50 years ago to the week, when JFK spoke in Berlin, his speech made history. Today, the US president is in Germany again... and in a far less historic and moving speech is scrambling to explain why the NSA is listening to and recording all German communications. Watch it live below.
While all eyes and ears will conveniently and expectedly be on the Fed announcement and press conference in a few hours, the real action continues to take place in China, where the liquidity crunch is becoming unbearable for the local banks (and will only get worse the longer Bernanke and Kuroda keep their hot money policies). The CNY benchmark money-market one-week repo rate was 138bp higher overnight to a 2 year high of 8.15%. The 7 day Interest-Rate swap rose for a record 13th day in a row jumping +10 bps to 4.08%, the highest since September 2011. China sold 10 Year bonds at a 3.50% yield, above the 3.47% expected, and at a bid to cover of 1.43 which was the lowest since August 2012. Moody’s commented that local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) pose significant risks to Chinese banks. LGFVs accounted for 14% of loan portfolios at end-2012 according to Moody’s.
After exposing the faux prosperity of the immediate post-2009 "wholly unnatural" recovery and explaining the precarious foundation of the Bernanke Bubble, David Stockman's new book 'The Great Deformation' delves deeper (in Part 2 of this 4-part series) into the dismal internals of the jobs numbers and only the utterly politicized calculation of the “unemployment rate” that disguises the jobless nature of the rebound. To be sure, the Fed’s Wall Street shills breathlessly reported the improved jobs “print” every month, picking and choosing starting and ending points and using continuously revised and seasonally maladjusted data to support that illusion. Yet the fundamentals with respect to breadwinner jobs could not be obfuscated - by September 2012, the S&P 500 was up by 115 percent from its recession lows and had recovered all of its losses from the peak of the second Greenspan bubble. By contrast, only 200,000 of the 5.6 million lost breadwinner jobs had been recovered by that same point in time.
Kyle Bass covers three critical topics in this excellent in-depth interview before turning to a very wide-ranging and interesting Q&A session. The topics he focuses on are Central bank expansion (with a mind-numbing array of awe-full numbers to explain just where the $10 trillion of freshly created money has gone), Japan's near-term outlook ("the next 18 months in Japan will redefine the economic orthodoxy of the west"), and most importantly since, as he notes, "we are investing in things that are propped up and somewhat made up," the psychology of negative outcomes. The latter, Bass explains, is one of the most frequently discussed topics at his firm, as he points out that "denial" is extremely popular in the financial markets. Simply put, Bass explains, we do not want to admit that there is this serious (potentially perilous) outcome that disallows the world to continue on the way it has, and that is why so many people, whether self-preserving or self-dealing, miss all the warning signs and get this wrong - "it's really important to understand that people do not want to come to the [quantitatively correct but potentially catastrophic] conclusion; and that's why things are priced the way they are in the marketplace." Perhaps this sentence best sums up his realism and world view: "I would like to live in a world where it's all rainbows and unicorns and we can make Krugman the President - but intellectually it's simply dishonest."
Drum roll please ... Tomorrow is the big day.
Market participants have been primed and prepared to watch for any changes to the Fed’s forecast. The current Fed forecasts for key metrics are as follows. The 2013 Unemployment Rate is 7.4%. For the 2014 Unemployment Rate, the Fed is forecasting 6.85%. The Fed’s 2013 real GDP forecast is 2.55% and its 2014 forecast is 3.15%. The game plan that Fed watchers have telegraphed is as follows. If the Fed’s economic forecast remains unchanged, the reduction in the amount of QE purchases (a.k.a. tapering ) should commence in September or October. If the forecast is raised, then look for tapering to commence in July or September. If the economic forecast is lowered, then tapering is pushed back to December or 2014.
When everyone was throwing computing power at the 'momentum igniting', "can't lose", HFT-driven algo-trading world, it is perhaps little wonder that the opportunity to expropriate profits from an ever-decreasing pool of real money traders dwindles like a convertible arbitrage hedge fund in the 90s. Perhaps it was the writing on the wall we noted in February when GETCO's money-printing machine was reduced to pennies, but it seems the world of high-freaks is tearing itself apart. As the WSJ reports, two of the largest independent US high-frequency-trading firms are in early merger discussions - as a downturn in trading opportunities has spurred cutbacks. Of course, the firms claim this is a positive, "we're in accelerated growth mode, both organically and inorganically," but as one HFT analyst notes, "HFT is a volume business... If trading volumes are going down, that means it's tougher for prop shops to make money." The slowdown has forced some high-speed specialists to leave the business and with RGM and Allston (the two firms) having 280 staff, we suspect this week's initial claims may be bloated with PhDs.
