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Blain’s Morning Porridge – November 11th 2019

BLAIN’S FINANCIAL PORRIDGE – NOV 11TH 2019

“Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well. He rained us with bullets and showered us with shell. In five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell. . ”

Last week stock markets staged a spectacular rally off the back of the “improved” trade outlook. Bonds have reversed. But despite equities sitting at all-time highs, it’s time to step back and focus on where this goes next.  Next few days will see the US impeachment hearings ratchet up – raising the prospect of market dislocation.  I’ve been reading missives from Republican and Democrat supporting chums and the issue of either getting behind Trump (no matter how bad he is) to keep the Democrats out, or TINA to getting rid of Trump. It looks as polarising as Brexit has become in the UK.  The threat of politics overtaking reality is worrying – and the market doesn’t seem that bothered about the implications for The US’ credibility, the Fed and the dollar.  Are we bothered? Slightly. 

Political instability remains the name of the game from the US, Hong Kong, The UK, and this morning, Spain. (And, add Italy and Germany to the list..) 

One of the key factors driving stocks higher in the wake of a trade “accommodation” rather than a peace treaty is momentum – markets want to go higher, anticipating growth. But the market is equally driven by the volume of cash ready to be thrown at it.  There is no shortage of ready liquidity – in this sense of too much easy money chasing too few assets, rather than liquidity: “who wants to buy this” conundrum.  When there is too much cash around the market can remain irrational for longer…

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

November 4th, 2019… Back in the Real World…

November 4th, 2019… Back in the Real World… 

Trawling through the market headlines this morning, I’m struck by the number of comments about how much better the investment environment looks. There is less likelihood of a global recession, corporate earnings aren’t as bad as expected, and jobs are growing. I am unconvinced. I see worrying connections across the wires.  From my perspective – which admittedly has been from a train in the middle of nowhere – its feels we’ve reached the end of the something.  Time has been called on this particular era of irrational market exhuberance. 

My spidey senses are tingling due to manner in which events across markets, individual stocks, politics, geopolitics and gut-instinct are connected. I’m not predicting sudden or massive financial collapse – just a wake up and smell the coffee correction in Bonds (which feels underway), and selective deflation in over-optimistic sectors of the stock markets. As always, any reversal will set off wailing and despair, yet most of the critical lessons will be missed.  Fear not – we will get another chance to relearn them in a few years time! (Blain’s Market Mantra No 2: The Market has no memory.)

It’s just as well we aren’t heading for the deep prolonged global recession so many naysayers have been predicting thru 2019. Slowdown yes. Trade is going to remain a problem. But growth drivers were changing anyway. Tech will change the world’s trade roads. China’s furious growth spurt of the last 20 years is over. India might be growing, but it lacks the state momentum to drive global growth the way China did. And climate change will prove deeply significant in the future as consumers are persuaded to believe food miles and imports matter. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – September 18th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – September 18th 2019 

“There is no equilibrium, we invest into unstable constantly changing markets. ”

Why so Calm? 

Even as the Fed meeting pondered raising rates by a smidge, it had to intervene to pump money into the short-term US financial system for the first time since the 2008 crisis.  That’s a clear sign of financial dislocation – but markets seem utterly unconcerned.  (The wires all quote issues such as tax payments and an imbalance between new funding and low redemptions to explain the sudden lack of cash, but none of my money market chums are convinced. They fear something else, a big No-See-Em is underway.)  

The last crisis started in money markets.  Add that to the ongoing WTF-happened questions about the Saudi bombings, and there seems to be a curious sense of false calm in markets.  No vol, no concern, and gold hardly moving.  I can’t help but think of ducks; serenely floating upstream while their legs are furiously paddling below the surface.  Something is happening, and we don’t know what it is.. 

Since I don’t know either, today is the day to take a pop at the Green Puritan movement:  

There is a great comment from Bill Gates in the FT – Fossil fuel divestment has “zero” climate impact, says Bill Gates.  Worth a read, and maybe get yourself thinking about what damage ESG/Green group-think nonsense is doing? Its distorting the global economy and voiding perfectly sane investment strategies. As regular readers will know, I absolutely believe Climate Change is The Big Threat – but I’m more and more convinced that much of the ESG / Green Investment bandwagon is utter bollchocks!  

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Sept 5th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Sept 5th 2019 


“Slipping down Raki and reading Maynard Keynes…”

We really should focus on the signals emanating from bond markets.  Forget the current political madness – yesterday saw a number of key moments for bond markets:  UK Chancellor Sajid Javid hitting the spend button in the UK (whether it actually happens is a moot point), another $30 bln new issuance day in the US, BAWAG launching a 10-year negative yield Covered Bond, Spain about to launch a 50 year issue at a smidge over nothing, and Christine Lagarde lecturing the European Parliament about the need for Fiscal Policy initiatives. 

