Friday 30 January 2015

Sparta v The Germanic Horde.

Baltic Dry Index. 632 -34    Brent Crude 49.14

LIR Gold Target in 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

There can be few fields of human endeavour in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

J. K. Galbraith.

The coming weekend will all be about the media spin of Sparta v Berlin, and the growing global appreciation of what the end of the commodity “super cycle” i.e. bubble,  means for the great unwashed global masses. Despite global stock markets fuelled by central bankster QE and ZIRP, both developments are hardly likely to be good for the global economy. Yes lower oil prices will transfer spendable cash from relatively few energy producers to masses of worldwide energy consumers, but net net, it’s only the same amount of spending getting redistributed. In the EUSSR David v Goliath fight, it’s highly improbable Sparta’s David has a slingshot that takes out Berlin’s vengeful Goliath. If Sparta’s David wins, all of Club Med will want the same deal. Dead beats from South America to Africa will all want an invite to the free lunch. If the EUSSR crushes the vote of the Greek democracy, just watch the unstoppable rise of the anti EUSSR parties. The elitist Bilderberger, wealth and job destroying, euro, anti US dollar project, has backed itself into a corner of its own making. This weekend promises to bring on high rhetoric.

But first we must get through the last trading day of January 2015. The central banksters are in danger of losing control of their Great Stock Market Bubble. The Fed’s talking chair must order the Fedster’s NYC Plunge Protection Team to follow up on yesterday’s rally. Any failure today threatens Armageddon for stocks next week. It’s a good time to be sitting in the shell shocked Swiss National Bank bunker. This is what passes for capitalism 21st century style in the end phase of the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money. We all know how it ends, just not when or why. Stay long fully paid up physical precious metals held outside of the larcenous reach of Uncle Scam and John Bull. They have form, as they used to say at all too often bent Scotland Yard.

“The boom can last only as long as the credit expansion progresses at an ever-accelerated pace. The boom comes to an end as soon as additional quantities of fiduciary media are no longer thrown upon the loan market...”

“But it (the boom) could not last forever even if inflation and credit expansion were to go on endlessly. It would then encounter the barriers which prevent the boundless expansion of circulation credit. It would lead to the crack-up boom and the breakdown of the whole monetary system.”

Ludwig Von Mises

Investors have woken up to Greece's nuclear risk

European and international authorities are facing a revolt from the Greek new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras

Markets have woken up to Greek nuclear risk. Bank stocks on the Athens exchange have crashed 44pc since Alexis Tsipras swept into power this week with a mandate to defy the European power structure.

Greek bonds bought with such zest by investors last April - entranced by the mirage of recovery, and deaf to simmering revolution below - are signalling a rapid slide towards bankruptcy. Five year yields spiked to 13.5pc today.

Contrary to expectations, Mr Tsipras has not resiled from a long list of campaign pledges that breach the terms of Greece's EU-IMF Troika Memorandum, and therefore put the country on a collision course with the Brussels, Berlin, and Frankfurt.

----If anything, he is upping the ante. He could have gone in into coalition with the centrist, pro-EU Potami party, and could have explained any softening of his line towards Europe as a necessary move to hold the government together. Instead he chose to go with Independent Greeks, a nationalist party that is even more virulently hostile to the Troika. This has been a cannon shot across the bows of creditor states.

----“We will immediately stop any privatisation,” said Panagiotis Lafazanis, leader of the Marxist Left Platform, the biggest bloc in the Syriza pantheon. Plans to sell the PPT power utility and the Piraeus Port Authority have been halted. The minimum wage will be raised from €500 to €751 a month as a first order business. This is an explicit rejection of Troika austerity terms.

We are witnessing a democratic revolution. Never before have the EMU elites had to face a eurozone government that refuses to play by any of their rules, and they have yet to experience the lascerating tongue of Yanis Varoufakis, a relentless critic of their 1930s ideology of debt-deflation and "fiscal waterboarding".

Mr Varoufakis told me before his appointment as finance minister that Syriza will not capitulate even if the European Central Bank threatens to cut off €54bn of liquidity for the Greek banking system, a move that would almost certainly force Greece to nationalise the banks, impose capital controls, and would - in my view, though not in his - force it to reintroduce the drachma within days.

"A freshly elected government cannot allow itself to be intimidated by threats of Armageddon," he said. His first act in office today was to announce that 600 cleaners in the finance ministry will regain their jobs, paid for by cutting financial advisers. The corridors erupted in cheers.

