The Kobayashi Maru test of Star Trek fame is a classic no-win situation. Star Fleet Academy students are given command in a no-win scenario: either ignore a distress call of a Federation ship inside the Klingon (enemy) zone or enter the zone on a doomed rescue mission and lose your own ship in a hopeless battle against vastly superior forces. Captain Kirk evaded the no-win choices by reprogramming the computers to enable him to win. I think the job market can be profitably viewed as a Kobayashi Maru test: the conventional either/or choice--do something you dislike for job security or go to grad/law school for an advanced degree--is a false choice.
When it comes to question of "who is right" in the market, the debate usually ends with credit (investment grade) or equity (and its high beta equivalents in the fixed income arena: high yield bonds). And since the question is rhetorical we will kill the suspense and cut straight to the answer: always, and without fail, credit. The chart below shows that once the manipulated ramp up in high beta risk equivalents such as the ES and HY is over (especially since IG is now losing its artificial JPM-induced bid, or technically offer, which is unwinding positions across all vintages and buying protection to close short positions), the way down to a credit-implied fair value of 1335 on the S&P will be fast and furious.
Either Dimon misled the public about the gravity of the festering trades during his company’s first-quarter earnings call last month. Or he didn’t know what was happening inside the bowels of his own company. History tells us the latter is the norm for Wall Street bosses, though it’s hard to say which is worse.
While everyone's attention is focused on Dimon-related puns and trying to comprehend what actually happened at JPM (while at the same time pretending to be an expert in CDO trading models and VaR), UBS' Art Cashin provides some 'fact is better than fiction' on Greece (ah yes the other tempest in a teapot). Between the PASOK defense minister's money-laundering charges and the fact that British bookies won't take any more bets on Greece exiting the Euro (which given no CDS market has started on GGB2s seems to have become the market of choice for that trade), it seems, as the ever-prescient father-of-fermentation notes that "Europe still lurks".
77.8 on expectations of 76.0. Highest since January 2008. Yup: the US "consumers" (of what? Patek Philippes? Cristal? 8 balls? Dorsia deserts?) polled by Reuters, have not had it better in 4 years. After all what is there not to be confident about: record number of people on disability, foodstamps, out of the labor force, market sliding, banks imploding, Europe about to fall apart, gas near record highs, home prices quadruple dipping, and the prospect of much, much higher taxes next year to boot. Whatever - just charge it.
Oh yeah..... Greece.
Was it only yesterday that we showed a chart of IBEX's big positive moves and the subsequent actions? The news this morning, after IBEX bounced off decade lows yesterdays in its dead-cattedness, that the Spanish banking system bailout is considerably smaller than expected (EUR15bn against expectations of EUR30bn and our own discussed estimates that they need EUR58bn) and sure enough IBEX (and Spanish sovereign bonds and financials) are all re-plunging.
- PPI: -0.2%, a decline, and a miss of expectations of 0.0%, Y/Y +1.9%, Exp. 2.1%, first drop in 4 months.
- Core PPI: 0.2%, in line.
- April PPI “should allay fears of producer costs being passed through to customers downstream,” says Bloomberg economist Joseph Brusuelas
- Supports Fed’s assessment of transitory inflation increase on rising oil, commodity costs at end 2011
- Intermediate costs decline points to reduced pressure on profit margins: Brusuelas
- Core intermediate PPI, “closely” watched by Fed, increase "benign," notes Bloomberg economist Rich Yamarone
Yes, believe it or not, there is a world outside of JPM in the past 12 hours, and it was very ugly: weak Chinese CPI, big miss in Chinese industrial output (+9.3%, Est. +12.2%), even bigger miss, actually make it a decline, in Indian factory Outupt (down -3.5%, est. +1.7%), a collapse in China’s new local-currency loans plunging by 32% m/m in April, making a new money infusion paramount (yet inflation still abounds, and the threat of NEW QE keeping the PBOC mum - oh what to do?) and of course... Greece, where things are heading for a second election at breakneck speed, and where Syriza is gaining about a percent in new support each day, guaranteeing life for Europe will be a living hell in one month. What else happened overnight to send futures down 0.5% (and JPM down 8%). Below is a full recap from Bank of America.
Lelaina: Can you define "irony"?
Troy Dyer: It's when the actual meaning is the complete opposite from the literal meaning.
- Reality Bites
Highly respected economist and strategist David Rosenberg has told that Financial Times in a video interview (see below) that gold “will go to $3,000 per ounce before this cycle is over.” Markets are repeating the downturns of 2010 and 2011 and it is time to search for safety, David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff tells James Mackintosh, the FT Investment Editor. Rosenberg sees a “very good opportunity in gold” as it has corrected and seems to be “off the radar screen right now”. He sees gold as a currency and says the best way to value gold is in terms of money supply and “currency in circulation.” As the “volume of dollars is going up as we get more quantitative easing” he sees gold at $3,000 per ounce. Mackintosh says that Rosenberg’s view is a “pretty bearish view”. To which Rosenberg responds that it is “bullish view on gold and gold mining stocks.” Mackintosh says that it is “bearish on everything else”. Rosenberg says that it is not about being “bullish or bearish,” it is about “stating how you view the world” and he warns that the major central banks are all going to print more money and keep real interest rates negative “as far as the eye can see.”
- China Industrial Output Growth Slows Sharply In April (WSJ)
- Indian industrial output shrinks unexpectedly (AFP)
- China’s Inflation Moderates, Adding Room for Easing (Bloomberg)... a nickel for every "imminent RRR-cut" prediction
- Drew Built 30-Year JPMorgan Career Embracing Risk (Bloomberg)
- Spain Offered Time to Curb Deficit (FT)
- France Entrepreneurs Flee From Hollande Wealth Rejection (BBG)
- Venizelos Eyes Unity Deal After Agreement With Democratic Left (Ekathimerini)
- Berlin Reaches Out to the Periphery (FT)
- Bernanke Speaks About Risks From End of Pro-Growth Plans (Bloomberg)
JP Morgan may suddenly be finding itself in deep doodoo, with wide-ranging implications for what this huge prop trading loss means for other less than "fortress balance sheet" banks, all of whose trading blotters are surely riddled with comparable attempts at picking pennies in front of steamrollers, but at least "Europe is fine" and its banks are "solvent". So as a reminder, here is what Europe can look forward to next week: in a word - one of the heaviest bond issuance weeks so far in 2012. And no, these are not slam dunk Bills maturing inside the LTRO. Good luck Europe.