Overnight market action has largely been a continuation of Tuesday's key themes with European stocks falling as a selloff in mining companies extended to a 7th day, even as metals prices rose and crude oil rallied modestly from a six-year low after yesterday's API crude inventory draw. U.S. equity futures have rebounded from modest declines, as emerging-market shares extended their losing streak to a 6th day while Asian stocks dropped to 2 month lows.
A third Greek bailout involving loans from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the eurozone’s bailout scheme, is now being negotiated. The start was quite rocky, with haggling over the precise location in Athens where negotiations need to take place and Greek officials once again withholding information to creditors. Therefore, few still believe that it will be possible to conclude a deal in time for Greece to repay 3.2 billion euro to the ECB on 20 August. Several national Parliaments in the Eurozone would need to approve a final deal, which would necessitate calling their members back from recess around two weeks before the 20th, so it’s weird that French EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici still seems so confident that the deadline can be met.
The dramatic rise in support for Scottish independence is nowhere more evident than in GBPUSD implied volatility, which has soared to 3-year highs as The Guardian reports a further poll showing next week's referendum is on a knife-edge with a gap of just 1 percentage point between yes and no. As one 'Yes Scotland' representative noted, "This new Scotland could be less than a fortnight away. But we must not be complacent. The scaremongering, dissembling and misrepresentation of the no campaign will be ramped up as we approach polling day." Of course, Scotland is not the only EU nation seeking separation, as we illustrate below, and as Goldman Sachs notes, there could be a broader impact on the risk premium across Europe as Scottish independence leads to other calls for more regional autonomy.
For those just catching up on the main news event of the weekend, namely the sudden surge in Scotland "Yes" vote polling surpassing 50% for the first time, here is a complete round up of the background, updates and expert reactions from RanSquawk, Bloomberg and AFP.
All pundits who over the past few months have been saying the possibility of Scottish independence as a result of the September 18 ballot, is at best a pipe dream got a rude wake up call overnight, when Scottish YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the "Yes" (for independence campaign) on top for the first time since polling began, with No below the majority cutoff line for the first time, at 49, when undecided voters are excluded, and even when including undecideds "Yes" is still ahead by two points at 47-45. As the Spectator reports, "in the space of four weeks, "No" has blown a 22-point lead."
Just headlines for now. Headlines will turn to headaches for Goldman longs shortly. And what will really set off the migraine is the just released announcement that the European Commission will back a Tobin Tax on financial institutions. We are fairly confident that this would not be proposed without at least a preliminary nod from their counteparts across the Atlantic. We believe that the slow but certain conversion of the banking sector into a utility industry is now reality. And yes, bonuses in utilities max out at 25% of the base, not 2,500%.