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.
From the cover pages of The Bank of Cyprus 2011 Annual Report...
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...
But wait - some regurgitated news from Japan of 'moar easing' and EURJPY ramps to pull S&P futures up to pre-Cyprus levels...
*BANK OF JAPAN GOV TO CALL FOR 'BOLD EASING,' NIKKEI SAYS
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
- *FED SEES ECONOMY RETURNING TO MODERATE GROWTH AFTER Q4 PAUSE
- *FED CONTINUES TO SEE DOWNSIDE RISKS TO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
- *FED MAINTAINS $85 BILLION MONTHLY PACE OF BOND BUYING
- *FED SAYS FISCAL POLICY HAS BECOME SOMEWHAT MORE RESTRICTIVE
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
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."
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.
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.
We can only hope that nobody will be shocked that the greatly overhyped Friday Cyprus bank reopen has been postponed.
- CYPRUS BANKS EXPECTED TO REMAIN CLOSED THROUGH END OF WEEK:CYBC
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."
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.