January 29, 2016

"The BoJ's NIRP Will Result In More Currency Wars And Global Growth Slowdown"

As reported previously the Bank of Japan, which not even the most optimistic central bank watchers had expected would unleash anything remotely as aggressive to prevent price discovery, stimulate asset prices and boost the exporting of deflation, became the latest central bank who, after a 5 to 4 vote, unleashed the monetary neutron bomb of Negative Interest Rates in the process pulling an anti-Draghi and shocking markets, even if admitting it can no longer boost QE due to previously discussed concerns it would run out of monetizable bonds in the very near future.

The initial market reaction was one of shocked surprise, with the Yen crashing and risk soaring, subsequently followed by disappointment that QE may be now be officially over and the BOJ will be stuck with negative rates, and then euphoria once again regaining the upper hand if only for the time being as yet another central banks does all it can to levitate asset prices at all costs, even if in the long run it means even more deflationary exports from all other banks and certainly China which will now have to retaliate against the devaluation of its "basket" of currencies.

The BOJ's excuse was simple: everyone else is doing it: as Kuroda said quickly after the NIRP announcement, the BOJ’s monetary policy is “just the same as central banks in the U.S. and Europe,” and “doesn’t target currencies.” Well, it does target currencies, but he is right: it is the same as policy in Europe and the US, where as a reminder, NIRP is coming next.

The Japanese government loved it, of course, since recent Japanese data has been ugly and getting worse, and since it allows Abe to punt all reform policies to the BOJ. Sure enough, moments ago Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke to reporters in Tokyo. He said that the BOJ made the appropriate decision and that he welcomes BOJ’s new method aimed at achieving 2% inflation target, adding that he "can sense the BOJ’s strong determination." He said that a delay in hitting price target due to factors such as lower oil prices than expected.

Read the entire article

January 28, 2016

The Federal Reserve Just Made Another Huge Mistake

As stocks continue to crash, you can blame the Federal Reserve, because the Fed is more responsible for creating the current financial bubble that we are living in than anyone else.  When the Federal Reserve pushed interest rates all the way to the floor and injected lots of hot money into the financial markets during their quantitative easing programs, this pushed stock prices to wildly artificial levels.  The only way that it would have been possible to keep stock prices at those wildly artificial levels would have been to keep interest rates ultra-low and to keep recklessly creating lots of new money.  But now the Federal Reserve has ended quantitative easing and has embarked on a program of very slowly raising interest rates.  This is going to have very severe consequences for the markets, but Janet Yellen doesn’t seem to care.

There is a reason why the financial world hangs on every single word that is issued by the Fed.  That is because the massively inflated stock prices that we see today were a creation of the Fed and are completely dependent on the Fed for their continued existence.

Right now, stock prices are still 30 to 40 percent above what the economic fundamentals say that they should be based on historical averages.  And if we are now plunging into a very deep recession as I contend, stock prices should probably fall by a total of more than 50 percent from where they are now.

Read the entire article

January 27, 2016

Track the Fed's Unraveling

Dominant Social Theme: The Fed needs to be reined in. Its actions need to be calibrated. Its results need to be further focused. 

Free-Market Analysis: Here's an analysis by The Hill that is half right. The part that is wrong we'll mention later in this analysis. The part that is right we'll discuss now. 

The Hill is not exactly a muckraking publication but in this exposé it provides us with a good history lesson. 

In fact, we learn the Fed's dual mandate is actually a triple mandate and that the third part of the mandate is simply ignored by the Fed. 

The Humphrey-Hawkins Act ... decreed that the inflation rate should be brought down to zero by 1988; that the federal government should achieve and maintain a balanced federal budget; and that the United States should promote a "sound and stable international monetary system." 

The legislative language amending the Federal Reserve Act explicitly directs the Fed to aim its efforts at achieving not two, but rather three objectives, i.e., "to promote the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates." 

Read the entire article

January 26, 2016

Former BIS Chief Economist Warns of Massive Debt Defaults, Need for Debt Jubilee; Fingers Europe as First in Line

When you hear an orthodox economist, particularly one who was early to warn of the dangers of real estate bubbles around the world, speaking of a debt jubilee as the best of bad option, you know a crunch is coming. Here is the key quote from William White, former chief economist of the Bank of International Settlements, in an exclusive interview with Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Telegraph:

The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians.