----Yes, successive governments lied about the true state of public finances in the years leading up to the crisis, but this is a distraction in macro-economic terms. The flood of French, German, Dutch, and Anglo-Saxon capital into Greece was so vast that the drama would have unfolded in much same way even if Greek politicians had been angels.

The greater lie was the silent complicity of all the relevant players in allowing the deformed structure of monetary union to incubate disaster. Surveillance reports by EU bodies in did not sound the alarm during the boom years, though one of the authors told me at clandestine lunches in Brussels that the whole of southern Europe was heading for disaster. Internal critics were silenced.

What has happened to Greece since then is a moral scandal. Leaked documents from the IMF Board confirm that country needed debt relief at the outset. This was blocked by the EU for fear that it would set off contagion at a time when the eurozone - negligently - did not have a lender-of-last resort. Greece was sacrificed to buy time for the euro.

The EU-IMF Troika forced a bankrupt country to take on further loan packages, allowing foreign banks to dump their bonds onto Greek taxpayers and trap Greek citizens in debt servitude. To add insult to injury, this was called a rescue.

Germany succumbs to Europe’s deflationary crisis

The euro area's economic titan has joined the rest of the currency bloc, and has entered deflation in January, for the first time since October 2009

Germany has succumbed to deflation for the first time in more than five years, and may not see inflation again until the final quarter of this year.

Inflation fell below zero for the first time since October 2009, according to preliminary estimates from statistics agency Destatis, as prices dropped by 0.3pc in the year to January.

Analysts had expected deflation - but not at this pace. A poll suggested that prices would fall by just 0.2pc in the period. Final results for January will be published on February 12.

There are fears that prices may continue to fall for some time. Michala Marcussen, of Societe Generale, said: "German inflation should not turn positive before the final quarter of 2015."

Gizem Kara, an economist at BNP Paribas, said "A fall in energy prices on the month was a key driver of a decline in inflation in January." Excluding food and energy, prices rose by 1.1pc in the year to January.

The negative inflation figures from Germany made it the latest eurozone country to slip into deflation. Latest eurozone-wide figures showed prices slipped by 0.2pc in the year to December in the single currency bloc.

Eurostat is due to publish inflation figures for the euro area as a whole on Friday. Economists expect these will show prices have fallen faster still, at 0.5pc in the year to January.

Fears that the phenomenon could become entrenched led the European Central Bank (ECB) to announce a €1.1 trillion (£820bn) quantitative easing scheme in an effort to buoy the ailing currency bloc.

“Looking ahead, energy effects are likely to keep German inflation negative for the next six months, but for now we are not forecasting a prolonged and widespread bout of deflation,” Jennifer McKeown, of Capital Economics, said.

Fed Statement: Not Dovish, Not Hawkish—-Just Gibberish

by David Stockman • 
Call it 529 words of gibberish and be done!

All of the FOMC’s platitudes about the economy “expanding at a solid pace”, labor market conditions which have “improved further”, household spending which is “rising moderately” and business fixed investment which is “expanding” are not simply untruthful nonsense; they are a smokescreen for the Fed’s actual intention. Namely, to keep the Wall Street gamblers in free money in the delusional hope that ever rising stock prices will generate a trickle down of “wealth effects” in the main street economy.

But in equivocating still another time about when they intend to get the Fed’s big fat ZIRP thumb off the money  market, the denizens of the Eccles Building have shown their true colors. The FOMC is not really comprised of economists or central bankers. It is simply a groupthink posse of spineless cowards who are petrified of a Wall Street hissy fit—–and are therefore willing to dispense whatever spurious word clouds they judge may be necessary to keep the gamblers hitting the “bid” until the next meeting.

After all, how can it possibly be true that notwithstanding all the “solid” economic advances it crowed about in the opening paragraph, the Fed still intends to maintain zero interest rates through mid-year—or for what will be an out-of-this-world 80 months running? As recently as 10 years ago that incredulous juxtaposition—-a solid economy coupled with desperate policy measures—-would have been laughed out of court by even the Fed’s own economists.

In fact, we don’t have a solid economy at all, and the halting advances of recent years have absolutely nothing to do with Fed policy. Instead, the utterly trite macroeconomic commentary contained in its meeting statements is a form of Keynesian ritual incantation based on a delusional conceit. Namely, that left to its own devices the US economy would chronically sink into a recessionary stupor, and that it is only the deft interventions of the central bank which nudge the $18 trillion US economy back onto the path toward full employment and the realization of “potential GDP”.

