If you are getting a strong sense of déjà vu from current news flow, well, join the club. Everything feels so… familiar. And not necessarily in a good way. When we hear phrases like “Bubble markets”, “M&A cycle”, “historically low yields”, and “retail investor buying”, our minds automatically flash back to prior periods of history when those phrases last dominated the headlines. It isn’t hard to come up with a “Top 10” list of phrases with strong historical - and emotional - antecedents. So, today we did just that. Fair warning, however: just because a tune sounds familiar doesn’t mean you actually know the song. It could just be what the kids today call a “Sample” – a snippet of a song put in another song. Yep, what we’ve got here is something out of hip hop, not rock. Don’t especially like rap? Too bad, homey.
Current Junk-Bond Turmoil just Preliminary, 'Prisoner Dilemma' Ensues, but “The Real Panic Will Come With…”Submitted by testosteronepit on 08/08/2014 13:33 -0400
Junk bond investors are running for the hills. But there are no hills.
"If this is the beginning of a more important, intermediate term, correction; how large could it be?" There is one important truth that is indisputable, irrefutable, and absolutely undeniable: "mean reversions" are the only constant in the financial markets over time. The problem is that the next "mean reverting" event will remove most, if not all, of the gains investors have made over the last five years. Hopefully, this won't be you.
GDP-weighted average sovereign risk for European nations has risen 14% in the last 2 weeks - the most since Nov 2012. European peripheral bond spreads finally started to 'adjust' for real risk this week with a dramatic 30-40bps decompression from the early week's tights to the closing wides. Portugal was worst (+23bps on the week) followed by Italy and Spain. Stocks were hammered - EuroStoxx 600 2-week drop is the biggest since May 2012 and Germany's DAX 2-week drop is largest since Nov 2011.
- Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee (Reuters)
- Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (BBG)
- Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite (BBG)
- Israeli Jets Strike Gaza Targets After Rockets Shatter Truce (BBG)
- U.S. starts aid airdrops in Iraq but no strikes yet (Reuters)
- Banks Said to Be Arranging Argentine Debt Buyer Group (BBG)
- Siberia Flight-Ban Threat Forces Airlines to Mull Options (BBG)
- Malaysia Airlines to Be Delisted in $429 Million Buyout (BBG)
- Erdogan poised to win Turkey's first popular presidential vote (Reuters)
- African Bank Fights Collapse in Espirito Santo-Like Drama (BBG)
- China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call (Reuters)
Late yesterday, after Nobel peace prize-winning president Obama revealed his latest military incursion, years of pent up can-kicking almost caught up with futures, which dared to tumble by a whopping 0.7%, a move which hit Europe far more than the US, and shortly after Europe's open, the Euro Stoxx 50 Index dropped 10% from its 2014 high, marking an official correction in Europe where the Dax continues to be the key risk indicator, and which dropped as low as 8,903 before recovering to a drop of only 0.9% while German Bunds continues to print record highs day after day on fears what the escalating Russian trade war will do to the German economy, and other such "costs." US futures meanwhile have seen most of their losses recovered thanks to the usual relentless low volume USDJPY levitation, which pushed ES down to just -0.2% after a nearly four times greater drop. Still, while futures may be surging, the 10 Year has not gotten the memo and remains stuck just above 2.36% or its lowest print since June 2013, a clear indication that at least the bond market has given up all hope of a so-called US recovery for the conceivable future. What is most important however, is that at this pace, the Friday confidence effect, i.e., a green close, may be recovered: let's all just wait and see what the NY Fed trading desk decides to do, and escalating world wars aside, let's just pretend that HY didn't just sugger the biggest weekly HY outflow in history didn't just take place.
Are the crafty casino courpiers finally cashing out their cronies' comped chips at the crooked capitlaism craps tables?