White gives a dire set of underlying causes, and one of them is what economists would call a lack of policy space, which in layspeak means “no remedies available to treat the disease.” Yet even though White is almost certainly correct as to the endgame, which is that many people who hold financial assets will find that they are worth a lot less than they believe, one of the reasons is that even people like White, as he exhibits in this interview, subscribe to economic beliefs that are part of the problem. In other words, there are treatments that would work, even now, but mainstream economist reject them and thus look as if they will have to relearn the lessons of the Great Depression.

Mind you, White is largely correct, most of all in his pointing out that debts need to be written down, and if they aren’t in a formal manner, they will be forcibly written down, via default. But where he errs is in deeming debt always and ever bad, and in further not acknowledging (or recognizing) that for a fiat currency issuer like the United States, using debt to finance government spending is a political requirement, not an economic one. The federal government could simply deficit spend, but our funding procedures are a holdover from the gold standard era. Thus some of the lack of policy space he complains about is due to self-imposed constraints, like the perverse and self-destructive fear of running deficits in economies that are tipping into deflation and have plenty of underutilized resources.

Read the entire article

January 25, 2016

Why Junk Bonds Will Sink Stocks

“Some very critical things are hidden.”

After the white-knuckle sell-off of global equities that was finally punctuated by a rally late last week, everyone wants to know: Was this the bottom for stocks? And now Moody’s weighs in with an unwelcome warning.

If you want to know where equities are going, look at junk bonds, it says. Specifically, look at the spread in yield between junk bonds and Treasuries. That spread has been widening sharply. And look at the Expected Default Frequency (EDF), a measure of the probability that a company will default over the next 12 months. It has been soaring.

They do that when big problems are festering: The Financial Crisis was already in full swing before the yield spread and the EDF reached today’s levels!

And so, John Lonski, chief economist at Moody’s Capital Markets Research, has a dose of reality for stock-market bottom fishers:

For now, it’s hard to imagine why the equity market will steady if the US high-yield bond spread remains wider than 800 basis points [8 percentage points]. Taken together, the highest average EDF metric of US/Canadian non-investment-grade companies of the current recovery and its steepest three-month upturn since March 2009 favor an onerous high-yield bond spread of roughly 850 basis points.

Read the entire article

January 22, 2016

The Next "Significant Risk For The S&P 500" - Kolanovic Reveals "The Macro Momentum Bubble"

Yesterday when we presented Tom DeMark's latest technical forecast, which anticipates a 5-8% bounce in risk before the next leg lower in equities, we said to "look for the next few days to see if DeMark still has his magic" adding that "we, on the other hand, would rather wait for "Gandalf" Kolanovic' next take."

We didn't have long to wait: moments ago JPM's head quant, whose uncanny track record of predicting every major market inflection point has been duly documented here, laid out his latest thoughts on the negative feedback loop that is "becoming a significant risk for the S&P 500" but also showed what he thinks is an odd divergence between various asset classes, to wit: "as some assets are near the top and others near the bottom of their historical ranges, we are obviously not experiencing an asset bubble of all risky assets, but rather a bubble in relative performance: we call it a Macro-Momentum bubble."

His warning: beware the bursting of the macro-momentum bubble.

Here is the latest warning from the man whose every single caution so far has played out virtually as predicted:

Read the entire article

January 21, 2016

The U.S. Is At The Center Of The Global Economic Meltdown

While the economic implosion progresses this year, there will be considerable misdirection and disinformation as to the true nature of what is taking place. As I have outlined in the past, the masses were so ill informed by the mainstream media during the Great Depression that most people had no idea they were actually in the midst of an “official” depression until years after it began. The chorus of economic journalists of the day made sure to argue consistently that recovery was “right around the corner.” Our current depression has been no different, but something is about to change.

Unlike the Great Depression, social crisis will eventually eclipse economic crisis in the U.S. That is to say, our society today is so unequipped to deal with a financial collapse that the event will inevitably trigger cultural upheaval and violent internal conflict. In the 1930s, nearly 50% of the American population was rural. Farmers made up 21% of the labor force. Today, only 20% of the population is rural. Less than 2% work in farming and agriculture. That’s a rather dramatic shift from a more independent and knowledgeable land-utilizing society to a far more helpless and hapless consumer-based system.

What’s the bottom line? About 80% of the current population in the U.S. is more than likely inexperienced in any meaningful form of food production and self-reliance.

The rationale for lying to the public is certainly there. Economic and political officials could argue that to reveal the truth of our fiscal situation would result in utter panic and immediate social breakdown. When 80% of the citizenry is completely unprepared for a decline in the mainstream grid, a loss of savings through falling equities and a loss of buying power through currency destruction, their first response to such dangers would be predictably uncivilized.

