How do we know when an asset class is in a bubble? When everyone who stands to benefit from the continuation of the expansion declares it can't be a bubble.
If the big hope propelling both ES and S&P cash over 2,000 was the Ukraine-Russian talks, leading to some de-escalation and a thawing of Russian-German conditions, then it was clearly a dud. As the WSJ reports, "face-to-face talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents failed to produce a breakthrough for ending the conflict over eastern Ukraine, as Kiev released videos of captured Russian soldiers and rebels pushed toward a government-held city. The one-on-one session, which Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko described as "tough and complex," ended early Wednesday after a day of talks on the crisis in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Mr. Poroshenko said afterward that he would prepare a "road map" toward a possible cease-fire with the pro-Russia separatists." In other words, absolutely no progress. There was however escalation, when overnight the September Bund future rose as much as 36 ticks to 151.18, after Poland PM Tusk said “regular” Russian troops are operating in eastern Ukraine. And so we are back to square one, with concerns over Russia pushing European bonds to new record highs, in turn leading to more US Treasury buying, while a brand new rumor of more easing from the ECB, this time by Deutsche Bank, has propped up European equities, which like US futures are trading water around the critical 2000 level.
The fourth (or is it fifth?) dead cat bounce in the US housing market is rapidly fading, as we just confirmed by the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index data for the month of June, which saw a Y/Y increase in home prices of just 8.07%, below the 8.3% expected, and the slowest increase since December 2012. As the report noted, "for the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month." On a monthly basis, the NSA index, Case-Shiller's preferred, rose by 1.0% for the 10 and 20-City composite, with the Seasonally Adjusted composite declining for the second consecutive month: the last time there were two consecutive monthly declines during a price declining phase was in late 2010.
- That will teach the UAE who's boss: U.S. Won’t Consult Syria on Militant Strikes: White House (BBG)
- Putin Set to Meet Poroshenko as Ukraine Tensions Escalate (BBG)... but the de-escalation algo?
- Tim Hortons’ Canadian Fans Squeamish of American Hookup (BBG)
- Israeli air strikes target more Gaza high-rises (Reuters)
- How Steve Ballmer Became a Rookie Basketball Mogul (WSJ)
- Buffett to Help Finance Burger King Tax-Saving Deal (BBG)
- U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals (WSJ)
- Boehner, Camp Profit From Corporate Bid to Avoid U.S. Tax (BBG)
- Experimental U.S. hypersonic weapon destroyed seconds after launch (Reuters)
- The Neo-Neocons (WSJ)
But it was supposed to be the weather? S&P/Case-Shiller home prices dropped in May and missed expectations for the 2nd month in a row. Against a forecast rise on 0.3%, prices dropped in May by 0.3% - the biggest drop since December 2011. It appears we are going to need more Chinese hot money flow buyers. Of note, while in April Case-Shiller reported only 5 cities out of the tracked 20 posting sequential price declines, in May this number has soared to 14. And so the fourth dead cat bounce in housing appears to be over.
- EU finalises Russian sanctions as BP warns of impact on business (FT)
- Geopolitical Risk Rises for Global Investors (BBG)
- Jaded Argentines brace for looming debt default (Reuters)
- In Argentina, Mix of Money and Politics Stirs Intrigue Around Kirchner (WSJ)
- Mom ‘Trusting God’ for Ebola-Infected U.S. Doctor’s Life (BBG)
- Thanks NSA: Tech Companies Reel as NSA's Spying Tarnishes Reputations (BBG)
- Goldman unit eyes foray into China amid metals financing scandal (Reuters)
- Cash out time: London’s Gherkin Tower Offered for Sale by Its Lenders (BBG)
- Apenomics strikes again: McDonald’s Japan axes profit guidance amid food safety scandal (FT)
- Do you see what happens Larry when you are the only USDJPY bid? Nomura Profit Falls More Than Estimated on Broking Slump (BBG)
Then comes the moment when the hot money evaporates.
There is a reason why Case-Shiller titled its summary presentation of the April housing market based on its 20-City Composite index "Rate of Home Price Gains Drop Sharply." The reason is simple: in April the housing market, while still preserving some upward momentum, appears to stumbled severely in April, with the Y/Y increase in the 20-City composite rising "only" 10.8%, down from 12.37% the month before, and the lowest annual increase since April of 2013. And this time there is no snow to blame it on.
