September 19, 2017

Top Financial Expert Warns Stocks Need To Drop ‘Between 30 And 40 Percent’ As Bankruptcy Looms For Toys R Us

Will there be a major stock market crash before the end of 2017?  To many of us, it seems like we have been waiting for this ridiculous stock market bubble to burst for a very long time.  The experts have been warning us over and over again that stocks cannot keep going up like this indefinitely, and yet this market has seemed absolutely determined to defy the laws of economics.  But most people don’t remember that we went through a similar thing before the financial crisis of 2008 as well.  I recently spoke to an investor that shorted the market three years ahead of that crash.  In the end his long-term analysis was right on the money, but his timing was just a bit off, and the same thing will be true with many of the experts this time around.

On Monday, I was quite stunned to learn what Brad McMillan had just said about the market.  He is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the financial world, and he told CNBC that stocks would need to fall “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent just to get to fair value”…

Brad McMillan — who counsels independent financial advisors representing $114 billion in assets under management — told CNBC on Monday that the stock market is way overvalued.

“The market probably would have to drop somewhere between 30 and 40 percent to get to fair value, based on historical standards,” said McMillan, chief investment officer at Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Financial Network.

McMillan’s analysis is very similar to mine.  For a long time I have been warning that valuations would need to decline by at least 40 or 50 percent just to get back to the long-term averages.

Read the entire article

September 18, 2017

One-Tenth Of Global GDP Is Now Held In Offshore Tax Havens

Accurately measuring the scope of global wealth inequality is a notoriously difficult undertaking – a fact that was brought to light last year when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the Panama Papers, exposing clients of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. As the papers revealed, Mossack Fonseca, which is only the world’s fourth-largest provider of offshore financial services, boasted a client roster stacked with some of the world’s wealthiest and most politically connected individuals. The former prime minister of Iceland (who was forced from office because of the revelations), associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the father of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

In a first-of-its kind study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a team of economists has broken down rates of offshore wealth holdings as a percentage of GDP to identify countries with the largest, and smallest, percentages of wealth held offshore. The study’s conclusion suggests a reality that many readers probably suspected: the true scope of wealth inequality is far larger than the official statistics would suggest.

The study found that as much as one-tenth of the world’s GDP is held in tax havens, though that percentage can vary widely from country to country.

Here's Bloomberg:

“One-tenth of the world’s GDP is held in offshore tax havens, but that share jumps to as much of 15 percent for Europe and as much as 60 percent for Gulf and some Latin American countries, new research shows.

When it comes to total offshore wealth as a share of GDP, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina lead the pack, while Germany, the U.K. and France all have above-average holdings. The U.S. is slightly below average.”

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September 15, 2017

Comparing Bitcoin, Ether, & Other Cryptos

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that we’re in the middle of a cryptocurrency explosion. In one year, the value of all currencies increased a staggering 1,466% – and newer coins like Ethereum have even joined Bitcoin in gaining some mainstream acceptance.

And while people like Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan and famed value investor Howard Marks have been extremely critical of cryptocurrencies as of late, many other investors are continuing to ride the wave. As Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins has noted in the past, the possible effects of the blockchain cannot be understated, and it could even change the backbone of how financial markets work.

However, even with the excitement and action that comes with the space, a major problem still exists for the layman: it’s really challenging to decipher the differences between cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and Dash.

For this reason, we worked with social trading network eToro to come up with an infographic that breaks down the major differences between these coins all in one place.

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September 14, 2017

De-Dollarization Spikes - Venezuela Stops Accepting Dollars For Oil Payments

Apparently confirming what President Maduro had warned following the recent US sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reports that Venezuela has officially stopped accepting US Dollars as payment for its crude oil exports.

As we previously noted, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said last Thursday that Venezuela will be looking to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week. According to Reuters,

“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said in a multi-hour address to a new legislative “superbody.” He reportedly did not provide details of this new proposal.

Maduro hinted further that the South American country would look to using the yuan instead, among other currencies.

“If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro,” Maduro also said.

Read the entire article

September 13, 2017

Former BIS Chief Economist Warns "More Dangers Now Than In 2007"

India’s debt problems go back a long way, and there are significant governance issues, including at state-owned banks.

China’s debt situation isn’t a lot different to India’s, but the acceleration of loans and credit growth in China is very fast

It’s not just the debt level in China that is worrisome, but the speed that it’s accumulating; maybe some of these loans won’t be repaid or serviced.

We don’t have a liquidity problem that central banks can solve - if we have too much debt, we have a debt resolution or insolvency problem and only governments can address problems like that.

World needs more fiscal expansion, structural reforms, and also have to look closely at debt write-off some of it and maybe recapitalize financial institutions.

We have got the mix of income that goes to capital versus labor wrong in many countries, and we need to look at that.

Central bank tightening is inevitable, but have to be careful.

Read the entire article

September 12, 2017

Debt Nightmare: Does Anyone Actually Care That Our Exploding National Debt Is Destroying Our Future?

