Bank of America
Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead.
"According to the University of Michigan survey, consumers have not been this upbeat since January 2004, when the economy was booming. The natural outcome should be for consumers to splurge, hitting the malls and going out to restaurants. But much to our surprise, the data suggest otherwise." - BofA
It took a while, but three months after we wrote "How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed", someone finally noticed.
Greece’s problem can only be truly solved if large scale debt restructuring is accepted and executed. But that would initiate a chain of events that would bring down the bloated zombie that is Wall Street. And it just so happens that this zombie rules the planet. We are all addicted to the zombie. It allows us to fool ourselves into thinking we are doing well – well, sort of -, but the longer term implications of that behavior will be devastating. We’re all going to be Greece, that’s inevitable. It’s not some maybe thing. The only thing that keeps us from realizing that is that the big media outlets have become part of the same industry that Wall Street, and the governments it controls, have full control over. And that in turn says something about the importance of what Yanis Varoufakis and Syriza are trying to accomplish. They’re taking the battle to the finance empire. And it should not be a lonely fight. Because if the international Wall Street banks succeed in Greece, some theater eerily uncomfortably near you will be next. That is cast in stone.
Needless to say, Greece is only the poster child. The McKinsey numbers above suggest that “peak debt” is becoming a universal condition, and that today’s Keynesian central bankers and policy apparatchiks are only pushing on a giant and dangerous global string. So now we get to ground zero of the global Ponzi. That is the monumental pile of construction and debt that is otherwise known on Wall Street as the miracle of “red capitalism”. In truth, however, China is not an economic miracle at all; its just a case of the above abandoned Athens stadium writ large.
Remember the "great rotation"? Neither do we, because the bank that year after year coined the term to prepare investors for a renormalization of the economy as bond yields rise alongside stocks (something that happens in any normal, non-centrally planned banana world), that would be Bank of America for anyone confused, just reported that in the latest week, EPFR data showed inflows to all fixed income funds of $16.04 billion – the highest on record going back to at least 2008. On the "other side of the spectrum were stocks that had $5.52bn of outflows, down from a $1.62bn inflow in the prior week." And just like that, it's a bond-pickers' market, even as central banks trade with each other in various dark pools to keep global equities, and thus confidence, stable even as the capital tsuniami screams deflation for years to come.
- RadioShack files for bankruptcy; Sprint to take over some stores (Reuters)
- Kansas To Issue Bonds and Invest Proceeds to Boost Pension Returns (WSJ)
- Merkel to Make Last Push With Putin as Pessimism Prevails (BBG)
- Islamic State in Syria seen under strain but far from collapse (Reuters)
- Texas Swagger Fades Fast as Oil Town Squeezed Hard by OPEC (BBG)
- SEC probes Blackberry options trading ahead of Reuters report about Samsung talks (Reuters)
- Spanish Bonds Underperform Italy’s as Podemos Gains Popularity (BBG)
- Steelworkers Union Rejects Offer From Refiners (WSJ)
- Brazil January Inflation at Fastest Pace in Nearly 12 Years (BBG)
Six years on from the financial crisis and central banks are still hacking away at interest rates. Australia and Romania's did this week and while Poland and India held off, both are expected to prune rates later in 2015.
"It's a man-made tragedy, and the men who made it won’t fix it." So it turns out Lenin wasn’t just right that the best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. It’s also the best way, as Venezuela can tell you, to destroy the socialist one.
What Denmark has just done is "back-door QE", because as some forget, there are two ways to push the price of an asset higher (thus pushing its yield lower in the case of a bond): increase demand, which is what conventional QE does when central banks buy bonds, or reduce supply. Which is what Denmark just did by completely cutting off all Treasury issuance "until further notice". As a result, paradoxically, increasingly more speculators are betting that the "Trade of 2015" could be doing precisely the opposite of what the Danish central bank is hoping will happen: i.e., shorting the EURDKK (or going long the DKKEUR) in hopes that when the Danish peg finally does break, it too will result in long Swiss France-type profits.
Yields on Belarussian bonds exploded from 12% to 25% in the space of a few minutes this morning following reports that President Alexandr Lukashenko raised the prospect of restructuring the former Soviet republic’s external debt. As Bloomberg reports, the 2018 bonds collapsed from over 90c to 65c even as Lukashenko said Russian President Vladimir Putin was prepared to provide $500 million of aid if the situation gets “very difficult.” However, two hours later - following the collapse in bonds - Lukashenko clarified his remarks... "Please calm down," he said, "Belarus has enough money to pay its debts in full." It turns out he meant refinance... not restructure.
The most cautionary episode to today was the 62% drop in oil prices from November 1985 to July 1986, although the Hamilton measure is much smaller. Similar to today, most believed this would prove to be a boost to GDP growth. Indeed, the consensus was forecasting average 2.3% GDP growth to increase 0.3pp, but it actually fell 0.9pp (based on the as reported GDP data, third release). This downward surprise continued for three quarters.
“Poor performance will be most acutely felt by small hedge fund firms,” Sandy Kaul, global head of business advisory services at Citi. “These funds simply did not generate enough performance-fee revenues in 2014 to cover their gap.” In other words, "small" hedge funds, those who tried valiantly for 1, 2 or more years to generate alpha, and failed, well they can continue to manage "small" amounts of money, however it will be of the paper variety. Which they are welcome to do on the one venue which has taken over for Yahoo Finance as the sole place where everyone pretends to not only trade but certainly never have even a single losing day: Twitter.
Q4 Shaping Up As Worst Quarter In Years: Aggregate Revenues And EPS Have Missed By 1.2% and 0.4% So FarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/23/2015 16:20 -0400
In aggregate, companies are reporting earnings and revenue below expectations to date. The aggregate dollar-level earnings reported by these 37 companies is 0.4% below the aggregate dollar-level earnings estimated for these 37 companies. The aggregate dollar-level revenue reported by these 37 companies is 1.2% below the aggregate dollar-level revenue estimated for these 37 companies. As a result, even though more companies have beat earnings and revenue estimates to date than missed earnings and revenue estimates, the surprise percentage (which reflects the aggregate difference between actual results and estimated results) is negative for both earnings (-0.4%) and revenue (-1.2%). This means that Q4 is shaping up as the worst quarter since 2012, perhaps even the start of the great financial crisis in 2008/2009.