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A Few Notes on Bonds

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

My comments this evening stem from a Bloomberg.com article entitled Bond Market Has $900 Billion Mom-and-Pop Problem When Rates Rise.  A few excerpts with my comments:

It’s never been easier for individuals to enter some of the most esoteric debt markets. Wall Street’s biggest firms are worried that it’ll be just as simple for them to leave.

Investors have piled more than $900 billion into taxable bond funds since the 2008 financial crisis, buying stock-like shares of mutual and exchange-traded funds to gain access to infrequently-traded markets. This flood of cash has helped cause prices to surge and yields to plunge.

Once bonds are issued, they are issued.  What changes is the perception of market players as they evaluate where they will get the best returns relative expected future yields, defaults, etc.

Regarding ETFs, yes, ETFs grow in bull markets because it pays to create new units.  They will shrink in bear markets, because it will pay to dissolve units.  That said when ETF units are dissolved, the bonds formerly in the ETF don’t disappear — someone else holds them.

But in a crisis, there is no desire to exchange existing cash for new bonds that have not been issued yet.  Issuance plummets as yields rise and prices fall for risky debt.  The opposite often happens with the safest debt.  New money seeks safety amid the panic.

Last week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she didn’t see more than a moderate level of risk to financial stability from leverage or the ballooning volumes of debt. Even though it may be concerning that Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data shows yields on junk bonds have plunged to 5.6 percent, the lowest ever and 3.4 percentage points below the decade-long average, the outlook for defaults does look pretty good.

Moody’s Investors Service predicts the global speculative-grade default rate will decline to 2.1 percent at year-end from 2.3 percent in May. Both are less than half the rate’s historical average of 4.7 percent.

Janet Yellen would not know financial risk even if Satan himself showed up on her doorstep offering to sell private subprime asset-backed securities for a yield of Treasuries plus 2%.  I exaggerate, but yields on high-yield bonds are at an all-time low:

Could spreads grind tighter?  Maybe, we are at 3.35% now.  The record on the BofA ML HY Master II is 2.41% back in mid-2007, when interest rates were much higher, and the credit frenzy was astounding.

But when overall rates are higher, investors are willing to take spread lower.  There is an intrinsic unwillingness for both rates and spreads to be at their lowest at the same time.  That has not happened historically, though admittedly, the data is sparse.  Spread data began in the ’90s, and yield data in a detailed way in the ’80s.  The Moody’s investment grade series go further back, but those are very special series of long bonds, and may not represent reality for modern markets.

Also, with default rates, it is not wise to think of them in terms of averages.  Defaults are either cascading or absent, the rating agencies, most economists and analysts do not call the turning points well.  The transition from “no risk at all” in mid-2007 to mega-risk 15 months later was very quick.  A few bears called it, but few bears called it shifting their view in 2007 – most had been calling it for a few years.

The tough thing is knowing when too much debt has built up versus ability to service it, and have all short-term ways to issue yet a little more debt been exhausted?  Consider the warning signs ignored from mid-2007 to the failure of Lehman Brothers:

  • Shanghai market takes a whack (okay, early 2007)
  • [Structured Investment Vehicles] SIVs fall apart.
  • Quant hedge funds have a mini meltdown
  • Subprime MBS begins its meltdown
  • Bear Stearns is bought out by JP Morgan under stress
  • Auction-rate preferred securities market fails.
  • And there was more, but it eludes me now…

Do we have the same amount of tomfoolery in the credit markets today?  That’s a hard question to answer.  Outstanding derivatives usage is high, but I haven’t seen egregious behavior.  The Fed is the leader in tomfoolery, engaging in QE, and creating lots of bank reserves, no telling what they will do if the economy finally heats up and banks want to lend to private parties with abandon.

That concern is also revealed in BlackRock Inc.’s pitch in a paper published last month that regulators should consider redemption restrictions for some bond mutual funds, including extra fees for large redeemers.

A year ago, bond funds suffered record withdrawals amid hysteria about a sudden increase in benchmark yields. A 0.8 percentage point rise in the 10-year Treasury yield in May and June last year spurred a sell-off that caused $248 billion of market value losses on the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. Corporate and High Yield Index.

Of course, yields on 10-year Treasuries (USGG10YR) have since fallen to 2.6 percent from 3 percent at the end of December and company bonds have resumed their rally. Analysts are worrying about what happens when the gift of easy money goes away for good.

With demand for credit still weak, it is more likely that rates go lower for now.  That makes a statement for the next few months, not the next year.  The ending of QE and future rising fed funds rate is already reflected in current yields.  Bloomberg.com must be breaking in new writers, because the end of Fed easing is already expected by the market as a whole.  Deviations from that will affect the market.  But if the economy remains weak, and lending to businesses stays punk, then rates can go lower for some time, until private lending starts in earnest.

Summary

  • Is too much credit risk being taken?  Probably.  Spreads are low, and yields are record low.
  • Is a credit crisis near?  Wait a year, then ask again.
  • Typically, most people are surprised when credit turns negative, so if you have questions, be cautious.
  • Does the end of QE mean higher long rates?  Not necessarily, but watch bank lending and inflation.  More of either of those could drive rates higher.

To the Fed: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The FOMC statements are much longer than they used to be, and as such, are less clear, giving faulty signals to the markets.  If language is not likely to change much  for a while, why not drop the language  entirely, especially in cases where it affirms ideas that are obvious.

We may all know people in our lives who will say more and more if you don’t agree with them, because if you don’t agree with them, you don’t understand.  More words will bring clarity to you, and you will understand.  But what if they are nuts, and you are a sane person?  This is how I think about the FOMC — they are bad forecasters, and they don’t understand how weak monetary policy is in a period where there is too much debt.

So let’s try some pictures to replace the words of the FOMC:

central tendency_10374_image001

 

As I have said before, the FOMC is composed of overly optimistic neoclassical economists, who don’t know that their theories don’t work when and economy is too indebted.  They think: Real growth is our birthright, and price inflation promotes growth.  Neither are true.

central tendency_22274_image001

 

Note that they have been consistently pessimistic on the unemployment rate, flawed measure that it is.  Thus they think they need to keep monetary loose.

central tendency_26254_image001

 

Their views of PCE inflation reflect a view that monetary policy can easily achieve a 2% rate of inflation in the long run.  Pray tell, when have actions of the FOMC ever led to an equilibrium result?

Aside from that, the PCE index does not fairly represent inflation for the average person in the economy.  Maybe it reflects what the rich experience.

central tendency_29831_image001

 

This is a study in contrasts.  They were once more optimistic that Fed Funds rates would rise sooner, and that has not happened.  That said, they are now more certain that the Fed Funds rate will rise significantly in 2016.  As for the long run they are getting more pessimistic about economic growth, at least in their Fed Funds forecasts.

central tendency_1915_image001

This is another example of where the FOMC should take a step back, and not try to interpret every short-term wiggle.  As a group, they whipsawed in their view of when tightening would happen over the last three datapoints, when I would not have changed much.

To the Fed I say, “Say less, and provide more graphs.”  I understand that you don’t want to discredit yourselves because you are bad forecasters, but maybe you could get your points across in a more potent way by not diluting your message by many needless words.

 

 

Redacted Version of the June 2014 FOMC Statement

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
April 2014June 2014Comments
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that growth in economic activity has picked up recently, after having slowed sharply during the winter in part because of adverse weather conditions.Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April indicates that growth in economic activity has rebounded in recent months.The FOMC has constantly overestimated GDP growth, They forecast badly because they serve their political masters, who demand optimism to delude the public.
Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement. The unemployment rate, however, remains elevated.Labor market indicators generally showed further improvement. The unemployment rate, though lower, remains elevated.No significant change.  What improvement?
Household spending appears to be rising more quickly. Business fixed investment edged down, while the recovery in the housing sector remained slow.Household spending appears to be rising moderately and business fixed investment resumed its advance, while the recovery in the housing sector remained slow.Shades household spending down, raises their view on business fixed investment.

The FOMC needs to stop interpreting every short-term wiggle in the data.  They whipsawed on business fixed investment over the last three periods.

Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing.Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing.No change.  Funny that they don’t call their tapering a “restraint.”
Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.No change.  TIPS are showing slightly higher inflation expectations since the last meeting. 5y forward 5y inflation implied from TIPS is near 2.46%, up 0.05% from April.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.No change. Any time they mention the “statutory mandate,” it is to excuse bad policy.
The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will continue to improve gradually, moving toward those the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will continue to improve gradually, moving toward those the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.No change.
The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as nearly balanced.The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as nearly balanced.No change.
The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, and it is monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, and it is monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.No change.  CPI is at 2.1% now, yoy.  Hey, above the threshold, and no comment from the FOMC?
The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions.The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions.No change.
In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in May, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $20 billion per month rather than $25 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $25 billion per month rather than $30 billion per month.In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in July, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $15 billion per month rather than $20 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $20 billion per month rather than $25 billion per month.Reduces the purchase rate by $5 billion each on Treasuries and MBS.  No big deal.

