It has been a quiet start to Quadruple Witching Friday (expiration of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures) but expect that to change, as erratic price action is a recurring hallmark of Quad Witches, especially with persistent low volume and markets that tend to shut down for no reason. So far stocks have traded steady in Europe this morning, credit spreads widened and Bunds traded in positive territory as market participants positioned for the much-anticipated German elections which are to be held on Sunday, with exit polls to be made available after the close of polling stations at 6pm local time. Ahead of that, and as reported here previously, Germany’s AfD Eurosceptic party could win enough support in the general election on Sunday to gain seats in the German Bundestag, an opinion poll published for a leading newspaper has forecast for the first time. Basic materials and utilities underperformed in Europe, with RWE trading sharply lower in Germany after the company announced plans to cut its dividend by half (and with the Adidas fiasco yesterday, one wonders just how bad things in Europe really are).
Now that the market has had a day to digest the Summers news, its conclusion is still the same: the man who deregulated and was on Wall Street's payroll for years (when he was not busy micromismanaging Harvard's endowment) and yet was somehow supposed to be Wall Street negative by bearing "hawkish", would have been bad for stocks. And while there was not a correction per se associated with the Summers' appointment or rumor thereof, the fact that he is now out, is even more bullish for stocks, and the correction that never was, can be uncorrected, sending stocks to new record highs, and all EM trades which had unwound modestly on fears of an end of the Fed carry trade, are getting rewound, even as gold has retraced all gains since the Friday fixing because while Yellen is pro-printish, she too is expected to be able to unwind any resurgent inflation in precisely "15 minutes." Here is what else is being said.
In a desperate need to keep the spice flowing into the commission-takers' pockets, any and every excuse is being pulled out of the hat for why interest-rates are rising and why Emerging Markets are collapsing; apart from the most obvious - that the market is terrified of the end of the 'flow' of Fed liquidity. The following chart suggests otherwise. While correlation is not causation (but it suggests you're close), the relationship between "Taper" fears and global bond yields is clear as the global Fed carry trade unwind accelerates.
1:1 In the beginning, Ben Bernanke hath said, let there be liquidity.
1:6 And so each among them sayeth the following benediction: “May the Fed bless you and keep you; may the Fed extend its balance sheet to shine upon you; and may the Fed lift up asset prices and protect you from harm”
Financial Times: "World Is Doomed To An Endless Cycle Of Bubble, Financial Crisis And Currency Collapse"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 09:37 -0500
It's funny: nearly five years ago, when we first started, and said that the world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse as long as the Fed is around, most people laughed: after all they had very serious reputations aligned with a broken and terminally disintegrating economic lie. With time some came to agree with our viewpoint, but most of the very serious people continued to laugh. Fast forward to last night when we read, in that very bastion of very serious opinions, the Financial Times, the following sentence: "The world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse." By the way, the last phrase can be written in a simpler way: hyperinflation. But that's not all: when the FT sounds like the ZH, perhaps it is time to turn off the lights. To wit: "A stable international financial system has eluded the world since the end of the gold standard." Q.E.D.
Despite the best efforts of the efficient and idiotic things we call the US equity markets - which exhibited the kind of epic VIX smashfest into the close - the Dow was unable to be rescued from its 3rd red week in a row (the first in 9 months). The S&P closed above its 50DMA (at the highs of the week) with a late-day scramble (but Nasdaq ends the week +1.7%). So a very mixed bag for stocks and the USD (thanks to today's post-home-sales dumpfest) ends the week unchanged. The real story of the day (and week) though is precious metals and bonds. The 30Y bond's best week in a month and best day in 5 months wa snotable but perhaps more so, while the entire complex ripped lower in yield as the un-taper un-housing-recovery data hit, the flattening of the 5s30s spread is extreme. Gold and Silver spiked on the home-sales data ending the week up notably. The VIX-compression into the close ended at 14.00% for the biggest 2-day drop in 2 months.
With the better-than-expected trade deficit confirming Taper is closer and IBM (following Credit Suisse downgrade) weighing on the Dow (knocking 32 points off), US equity markets are struggling this morning. Treasuries are leaking higher in yield and gold, silver, and oil are all sliding quckly post the data this morning. Perhaps most interesting is the deja vu underperformance of the high-yield credit and Japanese stock markets recently as JPY carry unwinds (a la Taper tantrum) re-emerge (and US equities - as they did the last time - are the last to get the joke).
