- Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
- On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
- Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
- Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
- Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
- GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
- Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
- BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
- Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
- Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
"...the numbers that they crank out to make everybody feel good are almost as phony as the numbers that the Argentine government cranks out... I would say that inflation is realistically in the 8-10% range here in the US—and it’s going much higher. The growth is all a fantasy. It’s all a result of the assumption that there is no inflation, when there really is because what we have is inflation masquerading as economic growth. But the bottom line is the economy is really contracting, that’s why the labor force is shrinking, that’s why we’re using less energy, that’s why the people’s standard of living is going down, and real incomes are falling and job opportunities are disappearing. It’s because we’re in a recession and no one wants to admit it."
The question of whether 'tapering is tightening' is often discussed but what is really meant is - when the Fed tapers, will risk assets suffer (and bonds benefit)? The answer is - yes. As Gavekal finds, long-dated US government bonds are following the reduction in QE nearly perfectly so far. The link between Fed asset accumulation and these various bond yields is unmistakable, especially for longer duration bonds, and this simple model shows how even lower bond yields may be in the offing as the Fed puts on the breaks. For junk bonds, this seems to portend higher spreads, which may help to put the recent widening of spreads in context.
It's all over but the crying: having explained Argentina's position (i.e. not giving to so-called vulture funds), Economy Minister Kicilloff explains:
- *KICILLOF SAYS HEDGE FUNDS NOT WILLING TO GIVE DELAY ON RULING
- *KICILLOF SAYS HARD TO BELIEVE ARGENTINA IN DEFAULT IF HAS FUNDS
- *KICILLOF SAYS ARGENTINA CAN'T COMPLY WITH COURT RULING
- *HOLDOUTS DIDN'T ACCEPT ARGENTINE OFFER: KICILLOF
As Bloomberg notes, by defaulting today, Argentina may trigger bondholder claims of as much as $29 billion -- equal to all its foreign-currency reserves. Just remember that the last 2 days have seen 'smart money' buy Argentine bonds and stocks to all-time record highs.
After an exuberant day in Argentine bond and stock markets, we are nearing a decision. With a handful of hours left until it's all over, various 'deal's have been proposed today from Argentine bankers as a last-minute rescue package. S&P has already decided that it's a done deal:
- *ARGENTINA CUT TO SD FROM CCC- BY S&P
- *ARGENTINA DEFAULTED ON $13B IN FOREIGN DEBT, S&P SAYS
- *ARGENTINA MISSED $539M BOND PAYMENT, S&P SAYS
And now, Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof will speak in a press conference at country’s consulate in Manhattan (ironically a block from the holdouts' office).
"More of the same," should summarize today's FOMC statement. There will be no press conference or refresh of the 'dot plot' economic projections. The Fed is expected to continue to taper by $10 billion with confirmation that the "growth meme" is playing out just as they projected (especially after today's GDP print). Goldman believes the focus will be on the jobs 'dashboard' and recent inflation data enables the dovish Fed to argue recent moves were noise and stay easier for longer. The downside risk (for markets) may be that Fed hawks will likely have little luck in altering the way forward guidance is employed by the Fed (and chatter over a Fisher dissent is possible).
Treasury yields are surging across the complex with the long-end steepening notably. Today's 10.5bps jump in 10Y yields is the biggest percentage shift since early November 2013... and a significant tail in the 7Y auction just made things worse.
Portugal's PSI20 plunged over 3.4% today extending recent losses after its dead-cat-bounce, leaving the index near its lowest since October 2013. Interestingly peripheral bond spreads (and IG/HY credit spreads) compressed while equity markets all dumped across Europe amid concerns of blowback from Russia. As the sell-off accelerated into the close, credit markets also tumbled. An initial rally in financials gave way rapidly as US opened and rumors of G7 statements and Russian retaliation spread. Europe's VIX closed just shy of 18.00 - its highest close since early May. Banco Espirito Santo fell another 10% to record lows ahead of tonight's earnings.
