The best performing asset overall in 2015? Well, just tell Putin "spasibo"...
Over the past few weeks, a new piece of equipment has been spotted hanging off the NYSE primary microwave tower. Here it is...
With key economic data either behind us (with the downward revised GDP), or ahead of us (the February payrolls on deck), and the Greek situation currently shelved if only for a few days/weeks until the IMF payment comes due and the farce begins anew, stocks are focuing on the widely telegraphed 25 bps Chinese rate cut over the weekend, which however has so far failed to inspire a broad based rally either in Asia (where the SHCOMP closed up 0.8% after first dipping in the red) or across developed markets. In fact, as of this moment futures are hugging the unchanged line as the USDJPY attempted another breakout of 120.000 but with numerous option barrier expiration stop at that level, it has since retracted all the overnight gains and is back to the Sundey lows, even as the EURUSD has seen a powerful breakout from overnight lows and is currently at the highest level since the US GDP print, following the release of the final European February PMI data, as a result of USD weakness since the European open.
"By lowering the cost of borrowing, QE has lowered the risk of default. This has led to overcapacity (see highly leveraged shale companies). Overcapacity leads to deflation. With QE, are central banks manufacturing what they are trying to defeat?"
"On October 15, the deepest and most liquid market in the world demonstrated a six standard deviation move in less than two hours, a move that happens once in 506,797,346 days and a recent report by BlackRock highlights how “the secondary trading environment for corporate bonds today is broken. These examples signal that the probability of an accident is high and the stage is set for an adverse event meeting with an outsized impact on markets and possibly economies."
Overview of the major events in the week ahead.
If not the economy or fundamentals, and if not the Fed, which as we know is still on sabbatical after its massive QE1-2-Twist-3 $3 trillion liquidity injection, just what has pushed stocks up to jawdropping all time highs? Here, courtesy of Deutsche Bank, is the answer...
The day the Buffet "value-investing" fanatics have been looking forward to all year, almost as much as the annual pilgrimage to Omaha, has finally arrived - hours ago Warren Buffett released his historic, 50th annual letter to shareholders, which is extra special because as the Oracle notes in the foreword, "Fifty years ago, today’s management took charge at Berkshire. For this Golden Anniversary, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger each wrote his views of what has happened at Berkshire during the past 50 years and what each expects during the next 50."
As the rest of the world appears happy to assume everything is fixed in Europe (and if it's not, Draghi will buy it back to being awesome), Greece is looking unwell once again. Initial exuberance has faded dramatically in the last 3 days as IMF default warnings and a 22.5% plunge in tax revenues has sparked concerns about Greece's sustainability once again. Default (or restructuring) risk is soaring, Greek bond yields are surging, stocks sliding, and Greek banks (bonds and stocks) are getting hammered. As The Guardian's Helena Smith notes, "the country is in a strategic vacuum," and next week's T-Bill auction could be a major catalyst.
There was much hope that when Q3 GDP soared to 5%, primarily on the back of Obamacare spending recalendarization and a massive consumption/personal saving data revision, that the US economy would finally enter lift-off mode. Those hopes were reduced by about 60% when moments ago the BEA announced that Q4 GDP was revised from the original 2.64% print to only 2.18%, which while better than expected, was the lowest economic growth rate since the "polar vortex."
If there isone thing that is virtually certain about today's trading (aside from the post Rig Count surge in oil because if there is one thing algos are, it is predictable) is that despite S&P futures being a touch red right now, everything will be forgotten in a few minutes and yet another uSDJPY momentum ignition ramp will proceed, which will push the S&P forward multiple to 18.0x on two things i) it's Friday, and an implicit rule of thumb of central planning is the market can't close in confidenece-sapping red territory ahead of spending heavy weekends and ii) the Nasdaq will finally recapture 5000 following a final push from Apple's bondholders whose recent use of stock buyback proceeds will be converted into recorder highs for the stock, and thus the Nasdaq's crossing into 5,000 territory because in the New Normal, the more expensive something is, the more people, or rather algos, want to buy it.
Despite some compression today in anticipation of ECB QE (as if that was not anticipated enough in the idioctically marginal yields across European peripheral bonds), it appears Europe is 'not' fixed. With Brexit odds around 1 in 6 and Podemos' lead in Spain extending, it appears redenomination risk (as we discussed, clearly lacking in many spreads) is re-emerging. Since the Greek election, Spanish credit risk is up 30%... more than Greece!
Following a quiet overnight session in which the main event appears to be a statement by Chinese premier Li for more active fiscal policy, which has pushed the metals complex higher, although technically every other asset class as well, with US equity futures set to open in fresh record high territory, even as 10Y yields around the world continue to decline, attention today will fall on the CPI print due out shortly, because if consensus is correct, January will be the first month this decade when US inflation posts a negative print, mostly due to the delayed effect of sliding commodity prices. As Deutsche recaps, the most important number today is the headline CPI where the headline YoY rate is predicted to be negative by the market (-0.1%) for the first time since 2009. Over this period the YoY rate stayed negative for 8 months. However before this we hadn't seen a full year decline since August 1955. In other words, a few months before what may be the first US rate hike for a new generation of traders, the US is set to print its first annual deflation since Lehman, transitory or not.
As a frequent contributor to Bloomberg, I would welcome the opportunity to debate this with Barry.
What say you @ritholtz ? : )