With only days until the great unveiling and back-slapping that is the GOP's 'convention without walls', we humbly suggest they erect some - and buy some umbrellas. In NOAA's most recent update, Hurricane Isaac is forecast to pass right down the middle of main street Tampa amid Romney-and-Ryan's great moment so far. Of course, TOTUS will be riley smiling, noting that God didn't build this storm, his government did. Somewhat ironically, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn added, for once, "Safety is going to trump politics" - perhaps he should tell Bernanke.
Reports that the ECB is discussing a new variation for sovereign bond purchases involving secret caps for interest rates failed to support peripheral EU bonds and instead provided market participants with an opportunity to book profits following recent strong gains. As a result, 10y peripheral bonds with respect to the benchmark German Bund are wider by around 12bps, with the shorter dated 2y bonds wider by around 15bps. This underperformance by peripheral EU assets is also evident in the stock market, where the IBEX and the Italian FTSE-MIB failed to match performance of the core indices today. The latest PMI data from the Eurozone, as well as China overnight underpinned the need for more simulative measures either from respective central banks or the government. While the PBOC continues to refrain from more easing, the release of the FOMC minutes last night revealed the members favoured easing soon if no growth doesn’t pick up.
Following yesterday's FOMC minutes we suggested that the minutes are, all facts considered, extremely stale, especially when one actually observes the surge in all economic indicators (or should we say seasonal adjustments) since the last FOMC meeting. Moments ago, on CNBC, non-voting St Louis Fed president confirmed just that.
- St. Louis Fed President Bullard says FOMC minutes “are a bit stale”.
- Says some data stronger since FOMC minutes
- Doesn’t know where FOMC will come out on easing
- Says “different constellation” of data vs 2011
- Says “not sure” data warrant big FOMC action
- Says U.S. unemployment “very high”
- Says “we’re not going to react” directly to stock market
In other words, the FOMC minutes do not reflect the economy, but the Fed does not care about the market which just happens to be at 2012 highs, as it does not reflect the economy either, but instead reflects merely what the FOMC thinks, which in turn reacts solely to the market.
Broke Eurogroup viceroy Jean-Claude Juncker meets broke Greek P(anhandling)M(aster) Antonis Samaras. Will a happy ending finally result? Stay tuned as Greece (and the Eurogroup) beg for Germany to finally stop saying "9".
- Australian minister says resources boom is over (Reuters)
- China dismisses reports of lost gold reserves (China Daily) - so China really did lose 80 tons of gold.
- Inconceivable: Former JPM CEO and Chairman William B Harrison Jr come out "In Defense Of Big Banks"
- Qantas Cancels 787 Order After Posting Annual Net Loss (Bloomberg)
- EU Official Says Crisis is Eroding Influence (WSJ)
- Greece Faces New Pressure on Cuts (WSJ)
- Philippines' black market is China's golden connection (Reuters)
- Hollande government responds to criticism (FT)
- LG Display Starts Touch Screens Output Before New IPhone (Bloomberg)
- Greek Crisis Evasion to Fore as Merkel Hosts Hollande in Berlin (Bloomberg)
- Stakes rise as US warned of double-dip (FT)
- Brazil’s Richest Woman Unmasked With $13 Billion Fortune (Bloomberg)
Just when we thought we had seen and heard it (and by it we mean lies, innuendo and desperation) all, here comes the one thing that confirms where the ECB, and Europe, is concerned, we ain't ever seen nuthin' yet. According to Bloomberg, the ECB may set secret ceilings on the yields of govt bonds from countries requiring bailout aid, Welt reports, without citing anyone. Note the words "secret" and "without citing anyone" because they really are key. Because it is unclear whether Bild is truly stupid enough to assume that what amounts to a limitless bond purchase operation could remain a secret and not show up on the ECB balance sheet. What it really is, is merely a last step desperation attempt by Mario to keep on talking down bond yields, since a month into his "believe me" speech, the ECB has yet to do anything, let alone secret or not so secret yield caps, let alone Spain demanding a bailout, let alone the ECB even reaching a consensus with Germany and Bundesbank both opposing any incremental money printing. Welt says that the ECB could also set a range for yields, merely another absolutely idiotic "detail" in the ECB's "secret" plan. Supposedly the advantage of a range is that the ECB wouldn’t need to defend a set price at any cost, could tolerate S/T deviations. The (lack of) logic for this measure is that central bankers no longer believe that announcing a ceiling and making it public would be enough to calm markets. But nothing, nothing, can prepare one for what comes next: Secret yield ceilings would only work if they aren’t leaked says Welt. Yup. They said that. This is where blood shoot be shooting out of your nose at escape velocity.
