...For those confused why the market is reacting like a stung bee to today's announcement that contrary to Jan Hatzius' expectations, Twist may not be extended (at least not before we get a 20% market correction), here is where all, repeat all, market "growth" has come from in the past three months. Hint: $2 trillion in central bank easy money. Because the ECB is now shooting blanks, the Fed will find it difficult to ease so close to the debt ceiling farce, and the BOJ is irrelevant. And if the spigot is shut off, watch out below.
Equities tumbled but Gold/Silver and Treasuries were the hardest hit as the potential reality of lower chance of more massive LSAPs was evident in the FOMC minutes. As we have argued for weeks now, the Fed is cornered and is unable to enact QE3 without a much more significant drop in markets and implicitly the economy. We assume now that the sell-side will refocus its efforts on telling us all just how bad the economic picture really is...
So much for the Hatzius and Hilsenrath prognostications. Headlines coming in:
- FOMC SAW NO NEED TO EASE ANEW UNLESS GROWTH SLOWS, MINUTES SHOW
- MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `LITTLE EVIDENCE OF COST PRESSURES
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAID LABOR MARKET CONDITIONS HAD IMPROVED
- MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS EXPECTED INFLATION RATE AT 2% OR LESS
- MANY FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `EASED' STRAINS IN GLOBAL MARKETS
- MOST ON FOMC SAW TEMPORARY IMPACT FROM RISING OIL, GAS PRICES
- FOMC SAID SIGNIFICANT OUTLOOK CHANGE COULD ALTER 2014 RATE PLAN
Apparently $4 gas has an impact.
Back in the start of March, before the vertical ascent part of the parabolic move in Apple stock truly took off, we pointed out that out of nowhere, Dan Loeb, long well-known for being quite persuasive in getting his hedge fund friends to piggyback on his ideas, had made the iPad maker his Top 5th position as of the end of February, despite not owning one share two months prior. Well as of the end of March, per the firm's just released update of its top positions, Apple is no longer in the Top 5, even as it was his 2nd best performer of the month on March 15. Has Loeb, acutely aware of such things as blow off tops and manias, merely trimmed his position, or has he cut his exposure entirely? As a reminder, this wont be the first time Loeb "rented in" and out of the AAPL hedge fund hotel, having done so most recently in Q2 of 2011. And if Third Point is gone, are Loeb's idea dinner buddies out as well?
Six centuries ago, when London and Paris were irrelevant, plague-infested backwaters, and New York City wasn’t even on the map, the greatest city in the world was Nanjing– the capital of the Great Ming. At the time, Nanjing was not only the most populous city on the planet, it was also the pinnacle of civilization. Art, science, technology, and commerce flourished in the Ming Dynasty’s liberalized economy, which constituted a full 31% of global GDP at the time. (By comparison, the US economy is roughly 25% of global GDP today…) Taxes were low, the currency was strong, and overseas trade thrived. For a time, Nanjing truly was the center of the world. Over the next several hundred years, the tide shifted. The Ming Dynasty fell, and power was transferred further west to the Ottoman Empire, and eventually to Europe which had finally emerged from the Dark Ages as the most advanced civilization on Earth... This phenomenon has lasted for several hundred years now… but as history has shown repeatedly, power centers frequently shift. The world is now witnessing yet another transition of power, this time from west to east, as the US-led western hierarchy suffocates within its own debt-laden Keynesian fiat bubble.
Today brings the release of the Minutes of the March 13th FOMC meeting. As Steven Englander of Citi notes today, since the tone of the Minutes reflects the breadth of opinion among FOMC members the risk is that it reads somewhat more hawkish than recent comments by Chairman Bernanke. Persistent hawkishness from other FOMC members could foster the perception that Bernanke will face greater resistance in any push to introduce additional accommodation which could have a negative impact on risk appetite and lend support to USD. This would be particularly true if mentions of possible further easing by FOMC doves are few and far between. Given that interest rate expectations have declined over the past two weeks since the series of speeches by Chairman Bernanke, there does appear to be some room for investors to price in more Fed hawkishness. As reflected in implied yields for December 2013 eurodollar futures, interest rate expectations have dropped nearly 20 bps since March 20th. However, this drop in yields only reverses part of the rise seen in the wake of the Chairman’s earlier Senate testimony and the release of the FOMC statement, so ultimately scope for a rebound should not be open ended. Coupled with the fact that Bernanke’s comments are more recent than March FOMC meeting, this convinces us that risk return in chasing any bout of USD strength upon the release is unattractive.
