November 7, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 7, 2008

1) The dreaded October non farm payroll came in at minus -240,000, much worse than expected. The unemployment rate soared from 6.1% to 6.5%, a 14 year high. These figures included the Boeing strike and the full brunt of the credit freeze. We have lost 1.2 million jobs in the first ten months of this year. Despite this depressing news the market managed a 248 rally, a classic case of buy the rumor and sell the news. This renders the Q3 GDP figure of -0.3% meaningless. It was probably more like -3.0%.?? I believe that we are currently enduring two extremely sharp down back to back quarters of?? minus 7-8%?? GDP combined, which is getting us uncomfortably close to the legal definition of a depression of -10%. I believe we will see a gradual recovery next year. There is so much liquidity flooding the system I can’t see otherwise.

2) More fascinating data about the car industry. Car production peaked at 17 million units/year two years ago. It is now at a run rate of 11 million units/year. This is the lowest absolute rate since 1980, and the lowest population adjusted rate since 1945 when the government lifted its wartime ban on civilian auto production.

3) General Motors (GM) announced a Q3 loss of $4.2 billion. The cash burn was $6.9 billion, or $2.3 billion/month, more than double the worst case scenario. The company called off its merger with Chrysler. Fasten your seat belt. November car sales could be as bad or worse than the cataclysmic October numbers.

4) I saw an interesting interview with Kenneth Lewis, CEO of Charlotte, North Carolina based Bank of America (BAC), which after the purchase of US Trust, MBNA, Countrywide Financial, and Merrill Lynch, is now the largest bank in the country, with nearly $3 trillion is assets. The current holding company is descended from the North Carolina National bank and Nationsbank. One out of every two Americans is now a BAC customer in some way of another. The company pulled out of sup prime lending in 2001 because it didn’t like the risks, and shut down its in house hedge fund at the end of 2007. It just received a $25 billion capital injection from the Treasury which it didn’t need which will expand its lending capacity by $250 billion. It will lend this money, not use it for more acquisitions, because new lending is now extremely profitable, and because of moral suasion from the government.

TRADE IDEA

The 1,100 point sell off in the Dow over the last two days, the worst since 1987, has taken the VIX back up from 54% to 64%. As long as the sun doesn’t explode and incinerate the solar system I don’t believe the market is going to a new low before the next options expiration on November 21. Use volatility spikes to go short the November S&P mini 830 puts for $20, taking in $100,000 in premium on 100 contracts.


QUOTE OF THE DAY

When asked what kind of dog he was going to get president elect Obama said ‘I might get a shelter dog, and as you know, most shelter dogs are mutts, like me.’

November 7, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 7, 2008

1) The dreaded October non farm payroll came in at minus -240,000, much worse than expected. The unemployment rate soared from 6.1% to 6.5%, a 14 year high. These figures included the Boeing strike and the full brunt of the credit freeze. We have lost 1.2 million jobs in the first ten months of this year. Despite this depressing news the market managed a 248 rally, a classic case of buy the rumor and sell the news. This renders the Q3 GDP figure of -0.3% meaningless. It was probably more like -3.0%.?? I believe that we are currently enduring two extremely sharp down back to back quarters of?? minus 7-8%?? GDP combined, which is getting us uncomfortably close to the legal definition of a depression of -10%. I believe we will see a gradual recovery next year. There is so much liquidity flooding the system I can’t see otherwise.

2) More fascinating data about the car industry. Car production peaked at 17 million units/year two years ago. It is now at a run rate of 11 million units/year. This is the lowest absolute rate since 1980, and the lowest population adjusted rate since 1945 when the government lifted its wartime ban on civilian auto production.

3) General Motors (GM) announced a Q3 loss of $4.2 billion. The cash burn was $6.9 billion, or $2.3 billion/month, more than double the worst case scenario. The company called off its merger with Chrysler. Fasten your seat belt. November car sales could be as bad or worse than the cataclysmic October numbers.

