DUDLEY: HOPEFULLY IN NEAR FUTURE FED ABLE TO RAISE RATES
Recent price volatility in the media sector got us wondering: is “Cord cutting” the home cable box in favor of online entertainment really hitting critical mass?
During the most recent quarter debt issuance by US companies reached an all-time high, raising a question as to why companies still need to borrow so much after selling $7 trillion of U.S. debt securities since 2008. This weeks S&P Media index swoon leaves no doubt as to the answer. Companies have not been borrowing to grow; they have been borrowing in order to flush cash into the casino. Charles Ponzi once had a scheme that was not essentially different. Yes, and it worked until it didn’t.
"You wake up one morning and think 'I’m in prison.' And that’s when it hits you, and you suddenly realize that you are no longer in control of your life."
The #1 question we get after we review correlations every month is “Why are they so high relative to long term historical norms?” Our answer is that Federal Reserve policy has been an unusually important factor in asset prices since 2009. The unusually easy monetary policy since that time (and its planning, implementation, and effect on the economy) has been a powerful unifying story in capital markets. Now, as the Federal Reserve moves to return the economy to a more “Normal” policy stance, correlations should drop. That they have not yet moved convincingly lower is a sign that equity markets may want to see the Fed actually pull the trigger.
WTI Crude is back below $45 again this morning - pressing towards 2015 and cycle lows -after Goldman Sachs' Jeffrey Currie warns 'lower for longer' is here to stay, with price risk "substantially skewed to the downside." His reasoning are manifold, as detailed below, but overarching is oversupply (Saudi Arabia has a challenge in Asia as it battles to maintain mkt share, the Russians are coming, andother OPEC members want a bigger slice) and, even more crucially, storage is running out. As Currie concludes, this time it is different. Financial metrics for the oil industry are far worse.
Chinese Stocks Tumble Despite Margin Debt Rises As Virtu Is Unleashed To Provide "Liquidity" After Citadel BanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/05/2015 21:18 -0400
No lesser liquidity-providing high-frequency-trading never-a-losing-trade shop than Virtu financial has been 'allowed' to trade Chinese capital markets. Coming just days after Citadel's ban, one can only assume that Chinese regulators made a deal with the devil CEO Doug Cifu to levitate markets at any and every cost in order to pick up pennies in front of de-leveraging, over-margined army of farmers and grandmas now seeking exits. Sure enough for the second day in a row margin debt is on the rise again. The retail-dominated Chinese stock market will be ripe picking for the HFTs, as long as not to many are allowed and a tail-chasing flash-crash ensues... but for now its appears yesterday afternoon's selling pressure continues with CSI-300 down almost 2% at the open.
In an irony of ironies, Saudi Arabia is set to take advantage of the very same forgiving capital markets that have served to keep its US competition in business as persistently low oil prices and two armed conflicts look set to strain the Kingdom's finances.
Debt is a fickle witch. When left to its own devices, which it has been for nearly seven years with interest rates at the zero bound, it tends to get into trouble. Unchecked credit initially seeps, and eventually finds itself fracked, into the dark, dank nooks and crannies of the fixed income markets whose infrastructures and borrowers are ill-suited to handle the capacity. Consider the two flashiest badges of wealth in America - cars and homes...
The reality might just be that the collective "we," and quite possibly sooner than we think, really will need a bigger boat. That is, as it pertains to the global debt markets, which have swollen past the $200 trillion mark this year rendering the great white featured in Jaws which can be equated with past debt markets as defenseless and small as a small, striped Nemo by comparison. The question for the ages will be whether size really does matter when it comes to the debt markets...
We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history. Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. China is the biggest domino about to fall, and from a great height as well, threatening to flatten everything in its path on the way down. This is the beginning of a New World Disorder…
The Fed would have needed to hike rates by 800 bps in the wake of the dot-com collapse in order to prevent the housing bubble. That would have purged the system and gradually, the FOMC could have eased by around 300 bps over the next four years. That policy course would have prevented the speculative bubble that brought capital markets the world over to their knees in 2008. And why didn’t the Fed do this? Because "such a large increase in interest rates would have depressed output more than the Great Recession did." In other words, thanks to Alan Greenspan, the US economy cannot function under a normalized monetary policy regime.
Lately, a varied chorus of powerful union bosses, politicians and candidates, an asset management company executive, and a few ivory tower types have asserted that activism is short term in nature, engaged in by “hit and run” investors who care only about making a quick buck while leaving a company and its employees in ruins. It might surprise people to hear that we agree completely that the sort of activism they describe is abominable. Luckily, it does not really exist, and certainly not at Third Point. Activists today are very different from corporate raiders of the ‘80’s (about whom these criticisms might have been leveled fairly).
Bubbles collapse, period; and government interventions don't stop them. Furthermore, we are beginning to see a crack widen in the foundations of China's capital markets that could end up undermining the whole economy. If Plan A fails, it is time for Plan B...
Earlier today, the SNB which is perhaps the most transparent hedge fund of all central banks and actually lays out its financial statements in a respectable manner every quarter, released its results for the second quarter (and first half) of 2015. The result: another absolutely epic loss, amounting to €50.1 billion ($51.8 billion) of which €47.2 billion on currency positions - a whopping 7% of Swiss GDP - meaning that in Q2 the SNB lost another €20 billion. This happened despite the SNB having invested 17%, or $94 billion, in foreign - mostly US -stocks.