With the VIX closing the day and the week at approximately a 17.70 level, it marks a 40% decline from its closing print recorded on March 16, when it hit 29.4, just as the Nikkei was about to flash crash to the high 7,000 range. This represents the 2nd largest closing drop in the history of the volatility index, beaten only by the weekly VIX drop from November 4, 2008 (when the VIX dropped from 80 to 47.7). And stunningly, on an intraday basis, when the VIX dropped to the day's lows of just over 17, it briefly represented the biggest weekly drop in the VIX ever. Of course back in 2008 each and every day it seemed as if the world was ending and both stocks and vols moved around like electrons shuffled around in the LHC. This time around, with the apocalypse yet to be delayed (we will not list all the news that have hit the tape in the past month), one wonders: is the market so habituated by the Siren song of the Bernanke Put that it believes nothing can ever dent the smooth Russell 2000 upward slope ever again? And what happens when the Central Planner hubris is once again exposed as the hollow perpetuation of an economic fallacy backed simply by trillions of pieces of linen-diluted cotton? We shall find out soon enough.
The following artist's impression of the generic trader's desktop is applicable to pretty much anyone (who is not a Primary Dealer) trying to scrape a living trading the "stock market", better known as the monetary policy tool to implement "The Wealth Effect."
While generically completely useless, both during increases and decreases as all it is, is a reflexive and very much coincident market indicator, the UMichigan consumer confidence index does have one useful feature: it tracks respondents' 1 and 5 year inflation expectations. For what it's worth these are very volatile, but by and large trend with the moves in short-dates bonds. Indeed over the past 30 years, the 1 Year inflation expectations has tracked the moves in the 2 Year bond very closely. Until today: the 1 year inflation expectations jumped from 3.4% to 4.6%, a 1.2% jump in one month, this is the single highest monthly jump in a decade since the 1.4% jump in December 2001, following the deflationary knee jerk reaction from the September 11 attacks. But what is most interesting is that as the second chart below shows, the spread between the 1 Year inflation expectation and the 2 year bond yield is now at a record wide. This means that either consumers and bonds are at record odds over how they view the inflationary environment in the future, or that there is no real bond market in the short end (all the way up to the 2 Year bond), which is dictated purely by the Fed, and its monetization activity. We believe it is a mixture of the two, although if even US consumers for whom non-core inflation is allegedly supposed to be less of a burden (and recall Dudley's Let Them Eat iPads speach) are starting to freak out about rising prices, perhaps for the first time bonds, courtesy of central planning, may actually be wrong.
A second government falls in one week, after Canada's conservatives are defeated in a no confidence vote, following Portugal government fall on Wednesday. Belgium must feel like a veteran in the anarchy department, which seems to be claiming more and more countries, or at least those that do not adopt a revolutionary route.
From Dow Jones: "An inflation-only mandate would be more appropriate for the U.S.
Federal Reserve than its current dual goal of managing price stability
and facilitating job creation, U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
President Richard Fisher said Friday. "I do believe that the full employment mandate puts us on a slippery
political slope," Fisher said in a panel discussion in Brussels.
"Personally, I would prefer to have a single mandate." Somehow we doubt this statement was preapproved by your friendly Ministry of Truth big brother.
The no confidence vote in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Canadian government is expected to start momentarily. Just like two days ago when Portugal fell, this event will likely be seen as a buying opportunity of both the USDCAD and the CADUSD. After all - there are trillions in excess liquidity sloshing around which must be put to use even if in mutually offsetting trades. Follow the event live at the following webcast from CTV.
The bears are back, discussing the usual topics du jour, which in this case is a rather humorous listing of the most recent 99 black swans year to date in 2011, and their impact on silver. Funny stuff.
Highlights from the just released speech by Philly Fed hawk Charles Plosser:
- Fed's Plosser says would want to make explicit the Fed's commitment to a numerical inflation objective
- Says important to communicate a systemic plan that describes where Fed is going, how it will get there
- Says his proposed strategy would tie pace of asset sales to size of interest rate increases
- Says his preferred exit strategy would raise rates, shrink balance sheet concurrently
- Says failure to exit in timely manner will have serious consequences on inflation, economic stability in future
- Says monetary policy will have to reverse course in the not too distant future
- Says consumer spending continues to expand at reasonably robust rate
- Says US economy seems to be on much firmer foundation
- Says labor market conditions are improving
In other words, an attempt to return confusion over the fate of QE3. As for the Fed existing anything.... good luck. As part of his exit proposals, Plosser proposes two exit plans (12 and 18 months) both of which sees a dramatic reduction in reserves, a hike in IOER, and asset sell offs. Should the Fed indeed proceed to do this, the market will prolapse.
As TEPCO Reports Increased Possible Radiation Release, Japan Expands Voluntary Evacuation Radius To 30 kmSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2011 - 11:28
The latest news from Fukushima continue progressing from bad to worse. Which of course means that the (physical) silver lining around the mushroom cloud will be that much more potent: after all, the greater the destruction, the higher the Russell 2000. Just ask the Keynesians.
