Bank of America
When it comes to signs of a US "recovery" nothing has been hyped up more than US auto companies reporting improving, in fact soaring, monthly car sales. On the surface this would be great news: with an aging car fleet, US consumers are surely eager to get in the latest and greatest product offering by your favorite bailed out car maker (at least until the recall comes). The only missing link has been consumer disposable income. So with car sales through the roof, the US consumer must be alive and well, right? Wrong, because there is one problem: it is car "sales" not sales. As the chart below from Bank of America proves, virtually all the growth in the US automotive sector in recent years has been the result of a near record surge in car leasing (where as we know subprime rules, so one's credit rating is no longer an issue) not outright buying.
Sadly for the central planners, while they succeeded in the first part of their plan, namely getting investors to flee from money market funds, they failed in getting the money to flow into the desired asset class: stocks. Instead, money market funds are rushing at an unprecedented pace into that other most hated by the Fed, after precious metals of course, asset: Treasurys. Most hated because declining yields disprove all the propaganda about an improving economy as they do, or at least did, imply deflation down the road: hardly the stuff robust 3%+ recoveries are made of.... But before we declare victory over central planning, don't forget that the "regulators", the Fed and the SEC, are already contemplating the next step: recall that as we reported in June, "the Fed is preparing to impose "exit fee" gates on bond funds, in what, the official narrative goes, is an attempt to prevent a panicked rush for the exits. Of course, this is diametrically opposite of what the truth is."
- Second Ebola patient to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers (BBG)
- Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion (Reuters)
- Apple Buybacks Pay Most Ever as CEOs Spend $211 Billion (BBG)
- DeMark Says Sell China Stocks Now After World’s Best Gain (BBG)
- Investors Stung by Losses After Exiting Struggling Property Fund in China (WSJ)
- B.A. in BTFD: MIT May Consider Granting Degrees in Less Than Four Years (BBG)
- Too late, money's already been spent: GPIF Needs Overhaul Before Asset Changes, Shiozaki Says (BBG)
- Oh look, another "truce": Israel withdraws troops, 72-hour Gaza truce begins (Reuters)
Last week we noted the very significant activity by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority as it bought USDollars in size to support its peg. It appears we have found at least one smoking gun for why they were forced to do this. In what appears to be another sanctions-blowback, Russian oligarchs are de-dollarizing their cash holdings and shifting to Hong Kong Dollars. As Bloomberg reports, various Russian entities are shifting up to 40% of their cash to HKD. “Keeping money in Hong Kong dollars is essentially equivalent to keeping it in U.S. dollars because of the currency peg," notes BofA's Vladimir Osakovskiy, adding "for Russian companies it’s still much safer from the standpoint of sanctions."
The market is extremely tired and the systemic risks underlying the Financial Crisis are in no way resolved. With investor complacency (as measured by the VIX) at record lows, the Fed withdrawing several of its more significant market props, and low participation coming from the larger institutions, this market is ripe for a serious correction.
One man is dead and one man critical after a 59-year-old employee of Chicago tech firm ArrowStream shot the company's CEO and then turned the weapon on himself and committed suicide. Chicago Police stated that "he was despondent over the fact that he got demoted." The alleged shooter, Anthony DeFrances, CTO for the firm, had worked for the company since 2001. As Fox reports, the company’s CEO, Steven LaVoie, 54, of LaGrange, was in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, after being shot in the head and stomach. Sadly, as small cap stocks come under pressure and the endless flow of hot money into tech startups slows (as it has done before), we fear this episode could well repeat all over the country.
- Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
- On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
- Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
- Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
- Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
- GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
- Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
- BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
- Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
- Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
It's all over but the crying: having explained Argentina's position (i.e. not giving to so-called vulture funds), Economy Minister Kicilloff explains:
- *KICILLOF SAYS HEDGE FUNDS NOT WILLING TO GIVE DELAY ON RULING
- *KICILLOF SAYS HARD TO BELIEVE ARGENTINA IN DEFAULT IF HAS FUNDS
- *KICILLOF SAYS ARGENTINA CAN'T COMPLY WITH COURT RULING
- *HOLDOUTS DIDN'T ACCEPT ARGENTINE OFFER: KICILLOF
As Bloomberg notes, by defaulting today, Argentina may trigger bondholder claims of as much as $29 billion -- equal to all its foreign-currency reserves. Just remember that the last 2 days have seen 'smart money' buy Argentine bonds and stocks to all-time record highs.