 

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.No change
The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.No change.  But it has almost no impact on interest rates on the long end, which are rallying into a weakening global economy.
The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months and will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability.The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months and will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability.No change. Useless paragraph.
If incoming information broadly supports the Committee’s expectation of ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and inflation moving back toward its longer-run objective, the Committee will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.If incoming information broadly supports the Committee’s expectation of ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and inflation moving back toward its longer-run objective, the Committee will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.No change.  Says that purchases will likely continue to decline if the economy continues to improve.
However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s outlook for the labor market and inflation as well as its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s outlook for the labor market and inflation as well as its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.No change.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate.To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate.No change.
In determining how long to maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments.In determining how long to maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments.No change.  Monetary policy is like jazz; we make it up as we go.  Also note that progress can be expected progress – presumably that means looking at the change in forward expectations for inflation, etc.
The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.No change.  Its standards for raising Fed funds are arbitrary.
When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.No change.
The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.No change.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Sandra Pianalto; Charles I. Plosser; Jerome H. Powell; Jeremy C. Stein; and Daniel K. Tarullo.Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Stanley Fischer; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Loretta J. Mester; Charles I. Plosser; Jerome H. Powell; and Daniel K. Tarullo.Stanley Fischer is an interesting addition to the FOMC, because he would be capable of an independent opinion, not that he will ever do that.  Brainard and Mester are sock puppets.  If we see a dissent out of them, I will be shocked, and revise my opinion.

 

Comments

  • Small $10 B/month taper.  Equities and long bonds both rise.  Commodity prices rise.  The FOMC says that any future change to policy is contingent on almost everything.
  • They shaded household spending down, and raised their view on business fixed investment.  Don’t know they keep an optimistic view of GDP growth, especially amid falling monetary velocity.
  • The FOMC is ignoring rising inflation data.
  • The FOMC needs to chop the “dead wood” out of its statement.  Brief communication is clear communication.  If a sentence doesn’t change often, remove it.
  • In the past I have said, “When [holding down longer-term rates on the highest-quality debt] doesn’t work, what will they do?  I have to imagine that they are wondering whether QE works at all, given the recent rise and fall in long rates.  The Fed is playing with forces bigger than themselves, and it isn’t dawning on them yet.
  • The key variables on Fed Policy are capacity utilization, unemployment, inflation trends, and inflation expectations.  As a result, the FOMC ain’t moving rates up, absent increases in employment, or a US Dollar crisis.  Labor employment is the key metric.
  • GDP growth is not improving much if at all, and much of the unemployment rate improvement comes more from discouraged workers, and part-time workers.

Post 2500: What is the Aleph Blog About?

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Every hundred or so posts, I take a step back, and try to think about broader issues about blogging about finance.  Tonight, I want to explain to new readers what the Aleph Blog is about.

There have been many new followers added to my blog recently,  through e-mail, RSS, and natively.  This is because of this great article at Marketwatch, which builds off of this great article at Michael Kitces’ blog.

I am humbled to be included among Barry Ritholtz, Josh Brown, and Cullen Roche, and am genuinely surprised to be at number 4 among RIAs in social media influence.  Soli Deo Gloria.

What Does the Aleph Blog Care About?

I’m writing this primarily for new readers, because I’ve written a lot, and over a lot of areas.  I write about a broader range of topics than almost all finance bloggers do because:

  • I’m both a quantitative analyst and a qualitative analyst.
  • I’m an economist that is skeptical about the current received wisdom.
  • I like reading books, so I write a lot of book reviews.
  • I’m also a skeptic regarding Modern Portfolio Theory, and would like to see it discarded from the CFA and SOA syllabuses.
  • I believe in value investing, in both the quantitative and qualitative varieties.
  • I believe that risk control is a core concept for making money — you make more money by not losing it.
  • I believe that good government policy focuses on ethics, not results.  The bailouts were not fair to average Americans.  What would have been fair would have been to let the bank/financial holding companies fail, while protecting the interests of depositors.  The taxpayers would have been spared, and there would have been no systematic crisis had that been done.
  • I care about people not getting cheated.  That includes penny stocks, structured notes, private REITs, and many other financial innovations.  No one on Wall Street wants to do you a favor, so do your own research and buy what you want to own, not what someone wants to sell you.
  • Again, I don’t want to see people cheated, so I write about  insurance.  As a former actuary, and insurance buy-side analyst, I know a lot about insurance.  I don’t know this for sure, but I think this is the blog that writes the most about insurance on the web for free.  I write as one that invests in insurance stocks, and generally, I buy the stocks because I like the management teams.  Ethical, hard working insurance management teams do the best.
  • Oddly, this is regarded to be a good accounting blog, because as a user of accounting statements, I write about accounting issues.
  • I am a skeptic on monetary and fiscal policy, and believe both of them tend to sacrifice the future to benefit the present.  Our grandchildren will hate us.   That brings up another issue: I write about the effects of demographics on the markets.  In a world where populations are shrinking in developed nations, and will be shrinking globally by 2040, there are significant economic impacts.  Economies don’t do well when workers are shrinking in proportion to those who are not working.  (Note: include stay-at-home moms and dads in those who work.  They are valuable.)
  • I care about the bond market.  There aren’t that many good bond market blogs.  I won’t write about it every day, but I will write about i when it is important.
  • I care about pensions.  Most of the financial media knows things are screwed up there, but they do not grasp how bad the eventual outcome will likely be.  This is scary stuff — choose the state you live in with care.

Now, if you want my most basic advice, visit my personal finance category.

If you want my view of what my best articles have been, visit my best articles category.

If you want to read about my “rules,” read the rules category.

Maybe you want to read some of my most popular series:

My blog is not for everyone.  I write about what I feel most strongly about each evening.  Since I have a wide array of interests, that makes for uneven reading, because not everyone cares about all the things that I do.  If that makes my readership smaller, so be it.  My blog expresses my point of view; it is not meant to be the largest website on finance.  I want to be special, even if that means small, expressing my point  of view to those who will listen.

I thank all of my readers for reading me.  I appreciate all of you, and thank you for taking the time to read me.

As one final comment, I need to say this.  I note people unfollowing my blog at certain times, and I say to myself, “Oh, I haven’t been writing about his pet issue for a while.”  Lo, and behold, after these people leave, I start writing about it again.  That is not intentional, but it is very similar to how the market works.   People buy and sell investments at the wrong times.

To all my readers, thank you for reading me.  I value all of you, and though I can’t answer all e-mails, I read all e-mails.

In summary: the Aleph Blog is about ethics and competence.  I want to do what is right, and do what gives the best investment performance, in that order.

 

Sorted Weekly Tweets

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

Market Impact 

  • Giving Yourself an Investing Makeover http://t.co/u1MmwlWiKP @jasonzweigwsj describes Guy Spier & his efforts 2b a more rational investor $$ May 24, 2014
  • The Bearish Signs Junk Buyers Reject in Stoking ’14 Rally http://t.co/xsYEJeKTnU BBs beat CCCs amid a falling Russell 2000 index $$ #odd May 23, 2014
  • Penny Stocks Like Latteno Foods Rally, Fueling Big-Dollar Dreams http://t.co/IiqCWeAyOW Fascinating 2c this amid a pullback in small caps $$ May 23, 2014
  • Buffett Too Rich for Buffett Is Sign Bargains Are Gone http://t.co/cbjQ0MDmSR I’m still finding some cheap stocks but they r unusual $$ $SPY May 23, 2014
  • For Sale: 20% Stake in Hedge Fund. Terms: Complicated. http://t.co/kDoik1H4LT “You don’t want to be wearing someone else’s underwear.” $$ May 23, 2014
  • Boomers Cash In as Bull Market Aids Exodus From Workforce http://t.co/uKRIfO4qMQ Asset illusions delude Boomers who think they r rich $$ May 23, 2014
  • Wall Street Finds New Subprime With 125% Business Loans http://t.co/USvBIvP5Vj The businesses would get better rates on Prosper $$ #dumb May 23, 2014
  • Debt Rises in Leveraged Buyouts Despite Warnings http://t.co/6T8TIpdxWc Debt makes financial systems less flexible; depend on fixed pmts $$ May 21, 2014
  • Chasing Yield, Investors Plow Into Junk Bonds http://t.co/lWFufDu7Hy Yields have never been lower 4 CCC-rated debts $$ May 21, 2014

 

Rest of the World

  • What China Property Crash? Economists See Growth Bump http://t.co/kcXGitJH1l Economists c new empty buildings & mark up GDP $$ $FXI #FTL May 23, 2014
  • Putin’s Singapore Dream Costs Crimea Banks and Burgers http://t.co/OmmtpYDB7G Singapore is not so much created by laws but by ppl culture $$ May 23, 2014
  • Russia, China Sign $400B Gas Deal After Decade of Talks http://t.co/4k8PSE5NrM The infrastructure must b created 2 make this work; not ez $$ May 23, 2014
  • Brazil World Cup Win Risks Stock Drop in Boon to Rousseff http://t.co/dPb8GVbtSZ Brazil wins, Rousseff win odds rise, stocks will fall $$ May 23, 2014
  • BlackRock Has Cut Portugal Bond Holdings Over Past Couple of Weeks http://t.co/U3CuYpUu81 Some Emerging-Market Debt > Euro-Zone Bonds $$ May 23, 2014
  • Norway Loses Reputation as Stable Investment as Firms Recoil http://t.co/fqQkiM2H3k Tax 2 highly & businesses run away $$ May 21, 2014
  • It’s a Good Time to Globalize Your Stock Portfolio http://t.co/8pqTAwFbqj Many foreign companies r trade cheaper than US stocks $$ $SPY $EFA May 21, 2014
  • UK House Prices Rise to Record High in April http://t.co/vo6gYZNlAQ B sure 2add wealthy foreigners buying in London as investment/hedge $$ May 19, 2014
  • Bank of England’s Mark Carney Highlights Housing Market’s Threat to UK Economy http://t.co/5XOwH0cIsJ 100% of all UK mtges r short-dated $$ May 19, 2014
  • Good Time To Be A Farmer In China? http://t.co/04V9YEmSQm China aggressively pushing crop insurance, & larger scale agriculture $$ $FXI $SPY May 19, 2014

