As always, the most pragmatic read thru of what are now day to day rescue efforts out of Europe, which in its own words has effectively given up on seeking a long-term remedy, comes from UBS' Art Cashin who as usual cuts right to the bone of the deluge of essentially hollow endless chatter out of Europe whose sole purpose is to once again baffle all the algos with binary bullshit.
While Europe is dominating headlines this week, UBS' Art Cashin suggests "mark your calendar and cross your fingers" as he notes the disproportionate prevalence of events that occur in September. Focusing on The Economist's Greg Ip's recent post on a possible seasonal pattern in banking crises, via this recent Reinhart & Rogoff extension paper by Laeven and Valencia, he notes: "The frequency with which the world goes to hell in September seems hardly random." Unfortunately the authors provide no explanation for this beyond observing, "An interesting pattern emerges: banking crises tend to start in the second half of the year, with large September and December effects." Ip and Cashin offer some thoughts on why this is so historically, and more importantly why this time is no different, as the avuncular Art concludes with: "try to enjoy your summer".
The always pragmatic Art Cashin summarizes today's 12:30pm FOMC announcement. In summary: "look for the Fed to dangle a big carrot - some semi-specific course of action that would be put in place if the labor markets continue to worsen. Net/net, he needs to keep the door wide open and maybe outline certain milestone “triggers” that will allow the Fed to act later in an election year without being accused of being overtly political." Said otherwise, the happy ending will likely be deferred one more time. The market may not be very happy.
Whether its performance-missing anxiety or premature exuberance, UBS Art Cashin notes (as we did on Friday) the disconnect between Bonds' less sanguine appearance and equity's which "seemed determined to take a victory lap even before the polls opened – forget about closed." As Cashin notes, equities were also helped by the quarterly expiration as well as the S&P reweighting which seemed to keep a bid under stocks throughout the day. As the week will be focused on attempts to form a Greek government (in a relatively light macro data week), the avuncular Art summarizes perfectly the situation as "Greek elections may just delay and not decide" as markets appear to be sensing the stalemate and yielding initial gains.
Earlier in the week, UBS' Art Cashin noted that some traders were re-reading Bernanke’s speech of November 21, 2002 on countering inflation. Prior re-readings had given clues on things like QE1 and even Operation Twist. The primary theme of the speech was - what can the Fed do to fight deflation (and stimulate the economy) if the Fed Funds rate fell to zero (aah, those simple golden years). Cashin points out that most of the operations, however, tend to be means to make money available or easy. With nearly $2 trillion in excess free reserves that doesn’t seem to be the problem. Inducing spending is the problem. Of all the suggestions, the wider inflation tolerance may be the only one that may do that.
"The most important election this weekend may have nothing to do with the Eurozone - at least directly. The election in Egypt may change the face of the Middle East. The implications to Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia are enormous. Will the most populous Arab nation become a theocracy? This will be some weekend."
It appears that more and more people are finally waking up to the sheer farce that calling a kleptofascist crony capitalist system with socialist overtones because "deficits don't matter", a democracy, has become.
News & headlines from the day
Just as Patton surveyed Rommel's battlefield of Panzers and assumed he knew his plan (since he had 'read the book'), so UBS' Art Cashin reminds us that traders trust implicitly that Bernanke is an assumed tactical genius - capable of deploying his monetary troops at will and in a perfectly timed manner. This trust (and hope) is based on Bernanke's early speeches and one in particular - “Deflation: Making Sure 'It' Doesn’t Happen Here” (here). It was delivered back at the National Economists Club in November 2002 (Before Bernanke became Fed Chair). As Wall Street ponders what form or format the next level of quantitative easing might take, Cashin is taking time off from the fermentation committee to sift through the speech, looking for clues to the next Fed move. The primary complication is the turmoil in the European banking system. That may force Mr. B to include things like currency swap facilities in any new comprehensive easing effort. While QEx is certainly coming, we remain highly cognizant of the reflexive market reaction to any 'decent' dip as hope remaining too alive-and-well that the Bernanke-Put strike is considerably higher than it is in reality.
The pending three-day rally that has seen European and US markets soar smacks of a short-covering squeeze, notes UBS' Art Cashin, as some of the biggest percentage gains came in the most heavily shorted stocks. While this is hardly surprising in this increasingly schizophrenic economy market, it is the long-term consistency and prophetic consternation of Margaret Thatcher's view of the Euro as "perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era" that sits uncomfortably with the Merkel comment-driven rally of this morning (for now).
Reflecting on yesterday's monetary-policy-hope-driven rally, UBS' Art Cashin prefers to focus on Richard Fisher's very frank (and succinct) speech on the limits of monetary policy and the importance of fiscal policy. Urging everyone to read it, and send it to your Congressman and Senators, he reminds us that Fisher is the only Fed policymaker to have been a banker and a money manager, and in the words of Richard Fisher, he worries that: "there is a growing sense that we are unwittingly, or worse, deliberately, monetizing the wayward ways of Congress."
And now for some Monday morning poetry with the Chairman of the Fermentation Committee.
The avuncular Art Cashin opines on the roller-coaster of unreality that has been the equity markets for the last few days as outcomes become increasingly binary and investors increasingly herded from one direction to another. His sage advice - as if spoken by the most-interesting-person-in-the-world - "Stay nimble", my friends.
When it comes to clear, concise, comprehensive forecasts of the future, nothing beats Art Cashin... even when his crystal ball is admitted a little cloudy.
One for the "You can't make this stuff up" folder...