4) I saw an interesting interview with Kenneth Lewis, CEO of Charlotte, North Carolina based Bank of America (BAC), which after the purchase of US Trust, MBNA, Countrywide Financial, and Merrill Lynch, is now the largest bank in the country, with nearly $3 trillion is assets. The current holding company is descended from the North Carolina National bank and Nationsbank. One out of every two Americans is now a BAC customer in some way of another. The company pulled out of sup prime lending in 2001 because it didn’t like the risks, and shut down its in house hedge fund at the end of 2007. It just received a $25 billion capital injection from the Treasury which it didn’t need which will expand its lending capacity by $250 billion. It will lend this money, not use it for more acquisitions, because new lending is now extremely profitable, and because of moral suasion from the government.

TRADE IDEA

The 1,100 point sell off in the Dow over the last two days, the worst since 1987, has taken the VIX back up from 54% to 64%. As long as the sun doesn’t explode and incinerate the solar system I don’t believe the market is going to a new low before the next options expiration on November 21. Use volatility spikes to go short the November S&P mini 830 puts for $20, taking in $100,000 in premium on 100 contracts.


QUOTE OF THE DAY

When asked what kind of dog he was going to get president elect Obama said ‘I might get a shelter dog, and as you know, most shelter dogs are mutts, like me.’

November 6, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 6, 2008

1) The Obama hangover hits. Any doubts we are stuck in an 8,000-10,000 range for the Dow for the foreseeable future were washed away with the 1,000 point sell off in the Dow from yesterday’s high. Reality is such a bitch! It didn’t help that Cisco’s John Chambers said that conditions were the worst that he had seen in his career. When the head cheerleader for the tech industry slashes his wrists on national TV you don’t want to own stocks.

2) The Bank of England slashed rates a record 1.5% to 3.0%, the most since 1955, and is clearly aiming for a Japanese style zero interest rate policy. The ECB is still behind the curve, announcing only a 0.5% rate cut. The ECB’s Trichet says the outlook for price stability has improved. Well duhhh! With all commodities having halved in four months, inflation disappearing down a rat hole is more like it. Best of all, Trichet said there is no credit crunch. What planet is he living on?

3) Another day of General Motors (GM) bankruptcy jitters, which appears to be burning cash faster than the $1 billion a month it indicated earlier. The company has an application in to become a bank holding company so it can qualify for federal bail out money. The government is trying to engineer a merger with Chrysler. But a merger of two zeros is tough to pull of. In the meantime GM is suspending development of all new models. GM has lost $50 billion in the last three years. Will someone please put a bullet through the head of this company?

4) Weekly jobless figures came in at 481.000. Most expect worse in coming weeks and are bracing for a terrible non farm payroll report tomorrow.

November 6, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 6, 2008

1) The Obama hangover hits. Any doubts we are stuck in an 8,000-10,000 range for the Dow for the foreseeable future were washed away with the 1,000 point sell off in the Dow from yesterday’s high. Reality is such a bitch! It didn’t help that Cisco’s John Chambers said that conditions were the worst that he had seen in his career. When the head cheerleader for the tech industry slashes his wrists on national TV you don’t want to own stocks.

2) The Bank of England slashed rates a record 1.5% to 3.0%, the most since 1955, and is clearly aiming for a Japanese style zero interest rate policy. The ECB is still behind the curve, announcing only a 0.5% rate cut. The ECB’s Trichet says the outlook for price stability has improved. Well duhhh! With all commodities having halved in four months, inflation disappearing down a rat hole is more like it. Best of all, Trichet said there is no credit crunch. What planet is he living on?

3) Another day of General Motors (GM) bankruptcy jitters, which appears to be burning cash faster than the $1 billion a month it indicated earlier. The company has an application in to become a bank holding company so it can qualify for federal bail out money. The government is trying to engineer a merger with Chrysler. But a merger of two zeros is tough to pull of. In the meantime GM is suspending development of all new models. GM has lost $50 billion in the last three years. Will someone please put a bullet through the head of this company?