- The Kerry Konfusion Kontinues: Kerry urges Kurds to save Iraq from collapse (Reuters)
- Abe Unveils Japan’s New Growth Strategy (WSJ)
- Because the recovery: Avon to Cut 600 Jobs as CEO McCoy Seeks to Trim Expenses (BBG)
- Iraqi Parties Pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Step Down (WSJ)
- Ukraine Rebels Call Cease-Fire to Match Government Truce (BBG)
- IRS accused of obstruction over lost emails in Tea Party affair (Reuters)
- IRS chief scorched as 'liar' (WND)
- Big Investors Missed Stock Rally (WSJ)
- U.K. Jury Finds Coulson Guilty of Conspiracy to Intercept Phone Voice-Mail Messages (WSJ)
- HSBC to halve countries served by private bank, sells assets (Reuters)
- Bond Market Has $900 Billion Mom-and-Pop Problem When Rates Rise (BBG)
Judging by the surprising reversal in futures overnight, which certainly can not be attributed to the latest data miss out of Europe in the form of the June German IFO Business Climate report (print 109.7, Exp. 110.3, Last 110.4) as it would be naive to assume that centrally-planned markets have finally started to respond as they should to macro data, it appears that algos, with their usual 24 hour delay, have finally discovered Dubai on the map. The same Dubai, which as we showed yesterday had just entered a bear market in a few short weeks after going turbo parabolic in early 2014. It is this Dubai which crashed another 8% just today, as fears that leveraged traders are liquidating positions, have surfaced and are spreading, adversely (because in the new normal this needs to be clarified) to other risk assets, while at the same time pushing gold and silver to breakout highs. Recall that it was Dubai where the global sovereign crisis started in the fall of 2009 - will Dubai also be the place where the first domino of the global credit bubble topples and takes down the best laid plans of central-planners and men?
It has gotten beyond ridiculous: a few short hours ago the yield on the 10 Year bond tumbled to a fresh low of 2.49% (and currently just off the lows at 2.50%), wiping out all of yesterday's "jump" on better than expected Durables and leading to renewed concerns about the terminal rate, deflation and how slow the US economy will truly grow. Amusingly, this happened just as US equity futures printed overnight highs. Doubly amusing: this also happened roughly at the same time as Spanish 10 Year yields dropped to a record low of 2.827%, or about 30 bps wider than the US (moments after Spain announced that loan creation in the country has once again resumed its downward trajectory and a tumble in retail deposits to levels not seen since 2008). Triply amusing: this also happened just about when Germany had yet another technically uncovered 30 Year Bund issuance, aka failed auction. So yes: nothing makes sense anymore which is precisely what one would expect in broken, rigged and centrally-planned markets (incidentally those scrambling to explain with events in bond world where one appears to buy bonds to hedge long equity exposure, are directed to the minute of the Japanese GPIF pension fund which announced it would buy junk-rated bonds to boost returns - good luck to Japanese pensioners).
The housing "recovery" since 2010 can be summarized in four phrases: diminishing returns, unprecedented central state/bank intervention, unintended consequences, end-game. The unintended consequences of the Fed's unprecedented interventions will rip the heart and lungs out of the housing market
Following the fourth consecutive decline in home prices as reported by Case Shiller (remember, it was the weather), it was inevitable that in the last month of Q1, when the weather warmed up and when Americans went on a spending spree that took their savings rate to the lowest since 2009, home prices, those tracked by the Case Shiller index, would post a rebound. Which they did: According to the just released Top 20 City Composite Index, home prices bounced by 0.88%, higher than expected, with the composite printing at 166.80, more than the 166.23 forecast, following fourth consecutive sequential declines. This represented a better than expected 12.37% annual price increase, even if the pace of annual price increases appears to be slowing: this was the lowest annual price increase since August.
- Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks (Reuters)
- SEC Set to Spur Exchange Trading (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan quietly eyes stimulus exit (Reuters)
- Japan Risks Low Growth Even as Easing Spurs Inflation (BBG)
- Hello Japan: Bond Market Message to Fed: Your 4% Rate Outlook Is Too High (BBG)
- Malaysia, UK firm release satellite data on missing MH370 flight (Reuters)
- Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine city, dozens dead (Reuters)
- Bad Credit No Problem as Balance-Sheet Bombs Rally 94% (BBG)
- Draghi’s Asset-Backed Drive Rouses Academic Skeptics (BBG)
- For-Profit Colleges Face Test From State, Federal Officials (WSJ)
The melt up is accelerating and with the momentum tailwind back, newsflow is once again irrelevant: any news that are even remotely good are trumpeted, and any bad news - such as Europe's right storm rising in the northern states, and left storm surge in the states that demand more handouts from the northern states or China sinking a Vietnamese boat, the most serious bilateral incident since 2007 - are once again (and as usual) nothing more than a catalyst for even more liquidity injections. End result: the S&P futures this morning are 5 points above Goldman's year end target of 1900 and 45 points away from its June 30, 2015 target. Can this breakneck scramble on zero volume continue until Grantham's bubble peak level of 2,200 is hit? Well of course: after all anything goes in the centrally-planned new normal. To be sure, this is an equity only phenomenon: moments ago the Bund future hit its highest level since May 19, while the 10 Year remains unchanged at 2.53% as it continues to price in the new "deflationary" (and Japanese) normal. And as has been the case during all such divergences of late, either bonds or equities are making a horrible mistake: the question remains: who? Since all equities are doing is tracking FX pairs to the pip and have completely forgotten all about fundamentals, we have a pretty good idea what the answer is.