Capital Markets

Bank Of Japan Prepares To Buy Nikkei-400 ETF To Boost Stocks

It is no secret that unlike other banks who, while directly intervening in the bond market only manipulate equity prices in relative secrecy (usually via HFT-transacting intermediaries such as Citadel), the Bank of Japan has historically had no problem with buying equities outright, traditionally in the form of REITs and equity-tracking ETFs. Which explains why overnight it was revealed that in order to boost the stock market, pardon, economy, the Bank of Japan is preparing to purchase exchange-traded funds based on the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 as an "option to boost the impact of unprecedented easing," according to people familiar with BOJ discussions.

Frontrunning: July 9

  • Xi Says China Conflict With U.S. Would Be Disaster (BBG)
  • Short selling drops to lowest level since Lehman (FT)
  • Scoping the new subprime as watchdogs cry 'bubble' (Reuters)
  • Carlos Slim to break up América Móvil empire (FT)
  • Jury Acquits Rengan Rajaratnam in Insider-Trading Case (WSJ)
  • Hamas rockets land deep in Israel as it bombards Gaza Strip (Reuters)
  • Hong Kong Buyers Queue for New Homes After Prices Plunge (BBG)
  • Rebel Stronghold in Ukraine Braces for Its Showdown (WSJ)
  • Tiny Houses Big With U.S. Owners Seeking Economic Freedom (BBG)
  • Chinese Cash-Bearing Buyers Drive U.S. Foreign Sales Jump (BBG)

Frontrunning: July 7

  • Bond Anxiety in $1.6 Trillion Repo Market as Failures Soar (BBG), as reported first by Zero Hedge
  • As Food Prices Rise, Fed Keeps a Watchful Eye (WSJ)
  • Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan (BBG)
  • Draghi’s $1.4 Trillion Shot: Silver Bullet or Misfire? (BBG)
  • Israel's Netanyahu phones father of murdered Palestinian teen (Reuters)
  • Ukraine says forces will press forward after taking rebel stronghold (Reuters)
  • Goldman Sachs Brings Forward Rate Forecast as Treasuries Drop (BBG)... you mean rise?
  • Super typhoon takes aim at Japan (Reuters)
  • Kidnapped Nigerian girls 'escape from Boko Haram abductors' (Independent)
  • Merkel says U.S. spying allegations are serious (Reuters)

Top 5 Surprises For 2014

The last six months have not run according to anyone’s plan.  Who would have thought that equity market structure would yield a best-selling book, after all?  As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, on the fundamental side of things, interest rates across the developed world are lower, not higher – counter to the consensus view just 180 days ago. Mutual fund investors first bought U.S. equities earlier in the year, then in the last 6 weeks have begun to liquidate in earnest. Exchange Traded Fund investors are buying more fixed income products than those dedicated to U.S. stocks. Large cap stocks are trouncing small caps in terms of performance. And as for volatility – well, Elvis has clearly left the building on that one. So which of these surprises has staying power into the back half of 2014?

Frontrunning: July 3

  • Obama Decries Big Bonuses at Bank Trading Desks as Risky  (BBG)
  • India central bank seeks to swap gold to improve reserves quality (Reuters)
  • There goes Q3 GDP: Arthur Strengthens to Become First Atlantic Hurricane (BBG)
  • Airports Serving U.S. Tighten Checks on Stealth-Bomb Threat (BBG)
  • Fear, cash shortages hinder fight against Ebola outbreak (Reuters)
  • Brent Declines as Libya Rebels Say Ports Are Open (BBG)
  • Shiites Train for Battle in Iraqi Holy City (WSJ)
  • Dimon’s Cancer Has 90% Cure Rate With Demanding Therapy (BBG)
  • Goldman says client data leaked, wants Google to delete email (Reuters)
  • ECB Watchers in the Dark Look to Draghi for Illumination (BBG)

China In The Golden Age Of Central Bankers - "Whatever It Takes"

In a QE dominated world - in the Golden Age of the Central Banker - renminbi strengthening has been an unmitigated disaster. Chinese political stability depends on the actual production of actual things by actual people working in actual factories, and the prospects for that real economic growth are made significantly worse the longer the West persists in favoring financial asset inflation and the ossification of a low-growth status quo. While the West may be able to accept, even celebrate, unlimited private wealth – China cannot. Not if it wants to remain a politically unified Great Power. We think this is just the start of a multi-year weakening of the renminbi, a sea change in Chinese monetary policy that will inevitably create broad political tensions with the US and make Japan’s devaluation/inflation course infinitely more difficult to achieve.

