European bank stocks are down over 6% in the last 3 days to 5 month lows - the biggest such drop in 13 months. The combination of Draghi's "no QE", Austrian bank contagion concerns, and rumors of German banks about to be 'BNP'd by US regulators has removed all the exuberant recovery chatter (confirmed by economic data itself collapsing too). Remember all those oh-so-positive PMIs? European peripheral bond spreads surged around 10bps and individual stock markets plunged (Portugal -3% today, Italy -2.5%, Spain -1.8%)
As is now well-known, following the news broken first by Zero Hedge in May, Belgium, or rather "Belgium" (because clearly someone is using Belgian-based Euroclear as a front to cover their insatiable appetite for US paper) has emerged as the biggest buyer of US Treasurys in 2014, close to surpassing even the Federal Reserve as the biggest monetizer of the US deficit. But what about other countries in the world, such as for example France: a country whose economy virtually everyone admits is in shambles and yet whose bond yields have followed the rest of the world to slide to near record lows of 1.70% most recently. Here is the answer.
Every US equity index is now in the red post-"great" jobs report on Thursday. Bond yields have plunged and stocks have caught down to that weakness. USDJPY appears the main culprit for now as chatter of JPY repatriation over Super-Typhoon concerns sends USDJPY back to 101.50 and below all key technical levels. Whocouldanode that stock exuberance last week was over-done? On a side note, it's small caps that are getting slammed from yesterday's opening... and it's Tuesday!!
Poor algos: after they got no love on Monday from the overnight USDJPY selling team which took the all important pair back to the 200 DMA, today, inexplicably (it is a Tuesday after all, and if one can't frontrun a rigged market surging higher on Turbo Tuesday may as well throw in the towel on free money and learn about fundamental analysis) the same overnight USDJPY selling team has pushed the key carry pair to below the 200 DMA, and has dragged US equity futures lower with it for the second day in a row.
EURUSD drop may have further to go given that the relative policy outlook would push Fed/ECB balance sheet ratio lower before long. Citi's Valentin Marinov believes, relative data surprises as well as forward looking cyclical gauges like bank stocks are starting to favor USD over EUR and he points out that leveraged accounts could start adding to shorts again as real money continue to sell EUR.
Felix Zulauf, James Montier and David Iben: Three legendary investors share their views on financial markets. Everything is pricey ("we will continue to swim in a sea of liquidity; but there might be other events and developments that may not be camouflaged by liquidity which could cause a change of investor expectations.") the European periphery is a bubble ("The Euro crisis is not over...the European economies are not going to change for the better for years to come despite all the cheating and breaking of laws"), Value investors need to venture to Russia ("when you look at today’s opportunity set, you’re left with a set of assets where nothing looks attractive from a valuation point of view") or buy gold mining stocks (" The down cycle could be much bigger than anybody believes if the market realizes that all the actions taken in recent years do not work.") Summing it all up, "there is no question that [sovereigns] lack the fundamental economic base to finally service their debts," trade accordingly.
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.