There is a rising belief that when the Federal Reserve begins to taper that interest rates are set to rise. It is believed that as rates rise due to stronger economic strength that the stock market will act as a hedge against falling bond prices. However, historically speaking rotating from bonds to stocks after the initial spike in rates has occurred was akin to jumping from the "frying pan into the fire."
The S&P 500 rallied well over 40 points (and the Dow up over 350 points) off the FOMC knee-jerk lows but bonds were largely unimpressed. USDJPY surged to new 5-year highs over 104. Bonds weakened, rallied,a nd then leaked back higher in yield to close almost unchanged from the FOMC announcement. VIX was smahsed back under 14% - its biggest drop in over 2 months.
*S&P 500 RISES 1.7% TO RECORD 1,810.79 AT CLOSE
DOW AVERAGE INCREASES 1.9% TO RECORD 16,171.12 AT CLOSE
We can only imagine what would have happened if he'd tapered $20 billion?
The FOMC decided to cut the pace of its asset purchases to $75bn/mo, but offset this with a qualitative enhancement to the forward guidance. The Committee's assessment of the economic outlook was somewhat more upbeat. We see today's statement as slightly hawkish relative to expectations. The fact that President Rosengren dissented and President George did not is consistent with that.
While admitting that the Fed "doesn't fully understand" all the reasons behind the slower pace of growth, the following 10 statements from Ben Bernanke's final press conference seemed to sum up perfectly the message he wants everyone to understand (and perhaps some he doesn't)...
UPDATE: S&P 500 crosses 1,800 (35-point swing off lows - which perfectly hit the 50DMA once again); USD starting to weaken along with bonds
Well that escalated quickly... Stocks cracked lower instantly on the taper news then soared above recent highs ripping through the order book... but are fading back now as we prepare for Bernanke's last press conference. VIX was smashed lower (from over 16.6% to 14.1%). Gold and stocks spiked up pre-FOMC in an interesting move. Bonds are rallying as rumors of BoJ buying 5Y hit the market and the USD (despite considerable vol) is back to unch.
The taper has begun... but the uber-dovish rate guidance is winning for now. We are sure there will be tears as reporters' emotions spill over at the loss of Main Street's all-knowing oracular savior. Once again, for the benefit of those not paying attention, "QE is for Main Street", "The Fed does not target equity market levels", "Tapering is not tightening", and "Forward guidance is effective." The king is dead, long live the queen...
It would seem he has a lot of 'splaining to do...
The "swap" of $10 billion of asset purchases for a lower employment threshold and lower-rates-for-longer forward guidance knne-jerked stocks dramatically higher (for now). But while that was occurring, the Wall Street Journal's Hon Hilsenrath was busy preparing 712 words in a record-setting 3-minutes to explain how the Fed remains data-dependent... and will remain dovish for longer than previously thought.
Despite the world of mainstream media pundits proclaiming the US is recovering nicely and that a taper is priced in (and the warning that the 5Y auction gave this morning that it's not), markets are already reacting violently to the Fed's decision to announce a small 'taper' (and more dovish forward guidance)...
- *FED TAPERS QE TO $75 BLN MONTHLY PACE, STARTING IN JANUARY
- *FED SAYS `FURTHER MEASURED STEPS' POSSIBLE ON TAPERING
- *FED: EXCEPTIONALLY LOW RATES UNTIL JOBLESS FALLS WELL PAST 6.5%
We now leave it to Ben and his final press conference to explain his decision... and, of course, make sure everyone remembers "QE is for Main Street", 'tapering is not tightening' (despite Jim Bullard telling us it is), and just how effective 'forward guidance' is.
Pre-FOMC: S&P Fut 1771 (spiked pre-FOMC), 5Y 1.55%, 10Y 2.875%, VIX 16.5%, Gold $1236 (which was spiking pre-FOMC), EUR 1.376
Of the 68 "economists" (which incidentally none of which are "qualified") that Bloomberg surveyed, 24 believe a taper is coming with the majority expecting a $10 billion cut in the asset-purchase program.
The rich continue to grow richer, and as David McWilliams (of Punk Economics) so eloquently explains in this brief clip, this has pushed the Fed into a corner. As the Federal Reserve gets a new chair and decides what to do next, whether to print $85 billion a month more or not, McWilliams examines the heist that is the new normal financialized economy - who gets all the loot and why today's kidnappers wear Prada. "Wake up," he blasts, explaining the uncomfortable reality of what happens when financial kidnappers dress up as loyal patriots and extort money in the name of the common good.
The anxiety is palpable (despite the constant reassurance that it's all priced in) as markets are getting jittery. Stocks are sliding back to unchanged (on the heels of AUDJPY weakness); VIX is flat at 2-month highs; bonds are notably weaker (not helped by the dismal 5Y auction); and gold and silver are oscillating (on the rise in the last few minutes).
87-year-old Lew Manchester has just returned from a 3-week trip touring Buddhist temples in Laos and cruising the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. His 61-year-old daughter Lee lives year-round in the basement of her friend’s Cape Cod cottage, venturing into the winter cold to get to the bathroom. As Bloomberg reports, Lew is making the most of his old age. Lee is paring back and lightening her load as she looks ahead to her later years. Both worked all their lives, both saved what they could. “Timing is everything and my dad’s timing with jobs, real estate and retirement benefits was better,” said Lee. A rising tide of graying baby boomers is less secure financially and has a lower standard of living than their aged parents.
Residents of this city woke on Wednesday to a third day of thick gray smog which has disrupted dozens of flights and train services and caused a rash of health complaints. As Reuters reports, the toxic levels of pollution, fuelled by industrial growth a surge in the numbers of vehicles crowding their roads, are more than 7x what the nation deems safe and what the US EPA calls "hazardous". But it's not in China...
If Yesterday's 2 Year auction was strong to quite strong, with a soaring Bid to Cover and a yield stopping through the When Issued, today's 5 Year auction of $35 billion in 5 Year paper was ugly to very ugly. With a When Issued trading at 1.578% at 1 pm, there appears to have been an air pocket at the time of pricing, which concluded at a high yield of 1.600%, a rather massive 2.2 bps tail, and a surprising outcome for auctions on this side of the belly. Additionally, this yield was just shy of the 2013 auction highs which hit 1.624% at the peak of Taper Tantrum mania in August. Furthermore, while Bids to Cover in the short end of the spectrum have been steadily rising in recent months, today's auction saw a pronounced drop in the BTC from 2.61 to 2.42, the lowest since August, and well below the TTM average of 2.67. But the real story was in the internals, where Directs took down 11.8%, just shy of the 14.6% TTM average, but it was the Plunge in Indirects from 50% to half that number, or 25.8% that was the true surprise, as it was the lowest Indirect take down since December of 2008!
Despite yesterday's exuberant spike in optimism from the NAHB sentiment index to 8 year highs, the delusion from reality appears to growing ever wider. This morning's "if we build them, they will buy'em" false headline spike in housing starts (seasonally-adjusted) is yet another delusional divergence as the mortgage applications index collapses (down 60% from 2013 highs) to a new 13-year low.