Energy

  • Without Keystone XL http://t.co/qpDcgET7J3 Economic & public health costs of forgoing a new oil pipeline $$ {Sound of oil train derailing} May 24, 2014
  • Secrecy of Oil-by-Train Shipments Causes Concern Across the US http://t.co/knapJHOx1k Butane, propane & ethane should be removed b4 shpng $$ May 23, 2014
  • Oil Nations Put Out Welcome Mat for Western Companies http://t.co/cvarvyMDCt If u make the cost of drilling2high, fewer bbls get produced $$ May 19, 2014

 

US Politics & Policy

  • How Timothy Geithner failed his stress test http://t.co/qSu9V6oZvX When @rortybomb & I agree on something, that is notable $$ #housingbubble May 23, 2014
  • Meet Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC Swing Vote http://t.co/VtIzieSnqI Marches to her own drummer, willing to cut deals 4 the greater good $$ May 23, 2014
  • How to Turn Homes Back Into Piggy Banks http://t.co/fB9PTlBwxZ Housing Personal Savings Acct & Equity Principal Tax Credit; elim mtge ded $$ May 23, 2014
  • NJ Gov. Christie under fire for cutting pension payments to state workers http://t.co/rGwAKla3aT Definite mistake; cashflows compound $$ May 23, 2014
  • BlackRock’s Fink Says Housing Structure More Unsound Now http://t.co/xeMYQmjYGG GSEs took too much default risk pre-crisis, returning $$ May 21, 2014
  • GOP’s Business Wing Sends Tea Party a Chilling Message http://t.co/W5QCHBrJrW Business fights small government GOP candidates $$ May 19, 2014
  • Why Republicans Should Take Rick Santorum Seriously http://t.co/wN7tUmnhbV Represents the middle class populist part of the GOP $$ May 19, 2014
  • California’s Drinking Problem http://t.co/GZnmdInHGY California does not have enough water for Ag, Industry, People, w/o right incentives $$ May 19, 2014

 

US Monetary Policy

  • New Faces Behind Fed Dots Seen Roiling Markets as Forecasts Move http://t.co/M2AcqPEQTX Y publish estimates if u don’t want us 2read them $$ May 23, 2014
  • Bubble States Underemployment Rates Haunt Yellen http://t.co/fRzLYozafe Monetary policy is impotent w/debt defation; Fed on wrong track $$ May 23, 2014
  • New Faces Behind Fed Dots Seen Roiling Markets as Forecasts Move http://t.co/M2AcqPEQTX Y publish estimates if u don’t want us 2read them $$ May 23, 2014
  • Yellen Adds Disadvantaged to Full-Employment Definition http://t.co/10PSrxYI9c Alas, monetary policy is weak when dealing e/employment $$ May 21, 2014
  • Fed’s Rate-Change System Up for Revamp http://t.co/srqZoDDMhK The Fed is lost. The Fed is lost. The Fed is lost. The Fed is lost… $$ $TLT May 19, 2014

 

Companies & Industries

  • Google Developing Tablet With Advanced Vision Capabilities http://t.co/ABO9NObY1h Will b interesting 2c what new apps get developed $$ $GOOG May 23, 2014
  • Planting Corn at Warp Speed Using High-Tech Tools http://t.co/tDF9EaJoy6 Astounding application of technology transforms planting seed $$ May 23, 2014
  • Golf Market Stuck in Bunker as Thousands Leave the Sport http://t.co/ju7aFEx2lp Costs 2 much $$ takes up 2 much time, but growing in Asia May 23, 2014
  • Family Dining Offers Barometer of Middle Income http://t.co/5IzzOFfS3j Ugly valuations means stocks will fall if sales don’t rise 4%/yr+ $$ May 23, 2014
  • Silicon Valley’s Laundry-App Race http://t.co/GyvIWxd5ux Long article on the efforts to turn laundry into a scalable attractive business $$ May 23, 2014

 

Personal Finance

 

  • Dueling Strategies for 401(k)s, IRAs and Your Other Retirement Funds http://t.co/DGzSDVhDZ6 Do what maxes long-term purchasing power $$ $SPY May 23, 2014
  • 40 Financial Things You Should Know by 40 http://t.co/8qqFlp1TUB 2013 article, but I thought it covered the personal financial basics $$ May 19, 2014

 

Other

  • New Study: Is No Degree Better Than A Liberal Arts Degree? http://t.co/MOYUZTngoD Depends. It helps in getting some jobs, but not all $$ May 21, 2014
  • BBC News – ‘Biggest dinosaur ever’ discovered http://t.co/Yg2qTuS27T Interesting b/c it probably was once much warmer in Patagonia $$ May 19, 2014
  • Haverford Speaker Bowen Criticizes Students Over Protests http://t.co/QXkWoAh0iE Former Princeton President calls them “immature.” Bingo! $$ May 19, 2014

 

Wrong

  • Overrated: Russia, China sign deal to bypass USD http://t.co/YNgu6bwK7H What matters is where u invest the proceeds from goods exported $$ May 23, 2014
  • Wrong: Investing: The herd isn’t always dumb http://t.co/dt0xuXKNCJ Then explain y dollar-weighted returns underperform buy & hold $$ #panic May 23, 2014
  • Wrong: Cutting Off Emergency Unemployment Benefits Hasn’t Pushed People Back to Work http://t.co/3GwlHcvq70 We run unsustainable deficits $$ May 23, 2014
  • Wrong: Ikea Economics Lure Central Bankers Seeking New Tools http://t.co/peVUXrPpKs Don’t try negative interest rates; will b a disaster $$ May 23, 2014
  • Wrong: The Retirement Apocalypse That Isn’t Coming http://t.co/ILYSCOzKTm I might buy this if we weren’t running large deficits $$ $TLT $SPY May 21, 2014

 

Retweets, Replies & Comments

  • ‘ @DGenchev I am analyzing the investors as a group, thus what % of the mkt cap is relevant. I go to EDGAR and copy XML files into Excel May 24, 2014
  • If I were doing your project, I would not have chosen any of your “governance experts.” I would have chosen a group…http://t.co/XWlYm8HaVD May 22, 2014

 

Sorted Weekly Tweets

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

US Politics & Policy

  • The Potential Bubble the Federal Reserve Cares Most About http://t.co/tp1Ug7YcaR Worrying about a bubble in the bond mkt $$ May 03, 2014
  • The Weekend Interview: The Investors at War With Political Power http://t.co/MuEvV0DQcC Courts protect our liberties from bureaucracies $$ May 03, 2014
  • Detroit Homeowners Gun Down Burglars as Police Wait for Cars http://t.co/Dkg7YEct4g This is the future of many US cities w/tight budgets $$ May 03, 2014
  • Railway exec: Keystone debate not about rail versus pipes http://t.co/bVKjkcvnq0 Aiming 4 safer tank cars & separating out natgas liquids $$ May 02, 2014
  • Xerox CIO Fixing Nevada Health Exchange, as Tough Decisions Loom http://t.co/brbP5LD0Ru Bad job by $XRX but at least they trying 2 fix it $$ May 02, 2014
  • For Now, Justice Ginsburg’s ‘Pathmarking’ Doesn’t Include Retirement http://t.co/xduXEt5OUV Interesting piece on liberal SCOTUS leader $$ May 02, 2014
  • The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Dims Lights on Coal Power Plants http://t.co/eAIlagHyqe This will eventually be reversed when shale fails $$ May 02, 2014
  • The Coming Two-Tier Health System http://t.co/xpIMjPnvhc The longer PPACA goes on the more people will c benefits limited & costs rise $$ May 02, 2014
  • California City of Torrance Grapples With Toyota Relocation to Texas http://t.co/OljCzROHlq Despite denials this happened b/c hi CA taxes $$ May 01, 2014
  • The Missing Benghazi Email http://t.co/amNnz6KAWT New evidence that Ben Rhodes told Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton to blame the video $$ May 01, 2014
  • Shifting Demographics Tilt Presidential Races in US Burbs $$ http://t.co/Ut6WAHwu91 Demographic effect politics will shift when OASDI chokes May 01, 2014
  • Half of people living in Illinois and Connecticut want to get out http://t.co/ewsu2wu8HT Maryland #3 b/c of high taxes $$ $SPY $TLT May 01, 2014
  • Yellen Concerned Fed Model Fails to Predict Price Moves http://t.co/P1NXGaHY6w Been true 4 a long time; Neoclassical Macroeconomics fails $$ May 01, 2014
  • U.S. on Highway to Flunking Out http://t.co/yvRybDP3Bp @Ritholtz Maybe US gasoline taxes could b dedicated to infrastructure & fix this $$ May 01, 2014
  • Property-Tax Collections Rising at Fastest Pace Since US Crash http://t.co/GoC12zZltE My, but that was a short respite from hi prop taxes $$ May 01, 2014
  • Student-Debt Forgiveness Plans Skyrocket, Raising Fears Over Higher Tuition http://t.co/ZaHVqZG6ft Forgiveness programs abused 2milk Govt $$ May 01, 2014
  • Lawyers Sue Stock Market for Being Rigged http://t.co/ntCxkptCw8 @matt_levine tells us about a plaintiff suing every broker & exchange $$ Apr 30, 2014
  • Will the Fed s Capital Rules Interfere with Monetary Policy? http://t.co/UpWnLNwIff Leverage affects banks short-run-> margins adjust up $$ Apr 30, 2014
  • The Economic and Environmental Costs of Wasted Food http://t.co/3YqsPbZzJv Difficult to avoid; need for inventories, transport costs high $$ Apr 23, 2014

