Many “unicorns” have ceased to be race-worthy a long time ago, but the narrative has been desperately held up reminiscent of a Potemkin village for these last 18 months or more with hopes, prayers, and breathtaking fairy-tales bordering on outright fraud in hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it to an IPO and shed all that dead weight of having to holdup this house-of-cards pretension any longer. It’s quite possible not only is that race never going to restart.
After yesterday's presidential run-off round, the leader of Austria's anti-immigration, right-wing party, Norbert Hofer held a comfortable lead based on votes from the ground, with Hofer leading the independent, pro-EU candidate Van der Bellen by 51.9% to 48.1%, according to interior ministry data. However, in the end it all came down to the postal votes, and as BBC reports, the Green Party leader, Alexander Van der Bellen has won Austria's presidential election, preventing Norbert Hofer from becoming the EU's first far-right head of state, the BBC has been told.
In the aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations, US authorities including the IRS appear to have begun a crackdown on tax evaders (if staying away from Washington D.C. for the time being for obvious reason), and according to Bloomberg they just landed a juicy target in the face of Morris Zukerman, a former head of Morgan Stanley’s energy group who now runs a private investment firm, who was indicted in Manhattan on charges of evading more than $45 million of federal and New York state taxes.
The last few weeks have seen 'Project Fear' taken to all new levels by the UK establishment as doom-mongering over a possible Brexit conjure images of post-apocalyptic movies. UK PM Cameron and Chanceller Osborne's latest op-ed tirade warns of 800,000 jobs lost and an "immediate year-long recession" if the Brits exercise their democratic right to vote for sovereignty over tyranny. Judging from the polls, which show Brexit odds tumbling, the fear-mongery is working, however, the markets disagree as forward volatility measures near 2016 highs.
One reality in the markets is that despite the best efforts of analysts and traders, no one ever knows with any degree of certainty what will happen to the price of an investment in the future. Oil exemplifies that premise right now. All year there has been a tremendous amount of discrepancy in predictions for oil prices with some commentators looking for prices of $10 a barrel and others expecting prices near $100.
Some were concerned earlier today, when SF Fed's John Williams said that he sees about 2-3 rate hikes in 2016, followed by another 3-4 in 2017, suggesting a grand total between 5 and 7 more rate hikes over the next 18 months. However, those fears were promptly dissiptated when as Williams himself admitted during the reporter Q&A, he - like virtually everyone else at the Fed - has no idea what he is talking about.
So much for the huge China credit impulse spreading around the world. After this morning's extremely disappointing European data, US Manufacturing's flash PMI for May printed a disappointing 50.5 - its lowest since 2009.Under the surface the state of American manufacturing is even more disastrous as Markit notes, output is falling for the first time since the height of the global financial crisis, with factories hit by slowing growth of order books and falling exports.
"In January, we projected that the Fed rate hike would lead to increased financial stress and falling equity markets; this, we argued, would lead the Fed to turn more dovish, which – in turn – would allow equities to rebound. This has played out. Yet, the Fed relent has been partial – and the latest FOMC minutes point to increasing risks that we will re-enter the “doom loop” from a more hawkish Fed to a stronger dollar, lower oil prices, higher HY credit spreads and lower equity markets."
By any measure, DM Americas stocks aren’t cheap, as it seems that lack of global demand has driven up investors risk tolerance when it comes to sales.
Following last week's lull in global macro, it’s a busy start to the week in which we get the latest deluge of global flash PMIs, while the US economic calendar is loaded with New Home Sales data, Trade Balance, Initial Claims, UMichigan sentiment and the revised US Q1 GDP print on Friday. But perhaps the most expected event will be Yellen's speech on Friday at Harvard's Radcliffe, where the Fed chairman is expected to reveal some more hints on the upcoming rate hike.
In the aftermath of the French labor law reform, local refinery workers have launched a strike to hit the government where it hurts the most. Protesters have blocked deliveries to gas stations from at least half of France's eight refineries, and workers at three Total refineries have voted to halt all output by Tuesday. The effect was immediate: as an IEA analyst observed, "there is a noticeable fuel shortage in the North West and North of the country, including parts of the greater Paris region."
Back during the last bubble, Business Development Corporation (BDC) pioneer American Capital was one of the hottest business models (and most desired companies to work for). However, when the bubble burst, so did the company's stock price, as well as its reputation, and in the past 9 years the company failed to see its stock price recover anywhere near the levels seen during the last bubble. Which is perhaps why moments ago in a dramatic move shaking up the BDC space, ACAS announced it would sell itself to another BDC titan, Ares Capital in a deal worth $3.4 billion.
It wasn't just Japan's PMI which overnight printed at a disappointing 47.6, missing expectations and signaling the sharpest decline in operating conditions since December 2012. Overnight Markit showed that the Chinese credit-induced global slowdown is coming far faster than most (if not Morgan Stanley) expected, when the Eurozone flash PMI printed at 52.9, the lowest level in 16 months. As Reuters put it, this offers "the latest evidence that a strong acceleration in growth in the first three months of the year was only temporary" and likely
· Fed speak will garner significant attention this week as we move closer to the June rate decision and with recent data and rhetoric suggesting a hike is a genuine possibility
- Brexit remains in focus in the UK, with last week seeing GBP/USD fluctuate by around 2.5 points as a `remain` victory continues to look more likely