- Yellen Concerned by Housing Slowdown She Has Scant Power to Cure (BBG)
- Because snow in Q1? Citigroup’s CFO Says Trading Revenue Could Slide 25% (BBG)
- Banks Raise Caution Flag on Trading (WSJ)
- The answer is yes: Hilsenrath asks if BOJ’s Kuroda Awakening to His Limits? (WSJ)
- Google Develops Prototype Cars for Fully Autonomous Driving (WSJ)
- Amazon Expects Lengthy Hachette Dispute (WSJ)
- Tencent $1 Billion Game Shows Global Hunt for Mobile Hits (BBG)
Yes, U.S. capital markets have officially gone "Full Seinfeld"; As ConvergEX's Nick Colas notes, Tuesday’s selloff over “Nothing” reversed higher Wednesday throuygh Friday for similarly non-specific reasons. So, today we will go a little further afield and talk about words and what they tell us about shifting societal priorities and norms. Wonder what the most commonly searched word might be on the Merriam-Webster website? It is “Pragmatic”... which seems incredibly ironic given the total lack of pragmatism that appears to be shown in world markets.
In a greatly ironic moment for capital markets, minutes ahead of the Fed's Bill Dudley speaking about "low volatility in markets is a cause for concerns, indicates complacency," VIX just collapsed in a pile of "we don't need no stinking protection" volatility selling to its lowest level since December 2013 and almost its lowest since April 2013 recovery lows.
Equity markets are not happy about the Fed's Charles Plosser's economic exuberance ("3% growth no matter the weather" which is 20% above consensus of 2.5%) and his 'good-news-bad-news' monetary policy hawkishness ("may need to raise rates sooner rather than later"). But perhaps the most crucial part of his speech this morning was what the headlines notably left out. Plosser admonished his global central bank brethren: "if central banks do not limit their interventionist strategies and focus on returning to more normal policymaking aimed at promoting price stability and long-term growth, then they will simply encourage the financial markets to ignore fundamentals and to focus instead on the next actions of the central bank." Simply put, he warned, "central bankers have become too sensitive and desirous of managing prices in the financial world.."
As we have discussed numerous times, the dash-for-trash in US equities has been insatiable as any and every consequence of screwing up is slowly removed from capitalism (and capital markets). As Goldman's David Kostin notes, companies with weak balance sheets have outperformed peers with strong balance sheets by 49 percentage points during the past two years (89% vs. 40%) with realized volatility of just 7%. Although the trend is daunting - to say the least - Goldman believes it will continue for three reasons...
Be afraid... be very afraid. This is not your father's - or even your older brother's equity market. As we have discussed for over 5 years and Michael Lewis dragged kicking-and-screaming into the world's eyeballs, there is something very different about the world's capital markets than ever before. ConvergEx's all-encompassing "Traders Guide to Global Equity Markets" is, simply put, everything you wanted to know (and perhaps did not) about the world's stock markets but were afraid to ask. The subtle title they chose to explain the various order types and market structure dynamics - "Trading Minefields" - you can't avoid them unless you know where they are.
While most mainstream media is focused on villainizing Putin and the ongoing 'diplomacy' in Ukraine, we warned Monday of the dramatically escalating tensions between Vietnam and China over oil-drilling in disputed waters. The initial verbal to and fro - Vietnam angry at the move and China shunning them - was followed by physical interactions (multiple rammings and water-cannon use) and the US then got involved (laying the blame firmly at China's foot calling the move "provocative"). The capital markets appear a little more concerned about where this 'tension' leads as the Vietnamese stock market crashed almost 6% - its largest drop in 13 years.
Wall Street is back in the business of lending money at the Fed’s gifted rate of zero plus a modest 80 basis point spread - so that the fast money can buy CLO paper on 9 to 1 leverage. There is your triple shuffle. It didn’t work out last time, but that doesn’t matter because the game is obvious. After enough buying on Wall Street’s triple leverage, junk loan prices might temporarily rebound. Then the brokers will put out the call to retail: The junk loan asset class is rebounding - its time to come back. For the final shearing, that is!
