Something snapped overnight, moments after the EURJPY breached 140.00 for the first time since October 2008 - starting then, the dramatic weakening that the JPY had been undergoing for days ended as if by magic, and the so critical for the E-Mini EURJPY tumbled nearly 100 pips and was trading just over 139.2 at last check, in turn dragging futures materially lower with it. Considering various TV commentators described yesterday's 0.27% decline as a "sharp selloff" we can only imagine the sirens that must be going off across the land as the now generic and unsurprising overnight carry currency meltup is missing. Still, while it is easy to proclaim that today will follow yesterday's trend, and stocks will "selloff sharply", we remind readers that today is yet another infamous double POMO today when the NY Fed will monetize up to a total of $5 billion once at 11am and once at 2 pm.
Much has been said about the recently announced (with the release of the Fed's July Minutes) proposal for a full-allotment overnight reverse repo facility, some of it confused, some of it desperate to read deeply into what the Fed is suggesting with this superficially tightening process, and most of it just plain wrong. What the Fed is simply trying to do with the O/N RRP, in a few words, is alleviate collateral pressures for "high-quality assets" - the same thing that the TBAC has been whining about for the past 2 quarters - by making available an elastic supply of risk-free assets to a fairly broad set of investors. As BofA adds, "The full-allotment feature would mean that eligible investors could effectively place as much cash as they wished at a fixed rate, which would be determined in advance by the Fed." In brief, a Fed O/N RRP facility would substantially reduce or even eliminate concerns about the lack of high quality liquid assets.
There is still no official public schedule for the Kansas City Fed's annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, anticipated to begin on Thursday. However, as we noted previously, the schedule will not include a keynote address from a high-ranking Federal Reserve official. Furthermore, as Goldman notes, in contrast to tradition, Chairman Bernanke will not be in attendance (Yellen will but Summer won't). However, Jackson Hole has historically been an event where the latest thinking on monetary policy has been debated by academics and central bankers, and this year will be no different. Perhaps, Goldman points out, most interestingly, some of the research to be presented finds that MBS purchases had a disproportionate effect on depressing MBS yields, while Treasury purchases did not seem to have a similar benefit - perhaps hinting at the form the 'taper' will take.
When Bloomberg blasts headlines like this: S&P FUTURES UP 1PT, AT SESSION HIGH, ERASE EARLIER 3.4PT DROP, you know Bernanke hasn't spoken in over 24 hours if a 4 point swing is headline worthy. That said, the exhausted S&P ramp is now going for the 6th consecutive session as all the losses since the June FOMC meeting have now been erased, the S&P is making constant all time highs, and seemingly the Fed's message on tapering and communication has been clarified. The message being that the Fed is tapering its monthly purchases but short-term rates aren't being lifted. Sadly, the market's first reaction was the right one but the herd of cats has once again been herded by the trading desk at Liberty 33.
The only story this morning remains Bernanke's after hours speech, which solidly trumped the FOMC minutes in market impact, and which, in addition to ramping US equity futures to just about new all time highs, sent the EURUSD soaring by almost the same amount (+300 pips) as the actual QE1 announcement on March 18, 2009. Such is the power of verbal currency warfare, when Bernanke hasn't acutally done anything and merely hinted the Fed is as confused as ever about what to do. Of course, as Commerzbank notes this morning, the U.S. economy would have to lose a lot of momentum for the Fed to cancel tapering, and the central bank would only expand the purchase program if the economy collapses, but none of that matters to the "wealth effect" for the 1% where economic destruction simply means more wealth.
Discord appears to be the best word to describe the FOMC minutes but the baffle 'em with bullshit seems like the order of the day:
- FED SAYS SEVERAL ON FOMC SAW QE TAPERING LIKELY WARRANTED SOON
- FED SAYS MANY ON FOMC SAID LABOR GAINS NEEDED BEFORE QE TAPER
- FED SAYS FOMC SAW FISCAL POLICY RESTRAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH
As a reminder, uberdove Charles Evans wanted 200K or more in job gains in the past two quarters. Here's the thing - the average monthly job gain in the past 6 months is... 201,000. As for the punchline:
- HALF OF THE FED INDICATED IT LIKELY WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO END ASSET PURCHASES LATE THIS YEAR - NOT SLOW END
- A FEW PARTICIPANTS INDICATED THAT THE COMMITTEE SHOULD SLOW OR STOP ITS PURCHASES AT THE JUNE MEETING - "OR STOP"
Communication matters apparently. But the key is that taper appears (forget about an all out stop) to be coming soon - and as usual - it's all data-dependent. Aside from that, it is the usual baffle with BS schtick. Most importantly, with half the Fed saying not just taper, but flat out end to QE by 2014, we now have a full blown mutiny in the Fed.
When mistakes are made, lawsuits happen and lawyers, and guys with capital make money.
Up until today, the narrative was one trying to explain how a soaring dollar was bullish for stocks. Until moments ago, when Bill Dudley spoke and managed to send not only the dollar lower, but the Dow Jones to a new high of 15,400 with the following soundbites.
- DUDLEY: FED MAY NEED TO RETHINK BALANCE SHEET PATH, COMPOSITION
- DUDLEY SAYS FISCAL DRAG TO U.S. ECONOMY IS `SIGNIFICANT'
- DUDLEY: FED MAY AVOID SELLING MBS IN EARLY STAGE OF EXIT
- DUDLEY: IMPORTANT TO SEE HOW WELL ECONOMY WEATHERS FISCAL DRAG
- DUDLEY SAYS HE CAN'T BE SURE IF NEXT QE MOVE WILL BE UP OR DOWN
And the punchline:
- DUDLEY SEES RISK INVESTORS COULD OVER-REACT TO 'NORMALIZATION'
Translated: the Fed will never do anything that could send stocks lower - like end QE - ever again, but for those confused here is a simpler translation: Moar.
