FOMC Statement: "We are stuck like squealing pigs............."
Copper prices are surging this morning (in the face of Goldman's recent warnings of a plunge), jumping 4 handles apparently on the heels of a WSJ story in which LME admits that a single buyer has snapped up more than half the copper held in London Metal Exchange warehouses, giving it control over a crucial source of supply and raising concerns among traders about the potential for higher prices. What is more remarkable is, as WSJ reports, on several occasions in the last month, this buyer held as much as 90% of the world’s copper stored in LME-licensed warehouses. Though no confirmation has been given traders suggest the firm cornering the copper market is Red Kite Group, a London hedge-fund manager that focuses on metals trading.
For those who follow the Fed's daily intervention in the stock market, today is a historic, if bittersweet day: this is the day when the Permanent Open Market Operations (or POMO) as a result of the QE3 program launched in December 2012, finally die (at least until they are reincarnated yet again). Today, at 11:00 am, the NY Fed's market desk will conclude its 933rd POMO since August 25 of 2005, when it will inject just about a $1 billion in the stock market in the form of a $0.85-$1.05 billion buyback of long-end bonds. And with that, Simon Potter's open market operations desk located on the 9th floor of Liberty 33, will be put on temporary hiatus.
The week ahead, as if it mattered.
The summer, thankfully, has been largely bereft of the dismal trend of bankers committing suicide, but as Bloomberg reports, Thierry Leyne, a French-Israeli banker and partner of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former chief of the IMF, was found dead Thursday after apparently taking his own life by jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex in Tel Aviv. This is the 16th financial services executive death this year.
The U.S. economy continues to lose momentum despite the Federal Reserve’s use of conventional techniques and numerous experimental measures to spur growth. As Kindleberger clearly stated, the process of excess liquidity fueling higher prices in the face of faltering fundamentals can run for a long time, a phase Kindleberger called “overtrading”. But eventually, this gives way to “discredit”, when the discerning few see the discrepancy between prices and fundamentals. Eventually, discredit yields to “revulsion”, when the crowd understands the imbalance, and markets correct.
Gold has been in a bear market for three years. Technical analysts are asking themselves whether they should call an end to this slump on the basis of the "triple-bottom" recently made at $1180/oz, or if they should be wary of a coming downside break beneath that level. The purpose of this article is to look at the drivers of the gold price and explain why today's market value is badly reflective of gold's true worth.
What do an old German bank note, a current $100 bill, and an apple all have in common? The answer, according to ConvergEx's Nick Colas, is that these simple objects can tell us much about the current investment scene, ranging from Europe’s economic challenges to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s attempts to reduce unemployment. Colas takes an “object-ive” approach to analyzing the current investment landscape by describing 10 common items and how they shape our perceptions of reality. The other objects on our list: a hazmat suit, a house in Orlando, a barrel of oil, a Rolex watch, a butterfly, a heating radiator in Berlin, and a smartphone.
High-yield bond issuance has surged in recent days as 'wide' spreads have encouraged investors to take the dip once again (despite firms' record leverage and increasing desperation to roll the wall of maturing debt). However, it's not all guns blazing, as one manager noted, "while the market reopens, it reopens with issuers having to be a little more investor friendly." Despite Carl Icahn's warning that "the high-yield bond market is in a major bubble that's gonna burst," Bullard's "QE4" comments sparked Goldman to add US junk bonds and Aberdeen says selling EU and buying US corporate debt "is the trade that kind of screams at you right now." The dash-for-trash down-in-quality is back as CCC-demand surges and, as one trader notes the market's schizophrenia: "one day the market feels like it is shut down and you can’t sell anything and you wake up this morning and you can price any part of the curve."
If there is a cabal running things, they are not doing a good job. Maybe they are not really running things. Here is what next week looks like if we did not know it was all pre-determined.
“Because of the success of science, there is a kind of a pseudo-science. Social science is an example of a science which is not a science. They follow the forms. You gather data, you do so and so and so forth, but they don’t get any laws, they haven’t found out anything. They haven’t got anywhere – yet. Maybe someday they will, but it’s not very well developed. But what happens is, at an even more mundane level, we get experts on everything that sound like they are sort of scientific, expert. They are not scientists. They sit at a typewriter and they make up something like ‘a food grown with a fertilizer that’s organic is better for you than food grown with a fertilizer that is inorganic’. Maybe true, may not be true. But it hasn’t been demonstrated one way or the other. But they’ll sit there on the typewriter and make up all this stuff as if it’s science and then become experts on foods, organic foods and so on. There’s all kinds of myths and pseudo-science all over the place."
If U.S. stocks have stabilized – granted, a big 'IF' - you can thank the fact that markets don’t believe the Federal Reserve’s outlook on interest rates. Bad news will keep the doves “Fed” (yes, a pun… it’s Friday) and the hawks at bay. A spate of good U.S. news while the rest of the developed world slows is the worst potential outcome in this narrative.
For those curious why the Russell 2000 has completely ignored this week's broader market rout and is in fact higher now than last Friday, the answer comes from a recent technical note from Bank of America which says that as of the first week of the month, the "Russell net short positioning largest since 2008 after fifth consecutive week of selling."
If the last three days all started with a rout in futures before the US market open only to ramp higher all day, today it may well be the opposite, when shortly after Europe opened it was the ECB's turn to talk stocks higher, when literally within minutes of the European market's open, ECB's Coeure said that:
- COEURE SAYS ECB WILL START WITHIN DAYS TO BUY ASSETS
Which was today's code word for all is clear, and within minutes US futures, which until that moment had languished unchanged, soared by 25 points. So will today be more of the same and whatever early action was directed by the central bankers will be faded into a weekend in which only more bad news can come out of Ebola-land?