"... 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."
A thumbnail sketch of the main events of during the week ahead.
This week's "Things To Ponder" is focused on things that, in my opinion, far too many individuals are ignoring. Bob Farrell once wrote that "when all experts and forecasts agree; something else is bound to happen." Today, that is the case as much as it ever was. Despite rising geopolitical risks, weak economic data, deteriorating fundamentals and softer internals - the overwhelming belief is "equities are the only game in town." Of course, we have seen this mentality many times in past history whether it was 1929, 1987, 2000 or 2007. While every market peak was different, there were all the same.
Now that any credibility Barclays, pardon Darklays, may have had in the capital markets has drowned at the bottom of its (soon to be shuttered) dark pool, it is time to start making fun of the bank. To do that we bring our readers the British bank's "Ongoing Commitment to Transparency", and specifiically the "Equities Electronic Order Handling." Curiously, nowhere in said book does it say that the bank will route the vast majority of its trades to the most lucrative predatory HFT algos lurking deep in the bowels of LX, which incidentally is co-located in the Savvis NJ2 Data Center in Weehawken, New Jersey, may it rest in piece now that nobody on the buyside will ever use it again. What it does report are the following creative lies, which we reveal to the general public because after all remember: the biggest defense the HFT lobby makes is that "whatever HFT does it never hurt retail investors." We will let retail investors decide for themselves.
"No" is not a word one hears very often in the new normal centrally-planned, no consequence world in which the world increasingly finds itself. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, there is good reason not to scare people off as the power of the word “No” in human interaction shows its psychological heft is inversely proportional to its length. From early childhood, Colas points out, we learn that “No” signifies a negative outcome, and that wiring stays with us the rest of our lives. Studies using brain-imaging scans show this in detail. Subjects who hear the words “Yes” and “no” exhibit dramatically different brain activity. “No” gets processed slightly more slowly, but with powerful negative emotion. The result is less trust and cooperation from the person who hears “No”. If that is your desired result, “No” is your word of choice. But if it isn’t, try something else.
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 15:11 -0400
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe isn’t a get-rich-quick scenario for the impatient investor: It’s a long, strategic play for the sophisticated investor who can handle no small amount of politics and geopolitics along the way. When it comes to Europe, Russia’s strategy to divide and conquer has worked so far, but Gazprom is a fragile giant that will eventually feel the pressure of LNG. Robert Bensh is an LNG and energy security expert who has over 13 years of experience with leading oil and gas companies in Ukraine. He has been involved in various roles in finance, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and government for the past 25 years. Mr. Bensh is the Managing Director and partner with Pelicourt LLC, a private equity firm focused on energy and natural resources in Ukraine.
Perhaps the miserable failure of the bear case on global equities over the past 5 years has more to do with marketing the message than anything actually wrong with the arguments for higher volatility and lower asset prices. As a reminder, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes the classic "4 P’s" of marketing are: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (Distribution), pointing out that when it comes to getting the bear case out, it is clear which component is missing: Price. Stock markets that churn higher - as they do right now - simply make it too expensive to sit out the rally. The “Product” and “Promotion” are both fine – you can read negative commentary in many reputable places and speak with very intelligent bears. That takes care of “Place” as well; it’s not hard to find cautionary investment opinions. The take-away from this approach is simple: calling the top may not be as hard as you think. The first 10% pullback may be enough to complete the 4 Ps. Until then, however, it’s just too hard a story to sell.
Argentina's attempt to work around SCOTUS decision in favor of the 'holdouts' was rejected (under anti-evasion orders) last night leaving Argentina no alternative but to threaten to default on its debt. The government called it "impossible" to pay bond service due on June 30, because payment to holders of restructured bonds could not be made unless the 'holdouts' were paid $1.33 billion at the same time (and Argentina's economy minister argues could be up to $15 bn) which the distressed country clearly does not have. For the first time in 12 years, Argentina has agreed to negotiate with the 'holdouts' (has renegged on that negotiation) who refused to participate in two restructurings that followed Argentina's 2002 default but it seems increasingly likely that an even of default looms for Argentina. One good thing may come from the victory of the 'hold-outs': the government will find it difficult to rack up more debt.
After 2 days of weakness following the SCOTUS decision against them, Argentina unveiled a plan to restructure their debt - swapping existing foreign law debt to local law (more manipulatable and less legally enforceable) bonds, though Citi warns "implementing [the swap] may be technically challenging.". This 'voluntary swap' action is not a clear 'default event' but CDS spreads surging to over 3000bps and longer-dated bond prices tumbling once again suggest the market believes the path is clear as holdouts will once again hold out. As we explained here, there are five main scenarios and it appears, given these actions - that Argentina is playing hardball and will restart negotiations over the debt exchange. As Jefferies warns, "there's a high chance of default," but Argentina's economy minister Kicillof explained "everyone stay calm, the reconstruction of Argentina is not jeopardized." This plan was then ordered in violation of the anti-evasion policy SCOTUS set in place.
Shanghai Limits Individual Purchases Of Risky Bonds As China Overtakes US As Biggest Corporate BorrowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/16/2014 22:24 -0400
With China's shadow banking system's collateral chain's collapsing amid government crackdowns on the ponzi, the 'desperate for liquidity' borrowers have increasingly turned to global capital markets' suckers to fund the next malinvestment. As China's currency becomes more internationalized and yields around the world collapse (thanks to central bank largesse), demand from investors has driven, for the first time ever, the Chinese corporate bond market has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest. As S&P warns, this is raising global credit risk as "as much as 10% of global corporate debt is exposed to the risk of a contraction in China's informal banking sector," or around $4-$5 trillion, "causing overall corporate risk to increase globally," and it's not expected to slow anytime soon. It appears the authorities are starting to recognize the bubble as they plan to 'limit individuals' purchases of risky bonds'.
While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."
Now that Q2 is not shaping up to be much better than Q1, other, mostly climatic, excuses have arisen: such as El Nino, the California drought, and even suggestions that, gasp, as a result of the Fed's endless meddling in the economy, the terminal growth rate of the world has been permanently lowered to 2% or lower. What is sadder for economists, even formerly respectable ones, is that overnight it was none other than Tyler Cowen who, writing in the New York Times, came up with yet another theory to explain the "continuing slowness of economic growth in high-income economies." In his own words: "An additional explanation of slow growth is now receiving attention, however. It is the persistence and expectation of peace." That's right - blame it on the lack of war!
As human beings, we are remarkably poor at predicting our future selves. We know that our personalities, preferences and values have certainly changed in the past, but, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas explains, we tend to dramatically underestimate what changes might be in store on these fronts in the future. That’s the upshot of a recent bit of research by Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, and it helps explain how we process decisions as varied as whether to get a tattoo or how we invest financial capital. Stasis is our default setting when it comes to considering our futures, and that lack of imagination seems to inform how much we can predict about how other people and systems will change as well. The most important takeaway: no matter how much you think your life will remain the same, you are almost certainly wrong. And the same goes for capital markets.
It appears the PBOC is hell-bent on destroying any trend idea for carry traders to jump on. After 4 days of strengthening the CNY... and sell-side strategists already jumping on the new trend bandwagon with trade recommendations, the PBOC surprised last night and weakened the currency fixing. It is clear from this action that the PBOC is serious about stopping the hot flows... the problem is, it has consequences. Last night saw China unable to sell its entire 1 year bond offering (even at a rate of 3.32% - dramatically higher than European or US short-dated debt). Copper prices have stumbled, USDJPY is fading and US equities doing the same for now as carry unwind butterflies flapping their wings in onshore CNY can cause hurricanes in global liquidity fed capital markets.