Global Stock Markets Gyrations

Elected officials and government officials are trying to calm the financial markets. In the U.S., President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and various Federal Reserve bank officials are the latest to weigh in. They’re wasting their time. Example here.

I have news for them, and you: market participants don’t care what you say. They do what they think is right. Market participants include traders, institutional investors, sovereign wealth managers – all over the world.

Financial markets – stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies – do not react to current news items. They have their own cycles based on sentiment.

If you look at various global stock market indexes, you can clearly see they began a correction in January, not in the Fall of 2018. The U.S. stock market made a nominal new high in September over its January high then began its precipitous decline. Other advanced economy stock markets, as represented by the EFA ETF never made a new high over the January level. Emerging markets, as represented by the EEM ETF fell even faster than the advanced economy stock markets.

The financial media – the business channels on television, the media outlets that carry their stories – all basically say the same thing. And it changes by the day, but all contradict themselves.

When the market goes up and some kind of negative news is reported, the media say “the market shrugged off the bad news and rose today”. When the market declines, they are certain it was caused by whatever news they can find as a way to justify their claim.

The bottom line is that the majority of politicians, government officials, media people, and market participants do not know what caused financial markets to act the way they do.


NFL Pigskins at the Public Trough

Michelle Malkin:

Over the past decade, new tax-supported NFL stadiums rose up for the Indianapolis Colts (the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium), the Dallas Cowboys (the $1.15 billion AT&T Stadium) the New York Jets and Giants (the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium, the Minnesota Vikings (the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium), the Atlanta Falcons (the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium), and the San Francisco 49ers (the $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara).

Next in the works: a whopping $2.6 billion stadium for the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams and a $1.9 billion stadium for the Oakland Raiders when they move to Las Vegas. Left behind? An $83 million taxpayer debt on two-decade-old renovations to the Alameda County Coliseum that the Raiders are abandoning.

Bottom line: the government spending does not deliver the return on investment.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Discovers Firms Try to Make Short-term Profits

Warren (D-MA) on James Cramer’s program on CNBC:

Few lawmakers had stronger words for Wells Fargo in the continued conflict surrounding the big bank’s malpractices than Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“This is a company that, from the very top, has made it clear there’s no accountability here,” the Democratic senator told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

While Wells Fargo’s earnings remained intact, the bank is said to have pressured employees to open unauthorized accounts for customers, an issue that was recently found to have affected more customer accounts than previously thought.

“This is not about serving consumers,” Warren said. “This is all about, quarter by quarter by quarter, how to juice the reported profits. That’s what mattered at Wells Fargo.”

What a revelation! I’ll let you in on a little secret. Firms have plans to boost sales and profits in the long-term and medium-term as well as the short-term.

Treasury ends the myRA, Obama’s retirement savings program

CNN Money:

The Treasury Department said Friday that it will end an Obama-era program called myRA that created accounts aimed to help Americans start saving for retirement.

The reality is that this was a way for politicians to build a market for their over-spending habits. It invests only in US government bonds. As the politicians continually over spend, they issue more bonds to pay for it, similar to using a credit card but not paying off the balance every month.

What’s worse, people who want to save can use any of several brokers and mutual fund companies such as Fidelity, Vanguard, and Charles Schwab.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Facing Congress

The hypocrisy is so rich. “Elected officials” grilling Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

These are the same people who created the country’s $20 trillion debt, cannot get an honest accounting of the department’s finances, have 70% of the budget on automatic pilot because of entitlement programs, say the military is financially depleted yet the Us spends as much as the next nine countries combined on military spending, implemented Obamacare which made health insurance and medical service levels worse then they already were.

The Wells Fargo issue is a case of fraud. Laws and procedures are already on the books to deal with it.

Hey you gutless wonders in Washington, learn to manage your own affairs. Get your own house in order and stop trying to run the lives and businesses of the people.


Forced Mortgage Refinance Does Not Create Wealth

Mark A. Calabria pours cold water on the proposal to make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac give all underwater borrowers an automatic reduction in their interest rate.

The thinking, as illustrated by that world class economist Matt Yglesais, is “with a lower monthly interest payment, an indebted household can pay down other debts more rapidly. A less-constrained household will increase its consumption of goods and services.” What this misses is that a mortgage is one person’s liability, but another person’s asset. By replacing a mortgage that yields 6% with a mortgage that yields, say, 4%, you decrease the value of that mortgage (or mortgage-backed security). So whatever increase in consumption you get from making the borrower better off is reduced by making the investor worse off. There’s no magic in wealth redistribution.

Here. The market mechanism coordinates mortgage borrowers and investors to determine what those rates should be. Mandating it give a free ride for one party and coerces the other party. Mr. Yglesais does not take into account what is not seen. Mr. Calabria did.

Warren Buffett’s Investment in Bank of America

Steve Goldstein is spot on:

The much-maligned government plan did stabilize the financial system, even if taxpayers are still on the hook for up to $130 billion in losses, but private-sector bailouts are better for the public at large.

It’s how it should be: if a private-sector bank is under capitalized, it should find a private investor to provide it with additional cushion, at a hefty price if necessary. And that’s what happened Thursday, just a day after Buffett dreamed up the idea in his bath tub, if CNBC’s account is correct.

Here. The investment adds to the firm’s capital.