It really feels like we are at something of a nexus for bonds and fiscal spending.  Central Bankers and politicians are tinkering with new ideas (ie: old ones rehashed) about Monetary policy – because nothing they tried re QE and zero rates really worked the last 10-years.  I can’t help but feel it’s like something out of The Walking Dead – the Neo-Keynesians have suddenly risen and now stalk the Earth. (Queue Thriller on the turntable…)  

Politicians now see low interest rates as a phenomenal opportunity to sort out the bleak mess of the last 10-years of Austerity driven under-investment, and spend economies back into growth.  It looks attractive.  And, if they’d started 10-years ago.. then we’d probably not be where we are today…

Of course, corporates would be mad not to take advantage of current ultra-low rates to borrow.  But what are they going to spend the money on?  More distorting stock buy-backs and dividend recharges back to private equity owners?  Should investors be worried about the growing leverage?  If the crunch comes – well, 5% of issuers might default, but the rest will be fine… ish.  Meanwhile, ultra-low rates are great for stocks.  Not because companies are inherently more profitable, but largely because low rates make stocks relatively more attractive compared to low-yielding bonds, and encourage corporate buy-backs which further push up prices! 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 13 – Argentina, Legarde and Europe

Blain’s Morning Porridge – Aug 13 – Argentina, Legarde and Europe


“I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, gonna join me a rock and roll band.…” 

Global Credibility Under Pressure – We’ve been Tangoed!

This morning’s headlines are screaming how Argentina and President Mauricio Macri have precipitated yet another crisis upon the stressed geopolitical battlefront…  Relax. We are more than used to dealing with Argentina defaults… But, its far more complex than that.  The latest Argentina Dance Macabre is all about Global Credibility.  It’s another Massive Fail! 

What does it say about the credibility of Global Institutions and Policy when Argentina’s whole market collapsed following a primary for an election in December?  Ex-IMF president, and soon to be head of the ECB, Christine Lagarde personally staked her support for President Mauricio Macri’s pro-market government when she steamrollered through the IMF’s biggest ever bailout of $56 billion for Argentina last year. 

It now looks an extremely poor call on Lagarde’s part.  Macri won a mere 32% of the vote, while former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner won 47%.  Don’t Cry for Me Argentina indeed…  Domestic Argentine Politics have left the IMF looking stupid.

There are three major issues to consider here: 

First there is the absolute predictability of what’s just happened in Argentina: 

In return for the 2018 Bailout, the IMF demanded its usual pound of flesh policies: Austerity, Austerity and Austerity, spiced with inflation-targeted monetary policy, fiscal tightening, currency controls, and the keys to the Peso printing presses.  Give Lagarde some credit – she did give lip service to the people with a smattering of minor austerity mitigants in terms of gender equality and social provision.  But, essentially the IMF’s answer to yet another predictable Argentinian crisis was more of the same programme.  You know the definition of madness… 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 29th 2019

 Blain’s Morning Porridge  – July 29th 2019

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”  

The UK is a curious place.  Boris Johnson’s feel-good drive and the numerous plots being arrayed against him, received rather less attention over the weekend than the Minister for the 18th Century’s rather ponderous style guide.  Jacob Rees-Mogg, Esquire, has banned a host of words, outlawed clichés, demands double spaces after full-stops, insisted on imperial measures (Kilometers, Kilos and grams are banned), and has made the incorrect use of apostrophes a capital offence.  Readers will know my grasp of punctuation, spelling and grammar is nebulous at best – so if I disappear suddenly you can assume the Extreme Grammar-Nazi wing of the Conservative Party has got me!

Back in the real world, this week is largely about tomorrow.  Worry not about what’s going on in Hong Kong, the Gulf, or even how bad European economic data might be.  The only real question is what will the US Federal Reserve do?  It’s not a question of will they ease rates, but by how much- 20% change they may go for 50 bp!  

Perhaps the question should be – why ease rates at all? 

It may be the depths of a thin summer, but a 25 bp cut will be enough to please the market.  The economy won’t change because of a quarter point reduction in ridiculously low rates, but stocks will rally and the market will be properly ecstatic!  Donald Trump will tweet to his followers about what a great job he’s doing and how its confirmed by the strength of the stock market.  That is a sh*t reason for cutting rates.  It worries me the Fed is prepared to pander to Trump and the stock market. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 23rd 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 23rd 2019


“Caught in the chaos of the market square, I don’t know what, I don’t know why, but something’s wrong down there… “

As we are about to find out… Jokes aren’t so funny when you find yourself to be the butt. 