4) Weekly jobless figures came in at 481.000. Most expect worse in coming weeks and are bracing for a terrible non farm payroll report tomorrow.

November 5, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 5, 2008
Special Gold Issue
Featured Trades: ($GOLD)

1) Last year, South Africa suffered its steepest decline in gold production since 1901, falling 14%, to a mere 232 tons. It now ranks only third in global production of the yellow metal, after China and the US. Severe electricity rationing, a shortage of skilled workers, and more stringent mine safety regulations have been blamed. Choked off credit has frozen the development of new capital intensive deep mines, as it has for everybody else. Rising production costs have driven the global break even cost of new gold production up to $500 an ounce. In the meantime, the financial crisis has driven flight to safety demand for gold bars and coins to all time highs. Last year, the US Treasury ran out of one ounce $50 American Gold Eagle coins, now worth about $850. Competitive devaluations by almost every central bank, except Japan, mean that currencies are not performing as the hedge that many had hoped. It all has the makings of a serious gold shortage for the future. Could the downturn we have seen over the past ten months be just a blip in the eight year bull market? When the last hedge fund is forced to sell its last leveraged long position, watch out above!

2) If the share prices of the top five listed banks went to zero, it would take only 331 points off of the Dow, because it is a price averaged index. There is nothing left for hedge funds to short. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

3) Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of the Swiss National Bank, indicated that Switzerland will pursue a Fed style zero interest rate policy to head off a depression. It plans to flood the Swiss monetary system with liquidity, and even buy corporate bonds to this end. The Swiss franc went into free fall. Long time Swiss economic observers were stunned.

4) Car theft has fallen nationally because the thieves can’t sell their hot vehicles. Go short chop shops.

6) The official US government poverty level was set at three times the annual cost of food in 1963 during the Kennedy administration, where it has remained ever since. Today that works out to $21,200 for a family of four. Expect this figure to rise during the new administration.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

‘The euro won’t survive its first recession,’ said Milton Friedman, when the currency was created a decade ago.

INTERESTING FACT OF THE DAY

Almost all of the gold ever mined in history is still in circulation, and would fill about two Olympic sized swimming pools. That includes ores found by the ancient Egyptians, the coins traded in Solomon’s temple, those minted by the original King Croesus, and all those bars of Nazi gold stamped with German eagles I used to see in the vaults at Swiss Banks Corp. Only gold shipwrecked at the bottom of the ocean in Spanish galleons, or gold rush era steamers, or gold vaporized by atomic bomb blasts is no longer available.

November 5, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 5, 2008
Special Gold Issue
Featured Trades: ($GOLD)

1) Last year, South Africa suffered its steepest decline in gold production since 1901, falling 14%, to a mere 232 tons. It now ranks only third in global production of the yellow metal, after China and the US. Severe electricity rationing, a shortage of skilled workers, and more stringent mine safety regulations have been blamed. Choked off credit has frozen the development of new capital intensive deep mines, as it has for everybody else. Rising production costs have driven the global break even cost of new gold production up to $500 an ounce. In the meantime, the financial crisis has driven flight to safety demand for gold bars and coins to all time highs. Last year, the US Treasury ran out of one ounce $50 American Gold Eagle coins, now worth about $850. Competitive devaluations by almost every central bank, except Japan, mean that currencies are not performing as the hedge that many had hoped. It all has the makings of a serious gold shortage for the future. Could the downturn we have seen over the past ten months be just a blip in the eight year bull market? When the last hedge fund is forced to sell its last leveraged long position, watch out above!

2) If the share prices of the top five listed banks went to zero, it would take only 331 points off of the Dow, because it is a price averaged index. There is nothing left for hedge funds to short. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

3) Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of the Swiss National Bank, indicated that Switzerland will pursue a Fed style zero interest rate policy to head off a depression. It plans to flood the Swiss monetary system with liquidity, and even buy corporate bonds to this end. The Swiss franc went into free fall. Long time Swiss economic observers were stunned.

