Frontrunning: December 8

  • Welcome to the recovery:
    • Euro zone warning hits stocks, currency as oil plumbs depths (Reuters)
    • Japan GDP Worse Than Initially Reported (WSJ)
    • China trade data well below expectations (BBC)
    • German industrial production frustrates forecasts (FT)
  • Oil Extends Retreat With European Stocks as Dollar Gains (BBG)
  • California police, protesters clash again after 'chokehold' death (Reuters)
  • Ruble’s Rout Is Tale of Failed Threats, Missteps (BBG), not to be confused with "Yen's Rout Is Tale Of Keynesian Success, Prosperity"
  • Uber banned from operating in Indian capital after driver rape (Reuters)

China Surges, Japan Closes Green On Horrible Econ Data; Oil Tumbles To Fresh 5 Year Lows

Without doubt, the most memorable line from the latest quarterly report by the BIS, one which shows how shocked even the central banks' central bank is with how perverted and broken the "market" has become is the following: "The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal.... There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine." Overnight, "markets" did all in their (central banks') power to justify the BIS' amazement, when first the Nikkei closed green following another shocker of Japanese econ data, when it was revealed that the quadruple-dip recession was even worse than expected, and then the Shanghai composite soaring over 3000 or up 2.8% for the session, following news of the worst trade data - whether completely fabricated or not - out of China in over half a year.

China Fixes Yuan At Strongest Since March As Trade Surplus Hits Record Highs

Chinese imports and exports dramatically missed expectations this evening but it is imports that was thereal driver that pushed the trade surplus to $54.47 billion (higher than the $43.95 billion expected) record highs. Exports rose just 4.7% YoY (against expectations of an 8.0% rise and previous 11.6% rise) for the slowest growth since April. Imports utterly collapsed; plunging 6.7% YoY (against expectations of a 3.8% rise and prior 4.6% YoY rise). This is the biggest drop since March and 4th largest plunge since Aug 2009. Of course, in any real world this means 'the rest of the world' should be suffering from huge drops in exports... but we are sure, by the magic of fradulent invoicing that will not be the case. The PBOC may have got a glimpse and fixed CNY at its strongest since March and highest premium to the market since August.

Nikkei Slides Back Below 18,000 On Deeper-Than-Expected Recession, Record Bankruptcies

Remember when that absolute disaster of a Q3 GDP print hit Japan and the world of talking-heads proclaimed... "yeah, but.. capex revisions and stuff and things will make it all better" or some such nonsense? Well that's exactly what it was - utter nonsense. Going entirely the opposite direction to expectations of a revision up to -0.5% QoQ, Japanese GDP was revsied even lower to -1.9% QoQ (from -1.6% QoQ initial) confirming the quadrupled-dip-recession. Add to that the fact that Abenomics has ushered in record bankruptcies this year as small- and medium-sized businesses have been crushed by soaring import costs amid the collapsing JPY and you have a recipe for domestic disaster... and having rallied in anticipation of the exuberant revisions in Friday's US session, Japanese stocks are sliding quickly off the 18,000 level.

Total Derivatives Decline By 3% In Q2 To Only $691 Trillion

Who says macroprudential regulation doesn't work: according to the BIS, notional amounts of outstanding OTC derivatives contracts fell by 3% to "only"
$691 trillion at end-June 2014. This is also roughly equal to the total derivative notional outstanding just before the Lehman collapse, when global central banks volunteered taxpayers to pump a few trillion in capital to meet global variation margin calls. Clearly the system, in the immortal words of Jim Cramer, is "fine."

Will There Be Forced Official Sellers Of Gold?

A few nations may indeed be forced to sell some of their official gold reserves as a result of plunging oil prices. It seems however not likely at this juncture that Russia will be one of them, there is a good chance that Venezuela will eventually be forced to sell some of its official gold holdings. However, the impact - short term psychological impact - on the gold market should be quite limited.

Freefalling Yen Levitates Equities Around The World

Confused why in the lack of any horrible economic news (unless of course someone leaked a worse than expected November payrolls print which would put QE4 right back on the table) futures are higher, especially in the aftermath of yesterday's disappointing ECB conference? Then look no further than the Yen which has now lost pretty much all control and is in freeplunge mode, rising some 25 pips moments ago on no news, but merely as wave after wave of momentum ignition algos now make a joke of the Japanese currency, whose redline of 123 (as defined by SocGen)is now just 240 pips away. At this pace, Japan's economy, which as reported yesterday has just seen a record number of corporate bankruptcies due to the plummeting yen, may well be dead some time next week. Which, with Paul Krugman as its new and improved economic advisor, is precisely as expected. RIP Japan.

