While Grant Williams can’t speak for anybody else, his nearly thirty years immersed in equity, bond, and commodity markets all around the world, have shown him enough to absolutely confirm in his own mind that the markets are rigged. Not just some of them. All of them. In different ways, to be sure, but they’re all rigged. Not only are they rigged, but they are rigged in ways that beggar belief; and in many places they are rigged by the very people who ought to be responsible for stopping any rigging... Whether Bill O’Brien (or Bob Pisani) likes it or not, Michael Lewis was speaking the truth when he said the market was rigged. He was talking about US equity markets, but rigging goes much, much deeper.
But the pretty people on TV said the Fed Minutes proved they were the most dovish ever and initial claims hit recovery lows... What a total disaster - Equity markets peaked within a few minutes of the open and never looked back - yesterday's "Fed Cat Bounce" gave way to Really Red Thursday... with the Nasdaq and Russell 6.5% from their recent highs (and the S&P 3.5% off), we suspect a "markets in turmoil" special on business media any moment...
CNBC's last hour is likely the most-watched in a decade (perhaps because after 5 years of delays HFT is finally getting the exposure it has deserved from day one... and covered right here on this website since April 2009). From the HFT lobby explaining that "there is no front-running going on in HFT," to Michael Lewis explaining the "skimming" amd why "HFT is a tax on your investment dollars," the following clips are stunning in their total failure to calm an uneasy investing public. Howevere, when asked by the CNBC anchors whether his comment on the market being rigged was exaggeration he summed it all up perfectly... "Are you really under the illusion that the individual investor trusts Wall Street... the financial crisis wiped out any residue of trust for Wall Street even if they ever had it."
US equities tagged new highs early in the day-session sparked by USDJPY ignition and rotating to support from AUDJPY as stops were run and exuberance over shitty data reigned. "Most shorted" stocks dramatically outperformed early on providing the sacrifice required but while bond yields rose from their open last night, they end the day practically unchanged (10Y +1bps); The USD rallied into the open but EUR and AUD strength cracked it back to practically unchanged by the close. Copper flailed (on slowing China construction fears) but oil, silver, and gold all rallied around 1% on the day (though rolled over in the afternoon). VIX dropped but held 14% and remains notably divergent. Credit rallied but remains a laggard compared to equity exuberance. Stocks tanked into the close; catching down to VIX, credit, and USDJPY - what a "market" with the S&P losing its highs and closing red for 2014 once again.
While the world may be reeling in the aftermath of a horrible week for markets, which following today's largely expected $10 billion additional taper announcement, is only set to get worse (because, oops, the global economy turned out to not be in escape velocity mode as everyone simply confused the artificial level of the S&P 500 with economic output, as usual), one entity is delighted by the recent surge in volatility and market uncertainty: CNBC.
2013 is in the books... and quite a year it was...
- Fed Balance Sheet +39%
- Dow Transports' best year since 1997 +39%
- Russell 2000's best year since 2003 +37%
- S&P 500's best year since 1997 +29%
- Dow Industrial's best year since 1995 +26%
- USD, WTI Crude, and Treasury 5s30s curve Unchanged
- 30Y Bonds' worst year since 2009 -13%
- Gold's worst year since 1981 -28%
The last few days have seen VIX rising, stocks limp higher (with a mini melt-up into the close today on huge volume), bond yields higher, and the USD lower.
For those of you who remember the months following the 2008 financial crisis, one of the most viral videos out there (it has over 2 million views) was the “Peter Schiff Was Right” compilation. It consists of various clips of Mr. Schiff being prescient about the financial condition of the U.S., as talking heads on various financial shows mock him and laugh in his face. Well, the “Peter Schiff Was Right Video Part Deux” is now out. In this case, pundits laugh at Peter’s insistence that there will be no taper and that it was all a bluff (they pull off the same bluff every year). It ends in classic fashion with Bob Pisani explaining to the dwindling audience at CNBC that “no one saw it coming.” It seems we’re back to that again. The next crisis can’t be far off.
An ugly day all around...
