Hedge fund numbers though just before the last week of June when everything ripped. Looking at these it is not difficult to see why stocks were in dire need of a vapor volume ramp: Millennium: +0.16; Tewksbury: -0.40%; Cantillon: -3.99%; Silverpoint: -0.20%; Davidson Kempner: -0.56%; King Street: -1.07%; Owl Creek: -4.8%; Perry: -3.72%; Pershing Square: -3.7%; York Capital: -3.47%, Avenue: -1.9%; Bluemountain: -0.67%; SABA (aka negative basis implosion-in-waiting): 0.46%; Viking Global: -1.09%; Maverick: -4.25%; Highbridge Long/Short: -6.37% (oops), REIF B: -0.75%; Cobalt: -0.88%; Tudor: -2.83%; Moore Global: -2.35%; Moore Macro: -0.64%; Hutchin Hill: -0.30%; and so on.
There has to be some mistake here: according to the just released
June CBOT volume for futures and options across the 4 key product
categories: interest rate, equity index, energy, and commodities, plummeted by 92.9% Year over Year for the month of June. Although apparently not really per Reuters: "Trading volume at the Chicago Board of Trade was down 92.9 percent in June 2011 at about 5.3 million contracts versus about 74 million contracts traded in June 2010, CME Group said in its monthly volume report. The year-to-date volume through June 2011 was about 442 million contracts, compared with 443 million contracts for the same period in 2010, down by 0.3 percent." Some of the more jarring observations: $25DJ index futures: 2 contracts in June 2011, Mini Dow futures: 154K versus 3.7 million, and a complete collapse in IR futures and options: 5 and 10 Year Note futs down from 24MM and 10MM respectively to... 1.9MM and 934K! We can only assume this is due to some recalendarization of trading as otherwise this implies an epic collapse in any investor participation.
You Can't Have One Without The Other?...Oh really? Without question probably THE key macro debate these days important not only to economic, but also financial market outcomes is the debate over inflation versus deflationary eventualities ahead. You already know the sides are divided with a lot of strong and well reasoned opinions on both sides of the equation. We are not about to address this specific debate for as we see it, the jury remains out. Mother Nature and Father Time argue deflation in many an asset class is still and will continue to be a reality. Alternatively central bankers are fighting Mother Nature and Father time with everything they've got, so to speak, praying their own inspired brand of monetary inflation can outrun embedded deflationary forces still left unresolved and unreconciled in the current cycle. And for now we are seeing a duality of outcomes. What remains levered (real estate) is still deflating and what is unlevered and experiencing accelerating physical demand globally (commodities) is inflating. As per investment decision making, being accepting of this current duality has been key to successful outcomes. Again, the purpose of this discussion is not to chime in on the macro deflation versus inflation debate. The specific purpose is to drill down and question what we see as a bit of consensus logic of the moment pertaining to inflation. Right to the point, and we've discussed this historical truism many a time ourselves over the years, history is clear that prior bouts of headline inflation in the US have been very rightfully accompanied by wage inflation.
Economic News Resume Disappointing Trend As Factory Orders Miss Expectations, Durables Ex-Transportation Revised LowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/05/2011 - 09:13
The two economic data points from today's docket just came in, and both were worse than expected. First, the durable goods revision, while slightly better at the headline level, printing at 2.1% compared to the 1.9% released initially, saw the far more improtant ex-transportation segment, which strips out that very volatile segment, decline from 0.6% reported initially to just 0.2%. Recall that this number was initially expected to be 0.9%. Thank god for Boeing's infinite(ly flexible) backlog. And second, to fully explain why the bizarro market algo has now taken over and everything is in the green, especially WTI which is about to take out $97 and make a completely shamockery of the IEA, is that May Factory Orders came at 0.8%, missing expectations of 1.0%, with the time shift pushed back, as April data was revised slightly higher to 0.9% from -1.2%. Net net, both data points have failed to validate the reverse decoupling that everyone is betting the farm on.
It just has not been Morgan Stanley's year: first the bank's prop desk got decimated by the massive tightening in MBIA CDS (previously discussed here), and then, as noted last week, the firm's rates desk got creamed by a massively wrong bet on 30s - 5s TIPS breakevens (courtesy of another ex-master of the universe who realized the hard way that things are not quite as profitable when you move away from being God's right hand guy). We previously broke down the details of the trade, and the only open question was: qui bonoed? Courtesy of the WSJ we can now close the file on that one. The firm, which as so often happens to be the case, that took Morgan Stanley to the cleaners is the one true rates behemoth, PIMCO, which sooner or later, always gets it pay day. Bottom line: "Pimco made about $50 million from its trade over several months." Perhaps prop trading really should be banned to protect banks, if not from their stupidity, then certainly from their hubris.