A Comprehensive Breakdown of America’s Economic House of Cards

America has created a moral hazard for all Americans in that we feel we always have a fail safe no matter what we do because we’ve always succeeded.  But so too had every other great dynasty until it didn’t.  If we do not force a change in our economic policies we are very close to and perhaps already past the point of no return.  I have no witting quip to end this article.  The economic landscape we face today is nothing short of dire.  And at the risk of sounding overdramatic we either force a policy change, suffer the short term pain and restructure or we and all future generations will live in a very different America from the one our folks left us. 

The Illusion Of Full Employment And Technology

The increasing use of technology to replace human capital is a trend that will not reverse anytime soon and will continue to proliferate areas where unskilled, repetitive labor can be automated. This is the risk that fast food workers take by lobbying for higher wages; an ordering kiosk can be quickly employed to take orders and deliver those to an automated production line. Or better yet, why not allow customers to simply place orders on the way to the restaurant through an "app." The next time you go out take a moment to realize the impact of technology on everything you do. Also, notice how many individuals have the faces stuck into their phones being truly unproductive.

Algo Eyes On Draghi Ahead Of ECB Announcement

Today we'll learn more about whether Mr Draghi becomes Super Mario in the near future as the widely anticipated ECB meeting is now only a few hours away. We will do another summary preview of market expectations shortly, but in a nutshell, nobody really expects Draghi to announce anything today although the jawboning is expected to reach unseen levels. The reason is that Germany is still staunchly against outright public QE, and Draghi probably wants to avoid and outright legal confrontation. As DB notes, assuming no new policy moves, the success of today's meeting will probably depend on the degree to which Draghi indicates the need for more action soon and the degree to which that feeling is unanimous within the council. Over the past weekend Weidmann's comment about falling oil prices representing a form of stimulus highlights that this consensus is still proving difficult to build. It might need a couple more months of low growth and inflation, revised staff forecasts and a stubbornly slow balance sheet accumulation to cement action.

James Montier: "Stocks Are Hideously Expensive" In "The First Central Bank Sponsored Bubble"

"The stock market just keeps zooming up. A low equity allocation must be hurting you now... For all purposes, this is a hideously expensive market. I don’t care if it’s a bubble or not. It’s too expensive, and I don’t need to own it. That is the problem. This is the first central bank sponsored near-bubble. There is just nowhere to hide... but... to think that central banks will always be there to bail out equity investors is incredibly dangerous."

Today's Market-Boosting Disappointing Economic News Brought To Your Courtesy Of Euroarea's Service PMIs

Those wondering why European stocks are higher but off earlier highs, the answer is simple: the latest Service ISM was bad but it wasn't a complete disaster. And while RanSquawk notes that "the particularly disappointing slew of Eurozone Service PMI’s from France and Spain capped any potential upside seen across the European indices" stocks are clearly green on hopes Europe's ongoing economic devastation accelerates enough for the ECB to finally start buying Stoxx 600 and various other penny stocks. This is what happened, in Goldman's words: the November Euro area final composite PMI came in at 51.1, 0.3pt below the flash (and Consensus) estimate. Relative to October, the composite PMI fell by 0.9pt. The weaker final composite PMI was driven by flash/final downward revisions to the German manufacturing PMI and the French services PMI. Today’s data also showed some improvement in the Italian services PMI, and a deterioration in its Spanish counterpart.

Stocks Rebound, Oil Resumes Slide, Ruble Tumbles As Yen Flirts With 119

A few days of near-record crude volatility (which the CME is scrambling to reduce following 2 crude margin hikes in the past week) is giving way to the New Normal default thinking: that central banks will soon take care of everything. And sure enough, just an hour earlier, US equity futures had jumped 8 points on virtually zero volume, wiping out all of yesterday's losses, driven higher by that new "old favorite", the USDJPY, which has once again resumed its climb higher, briefly rising above 119.00 once again and sending the Nikkei and the Topix to fresh 7 year highs, perfectly oblivious to both yesterday's Moody's downgrade and now open warnings from both Eisuke Sakakibara and Goldman Sachs that further declines in the Yen will accelerate the collapse of the Japanese economy. And, since there is also zero liquidity in the market, that entire gain was also just as promptly wiped out with futures now practically unchanged from yesterday's close.

November Was The Worst Month For Crude Since Lehman

November's asset performance can best be summarized in just three words: oil, oil, oil.  "For Brent November was the biggest one month decline since the height of the Lehman crisis in October 2008 whilst for WTI it was the worst since December 2008. Brent and WTI are now 33% and 28% lower versus where it started the year and are now trading at their lowest level since the spring of 2010."