The very opposite is true. The Fed has become a serial bubble machine. Its fantastic bouts of money printing and the resulting destruction of honest price discovery in the financial markets lead to violent boom and bust cycles in the Wall Street casino—-of which we have had three since the mid-1990s.

---- So what the Fed’s post-meeting statements describe as policy driven economic “advances” and “improvements” are actually the halting gains that main street workers, businesses and entrepreneurs are able to realize from their own economic efforts. Indeed, the false correlation of natural capitalist recovery with central bank policy intervention has gotten so ritualized and trivialized that yesterday’s crowing about economic recovery is nearly identical to the word clouds the FOMC emitted in 2007 and 1999.

Stated differently, there is no natural business cycle that the Fed is improving upon. There is only a destructive and artificial boom-and-bust cycle owing to central bank policy intervention that pumps the main street economy up and down over and over again. Accordingly, the only relevant measure of economic conditions is not the short-run changes which materialize in the recovery rebound after each financial bust, but the trend rate of change over time——something that can best be measured on a peak-to-peak basis.

It’s official: Alibaba’s stock enters bear market

Published: Jan 29, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Alibaba Group’s stock officially entered bear market territory Thursday, as the Chinese e-commerce giant was rudely awakened to the Wall Street world of high expectations.

The stock BABA, -0.40%  tumbled 8.8% to close at a three-month low, and 25% below its highest closing price of $119.15 reached Nov. 10. The stock was down as much as 11% at the intraday low of $87.36.

Many on Wall Street say a bear market begins after a decline of 20% or more from a significant high, without an intervening 20% rise. That means a close at or below $95.32 for Alibaba’s stock would make a bear market official.

Although the company reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings, the stock’s tumble comes after revenue missed expectations. A number of other key metrics increased sharply, but at a slower pace than the previous quarter. Here are some examples:

"In economics, hope and faith coexist with great scientific pretension."

J. K. Galbraith.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 66.66 Moz, Eligible 110.96 Moz, Total 177.62 Moz.   

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, more on it’s a funny old world in the corrupt dying days of the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money. Honest trade is out. Metal bashing, farming, livestock rearing, retailing is sooo 19th century. Welcome to the wonders of central bankster fiat money Keynesianism.

In central banking as in diplomacy, style, conservative tailoring, and an easy association with the affluent count greatly and results far much less.

J. K. Galbraith.

A Currency Bet Nearly as Certain as Cartel Profits

(Bloomberg) -- There’s a way to make a quick profit thanks to Mexico’s drug cartels. And it’s perfectly legal.

It’s a currency trade, of all things, available every day inside Mexico City’s airport, where there’s a gap of about 3 percent between rates offered at dedicated exchange houses and local banks. Dollars bought cheaply from the currency dealers can be deposited at bank windows just a few feet away for a higher rate.

The airport trade is a weird bit of arbitrage created by the unintended consequences of efforts to combat narcotics trafficking in the U.S. and Mexico. Regulations aimed at curbing money laundering have made it so onerous to deposit large amounts of physical dollars in banks that the currency brokers would rather get rid of them at fire-sale prices.

“Churches, political parties, unions, to mention a few, all have this problem -- they get dollars in cash and are stuck with them,” Cesar Tello, the vice president of Mexico’s foreign exchange trade association, said in an interview from the capital. “If you have $100,000 and you can’t bank them, someone will be willing to take them for a price that’s not favorable.”

On Jan. 27, dollars could be bought at the Mexico City airport for 13.85 pesos. Within the same terminal, a bank will buy dollars for 14.3 pesos each. A Bloomberg News reporter used her own funds to purchase $100, then deposited the money into her account for a quick profit of 45 pesos. In the capital, that’s enough to pay for a Corona beer at the local cantina.

The potential for profit is limited. Most banks will only buy dollars from people who already have an account, and Mexico regulations limit dollar deposits to $4,000 a month. Some banks have lower caps or won’t accept U.S. bills at all. Mexicans can open accounts at more than one bank, but based on an average profit in the neighborhood of 3.2 percent, and the trade isn’t going to earn more than about $125 a month per account.

Officials at Mexico’s central bank declined to comment about the exchange-rate discrepancies.

Ivan Aleman, a vice president at Mexico’s financial regulator who heads the department in charge of compliance, said officials are aware of how the regulations are affecting currency brokers and are working on a solution.

According to U.S. authorities, drug trafficking organizations send between $19 billion and $39 billion annually to Mexico from the U.S.

