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 10:37 -0400
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.
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the power of the Federal Reserve generates its own psychological force field, of course; the actual power of the Fed is superseded by the belief in its power.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 13:39 -0400
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.
The first news overnight came from the RBA which kept the target cash rate at 2.75% and following a warning that the AUD remains at a high levels (despite falling 10%), saw various AUD pairs slide. Which meant that all those correlation desks which had linked their rising ES signals to the AUDJPY and AUDUSD, would have to promptly recalibrate and find something else to "carry" them higher. That something was the Yen, as the USDJPY once again rose to just shy of the 100 resistance area, in the process pushing the Penikkeistock higher by 1.8% and above 14k, to 14,099 to be precise. Supposedly the Yen carry trade is back and all good again, or until such time as the 10 year hits 1% and the entire farce is repeated once more. However, at least Abenomics has bought itself a few weeks reprieve for the time being.
Following the Friday plunge in the ISM-advance reading Chicago PMI, it was a night of more global manufacturing data, which started off modestly better than expected with Japanese Tankan data, offset by a continuing decline in Chinese PMIs (which in a good old tradition expanded and contracted at the same time depending on whom one asked). Then off to Europe where we got the final print of the June PMI which continued the trend recent from both the flash and recent historical readings of improvement in the periphery, and deterioration in the core. At the individual level, Italy PMI rose to 49.1, on expectations of 47.8, up from 47.3; while Spain hit 50 for the first time in years, up from 48.1, with both highest since July and April 2011 respectively. In the core French PMI rose to a 16-month high of 48.4 from 48.3, however German PMI continued to disappoint slowing from 48.7, where it was expected to print, to 48.6. To the market all of the above spelled one thing: Risk On... at least until some Fed governor opens their mouth, or some US data comes in better than expected, thus making the taper probability higher.
Despite best effort to immunize banks from rate swings and debt MTM risk, a substantial amount of duration exposure has remained with the glorified hedge funds known as FDIC-insured bank holdings companies under the designation of “Available For Sale” (AFS) or those which due to their explicit short-term trading fate, would have to be subject to mark to market moves. It is the bottom line impact of these securities that threatens to crush bank earnings in the just concluded second quarter by an amount that could be as large as $25 (or more) billion.
Here's my take on the key events for investors in the week ahead, with an attempt to place them in a somewhat larger context.