Since either NIRP, or QE, or most likely both, are about to cross the Atlantic and make landfall in the US before the Fed is forced to launch the monetary helicopter, those who want to know what is really coming - no, not rate hikes - are urged to read this.
Capitalism isn’t – wasn’t – the problem. The culprit instead was unsound finance and deeply flawed monetary management. In short, Capitalism cannot function effectively within a backdrop of unfettered cheap finance. Things appear miraculous during the boom, and then the bust discombobulates. Contemporary central bank rate administration essentially abandoned the self-adjusting and regulating market system for determining the price of finance – so fundamental to Capitalism.
As we have warned numerous times - and any trader old enough to have actually lived through a credit cycle can attest to - there is only so much releveraging shareholder-friendly exuberance firms can do before the company's balance sheet becomes questionable. That inflection point has come for US equities. The deterioration of balance-sheet health is "increasingly alarming" and will only worsen if earnings growth continues to stall amid a global economic slowdown, according to Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan's Eric Beinstein warns "the benefit of lower yields for corporate issuers is fading." The weakness is widespread as BlackRock fears "you’ll continue to see some land mines out there."
“The trend in our projected net resources has continued to be negative," warns Treasury Secretary Lew forcing the administration to move up the deadline for the end of extraordinary measures from Nov 5th to Nov 3rd.
First The Bank of Japan destroyed the Japanese bond market, and then, back in May we warned that The Bank of Japan had 'broken' the stock market. Now, it appears the all too obvious consequences of being the sole provider of buying power in an antirely false market are coming home to roost as Nomura reports the "temporary suspension" of new orders for 3 leveraged ETFs - the largest in the world - citing "liquidity of the underlying Nikkei 225 futures market."
As Rousseff fights to keep the Presidency, and has the speaker of the House battles to have her impeached, the country's economy continues to crumble. Retail sales came in below expectations for August and as Bloomberg reports, Brazil's top bankers now fear the combination of overindebted households and soaring unemployment could spell doom.
Since inception in June 1998, UBS' Managed High Yield Plus Fund survived through the dot-com (and Telco) collapse and the post-Lehman credit carnage but, based on the press release today, has been felled by the current credit cycle's crash. After 3 years of trading at an increasingly large discount to NAV, and plunging to its worst levels since the peak of the financial crisis, the board of the Fund has approved a proposal to liquidate the Fund. While timing is unclear, this is the worst case for an increasingly fragile cash bond market as BWICs galore are set to hit with "liquidty thin to zero."
Having government control over the levers of the economy can have advantages. For example, by taking prompt action, the Chinese government was able to pull the economy out of the recession remarkably fast, basically by fire-housing the stimulus package that was equivalent to 12% GDP. That’s the advantage. The only problem is that these kinds of short-term advantages come with long-term, painful consequences.
The signs of deflation are now flashing all over the globe and the possibility of an associated financial crisis is now dangerously high over the next few months. Our preferred model for how things are going to unfold follows the Ka-Poom! Theory, which states that this epic debt bubble will ultimately burst first by deflation (the "Ka!") before then exploding (the "Poom!") in hyperinflation due to additional massive money printing efforts by frightened global central bankers acting in unison. First an inwards collapse, then an outwards explosion.
We know that the corporate credit bubble has been highly disturbed, but the action in mREIT’s these past few days more than suggests that risk perceptions systemically are being affected. That all ties back to funding considerations, as the collapse in REM may be investors selling ahead of liquidity problems that are still building and expanding. In other words, there may be a growing sense (not unlike inflation breakevens) that the corporate pricing problems are going to break out in short order beyond just junk (and beyond what already has).
At the height of the financial crisis, the unprecedented decline in swap rates below Treasury yields was seen as an anomaly. The phenomenon is now widespread, as Bloomberg notes, what Fabozzi's bible of swap-pricing calls a "perversion" is now the rule all the way from 30Y to 2Y maturities. As one analyst notes, historical interpretations of this have been destroyed and if the flip to negative spreads persists, it would signal that its roots are in a combination of regulators’ efforts to head off another financial crisis, China selling pressure (and its impact on repo markets) and "broken" wholesale money-markets.
"This is a risky business. Can they get it wrong? Absolutely they can get it wrong."
"By relaxing constraints on other economic actors, central-bank support may create opportunities for them to shirk their responsibilities. In turn, this may render it more difficult for the central bank to withdraw its exceptional measures. The road to central bankers’ hell may be paved with good intentions."
The market, which clearly ignored the glaring contradictions in Yellen's speech which said that overseas events should not affect the Fed's policy path just a week after the Fed statement admitted it is "monitoring developments abroad", and also ignored Yellen explicit hint that NIRP is coming (only the size is unclear), and focused on the one thing it wanted to hear: a call to buy the all-critical USDJPY carry pair - because more dollar strength apparently is what the revenue and earnings recessioning S&P500 needs - which after trading around 120 in the past few days, had a 100 pip breakout overnight, hitting 121 just around 5am, in the process pushing US equity futures some 25 points higher at last check.
As powerful as the Fed is, it isn’t stronger than the markets. And the longer the Fed tries to sustain abnormalities like QE and 0% interest rates, the more likely it is that the whole business will end with the markets crushing the Fed. At the next sign of a market swoon or of a weakening economy, or with the next episode of deflationary jitters, the Fed will do whatever it takes, no matter what the eventual damage to the dollar’s value. Whatever the details, one thing should be clear. This politburo of unaccountable central planners is the greatest risk to your financial wellbeing today.