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Even The Algos Are Looking Forward To Today's Early Close

Today's early close across markets likely means that the blow-off top multiple-expansion mania phase (because forward EPS estimates over the past couple - that means 2 to Janet Yellen fanatics - weeks have in fact declined) of 2014 may be coming to an end. However with already abysmal volumes literally grinding to an early halt at 1:15 pm Eastern today, and with a market as boring as this one, where any news is immediately interpreted as good, not matter how bad it actually is or how "revised" or "goal-seeked", we may see futures, which already are trading some 4 points above fair value, successfully levitate by another 20 points and hit Goldman's 2100 year end target - year-end for 2015 that is - one year ahead of time.

"Off The Grid" Economic Indicators – Q4 2014

ConvergEx's Nick Colas quarterly review of “Off the grid” economic indicators tells a story somewhat less sanguine than the typical government data. Confidence is returning, yes. But consider just how low it got: the top 3 Google autofills for “I want to sell my …” featured “kidney” for the first 3 quarters of this year. It was replaced in the current quarter with “Laptop”. Progress, of a sort...

Fed Tightening On Deck After Q3 GDP Soars To 5% On Revisions, Highest Since 2003

And just like that Q3 GDP, the one for the quarter ended Sept.30, was revised from 3.9% (which in turn was revised higher from 3.5%) to a mindblowing 5% - the highest print since Q3 2003 when GDP rose by 6.9%. This was above the highest Wall Street forecast of 4.7%, higher even than Joe Lavorgna's. The drivers: unprecedented revisions to Personal Consumption which supposedly rose by 3.2% in Q3 as opposed to the 2.2% prior reported, and 2.5% expected. Consumption accounted for 2.21% of the final 5.0% GDP print: this was the highest since Q4 2010 when it rose 2.8%. In fact, everything was revised higher: fixed investment rose 1.21% compared to the 0.97% reported previously; private inventories were virtually unchanged after allegedly subtracting 0.6% from growth in the original Q3 GDP estimate; net trade was unchanged adding 0.77% to GDP and finally the government boosted GDP a little as well, contributing 0.8%.

Bond Yields Set To Plunge In 2015: Next Year Global Treasury Supply Will Tumble By 20% As ECB Joins The Party

According to Goldman's own calculations, the demand squeeze for the High Quality Collateral that is global "Developed Market" Treasurys is about to go through the roof mostly thanks to central banks which will - even in the Fed's temporary hiatus from the monetization scene - soak up an unprecedented amount of Treasury collateral from both the primary issuance and secondary private market in their scramble to push global equity prices to unseen bubble levels and achieve the kind of Keynes-vindicating, demand-pull inflation that Russia was delighted to enjoy in the past several weeks.
How much?  The answer: a lot, as in a whopping 20% collapse in supply, once the ECB joins the fray!

2014 Year In Review (Part 1): The Final Throes Of A Geopolitical Game Of Tetris

Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."

The Burning Questions For 2015

"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.

The Housing Bubble Explained in One Little Gem of an Excerpt...

It feels like a good time to review what we can expect when our government and its agencies attempt to create wealth out of thin air.  We can see the absurdity and hubris of our policymakers who believe they can circumvent economic laws in the following excerpt from the “The National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream”. This little gem which we are suggesting is the document that led us to the economic devastation from which we are yet to crawl out. "For many potential homebuyers, the lack of cash available to accumulate the required downpayment and closing costs is the major impediment to purchasing a home. Other households do not have sufficient available income to to make the monthly payments on mortgages financed at market interest rates for standard loan terms. Financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, should address both of these financial barriers to homeownership." So what lesson did we learn the hard way?  Looking around today, absolutely nothing.

5 Things To Ponder: Variegated Contemplations

Yes, it is that magical week leading up to Christmas and the subsequent low volume push into the new year. It is "magic time" as hopes are high that "Santa Claus" will come to WallStreet. "Ignoring valuation – ignoring risk – is a recipe for disappointment and is the thing that is most likely to lead investors to ruin"

Futures Continue Rising As Illiquid Market Anticipates More Volatility In Today's Quad-Witching

Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.

Frenzied Chinese Stock Buyers Soak Up So Much Liquidity, Central Bank Forced To Intervene, Prevent Seizure

China's seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of interbank funding availability in the banking system, surged 139 basis points, to a 10-month high of 5.28% in Shanghai, the biggest since Jan. 20. The reason for the sudden cash crunch, according to Bloomberg, is that subscriptions for the biggest new share sales of the year lock up funds. Twelve initial public offerings from today through Dec. 25 will draw orders of as much as 3 trillion yuan ($483 billion), Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co. estimated. In other words, the scramble to allocate capital into China's surest way of making money, IPOs, has led to a drying out of general liquidity in the entire market. This in turn forced the PBOC to intervene and inject short-term money loans to commercial lenders in order to prevent the kind of interbank liquidity lock up that emerged in China in June 2013 in the aftermath of the first Taper Tantrum (and which before all is said and done, will likely take place again) and which sent global capital markets around the globe reeling before China resumed its massive liquidity injections which are at the heart of China's debt-fuelled bubble in the first place.

Swiss Central Bank Plunges Into NIRP, Sends Deposit Rates Negative, Scrambles Against Safe-Haven Capital Flight

Everyone thought that any major monetary policy surprises and/or capital controls today would come from Putin during his annual press conference. Boy were they wrong: just after 2 am Eastern, none other than the Swiss National Bank joined the ranks of the ECB in scrambling to stem the wave of capital flight, not to mention the cost of money, when it announced it too would start charging customers for the privilege of holding cash in its banks, when it revealed a negative, -0.25% interest rate on sight deposits: a step which according to the SNB was critical in maintaining the 1.20 EURCHF floor.

The End Of Exuberance?

"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."

Crude Continues Slide, Ruble Stabilizes, US Futures Rebound As Global Stocks Slump: All Eyes On Yellen

Previewing today's market: near record low liquidity, with chance of ridiculous volatility in the Ruble, energy and equity markets. While no doubt today's main event will be the "considerable" FOMC announcement and the Fed's downward-revised economic projections followed by Yellen's press conference, what traders will be most excited by is that, finally, Jim Bullard will no longer be bound by the blackout period surround FOMC decisions, and as such can hint of QE4 again at his leisure during key market inflection (i.e., selling) points.