Read the entire article

January 20, 2016

"What To Own In An Equity Death Spiral"

Just one month ago, BofA's excited head equity strategist Savita Subramanian told Barron's that storm clouds would disperse and that the S&P would close out 2016 at 2,200, incidentally the same level as her year ago forecast for where 2015 would close. Fast forward to today and things are far less euphoric.
This is what Savita writes in a note released overnight:
Correction or bear market? The S&P 500 is in correction territory, the Russell 2000 and almost 80% of regional stock indices are in bear markets. The average S&P 500 stock is in a bear market - down more than 25% from its 52-week high. Stocks are down a lot. Let’s move on.
Ok moving on.
Let's focus just on energy, where things are a disaster: "Energy is in a profits recession but Energy stock prices have fallen by more than the market falls during a recession (-44% vs. -40%), the Energy recession has lasted twice as long as a typical recession, and Energy earnings have seen 2x the cut that the S&P 500 typically sees (-65% vs. -29%)."
What about the economy?
Same story for the economy: should we care whether or not the NBER will one day deem this slowdown an official recession, if PMIs suggest that manufacturing sectors have been in a recession in the three biggest economies (China, US, India) and Energy has been in a profit recession that has lasted twice as long as a typical economic recession.
Read the entire article 

January 19, 2016

The Oil Crash Of 2016 Has The Big Banks Running Scared

Last time around it was subprime mortgages, but this time it is oil that is playing a starring role in a global financial crisis.  Since the start of 2015, 42 North American oil companies have filed for bankruptcy, 130,000 good paying energy jobs have been lost in the United States, and at this point 50 percent of all energy junk bonds are “distressed” according to Standard & Poor’s.  As you will see below, some of the big banks have a tremendous amount of loan exposure to the energy industry, and now they are bracing for big losses.  And the longer the price of oil stays this low, the worse the carnage is going to get.

Today, the price of oil has been hovering around 29 dollars a barrel, and over the past 18 months the price of oil has fallen by more than 70 percent.  This is something that has many U.S. consumers very excited.  The average price of a gallon of gasoline nationally is just $1.89 at the moment, and on Monday it was selling for as low as 46 cents a gallon at one station in Michigan.

But this oil crash is nothing to cheer about as far as the big banks are concerned.  During the boom years, those banks gave out billions upon billions of dollars in loans to fund exceedingly expensive drilling projects all over the world.

Now those firms are dropping like flies, and the big banks could potentially be facing absolutely catastrophic losses.  The following examples come from CNN

Read the entire article

January 18, 2016

The Financial Apocalypse Accelerates As Middle East Stocks Crash To Begin The Week

It looks like it is going to be another chaotic week for global financial markets.  On Sunday, news that Iran plans to dramatically ramp up oil production sent stocks plunging all across the Middle East. Stocks in Kuwait were down 3.1 percent, stocks in Saudi Arabia plummeted 5.4 percent, and stocks in Qatar experienced a mammoth 7 percent decline.  And of course all of this comes in the context of a much larger long-term decline for Middle Eastern stocks.  At this point, Saudi Arabian stocks are down more than 50 percent from their 2014 highs.  Needless to say, a lot of very wealthy people in Saudi Arabia are getting very nervous.  Could you imagine waking up someday and realizing that more than half of your fortune had been wiped out?  Things aren’t that bad in the U.S. quite yet, but it looks like another rough week could be ahead.  The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are all down at least 12 percent from their 52-week highs, and the Russell 2000 is already in bear market territory. Hopefully this week will not be as bad as last week, but events are starting to move very rapidly now.

Much of the chaos around the globe is being driven by the price of oil.  At the end of last week the price of oil dipped below 30 dollars a barrel, and now Iran has announced plans “to add 1 million barrels to its daily crude production”…

Read the entire article

January 15, 2016

Lowest Ever: The Baltic Dry Index Plunges To 394 As Global Trade Grinds To A Standstill

For the first time ever, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen under 400.  As I write this article, it is sitting at 394.  To be honest, I never even imagined that it could go this low.  Back in early August, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 1,222, and since then it has been on a steady decline.  Of course the Baltic Dry Index crashed hard just before the great stock market crash of 2008 too, but at this point it is already lower than it was during that entire crisis.  This is just more evidence that global trade is grinding to a halt and that 2016 is going to be a “cataclysmic year” for the global economy.

