WTI Crude Higher Than Brent Crude For First Time Since July 2013

From almost $30 differentials in 2011, today's bounce in WTI has pushed the Brent-WTI spread negative for the first time since July 2013 briefly (and August 2010 consistently). This is, as the chart below shows, more 'old normal' as pre-QE the Brent-WTI spread oscillated in a very narrow range...

Biotech Bubble Record Means Yellen Capital Gets A Margin Call

"Don't fight The Fed" A mantra echoed loud and proud by America's asset-gatherers and commission-takers... except there is a caveat that is not often heard... "don't fight the fed... unless they say sell." Just six short months ago, Janet Yellen's Federal Reserve had their 'irrational exuberance' moment when they warned "valuation metrics in some sectors do appear substantially stretched—particularly those for smaller firms in the social media and biotechnology industries, despite a notable downturn in equity prices for such firms early in the year." Since then, despite a small dip (that was bought), Biotechs have soared to new record highs... up over 35% since her warning...

Ocwen Is Ocdaed: Mortgage Servicer Crashes After California Seeks To Suspend Its Mortgage License

A little over a year ago, Ocwen was the darling of hedge funds everywhere, with such luminaries as Steve Eisman pitching it at the Ira Sohn 2013 idea conference. Since then things went downhill and fast for the mortgage servicer, which after being branded "the "Next Generation Subprime Lender" by Moodys earlier in 2014, become the primary target of the NY State regulator. However, while the company's troubles with the state of New York were not life ending, as one major settlement could put everything in the past, the latest development out of the state of California may have just killed Ocwen's (whose disingenuous name comes from spelling Newco backward) business model, after the LA Times reported the state was "seelomg to suspend the mortgage license of Ocwen Financial."

Stocks Ramped Back To Unch From Payrolls Amid Another Crude Bounce

Sure... why not. US equity markets went vertical in the pre-open and followed through as cash indices opened. This ramp drags stocks back to unchanged from the pre-payrolls level on Friday... It should not surprise anyoine that the ramp coincided with a USDJPY liftathon and yet another bounce in crude oil prices...

Next Greek Premier Says Economic Data "Shamefully Embellished" To Look Better

The Greek general election is just around the corner, and as expectations for a Greek overhaul, if not outright Grexit, rise so does the rhetoric by the man who, barring an act of god or Diebold, will be the next Greek premier: Alexis Tsipras, who some see as the catalyst for a Grexit, while others describe as merely yet another apparatchik of the Troika. Overnight Tsipras wrote an op-ed article in Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper, summarized by Bloomberg, in which he said the notion that Greece’s economy has stabilized is an “arbitrary distortion of the facts.” He said that while the economy grew 0.7 percent in the third quarter, the recession isn’t over because of 1.8% deflation.

Record Crowd In German Anti-Islam Rally Forces Merkel To Urge Tolerance

In Germany, citizens are increasingly worried, with 57% of non-Muslims seeing Islam as a threat; and these fears prompted, as Bloomberg reports, about 25,000 people to turn out for an anti-Islam rally last night in the eastern city of Dresden. Protesters demanded tighter immigration laws, measures to fight 'religious preachers of hatred' and a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants who commit crimes. Angela Merkel has urged tolerance after the rally, warning that some of the organizers have "hatred in their hearts," but it appears the slippery clope has begun, summed up by one 73-year-old German, "I want lots of money for a program to pay Muslims to go home."

Low Prices Spark Biggest Surge In Chinese Crude Imports Ever

Despite the collapse of several key industries (cough Steel & Construction cough), as we have discussed in detail related to the record number of VLCCs charging towards China, Chinese crude oil imports surged by almost 5 million barrels in December - the most on record. This 19.5% surge MoM (and 13.4% YoY) indicates significant efforts to fill the nation's strategic reserve but - absent this 'artificial' demand - spells problems for an already over-supplied global oil market (and its near record contango).