How is a whole country going to feel? I’ve never felt so inclined to punch the TV as when watching an oiky spotty brat boasting to camera in plummy Eton tones about how his vote for Boris will save the UK. Retching noises… 

Moving on… 

Fascinating article in FT this morning written by BlackRock’s head of global fixed-income, Rick Rieder: ECB can boost growth across Europe by buying stocks. Er, I how do I tell the world’s largest investor that’s about the stupidest idea I’ve heard in a long time? I completely agree Europe needs to urgently address and formulate policy to solve long-term and especially youth unemployment – but not through more distorting Monetary Experimentation by Central Banks. Yeah, cos that’s been a massive success..

The danger of a central bank pumping money into financial markets by buying stocks is simple – money invested in financial assets (stocks and shares) stays in financial assets. That’s the clear lesson we’ve seen over past 10 years. Trillions of QE cash has caused massive inflation in financial assets, but barely grazed the real economy. If you want a full explanation, then buy my book: The Fifth Horseman – How to Destroy the Global Economy, for the full theory. 

Even Mr Rieder makes the point the US has created many $1 bln tech unicorns without having to rely to central bank largesse to create and fund them. Why can’t Europe? Clue: it’s not because the ECB isn’t buying stocks!!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 11 2019 – Man on the Moon Day!

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 11 2019 – Man on the Moon Day! 


“The Sky is not the limit – there are footprints on the Moon.” 

So many choices for this morning’s quote. The classic Armstrong “One Step” was too obvious. I did think about “To infinity and beyond”. But the one I chose is perhaps the best. Points if you can name who said it. Only four of the 12 men who walked on the Moon are still with us. It was a long time ago, but last night my wife, son and I were out to dinner in the West End. As we walked back past the Lego Store inn Leicester Square – look what was in the window! I’m going back to buy it later today!  

It took me back 50 years – July 11 1969. I was in the back garden in Fox Covert, Edinburgh, staring excited at the moon, asking Dad where the spaceship was. He tried to explain how far away it was and since it was only the size of a car, I’d not be able to see it. It was a terribly exciting day – the BBC showed the film of HG Well’s First Men on the Moon. Then came the iconic music; Also Sprach Zarathustra, which defined the whole Apollo era. Patrick Moore and James Burke explained what was going on. James Burke is still making sense today! We waited and waited and then the words. At some point I must have fallen asleep because I woke up in bed with my Action man lying on the floor in his (Gemini) spacesuit. 

It would be a terrible pity if we don’t go back to the Moon. Does it make commercial sense for us to go further?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 10 – Will Boeing trigger Crash?

Blain’s Morning Porridge – July 10 – Will Boeing trigger Crash? 


“Ignite blue touch paper and step back. Do not let Children play with Fireworks.” 

All eyes on what Powell tells Washington today, but a number of Porridge Readers called to tell me I’m wrong about summer risks! They think my expectation for a long worried nervous but stable summer before markets are bailed out by accommodative central banks in late Q3 is way too optimistic. 

A number feel markets are ripe for a sudden and painful rollover in bonds and stocks – and much sooner than I think. What they did agree with was my assessment the likely trigger for a market shock will be a “no-see-em”, something so obviously hidden in plain sight it catches us completely and painfully by the short and curlies. 

And “Plane” sight might be a good way to put it. I’m wondering if Boeing might be the trigger! (See what I did there..?) 

Hang on? We all know the next market collapse isn’t booked till October? Well maybe not. What if someone tries to start the market apocalypse early? That would shock the many market participants who think the perception of a Global Central Bank put means there is nothing to worry about. Complacency is a terrible thing. 

Smart bond gurus are shouting bubble! Although US junk bonds have not tightened as much as treasuries through the last uptick, they are still at incredibly tight spreads. European sub-investment grade is rallying in the expectation a tide of new ECB investment grade purchases will lift all boats. Yet, with yields so low as to completely discourage any dealer inventory (which is too high a capital cost anyway), liquidity has never been so thin.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 4th July 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 4th July 2019


“I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.” 

In the headlines this morning: https://morningporridge.com/stuff-im-watching

Subscribe to podcast via: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/blains-financial-porridge/id1469567347 

Happy birthday America! This morning’s intro-quote is over 170 years old – and I could only use it on a day when all good Americans will be on holiday. Extra points to anyone who can name the author sans Google.

