Since Ukraine is the only wildcard variable in the news these past few days, it was to be expected that following i) the end of the large Russian military drill begun two weeks ago and ii) a press conference by Putin in which he toned down the war rhetoric, even if he did not actually say anything indicating Russia will difuse the tension, futures have soared and have retraced all their losses from yesterday. And not only in the US - European equity indices gapped higher at the open this morning in reaction to reports that Russian President Putin has ordered troops engaged in military exercises to return to their bases. Consequent broad based reduction in risk premia built up over the past few sessions meant that in spite of looming risk events (ECB, BoE policy meetings and NFP release this Friday), Bund also failed to close the opening gap lower. At the same time, USD/JPY and EUR/CHF benefited as the recent flight to quality sentiment was reversed, with energy and precious metal prices also coming off overnight highs.
The Bitcoin phenomenon has now reached the mainstream media where it met with a reception that ranged from sceptical to outright hostile. The recent volatility in the price of bitcoins and the issues surrounding Bitcoin-exchange Mt. Gox have led to additional negative publicity. It is clear that on a conceptual level, Bitcoin has much more in common with a gold and silver as monetary assets than with state fiat money. The supply of gold, silver and Bitcoin, is not under the control of any issuing authority. It is money of no authority – and this is precisely why such assets were chosen as money for thousands of years. Gold, silver and Bitcoin do not require trust and faith in a powerful and privileged institution, such as a central bank bureaucracy. Under a gold standard you have to trust Mother Nature and the spontaneous market order that employs gold as money. Under Bitcoin you have to trust the algorithm and the spontaneous market order that employs bitcoins as money (if the public so chooses). Under the fiat money system you have to trust Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and their hordes of economics PhDs and statisticians.
With all eyes dismally fixed on Eastern Europe and the esclating tensions between the world's most powerful nations, we thought perhaps a little levity was appropriate. "Way To Blue" trawls the social media stratosphere of intellect and calculates a "desire to win" index that summarizes who we, the lowly members of the public, would most like to win the celebrated Academy Awards. It appears, in an odd coincidence to real-life, the debt-serfs of the world would most like to see "12 Years A Slave" win for Best Film.
So much for that blow out initial estimate of Q4 GDP that had annualized GDP at 3.2%. One month later and the number has been cut by 25% to 2.4% following a substantial downward revision to Personal Consumption, which dropped from 3.3% to 2.6%, well below the 2.9% expected. As a percentage of the acual annualized GDP number, it dropped from 2.26% to 1.73%. The other components in the calculation that had material revisions were inventories which added just 0.14% to GDP vs 0.42% in the last revision and 1.67% in Q3, as the destocking from record high inventory build up levels continues to take a bite out of growth; offsetting this was an increase in the Fixed investment estimate from 0.14% to 0.58%. Which in turn means that even more CapEx growth was pulled back into last year than previously expected, suggesting further downward cuts to Q1 2014 GDP are coming. Finally, the government deducted -1.05% from Q4 GDP as opposed to the 0.93% estimated previously.
And just like that the Chinese yuan devaluation has shifted away from the merely "orderly." In the past few hours of trading, China, which as we reported two days ago has started intervening aggressively in the Yuan market, has seen its currency crash by nearly 0.9%, which may not seem like much, but is in fact the largest drop since December of 2008, and at last check was trading at around 6.18, even as the PBOC fixed the CNY reference rate 0.02% higher from the last official close to 6.1214, erasing pivot support point at 6.1346 and 6.1408. Naturally this means that the obverse, the CNYUSD, has crashed to as low as 0.1620. Should this move sustain without reverting, this will be the biggest weekly loss ever! The dramatic move is shown on the chart below.
Three unlucky attempts in a row to retake the S&P 500 all time high may have been all we get, at least for now, because the fourth one is shaping up to be rather problematic following events out of the Crimean in the past three hours where the Ukraine situation has gone from bad to worse, and have dragged the all important risk indicator, the USDJPY, below 102.000 once again. As a result, global stock futures have fallen from the European open this morning, with the DAX future well below 9600 to mark levels not seen since last Thursday. Escalated tensions in the Ukraine have raised concerns of the spillover effects to Western Europe and Russia, as a Russian flag is lifted by occupying gunmen in the Crimean (Southern Ukrainian peninsula) parliament, prompting an emergency session of Crimean lawmakers to discuss the fate of the region. This, allied with reports of the mobilisation of Russian jets on the Western border has weighed on risk sentiment, sending the German 10yr yield to July 2013 lows.
Government spending is out of control. But even if voters and politicians wanted to stop, they couldn't. The root of the problem is a flaw in the nature of the dollar.
