- Worse than expected manufacturing PMI figures from core Eurozone countries dented risk-appetite
- Equities came under further pressure following news that Credit Agricole is removed from EuroSTOXX 50 Index, whereas Societe Generale, Intesa Sanpaolo and Unicredit are removed from STOXX Europe 50 Index
- Risk-aversion was enhanced following a lack-lustre 5-year bond auction from Spain
- The French/German spread continued to widen throughout the session partly on the back of weaker manufacturing PMI from France
- According to an article in FT, citing European source, the IMF has estimated European banks could face a capital shortfall of EUR 200bln. However, Eurozone officials strongly disagreed with the IMF’s analysis.
Today's economic data: the much anticipated ISM, claims (ex striking Verizonites collecting benefits), and C-grade data like construction outlays and productiviity and costs. Car makers announce August sales: look for repeat indications of dealer channel stuffing by you know how.
Yesterday Bruce Krasting proposed a thesis, which despite some notable complications and substantial political challenges, does have its merits: namely that in pursuing a mass "beneficial" refi of agency mortgages to some threshold interest rate level, say 4%, accompanied by a surge in Fed MBS prepayments (recall that this component of QE Lite has stalled massively and now accounts for about $15 billion in POMO each month - a sad reminder of the $100 billion + beast it was in its QE2 heyday), the administration and the Fed would effectively enact a GSE-funded version of Operation MBS Twist, in which the Fed reduces its agency holdings while extending Treasury duration. Alas, Bruce may not have made it clear that this version of Twist with a Twist has an annual cost of about $85 billion invoiced to US taxpayers each year. And while we believe that plain vanilla QE (either LSAP or Chubby Checker) has a chance of passing, especially if stocks do plunge by another 20%+, QE that has to be indirectly funded by taxpayers (in the form of quarterly capital make wholes for the GSEs from the Treasury), has virtually no chance of passing. But we have been wrong before. Regardless, here is Dick Bove, whose opinion for some inexplicable reason is still relevant (and yes, we are guilty in spreading it), who takes the refi stimulus thesis and presents his views on its feasibility. And while we are the first to mock Bove, his conclusion does have some merit: "Until [the administration] figures out that more production is what is required we will continue to take money out of one pocket to put it into another and assume that we have accomplished something."
August was a very turbulent month for markets with equities falling sharply and commodities mixed on Eurozone and US sovereign debt concerns and concerns about the health of the US and global economy. For many markets, Augusts’ savage sell-off has been the worst since the October following Lehman Brothers’ implosion and investors diversified into havens such as high credit government bonds and gold. Gold again proved its safe haven status recording strong gains in the face of turbulent markets globally.
Below is a summary of the leading news out of Europe which once again is at the forefront of the action, send risk far lower following the latest reminder that the continent is not only insolvent, but that its economy needs far more debt to even stay unchanged.
Following last night's latest sub 50 Chinese PMI reading (August HSBC PMI at 49.9 following 49.3 in July), it was Europe's turn to spook the market after the Eurozone PMI printed at 49.0- the lowest in two years, versus an estimate of 49.7 and a prior reading of 50.4, with the global recession accelerating regardless of what a few factories in Chicago have to say. Spanish and Italian PMI tumbled from 45.6 to 45.3, and from 50.1 to 49 respectively, coupled with a surprising drop in German PMI which dropped to 50.9, from 52.0. As Bloomberg's David Powell said, revised final manufacturing PMI for August shows that economic weakness has spread from the periphery to the monetary union as a whole and may contribute to a widening of intra-European sovereign debt spreads, especially those of Italy and Spain. Sure enough just as he said that, Spain auctioned off a miserable 5 year bond in which it sold just E3.62 billion out of a maximum target E4 billion, with a stunning plunge in the Bid To Cover which came at 1.76 down from 2.85 despite implicit promises of ECB purchases. This led to the EURUSD dropping to under 1.43, Spanish CDS blowing out by 10 bps, and, sure enough, the ECB intervening promptly by buying up Spanish bonds in the secondary market to prevent a market collapse. All in all, we have all the makings of another 10 point no volume levitating melt up in the S&P, as global recessionary news promises more easing from the cartel.