 

Financials

  • Treasuries Irresistible to America’s Banks Awash in Cash http://t.co/wHjk3cRPn2 Clip a small interest margin, take little risk $$ May 03, 2014
  • Big US Banks Make Swaps a Foreign Affair http://t.co/5DD7en8pBG 5 banks intermediate 95% of derivatives $$ May 03, 2014
  • Fidelity Reaps Rewards as Banks Lose Bond Muscle http://t.co/mSTelgwh0d If the sell side does not provide liquidity, the buy side will $$ May 03, 2014
  • Bank of America Lost $2.7B in a Maze of Accounting http://t.co/K05aIQBhQE Acctg gets screwy when you mix fair value & book value elements $$ May 02, 2014
  • Traders Join Exodus as Forex Probes Add Pressure on Costs http://t.co/Aqlsb6vElW Difficult to dominate such a big mkt, but maybe they did $$ May 02, 2014
  • Warren Buffett Does Not Understand the J.P. Morgan Derivatives Positions http://t.co/poMfOnAhOS He acts to protect Berkshire vs bad debts $$ May 02, 2014
  • Fed Citing Wall Street Lapses Leads Drive on Bonds as Pay http://t.co/Ad2DOnjZYl Light version of the old “double liability” regime $$ $XLF May 02, 2014
  • Stress Tests Forecast $190B in Losses at $FNMA, $FMCC in Severe Downturn http://t.co/UA9S5Jj13a also this article http://t.co/Wh2QlFzqZh $$ May 02, 2014
  • Traders Denied M&A Payday as Firms Use Cash http://t.co/hSw2BGNjWh Global firms buy assets in native currency, thus don’t need FX traders $$ May 01, 2014
  • Fixed-income houses double down http://t.co/1rm6QHbjgc Less yield to fight over makes the fight all the tougher $$ $TLT May 01, 2014
  • Easier Homeowner Credit Compelling $WFC http://t.co/AzcGHepiJJ Cut min credit score 4borrowers of $FNMA & $FMCC loans 660->620 $$ FD: + $WFC May 01, 2014
  • Wall Street Bond Dealers Whipsawed on Bearish Treasuries Bet http://t.co/S6X2QhUgRV Caught leaning the wrong way as US economy weakens $$ Apr 30, 2014

 

China

  • Chinese Bad-Loan Ratio Rises ‘Significantly,’ Huarong Says http://t.co/Eu5AAeyGp5 Costs of prior malinvestment weigh on China $$ May 03, 2014
  • Xi’s Squeeze Leaves China’s Heartland Missing Boom http://t.co/Bt0L96guqH Efforts to constrain bad bank loans slows Chinese economy $$ $FXI May 03, 2014
  • Wealthy Chinese replace Russians as top apartment buyers http://t.co/zEWVg7dOOC Better to buy in NYC than Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore? $$ May 02, 2014
  • How Women Lost as Out China’s Property Market Boomed http://t.co/MXkG2udq0t China lacks law protecting married women’s property interests $$ May 02, 2014
  • Green Batteries’ Graphite Adds to China Pollution http://t.co/rxZufzpj9H Buy a $TSLA or a $HMC Prius, send polluted rain to China $$ $SPY May 01, 2014

 

Rest of the World

  • Poland’s Tusk Proposes Energy Union 2 Break Russian Hold on Gas http://t.co/CzDr3evIhe Wishful thinking as infrastructure 2 deliver lacks $$ May 03, 2014
  • More Italian Women Are Choosing to Have No Children http://t.co/fSghk0oKwP A nation that does not have children is irrelevant $$ May 03, 2014
  • Portugal Grabs Cheap Bond Deal With Eye on Bailout Exit http://t.co/9gEDWEIuYh Debt problems r not resolved, but mkts feel better 4 now $$ May 03, 2014
  • German Ship Captain Swamped in Debt Underscores Bank Risk http://t.co/eP7Xhvj67X Current EU economic policies hide bad debt risks $$ May 03, 2014
  • GoldenTree Goes Bold in Buying Russian Corporate Bonds http://t.co/d0nvYJ7Ah2 “Russia, it’s a strong credit in a difficult environment,” $$ May 03, 2014
  • One Missing Jet, One Sunken Ferry, Two Responses http://t.co/I1ZgkwQyLo @WilliamPesek compares Malaysia & S. Korea & responses 2 disaster $$ May 02, 2014
  • Turkey’s Erdogan: 1 of the World’s Most Determined Internet Censors http://t.co/12ALhoW2i3 #twitterisblockedinTurkey $$ #internetchangesall May 02, 2014
  • German Businesses Urge Halt on Sanctions Against Russia http://t.co/bJho1CvvIP Is business so global that major wars can’t be fought? $$ May 02, 2014
  • How Canada’s Flirtation w/a China Oil Market Soured http://t.co/h5HPS7pnM8 Why Canada will NEVER ship crude to China via a Pacific port $$ May 02, 2014
  • Georgia Pushes for Fast Path 2 NATO on Russian Threat http://t.co/bYY8LK1pla Is Georgia worth annoying Russia? Avoid entangling alliances $$ May 02, 2014
  • US sanctions raise concerns for foreign investors http://t.co/XWbwvPXyir Or, maybe not: http://t.co/rhsqIHCafl $$ May 02, 2014
  • Google Warning on Russia Prescient as Putin Squeezes Web http://t.co/pVedAtqcAx Social Media has its downsides if Govt uses it against u $$ May 02, 2014
  • Liquidity Trap Hitting AAA Bonds Has ATP CEO Sounding Alarm http://t.co/bhWlb1EjxQ Curbing speculation has led 2 decreased bond liquidity $$ May 02, 2014
  • Israelis Without ABCs Unready2Power Startup Nation’s Economy http://t.co/q2V1IwGrIZ He that doesn’t teach his son a trade teaches him2rob $$ May 01, 2014
  • Tokyo Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1992 http://t.co/khjhBvHgWT Worth watching, as inflation is not the friend of Japan ultimately $$ May 01, 2014

 

US Economy 

  • Colleges, Employers Rethink Internship Policies http://t.co/RMievOB82U Unpaid internships often don’t lead to jobs, just use your time $$ May 03, 2014
  • Apprenticeships Help Close the Skills Gap. So Why Are They in Decline? http://t.co/pCnZCgXqAr If they weren’t tied 2 labor unions… $$ May 03, 2014
  • Calculated Risk: Ranking Economic Data http://t.co/l4X9wcjrEw) Bill McBride gives his opinions on what economic data is most important $$ May 03, 2014
  • Union Blasts Staples-Run Postal Outlets http://t.co/qmmc4iXhIS Of course, they don’t want the competition $$ May 03, 2014

 

Energy

  • Energy Future Junior Creditors Test Bid for Fast Bankruptcy Deal http://t.co/ZFgWCteuh0 A warning to those doing big LBO deals in a boom $$ May 03, 2014
  • Shale Drillers Feast on Junk Debt to Stay on Treadmill http://t.co/qG9WwN63V0 Fascinating look many junk-rated E&P companies paying 5.4% $$ May 02, 2014
  • Valero to Suncor Shun Overseas Imports in Eastern Canada http://t.co/dco5QQdox4 Oil imports falling in Eastern N.America, Brent spd eases $$ May 02, 2014
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy Buys AltaLink Power-Transmission Company http://t.co/K95RDCbYM8 Buffett wants long-lived infrastructure assets $$ May 02, 2014
  • Shale Revolution Lures Trading Houses 2US Energy Assets http://t.co/6WTGDZNLzl If u can understand physical flows, there’s a value chain $$ May 01, 2014
  • Drones Are Becoming Energy’s New Roustabouts http://t.co/e2OBYmeV48 Can cover more area and c things that a person could not c & record $$ May 01, 2014
  • Challenges Lie Ahead for North American Oil Production http://t.co/m7vvemlw6m We’re running out of cheap crude oil $$ Apr 22, 2014


