sábado, mayo 09, 2015

VACACIONES MAYO 2015 / GRL

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VACACIONES MAYO 2015


Jueves 30 de Abril del 2014

Queridos amigos,

Les escribo estas líneas con motivo de mi próximo viaje que me tendrá ausente de la oficina y de nuestras lecturas cotidianas, desde el lunes 4 hasta el miércoles 20 de Mayo próximo.

Durante estos días no tendré acceso regular al Internet ni a mis correos.

Lamentablemente, en los últimos meses la situación internacional se ha seguido complicando tanto social, económica, financiera y geopolíticamente, de acuerdo a lo previsto en mi carta de Setiembre pasado y las anteriores, a pesar de todas las declaraciones y anuncios en contrario por parte de las autoridades de los bancos centrales y los representantes de los gobiernos.  

En realidad no podía ser de otra manera, si tenemos en cuenta que no se ha hecho nada en los últimos años para reparar los profundos desequilibrios estructurales en los fundamentos de la economía global, sino que mas bien, por el contrario, se ha seguido "maquillando" por parte de los bancos centrales la insostenible situación económica y financiera global, profundizando los desequilibrios y la inestabilidad vía el constante crecimiento de las deudas, aumentando las ineficiencias y dilatando el necesario ajuste. El crecimiento estructural de la economía global es cada vez mas frágil, dudoso e insostenible.

Hasta la crisis del 2000 y luego de la del 2008, ahora así llamada la Gran Recesión, la demanda global había sido “subvencionada” por un sistema financiero manipulado e intervenido, creando una demanda y una economía global ficticia, una recuperación así llamada "subprime", liderada por la FED mediante un crecimiento desproporcionado de las deudas, imposible de auto-sustentarse en un crecimiento de la economía real en el largo plazo. 

Deuda, deuda y mas deuda, parece ser el mantra de la FED.

Desde entonces, la FED y el resto los bancos centrales de todos los países más importantes del mundo se han negado y se siguen negando a reconocer esta realidad, aceptando el inicio de un ajuste inevitable y estructural, regresando a un nivel real de la economía global de alguna manera manejable. Aun siguen abocados al esfuerzo de una gran represión financiera, manipulando e inflando irresponsablemente los mercados financieros vía una política monetaria de emisiones inorgánicas de papel moneda sin respaldo y muy bajas tasas de interés.

Las deudas de consumidores, empresas y gobiernos, eran y son insostenibles.

Por ello creemos que los bancos centrales no aumentarán de "motu propio" las tasas de interés de manera importante a corto plazo, salvo que este aumento provenga final y sorpresivamente de una crisis generada por la desaparición de la confianza de los inversionistas globales en los mercados financieros.

Inmediatamente sus deudas se volverían obviamente impagables y la crisis que tanto han tratado de evitar reconocer, sobrevendría inevitable.

Solo para mencionar al país con la economía mas importante, la deuda de los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica ha crecido por encima de los 18 trillones de dólares, a mas del 100% de su PBI. Y si incluimos las deudas contingentes internas, como el Seguro Social y los Fondos de Pensiones, algunos analistas calculan que la deuda norteamericana podría llegar a sumar entre los 80 a 120 trillones de dólares, es decir, entre 5 a 7 veces el producto bruto anual.

Para un análisis detallado del desarrollo de esta problemática y la verdadera situación actual, ver los artículos del blog, aquí, aquí y aquí.

Esta situación se ha seguido agravando en los últimos años y es insostenible en el mediano y largo plazo.  (ver articulo)

Para evitarlo, es que los bancos centrales han tenido que esforzarse en mantener ficticiamente una apariencia de normalidad en el "statu quo", inyectando cantidades innombrables de papel moneda sin respaldo a los mercados financieros y reducido las tasas de interés a niveles nunca vistos por largo tiempo, desde que la historia económica recuerda. (QE1, QE2, QE3, Q4, Abenomics, China, etc….)

Todo ello nos hace presumir que todo ello se lleva a cabo por el fundamentado temor a perder el control del esquema Ponzi mundial, que es lo que son ahora la economía global y los mercados financieros, y por ende se derrumbe el castillo de naipes enfrentando de golpe un ajuste económico enorme y hasta la posibilidad de una revolución social incontenible, guerras, etc.

