Looks like someone was betting on the SPX closing red for the year. Simply unbelievable. It was green until a couple of minutes from the close.
1 day chart, take a look at the very end:
1257.60 at the close. Last year: 1257.64: 0.04 below!
Shocked that companies and mutual funds would invest OPM (Other People's Money) in high-risk investments, the Shocked Investor was originally on a mission to find out if our money ended up in these dubious instruments. This blog now also discusses other financial topics, such as straddles, options, gold, natural gas, agri/food stocks, and the collapse of the US Dollar.
Looks like someone was betting on the SPX closing red for the year. Simply unbelievable. It was green until a couple of minutes from the close.
Verizon, with its tail between its legs, was forced to withdraw it's $2 convenience fee.
"At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time," Verizon CEO Dan Mead said in a statement.
The company faced an online uproar from its customers, just like BAC.
The Euro hit a new 10-year versys the Yen, going trough below 100 yen.
The euro fell 0.9 percent yesterday to 99.77 yen and is down about 8 percent for the year.
From around $1.33 in January, the euro soared to $1.4939 by May, then hit $1.2958, about a cent above a 2011 low hit earlier this week.
Dennis Gartman, author of the daily Gartman Letter, says that the path is set for the uro to drop further in early 2012.
"Given that we are closing the year below $1.30, the path seems to be set,"
He predicts $1.20 in early 2012 as the resolve on the part of the political, fiscal and monetary authorities in Europe are put to test.
Now there will be elections in France in the spring, let's see if Mounsieur Sarkozy can pull anther rabbit out of his hat and kicks the can down the road a little further.
The question is what will happen when interest rates rise or people lose their jobs.
The Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals says in its annual report that there were $1,008,000,000,000 in mortgages outstanding at the end of August.
This represents a gain of 7.6% in one year and 194% over the past 15 years.
"While mortgage approvals slipped through the recession, a boom in lending has followed as the housing market recovered and buyers rushed into the market. After a frenzy of buying drove average prices to an all-time high of $346,881 in May, things have cooled slightly with prices now at year-ago levels near $331,000."
The association surveyed Canadians and asked at what point they would be in trouble if interest rates were to rise. The average amount of room is $1,056 per month on top of their current costs..
“There is a sizable minority, about 350,000 out of 5.65 million, or about 6 per cent, who would be challenged by rate rises of less than 1 per cent, and a further 225,000 (5 per cent) have thresholds in the range of 1.00 per cent to 1.49 per cent. However, most of these have fixed-rate mortgages: by the time their mortgages are due for renewal, time will have increased their financial capacity and reduced the amount of mortgage debt being financed. There are about 100,000 borrowers who are susceptible to short-term moves of interest rates, which is a quite small share (less than 2 per cent) of the 5.65 million mortgage holders in Canada.”
Shades of BAC's monthly fee here. ABC reports that verizon will now charge a fee to pay your wireless bill with a credit card. The unbelievable measure will start Jan. 15 and will apply to who make single bill payments online or by telephone.
The fee: a $2 "convenience fee"!
Gee, these customers are trying to pay their bills!
The reasons are the usual: Verizon: "The fee will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options in these channels and is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make single bill payments in alternate payment channels (online, mobile, telephone),"
"The move appeared to be an attempt to push customers to enroll in an automatic bill payment plan. Verizon said customers can waive the fee by paying by electronic check or enrolling in its "AutoPay" service."
In spite of the the recent large drops, Gold is still about to complete an amzing 11th consecutive annual gains. This is longest winning streak in nine decades.
BMO Capital Markets released a report yesterday in which it states that diamond prices will rise for the next four years reflecting increased spending on luxury goods in China, India and the Middle East, outpacing supplies of the precious.
Average prices for rough, or uncut, diamonds will probably climb nine per cent to $145 US a carat next year, 1.4 per cent in 2013 and 4.8 per cent in 2014, then they may gain 2.6 per cent in 2015 and 3.2 per cent in 2016.
In addition, gold is expected drop for three years starting 2013, following a 19 per cent gain in 2012, according to the median of seven analyst estimates. (Ottawa Citizen report)
Oil has been very volatile with the latest Iran threats and U.S. responses.
