Global banking regulators are considering new measures that would make it harder for banks to understate the riskiness of their assets. The BIS decision, as WSJ reports, to end the long-standing treatment of all government bonds as automatically risk-free, is clearly being priced into European banking stocks (as we noted here). Since the financial crisis European banks have backed up the truck on their domestic sovereign bond issuance (most especially Italy and Spain) - draining every fund to buy over EUR1.8 trillion of these 'risk-free' assets. However, that party is potentially ending as The Basel Committee panel is looking at barring banks from assigning very low risk levels to certain types of assets, a tactic some lenders have used to reduce their capital requirements; which could force banks to raise billions of dollars in extra capital.
The Russell 2000 had its worst day in almost 3 months. The S&P retraced all of its gains from the 'great' jobs report (on heavy volume). The Dow desparately clung to that critical indicator of economic wealth/health - 17,000 & Treasury yields slipped further - back below Thursday's lows. So every headline-writing muppet that correlated equity strength with a belief in the headline jobs data is now shown up as once again - as we noted on Thursday, it appeared bond traders read the jobs report and stock traders read the headlines. Is good news, bad news - or are equities actually comprehending that the jobs report was actually bad news away from the propaganda. Gold rallied back close to unchanged, silver dropped. The USD sold of early gains back to unch. TWTR dropped for the 3rd day in a row as camera-on-a-stick bounced 5% as options started trading. "Most shorted" stocks dropped their most in 3 months. VIX rose over 1 vol to 11.5 (its highest close since June and biggest %age gain in 3 months).
- Bond Anxiety in $1.6 Trillion Repo Market as Failures Soar (BBG), as reported first by Zero Hedge
- As Food Prices Rise, Fed Keeps a Watchful Eye (WSJ)
- Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan (BBG)
- Draghi’s $1.4 Trillion Shot: Silver Bullet or Misfire? (BBG)
- Israel's Netanyahu phones father of murdered Palestinian teen (Reuters)
- Ukraine says forces will press forward after taking rebel stronghold (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Brings Forward Rate Forecast as Treasuries Drop (BBG)... you mean rise?
- Super typhoon takes aim at Japan (Reuters)
- Kidnapped Nigerian girls 'escape from Boko Haram abductors' (Independent)
- Merkel says U.S. spying allegations are serious (Reuters)
Based on historical patterns and the alarming state of our current monetary system, Mike Maloney, monetary historian believes the fiat US dollar is in its last years as a viable currency. He sees its replacement as inevitable in the near term - as in by or before the end of the decade - "All of this is converging with the crazy experiments the Federal Reserve has done. During the last three monetary shifts, it was only the world's central banks and big international banks that were affected and were worried. The common man didn't even know what was going on. With this one, everybody is going to feel it. Everybody is going to know it. You will either be a winner or a loser, but everybody is playing this game."
The selloff last year was a desperate warning about the lack of resilience in credit and funding. That repo markets persist in that is, again, the opposite of the picture Janet Yellen is trying to clumsily fashion. Central banks cannot create that because their intrusion axiomatically alters the state of financial affairs, and they know this. It has always been the idea (“extend and pretend” among others) to do so with the expectation that economic growth would allow enough margin for error to go back and clean up these central bank alterations. That has never happened, and the modifications persist. Resilience is the last word we would use to describe markets right now, with very recent history declaring as much.
It's common sense - everyone knows that interest rates are going to rise (how can they fall any lower?) Inflation will come back (because the Fed said so), economic growth will flourish (because the Fed said so), and longer-term bond yields will surge in a bond-bull-destroying renaissance proving stock market speculators right all along. Except that isn't what history shows us... When a central bank dominates the domestic bond market, all bets are off (whether economically rational or not). When a sovereign simply cannot afford higher interest rates, all bets are off (no matter what your economic textbook says).
Yet another in a long stream of relatively esteemed hedge fund managers has decided enough-is-enough and is shuttering his firm. The reason? Same as the rest... As WSJ reports, Steve Eisman, who emerged as one of the stars of the financial crisis with a winning bet against mortgages, has wound up his fund because he believes that "making investment decisions by looking solely at the fundamentals of individual companies is no longer a viable investment philosophy." As Baupost's Seth Klarman reminds us "Six years ago, many investors were way out over their skis. The survivors pledged to themselves that they would forever be more careful, less greedy, less short-term oriented. But here we are again, mired in a euphoric environment in which some securities have risen in price beyond all reason, where leverage is returning to rainy markets and asset classes, and where caution seems radical and risk-taking the prudent course. Not surprisingly, lessons learned in 2008 were only learned temporarily. These are the inevitable cycles of greed and fear, of peaks and troughs."