¿Porqué un ahorrista o un inversionista estaría dispuesto a depositar su dinero en un banco o comprar un bono de un gobierno, que no solamente no le paga ningún interés sino que más bien ahora le cobra por mantener su deposito, o si se lo paga, es un interés muy reducido y hasta negativo?

Ello sucede solo cuando el ahorrista y/o el inversionista esperan una deflación en la economía, i.e. que los precios mañana serán mas bajos que los de hoy, la que sería mayor que el costo de ese depósito, y/o una ganancia potencial en el fortalecimiento de esa moneda, es decir, en ambos casos, a pesar de todo, un aumento del poder adquisitivo de sus inversiones. Y también, cuando además, existe una enorme aversión al riesgo en los mercados financieros "tradicionales". Solo así se puede justificar racionalmente esta realidad por un ahorrista o inversionista que desea mantener su poder de compra, sin tener que enfrentar riesgos desconocidos e incalculables, pero claramente presumibles en los mercados financieros globales. (ver articulo)

El hecho es que el esfuerzo de política monetaria intervencionista llevada a cabo por la mayoría de los bancos centrales del mundo, en los últimos 15 años, más intensa y desproporcionadamente desde los últimos siete años, además, ha producido la transferencia más importante de riqueza que se recuerda en la historia, de manos de los pensionistas y los ahorristas, hacia las clases privilegiadas. 

Mas importante todavía, se ha distorsionado y manipulado fundamentalmente las reglas de la economía del libre mercado con consecuencias funestas y aun impredecibles en el mediano y largo plazo para los consumidores e inversionistas del mundo, incrementando la alocación  ineficiente de los recursos de inversión, además de multiplicar el costo de la inevitable implosión de los mercados financieros, tanto de las acciones, como de los bonos y otros instrumentos de inversión financiera.

Todo esto para no mencionar a los derivados financieros, estimados por algunos analistas en mas de 1 cuadrillón de dólares (1000 trillones de dólares),  que se ciernen como una espada de Damocles, sobre todo el sistema financiero y económico internacional.

Recientemente el FMI ha advertido de la posibilidad que la economía global esta entrando a un periodo de "stagnación" y a una probable nueva recesión, con las consecuencias que ello implicaría. (ver articulo)

El reconocido economista y analista Ricardo Lago hace recientemente en un diario local un excelente resumen de la ultima reunión del FMI y el Banco Mundial en Washington, sus conclusiones e implicancias. (ver articulo

Obviamente estos organismos no pueden decirnos toda la verdad. Ello sería propiciar ellos mismos el adelanto inevitable del descalabro global, el caos y el ajuste sin anestesia, con resultados imprevisibles. 

La pregunta de fondo es ¿hasta cuando se podrá o podrán mantener esta realidad bizarra?
Y eso nadie lo puede responder con seguridad. La confianza de los inversionistas en los mercados financieros es la verdadera incógnita.

¿Existen aun los inversionistas? 

Observan algunos críticos y analistas que los pequeños y medianos inversionistas se han retirado del mercado y todo el movimiento que observamos en los índices, es solo en volúmenes reducidos. Piensan que ello se debe solo a la actuación de unos cuantos brokers y/o "high frequency traders"de los grandes bancos globales que se siguen "alimentando" de las manipulaciones y ventajas, coordinadas y producidas por los bancos centrales.

Hace alrededor de 100 años el asesinato del archiduque Francisco Fernando y su esposa Sofía Chotek en Sarajevo fue el detonante de la primera guerra mundial. Y nadie pensó en ese momento que ese acontecimiento, aparentemente sin importancia global, traería la primera guerra mundial.

Por ello ahora tenemos que preguntarnos seriamente, ¿cuál de todos los potenciales "cisnes negros", conocidos o no, que hoy se ciernen sobre la economía global ,y que son muchos, económicos, sociales y geopolíticos, podrían ser el detonante de la nueva catástrofe?