If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Index, here is a helpful definition from Wikipedia…

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is an economic indicator issued daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange. Not restricted to Baltic Sea countries, the index provides “an assessment of the price of moving the major raw materials by sea. Taking in 23 shipping routes measured on a timecharter basis, the index covers Handysize, Supramax, Panamax, and Capesize dry bulk carriers carrying a range of commodities including coal, iron ore and grain.”

The BDI is one of the key indicators that experts look at when they are trying to determine where the global economy is heading.  And right now, it is telling us that we are heading into a major worldwide economic downturn.

Some people try to dismiss the recent drop in the Baltic Dry Index by claiming that shipping rates are down because there is simply too much capacity out there these days.  And I don’t dispute that.  Without a doubt, too many vessels were built during the “boom years”, and now shipbuilders are paying the price.  For example, Chinese shipyards reported a 59 percent decline in orders during the first 11 months of 2015…

Read the entire article

January 14, 2016

Why Larry Summers is Wrong and Bernie Sanders is Right on Glass Steagall

Since Clinton and her operatives have become aggressive in trying to discredit Bernie Sanders on issues where he both has a better track record and better proposals, it’s time for a wee reality check, in this case, on Sanders’ financial reform package.

There’s a lot to like, for instance his insistence that executives be prosecuted for serious misconduct and his backing of a Post Office Bank. There are also some things that need to be reworked, like his usury ceiling proposal. Classical economists like Adam Smith were keen supporters of usury ceilings because they could see the consequences of letting lenders charge whatever interest rate they could get. Creditors targeted wealthy gamblers first and foremost, and the rates they were willing to pay was punitively high compared to what productive enterprises could support. Thus Smith and his colleagues saw usury limits as key to forcing lenders to find the best targets at a reasonable rate of interest, rather than search out the most reckless, who tended also not to be socially beneficial users of funds either. The failing with the Sanders proposal is that he sets as fixed limit of 15.9%; it should be set in relationship to prevailing interest rates, as well as the length of the loan.

Larry Summers, acting as a proxy for Team Clinton, took a swipe at the Sanders’ views in a Washington Post op-ed at year end. Admittedly this was a case of dueling op-eds; Summers was responding to a Sanders article in the New York Times which outlined his reform priorities.

However, one of Summers arguments, and one that Clinton has taken up now that Sanders has set forth his plan in more detail, is that Sanders’ “Glass Steagall” reform idea is all wet.

Read the entire article

January 13, 2016

The Demise Of Dollar Hegemony: Russia Breaks Wall St's Oil-Price Monopoly

Russia has just taken significant steps that will break the present Wall Street oil price monopoly, at least for a huge part of the world oil market. The move is part of a longer-term strategy of decoupling Russia’s economy and especially its very significant export of oil, from the US dollar, today the Achilles Heel of the Russian economy.

Later in November the Russian Energy Ministry has announced that it will begin test-trading of a new Russian oil benchmark. While this might sound like small beer to many, it’s huge. If successful, and there is no reason why it won’t be, the Russian crude oil benchmark futures contract traded on Russian exchanges, will price oil in rubles and no longer in US dollars. It is part of a de-dollarization move that Russia, China and a growing number of other countries have quietly begun.

The setting of an oil benchmark price is at the heart of the method used by major Wall Street banks to control world oil prices. Oil is the world’s largest commodity in dollar terms. Today, the price of Russian crude oil is referenced to what is called the Brent price. The problem is that the Brent field, along with other major North Sea oil fields is in major decline, meaning that Wall Street can use a vanishing benchmark to leverage control over vastly larger oil volumes. The other problem is that the Brent contract is controlled essentially by Wall Street and the derivatives manipulations of banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank.

The ‘Petrodollar’ demise

Read the entire article

January 12, 2016

The Financial Crisis Of 2016 Rolls On – China, Oil, Copper And Junk Bonds All Continue To Crash

Never before have we seen a year start like this.  On Monday, Chinese stocks crashed once again. The Shanghai Composite Index plummeted another 5.29 percent, and this comes on the heels of two historic single day crashes last week.  All of this chaos over in China is one of the factors that continues to push commodity prices even lower.  Today the price of copper fell another 2.40 percent to $1.97, and the price of oil continued to implode.  At one point the price of U.S. oil plunged all the way down to $30.99 a barrel before rebounding just a little bit.  As I write this article, oil is down a total of 6.12 percent for the day and is currently sitting at $31.13.  U.S. stocks were mixed on Monday, but it is important to note that the Russell 2000 did officially enter bear market territory. This is yet another confirmation of what I was talking about yesterday.  And junk bonds continue to plummet.  As I write this, JNK is down to 33.42.  All of these numbers are huge red flags that are screaming that big trouble is ahead.  Unfortunately, the mainstream media continues to insist that there is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

