As I was shorting S&P Futures late Thursday night it once again hit home how close financial markets are to some major shocks all due to ridiculous amounts of liquidity by Central Banks all over the world.
It has been quite an eventful week between Scotland's battle over independence, the Federal Reserve's FOMC announcement and the markets making new all time highs. The FOMC announcement was more comedy than anything else as the continued facade of the Fed's forecasting capabilities was revealed, it appears the biggest factor in the world of investing and for this weekend's list of "Things To Ponder" we have accumulated a few reads relating to the Fed.
This is not what Yellen promised! The Russell 2000 (inching ever closer to its death cross) has plunged today and is now -0.8% from pre-FOMC and negative year-to-date. Dow Transports have also given up all their post-FOMC gains and Homebuilders have plunged. US Treasury yields have tumbled with 30Y now -3bps on the week (and below pre-FOMC levels). The USD is rising as GBP weakness re-emerges.
Early kneejerk exuberance in Cable and European bond risk is rapidly unwinding as the reality of a revolting youth raise concerns over social stability. Nowhere is that more evident than in Spain this morning as pro-Catalan independence supporters push the government for a referendum on their secession in November:
- *CATALANS SAYING LOUDLY BUT GENTLY THEY WANT TO DECIDE: MAS
- *SPAIN GOVT OPEN TO DIALOG, HAS TO COMPLY WITH LAW: SAENZ
- *REFERENDUMS ARE NOT POSSIBLE IN SPANISH LAW, DEPUTY PM SAYS
Catalan President Artur Mas says it is a mistake to think the Scottish "No" votes casts a shadow over Catalonia and is threatening Rajoy if he blocks the vote. Spanish bond risk is up 12bps off the lows of the day.
So much for any Scottish referendum vote "surprise": the people came, they voted, and they decided to stay in the 307-year-old union by a far wider margin, some 55% to 45%, than most polls had forecast, even as 3.6 million votes, a record 85% turnout, expressed their opinion. The gloating began shortly thereafter, first and foremost by David Cameron who said "There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people." Queen Elizabeth II, who is at her Scottish castle in Balmoral, is expected to make a rare comment on Friday. But while a No vote was where the smart betting money was ahead of the vote anyway, and is thus hardly a surprise, the most curious thing overnight was the complete roundtrip of cable, which was bought on the rumor and then sold off on the news, roundtripping by nearly 200 pips.
The present global financial ‘crisis’ began in 2007-8. It is not nearly over. And that simple fact is a problem. Not because of the life-choking misery it inflicts on the lives of millions who had no part in its creation, but because the chances of another crisis beginning before this one ends, is increasing. What ‘tools’ - those famous tools the central bankers are always telling us they have – will our dear leaders use to tackle a new crisis when all those tools are already being used to little or no positive effect on this one?
Judging by the most liquid US equity market instrument - e-Mini S&P 500 futures - market participants have not been as exuberant buyers of stocks in three years. With AAII bulls at extremes vs bears, it seems this is anything but the most-hated rally of all time!
Just minutes after Poroshenko's fearmongering speech to US Congress (and in the face of a collapsing Ukraine economy), The White House has released its "fact sheet" to explain exactly how committed (aside from the lethal aid demands - which may or may not be happening as we noted here) to supprting Ukraine the US taxpayer is... On top of guaranteeing $1 billion of Ukraine's debt, a further $291 million in 'assistance' has been flooded in... here's what for...
With the Fed unleashing its bubble-watchers last week, on the heels of warnings from the Central Bankers' Central Bank (BIS), The IMF has decided it is time to chirp in. As Mises' David Howden notes, after promoting QE for years (see here and here), the IMF is finally coming to realize what has been apparent for years now to almost everyone who doesn’t work for the Fed or the IMF: that low interest rates encourage risky decisions.The IMF warns, "financial market indicators suggested investor bets funded with borrowed money looked 'excessive' and that markets could quickly deflate if there were surprises in U.S. monetary policy or the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East."
What's up with the Troika?
The US national debt continues to spiral out of control, seemingly without any plan to ever rein it in.
Compared to this time last year, the national debt has grown by over $1 trillion. At the end of September 2013, the cumulative debt stood at $16.74 trillion. Now it is over $17.76 trillion.
Obviously, today's market was all about the Fed. some brief stop-running early on took out yesterday's highs only to fall back before Yellen... then the fireworks began. The initial kneejerk reaction was to sell stocks, sell bonds, and buy USDs. Then came the re-reaction - VIX was slammed below 12, the S&P 500 surged to near intraday record highs, bond yields accelerated higher, EUR and JPY weakness sparked USD bid, and PMs slipped lower as Yellen meandered uncomfortably through a two-faced press conference. By the close, the USD had hit fresh 4-year highs (USDJPY over 108), stocks had roundtripped to unchanged from FOMC, Treasury yields were notably higher, VIX back over 12.5, Trannies surged.
An interesting week for the evolution of Forex!
Following yesterday's stagnant PPI, today's CPI is a shocker. Core CPI rose a mere 0.01% MoM - its weakest gain since Jan 2010. The 'weakness' was driven by energy (-2.6%), airline fares (-4.7%), clothing (-0.2%), and used car prices (-0.3%) tumbling. The headline CPI dropped 0.2% MoM (against a 0.0% expectation) - its biggest drop since March 2013. The 1.7% YoY gain (missing expectations) is the weakest rise since March 2014.
Yesterday's exuberant equity market reaction has been largely defined by the mainstream media as driven by WSJ Hilsenrath's 'confirmation' that Yellen will keep the uber-dovish phrase "considerable time" in the FOMC statement today. So, we wonder, why did the Fed-whisperer, after markets had closed last night, issue a quasi-retraction of his prediction explaining that instead of some prohetical "I just know" statement, it was a "best guess," as he concluded, "will the Fed take these steps? Only the people in the room know that. The rest of us will see Wednesday afternoon." It appears the sell-side disagrees with him on the language...