Frontrunning: January 13

  • Oil Drops Below $45; U.S. Stockpiles May Speed Collapse (BBG)
  • Pound Drops as Traders Write Off Higher Rates on Inflation Slump (BBG)
  • Oil prices down again as UAE defends holding production (Reuters)
  • The Politics Behind the ECB's Threat to Cut Greece Funding (BBG)
  • France dispatched thousands of police and military personnel to protect synagogues and Jewish schools, as the government warned of continued terror threats after three days of deadly violence (WSJ)
  • Chinese Car Dealers Find Days of ‘Printing Money’ Ending (BBG)
  • Gold Rises to Highest Since October as U.S. Rate Outlook Weighed (BBG)
  • Divers retrieve crashed AirAsia jet's cockpit voice recorder (Reuters)

Market Wrap: Futures Rebound, Ignore Continuing Crude Crash, 10Y Under 1.9%, 30Y Near Record Low

So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.

ISIS "CyberCaliphate" Celebrates USCENTCOM Twitter, YouTube Hack

Update: The United States Central Command's (CENTCOM) Twitter and YouTube accounts, attributed to pro-Islamic State (IS) hacking group "CyberCaliphate," has been celebrated as a massive achievement among IS fighters and supporters on Twitter.

Another day, another escalation in the conflict between supporters of the Islamic State and western powers, in this case the Twitter account of the US Central Command (@Centcom), which appears to have been hacked, and where compromising tweets revealing details about military members and potential conflict scenarios involving China and North Korea, are being sent out in real time.

Ron Paul: "Lessons From Paris"

Foreign policy actions have consequences. The aggressive foreign policies of the United States and its allies in the Middle East have radicalized thousands and have made us less safe. Blowback is real whether some want to recognize it or not. There are no guarantees of security, but only a policy of non-intervention can reduce the risk of another attack.

Did The Fed Ignite The "Irresponsibility" Of US Oil Over-Supply?

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi has asked why he should be responsible for cutting output while U.A.E. Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei said non-OPEC producers should reduce "irresponsible" production. How can that be? How can American production be 'irresponsible' in the land of the free (money). Well, as the following chart from Bloomberg shows, perhaps OPEC members have a point...

The Central Banks Still Appear To Be In Control (Or So They Think)

The major unintended consequence of government and central bank intervention since Volcker's stand against inflation has been to generate its nemesis; deflation. With interest rates near zero in the major economies, there is nowhere for rates intervention to go to provide a stimulus. Strangely the answer must be higher interest rates. We will then see some "creative destruction" which is what the financial system needs to reset and start a proper economic cycle, but with the investment banks, who stand to lose the most, controlling the strings (just how do you think the US Budget bill got changed to allow banks’ derivative positions to be included in subsidiaries covered by FDIC insurance? ie the taxpayer covers their losses) we need stronger hands at the tiller than a coalition of "politicians" or a lame duck president. We need somebody with balls... any volunteers?

This Is Charlie Hebdo's Next Cover

On the cover: the Prophet Mohammed holding the now iconic "I Am Charlie" sign, with "All is forgiven" written in the background.

When Even Bloomberg Makes Fun Of China's Stock Bubble

"I'm not sure how long this rally will last," warns one Chinese securities analyst, but adds, Chinese investors "tend to ignore important fundamentals" anyway. When even mainstream media is reporting on the epic farce that is the explosion of retail interest in Chinese stocks (and the concomittant surge in stock prices), perhaps it is time for the 'greater fool' to pull back a little. Perhaps the 'exuberance' is best summed up by the following from a security guard for Beijing's subway system, "low-priced stocks are less risky - big drops won’t result in huge losses for me - I don’t know much about investing, but the stocks my friends recommended have been soaring." Trade accordingly...

The Achilles Heel Of The Global Status Quo: Deflation

That the global Status Quo is terrified of deflation is the background of every policy decision and official PR sound-bite. The reason behind this unremitting terror: deflation is the Achilles Heel of the global Status Quo. Rather than being the Monster Under the Bed in central bank nightmares, deflation is the natural result of a competitive economy experiencing productivity gains.

Peak Propaganda: Meet "Joyflation"

Everyone has heard of "inflation" and "deflation" and, when things go really bad and another recession is just around the corner coupled with soaring prices and plunging wages like in Japan for example, "stagflation." But have you heard about its optimistic, happy-go-lucky cousin?

Meet Joyflation!

The 'Golden Age Of The Central Banker' Has Reached "The Cult Phase"

We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.