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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…

Blain: Global Reset Looms As “Inequality Bonfire Burns Out Of Control”

Blain: Global Reset Looms As “Inequality Bonfire Burns Out Of Control”

Via Shard Capital’s Bill Blain,

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.. ”

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

So much stuff going on.. it’s shaping up to be a very interesting weekend.

But, let me start with a diversion…

There is a story of the Great Scottish King – Robert the Bruce. Having been defeated by the English multiple times, his family captured and executed, (or in the case of his daughter, left suspended in an open cage thru the winter), his army was scattered, the clans turned against him, on his own and without any support – he was on the verge of giving up. As he contemplated a bleak future, he watched a spider struggle to construct a web in the dank cave he was hiding in. The beastie failed again and again.. Finally, Bruce reached his decision. If the Spider succeeded, he would carry on.

He went on to become Scotland’s Greatest King.

Try, Try, Try again…? Perhaps Scotland will pull an unlikely win at Twickenham on Saturday? She-who-is-now-Mrs-Blain did warn me not to “bore everyone about Brexit…”, but needs must.

Even though a No-Deal Brexit is ruled out in the short-run, where do we go from here?

Or, perhaps, Theresa May is set to surprise us all. She really doesn’t know when to give up. The scuttlebutt round Westminster is she’s going to take her Brexit agreement back to the House for a third time – and is currently scaring the Rees-Moog loonies with the threat of a long extension leading to NO-Brexit and second referendum, and the Remoaners with the threat of a short-extension leading to No-Deal Brexit. At least 70 Labour MPs want to avoid a second referendum and could, perhaps, vote with her.

Of course, my above simplistic analysis ignores the EU.

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

Blain: European Banks Are The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme Of All Time

Blain: European Banks Are The Most Successful Ponzi Scheme Of All Time

“Lenin was right. There is subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.”

I must post this line from one of my favourite Financial sector commentaries – Duncan Farr of Jeffries who covers banks: “Here we are 5 weeks ahead of Brexit, and the top 2 performing banks in Europe are Lloyds followed by RBoS.” If you ever wanted a clearer hint the supposed Brexit crisis and imminent collapse of UK plc might just be a fictitious political construct, then there you are.  Its fascinating just how sanguine the markets have become about the divorce. Sterling is up and who cares?

I have often been told I worry about all the wrong things. According to BAML, (reported on BBerg), the biggest fear of European investors currently is a Worldwide Economic Slump, with 30% of respondents citing it as their primary worry. Yep. I can see why that would be an issue. Only 2% of European investors surveyed by BAML rank Brexit as their primary fear. It’s not even in the top 5! (For the record, my primary fear is a Global Liquidity Storm – the sudden and catastrophic drying up of liquidity following a shock..)

Politics and markets are intertwined, but… maybe no longer in the case of Brexit? It’s just become background noise – meaning it; doesn’t matter, or we’re overly complacent. UK politics has never looked so dire. Markets appear increasingly disinterested. A new UK political party, and unstated threats a whole slew of ministers are set to resign if we get/don’t get a Brexit deal. Rumours are a deal is already inked with Brussels. Rumours are the Tory Brexiteers will reject it – whatever it says. It Theresa May is capable of getting together a deal in parliament – then this would probably be a good time..

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

Blain: It Feels Like A Liquidity Storm Is Coming Soon

Blain: It Feels Like A Liquidity Storm Is Coming Soon

I note with some delight Bernie Sanders plans to stand for US President. One of my US chums sent me the story of the Half-a-Bernie sign propped up against a wall. Someone had cut it neatly in two and left the wooden handle affixed to the remaining half. Attached was a note: “Dear Bernie; you had a sign and I didn’t, so I took half. I’m sure you understand.” 

I did feel something of a market judder yesterday – just a moment where it felt like all the negativity was on the verge of swamping markets. Whether is the cumulative effect of US rate path expectations (Fed today), China Trade Wars, Trump vs Europe, (ECB tomorrow), Brexit, and all the rest.. or the UK mid-term holidays, the whole market feels thin and rudderless.

At least Wal-Mart surprised to the upside! One of my top stock technical commentators is my old buddy Steve Previs of Mint who calls it “complacent.” That’s never a good thing. His charts are telling him to look for a “corrective C wave” but for now he’s patient as “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) continues to drive the current trend.

I am fortunate enough to work with some very bright folk here at Shard. Yesterday we were shooting the breeze on the current market uncertainties, threats and fears. We came to the conclusion we’ll know the moment we hit the Reefs of Crisis when we hear the crashing wail of market liquidity vanishing. What’s that sound – it’s the Macro Liquidity Storm! Coming to a market near you. Maybe Very Soon!

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

Blain’s Morning Porridge – 11th February 2019

Blain’s Morning Porridge  – 11th February  2019

“A little bit of an altercation in the scrum, they’ll be laughing at that in Hawick.”

What a fascinating world we live in.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos exposing himself, and exposes the National Inquirer for attempted blackmail. A young senator, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, snaring the headlines and proposing a preposterous New Green Deal – while further splitting the Democrats. Europe plunging back into recession. The UK no closer to a Brexit Deal (hang-on, that’s not a headline… that’s just… normal..) Deutsche Bank paying up to demonstrate it can borrow in markets. Santander facing a Euro 50 bln breach of promise lawsuit from Andreas Orcel (proving the Spanish banking adage: At Santander – you are either a Botin or a.. servant..) So much out there…

Are all these things linked? Yes – the world we live in determines the functionality of global markets. You might believe Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was the victim of an Inquirer effort to “catch and kill” a story the paper has on Mr Trump’s activities in Moscow, or you might believe Deutsche Bank’s problems are part of a deeper malaise across European banking. Whatever… the news changes our perceptions. 

The trick is too separate the chaos of new flow from the tau of markets. Markets are linear functions of buy/sell – they are not necessarily about common sense. To illustrate: last week I wrote about Italy, pointing out just how hopelessly its ensnared and entrapped within the straight-jacket of the Euro, with little prospect of growth, employment or upside.

Yet Italian bonds are one of the top performing assets – AND WILL REMAIN SO – because the ECB can’t afford to let Italy go, and Europe sliding back into downturn pretty much ensures they’ll continue to bailout Italy and likely resurrect QE in some form – watch out for something like long-term repos.

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

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