This week was very busy with economic data. For the most part, the majority of the data came basically inline with expectations. However, the internals of the various reports were much less encouraging. The most noteworthy report, and the least important from an investment standpoint, was the monthly employment report which came in at 288,000 jobs for the month. As with the bulk of other reports, the more important details were lost to the headlines... full-time employment relative to the working age population has remained primarily stagnant since the financial crisis and actually fell in the latest month. This is a key reason why economic growth continues to struggle.
Just when you thought that nothing could be worse than bubble blindness of Greenspan and Bernanke - along comes the Yellen doctrine of “resilience”. Its dangerous Keynesian blather, and far worse than Greenspan’s feigned agnosticism which held that the Fed does not have the capacity to recognize financial bubbles in the making and should therefore mop them up after they burst. The Maestro never did say exactly what caused the massive and destructive dot-com and housing bubbles which occurred on his watch - except that Chinese factory girls stacked 12-to-a-dorm-room apparently saved way too much RMB. By contrast, Yellen’s primitive Keynesian mind knows exactly what causes financial bubbles. She has now militantly asserted that bubbles are entirely an irrational impulse in the private market and that the price of money and debt has absolutely nothing to do with financial stability.
It appears concerns over Erste Bank are reducing investor risk appetites in Europe despite Draghi's promise to catch every falling knife forever... EuroStoxx Banks closed down over 2% - their biggest drop in 7 weeks. This led to broad weaknes across European stocks (down 0.5% and closing at their lows led by Spain and Italy; and late weakness in Sweden's OMX). Peripheral bond spreads nudged wider. Perhaps most notably the European financial credit spreads widened modestly but remain dramatically disconnected to financial stocks.
The most dangerous organization is the now French led IMF with Christine Lagarde at the helm, which has presented a concept report in which 'debt cuts for over-indebted states are uncompromising' and are to be performed more effectively in the future by defaulting on retirement accounts held in life insurance, mutual funds and other types of pension schemes, or arbitrarily extending debt perpetually so you cannot redeem. Yes you read correctly, The new IMF paper describes in great detail exactly how to now allow the private sector, which has invested in government bonds, will be expropriated to pay for the national debts of the socialist governments. This far-reaching plan for the expropriation of savers, investors and retirees clearly shows the reality of socialism.
July 4th may be a US national holiday, which means the S&P 500 won't hit a record high on good news and a recorder high on bad, but judging by global trading volumes - already abysmal heading into today - one may as well give the entire world a day off. However, for now, global equities have come off the impressive, and curiously schizophrenic US-data inspired gains of yesterday which sent the DJIA over 17,000 yet which has resulted in an almost unchanged 10Y Treasury print since before the NFP release. Once again bonds and stocks agree to disagree.
According to a paper by economists at UC Northwestern University and UC Berkeley, Anna Cieslak and Adair Morse and Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, another, even more surprising trading pattern using FOMC announcement has emerged. Specifically, anyone who engaged in the simple "even" strategy of buying the stocks of the S&P 500 on the day before a Fed policy announcement, selling them a week later, then buying them again the following week and sticking with the pattern until the subsequent Fed meeting generated a whopping 650% return since 1994, far outperforming the inverse "odd" strategy which shocking had a negative return over the past two decades years, and jsut as surprisingly, outperforming the market's own 505% return during this period.
The last six months have not run according to anyone’s plan. Who would have thought that equity market structure would yield a best-selling book, after all? As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, on the fundamental side of things, interest rates across the developed world are lower, not higher – counter to the consensus view just 180 days ago. Mutual fund investors first bought U.S. equities earlier in the year, then in the last 6 weeks have begun to liquidate in earnest. Exchange Traded Fund investors are buying more fixed income products than those dedicated to U.S. stocks. Large cap stocks are trouncing small caps in terms of performance. And as for volatility – well, Elvis has clearly left the building on that one. So which of these surprises has staying power into the back half of 2014?
It seems the bond market 'read' the report and the stock market skimmed the headlines...