Earlier today, we were delighted to see that after years of ridicule and provocations, the SPDR GLD ETF finally cracked and decided to do a wholesale PR campaign to comfort the investing public it actually does own its gold, by inviting none other than Bob Pisani in its secret warehouse which allegedly contains 40 million ounces of gold, of which HSBC is custodian and the Bank of England (the same Bank of England which will soon be about 99 tons lighter in gold content once it satisfies Hugo Chavez' physical delivery request) and London Bullion Market Association (“LBMA”) are subcustodians. While the 4 minute PR campaign is enjoyable and we invite readers to watch it, what is amusing is that it is sure to set off another set of conspiracy theories. Here's the reason: amusingly the very gold bar that Pisani demonstrates so eagerly for the camera, Rand Refineries ZJ6752, is somehow, at last check, missing from the full barlist as posted daily by the GLD.Whose is it? Where did it go? When was this clip shot? Inquiring minds want to know...
US companies' outlooks have been taking a turn for the worst since the end of QE2 as management are guiding (still overly rosy sell-side) analyst expectations down in a hurry. Seems it's not just the banks that are hoping for salvation in September...
Feeling like one of the 62 sellside analysts tonight, all of whom had no idea Brazil would cut its overnight rate by 50 bps? Wondering what this "unexpected, unprecedented" move means for Brazil? Curious what the implications of this shocking announcement are? Here is Barclays which while still shellshocked, is the first to try to put lipstick on the pig that the BRIC economy suddenly has become.
As John Hussman correctly highlighted many moons ago, there is just one problem with the whole "cash on the sidelines" statement - it is completely and utterly wrong. Yet while we agree with it in principle, what is also true is that if you don't have cash, you can't buy stuff, period. Or in this case, equities. Yes, one can sell existing holdings to raise cash, but in an environment such as ours, in which underperforming the levered beta tsunami (or, unlike in 2010, the modest wakeboarding wave) means immediate termination, and where margin debt barely moved off its all time highs even as the general market (and especially fixed income) crashed in a repeat of late 2008, it seems nobody is willing to sell anything, come hell, high water or pink slip. Which is why, semantics aside, the fact that the mutual fund space just saw its total Liquid Assets drop to a new all time record low of 3.3% (down from 3.4%), or about $150 billion on $4.54 trillion in stock assets, is not good, no matter how one defines cash or sidelines. And with so little cash to bid up stocks even as they plunged (i.e., contrary to the expectation cash did not go up), the very troubling question arises yet again: just where will the purchasing power come from (and no, it's not retail: retail is long gone).
Watching as the market responds to every piece of bad economic news as if a brand new golden age had just been announced, can sure leave one dazed and confused with nauseating amazement at the success of central planning. Unfortunately for the central planners, and as demonstrated in the previous "Godfather" post, central planning can only do so much (as confirmed holistically by the empirical example of the USSR: no, Benny and the Inkjets are not the first to come up with the brilliant idea of having 13 people run $15 trillion out of a small room). As the following example from John Lohman vividly demonstrates, GDP does and always will impact stocks. Granted it may take them a little longer to respond, especially when prodded by the central printer, but ultimately what has to happen happens. And paritcularly when reaching key inflection points. Such as now. As Lohman notes, "As shown, the growth rate in S&P 500 earnings estimates, and hence expected earnings, has always peaked when the spread between estimates and GDP is more than 1 standard deviation from the mean. In the most recent cycle the spread between profit expectations and economic reality has gone to all-time highs, but has now reversed. As further empirical evidence of this phenomenon, the right side of the table at the bottom highlights the change to expectations in subsequent quarters. Note that they are negative in every instance." Unfortunately, Bernanke can push stocks by promising the moon and the stars, but unless he succeeds in actually pushing GDP up, all his efforts to create a wealth effect will be very soon undone. And with fiscal stimulus still a kneeslapping joke (we won't dwell on the topic of the latest fiasco between Obama and Boehner, suffice to say that if the two can't come up with a decision on how to meet, how on earth will they agree on trillions in fiscal stimulus, especially at a time when America is under "austerity"), we remind readers that according to economists, when using monetary policy to boost GDP, every trillion in LSAPs is equivalent to 0.50% in GDP. Which means a whole lots of LSAPs are coming our way sooner or later.