A little over a year ago, I wrote an article that explained that anyone that believed that low oil prices were good for the economy was “crazy“.  At the time, many people really didn’t understand what I was trying to communicate, but now it is becoming exceedingly clear.  On Monday, one veteran oil and gas analyst told CNBC that “half of U.S. shale oil producers could go bankrupt” over the next couple of years…

Read the entire article

January 11, 2016

The TPP as a Set of International Economic Rules

An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been reached, but the full text of the agreement has not been released yet. This column looks at the new set of rules comprising the TPP and whether it deserves to be called a ‘21st century free trade agreement’. It argues that the success or failure of the 12-country pact rests ultimately on the dispute settlement procedures.

An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has finally been reached. The TPP negotiations involved only 12 countries, but had to go through lots of twists and turns because of a criss-cross of confrontational relationships, i.e. large advanced economies versus emerging economies, exporters versus importers in agricultural trade, and market economy countries versus state capitalist countries. The successful conclusion of the TPP agreement, an ambitious trade liberalisation initiative, is surely an event worthy of celebration. It has been achieved despite various difficulties and came at a time with no evident signs of hope for the Doha Round of negotiations under the WTO. As the full text of the TPP agreement has not yet been released as of this writing, this is going to be guess work. But I would like to attempt to outline and share my ‘first impression’ of this new set of rules based on the summaries of the agreement and explanatory notes released by the governments of the TPP member countries and supplementary information from media reports.1

The TPP and Shortcomings of the WTO

At the conclusion of the TPP agreement, leading figures including Akira Amari, Japan’s state minister in charge of the TPP, repeatedly called it a “21st century agreement”. By this definition, the TPP is an agreement that facilitates trade in parts and intermediate goods as well as the accompanying international movement of services, data, people, and know-how. It goes beyond trade in finished products predicated on the division of labour and based on the theory of comparative advantage. Trade in parts and intermediate goods has been growing with the advancement of information and communications technologies (ICTs) prompting more companies to unbundle their production processes and leading to the development of international supply chains. Richard Baldwin calls this chain of factors the “trade-investment-services-intellectual property nexus” (Baldwin 2012) and an agreement designed to facilitate the formation of such nexuses is what is meant by a 21st century agreement.

Read the entire article

January 8, 2016

Stock Market Crash 2016: This Is The Worst Start To A Year For Stocks Ever

We have never had a year start the way that 2016 has started.  In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have both posted their worst four-day starts to a year ever.  Canadian stocks are now down 21 percent since September, and it has been an absolute bloodbath in Europe over the past four days.  Of course the primary catalyst for all of this is what has been going on in China.  There has been an emergency suspension of trading in China two times within the past four days, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Eventually this wave of panic selling will settle down, but that won’t mean that this crisis will be over.  In fact, what is coming is going to be much worse than what we have already seen.

On Thursday I was doing a show with some friends, and we were amazed that stocks just seemed to keep falling and falling and falling.  The Dow closed down 392 points, and the NASDAQ got absolutely slammed.  At this point, the Dow and the NASDAQ are both officially in “correction territory”, and some of the talking heads on television are warning that this could be the beginning of a “bear market”.  But of course some of the other “experts” are insisting that this is just a temporary bump in the road.

But what everyone can agree on is that we have never seen a start to a year like this one.  The following comes from CNN…

Read the entire article

January 7, 2016

China Halts Stock Trading After 7% Rout Triggers Circuit Breaker

Chinese stocks in Hong Kong fell to the lowest level in four years as mainland shares plunged, forcing an early halt to trading for the second day this week after the central bank cut its yuan reference rate by the most since August.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index tumbled 4.2 percent to the lowest level since Oct. 6, 2011. Trading of shares and index futures in the mainland was halted by automatic circuit breakers from about 9:59 a.m. after the CSI 300 Index slid more than 7 percent. The People’s Bank of China cut its reference rate on Thursday for an eighth straight day, fueling concern that tepid economic growth is prompting authorities to guide the currency lower.

“The yuan’s depreciation has exceeded investors’ expectations,” said Wang Zheng, Shanghai-based chief investment officer at Jingxi Investment Management Co. “Investors are getting spooked by the declines, which will spur capital outflows.”

