Today, everyone believes that market price levels are largely driven by monetary policy and that we are all being played by politicians and central bankers using their words for effect rather than direct communication. No one requires convincing that market price levels are unsupported by real world economic activity. Everyone believes that this will all end badly, and the only real question is when.... There’s absolutely nothing sincere about the public sphere today, in its politics or its economics, and as a result we have lost faith in our public institutions, including public markets. It’s not the first time in the history of the Western world this has happened … the last time was in the 1930’s … and over time, perhaps a very long period of time, a modicum of faith will return. This, too, shall pass... It’s the public markets where faith has been lost, and that’s why the Golden Age of the Central Banker poses existential risks for firms and business strategies based on trading activity within those public markets.
Sadly for the central planners, while they succeeded in the first part of their plan, namely getting investors to flee from money market funds, they failed in getting the money to flow into the desired asset class: stocks. Instead, money market funds are rushing at an unprecedented pace into that other most hated by the Fed, after precious metals of course, asset: Treasurys. Most hated because declining yields disprove all the propaganda about an improving economy as they do, or at least did, imply deflation down the road: hardly the stuff robust 3%+ recoveries are made of.... But before we declare victory over central planning, don't forget that the "regulators", the Fed and the SEC, are already contemplating the next step: recall that as we reported in June, "the Fed is preparing to impose "exit fee" gates on bond funds, in what, the official narrative goes, is an attempt to prevent a panicked rush for the exits. Of course, this is diametrically opposite of what the truth is."
Never has so much fragility-in-motion come so close to an implacable wall of consequence. Here's what we think is going to happen now...
Dispassionate, non-conspiratorial rant , fact-based high level discussion of the sigificant drivers of the week ahead.
Alarm bells in the European banking system have been ringing for quite a while but nobody seems to be listening. The roaring capital markets are just too loud. But we have been keeping track of a few things.
After several months of quite complacency, investors were woken up Thursday by a sharp sell off driven by concerns over potential rising inflationary pressures, rising credit default risk and weak undertones to the economic data flows. One of the primary threats that has been readily dismissed by most analysts is the impact from rising interest rates...
Although the NYSE was closed between July 30 and December 12 of 1914, stocks were quoted by brokers and traded off the exchange. Global Financial Data has gone back and collected stock prices during the closure of the NYSE to recreate the Dow Jones Industrial Average while the NYSE was closed. We collected the data for the 20 stocks in the new DJIA 20 Industrials and calculated the average of the bid and ask prices from August 24, 1914 to December 12, 1914. This enabled us to discover that the 1914 bottom for stocks actually occurred on November 2, 1914 when the DJIA hit 49.07, over a month before the NYSE reopened. Few people realize that stocks in the US had already bottomed out and were heading into a new bull market when the NYSE reopened on December 12, 1914. The DJIA did not revisit this level until the Great Depression in 1932.
There are grounds for optimism about Europe’s single currency area. Yet beneath the surface of favorable sentiment towards the euro zone, the seeds of the next financial crisis are being sown. If markets connected all these dots - a weak and fragile economic recovery, the failure to break the “doom loop” between banks and sovereigns and, most importantly, scant prospect of a more secure political and economic union - the glaring disconnect between asset prices and underlying fundamentals in the euro zone would be a source of much greater concern.
US and European financials faded notably after Europe and then US unveiled new sanctions against Russia today. Most notably, the decision to sanction Russia's largest banks (and ban trading and capital markets access) has ramifications for the global financial system's stability given the increasingly inter-connected nature of the world. For that reason, we thought Bloomberg Briefs' chart of the most exposed banking systems by nation to any systemic issues in Russia would be useful.
After unleashing a 10-page report of the death and destructive economic impact they could have on Russia via sanctions, the European leaders have agreed to issue travel bans, some asset-freezes, and trade curbs on various new individuals and business entities. The Goldilocks sanctions... just enough to please Washington, not enough to infuriate Putin into 'boomerangs'.
- EU finalises Russian sanctions as BP warns of impact on business (FT)
- Geopolitical Risk Rises for Global Investors (BBG)
- Jaded Argentines brace for looming debt default (Reuters)
- In Argentina, Mix of Money and Politics Stirs Intrigue Around Kirchner (WSJ)
- Mom ‘Trusting God’ for Ebola-Infected U.S. Doctor’s Life (BBG)
- Thanks NSA: Tech Companies Reel as NSA's Spying Tarnishes Reputations (BBG)
- Goldman unit eyes foray into China amid metals financing scandal (Reuters)
- Cash out time: London’s Gherkin Tower Offered for Sale by Its Lenders (BBG)
- Apenomics strikes again: McDonald’s Japan axes profit guidance amid food safety scandal (FT)
- Do you see what happens Larry when you are the only USDJPY bid? Nomura Profit Falls More Than Estimated on Broking Slump (BBG)
An overview of the major events next week within the context of the capital markets, which could be at inflection points.
You can be forgiven for thinking that the world is a pretty terrible place right now, exclaims JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest. With 11.7% of the world's population currently at war (and a considerably larger percentage seemingly on the verge), it seemed an appropriate time to summarize the main geopolitical risk points in the world.
According to Reuters, key measures suggested by the Commission include:
- closing EU capital markets to state-owned Russian banks,
- an embargo on arms sales to Moscow,
- restrictions on the supply of energy and dual-use technologies.
- a list of 15 individuals and 18 entities, including companies, subject to asset freezes for their role in supporting Russia's annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine.
Of course, since France would blow a gasket if its Mistral ship was impacted by the sanctions, and since this really is just another populist measure not intended to really punish Russia (as that would mean a prompt shut off of European gas and an even prompter slide into a triple dip recession if not outright depression), Europe promptly "detoothed" the sanctions by announcing that they would not affect current supplies of oil, gas and other commodities from Russia, diplomats said.
Following yesterday's disappointing results by Visa, which is the largest DJIA component accounting for 8% of the index and which dropped nearly 3%, while AMZN's 10% tumble has weighed heavily on NASDAQ futures, it has been up to the USDJPY to push US equity futures from dropping further, which it has done admirably so far with the tried and true levitation pump taking place just as Europe opened. One thing to keep in mind: yesterday the CME quietly hiked ES and NQ margins by 6% and 11% respectively. A modest warning shot across the bow of what may be coming down the line?