The bond-fund massacre is spectacular. Antsy investors yanked $7.7 billion in August out of the world’s largest bond fund, Pimco’s Total Return Fund. In July, they’d yanked out $7.5 billion, in June $14.5 billion. From May 1 through August 31, the fund’s assets shriveled 14%. Other bond funds got hit too. And September is shaping up to be even worse.
“Bernanke’s maniacal money printing after the Lehman event catalyzed a virtual stampede back into the very same risk-asset classes which had been reduced to smoldering ruins,” David Stockman writes. It produced the craziest junk-bond binge of all times, allowing the mega-buyouts from before the crisis to survive and pay rich fees to the LBO lords.
These wildly optimistic estimates of earnings growth that analysts work on so studiously by copying and pasting what companies tell them, or by doing channel checks and poking around the industry, and that companies have to exceed at all costs “on an adjusted basis?” Well, they have been shrinking for 2013 – but only after reality forced them down.
They’re at it again! Originally created by Congress in 2007, the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program provided low-cost government loans that were subsidized, and then in part eaten as we now know, by hapless and strung-out American taxpayers. In 2011, it was left behind as dead, but now the government wants to bring that zombie back.
The US shale revolution is leaving its marks. In 2009, the US surpassed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas. In May, production exceeded imports for the first time in 16 years. In 2020, the US might overtake Saudi Arabia as the top oil-producing nation. But there aren’t enough pipelines in place to handle it.
The Fed’s taper “may not be smooth,” explained Bank of England deputy governor Charles Bean at the central-banker shindig in Jackson Hole. He was referring to the currencies, bonds, and stocks of emerging-market economies such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India that have gotten massacred.
Refinancing mortgages is phenomenally profitable for banks – one of the few growth sectors actually spawned by the Fed’s herculean efforts to force down long-term interest rates through waves of quantitative easing. Banks went on a hiring binge to shuffle all this paper around and extract fees. But now, with rising rates, that business is getting decimated.
Experts at the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) determined that Windows 8, the touch-screen enabled, super-duper, but sales-challenged operating system is dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a backdoor – with keys likely accessible to the NSA.
China is the promised land for our revenue-challenged tech heroes: 1.2 billion consumers, economic growth several times that of the US, and companies splurging on IT. Layer the “cloud” on top, and China is corporate nirvana: a high-growth sector in a high-growth country. Or was nirvana, now that the NSA’s hyperactive spying practices have spilled out.
Cisco CEO Chambers gushed with positive vibes during the earnings call: “unbelievably strong results,” he said about the quarter. He talked about record revenues. “We have strong momentum,” he said, “very solid execution.” But he lowered guidance, lamented the debacles in China and Japan, and announced layoffs. Then he uttered the word “lumpy.”