High-Yield bonds funds saw record outflows of $7.1 billion this week - the fourth week running - as the slow-motion train crash in credit starts to accelerate. As Forbes reports, the huge redemption blows out past the prior record outflow of $4.63 billion in June 2013. The full-year reading is now deeply in the red, at $5.9 billion, with 43% of the withdrawal tied to ETFs. Simply put, everyone in the bond market knew 'not' to sell because liquidity is simply not there; but game theory's first mover advantage finally broke as retail investors run and create a vicious cycle of 'liquid' ETF selling forcing 'illiquid' underlying bond selling... just as we warned here and here. Why should equity investors care? See chart below...
A day dominated by geopolitical headlines saw stocks hit 4-month lows, gold jump to 3-week highs, and bond yields tumble to 14-month lows. The Dow made new "sell in May" lows today, now -1.5% from end-April (joined in weakness since then by the Russell). The S&P 500 broke its 100-day moving-average (and did not bounce) as USDJPY broke the critical 102.00 level. The Dow stalled at its 200-day moving-average (16343). 10Y Treasury yields continued to plunge pressing a 2.41% handle - new 14-month closing low-yields. Gold jumped above $1315 closing near the highs of the day (and silver above $20). The USD ended up on the day but JPY carry unwinds continued. VIX broke back above 17 (and remains inverted for the 10th day in a row). Equities continues to catch down to high-yield credit's weakness. A late-day buying-panic, sparked by VIX-slamming, was triggered as S&P futures broke 1900.
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article highlighting the surge in what it calls “ultralong” bonds, defined as having a maturity of more than 30 years. The findings are simply stunning. In what may seem counterintuitive, bond yields at hundred year plus lows in many countries has led major investment firms to rush into ever riskier and longer duration fixed income securities just to earn some income. This has opened the floodgates to governments and corporations looking to lock in low yields on debt they won’t have to pay back for a generation. Just to name a few, this year we have already seen a 100-year bond sale by Mexico, two separate 50-year bond issuances by Canada, and wait for this one, Spain of all countries is set to try to sell a 50-year bond!
- Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
- Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
- Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
- Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
- Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
- Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
- Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
- The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
- Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
- Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)
There were some minor fireworks in the overnight session following the worst Australian unemployment data in 12 years reported previously (and which sent the AUD crashing), most notably news that the Japanese Pension Fund would throw more pensioner money away by boosting the allocation to domestic stocks from 12% to 20%, while reducing holdings of JGBs from 60% to 40%. This in turn sent the USDJPY soaring (ironically, following yesterday's mini flash crash) if only briefly before it retraced much of the gains, even as the Pension asset reallocation news now appears to be entirely priced in. It may be all downhill from here for Japanese stocks. It was certainly downhill for Europe where after ugly German factory orders yesterday, it was the turn of Europe's growth dynamo to report just as ugly Industrial Production which missed expectations of a 1.2% print rising only 0.3%. Nonetheless, asset classes have not seen major moves yet, as today's main event is the ECB announcement due out in less than an hour. Consensus expects Draghi to do nothing, however with fresh cyclical lows in European inflation prints, and an economy which is clearly rolling over from Germany to the periphery, the ex-Goldmanite just may surprise watchers.
Despite Krugman's “Mission Accomplished” Announcement, the Giant Banks Are Worse Than Ever
With Shanghai having limited retail exposure to high-yield bonds, and the Chinese corporate bond market has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest and is set to soak up a third of global company debt needs over the next five years, it is no wonder that, as Bloomberg reports, analysts fear "a prelude to a storm." Privately issued notes totaling 6.2 billion yuan ($1 billion) come due next quarter, the most since authorities first allowed such offerings from small- to medium-sized borrowers in 2012. This week a 4th issuer has faced a "payment crisis" and while officials are trying to expand financing for small companies (which account for 70% of China's economy, with debt-to-equity ratios exceeding 200%, this is nothing but more ponzi. As Goldman warns, it appears China's Minsky Moment is drawing near (as the hangover from Q1's credit impulse kicks in).