Anyone who continues to believes in the all powerful CB after today is a fool.
Just yesterday, the SEC charged Canadian Aleksandr Milrud with orchestrating a lucrative market manipulation scheme that relied on "layering" in which a trader places orders solely to trick others into buying or selling at artificially inflated or depressed prices... So we found it ironic that twice today, Nanex exposed examples of the "spoofing" manipulation in crude oil futures (which soared) and S&P 500 e-mini futures (which soared)... These are your "most liquid and transparent capital markets in the world."
Yesterday was a bad day for the HFT lobby, after not one but two incidents which exposed the high frequency parasites doing what they do best, and perhaps only: rigging markets. And since it would be laughable if its wan't tragic, we decided to make it even more laughable, by noting that none other than intellectual titan in the House of Representatives, Maxine Waters, had a few choice words to say about the latest HFT rigging busts. That's right: Maxine Waters now opines on market microstructure issues.
So far today has been a replica of yesterday, with the crude rout continuing and pushing WTI under $45, but largely ignored by the FX carry pairs, and thus equity futures, which have seen some positive momentum from overnight trade data out of China where exports jumped 9.7% beating the 6% expectation, while imports fell 2.4% compared to a projected 6.2% decline as the trade surplus narrowed from November’s record $54.4 billion. For the full year, however, Chinese trade grew at just 3.4%, missing the government’s target of 7.5% growth for the third year in a row as the government quick to blame the slowing global economy. In any event, the USDJPY is well off the overnight lows which means the EuroStoxx is up some 0.8% which, just like yesterday, the E-mini is up some 9 points and rising. It remains to be seen if, just like yesterday, US equities will crash at a precipitous pace after the open, once algos realize that nothing at all has changed.
We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.
There is overwhelming evidence that the rampant money printing of the past decade or two has done nothing to generate sustainable growth in mainstream living standards and real wealth. Yet the monkeys keep rattling the cage, promising and demanding more ZIRP(and now N-ZIRP) and more fraudulent purchase of government debt with fiat credit congered by their printing presses. Consider some striking proof of failure...
Why does one believe the word “catastrophe” was used by The Fed's Charlie Evans? Hmmmmm? After all, the very articulated and polished minutes of what members expressed to one another as to set the current policy was just made public. We thought the verbiage of choice was now “patient.” Unless... You know you’ve either lost, or in the process, of losing control of the markets ear. In our opinion, this is an unveiled showing of possible outright panic developing behind the proverbial curtain.
- French policewoman killed in shoot-out, hunt deepens for militant killers (Reuters)
- The Bold Charlie Hebdo Covers the Satirical Magazine Was Not Afraid to Run (BBG)
- Evans Says Fed Shouldn’t Rush Rate Rise as Inflation Undershoots (BBG)
- Oil holds above $51 as traders search for floor (Reuters)
- Gross Helps Fuel New Fund With His Own Cash (WSJ)
- ECB warns Greek funding access hinges on keeping bailout (Reuters)
- Greece Jolts QE Juggernaut as ECB Gauges Deflation Risk (BBG)
- Analysts Say There's No Telling How Low Oil Prices Could Go (BBG)
- Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance (Reuters)
That markets are rigged, at both the macro level, through central banks, and micro, through HFTs, dark pools and purposeful market fragmentation, should be painfully obvious to everyone by now. But when even the regulators engage in "jury rigging", or in this case blocking prominent HFT-critic Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winning economist (a prize which doesn't count for much on these pages but should - at least on paper - impress such statist cronies as the SEC), has been blocked from a government panel that will advise regulators on issues facing U.S. equity markets, it becomes clear as day that the rigging is not just in the markets: worse, it is openly involves the market's "regulator" and "enforcer."
The problem is inherent in the knowing “that it will end badly” and yet turning a blind eye and making money anyway. For that’s what a good Wall Street aficionado does after all, right? I mean, who cares about arguing about real economics or fundamentals. Who cares – I’m up 8%!! As if that’s all that now matters. For if that’s all that matters why don’t we embrace crony capitalism, embrace stagnant wages, embrace the 99% vs the 1% as that’s the best it’ll ever be. Who cares, as long as we’re getting ours. This disgusting bloated behemoth of an adulterated Central Bank infused market is now getting downright scarier.
The investment climate is being shaped by four forces:
1. De-synchronized business cycle with the US ahead of the pack
2. The prospects of sovereign bond purchases by the ECB, amid political uncertainty sparked by Geece's snap election
3. The continued drop in energy prices is a stimuluative writ large but poses challenges for oil producers and the leveraged eco-system that has been built on the premise of high oil prices forever.
To complete monetary union we will ultimately have to deepen our political union further: to lay down its rights and obligations in a renewed institutional order.
Hugh Hendry's Eclectica Fund has had a great Q4 (up 3.3%, 4.0%, and 5.0% in the last 3 months) despite portfolio risk being quadruple his 'old normal'. How did he achieve this? He begins... "There are times when an investor has no choice but to behave as though he believes in things that don't necessarily exist. For us, that means being willing to be long risk assets in the full knowledge of two things: that those assets may have no qualitative support; and second, that this is all going to end painfully. The good news is that mankind clearly has the ability to suspend rational judgment long and often... He who hangs on to truth has lost. The economic truth of today no longer offers me much solace; I am taking the blue pills now."
Before we first exposed proof of the conspiracy fact that global Central Banks are indeed trading US equity futures, it was dismissed as tin-foil-hat-wearing, pajama-wearing, basement-living conspiracy theory. So it is, perhaps, quite notable that Congress itself has now admitted that Central Banks are trading futures and that it is good for liquidity (and thus, we pre-suppose, it's for your own good, average citizen).
"The Greek political turmoil is likely to complicate matters for the ECB’s preparation of a sovereign QE programme. The prospect of the ECB potentially incurring severe losses is likely to intensify the debate within the Governing Council, where sovereign QE remains controversial. It could also make the start of a buying programme already on January 22 even more ambitious. In addition, the spectre of default could create new limitations on any sovereign QE design."