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Archive

May 19, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 10

'I own tulips at 40 cents a bulb'

Bitcoin is on fire, other digital currencies are likewise making new highs and ICOs--initial coin offerings--are supplanting, in some small degree, the dearth of equity IPOs. Still, the question lingers: What's the wampum good for?

Bank sells dresses

Shrinkage is the corporate theme. In store count, share count and revenue count, less is the new more. In the absence of growth, apply more debt.

'No More Champagne'

There are innumerable books on how to manage your money. Here might be the best book on how to mismanage it.

Chinese Wallpaper

In China, too, April is the cruelest month.

Loaded for bear

Take every known principle of long-term investment success, negate those precepts and multiply the negative times leverage. Welcome to the world of the ultra-funds.

The story changed

A land of opportunity--for value investors, that is--loses its allure.

Monetary confidence meter

A short survey of the world's listed central banks. How many can you name?

May 5, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 09

Portfolio insurance of the 21st Century

As the economist famously said, stability breeds instability. Today's peace and quiet is inducing a kind of mass unconscious time migration back to 1987. We write to expose the newer strategies that mimic the portfolio insurance of yesteryear.

Spoiler alert

A massively oversubscribed, covenant-spare, yield-sparse, single-B-rated eurobond deal raises the question: Are you pleased with yourself now, Mario Draghi?

In the Bezos bullseye

The price revolution rages in the office and on the factory floor as well as in the home. Competition hots up, profit margins flatten while Mr. Market---Mr. Market, are you paying attention?

Blue-sky catastrophe

Serenity in the weather eerily mirrors serenity in the VIX. Your invitation to lever up in certain insurance-related securities? Beware of the man who insists, "Yes!"

Not for widows and orphans

There's one bank, at least, that can make money just by printing the stuff.

April 21, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 08

Sacred cows in the road

In trying to perfect the driverless car, Silicon Valley has invented an exciting new children’s game: “Throw the ball and watch the car stop.” No easy workaround for the problem of “deferential paralysis.” Hey, Uber: You’ll be paying the drivers for years to come.

Anyway, it’s bullish

America’s largest bank needs a copy editor.

Bots buy beans

Once upon a time, investors used machines. Nowadays, machines use investors. Herewith a speculation on the consequences of auto-investing, along with a revisit to a known Grant’s pick-not-to-click.

Happy Tax Day

Again, how many rate rises are on tap this year?

Long Shots, Inc.

Framed by a presidential musing, some deep out-of-the-money options on a change in the monetary climate. “I do like a low interest-rate policy, I must be honest with you.”

What could go wrong?

The Fed will start shrinking its balance sheet in 2017. Risk of collateral damage to toppy bond and stock markets? Put it out of your mind, counsel the mandarins.

April 7, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 07

Not much to look at

Symbol is substance at the Federal Reserve. Poring through its new financials, an analyst may wonder, "Is it broke?"

Cleanest dirty shirts

Small, illiquid and hairy are the opportunities that remain in junk bonds after an eight-year visitation of the yield-munching locusts.

Tightness on tap

What SpaceKnow can't see from the high heavens is the continued disruption of a certain short-term funding market. Why the volcano smokes.

Call a tow

Too many used cars spell slower sales of new cars. February brings traffic jams in dealer lots to rival the congestion last seen in 2009.

Financier Chris Christie

An opportunity to reflect on what makes the municipal market so confoundedly phlegmatic.

Derivatives become the underlying

The constant bid from passive investors delivered a remarkable calm in the just-ended quarter. Stormy weather to follow.

March 24, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 06

Price war for Warren Buffett

“There are just way too many assets chasing the sales,” says a man as wise—in this particular instance—as the Sage of Omaha himself. Ultra-low interest rates, high price/earnings ratios and credit markets fitted out with red carpets share the blame. No profits? No problem.

Excess lingers long

“The hedge fund isn’t an asset class. It is a compensation scheme.” It became an over-compensation scheme. Tracing the rise and ongoing pratfall of the modern-day hedge fund.

‘Yes, but’ they said

Bullishness dominated, though they did not quite monopolize, the day’s proceedings. A vision of 20 years on the investment equivalent of an exercise bicycle.

$1 billion a day

“Indexing doesn’t need any help. It is growing at an astonishing rate and, for someone who never intended to build a colossus, a kind of frightening rate.”

Rejoice, mediocrities!

Where in life can a sub-par performer achieve average results with a light tap on a computer key? Investment indexation, attested a preeminent active investor, is “incredible.”

The Age of Trump

The text of your editor’s early-morning remarks: “The Age of Trump will go down as the Age of the Consequences of Radical Monetary Policy.”

Whence D. Trump?

A long and a short for a Trump Market where “what has worked so well in investing will fade or stop working.”

Four letters unspoken

The word “gold” went unmentioned at the Plaza, except in the context of an unassailable rule for living: “Never stand in line to buy an asset.”

Last to first

Yes, buying low and selling high is hard to do, but there are ways. “Trailing three-year performance is very predictive.”

The great escape

To close the era of extraordinary monetary policy, the Federal Reserve must open its mind. “There is no wealth effect, only a wealth illusion.”

Narendra Reagan

A pair of stocks in a country poised on the brink of capitalist emergence.

Mentioned at the Plaza

Other investment ideas presented by our speakers at the Spring 2017 Grant’s conference.

Where’s that boom?

While the S&P 500 is near an all-time high, the much-vaunted wealth effect does not seem to be working its magic.