Below are straddles on USO for January2012, from the free StraddlesCalc tool
In its latest World Economic League Table, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CE-BR) said Brazil has overtaken Britain as the world's sixth-largest economy, while Asian countries were moving up and European countries were slipping down.
The biggest economies:
CEBR says Brazil's advance was part of a wider trend according to Douglas Mc-Williams, CEO: "I think it's part of the big economic change, where not only are we seeing a shift from the west to the east, but we're also seeing that countries that produce vital commodities - food and energy and things like that - are doing very well and they're gradually climbing up the economic league table," .
The ETF for Chile is ECH. We track all global ETFs live here.
Reuters reports today that mighty Apple is takjing a hit due to the weak economies of Europe, as well as lower prices of excellent competitors' smartphones.
Apple iPhones sales across Europe are being hurt, says data from research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
The new iPhone 4S failed to excite interest in continental Europe, and Apple's share smartphone market dropped. The smartphone industry is now dominated by Google's Android platform.
Kantar saiys that in France its share slipped to 20 percent from 29 percent and in Germany to 22 percent from 27 percent, with similar drops were in Italy and Spain, unlike in the United States and Britain.
"The French market is showing increasing signs of price sensitivity," says the same firm.
Google had market shares of between 46 and 61 percent in all markets, with devices from Samsung Electronics, Sony Ericsson, LG Ericsson and Motorola Mobility who use the Android platform.
"In Germany, Android achieved a dominant 61 percent share of smartphone sales in the latest 12 weeks, with the Samsung Galaxy S II the top selling handset,"
The ECB announced today an unprecedented 489B euros ($645 billion) in 1% loans today,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is quoted as saying that has banks could use the loans to buy even more government debt. Mindboggling. Well, sure, if their losses will always be covered up.
Bloomberg quotes Simon Derrick, chief currency strategist at Bank of New York Mellon Corp, saying that the loans amount to quantitative easing “through the backdoor.”
Weakening the Euro
“What the ECB is doing is providing ultra-cheap money to banks, which in turn are going to be in there buying the sovereign debt up,” “That’s good news in the sense that it’s clearly going to help sovereigns in the near future, but it’s also printing more money. That’s going to start to weigh on the euro over time.”
The markets, which were positive, reversed sharply lower after the announcement as the annoucement may mean that the banks foresess a lack of funding in 2012.
This is all a casino, so who knows what will happen next.
The Brazilian Ministry of Labor and Employment announced today that in November of this year the number of hirings exceeded the number of layoffs by by 42,735 during the period. This is actually the worst result for the month of November since 2008, when the net balance was negative in 40,821. Compared to the same month of 2010, when 138,247 jobs were created, there was a drop of 69%. The previous month, there was a slight increase of 0.39% in the numberof employees with a formal contract.
Hiring was 1,620,422, while layoffs totaled 1,577,687, both the highest for the month of November.
Also, according todata accumulated in 2011 the jobs generated between January and November totaled 2,320,753, representing a growth of 6.46% compared to the number of jobs in December 2010. The result of this period was the second best in the series between the years 2003 and 2011, behind only the result of 2010, when 2,918,549 formal jobs were generated .
As for the last 12 months, 1,900,571 jobs have been created.
Larry Berman's prediction's for 2012.
Gold has broken its channel,, which would indicate it is headed for maybe $1,350/$1,400, but he thinks it may go sideways here and may bounce explosively to $2,100 if there is more money printing.
Fox news reports that in a long conference call today the EU ministers assessed plans for tighter euro zone fiscal rules, now labelled 'fiscal compact', that policy makers hope will insulate the 17-country currency zone against a repeat of the two-year debt crisis.
However, in the call, Britain had made it clear that it would not participate in the plan to increase IMF resources by up to 200 billion euros. 150 billion of that was supposed to come from euro zone central banks. So the question now is who would commit such kind of money from the remaining countries that actually have any money to lend.
A treasury official was quoted as saying: "We were clear that we would not be making a contribution," "no agreement on the 200 billion" euro funding boost.
