Thursday, December 2, 2010

The rebound in auto sales is impressive

November auto sales came in a bit above expectations. Since hitting bottom in Feb. '09, sales are up at a 17% annualized pace, which is in itself rather impressive. Of course, the level of sales is still dismally low from an historical perspective—who would have thought, in the year 1976, that sales 34 years hence would be lower than they were then, despite a 62% increase in the labor force?

There is absolutely huge upside potential here once the economy gets back on solid footing.


Benjamin Cole said...

Yes, improvement is glacial. Good action on the Dow last couple of days.

Benjamin Cole said...

OT, but check page C3 of WSJ today. A single buyer holds more than half of the copper stocks at the LME warehouses. Maybe 80 percent. It is a $1.5 billion hoard.

Odd things have been happening in commodities the last several years, as they become "speculatized." The many ETFs trading in commodties is new too.

The NYMEX oil market is gamed.

Gold is given to fevers and emerging market buying demand and the formation of new ETF in China.


We know the Hunts once gamed the silver market. And today's players have 10 or 100 times the capital the Hunts had. And they can leverage 100-to-1.

For people trying to chart the economy, this is havoc. A commodity price mght be rising or sinking based not on demand, but determined and well-financed speculation.

An investor's name should always be B. Wary.

John said...


Commodities are by nature 'speculative'. Always have been. If this holder is wrong he/she/it will take a hugh haircut.

This very may well be a sovereign wealth fund(s) with longer term needs for the physical commodity (China?). But you are correct...recent years have seen great speculative activity from the long side. Someone with very deep pockets is betting big on a global economic expansion. My guess is they'll be right.

Scott Grannis said...

Re the LME copper holdings: I note that the holdings in question, while they represent more than half the copper stocks at the LME warehouse, only amount to 1% of the world's annual copper consumption. That's about 3 and a half days' worth of copper. It's also only 10% of the open interest in copper contracts. Is it reasonable to think that buying such a tiny amount relative to annual copper production can make a significant difference in the price of the world's copper holdings? I don't buy it. I also don't believe that anyone can game the oil market. When has OPEC ever been able to enforce its quotas?

Finally, I would note that for every speculative long position in copper futures (or any futures for that matter) there must also be a short position. You can't make a speculative bet without finding someone willing to take the other side of that bet.

Frozen in the North said...

Yeah, but there was an awful lot of channel stuffing by GM...