Sergio Espinosa, 36, who manages the Centro Cambiario Scarlett in Terminal 1, said it’s so hard to deposit dollars that he tries to sell and buy the same amount every day.

“As they come in, they go out,” he said in an interview. “We can’t open bank accounts to deposit our dollars because it would be considered money laundering.”

Another wintry weekend, and our omnipotent central banksters, have very little to show for all of the bubbles, bailouts, and financialised wars and economies since the madness began in the stock market crash of October 1987. The one percenters think this is heaven. For the 99 percenters it’s approaching tar and feathers time. Will sanity prevail? Will borrowing money reprice to favour savours? Will feckless Keynesianism bring on Utopia? Will the EUSSR go on to infinity and beyond? Will Uncle Scam ever return to the city built on  a hill? No I don’t thinks so either. Stay long fully paid up precious metals as 40+ years of malinvestment delusion starts to unwind. Have a great weekend everyone. More financial madness next week.

Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of the multitudes. Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers, and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper.

Charles Mackay. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished December.

DJIA: +138 Up. NASDAQ: +247 Down. SP500: +198 Down.  

Thursday 29 January 2015

Rolling Over!

Baltic Dry Index. 666 -22    Brent Crude 48.60

LIR Gold Target in 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

 Operator! Give me the number for 911!

The Washington talking chair, with apologies to Homer Simpson.

As if it isn’t bad enough that the Baltic Dry Index just collapsed to settle at  666, the sign of the devil, the USA’s economy is showing signs that it is far from enjoying escape velocity from the Greenspan-Bernanke Great Recession. All QE and ZIRP seems to have accomplished is massive global malinvestment and bogus statistics from the bean counters. “Birds fly, central banksters lie, and Apple soars,” goes the new maxim of our dumbed down, wobbling 21st century age.

The big question of late January 2015 is, when does a wobble turn into the Great Reconnect. When do the central banksters get called out for wearing the Emperor’s new clothes? Keep in mind, this isn’t dying Euroland, or crumbling China, nor the suicidal fiat currency fantasy land of aging Japan. We are talking about the only “success” economy on the planet. Unless new consumers from Mars show up PDQ, in the words of the world’s Greatest American past or present, “this sucker could go down.” Forget about black swans, an eight foot Grizzly is eyeing up Uncle Scam’s bull…. market.

"There is no reason whatever to fear a crash".

Charles Mackay. 2 October 1845, Glasgow Argus, on Railway Mania.

Opinion: What the oldest stock market index is telling us

Published: Jan 28, 2015 7:06 p.m. ET
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — If you want to know whether lower oil prices are benefitting the economy, take a look at the Dow Jones Transportation Average DJT, -1.46%

The picture isn’t pretty.

Consider what’s happened over the five weeks since I last devoted a column to the Dow Transports, the oldest stock market index in widespread use today. (The Dow Industrials DJIA, -1.13%  are the second-oldest.)

Since then, oil prices have dropped 20%. If cheaper oil were a net positive for the economy, one of the first places you’d expect to see it show up is the transportation sector. Yet it hasn’t: Over this same five-week period, the Dow Transports have fallen nearly 2%.

The Transports’ surprisingly poor performance is worrisome for at least two reasons. The first is that the Transports are a leading indicator of economic downturns.

The transportation sector’s track record as a leading indicator was documented several years ago by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the U.S. Department of Transportation, titled “The Freight Transportation Services Index as a Leading Economic Indicator.” The study found that the department’s index over the past three decades “led slowdowns in the economy by an average of 4-5 months.”

Unfortunately, we don’t know where the Freight Transportation Services index currently stands, since it is reported with a significant time lag. The latest data, for example, are for November. But it is significantly correlated with the Dow Jones Transportation Average, so that average’s weakness is definitely worrying.

The other reason the Transports’ weakness is ominous: It is one of the two stock market averages that are the focus of the Dow Theory, the oldest stock market timing system in widespread use today. The other average, of course, is the Dow Industrials.

To be sure, not all Dow Theorists agree on the hurdles over which the two Dow averages must jump before the Dow Theory would issue a “sell” signal. But suffice it to say that the further they retreat from their highs, the further the market gets from confirming that the bull market is still alive — and the closer it gets to signaling that a bear market has begun.

U.S. stocks sell off after Fed meeting

Published: Jan 28, 2015 4:30 p.m. ET
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks ended Wednesday’s choppy trading session sharply lower after the Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee reiterated it plans to remain patient and watch the data as it decides when to raise interest rates.

