Is there something particularly notable about a 17x trailing PE multiple on the S&P 500? According to Deustche's David Bianco, there is especially during mid to late cycle expansions, i.e., after three (or much more in this case with the S&P 500 now repoting 5+ years of EPS growth) years of rising earnings. In fact, as DB calculates, the only two periods of a PE over 17 after 3 years from the last EPS decline are 1965-66 and 1996-98 (Figure 2) below. And right now. It should be self-explanatory that both of those historic periods ended with a sharp equity correction.
Friday's main event, Ukraine's alleged attack of a Russian military convoy, has come and gone, and as we mused on Friday has promptly faded into the memory of all other fabricated headlines released by the country engaged in a major civil war and an even more major disinformation war. To be sure, Germany's DAX has recovered virtually all losses, US futures are up about 9 points, and the 10 Year is back to 2.37%. One wonders what algo-slamming headline amusement Ukraine has in stock for us today, although anyone hoping for a quick "de-escalation" (there's that word again) will have to wait following yesterday's meeting of Russian, Ukraine, German and French ministers in Berlin where Russia's Lavrov said he saw no progress on Ukraine cease-fire, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says in Berlin, adding that a cease-fire should be unconditional.
Non-ideologically laden overview of the key issues shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
Why can't, or rather won't, the Fed let the bubble market collapse once again? Simple - as the following chart shows, the illusion of wealth is now most critical when preserving the myth of the welfare state: some 50% of all US pension fund assets are invested in stocks and only 20% in Treasurys.
The ragged Keynesian excuse that all will be well in Japan once the jump in the consumption tax from 5% to 8% is fully digested is false. Here’s the problem: this is just the beginning of an endless march upwards of Japan’s tax burden to close the yawning fiscal gap left after the current round of tax increases, and to finance its growing retirement colony. There is no possibility that Abenomics will result in “escape velocity” Japan style and that Japan can grow its way out of it enormous fiscal trap. Instead, nominal and real growth will remain pinned to the flatline owing to peak debt, soaring retirements, a shrinking tax base and a tax burden which will rise as far as the eye can see. Call that a Keynesian dystopia. It is a cautionary tale for our times. And Japan, unfortunately, is just patient zero.
Overview of the technical conditions of the major markets.
The irony of maintaining a veneer of authenticity over a fundamentally inauthentic market is rich: the more the authorities manipulate the market to maintain high valuations and suppress turbulence, the greater the odds of a collapse of trust as inauthentic markets cannot self-correct or discover the price of assets, capital and risk. Once risk has been effectively hidden by perception management, participants lack the essential information they need to make informed decisions. And so their decisions will be catastrophically mis-informed. This is how declines morph into crashes.
Traders and market participants are pretty bad at decision making as it is, the last thing they need is inaccurate information via sensationalized and overhyped TMZ Style News reports to base their decision making process on.
Going into this year’s Jackson Hole meeting, it does not appear to BofAML's Ethan Harris that the FOMC is leaning toward a policy change as in 2010, let alone on the verge of a big shift as in 2012. Instead, the Fed is in a bit of a limbo state as it waits for clear evidence that 1Q GDP was a fluke and convincing signs of stronger wages. With significant policy changes a long way off, and with the intense market focus on Jackson Hole, we expect the Fed Chair to try to say nothing interesting about the policy outlook.
High yield mutual funds and ETFs reported a small $0.71bn inflow (of knife catchers) last week (ending on August 13th) after four straight weeks of outflows including a record $6.7bn outflow in the prior week. As BofAML notes, the turn in flows follows a strong rebound in high yield bond prices (drop in spreads), which (before the Ukraine news) had reversed more than half of the losses incurred in July. However, European high-yield funds saw further significant outflows, $3bn more compared to $4bn last week and European equities saw massive outflows. Furthermore, modest equity inflows hide the fact that the only buyer of stocks in the US remain corporates (buybacks) as institutional sellers dominate.
After surging all week on the worst volume of the year, US equities hit an air-pocket of reality this morning as last night's news of a Russian 'invasion' was confirmed by Ukraine (and UK reporters), denied by Russia, and met with silence from the US. Of course, thanks to a handy VIXnado, stock bounced back to VWAP, stabilized and closed the week in the green. The last two weeks have been the best for 7Y bonds in 10 months as it closes back under 2% for the first time since Oct 2013. Amid all this chaos, the US dollar closed unchanged on the week (giving up mid-week gains) as AUD and CAD strength dominated EUR weakness. Gold and silver - after a quiet week - was clubbed lower in the pre-open. Gold and oil surged higher on the Ukraine news - closing marginally lower on the week. VIX was cranked down to an 11 handle before Ukraine hit, surged back over 14.5, then jerked lower to close 'weaker' than stocks imply. Once again, US stocks surged once Europe closed (and of course, the panic buying into close makes perfect sense).
The fundamental mistake is to think in terms of a low yield telling you anything about the economy, as it is price that you should be focusing on.
Things just escalated notably - (Via Bloomberg):
*UKRAINE FORCES ATTACK ARMED CONVOY FROM RUSSIA, 'DESTROY' PART OF ARMED CONVOY: LYSENKO
*RUSSIA SAYS IT'S GETTING INFO OF DIRECT THREATS TO CONVOY, SAYS UKRAINE INTENSIFIES MILITARY OPS TO DISRUPT CONVOY
EU & US Stocks and bond yields (and Ruble) are tumbling, gold rising... We await Putin's response... "concerned at attempts to disrupt convoy."
Two months ago, Fed's Bullard went full hawktard and implicitly told bondholders to "sell, sell, sell." As we explained here, there was a hidden motive for his demands - the bond market was breaking bad. So, perhaps it is not a total surprise that on the week when Treasury "fails to deliver" break back above $1bn to 2-month highs (broken market), that Jim Bullard is back:
*BULLARD SAYS MARKET TRADING 'TOO DOVISHLY' COMPARED TO FOMC, TIPS REAL RATE `SHOCKINGLY LOW'
*BULLARD SAYS HE SEES FIRST RATE RISE AT END OF 1Q 2015
As Renaissance Macro's Neil Dutta adds, confirming Bullard's meme, while recent moves in 10Y USTs have been driven mostly by geopolitical concerns and softening global economy, "we suspect that there may be a misreading of Fed policy." Or 'the market' knows full well how this ends?
As the TBAC explained one year ago, pensioners (first in Denmark, soon everywhere else) have the Fed and other monetizing central banks to thank for losing their "purchasing power" as a result of the central banks' sequestration of high quality collateral, i.e. bonds with duration to record levels, and the resulting collapse in bond market liquidity. Well, things just got worse today, when as the following chart courtesy of Nanex showed, liquidity in the ZB future took a step function lower on the Russian news. Expect even further contraction in liquidity in the coming weeks and months, which in turn will mean that soon the world's "deepest" market may have all the liquidity of CYNK... and all the volatility as well.