Paul Volcker Proposes A New Bretton Woods System To Prevent "Frequent, Destructive" Financial CrisesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/01/2014 19:32 -0400
We found it surprising that it was none other than Paul Volcker himself who, on May 21 at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, said that "by now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth." We can, indeed, agree. However, we certainly disagree with Volcker's proposal for a solution to this far more brittle monetary system: a new Bretton Woods.
One of the most important, but difficult to measure, concepts in macroeconomics is the natural or equilibrium real interest rate. This is the rate of interest consistent with full employment and stable inflation. The last few weeks have seen bond yields tumble and a rising cacophony of market participants questioning both the Fed's central tendency of terminal or natural rates (around 4%) and the market's perception of how fast we get there. SF Fed Williams models see a 1.8% natural rate, BofA also believes it is between 1.5 and 2%; and now Citi admits, "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants judged them to be."
Equity Blow Off Top Takes Brief Overnight Rest, Prepares For Another Session Of Low Volume LevitationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/30/2014 07:03 -0400
Last night's docket of atrocious Japanese economic data inexplicably managed to push the Nikkei lower, not because the data was ugly but because the scorching inflation - the highest since 1991 - mostly driven by import costs, food and energy as a result of a weak yen, and certainly not in wages, has pushed back most banks' estimates of additional QE to late 2014 if not 2015 which is as we predicted would happen over a year ago. As a result the market, addicted to central bank liquidity, has had to make a modest reassessment of just how much disconnected from reality it is willing to push equities relative to expectations of central bank balance sheet growth. However, now that the night crew trading the USDJPY is replaced with the US session algo shift which does a great job of re-levitating the pair, and with it bringing the S&P 500 higher, we expect this brief flicker of red futures currently observable on trading terminals to be promptly replaced with the friendly, well-known and "confidence-boosting" green. The same goes for Treasurys which lately have been tracking every directional move in stocks not in yield but in price.
Treasuries continue to do nothing wrong. Bullish views on bonds over the past several months have been met with stern opposition; however, several are now beginning to question their defiance. With such in mind, it is worth reviewing once again some possible explanations behind the bid. There are many reasons to expect their strong performance to continue (particularly over the next week).
"For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate," a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. "People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up." What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years...
Today is the day when economists weathermen everywhere jump the shark. Here's Goldman's Jan Hatzius: "Because of weaker inventory investment in Q1, we increased our Q2 GDP tracking estimate by two-tenths to 3.9%."
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.