Solo la historia nos responderá a esta crucial pregunta. No hay cuerda para mucho. Y evidentemente, toda situación que es insostenible, finalmente se caerá.

Tenemos que insistir mas que nunca que la experiencia y la prudencia, el análisis y la inteligencia, la vigilancia y la paciencia, son los socios más importantes en las decisiones de políticas y estrategias de inversión a corto y mediano plazo.

En un cambio importante de ciclos como en el que pensamos que estamos envueltos hoy día, y en el que mas allá de lo circunstancial, el pasado y el futuro se bifurcan y se oponen,  los riesgos para los inversionistas son profundos. (ver articulo)

Con estas  anotaciones y advertencias que espero les sean de utilidad, me despido de Uds. con un cordial abrazo hasta el regreso a mis actividades, Dios mediante, a inicios de la semana del lunes 23 de Mayo próximo, cuando estaré nuevamente a su gentil disposición.

Gonzalo

PD. Algunos días durante mis vacaciones en la medida de lo posible y excepcionalmente publicaré artículos en el blog que podrán leer entrando directamente y/o subscribiéndose al blog:  www.gonzaloraffoinfonews.com

Buttonwood

Fifteen years of hurt

Tech stocks were a bubble in 2000 but they are not this time—yet

May 2nd 2015 
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STOCKS are the best investment for the long run. That is the common mantra among investment pundits. But the recent record high for the NASDAQ, America’s tech-heavy equity index, ought to give investors pause. Like the FTSE 100 in London, it has taken 15 years for the NASDAQ to surpass its previous high (see chart). Even so, that counts as a sprightly performance compared with Japan’s Nikkei 225, which still trades at only half its 1989 peak.

Such statistics make it hard to argue that “there are no such things as bubbles”, as the occasional economist still contends. A very high stockmarket valuation implies the expectation of rapid growth in future profits. The average price-earnings ratio of the NASDAQ back in 2000 was more than 150. In other words, if profits did not rise, a shareholder would have had to wait for well over a century to recoup his original investment.

Perhaps investors were thinking of their great-great-great-grandchildren, but that was not how it seemed at the time. Technology companies were expected to take over the world and drive “old economy” firms out of business; their profits would soar as a consequence. Some tech companies have indeed performed fantastically well, as Apple’s latest set of bumper profits show.

The problem in 1999-2000 was that everyone thought they were going to make money out of the internet. This prompted lots of bright graduates to set up their own dotcom company with a plan to exploit some niche. Such enthusiasm created its own demand for tech products: the new firms needed routers, desktops and access to fibre-optic cables. That boosted tech earnings for a while.

But it also meant that some sectors were extremely crowded and competitive. This made it more difficult for tech companies to make money. Earnings crashed after 2000, rather than rising as investors had anticipated. It was not until 2010 that the earnings per share at NASDAQ companies regained the level recorded back in 1997.

Faltering firms were bought up by their competitors; three-quarters of the companies that made up the NASDAQ at the end of 1999 are no longer listed. It is a familiar theme from history: the biggest profits do not always flow to the pioneers. Two of NASDAQ’s current giants, Google and Facebook, had not even gone public by 2000.

Another “rational” explanation for high stockmarket valuations is that investors are prepared to accept lower returns going forward, as values revert to the mean. But that is not what happened at the turn of the century. The NASDAQ rose by 86% in 1999 and investors piled in, hoping to get a piece of the action. They expected annual percentage gains in the double digits.

For a while, their enthusiasm bid share prices higher. But as soon as investors lost confidence, the losses were brutal.

This time around, valuations look much more reasonable. The price-earnings ratio is 26, and the market’s progress has been steadier, rather than exponential: the latest doubling in share prices has taken more than three years. Russ Koesterich, a strategist at BlackRock, a fund-management group, points out that tech stocks comprise only 20% of the overall American market by value, compared with 30% back in 2000.