Sharp losses added to declines from Tuesday, when markets sold off after disappointing earnings and economic data. A renewed slide in oil prices Wednesday sent energy and materials stocks sharply lower.

The Fed gave no sign that it is wavering on hiking interest rates some time in the second half of 2015.

The U.S. central bank was upbeat about the economy, while the policy makers repeated that they think inflation will move back to the 2% target after being pushed down by temporary factors.

The statement was taken as hawkish and sent the dollar and Treasurys sharply higher, as investors sought the safety of havens.

Opinion: Too late: We’re already in a bear market

Published: Jan 28, 2015 6:01 a.m. ET
Investor sentiment hasn’t been so bad since the last time stocks lost big
By Mark D. Cook
The recent bubble that burst in the oil market has been the talk around the world. What would people say if the stock market fell 40% in 2015?

The U.S. market’s foundation is crumbling, according to my calculations — just as it did in 2000 and in 2008.

My proprietary daily indicator, called The Cook Cumulative Tick indicator, or CCT, measures several internal market components, the strongest of which is the duration of buying versus the duration of selling. A healthy bull market sees mostly buying, indicated by the NYSE tick.

But when the duration of the plus-column NYSE tick is less than the duration of the minus tick, this suggests weakening buying volume for stocks.

A second component of the CCT focuses on the NYSE “big block” buying and selling. A bullish market has numerous big blocks of buying. A print on the NYSE tick in excess of plus-1000 signifies fund buying by numerous entities, which accompanies a healthy bull market. Nowadays the big institutional money has dried up.

And in the wealth and job destroying, dying EUSSR, the Spartans set about humbling Berlin and Brussels and the ECB. “If you’re going to take us down, you’re going down with us too,” seems to be the early message from Greece.

Markets tumble as Greek government begins to backtrack on austerity

Greek borrowing costs jump and markets tumble as Alexis Tsipras, Greece's new prime minister, vows never to blindly submit to European creditors and government blocks sale of state assets

Greek markets were thrown into deeper chaos on Wednesday as investors feared that the new, anti-bailout government would enact radical reforms that could jeopardise the country’s future in the eurozone.

The Athens Stock Exchange tumbled more than 9pc, led by a 27pc fall in bank stocks, amid concerns that the Syriza-led coalition could take direct control of the country’s lenders and write off billions of euros in household loans.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras vowed never to bow to European creditors as the government took steps to wind back austerity by blocking plans to privatise state assets.

Mr Tsipras, who held his first cabinet meeting after being elected over the weekend, said he wanted a “viable, mutually beneficial solution” that would represent a fair deal with its creditors. “Our people are suffering and demand respect... we must bleed to defend their dignity,” he told MPs.

While Mr Tsipras said the Syriza-led coalition would not engage in brinkmanship with European creditors, he added: “We will not continue a policy of subjection either.”

Mr Tsipras’s comments helped to push up Greek benchmark borrowing costs back above the psychologically important 10pc mark, while European markets also fell. Spanish stocks finished the day down 1.3pc, while France’s benchmark index fell 0.3pc. The FTSE 100 in London closed up 0.2pc, buoyed by a rise in mining stocks.

The Greek government owns a majority stake in three of the country’s four biggest lenders, and traders said there was a risk that the coalition could parachute its own management teams into the banks and take control of the day-to-day running of lenders.

Traders said this would destabilise the banking system and throw the country into fresh chaos if the government conducted a mass write-off.

“Initially there was some hope that the new government would have been a fresh start, but there has been a gradual realisation that this government is not as moderate as some people in the market believed,” said one senior Greek banker. “There are now concerns that the government could be more aggressive in terms of restructuring loans and providing borrower relief.

----Greek banks have lost almost 45pc of their value in the three days since Syriza ascended to power in Sunday’s election as the dual threats of a bank run and the loss of support from the European Central Bank threaten a liquidity squeeze.

"Sooner or later both the Greek population and international creditors will tire of fighting a losing battle, leading to a break-up of the currency union as Greece pulls out, probably followed by other countries"

Douglas McWilliams, chief executive of the Centre of Economics and Business Research.

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday final figures were: Registered 66.61 Moz, Eligible 111.04 Moz, Total 177.65 Moz.   

