Recently we showed that in order to goose its fading all-important housing market (to China housing is like the stock market to the US: both mission-critical bubbles designed to give a sense of comfort nd boost the "wealth effect"), China has first resorted to zero money down mortgages across various markets, and secondly to such gimmicks as "buy one floor, get one free." However, that's only part of the story. Even worse is what is not being disclosed to the general public: such as the true state of the housing market in China. Because according to a recent report on Sina, quoted on Investing In Chinese Stocks, when it comes to revealing just how bad things are domestically, Chinese developers are simply pulling a page out of biotech ETF playbooks, and simply not reporting price drops greater than 15%!
As we wrap up a holiday shortened trading week, there are several things to ponder this weekend. Will the breakout of the S&P 500 of the trading range it has been stuck in since February hold? Is the negative print of GDP in the first quarter simply a weather related anomaly, or something else? Is the decline in interest rates telling us something important? Are the currently high levels of complacency and bullishness in the markets a warning sign? Or, is this just a continuation of the bull market cycle that started over five years ago with plenty of room left to run. "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken?" - Yogi Berra
It must be technicals, right? As we discussed here, there are numerous reasons for rates to be low and going lower but the world of talking-heads will have us all believe that this is simple positioning and the rally is 'short covering'. In the interests of helping to dismiss that myth, here is CFTC's 10Y Treasury Futures Total Shorts... showing the 'dramatic' short covering that occurred this week...
Dow Transports were the best performing US equity index in May, rising 5.5% - the best May in 23 years (and best month since Oct 2013). The Dow and Russell 2000 also managed to scrape out gains for May. May also saw bond-buying (the best month since Jan) and gold-selling (worst month since Dec). Treasuries flattened for the 3rd month in a row as 2s30s dropped to 1 year lows. On the week, stocks soared (as "most shorted" were squeezed to death - best 2-weeks in 2014) but VIX has its best week in the last 5, bond yields tumbled and the curve flattened (10Y -8bps, 2Y +2.5bps), gold and silver were clubbed (down 3-4%) for the worst week in 8 months. Amid all this angst the USD ended unch. The S&P overtook gold YTD today but bonds remain 2014's best performer.
Tuesday looks to be a busy day in June ($7.45bn or 30% of POMO buying on that day) as the Fed announces the schedule for its Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) buying. The tapered $25 billion buying schedule does offer some 'investing' insights as The Fed refuses to buy on a Friday... (that should make for long weekends and even greater weekly cyclicality in stocks)...
If clichés reflect overly common (if therefore unappreciated) wisdom, then we finally have a good explanation for why risk assets continue to rally. No, there are actually not “More buyers than sellers” – money flows are negative over the last month for both U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs. And forget about investors “Downgrading on valuation” as stocks climb higher and higher; truth be told, that’s not even really a thing (unless you work on the sell side). Nope, this is a “Flight to quality”, “don’t fight the Fed”, “never short a dull market” environment with “easy comps” from a long rough winter. Want to call a top somewhere around here? Remember that “Markets discount events 6 months in the future.” A “Santa Claus rally” in June? That would fit the one cliché we know is actually the market’s True North: it will do exactly what hurts the most “Smart” investors. And that would be to rally further as the doomsayers double down and the timid cling to their bonds and cash.
With minutes to go until England begins its World Cup Friendly warm-up against Peru, it appears the supporters will be sporting a somewhat unusual attire. While we have grown used to outrageous costumes in the past, as RT reports, the similarity between "England's Wearable Flag" and a "Ku Klux Klan Outfit" are a little too close for comfort...
As reported yesterday, Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears set to be the new owner of the LA Clippers, or Clippys as they are now known, paying the record-shattering price for a basketball team of $2 billion, which is the second largest price ever paid for a US team second only to the $2.1 billion paid for the Dodgers. Considering recently Forbes estimated the value of the same team at $575 million, Ballmer appears set to overpay massively, with a premium that matches any of the ridiculous social networking deals we have seen in recent months. But is this the first time that Ballmer, either as an individual or as a CEO, has overbid? Hell no. In fact, as the following list by WSJ's Paul Vigna shows, the only question when analyzing Ballmer's horrendous track record at estimating fair value of underperforming assets is "where does one begin."
Having failed dismally in his global macro forecasts, the White House' press secretary Jay Carney is stepping down...
- *OBAMA SAYS SPOKESMAN JAY CARNEY STEPPING DOWN
- *OBAMA SAYS JOSH EARNEST TO BECOME PRESS SECRETARY
Perhaps it is time for him to take a role on Wall Street? His accuracy makes him a shoe-in.
Q1 GDP growth in the US was simply abysmal - its worst in 3 years - but that does not matter as hope springs eternal that Spring is sprung and it's all green shoots from here. However... that's not what we are seeing in personal spending data (biggest miss in over 4 years in April) and now Bloomberg's Orange Book which implicitly tracks CEO Confidence via their comments has dropped back to the year's lows - not what we are being told by the talking-heads who promulgate the hockey-stick faith in our central planners.
It is a well known historical trend that as discontent and dissent spread within a society, the power structure will look to demonize unpopular or weak minorities in order to deflect frustrations away from the true culprit, the power structure itself. If we want to see how the state and crony corporate status quo will treat everyone in the future, all you have to do is look at the current “war on the homeless.”
The word "recession" is being used less and less in news stories as the world becomes complacently confident that the central planners have 'fixed' the business cycle. Of course, the unpopularity of the R-word was matched only by the pre-recession lows in 2007/8 before the last collapse in the US economy. In the same way that there can be no bubble when everyone is talking about bubbles... when no one is talking about recessions, we wonder what that means?
Citi's Bond Mea Culpa: "Fair Value Of Rates May Be Lower Than We Judged Them At The Beginning Of The Year"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2014 - 11:19
Today, for the first time, one bank, Citigroup, has been kind enough to offer a mea culpa, saying "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants may have judged them to be at the beginning of the year." That said, this tongue-in-cheek apology is wrapped by yet another justification for why rates are where they are (hint: Citi, clearly, has no better idea than anyone else, especially considering their previous forecasts on the matter), and why - all else equally priced to perfection - should finally begin to rise.
The mainstream media is latching on to the idea that all is not well in the world of 'markets'. The FT's Gillian Tett notes that, as we have vociferously explained, almost every measure of volatility has tumbled to unusual low levels, "this is bizarre," she notes, "financial history suggests that at this point in an economic cycle, volatility normally jumps." But investors are acting as if they were living in a calm and predictable universe, "[Investors in] the options markets are not pricing in any big macro risks. This is very unusual." In reality, as Hyman Minsky notes, market tranquility tends to sow the seeds of its own demise and the longer the period of calm, the worse the eventual whiplash. Tett concludes, that pattern played out back in 2007... and there are good reasons to suspect it will recur.
When the US economy underperforms expectations, the weather is blamed; and now, on the heels of Japan's pre-emptive blaming of weather for crushed consumer spending patterns; The FT proclaims that El Nino is responsible for the weakness in gold (as monsoon season will reduce physical demand from India)... welcome to mainstream media meteoronomics 101. What is odd about this reasoning is that we are actually more prone to a La Nina than an El Nino pattern this year based on the Southern Oscillator Index.