Given that this is 'officially' the worst-recovery-ever, one wonders why does the abysmally failed and dangerous monetary experimentation continue unabated — as Yellen will undoubtedly confirm at Jackson Hole? Self-evidently, it is irresistibly convenient to both Wall Street and Washington. Yet these screaming juxtapositions are lost in the recency bias of the mainstream narrative. Invariably, the “in-coming” data is tortured and rationalized to prove that just a few more doses of money and debt will do the trick. Consequently, the pattern and signal is obscured amidst the immediate noise. It is therefore perhaps useful to consider a more advanced case of this Keynesian debauch from elsewhere in the world. Consider Italy.
Even Hellicopter Ben would have balanced remarks. However, Janet Yellen has taken dovishness to an all-time high or low dpending on your perspective.
No headlines on the tape for now but suddenly the world wants out of Dollars... (world's FX traders searching for Sikorski and Putin's "sell" button)... It appears led by major JPY buying as someone just puked a huge carry trade (25,000 JPY futures contracts or around $3 billion notional).
These are two areas where the Federal Reserve might want to consider in their overall evaluation of the effectiveness of the ZIRP Experiment. I think the counterfactual case in these two examples is quite compelling.
The central banks of the world are massively and insouciantly pursuing financial instability. That’s the inherent result of the 68 straight months of zero money market rates that have been forced into the global financial system by the Fed and its confederates at the BOJ, ECB and BOE. ZIRP fuels endless carry trades and the harvesting of every manner of profit spread between negligible “funding” costs and positive yields and returns on a wide spectrum of risk assets. Stated differently, ZIRP systematically dismantles the market’s natural stability mechanisms.
But... but... the VIX said everything is ok, and European rates were the lowest they have been in centuries... How can something possibly go wrong?
It just did.
Bubbles and panic happen. A bubble is a situation where markets ignore fundamentals, even if debtors are unsound. For too long, markets failed to raise funding costs for countries with unsustainable policies. And a panic is a situation where markets also ignore fundamentals, but this time to the detriment of sound debtors.
While the situation between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, pulling the markets' attention away from the recent developments in Iraq (as for the Ukraine civil war, forget it), the big news overnight came out of Chine which reported another contraction in consumer prices, which both declined to 2.3% and missed expectations of a 2.4% print (down from 2.5%). Producer Prices had another negative print, the 28th in a row, and have remained negative since 2012. This led to the Hang Seng Index falling at the fastest rate since late June to erase all YTD gains. However, as has now become the norm, macro news hardly impacted US equity futures, which are driven exclusively by the Yen carry trade, which unlike yesterday's pounding, has traded rangebound between 101.6-101.7 keeping US equity futures just barely in the green. We expect the momentum ignition algo to kick in at some point, for absolute no fundamental reason beside the NY Fed trading desk issuing a green light, sending the USDJPY surging, taking the Spoos with them, and helping stocks forget all about the weak Asian session.
A middle of the day co-ordinated VWAP ramp (thanks to VIX) lifted stocks briefly - aftewr the Russell neared unchanged for 2014 - but the last 2 days - the worst in 3 months - pushed small caps into negative territory post-Yellen's June Fed "all-clear". All major equity indices in the US remain notably red post-payrolls. Trannies (miraculously) recovered to unch on the day. Momo names and growth-sensitive stocks have been slammed since the exuberant payroll highs of last week. Treasury yields continues to slide. with the 10Y now 7bps lower in yield post-payrolls (and stocks caught down to that reality) FX markets saw early USD weakness then stability but AUDJPY was in charge of stocks today. Despite early USD weakness, commodities were all rammed lower around the US open - only to recover 'efficiently' back to unch on the day. VIX closes at 12.15 - 3 week highs.
The man who assisted and "consulted" Gordon Brown (a man so clueless about finance he didn't and still doesn't have any idea what a carry trade is, let alone one in gold) the man who was Chief Manager of the Bank of England's reserves (all reserves) when Britain commenced its gold dumping campaign intended to, as usual, bail the big banks whose gold shorting trades had gone horribly wrong, the man - John Nugee - is the same man tasked with making the London gold fix fair, efficient, transparent and unrigged. One can't make this up.
July 4th may be a US national holiday, which means the S&P 500 won't hit a record high on good news and a recorder high on bad, but judging by global trading volumes - already abysmal heading into today - one may as well give the entire world a day off. However, for now, global equities have come off the impressive, and curiously schizophrenic US-data inspired gains of yesterday which sent the DJIA over 17,000 yet which has resulted in an almost unchanged 10Y Treasury print since before the NFP release. Once again bonds and stocks agree to disagree.
Whether it is Draghi's jawboning - which has slammed EURUSD back to 1.36, juicing the carry trade (in spite of his concerns) - or the better-than-expected payrolls data, US equities are surging and so are bond yields. The initial reaction to the good news was a selloff in stocks but that was quickly recovered as USDJPY lifted all stops through 102 and saved the day and the meme that all is well in the world. Treasury yields are up 3bp (long-end) to 6bps (short-end) as rate-hike expectations shift from July 2015 to June 2015. Gold and silver were slammed into the print and have rallied since.
There is far less on the ECB table today compared to a month ago when expectations were massive and Draghi didn't fail to satisfy (with the usual set of half-baked, non-existant programs a la the OMT which still doesn't technically exist, 2 years after it was first revealed) and nobody expects any major announcements out of Mario Draghi. If anything, the market hopes the ECB head will use the press conference today to elaborate on the missing technicalities of the TLTRO. With inflation printing at 0.5% again, concerns of deflation will likely be mentioned once again. When it comes to the EUR reaction, the most bearish case would be for Draghi to discuss QE, and providing details of how a bond monetization operation would look like. More than the EURUSD, a bigger risk lies for peripheral bonds which are at risk if Draghi unveils details of TLTRO today that could hurt the periphery carry trade.
"The Japan Trade is in trouble," warns BofA's Macneil Curry (and rightly so after this week's utter collapse in Japanese data and Abe's soaring disapproval rating). Over the course of the past week both USDJPY and the Nikkei have broken key technical levels which point to further substantial downside in the weeks ahead.
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.