It certainly does feel like groundhog day today because while last week's near record oil surge is long forgotten, and one can debate the impact the result of last night's Iowa primary which saw Trump disappoint to an ascendant Ted Cruz while Hillary and Bernie were practically tied, one thing is certain: today's continued decline in crude, which has seen Brent and WTI both tumble by over 3% has once again pushed global stocks and US equity futures lower, offsetting the euphoria from last night's earnings beat by Google which made Alphabet the largest company in the world by market cap.
Today, none other than Bank of America's chief equity quant Savita Subramanian throws in the towel and admits that the best trade over the past several years has been precisely what we suggested several years ago: do the opposite of what the crowd does.
Puerto Rico has devised a scheme the island says will help put it back on the path to debt sustainability. You can read on to learn the specifics, but in essence, the commonwealth wants creditors to take a massive haircut which may or may not be ameliorated down the road.
Whether front-running or fear-based (or both), the actions of BoJ's Kuroda last week have driven global bond yields into freefall with JPM's global index at 9-month lows and BofA's at 12-month lows. Overnight saw short-end JGBs push below the BoJ's -10bps threshold and 10Y rates push towards NIRP to record lows. German bonds extending their epic voyage into fantasy and hit new record lows across the curve with 5Y at -32bps.
It didn't take much to fizzle Friday's Japan NIRP-driven euphoria, when first ugly Chinese manufacturing (and service) PMI data reminded the world just what the bull in the China shop is leading to a 1.8% Shanghai drop on the first day of February. Then it was about oil once more when Goldman itself said not to expect any crude production cuts in the near future. Finally throw in some very cautious words by the sellside what Japan's act of NIRP desperation means, and it becomes clear why stocks on both sides of the pond are down, why crude is not far behind, and why gold continues to rise.
Following Kuroda's panic policy measures from Friday, JGB yields continue to collapse across the curve (though notably 30Y is selling off - is someone actually concerned about long-term survival risk?). 2Y Yields have collapsed all the way to BoJ's -10bps rate, 5Y is plunging - now close to -9bps, and 10Y has dropped 20bps to just over 6bps... with BofA warning a negative 10Y rate looms. However, Japan is not having all the excitement as China's margin debt (driver of all animal spirits) dropped again today - making this the longest losing streak in history as China's stock market investors continue to leave the levered building screaming fire.
"The intrinsic contradiction of policy response to the crisis – suspend the laws of the market in order to save it – is resolved only by understanding that suspension is temporary. Stimulus will have to be unwound. But, and here lies the problem, accommodation has been in place for a very long time and this has had a profound impact on investors behavior, market functioning and its dynamics."
"... if interest rates go negative, the incentives reverse: people receiving payments will prefer checks (which can be held back from collection) to electronic transfers. Such a reversal could impose novel burdens on payment systems that have evolved in an environment of positive interest rates.... that if interest rates go negative, we may see an epochal outburst of socially unproductive—even if individually beneficial—financial innovation."
Having urged "don't panic" just 4 short months ago, it appears Nigeria just did just that as the global dollar short squeeze forces the eight-month-old government of President Muhammadu Buhari to beg The World Bank and African Development Bank for $3.5bn in emergency loans to help fund a $15bn deficit in a budget heavy on public spending amid collapsing oil revenues. Just as we warned in December, the dollar shortage has arrived, perhaps now is time to panic after all.
While everyone else is considering the implications of a -25 bps rate it is time for the astute to look down the road.
Many believed that the NOK was backed by oil, not requiring a gold reserve. However, oil is no longer a scarce resource but an abundant commodity. Switzerland, Germany, America and other first world nations have gold reserves. Norway should have one too.
"... if the negative interest rate continues for longer or goes deeper, commercial banks may have to set negative interest rates on deposits, which would expand not only the tax on commercial banks, but also on depositors (households and companies). This could lead to a ‘silent bank run’ via a shift of deposits to cash (banknotes), which in turn damages the sound banking system by enlarging the leakage of funds from the credit creation mechanism in the banking system."
In the latest news out of the 1MDB saga, "Switzerland's chief prosecutor said on Friday a criminal investigation into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had revealed that about $4 billion appeared to have been misappropriated from Malaysian state companies."
"The amount of the allegedly misappropriated funds amounted to approximately $ 4 billion, whose purpose is the subject of further study"...