- Fed’s Fisher Says Economy Strengthening as Payrolls Rise (BBG)
- Russia Knows Europe Sanctions Ineffective With Tax Havens (BBG)
- EU Cuts Euro-Area Growth Outlook as Inflation Seen Slower (BBG)
- U.S. Firms With Irish Addresses Get Tax Breaks Derided as ‘Blarney’ (BBG)
- Portugal exits bailout without safety net of credit line (Euronews)
- Puzzled Malaysian Air Searchers Ponder What to Try Now (BBG)
- Barclays, Credit Suisse Battle Banker Exodus, Legal Woes (BBG)
- Germany says euro level not an issue for politicians (Reuters)
- Alibaba-Sized Hole Blown in Nasdaq 100 Amid New Stock (BBG)
- Obamacare to save large corporations hundreds of billions (The Hill)
The still-dominant consensus view that America’s economy is poised to single-handedly yank the world out of its lethargy is likely to be disappointed once again with the odds high that our economy will remain burdened by growth-inhibiting monetary policies. In addition, it will continue to be negatively impacted by various other impediments, including a populace that is increasingly under-employed, an unwieldy and inscrutable tax code, a Rube Goldberg-like healthcare system, an increasingly ossified infrastructure, and a regulatory apparatus that congests the lungs of our economy, small businesses... weaning the stock market off of casino capitalism promises to be anything but pain-free. But did any responsible adult really believe there would be no pay-back for all these years of the Fed’s force-fed gains? If you do, you probably also believe foie gras grows on trees.
Everyone has seen them: those "inexplicable" bouts of furious selling in gold and silver, coming out of nowhere with no news or catalyst. In fact, look no further than what happened first thing this morning, when an unknown seller, smashed all stops in one big sale, and took silver to its lowest price for 2014. This was a premeditated and deliberate selling of silver with one simple purpose: push and reprice silver lower. But this is nothing new: precious metal traders, especially those who are on the other side of the table of the BIS' Mikael Charoze or Benoit Gilson, and countless other commercial banks, are all too aware of this behavior and they take it for granted. No, the real surprise is that suddenly none other than the CME is getting worred that manipulation this blatant is finally chasing regular retail traders away who are tired of being fleeced on a daily basis, leaving central banks and a few "fixing" banks to trade only with each other, which is not acceptable - after all it is the muppets' money that is fair game, not that of other cartel members.
You can't keep a rigged market down... despite weak GDP, weak jobs data, weaker PMI sub-indices, and weak construction spending, US equity markets are making new highs led by the ever-squeezable Nasdaq playing catch-up (and the Trannies). All of this stands in stark contrast to the continuing collapse in bond yields as macro fundamentals are reflected in only one side of the capital markets. 30Y yields - at 4.42% - are near their lowest in 10 months, and the rest of the complex hovers near 2014 lows.
Since it's not Tuesday (the only day that matters for stocks, of course), call it opposite, or rather stop hunt take out, day. First, it was the BOJ which, as we warned previously, would disappoint and not boost QE (sorry SocGen which had expected an increase in monetization today, and now expects nothing more from the BOJ until year end), which sent the USDJPY sliding, only to see the pair make up all the BOJ announcement losses and then some; and then it was Europe, where first German retail sales cratered, printing at -1.9%, down from 2.0% and on expectations of a 1.7% print, and then Eurozone inflation once again missed estimates, and while rising from the abysmal 0.5% in March printed at only 0.7% - hardly the runaway inflation stuff Draghi is praying for. What happened then: EURUSD tumbled then promptly rebounded a la the flash crash, and at last check was trading near the high of the day.
In what turned out to be immaculate timing, it was only yesterday that we previewed the collapse in Apple's domestic cash hoard (at the expense of its soaring, if non-recourse offshore cash) which we concluded by saying that "what this simply means is that after making the history books with the biggest ever, $17 billion bond offering 12 months ago, Apple is about to issue a whole lot more of debt." Less than 24 hours later, it did just that. Moments ago Apple filed a bond offering prospectus, in which it laid out a 7-part bond offering consisting of two FRN tranches (due 2017 and 2019), and 5 fixed rate tranches (due 2017, 2019, 2021, 2024 and 2044), with Goldman and Deustche Bank as lead underwrtiers.
- EU regulators unveil details of bank stress tests (FT)
- Just use NSAfari: U.S., UK advise avoiding Internet Explorer until bug fixed (Reuters)
- China’s Income Inequality Surpasses U.S., Posing Risk for Xi (BBG)
- US races to refuel infrastructure fund as revenue dries up (FT)
- New Era Dawns at Nokia as Company Appoints CEO, Plans $1.4 Billion Special Dividend, Share-Repurchase Program (WSJ)
- Obama reassures allies, but doubts over 'pivot' to Asia persist (Reuters)
- Dissent at SEC over bank waivers (FT)
- U.S. Banks to Help Authorities with Tax Evasion Probe (WSJ)
- U.S., Europe Impose New Sanctions on Russia (WSJ)
- Why the U.S. Is Targeting the Business Empire of a Putin Ally (BBG)
- Euro-Area April Economic Confidence Unexpectedly Declines (BBG)
- Bitcoin traders settle class actions over failed Mt. Gox exchange (Reut