"Robust Evidence" Confirms Fed Leaks Data Ahead Of Rate Announcements

Having questioned whether Tim Geithner leaked every Fed announcement to the banks during his tenure (but did not mention it in his memoirs) and shown that traders acted on information at faster than the speed of light (and thus were indeed aware of leaked decisions ahead of time), it should be no surprise that a new research paper has found “robust evidence” that some traders have been getting early news of U.S. Federal Reserve rate announcements and then trading on it during the Fed’s media lockup. The trading anomalies that Bernile and his colleagues spotted begin about 15 minutes before the news embargo is lifted and continue at a fairly even pace and are "statistically significant and in the direction of the subsequent policy surprise." So - are the markets rigged?

Why The Bond Bubble In Peripheral Europe Is A Problem

Headlines were made earlier today as Ireland’s ten year borrowing costs dropped below the UK’s for the first time in six years. Given that it only recently exited a bailout programme and not long ago was mired in the worst crisis in a generation, this is a pretty astonishing turnaround. Nor is Ireland alone. Spain and Italy can now borrow at similar rates to the USA on ten year debt. More broadly, in the past year peripheral countries borrowing costs have plummeted to levels seen before the crisis, or below, as countries begin exiting bailouts and returning to the markets. There are three key factors driving this 'bubble" and five major problems stemming from this seeming nirvana.

The "Quite Gloomy" Chinese Housing Market Completes "Head And Shoulders" Formation

"New starts contracted 15% yoy (vs. -21.9% yoy in March); property sales fell 14.3% yoy (vs. -7.5% yoy); and land sales (by area) plunged 20.5% yoy (vs. -16.9% yoy previously). ... the housing market situation has undoubtedly turned quite gloomy. There has been a constant news stream of falling property prices everywhere, even in the 1-tier cities. A number of local governments, as we expected, have started to ease policy locally, especially relaxation of the home-purchase restrictions." - Soc Gen

S&P Turns Red And Russell Tumbles As Europe Closes

As Europe closes with a record high DAX and a 15 year high for the FTSE-100, it seems the weakness implied by USDJPY and bonds has caught up (or down) to US equities. After bagging the 1,900 level, the S&P 500 is now down on the day and while Trannies hold green, the Russell 2000 is getting slammed (-0.8%)... but it's Tuesday!!!

SEC Official Claims Over 50% Of Private Equity Audits Reveal Criminal Behavior

Mr. Bowden, who heads the SEC’s examinations unit, speaking at a private equity conference, explained that “more than 50 percent of private equity firms it has audited have engaged in serious infractions of securities laws.” What is so incredible about the talk, is that while Bowden goes into details of shady practice after shady practice, he ultimately admits that the SEC isn’t being particularly aggressive with the private equity industry because “we believe that most people in the industry are trying to do the right thing, to help their clients, to grow their business, and to provide for their owners and employees.” What the SEC is basically admitting, is that private equity firms are also “too big to regulate” and, of course, “too big to jail.”

6 Ukraine Soldiers Killed, 8 Injured Ahead Of Tomorrow's "Leave Or Face War" Deadline

With another day left until the 48-hour "leave or face war" deadline imposed by the newly-independent regions of Ukraine, Interfax is reporting:

  • *SIX UKRAINE SOLDIERS KILLED, 8 INJURED AFTER CONVOY ATTACK: IFX
  • *ATTACK ON UKRAINIAN ARMY CONVOY NEAR SEPARATIST-HELD SLOVYANSK

This follows earlier concerns from Germany's Schaeuble who said he "can imagine" a worsening of the Ukraine crisis.

"People's Governor" Of Newly-Independent Luhansk Survives Assassination Attempt

Just 2 days after the people of the Luhansk region voted for secession to Russia - despite protestation from the West and calls for delays from Putin - the self-proclaimed "people's governor" of the region has been injured in an apparent assassination attempt this morning. A car carrying Valery Bolotov was shot at and the press office reports that "he is injured and is currently in a private hospital." Of course, it is unclear who opened fire upon the governor but it certainly won't please Putin who has vowed to protect the rights of his people in that region...

Russia Retaliates: Blocks GPS, Bans US Use Of Its Rocket Engines

Just as Russia had promised, sanctions were not effective and so they went straight to targeted bans. On the heels of The Pentagon admitting that they had "no solution" to replacing Russian rocket engines in the launch systems for US military satellites (as we have covered extensively), Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin this morning announced:

*ROGOZIN: RUSSIA TO HALT U.S. GPS BASES IN RUSSIA ON JUNE 1:IFX
*RUSSIAN BAN ON ROCKET USE FOR US MILITARY SATELLITE LAUNCHES: IFX

He further added that Russia will not extend its partnership in the International Space Station beyond 2020 (which suggests Russia does not expect a quick resolution to the current tensions).

