Bottom line: for whatever reason, in Q1 the US economy contracted not only for the first time in three years, but at the fastest pace since Q1 of 2011. It probably snowed then too.
The complete implosion in volume and vol, not to mention bond yields continues, and appears to have spilled over into events newsflow where overnight virtually nothing happened, or at least such is the algos' complete disregard for any real time headlines that as bond yields dropped to fresh record lows in many countries and the US 10Y sliding to a 2.3% handle, confused US equity futures have recouped almost all their losses from yesterday despite a USDJPY carry trade which has once again dropped to the 101.5 level, and are set for new record highs. Perhaps they are just waiting for today's downward revision in Q1 GDP to a negative print before blasting off on their way to Jeremy Grantham's 2,200 bubble peak after which Bernanke's Frankenstein market will finally, mercifully die.
First it was JPM, then it was, surprisingly, none other than NY Fed chief Bill Dudley - the head of the trading desk that proudly boasts trader extraordinaire Kevin Henry, then Citi, and now joining the chorus of banks and Fed presidents blaming all that is wrong in the banking system on near record low volatility resulting in a collapse in trading is none other than Goldman Sachs, whose president Gary Cohn spoke at a Sanford Bernstein conference earlier today, said that fixed income volumes - the bread and butter of Goldman's juggernaut FICC division - are under significant pressure, and blamed low interest rates and, drumroll, the Fed's QE on the drop in volatility, summarizing the current trading environment as "Abnormal." It appears increasingly more are voicing their displeasure with the New Centrally-Planned Abnormal... but only after their balance sheets are full to the brim with some $2.8 trillion in fungible reserves.
While France's Hollande demands action - amid his country's "political earthquake" this weekend - Goldman warns investors should not expect any signal that the Governing Council is pondering in earnest a large-scale asset purchase program. Goldman expects the ECB to lower policy rates by 15bp at the June meeting and the announcement of targeted credit easing measures, probably in the form of a vLTRO as Draghi warns "the potential for a negative spiral to take hold between between low inflation, falling inflation expectations and credit, in particular in stressed countries."
It has gotten beyond ridiculous: a few short hours ago the yield on the 10 Year bond tumbled to a fresh low of 2.49% (and currently just off the lows at 2.50%), wiping out all of yesterday's "jump" on better than expected Durables and leading to renewed concerns about the terminal rate, deflation and how slow the US economy will truly grow. Amusingly, this happened just as US equity futures printed overnight highs. Doubly amusing: this also happened roughly at the same time as Spanish 10 Year yields dropped to a record low of 2.827%, or about 30 bps wider than the US (moments after Spain announced that loan creation in the country has once again resumed its downward trajectory and a tumble in retail deposits to levels not seen since 2008). Triply amusing: this also happened just about when Germany had yet another technically uncovered 30 Year Bund issuance, aka failed auction. So yes: nothing makes sense anymore which is precisely what one would expect in broken, rigged and centrally-planned markets (incidentally those scrambling to explain with events in bond world where one appears to buy bonds to hedge long equity exposure, are directed to the minute of the Japanese GPIF pension fund which announced it would buy junk-rated bonds to boost returns - good luck to Japanese pensioners).
"Of course, what that does imply is that when the skies finally do begin to darken, the winds could rapidly wind themselves up into an F5-scale twister. Low and declining volatility, lengthening durations, compressed spreads, high multiples, little FX movement – each feeding on the other – is it too far beyond the bounds of reason to suggest that once that virtuous cycle reaches its culmination, the torsional forces involved in its unwind could be remarkably violent?"
Four years after he left the firm, PIMCO is hiring back Paul McCulley to save its brand and provide just enough ammo to defend its bullish/bearish positions now that El-Erian's disagreements have left. Unlike some firms who believe that 'chief economists' must be full-time - adding value each and every day with their extrapolations of every macro tick - McCulley will spend up to 100 days per year working in PIMCO offices. Bearing in mind McCulley's previous lazer-like focus on Capex (which is dismally flat still) and his belief in a "W" shaped recovery not a "U" or a "V", we suspect the bearded prognosticator will have a bullish bond bias - especially as the trillions of ticking time bombs in the shadow banking system remain as incendiary as ever.
There’s a long and comprehensive To-Do list that has been waiting for us since at least 2008, when the nation received one forceful blow upside its thick head. We refuse to pay attention.
The US and UK markets may be closed for holiday today but that doesn't mean that US equity futures can't spin this weekend's resurrection of anti-EU sentiment in Europe, coupled with the just confirmed resumption of the "anti-terrorist" operation in Ukraine (more on that shortly) following its anticlimatic presidential elections in a positive light. They can and they have, and even though the USDJPY low volume ramp is oddly missing overnight, and 10 Years appear bid, spoos are set for another record high, and are already trading up 0.2% at 1901.3, above 1900 for the first time ever. European shares remain higher with the autos and bank sectors outperforming and food & beverage, basic resources underperforming. The Italian and German markets are the best-performing larger bourses. The euro is little changed against the dollar. Greek 10yr bond yields fall; Italian yields decline.
While US central bankers shudder at the idea of admitting their could be a bubble in real estate or stocks (unless its obvious in hindsight); and England's Bank of England explains 'if there is a bubble, it's not their fault, but there isn't so there'; it appears the Chinese are more comfortable with the truth. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, China's central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said, China may have a housing bubble only in “some cities,” - an issue that’s difficult to resolve with a single nationwide policy. As concerns mount of dramatic over-supply on the back of extrapolated urbanization dreams, Zhou notes, “The economy has slowed down a bit, but not very much," adding that "we should keep vigilance on whether it continues to slow down." Which is odd because US talking heads have made up their minds that China is fixed...
It was almost inevitable: a week after we wrote "From Rothschild To Koch Industries: Meet The People Who "Fix" The Price Of Gold" and days after "Barclays' Head Of Gold Trading, And Gold "Fixer", Is Leaving The Bank", earlier today the UK Financial Conduct Authority finally formalized what most in the "tin-foil" hat community had known for years, when it announced that it fined Barclays £26 million for manipulating "the setting of the price of gold in order to avoid paying out on a client order." Furthermore, the FCA confirmed that those inexplicable gold raids which come as if out of nowhere, and slam gold with a vicious force so strong sometime they halt the entire market, had a very specific source: Barclays, whose trader Daniel James Plunkett, born 1976, "sent out a burst of orders aimed at moving the price of the yellow metal."
Below, for the third year running, we present the 50 most shorted (and most convex) Russell 2000 names, which are sufficiently small and illiquid, that even the tiniest rumor or upgrade by a contrarian research shop is able to send into a short covering frenzy. They are sorted by short interest as a % of the float in declining order, which means that the absolutely most hated stocks are at the top.
Remember the legend of the great rotation? Neither do we. But we do know that a Treasury fund inflow of $3.06 billion, the largest since at least 2010 according to Bank of America, coupled with an equity fund outflow of $7.1 billion, means just one thing: the great unrotation is raging. It does beg one question, however, with equity funds dumping in the past week, just who is actually left BTFATH? (Don't worry, that's rhetorical - we all have Kevin Henry and the HFT crew to thank for the ongoing endless manipulation of the rigged market).
Curious how and why commercial bank traders manipulate the price of gold? The following detailed narrative from the FCA should answer most lingering questions.
For two decades now mainstream Keynesian economists have been gumming about China’s remarkable economic boom and its accumulation of unprecedented foreign exchange reserves. The latter hoard has now actually crossed the $4 trillion mark. But this whole narrative is PhD jabberwocky with a Wall Street accent.