- FUKUSHIMA REACTOR VESSEL MAY HAVE STUCK VALVE, UCS SAYS
- TEPCO FINDS POOLED WATER AT ALL FOUR TROUBLED REACTORS: KYODO
- INCREASED RADIATION RELEASE FROM FUKUSHIMA POSSIBLE, UCS SAYS
This in turn has prompted the Japanese government to increase the "voluntary" evacuation radius frmo 20 to 30 kms, finally. Shortly, this will be 80. But not before many more innocent people are irradiated and sacrificed at the altar of Nikkei 10,000 (and RUT 36,000).
While today's consumer confidence index missing expectations (at 67.5 or the lowest since April 2009) was not a big surprise following our prediction of just that happening when we reported that the Bloomberg Consuemr Comfort index hit a 7 month low, what was very disappointing was that the Expectations component had its fifth largest drop in history, plunging from 72 to 58. This is a lower reading than that recorded when the "recession", according to the NBER at least, was still raging. As a reminder the recession ended with "expectations" at 70.
Heavy Gunfire Reported At Deraa Square In Syria Where Thousands Of Protestors Are Gathered - Video UpdateSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2011 - 10:19
And there goes Syria.
Three months ago, there was some confusion when SocGen's Dylan Grice, one of the brightest big picture strategists out there, released a report profiling the long-term real return on commodities (which was zero), leading some to speculate he was bearish on gold and/or other precious metals. Today, Grice puts the matter to rest with his latest Popular Delusions piece: "Why this commodity specific value investor likes gold." To wit: "In the hard sciences knowledge builds cumulatively. It propels the relentless growth in man’s ability to do more with less, which makes commodities such a lousy investment in the long term. Yet in the realm of social decision-making mankind is a fool, unable to learn the wisdom of posterity and doomed to repeat its mistakes: the first credit crunch occurred in the Rome of 33AD and the ancient Greeks lived with high inflation. Confidence in central bankers’ ability to learn from past inflation is as likely to be misplaced as it was in their ability to learn from past credit booms. Gold remains the cleanest insurance against such overconfidence." And confirming gold's very unique position in the investment pyramid, Grice's conclusion borders on the ontological: "Shorting mankind’s ingenuity isn’t a smart thing to do. But ingenuity isn’t wisdom. And shorting mankind’s ability to absorb wisdom … well, aren’t you silly if you don’t? With less of the technological risk you’re taking when you buy any other part of the commodities complex, gold is the oldest, purest and simplest way." It appears ever more are starting to agree with this perspective.
People’s Bank of China Positive On Gold Due To ‘Value Preservation’; Concerned About Euro, Dollar And Paper CurrenciesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2011 - 09:04
The People’s Bank of China are very positive on gold in their just released annual Financial Markets Report. They remain concerned about risks posed to fiat currencies such as the dollar and euro, about asset price bubbles internationally and the risk competitive currency devaluations poses to fiat currencies. The report is much more positive than last year when they appeared to talk down gold’s prospects somewhat. Skeptics suggested that this was in order to allow them to continue accumulating gold without the price running away from them. The Chinese central bank said that inflation risks in economies internationally will support demand for gold, with prices for the precious metal likely to continue to make record highs. While the risks of falling gold prices shouldn’t be ignored, political conflict is likely to support higher gold prices. Inflation risks mean demand for gold will remain strong and investment demand from a 'value preservation' angle will be very strong supporting gold at higher levels. It said it is considering allowing more foreign financial institutions and companies to participate in China's interbank bond market, beyond international development agencies, and it is studying gradually opening the country's gold and futures markets to overseas yuan holders.
Q4 Final GDP Revision 3.1%, Up From 2.8% Previous, In Line With Expectations; Change In Inventories Key DriverSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2011 - 08:40
Today's final Q4 GDP revision indicated a 3.1% annualized rate of pick up in the economy, modestly higher from the previous print of 2.8% and in line with expectations of a 3.0% reading. Of course, it being almost April 2011, this number is by now completely irrelevant. Nonetheless, here are the components that contributed to the difference: "The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased." As the chart below shows, once again Inventories was the swing factor, which detracted 3.42% from Q4 GDP as opposed to 3.7% in the prior two GDP estimates. As Q1 2011 GDP data starts coming out, we are confident inventories will once again be a contributor to GDP "growth" as this most hollow indicator of economic improvement needs to pick up the slack for declining PCE and trade balance contributions.
Portuguese Bond Liquidity Disappears As LCH.Clearnet Kicks Portugal Paper Out From RepoClear Basket EligibilitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2011 - 08:16
And another major hit for all those still unlucky enough to own Portuguese bonds: "Following S&P's lowering of its sovereign credit ratings on Portugal to BBB on Friday 25 March 2011, RepoClear participants are advised that with effect from Monday 27 March 2011 Portuguese Government bonds will no longer be eligible for delivery in any of the RepoClear €GC Baskets. Until today’s downgrade Portugal had been eligible for the single A €GC Basket." Luckily, Portuguese bonds are still eligible for trading on OTC/Bulletin Boards, where the bid/ask will soon be greater than the actual bonds price.