is measured in record wealth which we learned this week is now inversely correlated to consumer confidence. 

It's the inevitable endgame for Voodoo Economics:

For Republicans, consumer confidence is now LOWER than March 2009 when the market had crashed -55%. Which is a harbinger for massive unrest when this collapse takes place.

Needless to say, this collapse in consumer confidence is a disaster in the making given the impending fiscal cliff that will take place after Labor Day which is when Federal unemployment benefits end for 7.5 million people. As we see above, it's all very reminiscent of 2011 when the GOP refused to increase the debt limit for Obama. Consumer confidence collapsed. Republicans say they are refusing to raise the debt ceiling "on principle" however they had no problem raising it for Trump and his massive tax cut for the ultra wealthy. This is rank hypocrisy bluffing with an empty hand, and I predict the cost of it will be measured in trillions of deflated asset wealth.

As a reminder, when this all played out in August 2011, stocks crashed -20% and bonds were bid. The VIX hit 50. Ironically, bond yields collapsed despite the technical default. This time however, the stakes are 10x higher given the amount of leverage that has been added in the meantime. 

In particular, the fragile reflation trade will get monkey hammered and it's already in a precarious position on the verge of third wave down.

This is the WORST time for brinkmanship:

Also getting interesting is the ongoing meltdown in Chinese markets, which has been celebrated as a victory for the U.S. 

This coming week happens to be the same week in August 2015 when the Chinese meltdown spilled over into global markets. 

What could go wrong?

As far as gold goes, the GOP antics in 2011 killed the gold rally.

On the Tech-heavy Nasdaq, Friday saw the largest number of new lows at an S&P 500 all time high in thirty years:

In summary, I predict that Congress will be moved to raise the debt ceiling and extend unemployment benefits, but the cost of the delay will be far more than they can afford.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Shock Doctrine 3.0: END GAME

The conservative movement has succeeded in dismantling government to the point at which proper governance no longer exists. This society is now fully at the mercy of the corporate Matrix whose main line of business is to monetize addiction...

Once again, the U.S. comes in dead last with respect to developed nation health outcomes as the COVID crisis revealed the fatal weakness of employer-sponsored healthcare.

It's least there when you most need it.


I know, this is all a communist plot to subvert greatness. The hubris that attends this bloated Idiocracy is by far the greatest threat to its existence:

"Government officials and health experts are leaning on the private sector to lead the U.S. out of a coronavirus surge caused by the highly infectious Delta variant"

Got that? We are now relying on corporations to navigate the U.S. through this ongoing pandemic. The same ones that are monetizing it to the greatest extent possible. This is analogous to the U.S. government handing over management of WWII to the military industrial complex. Is it any wonder why the healthcare sector keeps making new all time highs?

They are sucking this society dry.

At this juncture, the healthy populace that is fully vaccinated remains in deathly fear of the COVID virus. While the least healthy and unvaccinated population exhibits no fear whatsoever. This lowest IQ approach is producing the worst possible outcomes with respect to the economy and public health. And this ongoing disaster falls mainly on small business to the benefit of the large multinational oligopolies which have been gaining market share throughout this pandemic. 

The ones that now own the government.

This is Shock Doctrine 3.0. The first rendition was 9/11 which hid the mass outsourcing of U.S. factories to China. The second edition of course was the Global Financial Crisis which further accelerated the Financialization of the economy. Libertarians should be up in arms at this latest subversion of liberty, but since it's coming from the private sector, it's A-OK. Yet again, they've been easily fooled by sleight of hand.

What does this have to do with the Casino? Good question. This ups the ante on the downside effects of this latest mega bubble. It's clear now that from an economic standpoint, the COVID crisis hid the impending end of cycle, which was beginning to exert downward pressure in late 2019. Now as the various stimuli recede, deflationary forces are once again exerting themselves on the global economy. Bear in mind, that in addition to the threat of monetary tapering, there is the fact that 7.5 million workers will lose unemployment within a few weeks.

"That’s more than five times the 1.3 million people who lost aid in December 2013 as the country walked away from the Great Recession"

The data indicate that the red states which already terminated Federal pandemic unemployment assistance are not seeing the re-employment they expected. Which portends disaster next month. On my recent road trip to Yellowstone, I saw help wanted signs everywhere. No Mexicans to be found.

So once again, economists, the Fed, salesmen, media pundits, and gamblers stand to be wrong when it hurts the most, as they use one time year over year price changes from a locked down economy to rationalize inflation hysteria.

This is the worst headfake "inflation" since they got it wrong last time:

"Buy a car now, before we run out"

"Buy a house now, before we run out"

In summary, in this bailout addicted society, criminality is expected.

Buyer be unaware.