BNN had a feature interview with hedge fund manager Greg Taylor, who had held RIMM stock since its IPO, and finally threw-in the towel today, selling everything.
He says ther company is worth maybe be $10 or lower, considerign cash, patents, etc. he adds that nothing new will come out of the company unitl late 2012, so they wll suffer even more against its compastition who will release new iPhones and new Android devices. Furthermore, he said that in the company's conference call the manager appeared defeated.
Brazilian newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo reports that the European Financial Stability Facility has a draft prospectus whcoh warsn that the Euro may collapse. It includes explicit warnings that the euro could break apart or even cease to be a “lawful currency”.
The ESPF is still debating whether the “risk factors” should be included in the final version of the document.
The Financial Times also reports on the matter statign that the draft appears to be almost complete ahead of the expected launch of the instruments in January, "But the details of the risks of euro exit remain blank, as the EFSF debates whether to include them. Lawyers are debating the merits of including warnings about the euro in corporate prospectuses, although several London bond lawyers and bankers said they had yet to see them added".
Refecting the provinces very weak financial situation, Ontario’s rating outlook has been cut to negative by Moody’s Investors Service as it faces a higher risk in meeting fiscal targets.
The province’s C$190 billion ($183.6 billion) of debt is still maintained at Aa1
Provincial growth in 2011 and 2012 was revised down to 1.8 percent for both periods, from 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent.
Moody’s Assistant Vice President Jennifer Wong:“The negative outlook on the province reflects the softening economic outlook, Ontario’s growing debt burden, and the extended timeframe to achieving a balanced budget,”
Research in Motion, RIMM, now officially announced earnings and it taking a major tumble in after hours trading:
The Associate Press reports today on European Central Bank president Mario Draghi saying that there is "no external savior" for countries in Euripe deep in debt.
He added that governments must take the tough steps to balance budgets and reform economies to promote growth.
"I will never tire of saying that the first response should be from government," "There is no external savior for a country that doesn't want to save itself."
Draghi said that the ECB's bond purchases were "neither eternal nor infinite."
Today Italy paid 6.47% to sell five year bonds, a new euro era record
Germany, o the other hand, sold 4 billion euros of two-year bonds at an ultra-low average yield of just 0.29% as investors flock to safety. Germany's 0.29% yield was down from 0.39% in November.
Interestingly, even Sweden is seen as a safe haven. The country sold 5-year bonds at a record low yield of 1.023%, down significantly from 3.132% in April.
Italy's previous euro lifetime record high was 6.29% hit at a mid-November sale.
Reuters: "Italy has trimmed the size of its auctions in reaction to market pressure but it will have to step up issuance in the coming months if it is to meet a gross funding goal of around 440 billion euros next year".
While the markets tank out of the realities of no way out in Europe and no QE3 in the U.S., these news are not inspiring for any market.
CNBC says that sales of previously owned U.S. homes from 2007 through October this year will be revised down next week. It rurns out the sales were being double counted by the National Association of Realtors. "indicating a much weaker housing market than previously thought".
Some properties were listed more than once, and in some instances, and even new home sales were being cpunted. You canot make this stuff up..
"All the sales and inventory data that have been reported since January 2007 are being downwardly revised. Sales were weaker than people thought,".
"We're capturing some new home data that should have been filtered out and we also discovered that some properties were being listed in more than one list."
BNN had another fantastic interview today with Kyle Bass.
He focuses a lot on how bad Japan is, and Europe, says the U.S. is a disaster, but likes Canada. When asked if ECB buying bonds and printing would fix or change anything, he says 'No'. It' far past that point. The choices are
This is amazing, today's headline: "Gartman sees bear market for gold". He goes as far as to proclaim the... death of a bull:
“We have the beginnings of a real bear market, and the death of a bull,” “Since the early autumn here in the northern hemisphere gold has failed to make a new high. Each high has been progressively lower than the previous high, and now we’ve confirmation that the new interim low is lower than the previous low.”
BNN reports that he sold his gold yesterday, and of course what happens today? Gold spikes higher.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said Monday that Canada's is in a better position for the coming years as other advanced nations struggle to reduce greater debt load. However, he added Canada must refocus the economy away from "unsustainable household spending" and toward greater business investment,
Carney said that the United States and Europe face several years of daunting fiscal and structural adjustments that will crimp global economic growth. Events since the 2008 crisis have also lessened Canada's "margin of manoeuvre."
