Across the Curve
Despite NFLX giving back half its after-hours gains, the NASDAQ is surging to new 13-year highs, the S&P cash crosses 1750 (to new all-time highs), and the Dow Transports explodes higher (to yet another record) for the ninth of the last 10 days. All of this as the USD is monkey-hammered and the EUR surges to 2-year highs... Treasury yields are dropping fast (down 5-7bps across the curve). As we noted last week, US equities have caught up entirely to the Fed balance sheet. Gold (back above its 100DMA) and silver are surging and oil is pressing back up towards $100. The reason for all this exuberance: the jobs number was sufficiently horrible it has moved the tapering consensus to March 2014 of beyond...
Spot the odd 4-week bill auction out...
The last 4 days have seen the price of protection against a default on US Treasuries spike by the most in 4 years. While USA CDS trade on both a default and devaluation basis (as well as technical issues related to which Treasury is cheapest to deliver) this spike to 5-month highs (from what was extremely high levels of complacency) is very notable in light of today's Kocherlakota "whatever it takes" speech. While still well off 2011's debt ceiling debacle panic highs, this move does suggest more than just the politicians are worried about a technical default occurring on US debt. By way of comparison, Germany trades at 23bps and Japan at 61bps against USA's 32bps. But there is a way to trade the debt-ceiling debacle that doesn't invlove leveraged speculation in credit derivatives...
Another day, another POMO pump followed by a collapse to close at the the lows as the S&P 500 has its first 5-day negative closing run in 2013. Only the NASDAQ remains above Un-Taper levels with the Dow back below 'Summers' levels and the S&P heading that way. Treasury yields slid further (-4 to 5bps) to 7-week lows (down 10 of the last 11 days) as the 7Y broke back below 2.00%. Gold and Silver rallied (after the ubiquitous opening smackdown idiocy) with both positive on the week now. The USD sold off as JPY strengthened to the week's highs and EUR pushed back to unchanged on the week. WTI was slammed lower (in a seeming mirror of the PMs) ending back at $102.28 (-2.4% on the week) nearly 11 week lows. For the second day in a row VIX closed lower as stocks sold off (unwinding hedges and reducing underlying exposure perhaps?)
If it was the Treasury's intent to make auctioning of Treasury paper increasingly more fraught with risk, it has succeeded. Moments ago, in the second auction of the week and month, another $24 billion were added to the gross US debt, when the Treasury sold 10 year paper at a yield of 2.620%, pricing through the When Issued yield of 2.623% So far so good. However, as was shown last week, the trouble is in the internals. Recall that as Zero hedge first demonstrated in January and as the TBAC reconfirmed in their refunding presentation, the Bid to Covers have been declining across the curve. It should perhaps come as no surprise then that the just completed 10 Year auction was completed at the lowest Bid To Cover, or 2.44, going all the way back to March 2009.
While the Fed is posturing daily whether it will or it won't monetize an ever greater portion of gross US issuance (and considering the drop in US funding needs, unless the Fed tapers it will soon very soon buy more than 100% of all 10 Year equivalent issuance going forward), foreigners have made their position vis-a-vis US paper loud and clear. What is their position? The following chart from today's TBAC presentation to the Treasury makes it very clear. With an ever declining, and recently the smallest on file, notional amount of Treasurys at auction going to foreigners since 2009 (and certainly much further back), they are not sticking around to see what happens.
Risk assets are not quite (yet) back to the ‘melt-up' of May but equity markets are trading in a confident mood after Bernanke caused sentiment to flip from glass ‘half empty' to ‘half full'. China Q2 GDP data did not derail price action as equity futures anticipate a positive start of the week. The semi-annual testimony of the Fed Chairman is typically a seminal event on the market calendar but do we dare say that the one coming up this week is a non-event following last week's message on policy accommodation? The VIX index dropped 7 points over the last three weeks of which 2 points alone came last Thursday and Friday as stocks roared to new highs and shrugged off the candid observation on the Chinese economy by finance minister Lou Jiwei. If a 6.5% growth rate is tolerable in the future, there is little doubt that commodities and the AUD have further to fall. Chinese GDP slowed from 7.7% to 7.5% according to data released overnight and prospects for the second half don't look much brighter after evidence of slowing credit growth. Data on Friday showed declines of narrow money from 11.3% yoy to 9.1% in May, with broad money growth slowing to 14% yoy. Non-bank credit and new foreign currency bank lending also weakened.
Today, as per the latest ICAP data, the collateral shortage is back on, with the 10 Year moving from -0.10% in repo yesterday to 0.85% ahead of Wednesday's second re-re-opening of 912828VB3. But what is more curious is the repo shift, because while the On The Run shortage was to be expected with the 10 Year getting pounded to 2.75% on Friday, it was the 3 Year that saw a plunge in repo, with the repo rate soaring from -0.13% to -1.45%: ostensibly the widest it has been in our records database. In other words, the collateral shortage just ahead of the 3 and 10 Year auctions is back and while the shortage of the 10Y OTR is somewhat more manageable than last month, it is the 3 Year, or the short-end, that is now in very short inventory supply.
