If anyone is still not convinced that surging stock bourses in Europe are indicative of anything more than central bank liquidity, carry trade allocation and localized asset bubbles, we present a snapshot of what is actually happening on the ground via Italy's Ansa: "It's a massacre," said Confesercenti President Marco Venturi. "Each day 134 shops, restaurants and bars close in recession-hit Italy, retail association Confesercenti said on Wednesday. Confesercenti, which represents small and medium-sized businesses in the retail and tourism sectors, said 224,000 enterprises had closed their shutters since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008.
When the S&P, always so conveniently ahead of the curve, yesterday revised its forecast for Europe from growth in the second half of 2013 to 2014 one couldn't help but golf clap, as well as wonder if they finally started looking at the fundamental depressionary reality on the ground instead of the rating agency's infamous "models." A depressionary reality confirmed by the latest car sales number for May which just hit a fresh 20 year low.
We have discussed the idea of a VaR shock (driven by Abe/Kuroda's loss of control) a number of times recently but as Saxo's Steen Jakobsen fears, reality is about to hit as the marginal cost of capital normalizes. The world, so far, has been kept in artificial equilibrium by the way quantitative easing (QE) and fiscal policies bring support and endless liquidity to the 20 percent of the economy that mostly comprises large and already profitable companies and banks with good credit and good political access. The premise for supporting these companies is based on the non-existent wealth effect which unfairly culminates in supporting the haves to the detriment of the have-nots. However, as Jakobsen notes below, things are rapidly changing; the recent increase in yields has happened despite no real improvement in the underlying data. The the next few days are potential major game changers – the bloated VaRs will make people hedge and over hedge, and the normalization process of rising risk premiums and higher real rates (higher yield plus lower inflation) will lead to more selling off of those trades that have "worked so far"... and increase volatility in their own right.
The Plight Of Europe's Banking Sector, Its €650 Billion State Guarantee, And The "Urgent Need" To RecapitalizeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2013 12:37 -0400
Since the topic of quantifying how big the sovereign assistance to assorted banks - both in Europe and the US (which Bloomberg calculated at $83 billion per year) - has become a daily talking point, we are happy to read that Harald Benink and Harry Huizinga have reached the same conclusion as us in their VOX analysis, and further have shown that in Europe the implicit banking sector guarantee by the state is a whopping €650 billion. "Europe has postponed the recapitalisation of its banking sector for far too long. And, without such a recapitalisation, the danger is that economic stagnation will continue for a long period, thereby putting Europe on a course towards Japanese-style inertia and the proliferation of zombie banks... Banks are already saddled with ample unrecognised losses on their assets, estimated by many observers to be at least several hundreds of billions of euros and mirrored by low share price valuations, and an additional loss of their present funding advantage will be crippling."
It is a fact that COMEX gold inventories are falling and silver inventories are rising. Why and does this help predict the next price move?
As we got closer to June 11/12, the date when the German Constitutional Court will conduct a public hearing on the various challenges to the ESM and OMT, the ECB would have no choice but to disclose more details about the real terms of the OMT to assure smooth passage of the OMT, and not to jeopardize the tenuous balance in Europe where things are once again going bump in the night with bond yields suddenly blowing wider on fears the Japanese bond carry trade is set to unwind... The first such notable detail comes courtesy of the FAZ this morning, which "in fear of the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court, the European Central Bank (ECB) has revealed for the first time the boundaries of their controversial bond buying program... ECB President Mario Draghi announced last year, if necessary, that unlimited government bonds of distressed euro countries would be monetized to save the euro. Meanwhile, however, the central bank has limited this program to a maximum volume of €524 billion and also communicated this to the court." This is the maximum allowable purchases of Spanish, Italian, Irish and Portuguese bonds.
Treasuries appear to be shrugging off the Taper talk in favor of safe-haven status as they rally 6-7bps - the best yield compression since mid-February. US equity markets did not close off the lows (as the Nikkei is within 45 points of the dreaded bear market 20% correction level). Credit markets anxiety yesterday bled through today and they led stocks lower (with no Hindenburg Omen today). The VIX term structure bear-flattened dramatically as the 'picking-up-nickels-in-front-of-the-steamroller' trade finally got its fingers caught - the front-end of the curve smashed higher and is now at its flattest to the midcurve in 2013. The USD weakened as JPY was bid (and AUD sold hard) amid heavy carry unwinds. Volume was heavy today but the selling was very broad-based across the sectors (homebuilders remain worst on the week). The Dow ended with its biggest points drop in almost two months - no buy-the-dip-mentality victory today eh Maria?