When will America finally wake up?  The borrower is the servant of the lender, and we now have a colossal 20 trillion dollar chain around our collective ankles.  We have willingly enslaved ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, and yet our addiction is so insatiable that we continue to add more than 100 million dollars to our debt load every single hour of every single day.  The national debt is sitting at a grand total of $20,162,176,797,904.13 at this moment, but now that the debt ceiling has been lifted that number is expected to shoot up very rapidly toward 21 trillion dollars by the end of the year.  The national debt had been held down by accounting tricks to keep it under the debt limit for many months, but every time this has happened before we have seen the national debt absolutely explode back to projected levels once the debt ceiling was raised.

But very few of our “leaders” in Washington seem to care that we are in the process of committing national suicide.  There is no possible way that we will be able to continue to be the most powerful economy on the planet if we continue down this road.  During Obama’s eight years in the White House, we added more than 9 trillion dollars to the national debt. That certainly improved things in the short-term, because if we could go back and take 9 trillion dollars out of the economy over the past 8 years we would be in an absolutely nightmarish economic depression right now.

But even with all of this borrowing and spending, our economy has still only grown at an average rate of just 1.33 percent a year over the last 10 years.

And by going into so much debt, we are literally destroying the future for our children and our grandchildren.

What we are doing to them is beyond criminal, and people should be going to prison over this.  But instead we just keep rewarding these Congress critters by sending the same cast of characters back to Washington over and over again.

Are we insane?

Read the entire article

September 11, 2017

A Matter Of "Trust": A Look Inside China's Crackdown Of Its $3 Trillion Shadow Banking Industry

Finally, even if China manages to crackdown on Shadow Banking there is another problem: as a recent report by Natixis put it perfectly, "when one [credit] door closes [in China], another one opens up." This simply means that as Beijing slams the door shut on Trust and other key shadow debt components, these will be offset by an increased usage in others such as WMPs, NBFIs, Repos, Negotiatable Certificates of Deposit, and money markets. Below are the highlights from the report:

As deleverage becomes a higher level objective (but sometimes conflicting) to the Chinese leadership, banks now face more restrictions from regulators. In any event, this is not the first time they find themselves in the regulatory whirlpool. From the usage of repo agreements to wealth management products (WMPs), and most recently negotiable certificate of deposits (NCDs), banks have been very creative in playing the cat and mouse game in front of evolving regulations.

Flourishing financial innovation has helped China’s leverage process to continue unabated. The deleveraging process has hardly begun. In contrast, liquidity seems to be increasingly scarce, which keeps on lifting the cost of funding. In fact, overnight SHIBOR is at record high since the difficult events in 2015, very close to 3% (Chart 1). One of the key reasons for the liquidity shortage is related to tighter regulatory control from the People's Bank of China (PBoC), in particular stricter Macro Prudential Assessment (MPA). This has hampered the use of WMPs to fund banks’ asset growth. They have already shrunk by 1.6 RMB trillion to 28.4 RMB trillion in May 2017 (Chart 2)

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September 8, 2017

Toronto Home Price Bubble Bursts Into Bear Market

With surprise rate hike, Bank of Canada turns against housing market...

Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area, the largest housing market in Canada, plunged 34.8% in August compared to a year ago, to 6,357 homes, with sales of detached homes and semi-detached homes getting eviscerated:

Sales by type:

Detached houses -41.6%
Semi-detached houses -37.3%
Townhouses -27.5%:
Condos -28.0%.

Even as total sales plunged, the number of active listings of homes for sale soared 65% year-over-year to 16,419, with 11,523 new listings added in August, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).

“The relationship between sales [plunging] and listings in the marketplace today [soaring] suggests a balanced market,” the report explained, adding hopefully:

“If current conditions are sustained over the coming months, we would expect to see year-over-year price growth normalize slightly above the rate of inflation. However, if some buyers move from the sidelines back into the marketplace, as TREB consumer research suggests may happen, an acceleration in price growth could result if listings remain at current levels.”



September 7, 2017

NYC Commercial Real Estate Sales Plunge Over 50% As Owners Lever Up In The Absence Of Buyers

So what do you do when the bubbly market for your exorbitantly priced New York City commercial real estate collapses by over 50% in two years?  Well, you lever up, of course

As Bloomberg notes this morning, the 'smart money' at U.S. banking institutions are tripping over themselves to throw money at commercial real estate projects all while 'dumb money' buyers have completely dried up.

A growing chasm between what buyers are willing to pay and what sellers think their properties are worth has put the brakes on deals. In New York City, the largest U.S. market for offices, apartments and other commercial buildings, transactions in the first half of the year tumbled about 50 percent from the same period in 2016, to $15.4 billion, the slowest start since 2012, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc.

At the same time, the market for debt on commercial properties is booming. Investors of all stripes -- from banks and insurance companies to hedge funds and private equity firms -- are plowing into real estate loans as an alternative to lower-yielding bonds. That’s giving building owners another option to cash in if their plans to sell don’t work out.