To anyone who is still confused about why the Fed is on the fence about QE 3, the chart below, inspired by David Rosenberg's daily note, should explain it all. While we have repeatedly shown that the intervention of central banks in the FX arena gets progressively weaker with each incremental incursion by central planning into formerly free and efficient markets, the same can be said for not only fiscal stimulus (today's bankruptcy of Solyndra being merely the ironic cherry on top of the house of cards), the same is most certainly true about monetary intervention as well, in the form of LSAP or any other form of duration extension. And while many have already explained extensively why QE was a flop, here is Rosie with an angle we had not considered before: movie trilogies: "it's not as if QE2 accomplished anything except a blip on the screen as far as the market was concerned, and it elicited no lasting benefit for the economy either. QE1 did work but that was when the system needed to be saved - the S&P rallied 74% on that program. QE2 was nothing more than a gimmick shrouded in deflation concerns [uhm, this coming from Rosie? we'll let it slide] that never materialized, and during this program the stock market ended up rising just 16%. And so what will QE3 bring except more in the way of diminishing returns and resource misallocation caused by central bankers attempting to play around with mother nature by manipulating asset prices? Call it the equivalent to the Godfather Triology: Godfather I was epic; Godfather II not quite as good but still fine; and Godfather III was a dud." And as for the appropriate visual...
Brazil Central Bank Unexpectedly Cuts Its Overnight Rate To 12.0% From 12.5% Following Observations Of "Substantial Economic Deterioration"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/31/2011 - 19:11
In a shocking move, one which is sure to reverberate around the Developing and certainly Developed World, the Brazilian Central Bank just announced that it was cutting its Selic (overnight lending) rate from 12.5% to 12.0%, citing "substantial economic deterioration" - something that not one of the 62 analysts covering Brazil had anticipated. It seems that following over a year of small arms fire FX intervention sniping, Brazil has finally reevaluated its growth prospects, and instead of dealing with the inflow of capital on a piecemeal basis by buying dollars daily - a move which has not worked at all, has decided to cut off flows at the stem. This is most likely the first of many rate cuts by Brazil which is obviously anticipating a major growth contraction in China, and as a result we expect the the other BRICs will very soon reevaluate their stance vis-a-vis being the remaining target of global capital flows. Ironically, up until now it was mostly the developed (read bankrupt) world that was devaluing its currencies... Well, make way for the new kids on the block because this is about to get interesting.
The question that I have been asked more today than almost any other time in the past month has been "Is This The Time To Start Buying Back In?". With the recent rally off of very oversold conditions in July and August, a reflex rally has been in the offing. Also, with this being the end of the month, we are seeing portfolio window dressing for mutual funds. However, a brief review of our technical indicators is in order to determine where we are in this current market environment and what the potential "risk" versus "reward" of being fully invested currently is.
BK Is Out Of BK: BNY Chairman And CEO Kelly Forced Out Due To Differences With The Board On Managing CompanySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/31/2011 - 16:44
Some very out of left field late news from the only other tri-party repo in addition to JPM and key corrupt player in the Bank of America settlement litigation, BNY Mellon, whose Chairman and CEO Bob Kelly has just stepped down "because of differences with the board in the approach to managing the company." His replacement will be president Gerald Hassell, effective imediately. Uh, those never occur unexpectedly. Something big is happening behind the scenes, and alas we ave no idea what it is. Is this the first step to setting up the replacement for Brian Moynihan? Look for the kneejerk response in BAC stock for the answer. Or did the Bank of America settlement, already improbable, just get impossible?