4) Car theft has fallen nationally because the thieves can’t sell their hot vehicles. Go short chop shops.

6) The official US government poverty level was set at three times the annual cost of food in 1963 during the Kennedy administration, where it has remained ever since. Today that works out to $21,200 for a family of four. Expect this figure to rise during the new administration.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

‘The euro won’t survive its first recession,’ said Milton Friedman, when the currency was created a decade ago.

INTERESTING FACT OF THE DAY

Almost all of the gold ever mined in history is still in circulation, and would fill about two Olympic sized swimming pools. That includes ores found by the ancient Egyptians, the coins traded in Solomon’s temple, those minted by the original King Croesus, and all those bars of Nazi gold stamped with German eagles I used to see in the vaults at Swiss Banks Corp. Only gold shipwrecked at the bottom of the ocean in Spanish galleons, or gold rush era steamers, or gold vaporized by atomic bomb blasts is no longer available.

November 4, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 4, 2008

1) It all comes down to the Senate today. If the Democrats win 60 seats they will have a supermajority that will give Obama a blank check. Less than that, the republicans can fight a bitter rear guard action with a filibuster. Our first read will come with the early results from battleground state Virginia that closes its polls 7:00 PM East coast time.

2) General Motors car sales dropped 45% in October YOY, the worst performance since WWII. Ford was down 30% and Toyota was down 23%. You know things are tough when even the Japanese can’t sell cars. I drive over the Benicia Bridge once a week where cars imported from Japan are offloaded. The stockpile of cars there has doubled in the past month. Expect the economic data for October and November to be some of the worst in the economic history of the US. JP Morgan is predicting a decline in GDP of 3%. Next to come, an October non farm payroll on Friday of -200,000!

3) Wall Street has been foreclosed on and has taken a short term rental at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500, tel: 202-456-1111.

3) More unintended consequences. The price of recycled cardboard has plunged from $200 to only $30/ton since July. Recycling companies are scrambling to find warehouse space to accommodate rapidly spiraling stockpiles. Newspaper has dropped from $150 to $65/ton. Only a few months ago people were stealing newspapers out of my recycling bin.

November 4, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 4, 2008

1) It all comes down to the Senate today. If the Democrats win 60 seats they will have a supermajority that will give Obama a blank check. Less than that, the republicans can fight a bitter rear guard action with a filibuster. Our first read will come with the early results from battleground state Virginia that closes its polls 7:00 PM East coast time.

2) General Motors car sales dropped 45% in October YOY, the worst performance since WWII. Ford was down 30% and Toyota was down 23%. You know things are tough when even the Japanese can’t sell cars. I drive over the Benicia Bridge once a week where cars imported from Japan are offloaded. The stockpile of cars there has doubled in the past month. Expect the economic data for October and November to be some of the worst in the economic history of the US. JP Morgan is predicting a decline in GDP of 3%. Next to come, an October non farm payroll on Friday of -200,000!

3) Wall Street has been foreclosed on and has taken a short term rental at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500, tel: 202-456-1111.

3) More unintended consequences. The price of recycled cardboard has plunged from $200 to only $30/ton since July. Recycling companies are scrambling to find warehouse space to accommodate rapidly spiraling stockpiles. Newspaper has dropped from $150 to $65/ton. Only a few months ago people were stealing newspapers out of my recycling bin.

November 3, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 3, 2008

1) First quiet day in the markets in two months. All is now on hold until after the election. An Obama win is already priced into the market, but the makeup of the House and Senate is not. McCain needs to pull an inside royal flush to win. LIBOR fell 45 bp last week and another 17 bp today down to 3.02%, meaning help is on the way. The spread still has 45 bp to go to hit the low for the year, which was 70 bp over Fed funds. Hang on!

2) With the election out of the way the next big date looming for the markets is November 15. The Bretton Woods II conference to reshape the international role of the dollar will be held. It is also the final day for notification for most hedge fund redemptions.