In Canada household debt has climbed by 13% relative to income, even as foreign investors snap up Canadian bonds as both a vote of confidence in the economy and the government's fiscal management. However, too much of the capital coming in is now used to fund household spending instead of building productive capacity..
"We might appear to prosper for a while by consuming beyond our means," "Markets may let us do so for longer than we should. But if we yield to this temptation, eventually, we, too, will face painful adjustments."
Companies must use their solid balance sheets to become more productive over the long haul and work harder to crack new customers in emerging markets.
"This would be good for Canadian companies and good for Canada," "A virtuous circle of increased investment and increased productivity would increase the debt-carrying capacity of all, through higher wages, greater profits and higher government revenues. This should be our common focus."
He added that global public debt as a share of global GDP currently around 80 percent are equivalent to levels historically associated with "widespread sovereign defaults" and the adjustment could take longer and be harsher than anyone can see now,
"As a result of deleveraging, the global economy risks entering a prolonged period of deficient demand," "If mishandled, it could lead to debt deflation and disorderly defaults, potentially triggering large transfers of wealth and social unrest."
"Actions by central banks, the International Monetary Fund and the European Financial Stability Facility can only create time for adjustment," "The route to restoring competitiveness is through fiscal and structural reforms. These real adjustments are the responsibility of citizens, firms and governments within the affected countries, not central banks."
Fabulous interview with renowned hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, on the current dire situation, which is abut to get much worse, permanent job losses, bonds, global debt going from $80T to $210T, growing at 12% annual growth rate, while GDP has grown at 4% only, therefore... boom. He says the U.S. is lucky to get 1.5% grwoth, but the nimimum to keep unemployment from going up is 2.25%!
The bill is due today.
What Bernanke is saying is that interest rares will stay low... forever. He cannot raise them.
December 19th: the day of decision for Greece. It's a full wipe-out.
Tha last meeting/summit in Europe did not really produce anything solid, other than a split with the U.K. So it was only a matter of time before the ratings agencies acted.
Moody's issued this statement today:
Pressure Remains On Euro Area Sovereigns In Absence of Decisive Initiatives
"The communiqué issued by European policymakers after the recent euro area summit offers few new measures and therefore does not change our analysis of the rising threat to the cohesion of the euro area and the further shocks to which it and the wider EU remain prone. As we announced in November, unless credit market conditions stabilise in the near future, our ratings of all EU sovereigns will need to be revisited. The communiqué does not change that view, and we continue to expect to complete such a repositioning during the first quarter of 2012.
Last Friday, European policymakers issued a communiqué announcing additional measures aimed at addressing the formidable challenges facing the euro area. The communiqué discussed at a high level the direction of a variety of initiatives aimed at supporting closer fiscal coordination among euro area (and many EU) sovereigns in the years to come, and at the same time to address the more acute immediate challenges euro area sovereigns and banking systems face. The clear statements it contains affirming the commitment of euro area authorities to work towards a common economic policy provide a further indication of euro area politicians’ desire to move towards centralised fiscal coordination and mutualisation of resource and risk.
In substance, however, the communiqué offers few new measures, and does not change our view that risks to the cohesion of the euro area continue to rise. Measures to strengthen the governance of the EU’s Excessive Deficit Procedure were first announced in the first half of 2011. The intention to introduce measures to strengthen national budgetary frameworks and to improve coordination and cooperation, including a heightened role for the Commission, was announced in October, as was the aim of leveraging the European Financial Stability Facility.
The July package contained very clear statements regarding the uniqueness of private sector involvement (PSI) in Greece’s assistance programme. We placed little weight on those statements then. It is difficult to place greater weight on them now given, for example, the intention to complete the Greek PSI programme, to incorporate Collective Action Clauses in European Stability Mechanism documentation to facilitate orderly PSI in future, and the reference to the application of “IMF principles and practices” which often also involve burden-sharing with private sector creditors.