Market Impact

  • Defensive Value ETF Races to New Highs http://t.co/KOKo14nkDk This isn’t defense; many people throw $$ at stocks that offer dividends May 03, 2014
  • Chile CEF’s Premium a Case of Yield Lover’s Mirage http://t.co/blhZjCHLzN Be wary: not all distributions indicate recurring yield $$ May 03, 2014
  • Hedge Funds Short Small Caps Most Since ’04 http://t.co/2hLYbzM521 Dangerous trade, b/c mkt can b insane longer than u remain solvent $$ May 03, 2014
  • Howard Marks’ Brilliant Observation On What It Takes To Be A Great Investor http://t.co/yeJnpION8s Be different, & right often enough $$ May 02, 2014
  • Junk Loans Pulled as Buyers Say No After Fed Voices Worry http://t.co/lCDRdfFvV6 Junk-loan MFs had their 1st outflow in week ended 4/16 $$ May 02, 2014
  • Why This Bull Market Feels Familiar http://t.co/8JXl7JGwMe Low earnings in tech IPOs, momentum & loose monetary policy $$ $SPY May 01, 2014
  • Why Investors Love Hedge Funds http://t.co/uFjN76R9KT @Ritholtz teaches us about high fees, & decrasing effectiveness as they grow large $$ Apr 30, 2014

 

Companies

  • Ballmer Becomes Largest Individual Microsoft Shareholder http://t.co/DvWSRZAb1Z Bill Gates always had an exit strategy from $MSFT $$ May 03, 2014
  • Apple Sells $12B of Bonds to Keep Cash Overseas http://t.co/FiSK8eJS5C Avoiding the tax hit is more important leverage across borders $$ May 03, 2014
  • Berkshire Meeting, Now ‘Woodstock for Capitalists,’ Had Humble Start http://t.co/wbYCcKc8yr Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded $$ May 02, 2014
  • Buffett Wants Tough Questions? How About These? http://t.co/m36vBV6VIe Ask him about the Harney Investment Trust, his shadowy creation $$ May 02, 2014
  • Verizon Loses Cellphone Customers for First Time http://t.co/6DbXOm993W Interesting, wonder if it is a trend… $$ $VZ May 01, 2014
  • IBM End to Buyback Splurge Pressures CEO to Boost Revenue http://t.co/D657Dc27mX Buybacks can only do so much; organic growth needed $$ $IBM May 01, 2014
  • FM Global CFO: Know Your Supply Chain http://t.co/dBTc6MYXXY Real disasters happen when multiple things go wrong at the same time $$ $SPY May 01, 2014
  • ‘I Think Google’s Pretty Dangerous and Thuggish. I’ve Always Said That.’ http://t.co/jYZBaewNjZ Trying 2 defend yourself; not saying much $$ Apr 28, 2014

 

Personal Finance

  • Does Anyone Play It Straight in Markets? http://t.co/MRZY1ro2as @ritholtz warns u that many in the mkts r trying to separate u & your $$ May 03, 2014
  • Feeling Cool About A Hot Personal Finance Book http://t.co/hwFULepE8v When someone tries to sell u insurance 4 a savings need, go away $$ May 03, 2014
  • 4 Alternatives to Reverse Mortgages http://t.co/6Wmd2kYQmz Refinance, Home Equity Loan, Sell the Home (maybe to your kids) $$ #sell May 02, 2014
  • Work and Live, Retire and Die @Ritholtz http://t.co/t1YWHoG6NO People plan to retire later than they actually do & life interferes $$ $SPY May 02, 2014
  • How to Choose the Right Mutual Fund http://t.co/4kvyh8rZZK Omits active share, good mutual funds typically look un-indexlike $$ May 01, 2014
  • If You’re Not Saving, You’re Losing Out http://t.co/QtG87rNHPF It’s not the money u make, it’s the money u keep that counts $$ $SPY $TLT May 01, 2014

 

Other

  • The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease http://t.co/32pwYj4Z6i There has never been more disagreement over food $$ May 03, 2014
  • Will That Golfer Choke? New Field of Mental Analytics Tees Up Answer http://t.co/B8dxIYL1Jf Can analytics make u think better in sports $$ May 03, 2014
  • Cyber security: business is in the front line http://t.co/RXkfEDaPu0 This isn’t a soft cost anymore; the need to secure IT is vital $$ May 03, 2014
  • Remember Life Before Antibiotics? No? Wait, It’ll Come to You http://t.co/g9uQajBJJL Antibiotic resistance grows, obsoleting some drugs $$ May 02, 2014
  • How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart http://t.co/Kdswi39oZr Hoaxes & apochrypha have circulated since the Apostles. They always crumble $$ May 02, 2014
  • Why Some MBAs Are Reading Plato http://t.co/ltj9Y8QYyV Schools Try Philosophy to Get B-School Students Thinking Beyond the Bottom Line $$ May 01, 2014
  • Does Baseball Have to Be So Slow? http://t.co/8PRcoei9Ua Dawdling by batters & pitchers, & an increase in strikeouts makes games drag $$ May 01, 2014
  • The world’s smallest magazine cover is 2,000 times smaller than a grain of salt http://t.co/o4H7mfHCDE Nanotech: we do it because we can $$ May 01, 2014
  • Why Militaries Mess Up So Often http://t.co/39NKx6YPUn Officers trained during peacetime tend not to take the risks necessary in wartime $$ May 01, 2014

 

Wrong 

  • Wrong:Nontraded REIT returns: Where to put cash now? http://t.co/EPykRK8e7S Avoid illiquidity unless u r paid 4 it. Avoid big commissions $$ May 03, 2014
  • Wrong: China’s Century Starts Now @BloombergView http://t.co/UUziinXlqJ Wait until after the banking crash & recovery, then write this $$ May 01, 2014
  • Wrong: Money-Market Funds As Safe as Banks, Except When They’re Not http://t.co/7S2TEDpk7Q Banks fail more often & losses r more severe $$ May 01, 2014

 

Retweets, Replies, and Comments 

  • “Ask Buffett about the Harney Investment Trust:http://t.co/KUHnslWBFv…” — David_Merkel http://t.co/bLVAj6OY7O $$ May 02, 2014
  • Commented on StockTwits: Whoops, and I should have gotten that one right http://t.co/nB9lRK14kb May 01, 2014
  • “Paul, try valuing BRK off of increase in book value per share, and the metric comes out to a more…” — DavidMerkel http://t.co/cm2Rdhkzfn $$ May 01, 2014
  • “Now try to explain how long yields fell the last time the Fed tightened.” — David_Merkel http://t.co/MwJL3d6KQX $$ FD: + $TLT May 01, 2014
  • “If citizens are not created/educated by 18, you won’t have good citizens.” — David_Merkel http://t.co/TzfQsJULED $$ http://t.co/eiOLPqNuub Apr 29, 2014
  • “This may be a game of “Who has the stronger balance sheet?” $HLF or Ackman?” — David_Merkel http://t.co/2QCjheaJjd $$ Apr 29, 2014
  • @Peter_Atwater @Minyanville @Socionomics Thanks, Peter. Means a lot coming from you. Apr 28, 2014
  • @ReformedBroker @ritholtz feel free to repost it (w/credit to me) if you like Apr 28, 2014
  • RT @felixsalmon: For the record, I never said, nor do I believe, that text is over. I’m still going to be writing lots of text! Apr 28, 2014
  • RT @victorricciardi: @researchpuzzler @AlephBlog @jciesielski @tobyshute Tom Great meeting you Thanks for your ideas for promoting my new b… Apr 25, 2014
  • RT @researchpuzzler: thanks to CFA Society Baltimore @AlephBlog @victorricciardi @jciesielski @tobyshute for the great exchange of ideas Apr 25, 2014
  • RT @ppearlman: summer must read – “@reformedbroker: CLASH OF THE FINANCIAL PUNDITS: COUNTDOWN BEGINS NOW! http://t.co/iZqYTs8OFt” Apr 25, 2014
  • RT @abnormalreturns: Had to Google ‘cable network Fusion’…RT @felixsalmon: It’s out: I’m going to Fusion http://t.co/B1EK0eJmc8 Apr 24, 2014
  • RT @ChemistryVines: Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2) https://t.co/Ar2yhIlOwo Apr 23, 2014
  • @Calvinn_Hobbes I don’t know. We all want to grow up, until we do grow up. Only the foolish regret growing up. Apr 22, 2014

Redacted version of the April 2014 FOMC Statement

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
March 2014April 2014Comments
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in January indicates that growth in economic activity slowed during the winter months, in part reflecting adverse weather conditions.Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that growth in economic activity has picked up recently, after having slowed sharply during the winter in part because of adverse weather conditions.Weather is always a weak reason for a bad result.  You almost never see anyone claim good weather boosted results.

Didn’t they see today’s weak GDP report?

Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement. The unemployment rate, however, remains elevated.Labor market indicators were mixed but on balance showed further improvement. The unemployment rate, however, remains elevated.No significant change.  What improvement?  Note: this is the one remaining place where they mention the “unemployment rate.” Shh.
Household spending and business fixed investment continued to advance, while the recovery in the housing sector remained slow.Household spending appears to be rising more quickly. Business fixed investment edged down, while the recovery in the housing sector remained slow.Shades household spending down, lowers their view on business fixed investment.
Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing.Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint is diminishing.No change.  Funny that they don’t call their tapering a “restraint.”
Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.No change.  TIPS are showing slightly lower inflation expectations since the last meeting. 5y forward 5y inflation implied from TIPS is near 2.41%, up 0.15% from March.
Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.No change. Any time they mention the “statutory mandate,” it is to excuse bad policy.
The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will continue to improve gradually, moving toward those the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will continue to improve gradually, moving toward those the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.No change.
The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as nearly balanced.The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as nearly balanced.No change.
The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, and it is monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, and it is monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.No change.  CPI is at 1.5% now, yoy.
The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions.The Committee currently judges that there is sufficient underlying strength in the broader economy to support ongoing improvement in labor market conditions.No change.
In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in April, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $25 billion per month rather than $30 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $30 billion per month rather than $35 billion per month.In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions since the inception of the current asset purchase program, the Committee decided to make a further measured reduction in the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in May, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $20 billion per month rather than $25 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $25 billion per month rather than $30 billion per month.Reduces the purchase rate by $5 billion each on Treasuries and MBS.  No big deal.

 

The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction.No change
The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.No change.  But it has almost no impact on interest rates on the long end, which are rallying into a weakening global economy.
The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months and will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability.The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months and will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability.No change. Useless paragraph.
If incoming information broadly supports the Committee’s expectation of ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and inflation moving back toward its longer-run objective, the Committee will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.If incoming information broadly supports the Committee’s expectation of ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and inflation moving back toward its longer-run objective, the Committee will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings.No change.  Says that purchases will likely continue to decline if the economy continues to improve.
However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s outlook for the labor market and inflation as well as its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s outlook for the labor market and inflation as well as its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases.No change.
To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate.To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy remains appropriate.No change.
In determining how long to maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments.In determining how long to maintain the current 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess progress–both realized and expected–toward its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments.Monetary policy is like jazz; we make it up as we go.  Also note that progress can be expected progress – presumably that means looking at the change in forward expectations for inflation, etc.
The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.The Committee continues to anticipate, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and provided that longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored.No change.  Its standards for raising Fed funds are arbitrary.
When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.No change.
The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.No change.
With the unemployment rate nearing 6-1/2 percent, the Committee has updated its forward guidance. The change in the Committee’s guidance does not indicate any change in the Committee’s policy intentions as set forth in its recent statements. That sentence lasted only one month.  Note that the phrase “unemployment rate” is close to being banned by the FOMC.  The dual mandate is not so dual, at least in the old sense.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Richard W. Fisher; Sandra Pianalto; Charles I. Plosser; Jerome H. Powell; Jeremy C. Stein; and Daniel K. Tarullo.

 

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Sandra Pianalto; Charles I. Plosser; Jerome H. Powell; Jeremy C. Stein; and Daniel K. Tarullo.Kocherlakota rejoins the majority, even with no change to the “fifth paragraph” of the March statement.
Voting against the action was Narayana Kocherlakota, who supported the sixth paragraph, but believed the fifth paragraph weakens the credibility of the Committee’s commitment to return inflation to the 2 percent target from below and fosters policy uncertainty that hinders economic activity. Thus ends the lamest vote against an FOMC decision that I have ever seen.  The differences between the last statement’s fifth and sixth paragraphs were minuscule.

Comments

  • Small $10 B/month taper.  Equities and long bonds both rise.  Commodity prices fall.  The FOMC says that any future change to policy is contingent on almost everything.
  • They shaded household spending down, and lowered their view on business fixed investment.  Don’t know they keep an optimistic view of GDP growth, especially amid falling monetary velocity.
  • At least they are abandoning the unemployment rate as their measure of labor conditions.
  • They missed a real opportunity to simplify the statement.  More words obfuscate, they do not clarify.
  • In the past I have said, “When [holding down longer-term rates on the highest-quality debt] doesn’t work, what will they do?  I have to imagine that they are wondering whether QE works at all, given the recent rise and fall in long rates.  The Fed is playing with forces bigger than themselves, and it isn’t dawning on them yet.
  • The key variables on Fed Policy are capacity utilization, unemployment, inflation trends, and inflation expectations.  As a result, the FOMC ain’t moving rates up, absent increases in employment, or a US Dollar crisis.  Labor employment is the key metric.
  • GDP growth is not improving much if at all, and much of the unemployment rate improvement comes more from discouraged workers, and part-time workers.

Miscellaneous Notes

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

When I was writing at RealMoney.com, I would often do little posts in the Columnists Conversation, and title them “Notes and Comments,” or something like that.  I don’t normally do that here, but I would like to tie up some loose ends.

1) I received the following e-mail six weeks ago, and I feel it is worthy to be shared with readers:

Hi David,

I follow the Aleph blog from time to time. I run value and special situations oriented hedge fund whose goal is to purchase businesses that sell for at least 50 cents on the dollar. It seems that we are like minded in investment terms. I have an extensive investment checklist which that I believe can add value to investors. It took me a few years and I derived it by reading stacks of annual reports from Buffett, Klarman, etc…

If it adds value to your readers, more than happy to share the 90+item investment checklist.

http://www.brarifunds.com/wp-content/uploads/BIF-Checklist.pdf

Regards,

Pope

Pope Brar, Managing Partner/Founder

Brar Investment Funds

I’ve read through the checklist and it is a good one.  It has all of the elements of my processes (though I am not as rigorous) and much more.  His checklist is worth a read.  Have a look at it.

2) From last night’s post, a reader asked:

Lots of insurers here.  Given your expertise in that area, I’d be curious to know if you think this screen is turning up names that are on the riskier end of the spectrum.

I wrote a seven part series on this, and here are the summary ideas, and the links:

  1. Shrinking the share count
  2. Growing Fully Convertible Book Value per Share
  3. Price Momentum and Mean-Reversion
  4. On Conservative Management & Reserving
  5. Some Things Can’t Be Underwritten
  6. Analyzing Insurance Sub-Industries and the PB-ROE model
  7. Insurance Accounting and Miscellaneous Insurance Insights 

I’ve been decreasing my insurance shareholdings lately because:

  • Pricing is weak for most P&C coverages, and
  • I don’t trust the reserving for secondary guarantees in life and annuity policies.

Here’s the insurance companies from last might’s article in decreasing order of earnings yield:

CompanyTickerIndustryCountryB/PE/PROE
Imperial Holdings, Inc.IFT0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.38 37.03 26.83
Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd.GLRE0715 – Insurance (P&C)Cayman Islands 0.90 19.45 21.61
Assured Guaranty Ltd.AGO0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.18 18.59 15.75
American Equity Investment LifAEL0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 0.86 16.77 19.50
Everest Re Group LtdRE0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 0.88 15.35 17.44
Validus Holdings, Ltd.VR0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.00 13.30 13.30
Axis Capital Holdings LimitedAXS0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.01 13.20 13.07
Endurance Specialty Holdings LENH0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.31 12.55 9.58
CNO Financial Group IncCNO0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.29 12.39 9.60
American International Group IAIG0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.34 12.00 8.96
Montpelier Re Holdings Ltd.MRH0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 0.99 11.83 11.95
Allied World Assurance Co HoldAWH0715 – Insurance (P&C)Switzerland 1.00 11.73 11.73
XL Group plcXL0715 – Insurance (P&C)Ireland 1.12 11.72 10.46
Argo Group International HoldiAGII0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.27 11.55 9.09
Platinum Underwriters HoldingsPTP0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.02 11.25 11.03
Allianz SE (ADR)AZSEY0715 – Insurance (P&C)Germany 0.92 11.08 12.04
ACE LimitedACE0715 – Insurance (P&C)Switzerland 0.84 10.92 13.00
ProAssurance CorporationPRA0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.87 10.86 12.48
MBIA Inc.MBI0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.45 10.86 7.49
National Western Life InsurancNWLI0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.63 10.85 6.66
Partnerre LtdPRE0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.23 10.75 8.74
Old Republic International CorORI0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.88 10.53 11.97
Employers Holdings, Inc.EIG0706 – Insurance (A&H)United States 0.93 10.46 11.25
United Fire Group, Inc.UFCS0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.05 10.30 9.81
Maiden Holdings, Ltd.MHLD0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 0.93 10.11 10.87
EMC Insurance Group Inc.EMCI0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.02 9.88 9.69
Investors Title CompanyITIC0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.86 9.85 11.45
Protective Life Corp.PL0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 0.92 9.76 10.61
Lincoln National CorporationLNC0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.07 9.76 9.12
FBL Financial GroupFFG0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 0.96 9.73 10.14
Assurant, Inc.AIZ0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.00 9.67 9.67
Kemper CorpKMPR0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.95 9.64 10.15
Aspen Insurance Holdings LimitAHL0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.12 9.61 8.58
Horace Mann Educators CorporatHMN0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.91 9.60 10.55
Unum GroupUNM0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 0.98 9.55 9.74
WellPoint IncWLP0706 – Insurance (A&H)United States 0.89 9.52 10.70
ING Groep NV (ADR)ING0709 – Insurance (Life)Netherlands 1.14 9.46 8.30
Axa SA (ADR)AXAHY0709 – Insurance (Life)France 1.19 9.46 7.95
Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.,THG0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.99 9.44 9.54
Baldwin & Lyons IncBWINB0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.98 9.42 9.61
American Financial Group IncAFG0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.87 9.15 10.52
Alleghany CorporationY0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.01 9.15 9.06
American National Insurance CoANAT0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.40 8.99 6.42
HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.HCC0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.82 8.92 10.88
Allstate Corporation, TheALL0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.82 8.75 10.67
Symetra Financial CorporationSYA0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.23 8.64 7.02
Selective Insurance GroupSIGI0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.90 8.51 9.46
White Mountains Insurance GrouWTM0715 – Insurance (P&C)Bermuda 1.07 8.49 7.93
Fortegra Financial CorpFRF0712 – Insurance (Misc)United States 1.28 8.18 6.39
Cna Financial CorpCNA0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.10 8.15 7.41
Stewart Information Services CSTC0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.83 7.96 9.59
Navigators Group, Inc, TheNAVG0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 1.09 7.68 7.05
Reinsurance Group of America IRGA0706 – Insurance (A&H)United States 1.08 7.49 6.94
Safety Insurance Group, Inc.SAFT0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.84 7.39 8.80
State Auto Financial CorpSTFC0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.83 6.92 8.34
Genworth Financial IncGNW0709 – Insurance (Life)United States 1.72 6.87 3.99
First American Financial CorpFAF0715 – Insurance (P&C)United States 0.87 6.75 7.76