With hours to go until Argentina's grace period runs out and default occurs, investors are less than frantically selling Argentine bonds and pesos. They are lower but do not appear in full panic mode as we presume investors cling to hope that Argentina folds and pays off the holdouts (though there has been no sign of that so far). ARG 2033 bonds are down 3 points to 81 and the black-market peso is modestly weaker at 13.0 (near its record lows). Argentine CDS tightened modestly (as BofA warns the facts surrounding Argentina’s bond payments continue to be unique and deciding if CDS are triggered could take longer than expected) but 1Y CDS are holding at 4600bps (equivalent) - a 52% probability of default. Paul singer continues to defend himself (and the holdouts) from claims they are "dangerous fundamentalists" hell-bent on making it impossible for foreign sovereigns to restructure their debts.
- EU finalises Russian sanctions as BP warns of impact on business (FT)
- Geopolitical Risk Rises for Global Investors (BBG)
- Jaded Argentines brace for looming debt default (Reuters)
- In Argentina, Mix of Money and Politics Stirs Intrigue Around Kirchner (WSJ)
- Mom ‘Trusting God’ for Ebola-Infected U.S. Doctor’s Life (BBG)
- Thanks NSA: Tech Companies Reel as NSA's Spying Tarnishes Reputations (BBG)
- Goldman unit eyes foray into China amid metals financing scandal (Reuters)
- Cash out time: London’s Gherkin Tower Offered for Sale by Its Lenders (BBG)
- Apenomics strikes again: McDonald’s Japan axes profit guidance amid food safety scandal (FT)
- Do you see what happens Larry when you are the only USDJPY bid? Nomura Profit Falls More Than Estimated on Broking Slump (BBG)
Clear examples of how the wrong regulation HURTS the US consumer, and how to do something about it.
- Argentine holdout NML says government "choosing" to default (Reuters)
- Crunch time for Gaza truce talks as death toll passes 800 (Reuters)
- Don’t Tell Anybody About This Story on HFT Power Jump Trading (BBG)
- U.S. Accuses Russia of Shelling Eastern Ukraine (BBG)
- France’s Wheat Exports in Question as Rain Spoils Quality (BBG)
- Tapering in action: Lower printer sales hurt Xerox's revenue (Reuters)
- No liquidity? No Problem, there's an ETF for that: Bond ETFs Swelling in Europe as Trading Debt Gets Tougher (BBG)
- Herbalife hires ex-Biden chief to fend off regulators (NYPost)
- GM recalls far from calamity for some dealers who find new customers, business (Reuters)
- Bad weather likely cause of fatal Air Algerie crash: French officials (Reuters)
Despite a full court press of PR to confirm HFT firms are friends of retail investors and do no wrong; the SEC, it appears, sees it differently. While Mary White has confidently explained the market is not rigged, her agency is now actively seeking tips, complaints, or referrals that show, as The Chicago Tribune reports, evidence of abuse of order types, as well as traditional forms of abusive trading like "layering" or "spoofing" and other issues relating to high-frequency trading that might be violations of the law. Here are the 10 firms (including poster child holy-grail trader Virtu Financial) that the SEC is probing... can you spot the oddly missing one...
- Bubble Paranoia Setting in as S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst (BBG)
- But how will math PhDs determine "fair value" - Wall Street Techs Take Secrets to Next Job at Their Peril (BBG)
- U.S., EU Escalate Russia Sanctions as Putin Holds Firm (Bloomberg)
- Australia Becomes First Developed Nation to Repeal Carbon Tax (WSJ)
- Gaza humanitarian truce goes into force, hours after tunnel clash (Reuters)
- Barclays, Deutsche Bank Said to Face U.S. Senate Hearing (BBG)
- ECB Asset Buying Far Off and May Not Come, Hansson Says (BBG)
- Time Warner win would make Murdoch U.S. media king (Reuters)
- Costly Vertex Drug Is Denied, and Medicaid Patients Sue (WSJ)
- China Rallying for All Wrong Reasons to Top-Rated Analyst (BBG)
- GM recalls some cars with problematic switches; judges others safe (Reuters)
Slowly but surely, all those cans that many hoped were kicked indefinitely into the future, are coming back home to roost. The biggest impact on global risk overnight have been undoubtedly the expanded Russian sanctions announced by Obama yesterday, which have sent the Russian Micex index reeling to six week lows (as it does initially after every sanction announcement, only for the BTFDers to appear promptly thereafter), with the biggest hits saved for the named companies such as Rosneft -5.6%, Novatek -5.1%, and others Alrosa -5.7%, VTB Bank -4.3%, Sberbank -3.4% and so on. Then promptly risk off mood spilled over into broader Europe and at last check the Stoxx600 was down 0.8%, with Bund futures soaring to record highs especially following news (from the Ukraine side) that a Russian warplane attacked a Ukrainian fighter jet. Not helping matters is the end of the dead cat bounce in Portugal where after soaring by 20% yesterday on hopes of a fresh capital infusion, Espirito Santo has once again crashed, dropping as much as 11%, driven lower following downgrades by both S&P and Moodys, as well as the realization that someone was pulling everyone's legs with the rumor of an equity stake sale.