With Japan in the middle of Golden Week (and the UK on holiday), it is perhaps no surprise that European sovereign bonds sold off today. After an epic month, which saw Italian bond spreads collapse around 100bps, today's 10bps widening in spread is the worst in six weeks (and Spain was of similar magnitudes). Equity indices were mostly in the red today (though not dismally) with Italy and Spain down 0.3% and 0.6% resepectively. The Swiss OMX was the only index in the green today. Draghi's comments that "he stands ready to act again" sent EURUSD gapping down 50 pips hovering arund 1.3070 by the close; but it was EURJPY and AUDJPY that were diverging bearishly from risk assets in general.
When a sell-side strategist says 'buying opportunity of a lifetime', we know there will be another right around the corner even if we rally 10%; when one of the largest buy-side firms believes "this is an almost biblical opportunity to reap gains and sell," we tend to listen. In this brief clip from last week's Milken Institute, Apollo Group's Leon Black says his firm has been a net seller for the last 15 months, and that they "are selling everything that is not nailed down." Critically lost in the mainstream media's diatribe is his point that as the markets push higher, juiced by the Fed's policies, his firm will be selling more and more into that and harvesting gains (realizing profits) as opposed to watching unrealized gains (and the mirage of a wealth effect). Apollo has had $13bn of 'realizations' in the last 15 months - the most ever - as he sees "the market is pricey... in our view, priced for perfection." We suspect perfection is far from what we achieve.
The last few years have seen very similar trajectories in the first (and second) quarters of the year. Typically Q1 has been extremely bullish but has had a moment (or two) of doubt that caused weakness that inevitably bought. In fact, while many look on at 2013 as an outlier year (which it is over the entire quarter), since it's early March lows 2013 is lagging the performance of markets on average the last few years, even as Treasuries follow very similar seasonal paths. Over time, the sell-in-May-and-go-away' truism has become more pronounced (as we explained recently from a causation perspective) but the following chart shows that no matter how excited we were in each year in the first four months of the year, May (alone) has not been a good month...
Moments ago, Draghi made sure all the downside stops in the EURUSD were taken out when out of the blue, during a discussion following prepared remarks at LUISS, he confirmed what the ECB said last week: namely that the 25 bps cut is just the beginning.
- DRAGHI SAYS ECB ARE TO EXAMINE EU DATA IN THE NEXT WEEKS AND IS READY TO ACT AGAIN
- ECB READY TO ACT AGAIN IF NEEDED, DRAGHI SAYS
- ECB MONETARY POLICY IS TO REMAIN ACCOMMODATIVE
This follows his earlier comments that the ECB can't subsidize government through buying bonds (only through trillions repo equivalents apparently), which means more whispers of a negative deposit rate are coming to a rumormonger near you.
Herd-mentality, group-think, safety-in-numbers, or lemmings. When a trade becomes one-sided, we are often taught that contrarianism is the smarter position. When a trade becomes extremely one-sided, the market is at its most fragile. There are currently three trades that have become not just consensus, but are near record levels of extreme positioning - and with the help of leverage (and record margin levels) this all adds up to a risk-on market (since all the three trades are on the same side of the long central bank largesse, short safety view) that is over-prone to more significant corrections. Join the crowd or join the 'smarter' money?
Mitt Romney's net worth of $250 million is well-known by virtually everyone in America: after all, it was the primary campaign offensive used by the Obama team against his presidential challenger in an election run largely down wealth, and social class lines, and whom "Democrats targeted in ads and speeches as being out of touch with most Americans." What many may not know is that staunch democrat Al Gore's own personal wealth, has soared from virtually nothing in 1999 to a staggering $200 million according to an analysis conducted by Bloomberg.
Last month we laid out the reasons why France was On The Brink Of A Secondary Depression - in short, due to a deadly collision of French politics with Frankensteinian monetary union. Unfortunately, subsequent data confirms the bleak trajectory. Even Francois Hollande is beginning to wake up to just how destructive and anti-business the French agenda is. France will enter a recession at a time when spending and debt levels are quite high and Hollande’s recent attempts to assist entrepreneurs are too little, too late. France has been slower to cut taxes than other EU members and a secondary depression will push the French budget deficit to new dangerous heights as the government's 'forecast' of the primary balance is farcical. Even if borrowing costs remain low, debt ratios will still explode. Knowing this, why then are French rates so low? The usual explanations (purchases by the Swiss National Bank and Mrs. Watanabe buying) have some merit, but other factors may also be at play. In any case, in a bond market, one should look at two things: the return ON capital and the return OF capital. The return ON capital is pitiful and the return OF capital is far from certain. Sell the financials in Europe - and in France especially. Really, the euro is on its last legs. France is in play.