Now, let me list for you the companies I would avoid on this list: IFT, GLRE, AGO, AEL, CNO, AIG, XL, MBI, LNC, FBL, AHL, ING, AXAHY, AFG, GNW.  That does not mean that I endorse the others.  In general, those that I say to avoid have poor underwriting skills or a bad business model.

3) Another letter from a reader, on a very different topic, the FOMC:

thanks again – I always look forward to this update.

My thoughts are, they are increasing their flexibility in one direction (towards “accommodation”).  While they did move the point about “after the purchase program ends” to a spot perhaps better suited to a discussion of that point, I also took it to mean that there may be less commitment to end QE.  (Although, so long as the deficit keeps declining, they really have no choice but to dial back purchases to keep the supply and the non-Fed demand in line.  This is the overlooked reason, I believe that long rates appear to be moving independently of Fed action.  Their demand is not the only variable).

 Final thought - to what extent do you think that the Fed’s great misunderstanding is their inherent bias towards lowest rates possible under any economic conditions: i.e. for any given level of inflation, that Fed policy is best that reflects the lowest level of non-inflationary interest rates [because this presumably encourages credit expansion and therefore economic growth]?

 To my way of thinking, the difficulty with this is that it assumes that credit always has to expand FASTER than the economy overall.  I don’t mean that credit expansion is not important, it is a big component of growth, just that credit can’t grow faster than income forever and at some point, we have to find a model that enables income to grow fast enough to increase living standards without overleverage.

 To me, this is the central policy challenge of the 21st century, because a) globally, credit has surged relative to national income and has reached a limit, b) populations are aging and must therefore favor lower levels of credit – and consumption – overall and c) the bills associated with 1 and 2 are now coming due.

 The Fed, however, seems stuck on the idea that their job should be to inflate rapid credit expansion regardless of the creditworthiness of the borrowers.  This strikes me as dumb, or perhaps more like wishful thinking that if credit expands, growth will drive incomes higher and somehow these will catch up (with some acceptable lag).

 Notice that no one at the Fed talks about things like the household savings rate any more?  I would be ok with QE if the Fed could explain that they were facilitating an orderly deleveraging: in which case Household Debt/Equity (which indicates potential for end-consumer final demand) would be a better metric than unemployment.

 As it is, I believe that what they are really targeting (large) bank balance sheets, and that QE is really a massive backdoor subsidy to money center banks to guarantee enough operating income to allow them to write off bad loans while increasing capital reserves to comply with Basel III.  (Full disclosure, I have a significant portion of my assets in a large US bank that was trading well below the strike price of the warrants issued against its shares to Berkshire Hathaway at the time I purchased the shares, which bank shall remain nameless).

 Politically, I suppose, saying, “well, we need to ensure banks are profitable so as to ensure the solvency of the payments system” looks disturbingly like a bailout for the 1% and is out of touch with a more populist America.

 Anyway, sorry for the diatribe, but curious to get your thoughts.  I think I am less reflexively sceptical about the efficacy of the Fed’s policy (but I fully agree with your view that they are not supporting employment with it).

 Thanks again for all the work you do.

The central idea I would like to comment on is that incremental easing has had less and less effect on the economy, at least in the short-run.  Aside from energy companies, willingness to invest in the business has been light, while willingness to buy back stock has been high.  That doesn’t produce growth in the economy.

The Fed doesn’t realize that it can’t stimulate the economy at the zero bound.  QE is ineffective, and may become fuel for high inflation if the banks start to lend aggressively.  Inflation is not the goal, and I think many policymakers are confused — the goal is real growth.

We can protect the payments systems by protecting the regulated subsidiaries of banks, and letting the holding companies bear the losses, which is what we failed to do in 2008-2009.

All that said, we have a punk economy, but what will happen if we get a large increase in bank lending, leading to inflation.  What will the Fed do then?

Sorted Weekly Tweets

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Federal Reserve

 

  • Why Central Banks Should Be Vague http://t.co/iVO9s9l3il They would b better off saying nothing, as their ability 2analyze future is poor $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Yellen and the Curse of Forward Guidance @BloombergView http://t.co/kAWJg4vrEN Better the Fed should shut up & let the market adjust $$ $TLT Mar 21, 2014
  • Yellen and the Fed Go Dark http://t.co/M70bG02KZ3 @M_C_Klein tells the truth, better the FOMC should say nothing, words don’t mean much $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Yellen Punt Prompts Panic http://t.co/ztlpEuEGp6 Interesting to be quoted in the article above. Author liked my comment on the weather $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Essentially Yellen said monetary policy will b the same as before, only more so. But the forecasts show a faster removal of accommodation $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Level of Central tendency of FOMC Fed Funds forecasts 2014-6, LR — 0.30%, 1.13%, 2.42%, 3.88% Change -0.04%, 0.07%, 0.25%, -0.01% $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Level of Central tendency of forecasts for when the Fed first starts tightening Fed funds: October 2015, change from prior January 2016 $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Level of Central tendency of FOMC PCE Inflation forecasts 2014-6, LR — 1.55%, 1.80%, 1.84%, 2.00% Change 0.04%, 0.03%, -0.03%, 0.00% $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Level of Central tendency of FOMC Unemp forecasts 2014-6, LR — 6.21%, 5.73%, 5.41%, 5.45% Change -0.24%, -0.20%, -0.13%, -0.08% $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Level of Central tendency of FOMC GDP forecasts 2014-6, LR — 2.81%, 3.04%, 2.76%, 2.21% Change -0.13%, -0.09%, -0.08%, -0.05% $$ Mar 19, 2014
  • Low-Wage Workers Are Finding Poverty Harder to Escape http://t.co/RQP18XOPQA Low Marketable Skills plus divorce or no marriage w/kids $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Fed set to roll out new low-rate pledge http://t.co/WXYH7aiBcK Fed spends 2much time on words, not enough on long-term efficacy of policy $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Yellen should take away the punch bowl http://t.co/VzkzJZr83D Fed will never do that; doesn’t like 2 take actions that point back @ them $$ Mar 18, 2014

 

Rest of the World

 

  • Bloomberg Hints at Curb on Articles About China http://t.co/q1R6Xsa8fF Bloomberg makes its $$ by renting out terminals; wants more China biz Mar 21, 2014
  • CPI Credibility Lasts 34 Days as Doubts Return http://t.co/qtUNozXPnZ Well, that was quick – guess Argentina doesn’t want 2 pay more out $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Putin’s Tools of Sabotage Beat Urgency of Ukraine Invasion http://t.co/Yv3rRkrdnd Putin ready 2 play a rougher game, understands politics $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Putin Is No Madman to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy http://t.co/hOPPmnCF5u We shouldn’t fight over this, Crimea is Russian $$ $RSX Mar 19, 2014
  • “Nobody Knows Anything” http://t.co/WTlzkgXvkM Knowledge lost as Cold War Generation gone from foreign policy: C: http://t.co/0KvkZIqlHW $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • How China’s official bank card is used to smuggle money http://t.co/2PIMdctQu5 Between Macau Casinos & UnionPay, wealthy get $$ out of China Mar 18, 2014
  • China to Spend More Than $162B on Shantytowns http://t.co/l0HKesS6lr Herding people into cities, but what will they do for work? $$ $FXI Mar 18, 2014
  • Alibaba Confirms It Will Begin IPO Process in US http://t.co/jkdScz12kQ Could be valuable 4 $YHOO who owns ~24% $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • The Welsh dairy farmers who bought 320 buy-to-let properties in Sweden http://t.co/haGuwFQXGn Worry when it seems easy 2 make $$ in housing Mar 18, 2014
  • Chinese Companies Caught in Yuan Riptide http://t.co/BnKss6ZQvN What was once viewed as “free money” proves to have a cost, panic ensues $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Musk Jab at Rival Shows US Space Reliance on Russia http://t.co/NBun2inY5Q Interesting how we rely on Russia 4 manned space flight $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Nigeria Overtaking South Africa Masks Poverty Trap http://t.co/Bf2ZGIXuHl When economy is mostly resource extraction inequality common $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Putin’s Motives Rooted in History Remain a Mystery Abroad http://t.co/ckRcNaYgUj Should b happy that most of Ukraine is allied w/West $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Chinese Developer Bonds Sink in Secondary Trade Amid Collapse http://t.co/LDVrHVdptU Test 4 Govt: how much bad credit will u bail out? $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Japan Analysts Split on Fiscal Crisis Time as Tax Looms http://t.co/9VQPhtQaoD Testing the limits of how much a govt can borrow b4 crisis $$ Mar 18, 2014