It was the best of times (US equities); it was the worst of times (the world's growth engine - China). HSBC-Markit just announced the Flash PMI for August and it's not pretty - printing at a nine-month low (47.8 vs 49.3 in July). Of course, China's own version remains in the Schrodinger-like >50-expansion state for now but with all 11 sub-indices in this evening's data pointing to weakness, we suspect not even the Chinese can sell that data for much longer. So what next - RRR? Massive stimulus? - don't hold your breath given the recent reverse repos and the already creeping-inflation in food and energy prices. The piece-de-resistance of the data-dump though has to be (in line with Japan's trade data last night) is the New Export Orders slumped to 44.7 - lowest since March 2009 when trade finance collapsed post-Lehman.
In as-comprehensive-an-explanation-as-we-have-seen of the monetary malfeasance and misunderstanding of the standard Keynesian central-banker, Gloom-Boom-Doom's Marc Faber addressed an instutional audience in the Middle East earlier this year. Faber begins by explaining his (correct) view that 'Keynesian' intervention into the free-market or capitalistic society (with fiscal and monetary measures), in order to 'smooth' the business cycle, has in fact created a more violent business cycle - as they attempt to address long-term structural problems with short-term fixes (or bubbles). His lecture expands from his insight that in 1970 not a single investment bank was public - they were all private partnerships (implicitly playing with their own money as opposed to other-people's - dramatically impacting the risk profile in the world) to the notion that central bank money printing (pushing dollars out the door) does have inflationary symptoms - but they do not necessarily have to show up in wages or CPI in the US (think Chinese wage inflation, or commodity price rises, or Aussie housing bubbles). Central bankers can determine the quantity of money but they cannot determine what we do with those USD bills. Must watch.
Just over 16 months ago, the NASDAQ did an unusual thing. As the WSJ noted at the time, AAPL, which had reached a 20% weighting in the NASDAQ-100, was rebalanced to 12.3%. This weighting was apparently too much for the index-provider who feared "the tech company's big weighting means that a change in fortune for the maker of iPhones, iPods and iPads has a huge impact on one of the most heavily traded indexes in the market." Since 04/05/11, when that rebalance occurred, AAPL's market cap has doubled, while the NASDAQ-100 is up just under 20% ($627bn versus $3.15tn). With the current weighting of AAPL in the NASDAQ-100 at 19.8%, we wonder what is next - as the WSJ noted at the time, any "rebalancing is likely to kick off waves of trading... as money managers scramble to adjust holdings to reflect the new composition of the index." Interestingly, AAPL has reached 20% of the index twice this year already - which just happened to coincide with significant selling pressure on the stock - will third time be the charm?
Under widespread NIRP, pensions, annuities, insurers, banks and ultimately all savers will suffer a slow but steady decline in real wealth over time. Just as ZIRP has stuck around since the early 2000’s, NIRP may be here to stay for many years to come. Looking back at how much widespread damage ZIRP has caused since its introduction back in 2002, it’s hard not to expect that negative interest rates will cause even more harm, and at a faster clip. In our view, NIRP represents the death knell for the financial system as we know it today. There are simply too many working parts of the financial industry that are directly impacted by negative rates, and as long as NIRP persists, they will be helplessly stuck suffering from its ill-effects.
The evolution of currency systems over the past two centuries, as it turns out, is far more exciting than is usually let on (think political thriller as opposed to economic textbook!). GoldMoney presents, in all its glory, the quixotic history of exchange-rate regimes from 1821 to the present day.
The market was not exactly ecstatic at the FOMC minutes but certainly squeezed up off its pre-minutes lows to end very fractionally green (S&P small up, Dow down, NASDAQ up - thanks to AAPL's 2% gain - it's 7th in 3 month). Post-FOMC the QE-on trade was very clear - Treasury yields tumbled, stocks popped, USD weakened, and Gold soared. These were quite significant moves relative to recent ranges: Gold broke above its 200DMA - back to early May highs; Treasury yields dropped 10bps - biggest plunge in rates since start of June (as it bounces off its 200DMA). On the week, the NASDAQ is the only major US index in the green (+0.1%) while the Dow is down 0.78%.
In a "new normal" "market" that has long since given up discounting fundamental news, and merely reacts to how any given central planner banker blinks, coughs, sneezes, or otherwise hints on future monetary injection plans at any given moment, it is useful to know the only market players that matter. Courtesy of Guggenheim, they are listed out below - these are no longer the major TBTF banks, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein ambitions to rule the world notwithstanding; they are now the world's central banks, whose assets are rapidly approaching their host sovereign GDPs even as their overall leverage is increasing by leaps and bounds on a daily basis, putting such recent Investment Bank overlevered behemoths to shame. It is in this playing field where the price of any one "risk asset" is no longer indicative of anything more than monetary, and in a world in which politicians have long been made obsolete by the central planners, fiscal policies. It also means that capital markets are only whatever the various central bankers want to make them... and nothing else.