Stocks Close Below Open (and FOMC) As Market Fades After-Hours

It was a dream come true new normal FOMC day - green all around as the overnight pump on Russian hope provided the anchor. US equities (except Transports which were hammered by FDX) wiggled sideways around unchanged from pre-Cyprus, ignored the Fed, jumped on the BoJ non-news, ran some stops into the close, and then gave back all the open-to-close gains as JBL and ORCL missed and reality sunk in. Post-Cyprus, Morgan Stanley remains -4% (and BofA +2%) but homebuilders led the way. Volume was average; average trade size was low (and has been falling). For most of the day Treasury yields (+5bps on the day), S&P 500 futures (+6pts), and EURJPY were inseparable as algos ruled the VWAP waves. The S&P 500 ends below pre-FOMC levels but Oil was among the biggest post-FOMC gainer.

Meanwhile In Global Logistics...

FedEx started the day down around 4% (on the disaster that we noted earlier) and has not looked back. Now at the lows of the day, down 7% (and 8.5% from its highs yesterday) this is the biggest drop and biggest volume (with 30 minutes left in the day) in 18 months. So much for global trade volumes...

Non-News That Japan Will Ease "Boldly" Has Bigger Impact Than Bernanke

But wait - some regurgitated news from Japan of 'moar easing' and EURJPY ramps to pull S&P futures up to pre-Cyprus levels...


You have to wonder when no-news from the BoJ trumps no-news from the Fed in stirring S&P to move (but success as the S&P maaged to finally close the Cyprus gap)... We can't help but wonder who decided that at 2:05am Japan time this non-news algo-pumping headline should be released?

Bernanke Press Conference - Live Webcast

Will the Chairman mention the tools the Fed has to unwind its $3.1 trillion balance sheet, as he did during his Humphrey Hawkins testimony, which included "belts, suspenders -- two pairs of suspenders", will he discuss the many hats broke savers have, will he repeat that he does not provide financial advise, will he praise his tremendous "inflation record" once more, will he discuss the complete lack of the currency war the entire world is engaged in, or will he simply focus on what Corker called the "faux wealth effect"? Found out in moments as Bernanke hand-picked journalists toss him a veritable cornucopia of softball questions.

Post-FOMC: Market Un-Response

The reaction to the FOMC statement is extremely significant in its almost entire lack of response.

Pre: 10Y 1.94%, ES 1550, Gold $1606, WTI $92.70, EUR 1.2950
Post: 10Y 1.935%, ES 1551.5, Gold $1606.5, WTI $92.95, EUR 1.2966

Mortgage spreads widened very modestly; Volume has died; VWAP is your friend; and the Great and Powerful Oz is about to speak.

The Fed's Revised Economic Projections

If there is one thing to be said about the just revised economic projections from the Fed (2013 GDP slightly lower on the upper range, the same as the unemployment rate which the Fed now sees dropping to as little as 6.7% in 2014), is that the economy will do everything but what the Fed has forecast, at least if history is any indication.

No Surprises From FOMC - Statement Redline Comparison

As expected, Bernanke and his pals decided moar is betterer and keep the monetary policy foot to the floor even as they suggest things are getting better but not better enough.


So everything is moving forward; Politicians are still idiots but don't worry we won't stop...

Though the schizophrenia remains as they cut growth for 2013 ( 2.3%-2.8% vs 2.3%-3.0%) but lowered unemployment for 2013 (7.3%-7.5% vs 7.4%-7.7%).

Pre: 10Y 1.94%, ES 1550, Gold $1606, WTI $92.70, EUR 1.2950


ECB Re-Bluffs To Cyprus Bluff, Is "Prepared To Let Cyprus Go"

When the market briefly surged yesterday, following the cryptic note from the ECB that it would "provide liquidity within existing rules" we urged to ignore the kneejerk algorithmic exuberance (although with only algos left trading that was obviously self-defeating) which interpreted this as an indication the ECB would provide unconditional liquidity now and forever, and that this was hardly a bullish sign because "the last thing the ECB wants is to appear weak, and fold letting every other broke deadbeat country to demand the same equitable treatment and diluting Germany's political might." Today, Reuters has picked up on this coming out with its own analysis that the "The European Central Bank is prepared to cut off funding to Cyprus and let the Mediterranean island succumb to financial meltdown if it has to, confident it has unlimited firepower to protect the rest of the euro zone."

Swiss Safety Sought With Markets Mired In Misunderstanding

There is a lot of strangeness out there today - though that in itself is not so strange anymore. Spanish and Italian (and Portuguese) bond spreads rallied back to only +12bps on the week (but Spain's equity market is rolling over (down 2.5%) into the close. The S&P, Dow, and Nasdaq are all pushing unchanged on the week (ignoring Cyprus) but the Dow Transports is plunging (as FedEx is smashed lower on the biggest volume in 6 months). 2Y Swiss rates have dropped to their most negative in 2 months as safety is chased and we suspect the EUR strength (a 100 pip pop on yesterday's US close) is much more repatriation flows than risk-on confidence flows. US homebuilders are bid (+2.2% on the week) as hope springs eternal for high-beta chasing and a UK housing bailout. European credit markets have not recovered from Cyprus, while stocks... have.

Euro: Currency Or Prison?

The following Wall Street Journal article deserves to be read in its entirety...

Wearing the disguise of austerity, the euro has emerged as the gatekeeper of what is fast becoming a debtors’ prison.

Monetary union, the vehicle to bring about peace and prosperity, has become the lash that tears at the fabric of the poorest of nations. In the case of Cyprus, it could easily push that nation into the arms of Russia and abandonment of the euro - the exact opposite result of what the single currency was designed to do.