The Fed's Inflation Survey That The Fed Would Rather Not Hear

U.S. consumers think one-year domestic price inflation will run 50-100% higher than the current headline Consumer Price Index that Wall Street uses to value financial assets. That surprising finding doesn’t come from the fringe "Inflation is nigh, repent!" camp; as ConvergEx's NBick Colas points out, it is the central observation of the New York Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Expectations. This relatively new but rigorously designed monthly dataset polls 1,200 American households on a range of financial questions, from inflation expectations to household finances and labor market conditions. The news The Fed is hearing from the survey must be a bit tough to hear. Inflation expectations are significantly higher than their "Target" of 2% already, meaning any acceleration in prices will "Feel" higher than the central bank’s notional goals.

Starting Today Interest On New Student Loans Rises By 20%

While the new quarter has started with a bang for the capital markets and those 1% who actually benefit from one after another record high courtesy of the Fed's "fairy dust", July 1 is an important date for another group of Americans: students. However, instead of more wealth, America's aspiring intelligentsia has something far less pleasant to look forward to, namely more debt, because today is when higher interest rates for education loans kick in. Starting July 1 all new loans for the 2013/2014 student year will increase from 3.86% to 4.66%, a 20% increase.

Second Half Kicks Off With Futures At Record High On Lethargic Yen Carry Levitation

BTFATH! That was the motto overnight, when despite a plethora of mixed final manufacturing data across the globe (weaker Japan, Europe; stronger China, UK) the USDJPY carry-trade has been a one-way street up and to the right, and saw its first overnight buying scramble in weeks (as opposed to the US daytime trading session, when the JPY is sold off to push carry-driven stocks higher). Low volumes have only facilitated the now usual buying at the all time highs: The last trading day of 1H14 failed to bring with it any volatility associated with month-end and half-end portfolio rebalancing - yesterday’s S&P 500 volumes were about half that compared to the last trading day of 1H13.

California Housing And The Bubble At Hand

Janet Yellen is an officious school marm. She constantly lectures us on Keynesian verities as if they were the equivalent of Newton’s Law or the Pythagorean Theorem. In fact, they constitute self-serving dogma of modern vintage that is marshaled to justify what is at bottom an economic absurdity. Namely, that through the primitive act of banging the securities “buy” key over and over and thereby massively expanding its balance sheet, the Fed can cause real wealth - embodying the sweat of labor, the consumption of capital and the fruits of enterprise - to magically expand beyond what the free market would generate on its own steam. Dr. Yellen, of course, claims there are no financial bubbles to worry about because the Keynesian bathtub of potential GDP has not yet been filled to the brim. Perhaps she would like to put in a bid for one of these homes...

Forget 'Shrugged'; Atlas Just May Throw Up His Hands

Financial markets do the one thing better than nearly any other form of protest or lauding of government policies. When the financial markets are falling that’s a tell-tale sign something somewhere is wrong. Same for the lifting, where the rise lifts all giving policy makers as well as the general public at large explicit feedback of what is, as well as, what’s not working. Yet, once those indicators become an adulterated vehicle with the ability to mask true economic information, everything is lost. Just how pungent does today’s economic corpse need to stink before everyone understands it hasn’t been resting, or recovering, but has been dead for who knows how long? With a print of nearly 3% negative GDP, sustaining, or plodding along, or any other descriptor stating “recovering” is ludicrous.

Europe Gives Bulgaria A Bank System Lifeline As Battle Over "South Stream" Pipeline Heats Up

Earlier today Reuters reported that the European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack. “The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,” the EU executive said in a statement. The statement said Bulgaria’s banking system was “well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system”. The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week. And while this latest backstop of the Bulgarian bank system should provide a respite from bank insolvency fears (if only for the time being), one wonders about Europe's true intentions.

Frontrunning: June 30

  • Facebook Researchers Manipulated News Feeds in 2012 Study (BBG)
  • Argentina at Brink of Default as $539 Million Payment Due (BBG)
  • Hedge fund correlation risk alarms investors (FT)
  • As China Flexes Muscle, Obama Frets Over Rival’s Weakness (BBG)
  • As caliphate declared, Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit (Reuters)
  • Dubai Caps Worst Month Since 2008 as Real Estate Stocks Tumble (BBG)
  • Russian Advisers Ready Iraq to Use New Combat Aircraft (BBG)
  • Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ) - so what was GSO?
  • Pope says communists are closet Christians (Reuters)
  • Thomson Reuters revising FX trading standards (Reuters)

BIS Slams "Market Euphoria", Finds "Puzzling Disconnect" Between Economy And Market

"... it is hard to avoid the sense of a puzzling disconnect between the markets’ buoyancy and underlying economic developments globally....  Never before have central banks tried to push so hard... Few are ready to curb financial booms that make everyone feel illusively richer.  Or to hold back on quick fixes for output slowdowns, even if such measures threaten to add fuel to unsustainable financial booms.... The temptation to go for shortcuts is simply too strong, even if these shortcuts lead nowhere in the end."