– The “Bond King”: Buy Gold, Not Bonds (ZeroHedge, Sep 10, 2012):
The “Bond King” – Pimco boss Bill Gross – says:
[There’s] a diminished or dying cult of both bonds and stocks from the standpoint of a belief that they can return 10% ….
Gold can’t be reproduced. It could certainly be taken out of the ground in an increasing rate but there’s a limiting amount of gold.
And there has been an unlimited amount of paper money over the past 20 to 30 years and now – in this period of central bank expansion where it’s QE1 or QE2, or whether it’s the LTROs of the ECB or this potential new program … then central banks are at their leisure to basically print money.
Gold is a fixed commodity that has a considerable store of value that paper money has not….
When a central bank starts writing checks and printing money in the trillions of dollars, it’s best to have something tangible that can’t be reproduced, such as gold.
Gold … is a better investment than a bond or a stock, which probably will only return a 3 to 4 percent return over the next 5 to 10 years.
Gross doesn’t believe that gold is a crowded trade at this point.
Has Mr. Gross been reading Zero Hedge?
– The Scary Math Behind The Mechanics Of QE3, And Why Bernanke’s Hands May Be Tied (ZeroHedge, Sep 7, 2012):
When it comes to the NEW QE, everyone has an opinion, and most seem to believe that the NEW QE will come next week, now that the US economy added “just” 96,000 people (but, but, the unemployment rate ‘fell’). Certainly, and far more importantly, if the most recent FOMC minutes are any guide, the Fed shares this view. Sadly, as so often happens, most, and this includes the FOMC’s various voting members, have once again made up their minds without actually evaluating the limitations posed by simple math. After all it is far easier to form an opinion, and actually think about the underlying facts later. The math, for those who actually have looked at the numbers behind the scenes, is scary (in UBS’ words, not ours).Here is the math.
As part of its Operation Twist, the Fed is buying long-term bonds, and selling short-term (0-3 years) bonds. As we reported in April, the biggest limitation for the Fed is that it is rapidly running out of short-term bonds to sell. There is a fix to this: the Fed will simply have to sell longer dated bonds from its SOMA portfolio, first up to 5 years, then 7, and so on. Of course, this will also force the Fed to extend its ZIRP language by an appropriate amount of time, through 2017, then 2019, and so on (which also means all bets that the Fed will hike any time in the next 5 years will be immediately null and void, and one can position accordingly in the Eurodollar space).
This move, however, will simply permit the Fed to extend Twist 2 beyond its year-end maturity. As a reminder, the primary role of Twist, aside from that stated one which is to keep the curve as flat as possible (i.e., boost housing which as we showed yesterday is not working, as refis have plunged recently despite record low mortgage rates), is to absorb virtually all the long-end supply: after all, it is all about the funding of the US $1 trillion+ annual budget deficit.
Said otherwise, when it comes to the 10-30 year sector the Fed is already monetizing all new issuance. This is part of the entire flow argument which we have been discussing for the past 6 months, and why we, correctly, say that Operation Twist is really QE 3 and QE 3.5 (for the recent extension of Twist). So far so good.
Here comes the important part.
Three weeks ago we presented a video courtesy of Stone McCarthy which showed a timelapse of the “takeover” of the Fed as the primary holder of public debt. For those short on time, here is how the Fed’s holdings portfolio looked like then…
The shaded region is important for two reasons: this is where the Fed will be buying new bonds as part of any new QE Large Scale Asset Purchase program, and it tells us all there is to know about how big and how effective QE3 (really 4) will be. The bottom line, as calculated by UBS’ Michael Schumacher and confirmed by anyone with access to the detail behind the Fed’s SOMA holdings, which incidentally just hit a record 116 months two months ahead of Twist 2 schedule, is that “the Fed owns all but $650 billion of 10-30 year nominal Treasuries.” Also as pointed out above, Twist 2, aka QE 3.5 is already absorbing all of the long end supply. And herein lies the rub. To quote UBS: “Taking out, say, $300 billion in long-end Treasuries almost certainly would put tremendous pressure on liquidity in that market….Ploughing ahead with a large, fixed size QE program could cause liquidity to tank.”
In other words, anyone expecting a full blown LSAP focusing only on US Treasurys will very likely be disappointed as the Fed will certainly realize, quite soon we hope, that it has only $650 billion in total 10 year + bonds available in the entire private market!
