The Wisdom Of Looking Like An Idiot Today

Faith in the current system is as high as it has ever been, and folks don't want to hear otherwise. If you're one of those people who thinks it prudent to have intelligent discussion on some of these risks -- that maybe the future may turn out to be less than 100% awesome in every dimension -- you're probably finding yourself standing alone at cocktail parties these days. A helpful question to ask yourself is: if I could talk to my 2009 self, what would s/he advise me to do? Don't put yourself in a position to relearn that lesson so soon after the last bubble. Exercise the wisdom to look like an idiot today.

BofAML Warns Rising Treasury Volatility Suggests Either Higher Rates "Or" Lower Stocks

The broad-based measure of Treasury bond volatility - MOVE - has broken higher, and, as BofAML's MacNeil Curry notes, confirms a base and change in trend (to higher or more volatility). With the month of December traditionally a strong month for the MOVE Index and Treasury volatility in general, Curry warns there are two ways the volatility can move higher - either higher rates or lower equities.

JPM Comes Out Against Bernanke's Helicopter: "Raising Inflation Expectations Is A Bad Idea"

As we explained over two months ago, and as the Fed is no doubt contemplating currently, the primary topic on the agenda of central bankers everywhere and certainly in the Marriner Eccles building, is how to boost inflation expectations as much as possible, preferably without doing a thing and merely jawboning "forward expectations" (or more explicitly through the much discussed nominal GDP targeting) in order to slowly but surely or very rapidly and even more surely, get to the core problem facing the developed world: an untenable mountain of debt, and specifically, inflating it away. Of course, higher rates without a concurrent pick up in economic activity means a stock market tumble, both in developed and emerging countries, as the Taper experiment over the summer showed so vividly, which in turn would crush what many agree is the Fed's only achievement over the past 5 years - creating and nurturing the "wealth effect" resulting from record high asset prices, which provides lubrication for financial conditions and permits the proper functioning of capital markets. Perhaps this is the main concern voiced by JPM's chief US economist Michael Feroli who today has issued an interesting piece titled simply enough: "Raising inflation expectations: a bad idea." Is this the first shot across the bow of a Fed which may announce its first taper as soon as two weeks from today, in order to gradually start pushing inflation expectations higher?


Bill Gross Explains What "Keeps Him Up At Night"

"What keeps us up at night? Well I can’t speak for the others, having spoken too much already to please PIMCO’s marketing specialists, but I will give you some thoughts about what keeps Mohamed and me up at night. Mohamed, the creator of the “New Normal” characterization of our post-Lehman global economy, now focuses on the possibility of a” T junction” investment future where markets approach a time-uncertain inflection point, and then head either bubbly right or bubble-popping left due to the negative aspects of fiscal and monetary policies in a highly levered world.  ... investors are all playing the same dangerous game that depends on a near perpetual policy of cheap financing and artificially low interest rates in a desperate gamble to promote growth. The Fed, the BOJ (certainly), the ECB and the BOE are setting the example for global markets, basically telling investors that they have no alternative than to invest in riskier assets or to lever high quality assets. “You have no other choice,” their policies insinuate....  Deep in the bowels of central banks research staffs must lay the unmodelable fear that zero-bound interest rates supporting Dow 16,000 stock prices will slowly lose momentum after the real economy fails to reach orbit, even with zero-bound yields and QE." - Bill Gross

Frontrunning: December 3

  • With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
  • Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
  • Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
  • Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
  • Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
  • Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
  • Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
  • Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
  • Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
  • Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
  • In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)

Goldman Reveals "Top Trade" Reco #5 For 2014: Sell Protection On 7-Year CDX IG21 Junior Mezzanine Tranche

If the London Whale trade was JPM selling CDS in tranches and in whole on IG9 and then more, and then even more in an attempt to corner the entire illiquid IG9 market and then crashing and burning spectacularly due to virtually unlimited downside, Goldman's top trade #5 for 2014 is somewhat the opposite (if only for Goldman): the firm is inviting clients to sell CDS on the junior Mezz tranche (3%-7%) of IG21 at 464 bps currently, where Goldman "would apply an initial spread target and stop loss of 395bp and 585bp, respectively. Assuming a one-year investment horizon, the breakeven spread on this trade is roughly 554bp (that is, 90bp wider than where it currently trades)." In other words, Goldman is going long said tranche which in an environment of record credit bubble conditions and all time tights across credit land is once again, the right trade. Do what Goldman does and all that...