The day Lehman failed saw the launch of the most epic central bank intervention in history with the Fed guaranteeing and funding trillions worth of suddenly underwater capital. However, what Bernanke realized quickly, is that the "emergency, temporary" loans and backstops that made up the alphabet soup universe of rescue operations had one major flaw: they were "temporary" and "emergency", and as long as they remained it would be impossible to even attempt pretending that the economy was normalizing, and thus selling the illusion of recovery so needed for a "virtuous cycle" to reappear. Which is why on November 25, 2008, Bernanke announced something that he had only hinted at three months prior at that year's Jackson Hole conference: a plan to monetize $100 billion in GSE obligations and some $500 billion in Agency MBS "over several quarters." This was the beginning of what is now known as quantitative easing: a program which as we have shown bypasses the traditional fractional reserve banking monetary mechanism, and instead provides commercial banks with risk-asset buying power in the form of infinitely fungible reserves... So how does all this look on paper? We have compiled the data: of the 1519 total days since that fateful Tuesday in November 2008, the Fed has intervened in the stock market for a grand total of 1230 days, or a whopping 81% of the time!
While some were concerned at the Fed's new quantitative targets as suggesting early tightening, it appears (from the FOMC Minutes) that those fears were somewhat warranted (with most seeing QE ending in 2013):
- *FED SAYS A FEW ON FOMC WANTED QE UNTIL ABOUT THE END OF 2013
- *FED: SEVERAL ON FOMC BACKED QE HALT OR CUT WELL BEFORE 2013 END
- *ALMOST ALL FOMC MEMBERS SAW POTENTIAL QE COSTS AS INCREASING
The punchline: "several" means more than just QE4 hater Jeff Lacker are turning hawkish. Though, even with the risks, they want moar. Pre-FOMC Minutes: ES 1460, 10Y 1.86%, EUR 1.3108, Gold $1674. Post: ES -6pts, 10Y +5bps, EUR -40 pips, Gold -$10.
There was a time when it was nothing short of economic blasphemy and statist apostasy to suggest three things: i) that the Fed's canonic approach to monetary policy, in which Stock not Flow was dominant, is wrong (as we alleged, among many other places, here); ii) that the Fed is monetizing the deficit, thus enabling politicians to conceive any idiotic fiscal policy: the Fed will always fund it no matter how ludicrous, converting the Fed effectively into a political power and destroying any myth of its "independence" (as we alleged, among many other places, most recently here in direct refutation of Bernanke's sworn testimony); and iii) that by overfunding bank reserves, the same banks are left with one simple trade - to frontrum the Fed in its monetization of the long-end, in the process destroying the bond curve's relevance as an inflationary discounting signal, with more QE, leading to tighter 10s, flatter 10s30s, even as the propensity for runaway inflation down the road soars, in the process eliminating any need for the massively overhyped, and much needed to rekindle animal spirits "rotation out of bonds and into stocks" trade (as we explained, first, here). Well, that time is now officially over, with that stalwart of statist thinking, JPMorgan, adopting all of the above contrarian views as its own, and admitting that once again, the Fed and conventional wisdom was wrong, and fringe bloggers were right all along.
The week's most anticipated speech (given Obama's absence from DC) is here. Bernanke's Economic Club of New York extravaganza - where he has previously hinted at new or further policy - is upon us. Sure enough, it's a smorgasbord of we'll do whatever-it-takes (but won't bailout Congress) easing-to-infinity, housing's recovering but we want moar, simply re-iterating his comments from last week...
- *BERNANKE SAYS FISCAL CLIFF WOULD POSE `SUBSTANTIAL THREAT'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CONGRESS, WHITE HOUSE NEED TO AVERT FISCAL CLIFF
- *BERNANKE SAYS FED TO ENSURE RECOVERY IS SECURE BEFORE RATE RISE
- *BERNANKE SAYS HOUSING RECOVERY `LIKELY TO REMAIN MODERATE'
- *BERNANKE SAYS CRISIS REDUCED ECONOMY'S POTENTIAL GROWTH RATE
However, as we have noted previously, once you've gone QE-Eternity, you never go back... and we would this is the 3rd time in a row that someone from the Fed has spoken and stocks have sold off.
Perhaps those sage English philosophers 'The Vapors' were on to something 32 years ago when they asked if we were "Turning Japanese" for it seems the following charts from Nomura certainly suggest the US bond market is heading in that direction. From demographics to monetary policy; from investor allocations to flows; and from bond bubbles and volatility to long-term interest-rate paths, it seems we share a lot more than a love for sushi and pachinko with our neigbours across the ocean as we seem to be chasing after many Japanese models (of asset allocation and macro-economics).
Wall Street is doing some wild and wacky things. UBS has just launched a 16-times-leveraged MBS ETN. The ETN, called the ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged Mortgage REIT, offers double the return of the Market Vectors Global Mortgage REITs Index – itself an investment vehicle 8x leveraged to mortgage-backed securities. The idea appears to be that with the Fed acting as a buyer-of-last-resort that prices will take a smooth upward trajectory and that 16:1 leverage makes sense for retail investors as a bet on a sure thing.