Cyprus Banks To Reopen Next Tuesday At Earliest As Capital Controls Become Reality

We can only hope that nobody will be shocked that the greatly overhyped Friday Cyprus bank reopen has been postponed.


And since March 25, Monday, is another Cyprus bank holiday, "Greek Independence Day" (from whom? Certainly not the Troika), it means Cypriot banks will now remain closed at least until next Tuesday and likely far longer. In the meantime, since TV cameras can't show lines of people at their freindly neighborhood bank, which will have been closed for over a week, the propaganda machine will blast full bore how because the market is pushed higher by the Fed, any fears of bank runs can be forgotten. Actually instead of "can", replace with "must."

Guest Post: How I Became A Trillionaire (And Some Thoughts On Inflation)

These photos illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of fiat (paper) money. Why do we prefer the $100 greenback over the $100 trillion note issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe? The purchasing power of the Benjamin far exceeds the purchasing power of the $100 trillion bill. But the Benjamin is not immune to inflation; the dollar has lost about 95% of its 1900 purchasing power.  If 95% of households are experiencing a loss of purchasing power and most of the new money and credit are flowing to the top 5%, you get asset bubbles, not demand-driven inflation. When 95% of the households are poorer in terms of purchasing power and financial wealth, where can demand-driven inflation arise in a global economy of massive manufacturing and labor over-capacity? The rise in costs within industries controlled by cartels (healthcare, higher education, defense, etc.) may look like demand-driven inflation, but are actually transfers of wealth and purchasing power from households to the government-protected cartels.

Dr. Copper's Deja Vu

In the last two days, Spot Copper prices have broken below a three-year up-trend line and as Stone McCarthy notes, continue to extend their worrisome divergence from stocks, "this has been one of the primary pieces of evidence [they've] been using to make [their] case that the U.S. equity market is in the final stages of an impulsive rally off of the November '12 lows." They go on to note that, "Due to the fact that copper so closely measures the "pulse" of global economic activity, the tendency for copper to lead equities at market tops and bottoms is something we've covered many times in our writings over the years. This time around, unprecedented efforts to stimulate the domestic economy have left many uninformed investors blind to the weakness that is being experienced in what is seen an important engine of global growth, emerging markets." Every market cycle is different, with leading divergences by copper prices lasting anywhere from a couple of months to several years. The last time the divergence between copper prices and the S&P 500 was as long lasting as the current cycle was prior to the S&P's 2007 price top...

Thanks Again Stolper

Yesterday, at the close, the most lucrative "strategist" in the history of FX, Goldman's Tom Stolper, moments after he was closed out on his EURGBP long reco with a 2.8% loss in one week, came out with a new note, refuting his previous long-held view that in the long run the EURUSD is going much higher, specifically saying the following: "Once again we face rapidly rising uncertainty with regards to the next leg in the never-ending Eurozone crisis. Many of the features, including the unpredictability of the next headline during the final days of a bailout negotiation have been seen before, many times in fact. Short EUR positioning is not stretched yet and the EUR still looks like the natural hedge in case the situation in Europe derails more systemically. Although EUR/$ implied volatility has risen, it remains at levels that are well below those seen in past periods of stress, so options are not prohibitively expensive. The Euro has already responded and this move has pushed us beyond the stop loss in our long EUR/GBP recommendation. Moreover very near-term risks are once again skewed to the downside and a move to EUR/$ 1.25 or even lower remains entirely possible depending on the progression of the negotiations and the flow of headlines. The lack of clear majorities in the Italian parliament and the inability of the Greek government to deliver the agreed reduction in public sector payrolls all add to tactical downside risks here." We promptly took the hint and the second the note hit the tape, we advised on what is the only logical trade.

Iceland, Cyprus... And These Two Countries?

We present readers with a pop quiz: the chart below show the ratio of total financial assets to host nation GDP. The tragic cases of Cyprus and Iceland are well-known, as per Reuters, and highlighted on the chart. We urge readers to guess what the supposedly very stable countries X and Y are on the chart, whose total financial system assets to GDP are approaching those of Cyprus, especially since depositors in their banking systems may be due for a very unpleasant surprise next if indeed Iceland and now Cyprus are the case studies.

UK Discloses Home Purchase Subsidy As Part Of Its Latest 2013 Budget

As part of its 2013 budget, the UK announced something quite dramatic - a government-funded housing subsidy. The government will to commit GBP 3.5 billion of capital spending over the next three years to shared equity loans. The Loans will be up to 20% of the value of a new-build home. The government will also offer mortgage guarantee to lenders to help them provide more loans to people who can’t afford big deposits. Guarantees will be sufficient to support GBP130b of mortgages, Osborne says. "These guaranteed mortgages will be available to all homeowners, subject to the usual checks on responsible lending,” Osborne says.

Brevan Howard: "Faith In Endless Central Banker Put Is Serious Error"

"Having faith in policymakers' ability to provide a perpetual put may yet prove to be a serious error; and, with interest rates stuck at zero, investors' ability to easily earn back losses remains severely impaired," is the not so subtle manner in which, Reuters reports, Brevan Howard, which manages $40 billion (and has never had a losing year) describes the current shambles of a market. "Tail risks, which have haunted the markets for the last five years, appear to have receded for the time being, but have by no means disappeared," they go on to say, noting that while policymakers promise to do "whatever it takes," investors betting that actions by policymakers will prop up financial markets indefinitely will face problems as "policy hyperactivity coupled with investor apathy could lead to significant and persistent price moves in multiple capital markets." But that's just an absolute return $40bn fund manager's view as opposed to a day-trading fast money trend masher or asset-gathering index-tracker.