Well, perhaps the Fed will just monetize MBS, as Bill Gross has been betting on for nearly a year now. It could do that… but when once factors in “math“, the results are once again quite startling. Quote UBS again:
– Pimco Increases Gold Allocation From 10.5% To 11.5% In Commodity Fund (ZeroHedge, Aug 22, 2012)
– Market rumor: Pimco and JP Morgan halt vacations to prepare for economic crash (Examiner, June 3, 2012):
On June 1, market rumors were coming out of a hedge fund luncheon stating that Pimco, JP Morgan, and other financial companies were cancelling summer vacations for employees so they could prepare for a major ‘Lehman type’ economic crash projected for the coming months. These rumors came on a day when the markets nearly came to capitulation, with the DOW falling more than 274 points, and gold soaring over $63 as traders across the board fled stocks and moved into safer investments.
Todd Harrison tweet: Hearing (not confirmed) @PIMCO asked employees to cancel vacations to have “all hands on deck” for a Lehman-type tail event. Confirm?
Todd M. Schoenberger tweet: @todd_harrison @pimco I heard the same thing, but I also heard the same for “some” at JPM. Heard it today at a hedge fund luncheon.
Todd Harrison is the CEO of the award winning internet media company Minyanville, while Todd Shoenberger is a managing principal at the Blackbay Group, and an adjunct professor of Finance at Cecil College.
Pimco and JP Morgan Chase are not the only financial institutions worried about a potential repeat of the 2008 credit crisis. On May 31, one day before Pinco rumors began to spread around the markets, World Bank President Robert Zoellick issued the same warnings of a potential ‘rerun of the great panic of 2008’.
– By The Time Operation Twist 1 Is Over, The Fed Will Have Quietly Completed 40% Of Operation Twist 2 As Well (ZeroHedge, May 20, 2012):
By the time Operation Twist (1) ends in just over 40 days time, on June 30, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, according to his previously announced “loose” target, will hope to have extended the average maturity of all bonds in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) to a record of roughly 100 months from 75 month at the onset of the program in October 2011. After all the sole purpose of Twist was to load up the Fed’s portfolio with duration, forcing the rest of the market to shift its investing curve even further into risky assets, as the Fed will have effectively onboarded the bulk of securities in the 3-4% return interval. Now as we showed back in early April, hopes that the Fed will simply continue with Operation Twist 2 after the end of “season” 1, as suggested by some clueless “access journalists” who merely relay what they are told by higher powers, are completely misguided as the Fed simply does not have enough short-term securities (1-3 years) to sell, and would have at most 2 months of inventory for a continued sterilized operation. Which however, does not mean that the Fed can not be quietly ramping up its operations in the ongoing Twisting episode. Because as Stone McCarthy demonstrates, as of the past week, the Fed has already surpassed its 100 month maturity target of 100 months, and is at 102.82 months as of May 16. And this is with 6 more weeks of Twist to go: at the current rate of SOMA purchases, the Fed will have a total portfolio average maturity of just shy of 110 months by June 30! Which means that contrary to market expectations of what the Fed’s own stated goal may have been, Bernanke will have gobbled up nearly 40% more long-dated Flow relative to estimates! In other words, Ben does not need to do a full blown Operation Twist 2 episode: by the time Twist 1 is over, he will have attained nearly 40% of the goals of the next potential sterilized operation.
Why is this important? Well, recall that over a month ago Goldman Sachs itself admitted what we have been saying for over 3 years: it is not stock that matters… it is flow. Recall the Goldman punchline:
…we have found some evidence that at the very long end of the yield curve, where Operation Twist is concentrated, it may be not just the stock of securities held by the Fed but also the ongoing flow of purchases that matters for yields…
And there you have it.