"This Is A Glock Block" – Frustrated Homeowners All Over America Are Taking Matters Into Their Own HandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/18/2013 - 20:06
All over the United States, frustrated homeowners are banding together, arming themselves and patrolling their own streets. One of the primary reasons this is happening is because police budgets all over the nation are being slashed at a time when violent crime rates in the United States are increasing and many our our largest cities are being transformed into crime-infested war zones. So instead of waiting for government to come up with a solution, many Americans are taking matters into their own hands. For example, one community group in Milwaukie, Oregon has started posting flyers with an ominous message for potential criminals: "This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911."
It appears that unlike the president, whose rating is plunging in the aftermath of PRISM-gate, US corporations are not eager to double down on their privacy intrusive ways, and some are becoming increasingly concerned about what all the recent exposure may do to their bottom line. Such as Google, which earlier today became only the first company to challenge the long-standing gag order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), arguing that the company has a First Amendment right to speak about information it is forced to give to the government. From Google: "Greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately." And yes, GOOG, which once upon a time pretended its motto is "don't evil" and since transformed it to "be evil, just don't get caught", still refer to "constitutional rights" - how quaint.
While disappointment from the FOMC's comments tomorrow may not be enough to create 'the big one', it is perhaps worth a look at the more meaningful corrections over the last 10 years in equity and credit markets for some sense of context for what is possible. So far, it is clear, especially given today's equity rally (and ongoing credit weakness) that the consensus of the equity herd are not expecting disappointment tomorrow - while credit markets are preparing for the 'flow' to slow.
Think Cyprus is the only country that will need a repeat bailout (as the FT reported earlier)? Think again. Cause heeeeere's Greece... again.... where as Kathimerini reports, a brand new, massive budget hole for €1.2 billion has just been "discovered." Only this time it is not some C-grade government service that can just be swept away: it is to fund the country's biggest healthcare provider, EOPYY. And the deadline is imminent: Greece has less than a month to plug it.
It can’t be emphasized enough (I’ve emphasized it here, here and here) that there’s a close link between the Fed’s narrowing focus and the core, theoretical models that economists developed in the decades after World War II. These model builders naïvely ignored boom-bust cycles in credit and asset markets, just as the Fed disastrously eliminated the relevance of these cycles from its policy framework. Or, more precisely, policymakers reversed Martin’s maxim, spiking the punch bowl when credit and asset markets weaken but dismissing the case for action when the 'party gets going'. In order to explain, we thought it might be interesting to create one of those island economy stories to demonstrate a problem with the Fed’s policy framework - how the Fed’s inflation target can cause policymakers to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing.
To summarize, the SEC which admits it was clueless in analyzing the modern, fragmented market (yet which found definitively that the culprit for the May 2010 flash crash was Waddell and Reed, and nobody else, using what technology at the time, nobody knows), uses a platform developed by High Frequency Trading firm Tradeworx... to reach a conclusion that High Frequency Trading firms are innocent of every flash crash resulting from an HFT algo gone haywire...
For the sixth day in a row, the Dow managed a triple digit gain/loss - the first time since Sep/Oct 2011 - as markets appear to playing out a perfect echo of last year's June FOMC meeting with a ~3% 4-day gain in the run-up to the decision only to give it all back in the next few days. In the same way as last year, despite the rally in stocks, VIX (hedging) is rising, credit is diverging (hedging), and bonds are bid (though this appears more a Taper-off trade this time). Today's volume was among the lowest of the year (even accounting for holiday trading days) but that didn't stop the Dow ended up within a Hilsenrath headline of its all-time highs (though VIX near YTD highs, credit near YTD high spreads, and bonds close to YTD high yields). Silver, gold, and copper were hit hard today (-1.8% on the week) as WTI surged back up to $98.50; the USD retraced back to unchanged on the week (JPY -1%); Treasury yields are now up 4-5bps on the week (unch today); and while stocks looked good off the Friday surge, the last few minutes today saw them give back some of the exuberance back as hedgers turned to sellers (helped by a smash'n'grab in HYG) but all-in-all, equity investors seem very confident that Bernanke won't let them down.
Demand for physical gold across the world continues to surge at an unprecedented pace leading India to blame its soaring current account deficit, sliding currency and even deteriorating economy on it (even if failing in its attempts to regulate demand for the yellow metal), and yet gold continues to slide. How come? One word - paper, or rather, ETF paper.