Remember, It's Tuesday

Mixed data from around the world's economies - irrelevant. More promises from Europe - unimportant. Earnings misses and weather forecasts - useless. Knowing it's a Tuesday - Priceless.

Blame It On The... Blamy Spring Weather

Here is the spin: tapped out US consumers simply did not have money to go out and splurge after the March spending bonanza, which sadly fell in a quarter which as we already know, will have a negative GDP print and thus is a wash (due to weather, remember). However, as a result of the blamy (sic) spring weather, US consumers didn't spend online either, as they were forced to go outside and enjoy the lovely weather... where as already noted they didn't spend any money either.

No Unharsh Weather Rebound: Retail Sales Miss Across The Board

Having been revised up to a 1.5% growth for March (the most since March 2010), retail sales crumbled across the board in April as the promise of un-harsh weather rebounds evaporated into the reality of a one-off pent-up demand pop. All sub-series of retail sales missed expectations with Ex-Auto/Gas actually dropping 0.1%. The broad weakness was led by furniture (-0.6%) and electronics stores (-2.3%).

How Japan Became Irrelevant, And How China Took Its Place, In One Chart

While Asia in general may be slowing now that China's epic debt creation machine is starting to break down, when it comes to trends within Asia not everyone is equal. And nowhere is this more visible than when comparing Japan, that dynamo of Asia in the 1980s and 1990s, and China, that other "New Normal" dynamo which carried the world across the Great Depression chasm. For the best representation of Japan's epic fall from economic relevance and, inversely, China's superpower ascendancy, here is one chart showing how vastly more relevant to Asia China now is compared to Japan just under 20 years ago.

Frontrunning: May 13

  • EU Court: Google Must Remove Certain Links on Request (WSJ), people have right to be forgotten on Internet (Reuters)
  • Harsh weather: German Investor Confidence Drops for Fifth Straight Month (BBG)
  • More harsh weather: China Slowdown Deepens (BBG)
  • Harsh weather as far as the eye can see: China’s New Credit Declines (BBG)
  • "Alien" artist, surrealist H.R. Giger dies aged 74 (Reuters)
  • Pfizer urges AstraZeneca to talk as UK lawmakers slam offer (Reuters)
  • Property sector slowdown adds to China fears (FT)
  • Russia says EU sanctions will hurt Ukraine peace efforts (Reuters)
  • U.S. Considers Relaxing Crude Oil Export Restrictions (WSJ)

EUR Slides To 1.37 On ECB June Action Jawboning, Bundesbank Edition

Just in case the EURUSD didn't price in enough of the possibility of a June ECB rate cut (because with even Goldman saying no, there is zero chance Draghi will engage in QE) disclosed last week when Mario Draghi broke the ECB's cardinal rule and gave a hint at what is coming next month, an hour ago the WSJ, citing a "person familiar" and we would add likely person who also happens to be short the EURUSD, helped double down on the end of forward guidance (since going forward market will expect action from the ECB instead of mere talk) by saying that the Bundesbank "is willing to back an array of stimulus measures from the European Central Bank next month, including a negative rate on bank deposits and purchases of packaged bank loans if needed to keep inflation from staying too low, a person familiar with the matter said."

German ZEW Crushed, China Missing Across The Board? Have No Fear - It's Tuesday

If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.

Glenn Greenwald On The 2016 Elections – "They'll Probably Have A Gay Person After Hillary"

Glenn Greenwald is not one known for pulling punches, and in this excellent interview with GQ Magazine titled, The Man Who Knows Too Much, he is in particularly rare form. "Hillary is banal, corrupted, drained of vibrancy and passion... But she’s going to be the first female president, and women in America are going to be completely invested in her candidacy. Opposition to her is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist. It’s going to be this completely symbolic messaging that’s going to overshadow the fact that she’ll do nothing but continue everything in pursuit of her own power. They’ll probably have a gay person after Hillary who’s just going to do the same thing... Americans love to mock the idea of monarchy, and yet we have our own de facto monarchy... what these leaks did is, they demonstrated that there really is this government that just is the kind of permanent government that doesn’t get affected by election choices and that isn’t in any way accountable to any sort of democratic transparency and just creates its own world off on its own."