Those who follow the mainstream media’s “all Federal Reserve, all the time” coverage of financial news naturally conclude that Senator Chuck Schumer neatly summarized reality last year when he declared that the Federal Reserve “is the only game in town.” This lemming-like belief in the power of the Federal Reserve generates its own psychological force field, of course; the actual power of the Fed is superseded by the belief in its power. The widespread belief in the Fed’s omnipotence is the source of the Fed’s power to move markets. We can thus anticipate widespread disbelief at the discovery that the Fed is either irrelevant or an impediment to the non-asset-bubble parts of the economy. There is much we, as individuals, can do to ignore the Emperor's clothes (or lack thereof) and focus on how to pursue our own prosperity and happiness irrespective of the meddling of central planners. The real power is in our hands, should we choose to believe it.
Liquidity Update: Record High Deposits, Fed Reserves And Foreign Bank Cash; Fed Owns 31% Of Treasury MarketSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/27/2013 12:39 -0500
Bored with the constant daily speculation about who may be the Fed's next head (short answer: whoever Goldman says), and more interested with the actual liquidity dynamics that the next Chairman (or Bernanke, as his departure is far from certain) will have to deal with? Here is the latest.
A month ago we showed the chart that we suspect scared Bernanke straight and required his verbal intervention to de-froth the US Treasury market. The huge surge in 'fails-to-deliver' in the US Treasury market meant something was very wrong as this critical indicator of both collateral shortages and technical carry trade unwinds was flashing a very angry red (and as Barclays notes "was ready to feed upon itself"). Bernanke's jawboning provided just the right amount of concern at the Taper that the market began to clear a little and 'fails' have been reduced (though we note are rising once again as un-Taper exuberance returns). The problem is - exactly the same critical dilemma is now hitting the JGB market and as JPMorgan warns, the sharp rise in fails in June suggests that there is perhaps more stress in the JGB market than that conveyed by the recent stability of JGB yields.
The ongoing fight between Elliott Capital (et al, i.e., "the holdouts") and Argentina may moved to the backburner recently as the topic of sovereign bond impairment is not as actual today as it was a year ago (it will be again soon once the European double bluff of OMT and Japan's carry trade finally fizzle and European political crises return) nor have any Argentinian ships been confiscated recently by the multi-billion hedge fund, but that does not mean it is any less relevant or has any less implications for the global sovereign debt market. But while global consensus had largely been largely against Argentina in its treatment of holdouts, that may soon change in a very dramatic manner with a new and very unexpected entrant, one supporting the Argentinian position, and for all the wrong reasons too: the US president.
Another day, another 3-sigma swing in one of the biggest and most important FX carry-trades. AUDJPY is collapsing this morning as the smell of leveraged trades being tapped on the shoulder is all too fresh. Critically, carry trades are predicated on leveraging low returns in a low-volatility world; the shocks from a few weeks ago saw carry unwinds en masse - but all it took was a handful of Fed officials and Draghi/Carney's chatter and they are backing up the truck of the carry-express once again - that is until yesterday when the Minutes and Bernanke stepped up the currency wars once again. This kind of incredible volatility - unless everyone in the world is now a non-MtM trader - means fewer carry trades (or perhaps just a shift to another leveragable position).
Just more meangingless drivel form a clueless, paid for rating agency (which recently disclosed it would plead "puffery" in its defense against the US lawsuit) now that the ECB is intent on actually lowering the EURUSD, because unlike last year, there is no (immediate) fear of redenomination risk as a result of a sliding EURUSD. Thank you Japanese carry trade.
It can't happen... It can't happen...It can't happen... It just happened.
On occasion of an address to economists at a conference in France, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann reminded the audience that 'the ECB cannot solve the crisis', because it is due to structural reasons and therefore requires structural reform. Weidmann rightly fears that governments will begin to postpone or even stop their reform efforts now that the ECB has managed to calm markets down. In a Reuters article on the topic, a number of people are quoted remarking on ECB policy. What is so interesting about this is how far removed from reality general perceptions are when it comes to judging current central bank policies. In short, Weidmann wants to end the three card Monte, whereby commercial banks buy the bonds issued by governments because they don't have to put any capital aside for the purpose, which bonds they then can in turn pawn off to the central bank for refinancing purposes. Weidmann wants to see the connection between banks and sovereigns severed, a connection that has been fostered by governments over many centuries in order to enable them to spend more than they take in through tax revenues.