As Dick Bove opines and talking heads explain the money-on-the-sidelines and why AAPL is going to one cajillion, the major US financials have quietly been notably lagging the performance of the broad equity markets since yesterday's European equity close. Whether this is a catch up to credit's recent underperformance or simply a recognition that nothing in Europe is solved and the contagion is as real as ever is unclear but for now the buy-of-a-lifetime in Morgan Stanley is at a 3% 'discount' to yesterday's price...
Because as everyone knows, debt is wealth. And as everyone knows even better, it is much better to go 1000 days without any budget whatsoever. Finally, what is truly best in life is to have your own budget, Mr. President, get voted down 414-0 in Congress, even as Congress (i.e., the body representing the US population) passes the Ryan budget.
With the political season heating up, and tax season upon us, we thought it worthwhile drilling into exactly how painful the potential pre-programmed fiscal tightening in 2013 is likely to be. As Credit Suisse notes, "it ain't over til its over" as the suspicion is that a lame duck session of Congress will forestall some of the tightening but until Congress acts, the economy is still technically in a collision course with the largest fiscal hit in modern times.
The dislocation between 10Y Treasuries and the S&P 500 is once again becoming wide as bonds continued to press 'a sombre reality' and stocks 'a new hope' - whether this is QE-positioning is unclear but we wonder which way the correction will come this time with TSY snapping on March 30th - the last time we dislocated so far so fast.
While the LTROs were supposed to bring European banks back from the edge of insolvency with a warming blast of liquidity, the sad truth, now that the exuberance of fresh money-printing has faded, is that the unintended consequence has crammed down the senior unsecured bank debt holders to the lowest of the low. This realization, that we have discussed a number of times - most recently here - that nothing has been solved - as the LTRO Stigma unintended consequence, is starting to leak back into broader risk premia as now the contagion risks are back on the table and even non-LTRO-facing banks are seeing spreads increase as expectations of either broader forced cram-downs or interconnected vicious cycles rear their ugly head once again among European banks - and implicitly back onto European Sovereign balance sheets. Citigroup's Hans Lorenzen highlights four key reasons for the increasingly binary bifurcation that senior unsecured bank debt has become.
Anyone who hasn’t sensed a mood change in this country since the 2008 financial meltdown is either ignorant or in denial. Millions of Americans fall into one of these categories, but many people realize something has changed – and not for the better. The sense of pure financial panic that existed during September and October of 2008 had not been seen since the dark days of 1929. Our leaders used the initial terror and fear to ram through TARP and stimulus packages that rewarded the perpetrators of the financial collapse rather than helping the middle class who lost 8 million jobs, destroyed by Wall Street criminality. The stock market plunged by 57% from its 2007 high by March 2009. What has happened since September 2008 has set the stage for the next downward leg in this Crisis. The rich and powerful have pulled out all the stops and saved themselves at the expense of the many. Despite overwhelming proof of unabashed mortgage fraud, rating agency bribery, document forgery on a grand scale and insider trading based on non-public information, the brazen audacity of Wall Street oligarchs is reminiscent of the late stages of the Roman Empire.
Following the durable goods miss at the end of March, there were some who were expecting another Schrodinger print in today's Factory Orders report, which was expected to post a 1.5% increase (even as the Durable Goods miss was revised from 2.2% to 2.4%, still short of the +3.0% expectation). Alas, no such luck, and instead the weakness from March is spilling over into April as February new factory orders rose 1.3%, missing expectations, but an improvement from January's print which was revised lower to -1.1%. Shipments however declined 0.4% in February, following two consecutive monthly increases. "Transportation equipment, also down following two consecutive monthly increases, had the largest decrease, $1.3 billion or 2.5 percent to $49.2 billion." Finally, and in what will be no surprise to anyone, Inventory stockpiling continues, and is now up twenty-eight of the last twenty-nine months. "This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.6 percent January increase." Finally, the inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.33, unchanged from January. We will likely see some modest downward GDP revisions based on this data.