BofAML's Mike Cantopoulos' distaste for corporate fundamentals, displeasure with the efficacy of QE and easy monetary policy on spurring growth and inflation, and concerns that a further deterioration in credit conditions will create deeper economic troubles not appreciated by many have left credit markets with poor default adjusted valuations and little room to absorb a negative shock. He highlights nine key reasons below why BofAML believes this rally won't last (and in fact may have already seen its end).
The machines went wild when the dismal jobs data struck. The instant reaction was a complete crush of VIX (despite stocks tumbling, Gold surging, and bond yields plunging), but that rapidly turned around and now VIX is heading higher again... Gold is now up 22% Year-to-date as S&P futures indicate cash will open in the red for 2016.
In what may be one of the least relevant payroll reports in a long time as the Fed already knows the labor market is doing better quantiatively (qualitatively it has been all about low-paying jobs gaining at the expense of higher paying manufacturing and info-tech positions) and as has further demonstrated it is no longer jobs data dependent, here is what Wall Street consensus expects: total payrolls +200,000, down from 215K in March; a 4.9% unemployment rate; average hourly earnings rising 0.3% (last 0.3%) M/M and 2.4% Y/Y (last 2.3%); on labor force participation of 63%.
In what is the latest confirmation that nobody believes the "rally", the latest fund flow data from EPFR showed that US mutual fund and ETF flows turned sharply negative for stocks and high yield this past week (ending on May 4th). The outflow from stocks was $16.9BN following a $1.29bn inflow in the prior week. This was the biggest outflow from stocks since the Sep'15 capitulation on back of China devaluation.
Ahead of the most important macro economic event of the week, US nonfarm payrolls (Exp. +200,000, down from 215,000 despite a very poor ADP report two days ago), the markets have that sinking feeling as futures seem unable to shake off what has been a steady grind lower in the past week, while the Nasdaq has been down for nine of the past ten sessions, after yet another session of jawboning by central bankers who this time flipped to the hawkish side, hinting that the market is not prepared for a June rate hike. Additionally, sentiment is showing little sign of improvement due to concerns over global-growth prospects as markets seek to close the worst week since the turmoil at the start of the year.
How is Gundlach preparing and trading in advance "Trump presidency"? "Look at arms manufacturers, said Gundlach. He would avoid companies that are susceptible to global trade slowdowns, particularly those related to Mexico and China.... As he gets the nomination, the markets and investors are going to worry about it more. You will see a downgrading of global growth based on geopolitical risks. You must factor this into your risk-management."
"Own volatility.." is the subtle message from BofA's Michael Hartnett, who warns "don't add risk before SPX 1950-2000 range and/or VIX>20." Simply put, as he explains below, bullish "positioning shocks" & "policy shocks" are largely behind us; and there is no bullish "profits shock" coming in a world that cannot cope with a higher US dollar & higher rates.
It appears the credit market's dead-cat-bounce party is over. Following the almost unprecedented bounce off the February lows, the last few days have seen HYG (the largest high yield bond ETF) tumble back below its 200-day moving average as credit spreads (in IG and HY) start to widen significantly. The driver of this sudden weakness is now clear - a $2.3bn 4-day outflow which is the most sudden and largest redemption ever.
Moments ago we the latest confirmation that the hedge fund business model is indeed suffering through an existential battle when MetLife Inc., the largest U.S. life insurer, said was seeking to exit most of its hedge-fund portfolio after a slump in the investments. According to Bloomberg, the insurer is seeking to redeem $1.2 billion of the $1.8 billion in holdings, a process that may take a couple of years to complete.
While markets remain relatively subdued ahead of tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls report, after several days of losses in US stocks which pushed the S&P500 to three week lows, overnight markets ignored the latest weak data out of China where the Caixin Services PMI was the latest indicator to disappoint (dropping from 52.2 to 51.8), and instead focused on crude, which rebounded from yesterday's post inventory-build lows and briefly printed above $45/bbl over uncertainty related to the impact of Canada wildfires on production and how long will last. The bounce in WTI has meant Brent briefly traded at parity with West Texas for the first time in 6 weeks.
If an economic system collapses in the woods and no one is paying attention, are there any consequences outside the woods? Well, yes, of course. As with most situations financial and global, however, consequences are not usually taken very seriously until they have spawned a vast bog of sewage we all have to then swim through. The issue is and always will be “interdependency,” and the dissolution of sovereign borders. The European Union dynamic, for example, can only end in one of two ways - the complete dismantling of the supranational body and a return to sovereignty, or, a socio-economic crisis followed by even more centralization and the end of all remnants of sovereignty. Either way, the consequences will not be pretty. The same strategy may also be used in the Western hemisphere; more specifically, the collapse in South America that almost no one in the mainstream seems to be paying much attention to.
Let’s be honest, free money sounds great. And you might agree if you start daydreaming about what you’d buy with additional $1,000 or $5,000 in your bank account. The truth is, nothing is free...
"Money for free! Well not exactly. The Piper that has to be paid will likely be paid for in the form of higher inflation, but that of course is what the central banks claim they want. What they don’t want is to be messed with and to become a government agency by proxy, but that may just be the price they will pay for a civilized society that is quickly becoming less civilized due to robotization. There is a rude end to flying helicopters, but the alternative is an immediate visit to austerity rehab and an extended recession. I suspect politicians and central bankers will choose to fly, instead of die."