Interesting markets y’day. European bonds were off to the races, perceiving new ECB head Christine Legarde as a QE lower-for-longer dove who will continue to ease, ease and ease like Draghi. Bunds at -0.40%! Even Italian 2-year notes dipped below zero percent as the EU dropped threats to take action against the deficit. Some day we shall shake our heads in disbelief at that price… 

In the States, the Dow hit a new high, and Trump tweeted it as a personal triumph. He is not so stupid as to mistake the stock market as a proxy for economic health – but he is making idiots of the American people by telling them it is. To keep up the illusion, he’s nominated new names to the Fed likely to toe his dovish line. Much comment on the private networks y’day about Trump’s latest nominations to the board – Judy Shelton being a particularly intriguing choice as Fed critic and gold standard advocate. For the Fed to lose credibility doesn’t just need Powell to surrender – packing the board will be just as effective. 

The bottom line is financial assets remain absolutely distorted by QE asset inflation. While its been great news for the market, the real economy remains deflated. That’s what Jerome Powell and Christine Lagarde should be thinking about as they play with the monetary policy toolbox. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – June 19th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – June 19th 2019

“You cannot be serious…”

Check out the new Edition of Property Chronicle: https://vimeo.com/342064460 

Oh dear.. Now I am worried. The only positive I can discern is its International Martini Day – Dukes, here we come..

It was a massive Wowser WTF moment on stocks! Donald Trump says he’s having a meeting with Xi and the stock market goes into the stratosphere! Then XI confirms, and its joy unlimited across markets. New records beckon.… Joy unconfined.. What can possibly go wrong? Softbank head Son telling investors it could be worth $1.8 trillion in a few years? (Note to self – sell stocks.) 

On the other side of the pond, it’s a Wow on Bunds…. Spectacular gains y’day taking the 10-year Bund rate to -0.33% after Mario Draghi talked about immediately lower rates, reopening QE and using all the unused A380s Superjumbos to drop wads of money across Yoorp. Spain bond buyers now get a gnat’s crotchet of positive yields, while Italy is just over 2%! Trump immediately tweets branding Draghi an unfair currency manipulator. Draghi looks at the miserable German ZEW and wonders why Donald doesn’t get on an do his own job… (Good to know Trump is on the ball and watching everything… everything.. (Crashing Minor Chords! Note to self – buy Treasuries and Gold).

Meanwhile, the Tories have found something to rally around… kicking Rory Stewart (which, thinking about it, has to be worth trying)… Last night’s televised debate between the candidates was truly terrible. The only positives I could garner was Boris has been stripped of his personality, and Sajid Javid came across measured and even polite. I’d vote for him, but we will never get the chance because most of us are too sensible, young, clever, to be members of the party… Meanwhile, Corbyn looks likely to accept Labour policy will pivot towards a second referendum….

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 18th June 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 18th June 2019

“Here’s to all the filthy money and where it went..” 

Happy Birthday David! 

Apologies for the lack of commentary y’day.. long, dull boring story involving the Isle of Wight Festival, transport hassles and a whiff of pot on a strike slowed train… 

So much to think and worry about the morning – the market showing its love and appreciation for BoJo and the heightened chances of a no-deal Brexit by spanking sterling to a 6 month low, or Boeing deciding to rename its troubled B-737 MAX by dropping MAX as Airbus orders come flooding in at the Paris Airshow, but the main story is the Fed.. or should that be how much faith the market is putting in the Fed and the FOMC meeting today/tomorrow? I’m not persuaded… 

The market consensus is the Fed will eventually ease US rates, but not this time. It’s how it communicates/hints at timing tomorrow that will be most closely analysed aspect. Expect pages of dot-plot analysis and explanations of whatever he said and meant. Fed-Head Jerome Powell has already made clear the Fed is willing to act to offset slower growth and counter a trade war; “we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion”. 

This is where it starts to look messy. Is it the Fed’s job to “sustain expansion”? 

