December 16th, 2014
The epic melt-up in US equities stalled "surprisingly" exactly as Europe closed and the EURJPY-pumpathon, VIX-dumpathon instantly reversed... because it's not rigged at all. The other driver - a dead-cat bounce in Crude - has also stalled as Kuwait's oil minister confirmed no new OPEC meeting until June (hardly good for oil expectations of a production cut any time soon with in OPEC). 5Y5Y inflation breakevens continue to free-fall in US, Japan, and Europe.
Let's pause for a moment, take a breath, and reflect on what has happened. As Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann notes, "The current market environment means that prices of securities can move wildly and to previously unforeseen and unexpected levels. For many, P&L management and financial survival will trump economic valuation." But what does all this mean for The Fed tomorrow?
The bond bubble today is over $100 trillion. When you include the derivatives that trade based on bonds it’s more like $500 TRILLION. And it’s growing by trillions of dollars every month (the US issued $1 trillion in new debt in the last 8 weeks alone).
Moments ago we got confirmation that the epic collapse in the USDRUB is just a jovial preview of the main event. To wit:
OBAMA DOES INTEND TO SIGN RUSSIAN SANCTIONS LEGISLATION:EARNEST
OBAMA LIKELY TO SIGN SANCTIONS BILL BEFORE END OF WEEK: EARNEST
And with that, US "lethal aid" will shortly begin arriving in Kiev, which in turn will be just the pretext needed by Sergey Lavrov and the Kremlin to escalate the recent events in Russia as a direct attack by the West, and to demand retaliation against a US president who "does not reason" as the Russian media will appeal to the population, and as a result Russian tanks may have no choice but to enter the separatist territories in East Ukraine.
The import restrictions on gold that were imposed on Indians in August of 2013 were lifted at the end of last month. Despite the fact that the restrictions were still in place gold importation in November surged an incredible 571% relative to the same month last year at over 151.58 tonnes.
We recently noted the rise of counterparty risks in the financial system due to oil prices dropping (and leveraged derivative exposures) but as the Russia situation has deteriorated so dramatically this week, a renewed focus on bank exposures has sent stocks reeling (and credit risk soaring) among many European (and US) banks. As Bloomberg reports, Raiffeisen Bank International and Societe Generale, the European banks with most at stake in Russia, led European lenders lower. Raiffeisen fell as much as 10.3% to 11.40 euros in Vienna, the lowest level since it went public in 2005. Societe Generale dropped as much as 7.3% to 31.85 euros, hitting the lowest intraday level since August 2013. CDS markets for both also exploded with Raffeisen risk at 27 month highs. As one analyst noted, "There remains a huge amount of uncertainty at this juncture, but the key point is that there are no benign scenarios." While not on the same scale, US bank risk has also widened signicantly in recent weeks (despite equity strength).
Having once again broken its 100DMA, the S&P (and the rest of the US equity complex), the news that various platforms have halted FX trading in the Ruble (though they won't enact capital controls) and a modest bounce in oil prices seems to have sparked a EURJPY and VIX-driven v-shaped buying-panic very-visible-hand ramp in stocks into the European close... because nothing says dump VIX protection and BTFD in stocks with both hands and feet like totally disastrous US macro data and a global financial system on the verge of collapse.
Russia is trying to provoke the West once again...
Just like with the Mohammed Islam story, the religious belief by the cheerleading crew that the crashing price of oil is so "unambiguously, unquestionably, undisputably" good for the US is so taken for granted, that nobody actually checked the facts.So here is one such attempt by the FT, which writes that "almost $1 trillion of spending on future oil projects is at risk as a result of the plunge in crude to $60."
Yesterday - amid multiple options-based exchange "breakages", the VIX feed across various platforms appeared massively noisy. We assumed it would be cleaned up and brushed under the carpet in the new normal. Today, it is just as bad...it appears the plunge in stocks has been a catalyst for amplification of VIX pricing noise... so far no desks (or CBOE) have a reason for this.
It is time to raise rates, deal with it Wall Street there will never be a perfect time to raise rates based upon Wall Street`s criteria.
This morning's bounce in stocks off the overnight lows is being entirely ignored by credit markets. US HY Energy spreads just broke 1050bps - record highs, worst than during the 98 crisis. Broad HY spreads have surged wider to 18-month wides. But perhaps most worrisome, investment grade credit spreads are 'relatively' underperforming, bursting to 77.5bps - the widest in 14 months.
But what about the massive cajillion-dollar tax cut for American manufacturers from the oil-drop? US Manufacturing PMI collapsed to 53.7 in December, missing expectations of a rebound to 55.2 by the most on record and falling to its lowest since January 2014 - the middle of the Polar Vortex. This is the 4th monthly drop in a row off the mid-year "yay recovery is here" record highs and 4th miss in a row as economists continue to 'price in' the hockey-stick. The employment sub-index dropped to its lowest since July and new orders collapsed to its lowest since January. This comes on the heels of Germany's 18-month lows for its Manufacturing PMI. No decoupling after all. As Markit noted about Germany, "the data are consistent with only marginal GDP growth in the fourth quarter at best," and we suspect the same is coming for USA soon, as they add "a cooling in the pace of expansion from unusually strong rates earlier in the year."