In short, the communiqué reflects the continuing tension between euro area leaders’ recognition of the need to increase support for fiscally weaker countries and the significant opposition within stronger countries to doing so. Amid the increasing pressure on euro area authorities to act quickly to restore credit market confidence, the constraints they face are also rising. The longer that remains the case, the greater the risk of adverse economic conditions that would add to the already sizeable challenges facing the authorities’ coordination and debt reduction efforts.
As a result, the communiqué does not change our view that the crisis is in a critical, and volatile, stage, with sovereign and bank debt markets prone to acute dislocation which policymakers will find increasingly hard to contain. While our central scenario remains that the euro area will be preserved without further widespread defaults, shocks likely to materialise even under this 'positive' scenario carry negative credit and rating implications in the coming months. And the longer the incremental approach to policy persists, the greater the likelihood of more severe scenarios, including those involving multiple defaults by euro area countries and those additionally involving exits from the euro area.
The credit implications of these and further measures likely to be announced in coming weeks require careful consideration against the backdrop of decelerating regional economic activity, fragile banking systems, partly dysfunctional credit markets, and the varying degree of success of country-specific measures aimed at structural change and fiscal consolidation. But in the absence of credit market conditions stabilising, the system remains prone to further shocks which would likely lead to selective rating changes. More broadly, in the absence of any decisive policy initiatives that stabilise credit market conditions effectively, our intention as announced in November is to revisit the level and dispersion of ratings during the first quarter of 2012".
Last time we reported this figrue it was $485T (remmebeer Mr. Das's book?).
According to the BIS, Bank of International Settlements, it is now $708T (this as back on July 2011, who knows today). Quadrillions soon!
Moody's has downgraded France's three big banks "due to their difficulty borrowing money".
Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas were cut from Aa2 to Aa3, and Societe Generale from Aa3 to A1.
"Liquidity and funding conditions have deteriorated significantly" also saying that the problem was likely to worsen.
"The probability that the bank will face further funding pressures has risen in line with the worsening European debt crisis,"
It also assigned a negative outlook to all three banks' ratings.
The Merkel, Sarkozy, Cameron Circus put on quite a show last night. In reality, none of Europe's problems have been solved.
Sarkozy wasting no time in blaming Cameron, ridiculous. And the markets are up, even more ridiculous. A huge shor opportunity presents itself. You'd think there is no excuse for S&P not to downgrade Europe now.
Cameron: ""We're not in the euro and I'm glad we're not in the euro," "We're never going to join the euro and we're never going to give up this kind of sovereignty that these countries are having to give up."
The fear mongering continues.
Sarkozy today: "Never has Europe been so necessary. Never has it been in so much danger." Europe or the banks?
"Never have so many countries wanted to join Europe. Never has the risk of a disintegration of Europe been so great. Europe is facing an extraordinarily dangerous situation."
However, he said the eurozone economies still had a few weeks to decide.
It should be noted that Fance and Germany don't get to decide the future of Europe by themselves.
Ireland is opposed to the idea of wholesale treaty change and the propsed Franco-German idea that would move Europe towards a single corporate tax rate. Crazy.
Lucinda Creighton Europe Minister for Ireland: "We have our red lines too. This is not a fait accompli just because two have found agreement."
UNG has hit a new all-time low, just ahead of inventories tomorrow.
All indicators agree: this has been a bear market rally. Big deflation coming in the next 4 to 5 years. There is another wave down coming, a big storm coming our way. The current period is very similar to 1929 to 1933, says Robert Prechter, founder and president of Elliott Wave International. Watch:
Saving Italy is a Mathematical Impossibility.
Natural gas contango is currently very low, something that benefits UNG (or makes it less 'horrible').
This had to happen since all its guarantors are on negative watch. From S&P today
"Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services today placed the ‘AAA’ long-term credit rating on the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) on CreditWatch with negative implications. At the same time, we affirmed the ‘A-1+’ short-term credit rating on EFSF.