Global Risk Off: Nikkei Plunges 700 Points From Intraday Highs, Whisper Away From 20% Bear Market CorrectionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/05/2013 06:50 -0400
Anyone expecting Abe to announce definitive, material growth reform instead of vague promises to slay a "deflation monster" last night was sorely disappointed. The country's PM, who may once again be reaching for the Immodium more and more frequently, said the government aims for 3% average growth over the next decade and 2% real growth, raising per capita income by JPY 1.5 million. The market laughed outright in the face of this IMF-type silly vagueness (as well as the amusing assumption that Abe will be still around in 7 years), which left untouched the most critical aspect of Abenomics: energy, and nuclear energy to be specific, and sent the USDJPY plummeting well below the 100 support line, printing 99.55 at last check. But more importantly, after surging briefly at the opening of the second half of trading to mask a feeble attempt at telegraphing the "all is well", it rolled over with a savage ferocity plunging 700 points from an intraday high of 13,711 to just above 13,000 at the lows: yet another 5% intraday swing in a market which is now flatly laughing at the BOJ's "price stability" mandate. Tonight's drop has extended the plunge from May 23 to 18.4% meaning just 1.6% lower and Japan officially enters a bear market.
All traders walking in today, have just one question in their minds: "will today be lucky 21?" or the 21st consecutive Tuesday in which the Dow Jones has closed green.
All else is irrelevant.
Now that the BOJ's "interventionalism" in the capital markets is increasingly losing steam, as the soaring realized volatility in equity and bond markets squarely puts into question its credibility and its ability to enforce its core mandate (which, according to the Bank of Japan Act "states that the Bank's monetary policy should be aimed at achieving price stability, thereby contributing to the sound development of the national economy) Japan is left with one wildcard: the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), which as of December 31 held some ¥111.9 trillion in assets, of which ¥67.3 trillion, or 60.1% in Japanese Government Bonds. Perhaps more importantly, the GPIF also held "just" ¥14.5 trillion in domestic stocks, or 12.9% of total, far less than the minimum allocation to bonds (current floor of 59%). It is this massive potential buying dry powder that has led to numerous hints in the press (first in Bloomberg in February, then in Reuters last week, and then in the Japanese Nikkei this morning all of which have been intended to serve as a - brief - risk-on catalyst) that a capital reallocation in the GPIF is imminent to allow for much more domestic equity buying, now that the threat of the BOJ's open-ended QE is barely sufficient to avoid a bear market crash in the Nikkei in under two weeks.
There are some problems, however.
While the new normal knee-jerk reaction to the dismal ISM print was the bad-is-good surge in buying, it seems reality is setting in...
"Markets Under The Spell Of Monetary Easing" Bank Of International Settlements Finds... Same As "Then"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/02/2013 21:17 -0400
Over three months ago in "South Korea Starts Currency War Rumblings; Has Japan In Its Sights" we showed that the one nation with the biggest sensitivity to Japan's currency-destructive and export-promoting Abenomics policy is its close neighbor, South Korea. With nearly 60% of SK's entire GDP deriving from net exports, every percent drop in its trade balance result in a more than 0.5% hit to GDP: more than any nation in the world. And since South Korea and Japan compete for the same export end markets, there would be no bigger loser in a zero trade sum world than Seoul. However now that Abenomics is in its sixth month, and South Korea's max export pain threshold has been reached, the country no longer will stay silent. As the FT reports, "South Korea has warned that G8 leaders need to do more to tackle the “unintended consequences” of Japan’s monetary easing when they gather for a summit later this month amid mounting concerns about the knock-on effects of a weaker yen. In an interview, Hyun Oh-seok, the South Korean finance minister and deputy prime minister, said that international co-ordinated action was needed to mitigate the impact of so-called “Abenomics” on currency markets."
a brief sketch.
Both VIX and credit markets decoupled to the downside soon after Europe closed as equities clambered higher amid lower and lower volumes. As we headed into the last hour though both markets snapped higher to catch up to stocks and that mini-capitulation seemed enough for the equity rally to run out of steam. With the JPY strengthening all day, equities ignored the message of the carry traders until the close - when a big sell-side imbalance (and reality) smacked stocks lower to catch down to the all-important VWAP level once again. The USD saw its worst two-days since Oct 2011 giving up 3 weeks of gains. Gold and Silver are up nicely on the week (1.6 to 2%), outperforming today. Equities still managed gains on the day (despite the late-day tumble) and (oddly) Treasuries also ended very marginally in the green. The last few minutes of the day - normally kept open for some levitating algo to save the day - was a cliff-dive as news of FX margin controls on the all-important JPY carry driver smashed all risk-assets lower.