November 21st, 2012
At the beginning of World War II, the term "shell shock" was banned by the British Army, though the phrase "postconcussional syndrome" was used to describe similar traumatic conditions. Pick whichever words you like but lately it seems to me that the world’s investors are in this state of economic reaction; shell shocked. Yes, France is downgraded, no decision about Greece, no truce in Gaza, Spain joining Alice in the rabbit hole, recession in Europe, America fiddling about with no resolution in sight and “ho hum, ho hum pass the cookies if you please.” The world’s central banks have manufactured the money, we have enough sloshing about to invest it, corporate earnings are down, well, nevermind, we have to do something with the stuff so we may as well put it somewhere and the investment world lulled into lethargy by all of the shells that have flown overhead and landed nowhere. It is like the investment world is on Xanax where the sea is perceived as dead calm, regardless of the eight foot swells. It all seems very reminiscent of the blase attitude in Spring 2008 to no-doc loans and CDO-cubeds.
Yesterday's home sales data, which came far better than expected, apparently had nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy (had it been a disappointment the narrative would have been far different). What Hurricane Sandy did have an impact on for the second week in a row, is today's Initial Unemployment Claims, supposedly, which for the second week in a row printed well above 400K, and just as expected, at 410K, "down" from last week's upward (naturally) revised 451K (previously 439K). NSA claims declined from 478.5K to 397.7K, while Continuing Claims were just below expectations at 3,337K on a consensus print of 3,345K, and down from an upward revised 3,367K. Notable is that the dropping trend in those on extended claims, which recently dropped to a multi year low of around 2 million, had reverse, and 60.8K applied for EUCs.
The simple Bloomberg chart below summarizes the running insanity that is the ongoing Greek bailout. To date, the existing bailouts - already completely wasted - amount to well over 100% of Greek GDP.
An initial lower open in major European cash bourses has been pared despite concern over Greek and a lack of any progress in agreement between Eurozone officials and the IMF. Source comments early on in European trade helped provide renewed optimism that a plan for Greece is edging closer after it was reported that the German Chancellor Merkel told lawmakers Greece's financing hole through 2016 can be filled with combination of lower rates and increased EFSF. The FTSE is under-performing its European peers at the mid-point of trade today as several large cap stocks go ex-dividend, although strength has been seen following the latest Bank of England minutes which showed a less dovish than expected 8-1 vote split to hold fire on QE between the MPC meetings. Following the release of the minutes, a now reduced expectation for asset buys at the December meeting saw upside in GBP/USD in a move away from the 1.5900 handle, and Gilt under pressure, although short-sterling shrugged off the comment that the central bank is unlikely to cut bank rate in foreseeable future.
- Rough start for fiscal cliff talks (Politico)
- Europe Fails to Seal Greek Debt-Cut Deal in IMF Clash (Bloomberg)
- Japan’s Exports Reach Three-Year Low as Recession Looms (BBG)
- Beggars can be angry: Greek leaders round on aid delay (FT)
- More financial blogs launching soon: Financial Times Deutschland closing (Spiegel)
- China's backroom powerbrokers block reform candidates (Reuters)
- BOE Voted 8-1 to Halt Bond Purchases as QE Impact Questioned (Bloomberg). In the US the vote is 1-11
- UK heads for EU budget showdown (FT)
- Eurodollars - another epic scam: How gaming Libor became business as usual (Reuters)
- Clinton Shuttles in Mideast in Bid for Gaza Cease-Fire (Bloomberg)
- Fed Still Trying to Push Down Rates (Hilsenrath)
After tumbling to lows of 1.2735, and dragging the entire 100% correlated risk complex down with it, the EUR has since seen a straight line push higher despite the sad reality that for all expectations, Europe was embarrassingly simply unable to come to a resolution over Greece and has kicked the can to November 26, leaving Greece with zero cash to fund obligations to European banks, and if anything is left over, to fund domestic operations. The reason for the move up? The market, in all its wisdom, hopes that 6 short hours after saying "9", Merkel has already softened her stance and that a deal in 5 days is inevitable. Of course, these are the same people who said a deal last night was inevitable. These are the same people who also said that Washington is this close from a reconciliation on the Fiscal cliff, despite this thing called reality (see Rough start for fiscal cliff talks from Politico). Adding to the surrealism was a French spokesman who said the country would "do everything to reach a Greek accord." Since a recently downgraded France will "do" nothing (that's Germany), but will "say" everything, it is safe to say that France is now the comic relief typically attributed to Jean-Claude Jun(c)ker. Finally, and wrapping up the bizarro surreality of central planned markets, the recent spike in Brent on Gaza re-escalations has been interpreted by those uber-complex DE Shaw algorithms as a risk on move, and pushed all risk indicators to overnight highs. With volume today set to be abysmal as trading desks will be empty around noon, expect some more absolutely insane zero volume moves in the SkyNet battleground formerly known as the "market."
