Over the past month, as expected, the CLO rout has gone from bad to worse, and according to the latest Morgan Stanley CLO tracker, as of the end of February, the median US CLO 2.0 equity NAV stood at -1.99 with the number of CLO 2.0 deals’ equity tranches currently having NAV below zero soaring by 30% from 348 to 453.
"While investors focus on oil and the ECB, they overlook the largest current macro market risk – and opportunity – which centers on the Fed. Although our economists expect rates will remain unchanged, a credible argument can be made for the FOMC to proceed with the “flight path” it had previously outlined.... The market’s eventual acceptance of the Fed tightening path will spur some parts of the momentum trade to resume and others to unwind."
Despite ongoing Central Bank interventions which boost asset prices and acts as a huge wealth transfer tax from the middle class to the rich, corporate earnings are a direct reflection of what is happening in the actual economy. Wall Street has always extrapolated earnings growth indefinitely into the future without taking into account the effects of the normal economic and business cycles. This was the same in 2000 and 2007. Unfortunately, the economy neither forgets nor forgives.
We have arrived. The moment of truth. No matter whether you believe this to be a bull market ready to re-assert itself or you view the recent rally in the context of a bear market about to unfold you must acknowledge the pivotal nature of where the market now finds itself in the days ahead.
The standoff between the “bulls” and “bears” continued this week as prices struggled to rise. The “bulls” continue to “hope” that the recent turmoil that started at the beginning of this year has come to an end. The “bears” continue to point out silly things like an ongoing earnings recession,weakening economic data, and deteriorating technicals to make their case. Silly “bears”.
What remains most remarakable about Horseman Capital is that even as it modestly boosted its gross exposure to 59%, as of February the fund's net short exposure has risen from what was a previous record of 76%, to a whopping -88%, an unprecedented record even for one of the world's most bearish hedge funds!
While many investors may be breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the bounce off the February low, with the S&P up 11% since the start of February – it’s still not all lollipops and rainbows out there in market-land. There’s some worrying undercurrents that could spell more trouble ahead...
"My Bullish tactical call is over. While we have repeatedly highlighted 2030 as our upside target, the rapid post ECB reversals in the cross asset technicals dictates that we abandon our tactical view at this time in favor of a far more defensive posture. Our structural Bear Market call with downside to 1,670 remains intact. We would sell Global Equities and Commodity Currencies on the back of recent countertrend strength and buy Gold."
Many investors today are not very familiar with market history and tend to live only in the day-to-day mainstream narrative while watching little red and green graphs move up and down. This is not so much an issue in a relatively stable economic environment. The problem is, today we live in the most unstable economic conditions possible.
What are the “top trumps” that could send bond, credit and equity markets substantially higher or lower than currently expected? Here are the six "positioning, policy and profits" indicators that will determine the next leg in the market.
"Dust off the systematic hedging strategies, and get re-acquainted with the concept of tail-risk," is the ominous conclusion from MKM Partners' Jim Strugger's latest report. Despite every effort from central banks to maintain a low-volatility environment, the magnitude of the August 2015 'shock' not just for U.S. equities but across asset classes, was great enough for Strugger to conclude that a transition into a high-volatility regime had begun. Given the length of the economic cycle, bull market, and the rise in financial stress globally, Strugger warns a transition to a high-vol regime leaves ultimate damage in the &P 500 averaging 53%.
This is where we stand: 6 weeks of consecutive derisking and selling by hedge funds, institutions and private clients soaked up by what is now a record short squeeze, as well as a near record buyback spree to mask the fact that the "smart money" is bailing.