Consensus that the Fed would extend its $10bn taper from December with a further $10 bn taper today (reducing the monthly flow to a 'mere' $65 billion per month - $30bn MBS, $35bn TSY) was spot on. We suspect the view, despite the clear interconnectedness of markets (and flows), of the FOMC is that "it's not our problem, mate" when it comes to EM turmoil.
- *FED TAPERS BOND BUYING TO $65 BLN MONTHLY PACE FROM $75 BLN
- *FED SAYS LABOR MARKET `MIXED,' `SHOWED FURTHER IMPROVEMENT'
- *FED REITERATES LOW RATES UNTIL JOBLESS RATE `WELL PAST' 6.5%
Of course, "communication" was heavy with forward guidance on lower for longer stressed. We'll see if the market buys the dichotomy of hawkish real tapering and dovish promises...remember "tapering is not tightening."
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs 1775, Gold $1267, 10Y 2.71%, 2Y 35.5bps, USDJPY 102, EM FX 85.67, WTI $97.35, IG 72bps, HY $106.35
A slew of favorable overnight news, including a stronger than expected German IFO business climate print, reports that Draghi has signalled he would be prepared for the ECB to buy packages of bank loans to households and companies, when he said "the ECB might be able to buy securitised bank loans if they could be packaged as asset-backed securities in a transparent manner" (a QE-lite will hardly make the market happy), a largely expected bail out of the Chinese Trust Equals Gold imminent default (more in a subsequent post), as well as the announcement of Argentina's new liberalized dollar purchase capital controls (which have a monthly purchase limit as well as a minimum income threshold), not to mention the traditional USDJPY levitation which drags all risk along with it, were unable to put an end to the ongoing rout in emerging markets, which saw the Turkish Lira collapse to fresh record lows before it jumped on news the Turkish Central Bank would hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow (if the recent intervention by the CB is any indication, watch out), not to mention the Ruble, Zloty and even the Ukraine Hryvna dump as the outflows from EMs continued over a mixture of tapering fears as well as concern that the one way fund flow would accelerate creating its own positive feedback loop. Is today the day the fund flow exodus will finally be halted? Stay tuned to find out and keep a close eye on the USDJPY - the most manipulated, confiduing-boosting "asset" in the world right now, more so than gold even.
Overview of forces impacting stocks, bonds and currencies.
What a difference half a year makes. It seems like it was yesterday when Blackrock head Larry Fink, when discussing the future of capital markets with the now defunct money honey, uttered these infamous words about any and all possible risks: "it doesn't matter." Suddenly, it matters. Speaking in Davos, Fink warned there is 'way too much optimism' in financial markets as he predicted repeats of the market turmoil that roiled investors this week. As Bloomberg reports, Fink warned a Davos panel that "the experience of the marketplace this past week is going to be indicative of this entire year... We’re going to be in a world of much greater volatility."
The concept of the "Fed Put" is about to be tested.
With China's shadow-banking system turmoiling and data not at all supportive of the same kind of growth investors are hoping for, some were surprised when China's GDP magically turned out at the 7.7% expectations deemed acceptable by the government. As Xinhua reports, not all is as it seems. China's GDP amounted to 56.9 trillion yuan (9.3 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2013. However, the aggregate of the provincial GDP figures, which were independently calculated and released, was about 2 trillion yuan more than the 56.9-trillion-yuan figure arrived at by the NBS, even though three of the 31 localities that were yet to release the figures were not included. This has aroused suspicion (just as we saw with the PMI data in the past) that some growth-obsessed local officials have cooked the books.
With Russia offering $10 billion in funds to the troubled nation this morning, and Ukrainian capital markets in disarray over the anti-anti-Europe protests and ongoing riots, Stefan Karlsson offers an alternative take on the "people vs dictator" meme - especially in light of the fact that Yanuckovich is supported by a large part of the population (specifically in the eastern and southern parts of the country).