One of the prevailing themes in FX land over the past year, courtesy of prevalent central bank intervention in the monetary arena, has been a pervasive conflict among the world's money printers whereby those who have been unable to keep up with the Fed's fiat printing, have been engaging in direct open market purchases of USD to keep their own currencies lower, and thus promote exports, etc. The fact that currency exchange rates have been as unstable as they have since the start of QE 1, and especially QE 2, is in our opinion, a main reason for the outflow of trading volume from equity markets and into venues that exhibit the kind of volatility desired by short-term speculators, such as FX. Today, PIMCO's Clarida, in an informative Q&A, proposes that the currency wars we have all grown to love so much over the past year, are coming to an end. The implications of this assumption are indeed substantial. While we do not agree with the assessment, it does merit further exploration, especially since it touches on PIMCO's outlook for the dollar: "In our baseline case we do
not see the dollar being supplanted as the global reserve currency in
the next three to five years. If foreign central banks were to decide
that they did not want to hold dollars as a reserve, they would have to
hold some other currency. And right now there is not a single viable
alternative to the dollar. Aside from the 60% that I mentioned earlier,
global reserves include about 30% in euros and the rest is mixed. Given
current circumstances in Europe, we would not expect the euro to
supplant the dollar." Oddly, there is still no mention of such currency alterantives as precious metals, which as the Erste Bank report noted yesterday, has already set the groundwork for a return to real sound money. Much more inside.
Goldman's Alec Phillips summarizes the playbill for this week's theatrical performance out of DC, where "a modestly busy schedule in what would normally be a quiet holiday week, with the release of the Senate Democratic budget blueprint, more (but as yet unscheduled) debt limit talks, a Senate vote on Libya, and a few relevant hearings…" Less than a month to go until the debt ceiling D-Day and still nothing. It is getting exciting to see just what "they" come up with the 11th hour and 59th minute.
Back in December, when noting the first material blow out in PIIGS spreads following the first Greek bailout 6 months earlier, we touched upon Italy, and specifically looked at a way to best play the coming shift in Eurozone contagion from the periphery to the core, coming up with one unique corporate name. Back then we said: "We all know what has happened to Italian bond prices in the past weeks: as of today, Bund spreads have just hit a fresh all time high. But all this is irrelevant since the bank must have a capital buffer to accommodate the losses. After all, what idiot would run a company with almost €300 billion in Euro-facing bond exposure and not factor for deterioration in risk after the events of May... Well the ASSGEN CEO may be just such an idiot. The company's balance sheet as of 9/30 discloses that the firm had a mere €10 billion in tangible capital (excluding €10.7 billion in intangible assets). So let's recap: €262 billion in Euro bonds on.... €10 billion in tangible equity! A 26x leverage on what is promptly becoming the most impaired asset class in the world." In a nutshell, Assecurazioni Generali, one of Italy's largest insurers, is a highly levered windsock for Italian and other PIIGS stress, and better yet, can be played in either equity or CDS. Now that the European bond vigilantes are once again looking beyond Greece and focusing particularly on Italy (especially based on recent Sigma X trading), none other than JP Morgan (which just cut its estimates on GASI.MI, a very appropriate equity ticker) validates the thesis that Generali (or ASSGEN per its memorable corporate/CDS ticker) is the best proxy for contagion: "Generali is one of the most sensitive stocks to both the sovereign debt crisis and the implications for the financial sector through both its government, corporate and equity investment portfolios...Generali’s sovereign exposure is mainly concentrated in Europe with Italy accounting for the largest share (37%; home market bias)."
Third Point, which the last time we looked at back at the end of Q1 was up 9.7% YTD, and still had gold as its top position, has not been spared by the recent market "soft patch", and after losing 2.6% in June is now up 6.8% YTD, just barely outperforming the S&P's 6% rise. The Fund's AUM has also declined from $7.3 billion to $7.1 billion over the last thee month period, the bulk of outflows coming from the firm's Offshore Fund which at last check was down from $4.076 billion to $3.931 billion. What is not surprising, is that the fund's gross exposure has jumped to 2011, and possibly multi-year highs, at just about 160%. Yet the most notable shift is that Loeb appears to have substantially cut his gold exposure, reducing it, which in March 31 was his top position, far lower, with gold now merely the third of all top 5 net exposures, behind Delphi and El Paso (CIT appears to have been added materially in Q2 and is now the fund's 4th biggest position, pushing Technicolor and CVR Energy down the list).
Markets witnessed risk-averse sentiment in early European trade partly on the back of comments from Moody's that China's local government debt may be USD 540bln larger than auditors estimated, which could endanger Chinese banks' credit ratings. Lower than expected services PMI data from China, and core Eurozone countries dented risk-appetite further, which in turn resulted in weakness in EUR and equities. However, as the session progressed equities gradually came off their earlier lows, and the oil & gas sector received some support after the UK Treasury announced tax support for North Sea oil companies. Elsewhere, GBP/USD gained strength following better than expected services PMI data from the UK. Moving forward, the economic calendar remains thin, however markets look ahead to economic data from the US in the form of durable goods revision and factory orders figures.