Russia, China Urge Respect Of Syrian Sovereignty As UN Finds Only Syrian Rebels Used Chemical WeaponsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/06/2013 - 08:21
Carla Del Ponte, a member of the UN independent commission of inquiry on Syria, said that testimony gathered from casualties and medical staff indicated that the nerve agent sarin gas was used by rebel fighters. "Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated," Ms Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television, broadcast on Sunday. "This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities," she added, speaking in Italian. Ms Del Ponte added that the inquiry has yet to see any direct evidence suggesting that government forces have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was required before this possibility could be ruled out. The new claims come one week after the United States said it had "varying degrees of confidence" that sarin had been used by Syria's government on its people.
A few weeks after Italy reelected its 87-year old president for a second term, we get news that its former 7-term Prime Minister, 94 year old, Giulio Andreotti, has passed away.
Following last week's macro fireworks, the coming week will be an absolute snoozer with virtually nothing on the calendar until Thursday's Initial claims, which is the key event of the week, as well as much Fed president jawboning again, including both good and bad cops talking QE4EVA either up or down. And with earnings season basically over, at least coffee consumption will be higher than average.
- Lesson From Buffett: Doubt Yourself (WSJ)
- Gold Bulls Split With Buffett as Traders Say Sell (BBG)
- Apple Misses IPhone Customers as Global Carriers Balk (BBG)
- Russia extends Cypriot loan by 2 years, cuts interest: troika document (Reuters)
- Tax Rewrite in Play in Capitol (WSJ)
- No early warning for U.S. on Israeli strikes in Syria (Reuters)
- Germany riveted at start of neo-Nazi murder trial (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Investors Urged to Split Chairman Role, Oust Directors (BBG)
- Leniency for Offshore Cheats (WSJ)
- Brussels steps up efforts over tax avoidance (FT)
- Ambulance chasing: Mesothelioma Doctors, Lawyers Join Hunt for Valuable Asbestos Cases (WSJ)
- Web Sales-Tax Bill Set to Face Bumps (WSJ)
- Colleges Cut Prices by Providing More Financial Aid (WSJ)
On the third year anniversary of the flash crash, and in a week in which earnings season unwinds and in which there is very little macro news, the bulk of the newsflow happened overnight, starting with a drop in the Chinese Service PMI, which tumbled from 54.3 to 51.1, the lowest in two years, then we got Australian retail sales which dropped -0.1% on expectations of 0.4% gain, indicating that the Chinese slowdown is dragging down the entire Asia-Pac region further. Afterwards, we got a barrage of European non-manufacturing PMI data starting with Spain, at 44.4, down from 45.3, the lowest since December (although one wonder if Spain has finally opened a branch of the BLS, reporting that unemployment actually dipped by 46.1k, on expectations of just a 2k decline, and down from 5k the prior month: how curious the timing of the "end of austerity" and the immediate "improvement" in the economy), then Italy Service PMI printing at 47.0, up from 45.5, on expectations of a 45.8 print, the highest since August 2011, French Services PMI rising modestly from 44.1 to 44.3, Germany's up from 49.2 to 49.6, on expectations of an unchanged print, all of which leading to a combined Eurozone PMI at 47.0, up from 46.6, and beating expectations of a 46.6 print.
The Federal Reserve's extreme monetary policy has done nothing but repress 'safe' assets to the point of making 'risky' assets relatively cheap. This is of course not the case were you to isolate each risky or safe asset and consider its value standalone. Choosing stocks over bonds because "well, what is the alternative?" is akin to the red-pill/blue-pill choice from The Matrix and the reflationary 'normal' that we are supposed to believe in is what 'apparently' justifies a 1.7x rise (12%!) in multiples since QE4EVA was announced. During that same period, consensus earnings expectations have plunged (merely pushed out one more year for the renaissance) and global trade and growth has collapsed. However, while we have shown many divergences from reality in the past, it is the manic/depressive difference between inflation expectations and stock valuations (implicitly supported by reflation) that is the clearest example of the short-term triumph of hope over reality.
Back in December we pointed out the patently obvious: in the absence of an external rebalancing mechanism, i.e., a free-floating currency, the only option for the bulk of the periphery to regain competitiveness was through ongoing wage collapse and persistent localized depression. Five months later, just as predicted, Europe is in a worse shape than ever before, not only in those non-core countries where wage deflation is accelerating, but the weakness has fully spilled over to the core. Of course, none of this is rocket science, and has been quite obvious to anyone who thought for more than 15 seconds about the "future" of the Eurozone. What is surprising, however, is that with every passing day even the most staunchest supporters of the euro, in this case Oskar Lafontaine, German finance minister in 1998-1999, under whose supervision the euro was launched, are becoming the most vocal Euro-skeptics an unsound, political (capital) currency can no longer buy. Here is the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Prithard dissecting the conversion of the latest europhile turned euroskeptic.