Markets & The FOMC – the Game Of Chicken Continues

The recent quietude in the markets has our attention. Quietude in markets nearly always leads to unexpected increases in volatility. We use the term volatility not necessarily only in the sense of “must go down”, but rather in the sense that the quiet period will soon end. It could just as well result in a blow-off move (in the case of stocks) as in a sharp decline – at least from a purely technical perspective. The currency markets seem a bit more unsettled and have been making big moves for quite some time, which curiously haven’t altered the trajectory of “risk assets” much.

71% Of Wall Street Bankers Admit They Are Too Big To Fail (And Underpaid)

Wall Streeters are not happy. According to the latest Bloomberg poll, 48% believe they are paid less (or much less) than they had hoped for. With the biggest banks cutting costs as new regulations force derisking and deleveraging (in theory), pay is taking a hit (although not so much for the CEOs). As one headhunter noted, "they're still making decent money, but it’s nothing like 2007," but ironically, a massive 71% of Wall Street bankers admit that their banks are still Too Big To Fail.

Punk Q1 GDP Wasn't Surprising: It Extends A 60-Year Trend Of Exploding Money And Imploding Growth

During the heyday of post-war prosperity between 1953 and 1971, real final sales - a better measure of economic growth than GDP because it filters out inventory fluctuations - grew at a 3.6%  annual rate. That is exactly double the 1.8% CAGR recorded for 2000-2014. The long and short of it, therefore, is that there has been a dramatic downshift in the trend rate of economic growth during an era in which central bank intervention and stimulus has been immeasurably enlarged. How exactly is the Fed helping when the trend rate of real growth has withered dramatically?

Bund Sell-Off: It's The Supply Stupid

One of the biggest stories of the week has been the great German Bund route as everyone’s new favorite short has sold-off hard on what HSBC calls a “cascade of small events [which has] created a large splash in a structurally ever-thinner mkt, similar to UST flash crash of Oct. 15.” Amid the cacophony of explanations emanating from every credit and rates strategist on Wall Street, BNP is out with a simple suggestion: it’s all about the waxing and waning of supply.

When Will Apple Stop Screwing The US Economy?

Apple is the Ty Cobb of corporate America. Like Cobb, Apple has set some impressive records. Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. Apple risks having a legacy of tainted success and isolation.

Albert Edwards On What Happens Next: "More QE - Everywhere!"

"The Q1 US GDP data was a major disappointment to the market as business investment declined due to the intensifying US profits recession. Only the biggest inventory build in history stopped the economy subsiding into a recessionary quagmire. The US economy is struggling and the Fed will ultimately re-engage the QE spigot. Talk is growing that China will soon be doing the same as local authorities struggle to issue debt. But this week we want to focus on Japan, having just made my fist visit to that fine nation for over a decade! Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is also in trouble (see chart below) and will soon be increasing its off-the-scale QE programme to an out-of-this-world QE programme." - Albert Edwards

Did The Japanese Just Save The World Again?

Suddenly, and with no catalyst whatsoever, "someone" decided to sell JPY, buy EUR and USD and aggressively bid for US equities and European peripheral bonds... just as they headed for an ugly day... Paging GPIF?

We Are Witnessing A Fundamental Change In The Oil Sector

The world oil market is undergoing a fundamental structural change in response to expensive oil. Producers are trying to survive by limiting expenditures. While analysts have been focused on rig counts, deferred completions have emerged as the initial path to lower U.S. oil production. This unanticipated outcome suggests that others may follow. While everyone is waiting for higher oil prices and for things to return to normal, what we may be witnessing is the end of normal.

One Heckuva Bull Market

The current equities bull run seems unstoppable. No amount of geopolitical concerns, Greek default fears, rate hikes, US dollar strength, crude oil price volatility, Russian sanctions or whatever else you can think of can put a dent on it. Perhaps we should take a step back and try to understand what is driving this strength. OK, we know that central banks continue to spike the punchbowl, but what is the actual transmission mechanism that directs all this liquidity into equities – as opposed to commodities for instance, which continue to struggle?

Billionaire Hypocrisy: George Soros May Owe $7 Billion In Taxes

George Soros may owe some $6.7 billion in taxes Bloomberg says, noting that despite the billionaire's call to increase taxes on the wealthy, his fund has employed a loophole that allowed for the deferral of taxes on management fees the reinvestment of which has generated billions in returns. 

Chicago PMI Bounces

Following ISM Milwaukee's major miss this morning (and income and spending data weakness), and 2 months of significant misses, Chicago PMI printed 52.3 (handily beating expectations of a bounce to 50.0). Employment rose at a faster pace in April but Prices Paid tumbled at a faster pace.

When The Herd Turns

The ultimate hubris of central banks was their supreme belief in their own powers to direct the herd. As long as the herd was stampeding in one direction, the central banks could imagine that their shouted orders were directing the herd. But once the herd turns, the futility of those orders will be revealed.