Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?
Remember how small Greece was and how it wasn't relevant to US stocks... until suddenly it got close to breaking up the EU and the world's markets slumped. Remember how small subprime was? Remember how Lehman was not a 'big' bank? We hear the same "why would that impact us?" chatter now about the China rehypothecation scandal and we suspect the outcome will be just as dramatic a "whocouldanode" moment for many. The problem, as this chart so simply explains, is "more warrants than the volume of the underlying physical commodities have been issued in the repo business" and that is a problem for every foreign bank that was tempted into China's carry trade (which is "every" bank).
Stocks have not "reached a permanently high plateau" nor will "this time be different." As with all late cycle bull markets, irrationality by investors in the financial markets is not new nor will it end any differently than it has in the past. However, it is also important to realize that these late cycle stages of bull markets can last longer, and become even more irrational, than logic would dictate. Understanding the bullish arguments is surely important, however, the risk to investors is not a continued rise in price, but the eventual reversion that will occur. Unfortunately, since most individuals are only told to consider the "bull case," they never see the "train coming."
Earlier today something happened which we haven't seen since a very brief period of time in 2010, and then going all the way back to 2007: Spanish 10 Year bond yields tumbled below those on US 10 Year Treasurys. So is this an indication that the Spanish bond market is suddenly safer, and more credible than that of the US? Of course not. All we are seeing is merely the manifestation of the latest ECB carry trade pushing local banks not to lend the ECB's cheap money out to consumers, but to engage in yet another Draghi-subsidized carry trade.
On the heels of growing contagion concerns regarding shadow banking collateral and the "rehypothecation evaporation" and this weekend's 'odd' Chinese trade data (big drop in imports, no doubt impacted by dramatic commodity invoicing swings), the PBOC has fixed the Chinese currency 0.36% in the last 2 days... the biggest strengthening in the currency since October 2012. It is unclear for now exactly what is going on but we suspect the panic button outflows as banks pull credit and unwind CCFDs are forcing China's hand to offset CNY selling pressure... and of course China does it in grand style.
As we noted in the pre-open, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well' and sure enough Goldman Sachs' S&P 500 Target for June 2015 was 1950, we just reached it 11 months early (1949.25 highs to be exact). Their corresponding target for 10Y yields at that level of S&P is 3.50% (so we are 90bps lower) and earnings expectations to support that price was $120 per share (dramatically higher than the current level). Goldman's 2014 Target is 3% lower than the current level. Nothing to see here, move along...
If predicting yesterday's EURUSD (and market) reaction to the ECB announcement was easy enough, today's reaction to the latest "most important ever" nonfarm payrolls number (because remember: with the Fed getting out of market manipulation, if only for now, it is imperative that the economy show it can self-sustain growth on its own even without $85 billion in flow per month, which is why just like the ISM data earlier this week, the degree of "seasonal adjustments" are about to blow everyone away) should be just as obvious: since both bad news and good news remain "risk-on catalysts", and since courtesy of Draghi's latest green light to abuse any and every carry trade all risk assets will the bought the second there is a dip, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well. It certainly was overnight, when the S&P500 rose to new all time highs despite another 0.5% drop in the Shcomp (now barely holding on above 2000), and a slight decline in the Nikkei (holding on just over 15,000).
Will volatility become a policy tool? The PBOC decided that enough was enough with the ever-strengthening Yuan and are trying to gently break the back of the world's largest carry trade by increasing uncertainty about the currency. As Citi's Stephen Englander notes, this somewhat odd dilemma (of increasing uncertainty to maintain stability) is exactly what the rest of the world's planners need to do - Central banks will need more FX and asset market volatility in order to provide low rates for an extended period... here's why.
It was interesting over the last couple of days to watch a series of both hosts and analysts scratching their heads and fumbling for answers over the recent decline in interest rates. After all, how could this be with inflation creeping up due to much stronger economic growth? More importantly, asset prices are clearly telling investors to get out of bonds as the "great rotation" is upon us as we launch into this new secular bull market, right? The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered, wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically.
Since so many people are still slightly confused about how all the pieces come together in this move lower in yields, we feel the need to add some follow-up commentary.
The complete implosion in volume and vol, not to mention bond yields continues, and appears to have spilled over into events newsflow where overnight virtually nothing happened, or at least such is the algos' complete disregard for any real time headlines that as bond yields dropped to fresh record lows in many countries and the US 10Y sliding to a 2.3% handle, confused US equity futures have recouped almost all their losses from yesterday despite a USDJPY carry trade which has once again dropped to the 101.5 level, and are set for new record highs. Perhaps they are just waiting for today's downward revision in Q1 GDP to a negative print before blasting off on their way to Jeremy Grantham's 2,200 bubble peak after which Bernanke's Frankenstein market will finally, mercifully die.
Our response to a question asked by CNBC-- “Why if everybody is talking about inflation is the bond market not moving?
S&P (futures over 1900 for first time), Dow, and Nasdaq futures markets are all pressing new higher-highs this morning on the heels of Europe's dismal election news overnight. Helped early on by JPY weakness, stocks now have a mind of their own and have disconnected from an unchanged Treasury futures market (cash is closed) and a fading EURJPY/USDJPY carry trade. European peripheral bonds are the must-have asset of the day with Portuguese bonds particularly loved. Italian stocks are the high-beta idiot-maker trade today (+2.8%).
The chaps at General Motors must be breathing a small sigh of relief this morning as they are not the biggest 'recaller' headline of the day. Office Depot has decided to take some pressure off them...
- *OFFICE DEPOT RECALLING ABOUT 1.4M CHAIRS ON FALL HAZARD
- *OFFICE DEPOT HAS RECEIVED 153 REPORTS OF SEAT PLATE BREAKING
- *OFFICE DEPOT RECEIVED 25 REPORTS CONTUSIONS, ABRASIONS, INJURY
- *OFFICE DEPOT SAYS INJURY REPORT INCLUDED FRACTURED BACK, HIP
The chairs were manufactured in China. The great news - for those not suffering broken backs, hips, or contusions - ODP will offer a merchandise credit of $55 (a 37.5% gain over the price of the $40 chair)... we smell a carry trade.
To compare Japanese and European bond yields in order to justify an argument for US bond yields staying historically low once the Federal Reserve is completely out of bond buying is a failed comparison.