Yesterday, when discussing the forthcoming implications of the Libor scandal, we said that in the barrage of coming lawsuits, "the entity that will be sued by proxy is the Federal Reserve, whose Federal Funds rate is really the setter for the baseline Libor rate." This claim came at an opportune time, just hours before one of the Fed's most vocal critics (and gold standard advocates), Jim Grant, appeared on TV to discuss precisely the same thing. Best summarizing his position is a cartoon that appeared in a recent issue of Grant's Interest Rate Observer in the context of Lieborgate, and who is really at fault here.
We noted the significant drop in the ECB's Deposit Facility this morning and as the day wore on it became clear that few - if any - of the standard talking heads on media channels had a clue what this meant except the standard comprehension that it must be good for stocks as the money is finally being put to good use (though as we noted bond yields would say different). While it is true that a large chunk of money has shifted away from the deposit facility, the money has not gone anywhere else – it is still sitting at the ECB, just that it is now in the ECB current account where banks place money to fulfill their reserve requirements. The catch here is that both excess reserves and the deposit facility will earn nothing from now on - so why move it? Simple, as BofAML points out, placing the money in the current account has lower operational costs for banks – if a bank places money at the deposit facility, it will be returned automatically the day after; however, if placed in the current account, it will remain there until the bank manually requests to take the money out. So, it would seem, somewhere a young associate on the Treasury Function desk just lost his job as he no longer needs to press the 'send to ECB' button every night. The reality is that the information on bank lending activities that one can infer from these ECB data is minimal at best.
According to the just released M2 update, the broadest publicly tracked monetary aggregate (because the Fed doesn't have enough money to keep track of M3) just hit $9,991.5 billion, a $43 billion increase from last week. In other words, this is the last week in which M2 is under $10 trillion. So enjoy it while the "complete lack of penetration" of the monetary base into broader monetary aggregates, and of the Fed's reserves so tightly locked up in bank vaults, is still only 13 digits (most of it comprising of bank deposits which of course represent no inflationary threat at all). Next week it will be a record 14 digits for the first time, and well on its way to surpassing the $15 trillion held in the deposit-free shadow banking system as the importance (and inflationary convexity) of the two is rapidly interchanged.
Stepping back from the trees to survey the forest (from the Moon perhaps) often provides some clarifying picture-paints-a-thousand-words view of the world. This is exactly what Citi's Rick Lorusso has done and while he called for a correction back in March which was followed by a 10.9% drop in the Dow, he was disappointed and is looking for a far greater adjustment - no matter how many times he hears about negative sentiment and QE and soft-landings. Starting from a truly long-term yearly chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Lorusso conjures wave patterns, Fibonnacci, and cycles as he rotates down to monthly and daily charts to conclude that his charts "suggest the potential for a very significant high this year," in the July/August period, summarizing that Citi is "anticipating that the market will form a terminal high." - even more so on a rally from here as he warns "beware of new highs" so bulls be careful what you wish for.
Despite miraculous efforts to find the right fulcrum security to pressure stocks into the green for the day, equities end the day notably in the red after cracking (once again on heavy volume and large average trade size) into the close. Reverting as usual back to VWAP, the market was typically manic today with two significant QE-on pushes (Treasury yields lower as Stocks/Gold rallied with USD weakness) after the better-than-expected 30Y auction ended badly for stocks as it reverted rapidly back down to bond's reality into the close. Once again very close to record low yields in Treasuries - with 30Y yield down over 10bps on the week. Initial bids under Silver (which reverted up to perfectly sync with Copper on the week) and then WTI (over $86, post further sanctions) provided some correlated excitement for stocks but it was clear once again that the low volume liftathon was an exit opportunity for bigger players with financials and tech notably underperforming. Average volume and average trade size on the day in aggregate but the European close rally monkey just ran out of steam as 'size' stepped in to move ES down to its 50DMA and the Dow near its 200DMA to ends it sixth down day in a row.
Remember when various students of the Econ. PhD persuasion (not to mention various paywall holdco-funded blogs, both desperate for namedropping-based page views), alleged that reading Zero Hedge makes one's money "vanish" (instead of focusing their brilliantly insightful googling efforts on such worthier topics as MF Global or its successor, PFG, or even Libor)? We were going to present a picture of your typical "testosterone" addicted reader below as a reminder, but instead we opted for a picture of MBIA's intraday price, which is up 8.5% from where we broke news that the company may soon be worth much, much more. And to facilitate these same academics in their abacus-based pursuits of truth, justice and the Keynesian way, we will even calculate the annualized return: 847,801,191% (we will withhold calculating what the return on various short-term call options may have been - we are confident even career Economists can figure that one out after several hours of consultations). But since when have facts ever been part of the status quo's arsenal...