30Y Treasury yield - biggest 4-day yield compression in 15 months
Dow Transports - biggest single-day loss in ~5 months (2nd worst in 11 months)
Nasdaq - 2nd worst day in 10 months
AAPL - worst day in 3 months (2nd worst day of 2013)
USDJPY - biggest gain in JPY in 10 weeks
WTI - biggest single-day gain in 10 months
Financials - worst day in 10 months
In no particular order: Weak (and strong) US data (good or bad news?), War, Taper (Treasuries 'special'), Debt Ceiling, German elections, New Fed Chairman, imploding developing markets and collapsing global currencies... (S&P 500's first close <100DMA in 2013) it is on... (oh and S&P 500 futures 2nd biggest volume day in 2 months)
We can't wait to hear Bob Pisani explain this one... JPY weakness continues this morning (now -2% on the week) but early in the European day (around the time of the German confidence survey), carry-traders rotated greatly into peripheral European debt and out of US Treasuries and US equities... US equities accelerated lower in the last few minutes following the Business Inventories print.
"You can't go up forever," noted Bob Pisani before piling on a series of excuses for the recent 'weakness' that quite frankly could have been used at any 1.1% drop in stocks of the last 3 years... While stocks bounced off lows today and are making the headlines for a third down day for the first time in 2 months, the real story that most are ignoring is the surge in the JPY. The USD is legging lower confusing the 'Taper' chatter but it is the JPY strength that is dominating (up 3.6% against the USD in the last 4 days (and the Nikkei futures -800 from Friday's highs). Treasuries rallied 3-4bps (and the curve flattened) as it seems the modest weakness in stocks is being met with some safe-haven demand. Despite bonds' bid, Homebuilders were battered (-4.5% on the week). Gold and silver strengthened off pre-open lows as WTI fell back to around $104. VIX spiked to 13.9% at the open but ended around 13% at the close. Back to CNBC for the close: "off the lows," but not in credit Maria...
It started moments after the release of the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rates. Even though officially they announced maintaining the same policies of low rates and Quantitative Easing, it was a single word change in the official text of their press release from the prior month that sent shockwaves around the world and changed everything forever...
Equity markets were very much in a land of their own relative to broad risk asset classes all day until the FT's Harding "mo' Taper" memo hit and slammed reality back into the herding masses. Still convinced that the Fed will 'only' taper if the data confirms it, we suspect the broad market is missing the signals from broken markets and frothy levels that mean the Fed will use the modest improvements as a crutch upon which to jawbone tapering into our minds. Today's price action was - in the words of the great Bob Pisani, "just silly." A ramp out of the gate following Japan's lead which followed a Hilsenrath-inspired ramp-job from Friday combined with a beat for NAHB (and Empire Fed) sent all the high-beta into overdrive (builders +2.2%) - but nothing else was really moving (FX was relatively flat, bonds went sideways, commodities wriggled in a small range). The Harding hit and we gave back all the post-Hilsenrath gains, 330-ramped to VWAP and held it magically into the close (though the USD ended at its lows of the day, bond yields at their highs, and credit markets at their lows).
In a masterclass of what is 'really' going on in the world (as opposed to what we are told/spoon-fed on a daily basis), Grant Williams (of Things That Make You Go Hhhmm infamy) provides a must-watch presentation. Starting from the premise (unusual in this day and age) that the laws of mathematics are inviolable ("if it makes no sense, it is nonsense"), the Aussie investment manager sets out his own set of philosophical 'problems' that the world of 'markets' seems incapable of grasping. In a chart-filled extravaganza, Williams ranges from "Problem 1: If the global economy is stalling, Europe is in recession, China is slowing and growth is seemingly impossible to generate, what are equity markets doing at all-time highs?" to "Problem 7: The Gold Price and The Price of Gold are mutually exclusive" leaving the participant questioning everything Bob Pisani would have us believe warning in conclusion that gold is critical and "beware suppressed volatility."
Cyprus Now Set To Vote Against Bailout, Ruling Party To Abstain Guaranteeing Failure To Ratify "Bail-In"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2013 11:56 -0400
It appears that Cyprus is now ready to escalate, following news now coming fast and furious, that the Parliament will go ahead and vote after all, but not in a good way as even the Cypriot ruling party, formerly the only party willing to vote Yes on the Bail-In, would abstain according to Dow Jones, which means there is no support at all in the Cypriot parliament for the deposit haircut proposal.
We can only pray that Bob Pisani explains what happens next because neither we, nor anyone else, has any idea what comes now.