3) More than 20% of all US home mortgages are now under water. Goodbye to the home ATM! Conforming loans are now available at a 4.75% rate for 30 years, with 3% down, up to $720,000, with a FICO score of only 580!

4) The scariest costume I say on Halloween was a kid dressed up as a chart of the Down Jones Industrial Average. Amid the violence of October, it was easy to miss how momentous some of the moves were: the S&P 500 from 1,167 to 820, crude from $102 to $67, gold from $878 to $716, The euro from $1.42 to $1.22, Citibank (C) from $24 to $ 12, Hartford Insurance Group (HIG) from $45 to $10, and the emerging market ETF (EEM) from $36 to $ 18. Oh yes, the futures on a McCain win went from 45% to 15%.

5) If General Motors (GM) goes bankrupt, two million jobs will be lost by the time the ripple effects from suppliers and dealers are added in. If the merger with Chrysler goes through, only one million jobs will go. GM has become a giant HMO that makes cars as a sideline in its arts and crafts department. $8,000 of the cost of every GM car goes to health care costs. The equivalent figure at Toyota, which benefits from a national health care plan, is $180.

6) If you had any doubt that we are headed for a severe recession, look at the price of naphtha, cornerstone of the petrochemical industry, and the basic feedstock of plastics. The price has fallen 76% from $1,200 to $284/ton since July. Naphtha is now cheaper than crude for the first time ever, as panicky petrochemical companies dump inventories.

7) I stopped at an intersection on Sunday and found my car surrounded by an angry church group waving yellow ‘Yes on 8’ signs, the California anti gay marriage initiative. They screamed that if I voted ‘no’ on 8, I was raping my children. It’s time for this election to end.

November 3, 2008

Global Market Comments for November 3, 2008

1) First quiet day in the markets in two months. All is now on hold until after the election. An Obama win is already priced into the market, but the makeup of the House and Senate is not. McCain needs to pull an inside royal flush to win. LIBOR fell 45 bp last week and another 17 bp today down to 3.02%, meaning help is on the way. The spread still has 45 bp to go to hit the low for the year, which was 70 bp over Fed funds. Hang on!

2) With the election out of the way the next big date looming for the markets is November 15. The Bretton Woods II conference to reshape the international role of the dollar will be held. It is also the final day for notification for most hedge fund redemptions.

3) More than 20% of all US home mortgages are now under water. Goodbye to the home ATM! Conforming loans are now available at a 4.75% rate for 30 years, with 3% down, up to $720,000, with a FICO score of only 580!

4) The scariest costume I say on Halloween was a kid dressed up as a chart of the Down Jones Industrial Average. Amid the violence of October, it was easy to miss how momentous some of the moves were: the S&P 500 from 1,167 to 820, crude from $102 to $67, gold from $878 to $716, The euro from $1.42 to $1.22, Citibank (C) from $24 to $ 12, Hartford Insurance Group (HIG) from $45 to $10, and the emerging market ETF (EEM) from $36 to $ 18. Oh yes, the futures on a McCain win went from 45% to 15%.

5) If General Motors (GM) goes bankrupt, two million jobs will be lost by the time the ripple effects from suppliers and dealers are added in. If the merger with Chrysler goes through, only one million jobs will go. GM has become a giant HMO that makes cars as a sideline in its arts and crafts department. $8,000 of the cost of every GM car goes to health care costs. The equivalent figure at Toyota, which benefits from a national health care plan, is $180.

6) If you had any doubt that we are headed for a severe recession, look at the price of naphtha, cornerstone of the petrochemical industry, and the basic feedstock of plastics. The price has fallen 76% from $1,200 to $284/ton since July. Naphtha is now cheaper than crude for the first time ever, as panicky petrochemical companies dump inventories.

7) I stopped at an intersection on Sunday and found my car surrounded by an angry church group waving yellow ‘Yes on 8’ signs, the California anti gay marriage initiative. They screamed that if I voted ‘no’ on 8, I was raping my children. It’s time for this election to end.