Biotech is one sector where there are signs of overenthusiasm (up by more than 50% over the past 12 months), although this in part reflects the emergence of some genuinely promising new drugs. Andy Acker of Janus, another fund manager, cites the Sovaldi treatment for hepatitis C made by Gilead: sales in its first year were $10.3 billion, compared with consensus forecasts of $1 billion. Many of these drugs are specifically intended to replace expensive alternative treatments. This gives companies more predictable earnings. The maker of one such drug, Celgene, told investors that its earnings would increase by 23% a year all the way to 2020.

Of course, it is not hard to imagine a return of the bubble mentality. It may already have emerged in the world of start-ups and venture capital. A few more years of zero interest rates and negative bond yields, which force investors to seek higher returns from riskier assets like equities, and who knows what might happen.

But as yet, there is nothing like the sense of euphoria that marked out 1999-2000. Investors are not focused on financial news (CNBC’s 2014 ratings were the lowest since 1995); workers are not quitting their jobs to indulge in day trading. That is one good thing about living through a bubble: it is easier to spot the signs next time.

sábado, mayo 09, 2015

GOLD PRICES : BURIED / THE ECONOMIST

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Gold prices

Buried

Russia is buying gold, but few others are

May 2nd 2015
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An ever more marginal existence


UNCERTAINTY is supposed to lift the gold price. But neither upheaval in the Middle East, nor the travails of the euro zone, nor startlingly loose monetary policy in the rich world is brightening the spirits of those who swear by bullion. After a big rally during the financial crisis, the price has sagged to about $1,200 an ounce, a third below its peak in 2011. Little seems likely to turn it round. “We’ve seen everything gold bugs could hope for: endless money printing, 0% interest rates (both short-term and long-term adjusted for inflation), rising debt and debt ratios in the public and private sectors…So where’s the damn hyperinflation?” asks Harry Dent, a newsletter publisher, in a recent blog post.

The biggest pressure on the gold price comes from the expectation that interest rates in America will rise later this year. Matthew Turner of Macquarie, a bank, says that low interest rates cut the opportunity cost of owning gold. Higher interest rates, by contrast, raise the cost of holding non-interest-bearing assets. Mr Turner thinks expectations of rising rates are already built into the gold price; if they do not materialise as quickly as expected, there could even be a rally.

That cannot come soon enough for gold producers. Nikolai Zelenski, the boss of Nordgold, which has mines in Africa and the former Soviet Union, says that half of all producers have negative cashflow. Some are heavily indebted, too. If the price does not rise, production could fall on a scale not seen since the two world wars.

Gold bugs are determinedly optimistic. Gold is priced in dollars, so the fact that it stayed stable while America’s currency was rising (making gold more expensive for buyers in foreign currencies) is cause for cheer. Chinese consumers are buying more gold, after a sharp decline sparked partly by an anti-corruption campaign. So are Indians, the world’s biggest consumers of gold, after the government removed restrictions on imports last year. Yet the fact remains: gold is in a rut.

One reason may be that investors have so many more options nowadays. Humble citizens who distrust their own currencies can buy assets ranging from shares to bitcoins. Laurence Fink, the chairman of BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset-management firm, said in March that gold had “lost its lustre”, thanks to the wider availability of property and even contemporary art. “It’s become much more accessible for global families worldwide to store wealth outside their country.”

The main exception to the trend is Russia, where the central bank has been a notable buyer of gold, tripling its holdings since 2005. It bought 30 tonnes in March alone, bringing its hoard to 1,238 tonnes. The Kremlin’s growing stockpile does not so much reflect a belief in gold’s prospects, however, as a distaste for the American dollar. Whatever Vladimir Putin’s other qualities, most investors would hesitate to take him on as a financial adviser.

G20: fossil fuel fears could hammer global financial system

Top energy watchdog says two thirds of all assets booked by coal, oil and gas companies may be worthless under the 'two degree' climate deal

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Washington

7:12AM BST 29 Apr 2015


Didcot power station, Oxfordshire Photo: Alamy
 
The G20 powers have launched a joint probe into global financial risks posed by fossil fuel companies investing in costly ventures that clash with international climate goals and may never be viable.

World leaders are increasingly concerned that a $6 trillion wave of investment into the nexus of oil, gas, and coal since 2007 is based on false assumptions, leaving companies with an overhang of debt and "stranded assets" that cannot easily be burned under CO2 emission limits.
 