In the brief but tempestuous fight between Abe and the "deflation monster", the latter is now victoriously romping through an irradiated Tokyo, if last night's epic (ongoing) collapse in the Nikkei is any indication: down 6.4%, crushing anyone who listened to Goldman's "buy Nikkei" recommendation which has now been stopped out at a major loss in three days, and now well in bear-market territory, it would appear that a neurotic Mrs. Watanabe is finally with done with daytrading the Pennikkeistock market, and demands Shirakawa's deflationary, triumphal return to finally clam the market. Only this time the Japan's selling tsunami is finally starting to spill, if not to the US just yet (it will) then certainly to Asia, where the Shanghai Composite which was down 2.7%, and is once again well down for the year, and virtually all other Asian stock markets. Except for Pakistan - the Karachi Stock Exchange is an island of stability in the Asian sea of red.
As we noted just two weeks ago - before the hope-and-change-driven exuberance in Japanese equities came crashing down - "those who believe in Abenomics are suffering from amnesia," and Nomura's Richard Koo clarifies just who is responsible for the exuberance and why things are about to shift dramatically. Reasons cited for the equity selloff include Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks about ending QE and a weaker than expected (preliminary) Chinese PMI reading, but, simply put, Koo notes, more fundamental factor was also involved: stocks had risen far above the level justified by improvements in the real economy. It was overseas investors (particularly US hedge funds) that responded to Abe's comments late last year by closing out their positions in the euro (having been unable to profit from the Euro's collapse) and redeploying those funds in Japan, where they drove the yen lower and pushed stocks higher. Koo suspects that only a handful of the overseas investors who led this shift from the euro into the yen understood there was no reason why quantitative easing should work when private demand for funds was negligible... The recent upheaval in the JGB market signals an end to the virtuous cycle that pushed stock prices steadily higher.
Common wisdom, which in this market of media-led hope and hysteria rapidly becomes the meme-du-jour, is that, as American Banker puts it, for banks that are currently earning slim yields on stagnant pools of loans, higher interest rates are a welcome prospect. However, in reality (that annoying fact-based world in which we really live) Net Interest Margins (NIM) are not so simple and linear and in fact. There is simply a lot of noise in NIM figures. Data over the last decade or so hints that there is a positive link between how steep the yield curve is and how wide net interest margins are - which makes sense to the extent that banks lend long and borrow short - but imbalances in the durations of assets and liabilities are risky and a more important factor for short-term changes in margins is whether banks are positioned to be hurt or helped by a simultaneous move in rates across the curve. The bottom line - rising rates and steepening curves do not infer higher NIM - facts are facts.
JGB Futures Narrowly Avoid Third Halt In Three Days (By A Tick); 5Y Yields Jump To Highest In 22 MonthsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/14/2013 02:07 -0400
JGB Futures avoid a third halt in three days by 1 tick (drop 0.99 vs 1.00 handle limit) but two words spring to mind - not orderly. It seems the pendulum of 'inflation repricing channel through the JPY' has begun to swing back towards the JGB market - not what Abe and his cohorts would have hoped for given the deluge of monetization they are up to. As we originally discussed here, the inflation expectations can be spread across bonds or FX and just as we saw in 2007, 2008, and 2011, the initial burst takes place in one market and the normalizes as the other catches up. In this case it was a massive devaluation of the JPY that is now being 'caught up' to by the JGB yields rising. 5Y JGB yields just topped 40bps (from a 9.9bps low on March 5th!!) and their highest since July 2011. Of course, the problem with rising rates is the burden it puts on the government as cost-of-debt accelerates beyond tax revenues with negative trade balances; and if the JGB channel is now 'inflation security of choice' then JPY devaluation will take a back seat (and so will JPY carry trades driving risk-on around the world - as we noted here). And as if that wasn't all exciting enough, Japanese Machine Tool Orders re-accelerated to the downside -24.1% YoY (worst since January).
There a couple of good reasons to be more than moderately concerned about what’s happening in the fixed income space. Once more my gallant crew, we are sailing into choppy waters... which may mean trouble ahead, but it also spells opportunity! Two things concern us: Firstly, despite global easing, global bond yields have backed up last few days. Immediately the Fed gets the blame with rumours they may scale back QE – which is reactive nonsense. The Fed has made clear we need to see clear evidence of growth, not just hints, before they change course. But the Treasury market is off across the curve. JGBs, Gilts and Europe are all higher last few days. Is this a buying window after some mild panic, or has something really changed? The second issue with the market currently is that global rates are so low the market is losing the will to live/play. When highly speculative CCC names yield less than 7% what's the point in investing? The risk-reward is just too skewed toward higher risk over lowering returns that it simply makes little sense to take.
The words "Shit Heel" come to mind.