Gold is higher today and showing particular strength against the euro and the Japanese yen. The relief rally seen in equities since the latest Greek ‘bailout’ is under pressure as S&P have said the debt rollover proposal would be a “selective default”. The ECB may selectively reject the S&P Greek downgrade and arbitrarily select the best credit rating being offered. Gold has been supported in the traditionally weak “summer doldrums” period due to institutional demand and strong physical demand at the $1,500/oz level, particularly from Asia. Gold tends to take a break in October and then has a second period of seasonal strength from the end of October to the end of December. This has been primarily due to Indian religious festival, store of wealth, demand in the autumn and western jewellery demand prior to Christmas.
The best thing to ever come out of RBS is back in its original format, now that Bob Janjuah has decided to begin releasing Bob's World again, if not with the unique trademarked grammatical style. That alone must be worth 95% of the intangible, and thus all, assets on RBS' balance sheet. To those who read just the first few paragraphs and are left scratching their heads if Bob was lobotomized in recent weeks and now sees nothing but upside, so contrary to his usual cheery disposition, we suggest reading on - that is merely his outlook for the short-term. The long one: "my view beyond July/August is bearish and very much risk-off. In late Q3/Q4 2011 I expect to see the beginnings of a meaningful sell-off in global risk which should take the S&P below 1220 and on its way possibly to the low 1000s. In this risk-off move I would expect – initially at least – USD to rally sharply, with the DXY index closer to 80 than 75, and major DM government yield curves to bull flatten, with 10-year UST yields falling to around 2.5%. Credit spreads should widen, but I expect non-financial corporate credit to outperform in relative terms. Having said that, in this major risk-off phase I still expect the iTraxx Crossover index to rise well above 500. And commodity weakness should be a major part of this late-2011 serious risk-off phase." Ah yes. Good old Bob.
It is no secret that Zero Hedge holds a special place in its heart for everything, ruler most certainly inluded, Birinyi-related. Which is why we learned with substantial amusement that the site of the Hungarian and his merry chartist men has been violently defaced as of this morning by !-Bb0yH4cK3r_Dz-!, which appears to be a brand new outfit unrelated to Operation_Anon or any of the other hacker collectives now running around taking down sites with impunity. The text on the new website is: "FuCk U Admin I' Am SuPeR MaN :) I ' M , Muslim Don ' t Panik. GiFt From AlGeRiAn HaCkeR To GaZa ChIDrEn !!!" This is probably not the way Birinyi was hoping to celebrate the S&P hitting 4,000+ by the end of the year at the current rate of market meltup.
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Moody's July 4 Bomb: Rating Agency Finds 10% Of Chinese GDP Is Bad Debt, Claims "China Debt Problem Bigger Than Stated"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/04/2011 - 21:29
The timing on the earlier pronouncement that rating agencies may have found religion could not have been better. Not even an hour later, here comes Moody's with a blockbuster which may put China's "White Knight" status, at least as ar as Europe is concerned, in grave danger. In a report just released, the rating agency not only warns that China's debt problem is "bigger than stated" (i.e., China is hiding a ton of ugly stuff off the books), but goes ahead to quantify it: "Of the RMB 10.7 trillion (about $1.6 trillion) of local government debt examined by the Chinese audit agency, RMB 8.5 trillion ($1.3 trillion) was funded by banks. However, Moody's has identified another potential RMB 3.5 trillion ($540 billion) of such loans that the Chinese auditors did not discuss in their report....we find that the Chinese audit agency could be understating banks' exposures to local governments by as much as RMB 3.5 trillion." Naturally, the implication is that this is an absolutely willing "omission" (thank you central planning), which means that of China's $5.8 trillion GDP (or whatever imaginary number the Polit Bureau is happy with throwing around for mass consumption), $540 billion is debt that is "unaccounted for", most likely due to being, well, bad. That would be equivalent to saying that $1.4 trillion of US corporate debt is delinquent. And lest anything is lost in translation, Moody's drives the steak through the Dragon's heart: "Since these loans to local governments are not covered by the NAO
report, this means they are not considered by the audit agency as real
claims on local governments. This indicates that these loans are most
likely poorly documented and may pose the greatest risk of delinquency." So let's get this straight: a country which has 10% of its GDP in the form of bad debt, is somehow expected to be credible enough to buy not only Greek debt, but the EURUSD each and every day? Mmmmk. In the meantime, Dagong downgrades the US to junk status in 5, 4, 3...