Nearly two years ago, before the topic of (the great and constantly missing) Capex became a mainstream media mainstay, we said that as long as the Fed was actively engaged in manipulating the capital markets - and this was before the Fed launched its endless QEternity - the bulk of corporate cash would go not into investing for growth, i.e., capital spending and/or hiring, but dividends and (levered) stock buybacks. Nearly $1 trillion in stock buybacks later, and zero growth Capex, we were proven right, much to the chagrin of permabulls who said the capex spending spree is just around the corner again... and again... and. Of course, if this were to happen, it would promptly refute our fundamental thesis that the Fed's presence in the market results in the terminal misallocation of efficient corporate capital. We were not concerned. We are even less concerned now having just read an FT piece forecasting that "capital spending by US companies is expected to grow this year at its slowest pace for four years, in a sign of corporate caution over the outlook for global demand." And like that, dear permabuls, the key pillar beneath all "corporate growth" thesis was yanked. Again. Fear not. There is always 2015. Or 2016. You get it.
What are you afraid of, exactly? ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes we all have our phobias and fears, some logical and anchored in reality and others irrational but still powerful; but for the capital markets currently it seems there is no fear. The CBOE VIX Index started the year at 14.2 and has fallen to a close of 12.9 today. That move, Colas adds, has dragged the IVs of everything from U.S. large cap energy stocks to gold to corporate bonds lower in its wake. Even expectations for Emerging Markets equity volatility are in retreat as we start 2014. But, when near term historical or implied volatility becomes this complacent, it seems appropriate to spend a little more time pondering what might go wrong. Markets, after all, have the entire “What should go right” side of the trade well understood and reflected in current prices. In that spirit, here is the "Top 10" list of what might take us off the rails of complacency in 2014.
Venezuela Devalues Bolivar By Another 44% For Some, Still 600% Higher Than Black Market Due To 50% InflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/22/2014 16:41 -0400
The reason why today's move is largely meaningless and purely optical, is because there is still an 85% differential between the official rate, and what one can get for a dollar on the black market. Which as the chart below shows is substantially higher, and at last check was 78.38 Bolivars per dollar. Said otherwise, the brand new official exchange rate, which will soon be implemented for everyone, is still 590% higher than the real clearing price of the currency on the black market. Curious why the currency is crashing so fast? Perhaps ask the 50% (and rising) annual inflation in the socialist paradise.
There was more good news for the UK economy this morning; the unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% during the three months to December - the biggest ever quarterly increase in employment. This follows the IMF this week raising its (admittedkly terrible track record-based) forecast for the UK economy; it now expects it to grow 2.4% this year which is faster than any other major European economy. Nick Beecroft, Chairman of Saxo Capital Markets UK, is “optimistic” about Britain’s recovery, but has three concerns...
- Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder (BBG)
- Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete (BBG)
- Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
- IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
- Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
- Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
- Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
- Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
- Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)
With all eyes gloating over Ireland's recent ability to issue debt in the capital markets once again (and now with 10Y trading only 40bps above US Treasuries), Europe's game of distraction continues. However, while spreads (and yields) tumble in all the PIIGS, with Italian yields at almost 7-year lows, it is perhaps surprising to some that Italian bad loan rates are at their highest on record. Having risen at a stunning 23% year-over-year - its fastest in 2 years, Italian gross non-performing loans (EUR149.6 billion) as a proportion of total lending rose to 7.8% in November (up from 6.1% a year earlier). As the Italian Banking Association admits in a statement today, deposits are declining (-1.9% YoY) and bonds sold to clients (-9.4% YoY) as Italy's bank clients with bad loans have more than doubled since 2008.
A number of readers have recently suggested there must be collusion between America and China over the transfer of physical gold from Western capital markets. They assume that governments know what they are doing, so there is a bigger game afoot of which we are unaware.
The truth is that China and Western capital markets view gold very differently and with very different philosophies about gold.
Next time you cry over your paycheck or you scrimp and scrape to find the extra few dollars to finish the month, remember that admittedly money doesn’t grow on trees…