The Fed minutes were hawkish - even Goldman Sachs and Jon Hilsenrath admitted it - so the exuberance in stocks (and VIX pressure) must reflect a desparate hope that Janet Yellen will indeed go full dovish tomorrow (or fear the consequences as we noted here). Record highs in stocks, however, are not being followed through by the USD (down today), Treasury yields (long-end down from FOMC minutes), gold (down), or HY credit.
- FTW: Europe Stocks Rise as Data Signals Need for Stimulus (BBG)
- More de-escalation: Dozens die in Ukraine in street battles, Donetsk shelling (Reuters)
- Calm largely holds in Missouri after grand jury opens shooting investigation (Reuters)
- Attorney General Eric Holder Vows Thorough Probe of Ferguson Shooting (WSJ)
- World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Slows Emerging Market Investment (BBG)
- Market Chilly to Argentine Debt Proposal (WSJ)
- Israeli air strike kills three Hamas commanders in Gaza (Reuters)
- Retooled Hamas Bloodies Israel With Help From Hezbollah (BBG)
- Investors Pour Into Vanguard, Eschewing Stock Pickers (WSJ)
- Fed Debates Early Rate Increases (WSJ)
With the FOMC Minutes in the books, the only remaining major event for the week is the Jackson Hole conference, where Yellen is now expected to talk back any Hawkish aftertaste left from the Minutes, and which starts today but no speeches are due until tomorrow. And while the Minutes were generally seen as hawkish, stocks continue to levitate, blissfully oblivious what tighter monetary conditions would mean to an asset bubble, which according to many, is now the biggest in history. And speaking of equities, US futures climbed to a fresh record high overnight on just the right mix of bad news.
The soft July data have once again generated expectations of monetary easing from China. Goldman however thinks further monetary easing would have incrementally less of an impact and would come at the cost of financial stability. This diminishing impact, they argue, would result as overcapacity/oversupply restricts long-term borrowing demand and due to interest rate deregulation, which tends to move the long-term risk-free interest rate to a higher equilibrium, as seen in recent data. As the tradable sector continues to recover on the back of an improved global outlook, Goldman believes that a combination of sectoral policies aimed at easing financial stress and structural adjustment would be a better policy option. They do not expect broad macro easing or an interest rate cut in what remains of this year.
Even Hellicopter Ben would have balanced remarks. However, Janet Yellen has taken dovishness to an all-time high or low dpending on your perspective.
With the impasse over the latest Argentina default going nowhere fast, late last night president Kirchner stunned its creditors when she announced what amounts to a cramdown plan for holdouts, in which all bonds would be stripped of their existing indentures and converted to local law bonds. Or, as some would call it, a "scorched earth" transaction that burns all bridges, and goodwill, with the international creditor community and likely leaves Argentina unable to access global capital markets for the foreseeable future.
The last 2 days have seen the USD index rise at its fastest pace in almost 4 months, closing in on 1-year highs. Led by JPY and EUR weakness, the USD is up over 1% this week (which is set for the best week in 9 months). While stocks shrugged off the hawkish minutes initial kneejerk lower and surged towards new record highs, credit markets were not as exuberant about the great suck out of liquidity (and how they'll manage to roll the wall of debt forthcoming). VIX was slammed back to one-month lows (even as the Fed admitted greater uncertainty) slamming stocks higher. Treasury yields rose notably (with the short-end underperforming) as 2Y-5Y up 5-6bps, 10-30Y up 1-3bps. Gold and silver drifted modestly lower and oil jerked higher. Copper was up from earlier on China restocking rumors. Into the close, stocks faded quickly - rather disappointingly ruining mainstream media's "new record high" headlines. Janet, save us....
Nearly a decade after Countrywide was sold to Bank of America in what has become the worst M&A deal of all time, bar none, having resulted in tens of billions of legal charges for Bank of America shareholders, the most recent of which was revealed also minutes ago when Bank of America was said to reach a record $17 billion settlement with the government over the sale of mortgage-backed securities, moments ago Bloomberg announced that none other than Agent Orange himself, Angelo Mozilo, is about to be sued. Again, only this time the lawsuit may actually not be tossed or result in yet another DOJ trademark wristslap.
- Ferguson at Turning Point After Night of Relative Calm (BBG)
- Gaza war rages on, Hamas says Israel tried to kill its military chief (Reuters)
- Surge in Putin Patriotism Masks Pain of Sanctions (BBG)
- Bank of England splits over rate hike for first time in 3 years (Reuters)
- Putin Meeting Leaves Kiev With Tough Choices (WSJ)
- European Gas Reverses Biggest Drop Since 2009 on Ukraine (BBG)
- "Isolation" Mongolia Seeks Economic Lifeline With Pivot to China, Russia (BBG)
- Uber Picks David Plouffe to Wage Regulatory Fight (NYT)
- China Levies Record Antitrust Fine on Japanese Firms (BBG)
While everyone's (algorithmic) attention will be focused on today's minutes from the July 29-30 FOMC meeting for views on remaining slack in U.S. economy following recent changes in the labor market (especially a particularly solid JOLTS report which indicates that at least on the openings front, there is no more) and any signal of policy change by the Fed ahead of Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech in Jackson Hole on Aug. 22, a curious thing happened overnight when a few hours ago the BoE's own minutes show the first vote split since 2011, as Weale and McCafferty argue for a 0.75% bank rate. Then again, if the Russians are finally bailing on London real estate, the inflationary pressures at the top of UK housing may finally be easing. In any event, every FOMC "minute" will be overanalyzed for hints of what Yellen's speech on Friday morning will say, even if stocks just shy of all time highs know quite well she won't dare say anything to tip the boat despite her warnings of a biotech and social network bubble.
When, six months ago, we first brought the market's attention to Chaori Solar - China's first corporate bond default in history - there were 2 narrative sin play: 1) it's all good, government knows the contagion risk and will bail them out (that happened), or 2) if government bails them out, it will merely delay the inevitable and stoke further risk exposure (that happened too). However, as Bloomberg reports, the consequences are coming as bondholders met today to discuss the value of any assets left (Chaori’s liabilities were more than 700 million yuan greater than its assets). With China's TSF collapsing last month, perhaps demand is finally waining for these high-risk assets, but expectations of implied government support remain, as one Chaori 'loser' laments, "never anticipated any risks with the securities."
The arrogance, hubris and contempt for morality displayed by the ruling class is breathtaking to behold. They think they are untouchable and impervious to norms followed by the rest of society. They may have won the opening battle, but will lose the war. Discontent among the masses grows by the day. The critical thinking citizens are growing restless and angry. They are beginning to grasp the true enemy. The system has been captured by a few malevolent men. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.
Nobody really believes the official narrative that the "recovery" is powering the remarkable strength of U.S. stocks, bonds and real estate. The real Main Street economy is quite obviously struggling, outside the energy and Federal government sectors, and so many see the Federal Reserve's free money for financiers (a.k.a. quantitative easing) bond and mortgage-buying programs as the real reason bond yields have declined and stocks have soared. This leads us to wonder if capital inflows into the U.S. aren't a largely overlooked driver of rising U.S. markets.
Good thing the Federal Reserve isn`t worried about inflation, another 2% rise is just noise. But when the Fed does start worrying about inflation, not only is it too late, it is 1970s too late!
Weaker than expected inflation and better than expected housing data sparked a dump in commodities, surge in the USDollar and US stocks. US Treasuries were unsure at first but once the US cash session opened, bonds were sold hard. The trends of the morning though have now slowed and are reversing modestly as Europe closes... and AAPL tops $100...