Frontrunning: March 18

  • Hilsenrath: Fed to Markets: No More Promises (WSJ)
  • Fed set to ditch 'patient' rate vow as it eyes U.S., world growth (Reuters)
  • Fannie, Freddie could need another bailout (Reuters)
  • Alibaba Stock-Sale Lockup Is Ending (WSJ)
  • Netanyahu Sweeps Aside Herzog’s Challenge to Win Israel Vote (BBG)
  • Oil Bonds Lose Investors $7 Billion in 10 Days (BBG)
  • There’s a mysterious $1.1 trillion in spending cuts in the House GOP’s budget (WaPo)
  • ECB's Celebration of Its New $1.4 Billion Tower Is Spoiled by Protesters (BBG)

Futures Weak Ahead Of "Impatient" Fed, Oil Slide Continues; China Stocks Go Berserk

The only news that matters to algos today is whether Janet Yellen will include the word "patient" in the FOMC statement as a hint of a June rate hike, even though the phrase "international developments" is far more important in a world in which everyone (such as the 25 or so central banks who have cut rates in the past 80 days) is now scrambling to export deflation to everyone else. And with carbon-based traders recuperating from St. Patrick's day, few will notice that the oil tumble continues as WTI touches new 6 year highs after yesterday's shocking 10MM+ API build, and is now openly eyeing a collapse into the $30s. Just as nobody will notice that even as futures in the US and European stocks are looking a little hungover ahead of the Fed and perhaps on the latest bout of anti-austerity out of Europe, the China levitation has gone full retard, with the SHCOMP up another 2.1% yesterday and now in full-blown parabolic mode as housing data confirms the Chinese housing bubble has truly burst, and as shadow bankers dump all their funds into stocks in hopes of making up for losses due to regulatory intervention.

Are Greek Capital Controls Now Inevitable?

Is Greece truly on the verge of capital controls, especially the kind that has the blessing of the very man who created the Cyprus "blueprint"? For the answer we go to ISI, which discussed just that in a flash note issued earlier today:

The End Is Kind Of Nigh

All Good Things Must End... this may not be the end of the world exactly. But the end of the fiat money system President Nixon gave birth to in 1971... when he cut the dollar loose from gold. And it may feel like the end of the world, because of the social chaos it will provoke.

Europe's Haves & Have-Nots: Greek Bulls "Throw In The Towel... They've Gone Plain Nuts"

Things are not going well for the Greeks. Bond yields are at post-default highs, implicitly shutting them out of the capital markets; stocks are cratering; and deposit outflows continue as the cash crunch looms. Even ex-Goldman silver-lining-finder Erik Nielsen stated this weekend that he is "throwing in the towel," on Greece, adding, as Bloomberg reports, that things have gone "plain nuts" in Athens. However, things are going great for the Germans - borrowing costs have never been lower, and the stock market is at record-er highs every day, as Draghi's money-printing fiasco has succeeded in one thing (and one thing only) dividing an already fragile 'union' into ever-greater 'haves' and ever-lesser 'have-nots'.

It's Official: Americans R Stoopid

As Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people.  But do we really have reason for such pride?  According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency.  Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually.  So what does this say about us?  Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid.

Market Top's In? Why Buy-The-Dippers Can't Get It Up

Currently, a new form of danger arises. The Keynesian pettifoggers at the Fed have painted themselves into an epochal corner. After 78 months of ZIRP they have no idea about how and why they got here; and now, mired deep in the lunacy of free money, they are clueless about where they are going next. There is not a chance the US economy has decoupled from the rest of the world. The great credit-driven boom was universal and fueled by out of control central banks. Now comes the bust phase, and these same money printing central bankers have no clue what to do about it.

Greek PM To Meet With Putin Amid Cash Crunch

News of an upcoming meeting between Tsipras and Putin comes just days ahead of EU Summit and a €2 billion debt repayment, suggesting Athens may be playing one of its few remaining cards.

Big Data Algos 'Are' The Singularity & They're Coming To A Stock Market Near You

There is a much larger structural risk for markets and investors than HFT and the whole Flash Boys brouhaha, it’s just totally under the radar and hasn’t surfaced yet. Investors may not know better yet, but they will soon, one way or another. Tomorrow a handful of governments will influence aggregate political behaviors by triggering small communications that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual citizens, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “popular” actions. Tomorrow a handful of hedge funds will influence aggregate market behaviors by triggering small trades that Big Data tells them will be voluntarily magnified by individual traders, snowballing into outsized, long-lasting, and untraceable “market” actions. Tomorrow Big Data will be primarily an instrument of social control, with a powerful and ubiquitous impact on all citizens and all investors.

Syria Shoots Down US Drone

Perhaps it is purely a coincidence that on the day in which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (which as profiled earlier is anything but) released several new YouTube clips "confirming" a poison gas chemcial attack by the Assad army had killed 6 people in the country, that several hours later a US drone was shot down by the Syrian military according to CNN, which cites Syria's state-run news agency reported Tuesday. Then again, perhaps not.

Hedge Fund Manager Fears "Sudden, Pervasive Loss Of Faith" In Markets; Says "It's A Truly Scary Time"

First it was Sam Zell, warning "it's very likely that something has to give here." Then George Soros upped his market hedge drastically, followed by Carl Icahn's "worry about excessive money printing," adding that he was "very nervous" about US equity markets. "Financial markets are euphoric," warned Stan Druckenmiller, warning that "market participants are pricing in hardly any risks," and Crispin Odey explained "there are consequences to CB actions," stating that "we have front-row seats to an imminent market shock." And now hedge fund manager Andy Redleaf (who predicted "there is going to be a panic in credit markets," in 2007) has come out with the most ominous of warnings yet among the billionaire crowd... "I think it is a truly scary time."

Something Strange Is Going On With Nonfarm Payrolls

"Seasonally adjusted housing starts for February plunged by one of the largest amounts in the post-crisis period. The chart below shows a subset of the February non-farm payroll report, residential construction jobs. Seasonally adjusted these jobs increased by 17,200 in February, the most in two years (Feb 2013 was greater) and the second most in four years.  So while economists are blaming the weather for the plunge in housing starts, residential construction jobs were fairly robust in February. This makes no sense."

WTI Plunges To $42 Handle On Massive API Inventory Build

For what appears to be the 10th week in a row, API reports a massive 10.5 million barrels (far bigger than the 3.1 million barrel expectation) and a 3 million barrel build at Cushing. If this holds for DOE data tomorrow (and worryingly API has tended to underestimate the build in recent weeks) it will be the biggest weekly build since 2001. WTI has plunged on this news hitting $42.60 on the April contract.