Our ‘AAA’ long- and ‘A-1+’ short-term ratings on EFSF are based on (i) the unconditional, irrevocable, and timely guarantees from EFSF members (guarantor members) rated ‘AAA’ by Standard & Poor’s that support EFSF’s obligations (bonds, notes, commercial paper, debt securities, or other financing arrangements) and, (ii) the ‘AAA’ rated securities that constitute EFSF’s liquidity reserves. Standard & Poor’s has placed the ‘AAA’ long-term issue ratings on EFSF’s guarantor members Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands on CreditWatch negative (see “Standard & Poor’s Puts Ratings On Eurozone Sovereigns On CreditWatch With Negative Implications,” published on Dec. 5, 2011), indicating our view of their increased credit risks.
A CreditWatch negative placement indicates that, in our opinion, there is at least a one-in-two probability of the rating being lowered in the short term. Based on EFSF’s current structure, were we to lower one or more of the current ’AAA’ ratings on EFSF’s guarantor members, all else being equal, we would lower the issuer and issue ratings on EFSF to the lowest sovereign rating on members currently rated ‘AAA’.
In our media releases of Dec. 5, 2011, on the CreditWatch placements of individual ‘AAA’ rated guarantor members, we indicated that our ratings on Austria, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands are currently unlikely to fall by more than one notch, and the ratings on France by no more than two notches, if at all. Accordingly, we currently anticipate that if we lower the rating on EFSF, it could be by up to two notches.
We expect to resolve EFSF’s CreditWatch placement within 90 days and, if possible sooner, after we complete the review of EFSF guarantor members currently rated ‘AAA’.
We could lower the long-term credit rating on EFSF by one or two notches if we were to lower the ‘AAA’ sovereign ratings, which are currently on CreditWatch, on one or more of EFSF’s guarantor members. Conversely, we could affirm the ’AAA’ ratings on EFSF and its issues if we affirm the rating on all six of EFSF’s guarantor members currently rated ‘AAA’. We could also affirm the ratings if we were to lower the current ‘AAA’ ratings on one or more guarantor members, but had evidence that the EFSF guarantor members were implementing further credit enhancements that were in our view sufficient to mitigate the relevant guarantor members’ reduced creditworthiness".
From Kyle Basss interview, and chart from BNN today. Global debt has grown in the last 9 years from $80T to $210T, i.e. at 12% year, while global GDP has grown at 4%. Something has to give.
Italian welfare minister, Elsa Fornero, broke down in tears as she explained cuts to pensions last night: she was on TV with Mr. Monti explaiining changes to pension system when she could not control herself and started crying. If this is true, pensions will be reduced drastically once inflation resurfaces, which it will one day as money is printed to pay off debts.
Note the caption below, by Mr. Monti himself.
More rumours from Europe today: ECB preparing a1T Euro rescue plan.
This was reported by The Sunday Times without reporting where it received the information, said that the plan would be executed if Europe's leaders reach agreement on a broader political reform of the currency bloc and impose 'strict budget controls' on nations struggling to control their state finances. Would this ever fly on Europe? It does sound like giving up sovereignity.
In addition, the article says German chancellor Angela Merkel would be willing to give the ECB an expanded, but conditional, mandate to control the region's sovereign debt crisis.
Of course these plans have been talked about for many months now.
How shocking and sad is this: the richest tenth of the population earn income that is about nine times that of the poorest tenth, ans is egtting worse. The gap increased about 10% since the mid 1980s
This was in a report by the OECD today.
Facebook said today that it will hire "thousands of employees" in 2012, as well as open a new York engineering office. Interesting choice of location, are New Yorkers more socially connected or aware?
Currently, Facebook has about 3,000 employees, and over 800 million users.
Earlier this month, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg visited Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to recruit potential engineers. So... new grads.
Facebook currently has about 100 employees in NYC, mostly in marketing and recruiting.
Looking for a job? Facebook will begin accepting applications for jobs in New York immediately.
Jim Rogers on Bloomberg: short stocks, long commodities, nice tie.
He says it's absurd that countries like France is AAA, and wonders about Germany! QE3 is going on now.
Well, this blog is called Shocked for a reason. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Wall Street executives held a private meeting with a top Federal Reserve official in late September and recommended a "coordinated effort by central banks to remedy the European financial crisis". The journal says this was revealed in Fed documents received in an open-records request.
Wow, and what happened yesterday?