Undoing Extraordinary Monetary Policy

Remarks of Peter R. Fisher Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth *** Grant’s Interest Rate Observer Spring 2017 Conference New York, New York *** March 15, 2017

March 10, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 05

Scraping up inflation

American consumer prices registered a year-over-year rise of 3.6% in February, according to the Web-scraping inflation detectives of the Billion Prices Project. More inflation is what the central bankers say they want. Cue the Disney cartoon classic, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

Risk-parity screenshot

Never--at least not since the time of the Napoleonic Wars--has the bond market served up anything like the gains that risk-parity portfolios have earned these recent decades. Is it so farfetched that something new and different awaits us all?

You only get par

Take a plunging VIX and a resurgent S&P. Add tight credit spreads, rock-bottom sovereign yields and a world-wide income famine. Voila: today's not so high-yield bond market. The worst of all fixed-income worlds.

Laddered oil play

Everyone is bullish on oil, though not so bullish as to lift the valuations of drillers whose survival depends on a $60 crude price. Nigeria on the cheap, the Arctic for a pittance. Widows and orphans, please avert your eyes.

Many happy returns

Whom to thank for the magnificent returns in the post-2009 stock market? We furnish a mailing address.

On the other hand, FOMC

A higher funds rate is all but in the books. What the central bankers may regret.

February 24, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 04

All about the headquarters

A pair of big, profitless, stockholder-defying American companies are building shiny new glass corporate offices with a common theme of sunshine. What the "fake moon landing guys" are demanding from Steve Mnuchin.

Disabled vehicles

For long-range worry, imagine a Detroit that produces not 17 million new vehicles a year but three or four million (who needs a car in the Age of Autonomy?). For a timelier set of concerns, observe today's falling used-car prices, decaying credit metrics and at-risk auto lease market.

White flag at Fortress

Last week, the first private alternative asset manager to go public became the first public alternative asset manager to declare its intention to go private--at less than one-half the 2007 IPO price. Could the business model use a tweak?

How long's 'secular'?

Only 43% of money managers believe in a future of persistently low growth and chronically droopy prices, just half as many as the year before. What ever happened to long-term investing?

So long for now

A favorite Grant's income play has progressed from reasonably cheap to fully valued. While there are better examples of excess in the beautiful Trump stock market, "fully valued" is the amber light of investment.

Making better facts

The Trump administration is casting a creative eye on more than the trade data. Not so easily amendable is the flattening trend in bank lending and Federal Reserve credit.

February 10, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 03

Bankers' White House koffee klatch

In the 91st month of a business expansion comes a push to liberate the banks to lend and their customers to borrow. A speculation on the consequences of the possible liberation of $2 trillion. "Larry did a great job for me. He managed a lot of my money."

Spin cycle

Ingenious humans can produce better products at lower prices. They can likewise transform low GAAP earnings into high non-GAAP earnings. Such intellects make their home at a certain iconic American manufacturer. But whither free cash flow?

When tongues lashed

Nowadays, Democrats and Republicans seem to hurl insults rather than arguments. Then, again, the delicate ears of the 21st-century partisans were never exposed to the blistering rhetoric of William Darrah Kelley (R., Pa.).

Mine disaster

We return to a low-cost, option-laden play on the mismanagement of the world's monetary system. So much potential, yet – in the moment – such disappointment. A speculation on lemonade.

Bid wanted, eh?

Credit constriction in China ripples far and even, even to the northern fringe of NAFTA-land.

January 27, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 02

‘DJT’ on the New York Stock Exchange

President Trump resembles a heavily shorted common stock. The analysts despise the ticker and the company it stands for, yet the shares go up and up. Rallying, too, are the battered shares of sea-going shippers, the administration’s anti-trade agenda notwithstanding. A theory of unscripted events.

Onward and upward

When you see colleague Evan Lorenz at the March 15 Grant’s Conference, kindly address him by his new title: Deputy Editor.

REIT numero uno

“Investors Bolt Mexico as Peso Enters Free Fall,” a Wall Street Journal headline of Jan. 11, is our journalistic call to arms, a 55.9% too-cheap peso our value observation. On a certain developing opportunity behind the projected Trumpian wall.

Not Joseph Schumpeter

Should a disrupting enterprise be more efficient than its targeted disruptees? Spotlight on the consequences of uber-cheap capital.

Changing places

In which we journalistically cover one short-sale candidate, propose another in its place. Since when did the technology industry become cycle-free?

Rah, rah, debt!

Now that the economic expansion is passing the 91-month pole, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York urges Mr. and Mrs. America to borrow more money against the collateral of their home equity. Live and don’t learn.

January 13, 2017, Vol. 35, No. 01

2017 in money -- a sneak preview

A vision of the next tumultuous 12 months in 140 characters or less. For Janet Yellen and Jared Kushner there’s good news, bad news—and good news all over again.

Sell a non sequitur

The asset-allocation votes are in for 2017, and the results are confounding. You can defend one big idea or the other big idea, but hardly both at once. What coal owes to Chinese speculators.

Horrible to bad

In investing, timing is said to be everything. In value investing in far-away places, solvency—in fact—is everything. Kind words for a pariah.

Luther the disrupter

Cometh the man (or the woman), cometh the hour. No worldwide web required.

Mushroom cloud parts

Returning to the scene of an error in judgment, we are bullish all over again. Why a lift is in store for the Earth’s heaviest naturally occurring element.

Smiling Contest

Rages a new bull market in equanimity.

Credit Creation • Cause & Effect

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