– Gold Bug Bill Gross Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday For A Hamburger Today, Hoping “Tuesday Never Comes” (ZeroHedge, May 1, 2012):
We will forgive Bill Gross for taking the chart that Zero Hedge first presented (oddly enough correctly attributed by his arch rival Jeff Gundlach) as the centerpiece of his just released monthly musings, and wrongfully misattributing it, for the simple reason that everything else in his latest monthly letter “Tuesday Never Comes” is a carbon copy of the topics covered and discussed extensively on these pages both recently and over the past 3 years. However something tells us that the man who manages over $1 trillion in bonds in the form of the world’s largest bond portfolio will be slowly in getting branded a gold bug by the idiot media even with such warnings as “real assets/commodities should occupy an increasing percentage of portfolios.” Neither will his warnings that an inflationary spike courtesy of the tens of trillions in loose money added to the system will be inflationary: “inflation should creep higher. Do not be mellowed by the affirmation of a 2% target rate of inflation here in the U.S. or as targeted in six of the G-7 nations. Not suddenly, but over time, gradually higher rates of inflation should be the result of QE policies and zero bound yields that were initiated in late 2008 and which will likely continue for years to come.” Finally, since Zero Hedge is the only venue that has been pounding the table on the whole “flow” vs “stock” debate which is at the heart of it all (see here), we were delighted to see this topic get a much needed mention by the world’s now most influential gold bug: “The Fed appears to have a theory that is somewhat incomprehensible to me, stressing the “stock” of Treasuries as opposed to the “flow.” And there you have it. In summary: to anyone who has read Zero Hedge recently, don’t expect much new ground covered. To anyone else, this is a must read.
From Bill GrossTuesday Never Comes
- The current acceleration of credit via central bank policies will likely produce a positive rate of real economic growth this year for most developed countries, but the structural distortions brought about by zero bound interest rates will limit that growth and induce serious risks in future years.
- Not suddenly, but over time, gradually higher rates of inflation should be the result of QE policies and zero bound yields that will likely continue for years to come.
- Focus on securities with shorter durations – bonds with maturities in the five-year range and stocks paying dividends that offer 3%–4% yields. In addition, real assets/commodities should occupy an increasing percentage of portfolios.
– Bill Gross Explains The European Ponzi (ZeroHedge, Feb. 8, 2012):
Not like it is news, but… Out of one pocket, into another, and in the mean time “things get better” as Gross explains below. That said, we hope Bill knows where Allianz of A&G fame (which just happens to be the closest comp to our own AIG) falls in the pecking order of the European house of cards.
– ‘King Of Bonds‘ Bill Gross Explains Why “We Are Witnessing The Death Of Abundance” And Why Gold Is Becoming The Default “Store Of Value” (ZeroHedge, Feb. 1, 2012):
While sounding just a tad preachy in his February newsletter, Bill Gross’ latest summary piece on the economy, on the Fed’s forray into infinite ZIRP, into maturity transformation, and the lack thereof, on the Fed’s massive blunder in treating the liquidity trap, but most importantly on what the transition from a levering to delevering global economy means, is a must read. First: on the fatal flaw in the Fed’s plan: “when rational or irrational fear persuades an investor to be more concerned about the return of her money than on her money then liquidity can be trapped in a mattress, a bank account or a five basis point Treasury bill. But that commonsensical observation is well known to Fed policymakers, economic historians and certainly citizens on Main Street.” And secondly, here is why the party is over: “Where does credit go when it dies? It goes back to where it came from. It delevers, it slows and inhibits economic growth, and it turns economic theory upside down, ultimately challenging the wisdom of policymakers. We’ll all be making this up as we go along for what may seem like an eternity. A 30-50 year virtuous cycle of credit expansion which has produced outsize paranormal returns for financial assets – bonds, stocks, real estate and commodities alike – is now delevering because of excessive “risk” and the “price” of money at the zero-bound. We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.” Yet most troubling is that even Gross, a long-time member of the status quo, now sees what has been obvious only to fringe blogs for years: “ Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short and intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside. Still, zero-bound money may kill as opposed to create credit. Developed economies where these low yields reside may suffer accordingly. It may as well, induce inflationary distortions that give a rise to commodities and gold as store of value alternatives when there is little value left in paper.” Let that sink in for a second, and let it further sink in what happens when $1.3 trillion Pimco decides to open a gold fund. Physical preferably…
From PIMCO’s Bill Gross:
Life – and Death Proposition
- Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short and intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside.
- Most short to intermediate Treasury yields are dangerously close to the zero-bound which imply limited potential room, if any, for price appreciation.
- We can’t put $100 trillion of credit in a system-wide mattress, but we can move in that direction by delevering and refusing to extend maturities and duration.
– Bill Gross’ Explains The FOMC Decision: “QE 2.5 Today, QE 3, 4, 5 … Lie Ahead” (ZeroHedge, Jan. 25, 2012):
Pimco just saved you lots of garbage sellside “research” “analysis” on the topic.