Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.
Warren Buffett, who has been a cheerleader for U.S. stocks for quite some time, is dumping shares at an alarming rate. He recently complained of “disappointing performance” in dyed-in-the-wool American companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Kraft Foods.
In the latest filing for Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits. Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in “consumer product stocks” by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.
With 70% of the U.S. economy dependent on consumer spending, Buffett’s apparent lack of faith in these companies’ future prospects is worrisome.
Unfortunately Buffett isn’t alone.
Fellow billionaire John Paulson, who made a fortune betting on the subprime mortgage meltdown, is clearing out of U.S. stocks too. During the second quarter of the year, Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., dumped 14 million shares of JPMorgan Chase. The fund also dumped its entire position in discount retailer Family Dollar and consumer-goods maker Sara Lee
No investors, let alone billionaires, will want to own stocks with falling profit margins and shrinking dividends. So if that’s why Buffett, Paulson, and Soros are dumping stocks, they have decided to cash out early and leave Main Street investors holding the bag.
Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is selling roughly 42 percent of his stake in the Internet search
Google Inc. chairman Eric Schmidt plans to sell up to $2.51 billion of his share in the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Friday.
Venezuela devalued its currency, the bolivar, the country’s Finance Minister Jorge Giordani said Friday. President Hugo Chavez ordered the move from Cuba, the minister said
Could these be the signs of the upcoming market collapse people have been talking about? I don’t know, but things could start to get interesting.
Something happened this week that brings back haunting memories of the 2001 put options of airline stocks, except this “bet” is against the entire U.S. economy. This week, an anonymous trader bought 100,000 put options on the ETF, which is an acronym for an exchange-traded fund. One commonly traded ETF is XLF, which, in the most unscientific and basic terms, is a group of funds that is like a barometer for the stock market.
Urgent! Hedge Funds Preparing For Market Sell-Off.
Some of the biggest U.S. hedge-fund investors have made billions betting against the yen, exploiting Japan’s determination to weaken its currency and boost its economy.
Wagering against the yen has emerged as the hottest trade on Wall Street over the past three months. George Soros, who made a fortune shorting the British pound in the 1990s, has scored gains of almost $1 billion on the trade since November, according to people with knowledge of the firm’s positions. Others reaping big trading profits by riding the yen down include David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital, Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC and Kyle Bass’s Hayman Capital Management LP, investors say….
The world economy faces a new threat. Instead of a banking collapse or too much debt, fears are growing that countries are using their currencies as an economic weapon.
History suggests that’s never a good thing.
If too many countries try to weaken their currencies for economic gain — sparking a so-called “currency war” — then the fragile global economic recovery could be derailed and the international financial system thrown into chaos.
With the disappointing initial GDP releases for Q42012 from Europe out, the “world” as defined by 41 OECD countries across the globe, has plunged into recession. We define “recession” through two alternative definitions for our comparison, either the presence of a single negative quarter-on-quarter growth or the more traditional two consecutive negative quarterly growths. Whichever way you look at it, the number of countries in expansion plunged dramatically between 3Q2013 and 4Q2012.
Now this is a diffusion index, with each country receiving equal weightings, and so it appears that 60% seems to be a viable threshold for the definition of “global recession” using the single-quarter definition (black) and 70% is probably the appropriate threshold for the 2-quarter definition (blue).
For a widespread currency war to occur a large proportion of significant economies must wish to devalue their currencies at once. This has so far only happened during a global economic downturn.
An individual currency devaluation has to involve a corresponding rise in value for at least one other currency. The corresponding rise will generally be spread across all other currencies and so unless the devaluing country has a huge economy and is substantially devaluing, the offsetting rise for any individual currency will tend to be small or even negligible. In normal times other countries are often content to accept a small rise in the value of their own currency or at worst be indifferent to it. However, if much of the world is suffering from a recession, from low growth or are pursuing strategies which depends on a favourable balance of payments, then nations can begin competing with each other to devalue. In such conditions, once a small number of countries begin intervening this can trigger corresponding interventions from others as they strive to prevent further deterioration in their export competitiveness.
KWN: Renowned money manager Felix Zulauf told King World News that despite the rally in stocks, the world economy is still in trouble. Zulauf, founder of Zulauf Asset Management and 20+ year Barron’s Roundtable panelist, believes the current euphoria among investors and optimistic expectations going forward are creating a very dangerous environment. Zulauf also feels that although there has been a long consolidation in gold, the fundamentals are still quite bullish.
This is the final part of a three part written interview series which has been released on King World News. In these interviews the legendary money manager has discussed why he believes central planners will fail, how this will lead to systemic collapse, gold repatriation, what investors should be doing with their money right now, how they can protect themselves going forward, and much more.
This morning, an email hit our inbox with a big call on Wal-Mart from a firm called Cleveland Research.
In the note, the firm said it was lowering its Q1 2013 same-store sales growth estimate for Wal-Mart to 0 percent from 1 percent.
In other words, they expect Wal-Mart’s sales to stagnate in the first quarter.
The reason why, according to Cleveland Research (emphasis added): “A pullback in consumer spending related to 1) payroll/social security tax increase, 2) delayed tax returns, and 3) rising gas prices.”
It’s certainly a yellow flag.
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