“Sellers have a number in mind, and the market is not there right now,” said Aaron Appel, a managing director at brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. who arranges commercial real estate debt. “Owners are pulling out capital” by refinancing loans instead of finding buyers, he said.

Read the entire article

September 6, 2017

US Bitcoin Exchange Coinbase Hits 10 Million Users

After two (and soon three) "generational" market crashes, Joe Sixpack may have lost interest in the stock market (or at least in single names, the transfer of bagholder rights from institutions to retail investors via ETFs is doing just fine), but when it comes to chasing torrid, upward price momentum, US retail investors are doing their best frenzied Chinese housewife impression now that they have discovered the next big bubble thing, and it's called bitcoin. And nowhere is America's sudden infatuation with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin and all other "coins" which can make (or break) a hedge fund's annual return in days if not hours, more obvious than on Coinbase, the US bitcoin exchange, which has just hit a remarkable 10 million registered users, all of whom are there for just one thing: to trade, but mostly buy, crypto currencies.

The San Francisco startup has seen tremendous growth in 2017, adding thousands of users per day and handling increasing levels of trading volume. Last month, CEO Brian Armstrong announced that the company had raised $100 million during its latest funding round, giving the company a valuation of $1 billion, making it first “bitcoin unicorn” according to Cryptocoinsnews. A few weeks later, following the latest burst higher in bitcoin, Coinbase has surpassed 10 million registered users. In the last three weeks of August, the bitcoin exchange added an astonishing 800,000 users as the bitcoin price briefly rose above $5,000. According to data from the Coinbase website, the exchange and wallet service has also recently surpassed $20 billion in total volume.

While many bitcoin veterans have panned Coinbase for its simplistic approach to trading (no limit orders, no shorting, etc) and exorbitant fees, some actually enjoy the minimialist, if expensive, experience: one user on reddit, btcltc77, referred to the exchanges as the “McDonald’s of Bitcoin banking.”

Coinbase is still the most mainstream way of buying Bitcoin. It’s the McDonald’s of Bitcoin banking.

That, and the implied safety net from its increasingly bigger venture backing, appears to be working and has made Coinbase the go-to site for millions of armchair cryptocurrency investors.

Read the entire article

September 5, 2017

These cheap retail stocks can hold their own against Amazon

When it comes to consumer stocks, it's the best of times and the worst of times.  

On the plus side, consumer sentiment is strong. The Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence hit a 16-year high a few months back, and there's little sign of a slowdown. July retail figures released a few weeks ago were the best they've been all year.

Yet retail and consumer stocks have been toxic despite these broader metrics. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF XRT, +1.35%  , for example, is down more than 15% in the past two years vs. a 25% gain for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.20%  ; this year so far the fund is down 10% vs. a 10% gain for the S&P 500

Are consumer stocks and traditional retailers dead forever? Or are they poised for a comeback as the all-important holiday shopping season kicks off?

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Certain segments of specialty retail have remained resilient, while others look to be down for the count. But take a closer look at the fundamentals of these three specific companies after their recent earnings reports. Each of them a good chance of mounting a late-2017 comeback, particularly if consumer sentiment stays strong:

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September 4, 2017

Visualizing The Unparalleled Explosion In Cryptocurrencies

After the massive Bitcoin price surge in November 2013, the popularity of launching new cryptocurrencies took off along with it.

In fact, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, if you go back at historical snapshots around that time, you’ll see that there were literally hundreds of new coins available to mine and buy. Here’s one from November 2014 – a time when there were only 32 coins that were worth more than $1 million in market cap, and 354 coins that were worth less than $50,000, usually trading for tiny fractions of a cent.

It seems like everyone and their dog were launching cryptocurrencies back then, even if they were a longshot to materialize into anything.

Then vs. Now

Fast forward to today, and things haven’t changed much – many people and companies are still launching new cryptocurrencies through a mechanism known as an ICO (Initial Coin Offering).

The only difference?

Today, there is real money at play, and in 12 months the number of cryptocurrencies worth >$1 million has soared by 468%. Meanwhile, the total value of all currencies together has skyrocketed by 1,466%.

Read the entire article

September 1, 2017

Six Banks Join UBS's "Utility Coin" Blockchain Project

Here’s a piece of news that the remaining human members of Wall Street’s FX sales and trading desks probably don’t want to hear.

According to the Financial Times, six of the world’s largest banks have decided to join a blockchain project called “utility coin” that will allow banks to settle trades in securities denominated in different currencies without a money transfer. What’s worse, the banks expect to begin live-testing the project late next year.

“Barclays, Credit Suisse, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, HSBC, MUFG and State Street have teamed up to work on the “utility settlement coin” which was created by Switzerland’s UBS to make financial markets more efficient.

The move comes as the project shifts into a new phase of development, in which its members aim to deepen discussions with central banks and to work on tightening up its data privacy and cyber security protections.”

The project’s managers say they’ve already involved representatives from various central banks…

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