Capital Markets

7 In 10 Americans Believe The Crisis Is Not Over Or Worst Is Yet To Come: 52% Can't Afford Their Homes

According to a recent survey by the MacArthur foundation, during the past three years, over half of all U.S. adults (52%) have had to make at least one sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage. Such sacrifices included getting an additional job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care and healthy foods, running up credit card debt, or moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools. More disturbingly, the survey also found that while there are some indicators that the American public’s views about the housing crisis are shifting toward the positive, large proportions of the public are not feeling the relief: seven in 10 (70%) believe we are still in the middle of the crisis or that the worst is yet to come. 

Frontrunning: June 4

  • U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
  • U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
  • China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
  • Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
  • KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
  • ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
  • Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
  • But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)

Paul Volcker Proposes A New Bretton Woods System To Prevent "Frequent, Destructive" Financial Crises

We found it surprising that it was none other than Paul Volcker himself who, on May 21 at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, said that "by now I think we can agree that the absence of an official, rules-based cooperatively managed, monetary system has not been a great success. In fact, international financial crises seem at least as frequent and more destructive in impeding economic stability and growth." We can, indeed, agree. However, we certainly disagree with Volcker's proposal for a solution to this far more brittle monetary system: a new Bretton Woods.

Whatever The ECB Does This Week, It Won't "Deliver A Significant Impulse To The Real Economy"

Ahead of this Thursday's ECB meeting, speculation is rife about what Mario Draghi will announce, and as the following Nomura chart highlights most pundits are convinced that the most likely announcement is a cut in the refi and deposit rate with a probability of around 90%, an LTRO in distant third at 34%, and a full blown QE dead last with 10%. However, as SocGen predicts, which is rather aggressive in its assumptions expecting a negative deposit rate of -0.1%, a targeted LTRO to "boost lending to the private sector", and a "signal" of €300 billion in asset purchases, the bulk of this new-found liquidity will almost exclusively go to boost capital markets, and the wealth effect. As for the broader economy? "We do not expect the 5 June measures to deliver a significant impulse to the real economy."

The Unfaithful Departed: Meet The People Who Bailed On The Obama Administration

Friday's latest resignation of yet another former Obama administration faithful - that of White House press secretary Jay Carney - got us thinking: how many people have jumped off the USS Obamic? The answer is, in short, a lot. Below is a list (by no means complete) of the most prominent officials and advisors who have quietly exited the Obama administration stage left over the past 6 years.

Even The Fed Admits The "Natural" Rate Of Interest Is Lower Than Markets Are Pricing

One of the most important, but difficult to measure, concepts in macroeconomics is the natural or equilibrium real interest rate. This is the rate of interest consistent with full employment and stable inflation. The last few weeks have seen bond yields tumble and a rising cacophony of market participants questioning both the Fed's central tendency of terminal or natural rates (around 4%) and the market's perception of how fast we get there. SF Fed Williams models see a 1.8% natural rate, BofA also believes it is between 1.5 and 2%; and now Citi admits, "fair value of long-term rates may be lower than we and other market participants judged them to be."

Climbing A Wall Of Cliches

If clichés reflect overly common (if therefore unappreciated) wisdom, then we finally have a good explanation for why risk assets continue to rally.  No, there are actually not “More buyers than sellers” – money flows are negative over the last month for both U.S. equity mutual funds and ETFs.  And forget about investors “Downgrading on valuation” as stocks climb higher and higher; truth be told, that’s not even really a thing (unless you work on the sell side).  Nope, this is a “Flight to quality”, “don’t fight the Fed”, “never short a dull market” environment with “easy comps” from a long rough winter.  Want to call a top somewhere around here?  Remember that “Markets discount events 6 months in the future.”  A “Santa Claus rally” in June?  That would fit the one cliché we know is actually the market’s True North: it will do exactly what hurts the most “Smart” investors.  And that would be to rally further as the doomsayers double down and the timid cling to their bonds and cash. 

Frontrunning: May 28

  • 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)

The US Capital Markets Have Gone "Full Seinfeld"

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.

VIX Slammed To 2014 Lows

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.

Fed President Says It Is Fed's Fault Markets Ignore Fundamentals

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.."

Take A Dive In The "Dash For Trash" Waterfall With Goldman Sachs

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...