The TOTUS is at it again, creating more jobs and repaving old freeways on paper, as transcribed by the president... but why bother? The US is so fixed, America is now issuing bailout loans to the Ukraine.
For the second night in a row, China, and specifically its currency rate which saw the Yuan weaken once more, preoccupied investors - and certainly those who had bet on endless strenghtening of the Chinese currency - however this time it appeared more "priced in, and after trading as low as 2000, the SHCOMP managed to close modestly green, which however is more than can be said about the Nikkei which ended the session down 0.5%. Still, the USDJPY was firmly supported by the 102.00 "fundamental" fair value barrier and as a result equity futures, which had to reallign from tracking the AUDUSD to the old faithful Yen carry, have been propped up once more and are set to open at all time highs. If equities fail to breach the record barrier for the third time in a row and a selloff ensues after the open in deja vu trading, it will be time to watch out below if only purely for technical reasons.
JPMorgan may have had zero trading loss days in 2013 but 2014 is not shaping up well for Jamie Dimon's firm. Just out from Reuters and BBG, which is reporting what the firm just announced at its investor day:
- JPMORGAN CHASE & CO EXECUTIVE: MARKET REVENUE YEAR-TO-DATE DOWN ABOUT 15 PCT VS YEAR AGO
- JPMORGAN CHASE & CO EXECUTIVE: MARKET REVENUE DOWN BROADLY YEAR-TO-DATE, BUT WORSE IN FIXED INCOME
- JPMORGAN SAYS HAS SEEN LOWER CLIENT ACTIVITY, ESP FIXED INCOME
And if the company feels compelled to report this now, one can only imagine what ridiculous addbacks JPM will have to do on earnings day: we can certainly expect at least $2 billion in loan loss reserves releases to make up for a reality that firmtly refuses to comply with Ph.D. economist models. And what is really funny, is that judging by the stock reaction, it is almost as if the algos don't know that nobody trades bonds when it snows outside. Duh.
The last 7 days have seen the unstoppable 'sure-thing' one-way bet of the decade appreciation trend of the Chinese Yuan reverse. In fact, the 0.95% sell-off is the largest since 1994 (bigger than the post-Lehman move) suggesting there is clear evidence that the PBOC is intervening. The fact that this is occurring with relatively stable liquidity rates (short-term repo remains low) further strengthens the case that China just entered the currency wars per se as SocGen notes, intending to discourage arbitrage inflows. For the Chinese authorities, who do not care about the level of their stock market (since ownership is so low), and specifically want to tame a real-estate bubble, this intentional weakening is clearly aimed at trade - exports (and maintaining growth) as they transition through their reforms. The question is, what happens when the sure-thing carry-trade goes away?
- Turkish PM says tapes of talk with son a fabrication (Reuters) but opposition confirms authenticity, and national TV carriers cut parliament when played live
- Inside the Showdown Atop Pimco, the World's Biggest Bond Firm (WSJ)
- Ex-Jefferies Trader’s Customers Say Lies Common Tactic (BBG)
- Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency (Reuters)
- The messenger mania is spreading: SoftBank Said to Seek Stake in Naver’s Line Messaging Unit (BBG)
- Ukraine Replaces Central Bank Head (BBG)
- Yup, an actual headline: Harsh weather tests optimism over U.S. economy (Reuters)
- Hiring of Law Grads Improves for Some (BBG)
- Easy Currency Bet Gets Harder as the Chinese Yuan Tumbles (WSJ)
- In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev (Reuters)
When Arthur Levitt's SEC adopted Rule 2a-7 in 1998, it handed the TBTF banks and GSEs a mortgage monopoly on a silver platter.
The last 3 days have seen China's Shanghai Composite index tumble over 3% - its largest drop since October as sentiment comes under pressure from concerns about tightening in the real estate sector. The pace of price appreciation has slowed notably - especially 'existing' apartment sales (i.e. the speculators are exiting) - as it appears houing demand is cooling off with the number of cities with falling MoM home prices rose to six in January from two in December.The PBOC has jawboned as much and real estate sector financial condtions are tightening is slowing as a number of banks curb lending to developers. This is weighing on copper prices also as construction activity slows (exacerbating problems in the shadow banking system's collateral pools). The PBOC is getting what they wanted - but may regret it.
As Facebook's $19 Billion Whatsapp Purchase Crashes (And May Be Hacked), Its Competitor Is ExplodingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/22/2014 18:43 -0400
sorry we currently experiencing server issues. we hope to be back up and recovered shortly.
— WhatsApp Status (@wa_status) February 22, 2014