November has been a banner month for black swans. From Leftist political coups in Portugal to terror attacks in Paris to downed Russian fighter jets in Syria, the market is gradually learning to expect the unexpected. In its latest Quarterly Economic Outlook, SocGen outlines five political and economic black swans that could land in 2016.
It's not just tourism and retail sales that might swoon--global sentiment might switch decisively from "risk-on" to "risk-off" with far-reaching consequences, a reversal that would quickly cascade through every asset class and every market--not just in the short-term, but in the long term.
As tipped earlier this month, Deutsche Bank just turned in a Q3 loss of €6 billion as a raft of writedowns hit the bottom line. The bank also announced more details of "Strategy 2020", which include layoffs and a corporate rethink that will see Europe's largest bank exit a multitude of markets.
"... you can bet that whenever an earthquake like this happens, especially when it’s triggered by two invisible tectonic plates like put gamma and call gamma and then cascades through arcane geologies like options expiration dates and ETF pricing software, both the media and self-interested parties will begin a mad rush to find someone or something a tad bit more obvious to blame. So you end up getting every investment process that uses a computer – from high frequency trading to risk parity allocations to derivative hedges – all lumped together in one big shotgun blast"
Greece went to the polls on Sunday with a choice that really wasn't a choice and even as Alexis Tsipras looks set to prevail the most shocking electoral outcome is this: neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is set to come in third and garnered the most support of any party among Greece's unemployed.
When 2-and-20 looks more like 50-50...
What the Fed really decided Thursday was to ride the zero-bound right smack into the next recession. When that calamity happens not too many months from now, the 28-year experiment in monetary central planning inaugurated by a desperate Alan Greenspan after Black Monday in October 1987 will come to an abrupt and merciful halt. Yellen and Co should be so lucky as to only face torches and pitch forks.
Don't look now but Greece (remember them?) is headed back to the polls on Sunday in an election that pits a watered down version of Alex Tsipras and Syriza against the conservative New Democracy. With Syriza's original vision relegated to the realm of "wishful thinking", Greeks face a choice that really is no choice at all.
Major depressions do not occur overnight. They go in downward waves, interrupted at intervals by false recovery waves. But the collapse will continue, unstoppably. Like any house of cards, once it begins to actually fall, no further Band-Aids will stop the inevitable. So, what might that trigger be?
There’s no question that the world economy has been shaky at best since the crash of 2008. Yet, politicians, central banks, et al., have, since then, regularly announced that “things are picking up.” One year, we hear an announcement of “green shoots.” The next year, we hear an announcement of “shovel-ready jobs.” And yet, year after year, we witness the continued economic slump. Few dare call it a depression, but, if a depression can be defined as “a period of time in which most people’s standard of living drops significantly,” a depression it is.
In the midst of turmoil among asset classes, investors tend to make irrational decisions, such as panicking and liquidating at inopportune times. Nobel Prize-winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman helps explain ill-conceived reactions to the market with his concept of loss aversion. That’s the fear and feelings of loss surpass the joy one may receive from a similarly sized potential gain. In order to frame this discussion of volatility, we dug up old surveys of institutional and individual investors that recorded their responses to the 1987 market crash
According to the latest, just released survey concerns about both geopolitics and Greece have been largely forgotten, as have Chinese debt defaults, and instead these have been replaced with far more overarching fears about a China recession (made all the more acute after China's devaluation) and an Emerging Market debt crisis. In fact, according to BofA, "2 out of 3 investors think either China recession or EM debt crisis = biggest "tail risks."
"...rising asset prices provide investors confirming evidence that their strategy is good and everything is fine. This induction problem lulls investors into a sense of confidence, and sets the stage for the shock when events turn down. That nonlinearity causes sudden change only adds to the confusion."
The ongoing decline in the VIX starting last week (and still going) is the largest supernormal volatility collapse in VIX history. Over the past 2 years, we have been experiencing a quantifiable ‘outlier’ or ‘black swan’ decline in the VIX every 6 months as evaluated against history. We can only point to government intervention as the core reason. We firmly believe that this moral hazard produces a hidden leverage and “shadow market gamma” that at some point will result in a sustained volatility outlier event in the opposite direction.
Hyperinflation in the U.S. is coming sometime in the next 20 years or so, and this isn't a cry from a Chicken Little, but a conclusion that the analysis strongly suggests. It is possible hyperinflation could happen during the next few years, but that seems unlikely since it would require a series of major crises and political blunders – events unprecedented in the history of the United States. If this led to a corruption of Constitutional rights in the midst of an exaltation of the Executive Branch that resulted in loss of the rule of law, hyperinflation might result. It is much more probable that hyperinflation will be preceded by a long slow decline that will include a protracted period of high inflation, and that the crash of the dollar and hyperinflation will be the final tumble off a looming, steep cliff.