It’s clearly a laudable objective, but let’s not confuse the stock market for the economy! It plays right into Trump’s agenda, his simplistic message to the electorate that stock strength proves his deal making success. An ease would provide a potent hit of short-term ecstasy to an addicted stock market, and give Trump something to crow about – a factor the Liberal press is all over like the proverbial cheap suit.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 22 2019 – Tesla and Yoorp worries

Blain’s Morning Porridge – May 22 2019 – Tesla and Yoorp worries


“When the bough breaks…”

Have you ever watched a house of cards collapse? Sometimes a corner or a side comes down, and it can be sort of fixed… Sometimes the whole thing just gets blown away.  My Spidey Senses are all a-tingle this morning, triggered by 2 factors:

  1. Telsa: The spike in negative commentary on Tesla suggests THE moment is coming: a downgrade by a previous bull to $10 target price, doubts on the trajectory of sales, the realisation the Solar Tiles project is complete tosh (and a bail out of Musk’s cousins), the crash in its debt and recent convertible price,      and loads more, has led to the rather obvious conclusion Tesla will struggle to fund ongoing capital burn. Peak-Musk was some time ago. Many now think the orchestra is about to strike up Gotterdammerung. A loss of confidence in Tesla and Musk triggers all kinds of consequences.. (Links to stories will be posted here.)
  2. Europe: If you think UK politicians have embarrassed themselves trying to agree on how to exit Europe, wait till next week and ponder how such a disparate, populist hodge-podge of populist well-intentioned Euro-philes and Euro-phobes are going to agree on how to reform and continue European integration. I see two big market threats: i) The bond market, ii) and especially the bond market. (And Brussels!)

Since anyone can read all the Tesla stories and draw their own conclusions as to what happens next, lets stick to the consequences. The obvious one is what does it do to confidence in the Modern Disruptive Tech (“MDT”) price model: “We don’t have to pay dividends or make profits because we are a disruptive company thats triggered a paradigm in demand and made ourselves a monopoly – therefore it’s all in our stock price” ? 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain: When This Insane Monetary Experiment Ends You Will Have Zero Chance To Exit

Blain: When This Insane Monetary Experiment Ends You Will Have Zero Chance To Exit

This is the day the UK isn’t exiting Europe. Surprised? Not really.

Think I’ll try something different this morning – a review of the week touching on some of the key themes we should be thinking about. Let me know what you think.

But firstly let me apologise for the lack of porridge this week. On Wednesday it was being unable to find anywhere to sit with a computer in London City Airport. Yesterday it was courtesy of Flybe from Edinburgh – I’d like to thank them for leaving us standing in a cold bus while they tried to rustle up a crew. The BA flight took off on time, although I wonder if it went to Duesseldorf?

Let me start with a rant:

Bond Yields and the END OF ABSALOOTLEY EVERYTHING…

While everyone is panicking about US curve inversion and the possibility it is signalling recession, is the real issue even simpler and more obvious? Should we be worried about tumbling global bond yields? Aside from it being impossible for funds to meet long term liabilities, what’s not to like about lower for longer? Actually – quite a lot. Even the ECB has noticed zero bond yields haven’t exactly stimulated growth and jobs across Europe and done nothing in terms of stimulating inflation.

Equities seem blithely unconcerned despite all the cack about trade-wars, rising political anarchy, and a distinct feel this business cycle is likely to wind-down into a slough of earnings downgrades and suchlike unpleasantness. The smart money is not worried, because they understand the truth – there is nothing to worry about BECAUSE A STOCK MARKET MELTDOWN IS ACTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blain’s Morning Porridge – March 18th 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge – March 18th 2019


“It’s the edge of the world and all of western civilization, the Sun may rise in the East at least its settled in a fine location..” 

In the headlines this morning: https://www.morningporridge.com/stuff-im-watching

What a Saturday…Well done Wales on a well-deserved Grand Slam. But, I wonder if there is a hidden message in Scotland’s remarkable comeback being dashed as England clawed back an undeserved draw at Twickenham? The Scots haven’t won on English turf since 1983. They played a blinder second half.. while all the English could provide was a surly Farrell dodging a yellow card.  Perhaps it was a lesson in the tedious inevitability of modern life and a timely reminder it’s not a fairy-tale? (Shame… we wis robbed!) Perhaps Trump, Trade Wars, Income Inequality, the mis-match between asset prices and reality, and all the rest is just stuff that’s stupid, unfair and just the way it is..

Meanwhile, back on Planet Misery… what we got to look forward to? 

The Boeing saga rumbles on. It could be a month till we learn what caused the crash a week ago. The focus is not just upon the possibility Boeing has failed to correct and fully inform users of stall-prevention system problems on the B-737 Max, but now on the US FAA for its dithering and lack of clear action. The agency has been rudderless and leaderless for over a year, neglected by the administration after Trump wasn’t able to put his personal pilot at its head!  

And it’s another last chance for a Brexit deal with Theresa May going for third time lucky – apparently. The Westminster rumours say she’s still likely to lose with many of the Hard-Brexit crowd still hoping to achieve a No-Deal exit – justifying it as giving the UK a stronger post exit negotiating position with Europe.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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