Futures Slide As A Result Of Yen Carry Unwind On Double POMO Day

Something snapped overnight, moments after the EURJPY breached 140.00 for the first time since October 2008 - starting then, the dramatic weakening that the JPY had been undergoing for days ended as if by magic, and the so critical for the E-Mini EURJPY tumbled nearly 100 pips and was trading just over 139.2 at last check, in turn dragging futures materially lower with it. Considering various TV commentators described yesterday's 0.27% decline as a "sharp selloff" we can only imagine the sirens that must be going off across the land as the now generic and unsurprising overnight carry currency meltup is missing. Still, while it is easy to proclaim that today will follow yesterday's trend, and stocks will "selloff sharply", we remind readers that today is yet another infamous double POMO today when the NY Fed will monetize up to a total of $5 billion once at 11am and once at 2 pm.

Welcome To The Riskless Market

The markets seem to think we live in a largely riskless world. Are risk assets now riskless assets or are they risk assets disguised as riskless?

Are Another 1.3 Million Americans About To Drop Out Of Labor Force (And Send Unemployment Plunging)?

With even the Fed somewhat challenging the credibility of the official unemployment rate - as labor force participation collapses structurally - the possibility that if Congress does not act by Dec 28th, a further 1.3 million people will lose emergency aid and may be deemed 'out' of the labor force merely exaggerates an already farcical situation. As JPM's Mike Feroli notes, the "official" unemployment rate may drop up to 0.8 percentage points, but it won't mean the economy is any better. Is this the 'excuse' the Fed needs to transition from QE to forward guidance (with the public seeing only a rapidly collapsing unemployment rate as evidence of their success) even as the data that they are so "dependent" on becomes worse than useless?

Chart Of The Day: The Fed Now Owns One Third Of The Entire US Bond Market

The Fed is absorbing over 0.3% of all Ten Year Equivalents, also known as "High Quality Collateral", from the private sector every week. The total number as per the most recent weekly update is now a whopping 33.18%, up from 32.85% the week before. Or, said otherwise, the Fed now owns a third of the entire US bond market.

Auction System Failure Forces US Treasury To Postpone 3, 6-Month Bill Auctions

While nobody is impressed by breaking equity and options markets anymore, since this has become a virtually daily ocurrence and the habituation level is high, bond markets, and especially the US government's "guaranteed" bond issuance machinery, are a different matter altogether. Which is why any time something out of the ordinary happens, people pay attention. Such as what happened moments ago when the US Treasury announced that it would delay the closing of the 3 and 6 month Bill auctions, originally scheduled to close today, to tomorrow. The reason: "an error that occurred during a test of Treasury's auction system."

Bonds & Bullion Tumble On "Good" Data

While good news is good news for China (given the overnight moves post-PMI), it appears good news is not good news for US assets. As ISM and construction spending 'beat' expectations, taper chatter removed snapped bond yields higher and gold and silver prices lower instantaneously. Equity prices also fell but S&P 500 futures found support once again at the 1801 level and bounced on the back of "help" from EURJPY.

Frontrunning: December 2

  • America’s Role as Consumer of Last Resort Goes Missing (BBG)
  • Holiday sales sag despite blitz of deals (WSJ)
  • Abe Support Falls Below 50% for First Time Amid Secrecy Drive (BBG)
  • U.S. airlines give China flight plans for defense zone (Reuters), while Japan: no change to airlines' notification policy when flying in East China Sea zone (Reuters)
  • Thai protesters seek to topple PM after clashes (Reuters)
  • Hilton Seeks as Much as $2.4 Billion in Biggest Hotel IPO (BBG)
  • Biden on delicate mission to defuse tensions in East Asia (Reuters)
  • Fed eyes financial system weak link (WSJ)
  • Pentagon in line of fire in US budget war (FT)
  • China’s monetary squeeze collides with housing bubble (FT)

Overnight Carry Currency Weakness Has Yet To Translate Into Futures Ramp

Asian equities have gotten off to a rocky start to the week despite some initial optimism around the twin-Chinese PMI beats at the start of the session. That optimism has been replaced by selling in Chinese equities, particularly small-cap Chinese stocks and A-shares after the Chinese security regulator issued a reform plan for domestic IPOs over the weekend. The market is expecting the reforms to lead to a higher number of IPOs in the coming quarters, and the fear is that this will bring a wave of new supply of stock to an already-underperforming market. Indeed, the Chinese securities regulator expects about 50 firms to complete IPOs by January 2014 – and another 763 firms have already submitted their IPO applications and are currently awaiting approval. A large number of small cap stocks listed on Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market were down by more than 5% this morning, while the Shanghai Composite is down by 0.9%. The Hang Seng (+0.4%), Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (+0.8%) are performing better on a relative basis, and other China-growth assets including the AUDUSD is up 0.5%. The Nikkei (-0.1%) is also a touch weaker after Japan’s Q3 capital expenditure numbers came in well below estimates (1.5% YoY vs 3.6% forecast). Elsewhere Sterling continues to forge new multi-year highs against the USD (+0.3% overnight).