New Businesses

 

  • Rock-Climbing Generation at Foot of US Startup Ascent http://t.co/dQjCDlYNVL Example of an unusual business catering to exercise wants $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Zuckerberg, Musk Invest in Vicarious http://t.co/C5avwXQ0mi Part of brain that sees, controls the body, understands language & does math $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Personally, I think Artificial Intelligence won’t succeed w/ that. No surprise that Vicarious is trying, though — would save lotsa time $$ Mar 21, 2014

 

Finance

 

  • Credit Card Data Security Standards Don’t Guarantee Security http://t.co/Kky2011rLb Antiquated technology relatively ez2hack, no surprise $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Why Do High Frequency Traders Never Lose Money? http://t.co/V3CdYpzVZx Why do auctioneers & brokers rarely lose money facilitating trades $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • How to Decide on Your Investment in Bonds http://t.co/9ApVxQkxyG When rates are so low you should b extra careful, stay short & hi qual $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Shadow Banking Deals Prompt SEC Plan to Cap Broker Leverage http://t.co/6CKxLVDYT5 SEC does not go far enough, repo mkts should b ended $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • SEC to take another look at ETF regulation http://t.co/pKPQeUvVqU Should leveraged products & inverse products b allowed? Lousy returns $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Junk Bonds at $2T as Gundlach Pulls Back http://t.co/CMRM6cLF6E Markets always seem large when they are overvalued, Gundlach is right $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Seth Klarman warns of impending asset price bubble http://t.co/oa49IEj68A When he runs out of safe places 2 put $$ the red lights flash Mar 18, 2014
  • ARM Loans—a Vestige of the Housing Bubble—Are Making a Comeback http://t.co/BrrfQlDwni True 4 wealthy & those with prime credit scores $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Buffett gets the better of everyone, version 4,762 http://t.co/uCq0dE1Uo8 Parts w/his holdings of $GHC, retires shares of $BRK.A & $BRK.B $$ Mar 15, 2014

 

Politics & Policy

 

  • Uneven Wage Gains Restrain Recovery http://t.co/LD5h31WFxO Article has a lot of interesting data on what jobs r available to semi-skilled $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Obama Keystone Choice Pits Donors Against At-Risk Senate http://t.co/jCNbOFTg0w Kind of a no-win situation 4 Obama; should ok the deal $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Young Invincibles Are Killing Obamacare http://t.co/AcNg9p83d7 Obamacare destroys the healthcare system as healthy young people leave $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Christie Counts on Revenue Surge Not Seen in Most States http://t.co/dfOkM7gy8V A Reaganesqe flaw: relying on the rosy scenario w/Dems $$ Mar 20, 2014

 

Companies & Industries

 

  • Phillips 66 Considering Splitter at Sweeny Refinery http://t.co/9g7NefuiTJ New trend: Partial refining. Those products can b exported $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • TV Subscriptions Fall for First Time as Viewers Cut the Cord http://t.co/M984bGpJfr It is cheaper to not have a cable subscription $$ $SPY Mar 21, 2014
  • A Sour Bean Sweetens Cocoa Supply http://t.co/AsUOr8cBlM Fascinating story of a high-yield bean that is more sour than low-yield beans $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Buffett Cuts Tax Bill, Tells Others Not 2 Complain http://t.co/bbjxWcyy8i If Buffett weren’t so sanctimonious on taxes this would b small $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • IBM’s Watson to help in brain cancer research http://t.co/EozXiEIXq8 Fascinating 2c Watson sequencing DNA of cancer & suggest treatments $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • TED Winner Launches Campaign to Unmask Shell Companies http://t.co/g7FXj6ca2I Ambitious effort 2unmask those using shells 4 bad purposes $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Windows XP: What to Do When Microsoft Ends Its Support http://t.co/MSKGTC0ofU Article agrees w/my answer; get a copy of Windows 7 $$ $MSFT Mar 20, 2014
  • Fannie Mae Wind-Down Deemed Threat to Home Recovery http://t.co/L8Bg5wd7bz It will be painful, but we need to delever housing $$ Mar 19, 2014

 

Other

 

  • IFRS could be stripped of accountancy watchdog role http://t.co/zxcHHBaUcW This would be very good. US GAAP is far superior to IFRS $$ $SPY Mar 19, 2014
  • Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website http://t.co/p9J5FOb6kx Of John Babikian & the misnamed AwesomePennyStocks $$ $SPY Mar 18, 2014
  • Behind The Scenes With Dream Team, CytRx & Galena http://t.co/xFC3DgsVT9 He gets inside firm paid/undisclosed promotions 4 $CYTR & $GALE $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Individual investors Lose Money When Using Technical Analysis http://t.co/dVLgjWUOk8 I can hear it now, “But they’re doing TA wrong!” $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers http://t.co/R0FHIrKaVt Here’s another way 2c it: http://t.co/KtoClJngXF $$ $TLT $MACRO Mar 18, 2014
  • Want Success? Choose the Right Parents http://t.co/AverC5lySd Not sure I believe it, but interesting thesis $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Pssst! Everything’s a Conspiracy http://t.co/cFUH0dK9eo Tough 2hold a significant conspiracy together, high incentives 2eventually reveal $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • To Make an Airplane Disappear, Start by Getting Through the Cockpit Door http://t.co/AVcMjSG1LY How difficult it would b2 take over a 777 $$ Mar 18, 2014

 

Wrong

 

  • Late: City vs. Country: How Where We Live Deepens the Nation’s Political Divide http://t.co/lDKNT0bOjx This isn’t news; no surprises here $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Wrong: ‘Ring of Death’ Throttles Georgia as Small Banks Close http://t.co/g9VGMPkKx0 Lent 2 much on overvalued properties, their fault $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • Weak: Why gaining from value investing is hard http://t.co/hGY8Xnr6p7 Value investing typically does better on other side of mkt peaks $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • If We’re Going to Take Budget Forecasts Seriously, Then This is a Good Way To Present Them http://t.co/yk9asr52HT Kinda naive about stats $$ Mar 18, 2014
  • Wrong: Why equities sold off despite a dovish Fed http://t.co/pyUW8FebAB Fed was not dovish. Yellen’s comments & Fed forecasts bearish $$ Mar 21, 2014
  • Weak: Robert Shiller On The Tech Economy http://t.co/tvvo8uzgot Some innovations save labor; others create demand 4labor through new svcs $$ Mar 21, 2014

 

Replies, Retweets & Comments

 

  • The bigger change was the shift in the time tightening is likely to happen. That shifted up 3 months on… http://t.co/dIxt1tcxgB Mar 19, 2014
  • “Interesting to be quoted in the article above. If you want to see the other things I wrote about…” David_Merkel http://t.co/k0NyUsgTzG $$ Mar 20, 2014
  • RT @treehcapital: Credit investors like the elves in LOTR~when they leave Middle Earth, time to pay attention “Gundlach Pulls Back” http://… Mar 20, 2014
  • @treehcapital That’s a great analogy. I’ve lightened up as well, time to do more. Mar 20, 2014
  • We’ve been through periods like this before in human history. Inventions that save labor in an area… http://t.co/ajY9DJwns6 Mar 21, 2014

Tightening Starts When?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

This will be short, because in this case, as picture is worth a thousand words.  What sent the market lower today? This:

central tendency_1915_image001

The likely time for FOMC tightening shrank today, despite the many words saying that nothing was different.  This is the first time since the Fed started giving enhanced guidance that the time for tightening actually moved backwards (closer to the present).  Should we be surprised that long bonds fell, and equities less so?

Disclaimer


David Merkel is an investment professional, and like every investment professional, he makes mistakes. David encourages you to do your own independent "due diligence" on any idea that he talks about, because he could be wrong. Nothing written here, at RealMoney, Wall Street All-Stars, or anywhere else David may write is an invitation to buy or sell any particular security; at most, David is handing out educated guesses as to what the markets may do. David is fond of saying, "The markets always find a new way to make a fool out of you," and so he encourages caution in investing. Risk control wins the game in the long run, not bold moves. Even the best strategies of the past fail, sometimes spectacularly, when you least expect it. David is not immune to that, so please understand that any past success of his will be probably be followed by failures.


Also, though David runs Aleph Investments, LLC, this blog is not a part of that business. This blog exists to educate investors, and give something back. It is not intended as advertisement for Aleph Investments; David is not soliciting business through it. When David, or a client of David's has an interest in a security mentioned, full disclosure will be given, as has been past practice for all that David does on the web. Disclosure is the breakfast of champions.


Additionally, David may occasionally write about accounting, actuarial, insurance, and tax topics, but nothing written here, at RealMoney, or anywhere else is meant to be formal "advice" in those areas. Consult a reputable professional in those areas to get personal, tailored advice that meets the specialized needs that David can have no knowledge of.

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