The G20 has asked the Financial Stability Board in Basel to convene a public-private inquiry into the fall-out faced by the financial sector as climate rules become much stricter. All member countries have agreed to co-operate or carry out internal probes, including the United States, China, India, Russia, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.
 
Diplomatic sources have told The Telegraph that the investigation is being pushed by France and is modelled on a review launched by the Bank of England last year.
 
Governor Mark Carney told Parliament that officials are probing whether "the majority of proven coal, oil, and gas reserves may be considered 'unburnable' if global temperature increases are to be limited to 2 degree celsius". The 2 degree target is the level above pre-industrial levels at the end of this century.
 
The Bank will issue its verdict in July. The fact that this is spreading to the rest of the G20 suggests that early findings may have proved sufficiently serious to warrant broader study.





The International Energy Agency warns that two thirds of all declared energy reserves become fictional if there is a binding deal limit to C02 levels to 450 particles per million by the year 2100. This amounts to a nominal $28 trillion of stranded assets over the next two decades, according to a study by Kepler Cheuvreux.

A report by University College London concluded that there would never be any development of the Arctic and that 75pc of Canadian oil - mostly tar sands - would never be burned in a 2 degree policy world. Over 95pc of coal reserves in the US, Russia, and the Middle East would be stranded.

Rachel Kyte, the World Bank's vice-president for climate change, said the G20 inquiry aims to find out how much damage a "burst carbon bubble" could do to institutional investors. The World Bank is carrying out its own review of energy assets in its portfolio, and is studying "sovereign risk" for the most vulnerable carbon-based economies.

Mrs Kyte said some companies have been slow to face up to the implicit risks of stranded assets, though all are acutely alert to the possible fall-out from a sweeping climate change deal in Paris this December. "Businesses are taking it very seriously," she said.




The chances of a break-through at the COP 21 talks are rising. Todd Stern, the US chief negotiator, said a far-reaching agreement last year between the US and China has cleared away the biggest obstacle.

The North-South conflict that poisoned the Copenhagen summit in 2009 has fallen away as China embraces a green agenda, with plans for 1000 gigawatts of solar, wind, and nuclear power by 2030.

"This is a very different state of affairs versus 2009. The two 800-pound gorillas are working together, and sending an international signal," he said.

Mr Stern said countries responsible for 60pc of global CO2 emissions are "already on board", including most recently Mexico. The hold-outs are a diminishing alliance.





Carbon Tracker says companies have committed $1.1 trillion over the next decade to projects that require prices above $95 to break even, far above Brent crude's current price of $65.

The group calculates that 92pc of Canada's oil sands need prices of $80 to cover costs. Many of the Arctic and ultra-deepwater projects need $120, or even $150. Petrobras, Statoil, Total, BP, BG, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and Repsol are together investing $340bn in these inhospitable zones.

The IEA says global investment in fossil fuels has been running at around $950bn a year. It reached $200bn in the US before crude prices crashed last year, or 20pc of total US private fixed investment, the highest in US history.




This $6 trillion spree on exploration and development since 2007 has generated US shale gas and oil in large volumes, but not much else of great scale. Production from conventional oil fields peaked in 2005. No big project has come on stream at a break-even cost below $80 for four years.

A new report by HSBC said the fossil industry is facing risks from several fronts at once, including ever-cheaper renewables, "dramatic advances" in battery storage, and much more efficient use of energy. The bank said high-cost fossil projects will be driven out of business by fast-moving technology.

HSBC has offered clients a divestment strategy for "selling down" holdings in the most exposed companies as pension funds, churches, and other investors pull out of the fossil industry altogether, much as an earlier generation pulled out of tobacco.




Major energy companies are facing a growing shareholder revolt. Some 98pc of BP's investors voted for a climate resolution last week ordering the company to disclose more information on the risks.

Robert Dudley, BP's chief executive, played down the issue at a recent energy gathering, suggesting that green activist groups were making much ado about nothing.

Critics say the industry can still thrive and prosper even after a draconian climate deal, but only if it faces the challenge and bites the bullet on new technology to capture carbon emissions.