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Not the usual suspects today, just growing signs of rising distress from the Great Commodity Bubble Bust. Australia’s Macquarie trashes John Bull’s Standard and Chartered. The banksters are aware of growing counter party risk is back. Is 2008 about to repeat? The next Lehman is out there are getting closer by the day. And we haven’t even started on the USA fracking debt wipe-out. Will the Fedster’s bailout those American frackers, taking on Saudi Arabia head to head? The final act of the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, gets weirder as time goes by, since we long ago dropped using the original script. The benefits of fiat currency were all front loaded and long ago dissipated in lifestyle fecklessness. Until the new Graphene Carbon Age and super-efficient P.V. solar kicks in next decade, the Great Nixonian Error gets crushed under an Everest of financial gambling malinvestment debt.

"We finished the year, and we reported that we had $17 billion of cash sitting at the bank's parent company as a liquidity cushion. As the year has gone on, that liquidity cushion has been virtually unchanged."

Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz. March 12, 2008. Bust March 17, 2008

Commodities collapse could wipe out entire year's profits at Standard Chartered

Macquarie analysis predicts that 1980s-style oil price slump and default spike will mean huge losses at under-pressure bank

Standard Chartered faces losing a year's profits from the recent collapse in commodity prices as loan defaults spike in a repeat of the 1980s crisis, according to the Australian bank Macquarie.

The Asia-focused British bank is believed to be one of the biggest losers from the slump in oil, iron ore and copper prices, with $61bn (£40.2bn) of exposures to producers and traders.

The prices of many commodities have halved or worse since last summer, due to fears about oversupply and a lack of global demand. Many producers are unable to stay afloat at such levels, meaning wide-scale defaults.

Thomas Stoegner, a Singapore-based analyst at Macquarie, said that the current cycle bears several resemblances to the oil glut of the 1980s, which sent crude prices falling and led to a spike in corporate defaults.

According to Macquarie’s analysis, Standard Chartered’s current loan book could lead to $3.9bn of commodity-related losses. Meanwhile, the growing risk of default would force it to retain $2bn of profits to protect against further losses.

The combined hit of $5.9bn is roughly equivalent to the bank’s entire expected profits for 2015. “Adding all negative together, one year of pre-tax profit would get wiped out by assuming front end loaded losses,” Mr Stoegner said.

He added that the recent slump in oil prices, from $110 a barrel in the summer to below $50, could see a repeat of the wave of defaults following 1980’s collapse. In 1986, 7pc of energy bonds defaulted, compared to around 1pc at the turn of the decade.

Global Headwinds Of Strong Dollars and Weak Commodities Bludgeon Big Cap Earnings

by Wolf Richter • 
Consumers are feeling practically euphoric. The Conference Board index jumpedalmost ten points to 102.9, the highest since August 2007, just before the whole construct came apart. Not that reality has suddenly improved that much. But hey, we’re born survivors. Sooner or later, we adjust to lower real incomes and reduced standards of living and start feeling good again.

This exuberance came just as our largest corporate citizens were hit by a tornado of problems that sank the stock market for the day: currency volatility, crashing commodities prices, disappearing XP computers, farmers switching from corn to wheat…. It was all there.

Freeport-McMoRan, one of the largest copper producers in the world, reported an 11% drop in revenues for the fourth quarter and a salty $2.85 billion loss, which included $3.4 billion in losses for its oil and gas business that it got into via two impeccably-timed acquisitions in 2013. The depressed price of copper isn’t helping. It cut its 2015 budget by $2 billion and might cut it some more. Shares dropped 6%.

Long-suffering Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer in the US, reported a net loss for the quarter of $566 million on revenues that declined 3.3%. It projected a much wider loss than expected for the first quarter and cut its dividends to nearly nothing. It’s all about preserving cash and hanging on in a desperately tough pricing environment for coal producers. Shares dropped 6.5% to $6.24, down from $72 during the glory days in early 2011.

The plunge in commodity prices is spreading far and wide. Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, saw net profits in the fourth quarter plunge nearly 25%, on a slight decline in revenue. It slashed its earnings-per-share outlook for 2015 to $4.60. Wall Street had been set on $6.67. The lower prices for copper, coal, and iron ore have been hitting orders for mining equipment. Now the plunge in oil prices! And to top it off, the strong dollar would eat into its overseas revenues and profits! CAT is “without a doubt, facing a tough year in 2015,” explainedCEO Doug Oberhelman.

DuPont, one of the largest chemical companies in the world, saw revenues in Q4 drop 4.8% from a year earlier. For 2015, it projected that revenues would be flat, instead of up. Since it’s doing 60% of its business outside the US, it blamed the strong dollar that would cut its full-year profit by $0.60 a share.

"When it becomes serious, you have to lie"

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar. EC President.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished December.

DJIA: +138 Up. NASDAQ: +247 Down. SP500: +198 Down.