Not only should we trade the spread between "correlated markets" but we can use the information from changes in the spread to help us trade the individual outright markets.
Update: Israel launches massive airstrikes on Gaza after Tel Aviv bombing (RT). As expected
So much for hopes of a ceasefire as day 8 of of Operation Pillar of Defense begins. Around midday local time, an explosion took place in a bus in Tel Aviv near the military headquarters. As Jerusalem Post reports, "a total of 16 people were injured in a terror attack in central Tel Aviv on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson from the city's Ichilov Hospital. One person was severely injured, one moderately and one light to moderately. The remainder of the casualties were light or suffering shock. None were in a life threatening condition, though two were already in surgery, the hospital spokesperson said." According to witnesses a man climbed in the bus and threw a bomb on board. The explosion has sent Brent to its session highs over $111, and with Hilary Clinton briefly on location, it appears that Israel may well escalate to the next phase of the conflict which would be a land invasion.
Granular details seeping from every crack in France’s picturesque veneer
Given our earlier comments, it is hardly surprising but the Eurogroup meeting just ended and there is no agreement; headlines via Bloomberg:
- *FRIEDEN SAYS NO DECISIONS REACHED TODAY ON GREECE BY EUROGROUP
- *FRIEDEN SAYS EURO FINANCE CHIEFS TO CONTINUE TALKS ON MONDAY
- *SCHAEUBLE SAYS EUROGROUP UNABLE TO REACH CONCLUSIVE AGREEMENT
- *LAGARDE SAYS MORE WORK NEEDED FOR GREEK SOLUTION
- *JUNCKER IDENTIFIED 'CREDIBLE' IDEAS TO BRING DOWN GREEK DEBT (well he would wouldn't he?)
EURUSD is tumbling (as are S&P 500 futures in their oh-so-correlated manner)
UPDATE: *EURO FINANCE CHIEFS REACH DECISION ON GREECE, OFFICIAL SAYS
Can't wait to see what they came up with...
EURUSD is limping lower (-20 pips to 1.2800) as the early morning hours tick by in Europe and still Greece is not ceremoniously considered fixed. Reuters, citing official sources, got its hands on the 15-page report prepared for the meeting and it is grim reading indeed - summarized below (via Bloomberg): "The [extensive] package of options will not make it possible to arrive at a debt-to-GDP ratio of close to 120 percent in 2020 without taking recourse to measures that would entail capital losses or budgetary implications for euro area member states or envisage a more comprehensive Debt-buyback entailing the activation of collective action clauses." It would seem the GGB trade may well be the 'no brainer' trade of the year after these new haircuts.
Things are going from worst to worsterer in Japan. Somewhat ironically (given our recent post), this update to the state of play awaiting Mr. Abe is not good. With the Senkaku debacle flaring still in the background, we wonder just how much 'face' the Japanese are willing to lose as their exports fall 6.5% (for the fifth month in a row) dominated by an 11.6% drop 'to' China (which accounted for around 20% of Japanese exports until recently) making it extremely likely the nation is headed for yet another recession. The trade balance missed large to the downside yet again, extending a multi-year trend (and drastically reducing the 'net' exports capital buffer), and so (as USDJPY remains 'strong' despite REER being well below its 1995 peak) we are to believe yet another JPY1tn Koo-nesian fiscal stimulus will do the trick.