Malaysia's state-owned oil and gas company just made a multibillion-dollar bet that Canada will choose to export its shale gas riches. Even though the odds of securing permission to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Canadian west coast are still pretty poor, the costs of such an endeavor immense, and the timeline in question very long, Petronas is putting $5.5 billion on the table – far more than it has ever spent on an acquisition before – to secure a large foothold in the British Columbia shale gas scene.
It's yet another sign that things are getting serious in the global race for resources.
The venerable Bank of America recently sent letters to 60,000 struggling homeowners with the caveat-ridden generous offer of slicing an average $150,000 off their loans; the response was... silence. It seems the total and utter 'borrower fatigue', as Bloomberg puts it, that leaves homeowners relying on the very same banks that committed loan servicing abuses to avert foreclosures. Yet another program, that BofA specifically accounts for almost half of the fines of, ends up helping far fewer people than intended. Simply put, borrowers have lost faith in the process.
The good news: the deficit in June was $59.7 billion, just on top of expectations of $60.0 billion. The bad news: the June deficit was $59.7 billion, following $125 billion in May (and yes, right after that shocking and one-time, tax return driven $59 billion surplus in April), and $16.7 billion higher compared to last June. Total debt in June increased by $85.7 billion so more or less in line. The cumulative deficit in Fiscal 2012 is now $904 billion through June, compared to $970 billion last year over the same period. Will this ever change? Not as long as profligate spending-encouraging record low yield is there. Tune in next month when we find that the July deficit was about $140 billion in line with historical data.
In reality, it is little surprise that behaviorally we see risk markets recover from precipitous declines - we are an optimistic bunch of knife-catchers after all. Credit Suisse's Global Risk Appetite index uses a number of factors to track the herd's shift from euphoria to dysphoria, and uses those panic levels to BTFD. The typical response function is around a 230 day upswing in animal spirits before reality sets in from now-euphoric levels. It seems that from the April 2011 'panic' levels in their index, we are about a month away from it being as good as it is going to get and the BTFD'ers will perhaps notice from the chart below that as time has gone on (from the '82 recovery to the current recovery) that the response function has had diminishing potential - as we are very near to Peak Recovery.
There remains some confusion about the timing of actions around the PFG Best disaster. From withdrawn salary cuts to liquidation-only orders to forced liquidations from Friday to Monday, CNBC's Rick Santelli provides a succinct and shocking insight into what real money accounts and brokers have dealt with and continue to try to comprehend. The sad truth about where the money went is summed up by his guest that "we're just hearing rumors; it could be, on a percentage basis worse, than MF Global."
Anyone expecting fireworks in today's 30 Year bond auction, and hoping a repeat of yesterday's WTF 10 Year bond auction which saw the High Yield 6 bps inside the When Issued, will be disappointed. Yes, the auction priced at a record low yield of 2.58% (that said, only 40.64% was allotted at the high with a 2.436% low yield), and yes, this was again well through the When Issued 2.594%, but that's about as far as it goes: the Bid to Cover was 2.70, in line with the TTM average 2.64, Primary Dealers were stuck with 43.1% of the auction, below the average take down of just over half, while the key Directs took down 20.1% of the issue, which again was high, but nowhere near yesterday's soaring Direct activity, which led many to speculate that there could either be a collateral squeeze, or a rapid reallocation from the ECB's ZIRP cash into US paper (coupled with even more EURUSD repatriation as BAC has also figured out now, only one year after ZH). Bottom line a snooze, and next we look forward to two weeks from today, when the next trio of 2, 5, 7 year auctions is on deck, which just may send total US debt to $16 trillion.
Those hoping that the recent short squeeze which took the market to just why of its 2012 highs will repeat itself may be disappointed, because according to the NYSE, Short Interest as of June 29 plunged to 14.2 billion shares, from well over 14.7 billion two weeks prior, a drop of over half a billion shares, or the most since January, when the combination of LTRO 1, Twist and renewed hope that the economy was "improving" forced 783K shares to cover into the big October-March ramp. The current short interest level of 14.2 billion shares is the third highest of 2012, and was last seen back in November 2011 when the market needed a global coordinated intervention and the ECB's LTRO announcement to prevent i from taking out 2012 lows.
It seems every week there are new acronyms or catchy-phrases for Europe's Rescue and Fiscal Progress decisions. Goldman Sachs provides a quick primer on everything from ELA to EFSM and from Two-Pack (not Tupac) to the Four Presidents' Report.