So not only are we dealing with an investment landscape in which virtually no working fund manager has experienced a bear market in bonds… we’ve actually got an entire generation of investment professionals who have experienced only one increase in interest rates in 14 years.
Despite CNBC's best afforts to play down this "may have been shot down" news of 295 dead on a Malaysian Airlines jet in Ukraine, markets are turmoiling. New lows for the day in stocks and bond yields have been accompnied by a surge in Gold (up over $25) and VIX (up almost 2 vols) with its biggest jump in 6 months.
Remember when Ukraine was fixed and you could BTFATH as no geopolitical concerns could ever harm US equity markets... well that just changed... News that a Malaysian Airlines passeneger jet carrying 280 passengers was shot down in Ukraine has sparked major derisking across stocks and slammed bonds to the low yields of the day. Gold and Silver are jumping and the USD is fading.
It seems like it was only yesterday when the first official Chinese corporate default in history (there have been many other ones in the past but all were quickly masked by the government to avoid a panic), Chaori Solar, entered the history books. Now it's time for default number in the country's onshore bond market as Huatong Road & Bridge Group, a company whose businesses includ bridge and highway construction, real estate, coal, eco-friendly construction materials and agriculture-related projects, based in the northern province of Shanxi, said it may miss a 400 million yuan ($64.5 million) note payment due July 23, according to a statement to the Shanghai Clearing House yesterday.
Slowly but surely, all those cans that many hoped were kicked indefinitely into the future, are coming back home to roost. The biggest impact on global risk overnight have been undoubtedly the expanded Russian sanctions announced by Obama yesterday, which have sent the Russian Micex index reeling to six week lows (as it does initially after every sanction announcement, only for the BTFDers to appear promptly thereafter), with the biggest hits saved for the named companies such as Rosneft -5.6%, Novatek -5.1%, and others Alrosa -5.7%, VTB Bank -4.3%, Sberbank -3.4% and so on. Then promptly risk off mood spilled over into broader Europe and at last check the Stoxx600 was down 0.8%, with Bund futures soaring to record highs especially following news (from the Ukraine side) that a Russian warplane attacked a Ukrainian fighter jet. Not helping matters is the end of the dead cat bounce in Portugal where after soaring by 20% yesterday on hopes of a fresh capital infusion, Espirito Santo has once again crashed, dropping as much as 11%, driven lower following downgrades by both S&P and Moodys, as well as the realization that someone was pulling everyone's legs with the rumor of an equity stake sale.
This week, 70 years after Bretton Woods, leaders from China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and several other nations are hard at work in Fortaleza, Brazil creating a new development bank that will compete against the US-controlled World Bank. This is a major step in an obvious trend towards a new financial system. Every shred of objective data is screaming for this to happen. It’s a different world. Everyone realizes it except for the US government, which is still living in the past where they’re #1 and get to call all the shots.
Janet Yellen is always one step behind. If people start to ask you "Are you fat?", then you ARE fat!
Just as they promised (and acting unilaterally as Europe declined to go along with The White House), President Obama has unleashed a set of 'sectoral' sanctions to wreak havoc in Russia. The sanctions include the standard travel bans but adds rules that block several of Russia's largest firms from American debt markets. The plan - to restrict funding availability for Russian firms to under 90-days - is however, dead-on-arrival. As we explained here, Russian companies, facing $115 billion of debt due over the next 12 months, will have the funds even if bond markets shut as "the amount of cash on balance sheets of Russian companies, committed credit lines from banks and the operating cash flows they will get is sufficient for the companies to comfortably service their liabilities." This will do nothing but raise Putin's ire even more.
There has been much discussion as of late about the end of the current quantitative easing program and the beginning of the Federal Reserve "normalizing" interest rates. The primary assumption is that as interest rates normalize, the financial markets will continue to rise as economic growth strengthens. While this certainly seems like a logical assumption, is it really the case?
Banco Espirito Santo stocks and bonds are up notably this morning following comments from the Portuguese Central Bank that shareholders are interested in injecting more capital into the failed bank. This has - for now - reassured investors that a bail-in won't be necessary but, as Jefferies notes, "it's hearsay for the moment but it’s helpful." Chatter that "someone" is willing to throw another EUR 2 Billion at this "troubled" financial entity was enough to spur risk-on buying in most of European stocks with Portugal PSI20 surging almost 4%. The question is - after all this additional capital (at what will likely be a major haircut to current equity prices), who will do business with this bank (and why?) after already suffering through the fear of deposit confiscation or debt haircuts?
- BRICS set up bank to counter Western hold on global finances (Reuters)
- Fed's Yellen Hedges Her View on Rates (Hilsenrath)
- China GDP Grows 7.5% in Second Quarter (WSJ)
- Get More Acquainted With Your Knees as Boeing Reworks 737 (BBG)
- Israel Warns Gazans of New Attack After Hamas Rejects Truce (WSJ)
- Israel poised for Gaza incursions after truce collapses (Reuters)
- China Housing Sales Fall in First Half of 2014 (WSJ)
- IBM to offer iPads and iPhones for business users (Reuters)
- Fed's George says strengthening economy warrants quick rate rise (Reuters)
If last week's big "Risk Off" event was the acute spike in heretofore dormant Portugese bank troubles (as a reference Banco Espirito Santo has a market cap at the close last night stood at around €2.1bn ($2.9bn), contrasting to Goldman Sachs ($78.1bn) and JP Morgan ($220.5bn)), then yesterday's acceleration in the Portuguese lender's troubles which as we reported have now spread to its holding company RioForte which is set to default, were completely ignored by the market. Today this has conveniently flipped, following a Diario Economico report that Banco Espirito Santo has the potential to raise capital from private investors. No detail were given but this news alone was enough to send the stock soaring by nearly 20% higher in early trading. Still, despite the "good", if very vague news (and RioForte is still defaulting), Bunds remained bid, supported by a good Bund auction, in part also dragged higher by Gilts, which gained upside traction after the release of the latest UK jobs report reinforced the view that there is plenty of spare capacity for the economy to absorb before the BoE enact on any rate rises. Also of note, touted domestic buying resulted in SP/GE 10y yield spread narrowing, ahead of bond auctions tomorrow.
Even if the economy were growing at a faster pace, it wouldn't come close to offsetting the interest payments on our ever-expanding debt. If you want to know why the Status Quo is unsustainable, just look at interest and debt.
It's Tuesday but not everyone had fun... Having been told by the Fed that small-caps were stretched, investors bid Trannies and Industrials into the green (well the Fed never said they were rich?) Russell and Nasdaq were sold (but only dropped around 1% as every trick in the book was found to "fight the Fed"). VIX slams, JPY ramps, Gold slams... but amid all the furore of the "Sell" momo stocks signal from the Fed, bond markets shrugged (admittedly with some noise) closing flat in 10Y (and modestly higher in yields in the short-end). Gold was monkey-hammered once again, smashed back below $1300 (but remains above June FOMC levels) with its worst 2-day drop in 10 months (breaking its 20, 50, and 100DMA). Biotechs closed worst among Yellen's shorts and Russell 2000 ends -0.65% for 2014.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen will provide Congress with an update on the state of the economy, how rosy the future is, why she needs to keep rates lower for longer, and that there are no bubbles (oh apart from in bonds which everyone should sell because we need the collateral). These are her first comments since the FOMC press conference in mid-June and stocks have soared since then (as bond yields have tumbled) and she will have to tread a fine line between exuberant over headline job improvements and the need to keep over-inflated bubbles pumped full of cheap/free money for longer...