Bond yields jumped over 4bps on the better than expected GDP print. Stocks popped along with the USD index. Gold was flip-flopped all over the place - an initial dump was followed by a rip back over $1300 only to be sold back down to $1295 now... Equity exuberance is fading back a little now as machines 'read' the anti-goldilocks ADP print and inventory-stuffed Fed-hawk-supporting GDP print as indicative of a punch bowl that just got dragged away a little more...
This week's US data onslaught begins today, with the ADP private payroll report first on deck (Exp. 230K, down from 281K), followed by the number of the day, Q2 GDP, which after Q1's abysmal -2.9%, is expected to increase 3%. Anything less and in the first half the US economy will have contracted, something the purists could claim is equivalent to a recession. The whisper numbers are to the downside since consumption and trade never caught up and the only variable is inventory as well as Obamacare, whose impact was $40 billion "contribution" in Q1 was entirely eliminated and instead led to a deduction, something we expect will be reversed into Q2. Following the backward looking GDP (which will be ignored by the sellside penguins if it is bad and praised if good) at 2:00 pm Yellen Capital LLC comes out with a correction on her call to short social networking stocks, as well as admit once again that the "data-driven" Fed really has no idea what it is doing and how it will tighten, but that tightening is imminent and another $10 billion taper to QE will take place ahead of a full phase out in October. Joking aside, the Fed is expected not to do much if anything, which may be just the right time for Yellen to inject an aggressively hawkish note considering her inflation "noise" refuses to go away.
High yield bond markets are another victim of the "new normal"
Imperial Washington is truly running amuck in its insensible confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The latest round of new sanctions is a counter-productive joke. But it is the larger narrative that is so blatantly offensive - that is, the notion that a sovereign state is being wantonly violated by an aggressive neighbor arming “terrorists” inside its borders. Once again, the American Warfare State has confected a false narrative to justify policies and missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Wooster MA. Unfortunately, false narratives are what the Warfare State does.
Equity markets were lifted on a sea of USDJPY stops this morning to open higher and press to the week's highs. Once 102.00 was achieved and Europe closed, headlines started to stall stock exuberance. The initial downturn was when BES cancelled its shareholder meeting, the dip was bought, then Europe unveiled its sanctions started to take stocks down and then the US unleashed a further round of sanctions targeted at banks and that dragged stocks to the lows of the day. Trannies were worst down 4 days in a row. This move merely caught stocks down to bond's less-than-exuberant day. Treasuries rallied with yields dropping 2-3bps on the day. The USD surged to 6-month highs, ending up 0.2% from Friday. Credit markets continue to sell off notably. VIX closed back above 13 (highest in 2 weeks). The Russell is -1.65% YTD and 4.5% in July (on course for worse month in over 2 years). It appears sanctions fears trumped turbo Tuesday.
With hours to go until Argentina's grace period runs out and default occurs, investors are less than frantically selling Argentine bonds and pesos. They are lower but do not appear in full panic mode as we presume investors cling to hope that Argentina folds and pays off the holdouts (though there has been no sign of that so far). ARG 2033 bonds are down 3 points to 81 and the black-market peso is modestly weaker at 13.0 (near its record lows). Argentine CDS tightened modestly (as BofA warns the facts surrounding Argentina’s bond payments continue to be unique and deciding if CDS are triggered could take longer than expected) but 1Y CDS are holding at 4600bps (equivalent) - a 52% probability of default. Paul singer continues to defend himself (and the holdouts) from claims they are "dangerous fundamentalists" hell-bent on making it impossible for foreign sovereigns to restructure their debts.
If yesterday's 2 Year bond auction was a snoozer, today's 5 Year was anything but. First, the pricing was solid, and while the high yeild of 1.72 was the highest since May 2011, it stopped 1.2 bps through the 1.732% When Issued. The Bid to Cover was also solid, rising from 2.74 to 2.81, the highest since March and now appears to have decisively broken the downtrend in BTCs seen through the end of 2013. The most notable features of today's auction however were the internals, where we saw the Direct takedown soar from 9.3% to 25.9%, the second highest on record and only lower than the 30.4% in December 2012. And while Indirects were again flat like in yesterday's auction at 48.2%, it was the Dealers who had to make space, and the resulting Dealer allotment of 25.9% was far lower than the 38.2% in June, and the lowest in auction history.