The yuan weakened 0.6 percent to 6.5938 per dollar at 4:20 p.m. in Shanghai. The currency rallied from early declines in offshore trading, strengthening 0.4 percent in Hong Kong amid speculation the central bank propped up the exchange rate after setting a weaker fixing that sent the currency tumbling.

Read the entire article

January 6, 2016

Here's The Ultra-Clever Way That The Chinese Are Circumventing Capital Controls

Well, it happened again.

China’s stock market plunged, sending more than half a trillion dollars to money heaven.

What a surprise, it turns out that a massive credit bubble is actually unsustainable and will eventually burst. Shocker.

And just like what happened last year when Chinese stocks tanked, the government is stepping in to centrally plan the stock market recovery.

Last year we saw some of the most extraordinary tactics; China’s government jailed short-sellers (i.e. people who bet on stocks declining), and they even encouraged their citizens to BORROW money against their homes to buy stocks.

But no centrally planned bailout is complete without the cherry on top– capital controls.

Capital controls are like a bear trap for your savings. They’re what governments impose when they want to hold your money hostage.

In Europe, for example, governments have propped up failing banking systems by imposing withdrawal restrictions, preventing people from taking out too much of their own money.

Read the entire article

January 5, 2016

Stock Markets All Over The World Crash As We Begin 2016

The first trading day of 2016 was full of chaos and panic.  It started in Asia where the Nikkei was down 582 points, Hong Kong was down 587 points, and Chinese markets experienced an emergency shutdown after the CSI 300 tumbled 7 percent.  When European markets opened, the nightmare continued.  The DAX was down 459 points, and European stocks overall had their worst start to a year ever.  In the U.S., it looked like we were on course for a truly historic day as well.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 467 points at one stage, but some very mysterious late day buying activity helped trim the loss to just 276 points at the close of the market.  The sudden market turmoil caught many by surprise, but it shouldn’t have.  The truth is that a whole host of leading indicators have been telling us that this is exactly what should be happening.  The global financial crisis that began in 2015 is now accelerating, and my regular readers already know precisely what is coming next.

The financial turmoil of the last 24 hours is making headlines all over the globe.  It began last night in China.  Very bad manufacturing data and another troubling devaluation of the yuan sent Chinese stocks tumbling to a degree that we have not seen since last August.  In fact, the carnage would have probably been far, far worse if not for a new “circuit breaker” that China recently implemented.  Once the CSI 300 was down 7 percent, trading was completely shut down for the rest of the day.  The following comes from USA Today

Read the entire article

January 4, 2016

Unmanageable Money: Hedge Funds Keep Losing (And Closing) - Why It Matters

How do you make money in a world where history is meaningless? The answer, for a growing number of big fund managers, is that you don’t.

Hedge funds, generally the most aggressive species of money manager, do a lot of “black box” trading in which bets are placed on previously-identified patterns and relationships on the assumption that those patterns will repeat in the future.

But with governments randomly buying stocks and bonds and bailing out/subsidizing everything is sight, old relationships are distorted and strategies that worked in the past begin to fail, as do the money managers who rely on them. A few recent examples:

Why should regular people care about the travails of the leveraged speculating community? Because these guys are generally considered to be the finance world’s best and brightest, and if they can’t figure out what’s going on, no one can. And if no one can, then risky assets are no longer worth the attendant stress.

Read the entire article

January 1, 2016

2015 Was The Worst Year For The Stock Market Since 2008

It’s official – 2015 was a horrible year for stocks.  On the last day of the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down another 178 points, and overall it was the worst year for the Dow since 2008.  But of course the Dow was far from alone.  The S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and Dow Transports also all had their worst years since 2008.  Isn’t it funny how these things seem to happen every seven years?  But compared to other investments, stocks had a relatively “good” year.  In 2015, junk bonds, oil and industrial commodities all crashed hard – just like they all did just prior to the great stock market crash of 2008.  According to CNN, almost 70 percent of all investors lost money in 2015, and things are unfolding in textbook fashion for much more financial chaos in 2016.

Globally, over the past 12 months we have seen financial shaking unlike anything that we have experienced since the last great financial crisis.  During the month of August markets all over the world started to go haywire, and at one point approximately 11 trillion dollars of financial wealth had been wiped out globally according to author Jonathan Cahn.

Since that time, U.S. stocks rebounded quite a bit, but they still ended red for the year.  Other global markets were not nearly as fortunate.  Some major indexes finished 2015 down 20 percent or more, and European stocks just had their second worst December ever.

Read the entire article