On this lonely blustery day, with US equity markets closed, long-only managers around the US can go peacefully back to sleep as 'Kevin' has got our back. S&P futures (ES) managed a glorious ramp into the 915ET close to confirm a close above the vertically challenged 1400 level. Volume, as one would expect, is dismal but the 6500 contracts that ran thru in the last 2 minutes makes perfect sense (to someone we are sure). The equity futures market was on its own in this rampapalooza, as Treasuries slid to the lowest yields in two weeks, USD strengthened, and commodities dropped - all leaving ES significantly divergent from CONTEXT (broad risk-assets). Nothing but another episode of illegally Banging the Close (but don't hold your breath for the regulators to prosecute anyone, least of all the Liberty 33 residents) with your friendly New York Fed (and Citadel). Gold is higher - even with the USD up 0.25%.
There are two countries that are going to give you a whopper of a headache in the coming months. We are leaving Greece to the side for a moment because that country could provide a heart attack and necessitate bypass surgery as the Troika fiddles while Athens burns. We are just waiting to see what is agreed to for Greece and then how the citizens of that country respond but the home of Democracy is not the only place that could ratchet out of control; keep your eyes on Spain and France. Yes, France, while no one has paid particular attention to the antics in Paris and Monsieur Hollande scurries about siding with the troubled nations and advocating a 75% tax burden and leaving Berlin to wallow in schemes of their own making; they are on the verge of getting in real trouble. Furthermore, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes, the finances of Spain are one ugly mess of spoiled tapas. We recall Prime Minister Rajoy’s “A great victory for Europe speech” and we state that the last time Europe had such a victory it was at Waterloo!
The last time we checked on the (funding) status of America's real presidential race - the one where America's uber-wealthy try to outspend each other in hopes of purchasing the best president money can buy - the totals were substantially lower. With November 6 rapidly approaching, however, the scramble to lock in those record political lobbying IRRs is in its final lap. And thanks to the unlimited nature of PAC spending, look for the spending to really go into overdrive in the next 2 weeks as the spending frenzy on the world's greatest tragicomedy hits previously unseen heights.
So far the Fed's 4 year old QEasing strategy has failed for the simple reason that the smart money instead of being "herded", has far more simply decided to just front-run the Fed thus generating risk-free returns, while the "dumb money", tired of the HFT and Fed-manipulated, and utterly broken casino market, has simply allocated residual capital either into deposits (M2 just hit a new all time record of $10.2 trillion) or into "return of capital" products such as taxable and non-taxable bonds. Alas none of the above means that the Fed will ever stop from the "strategy" it undertook nearly 4 years ago to the day with QE1. Instead, it will continue doing more of the same until the bitter end. But how much more is there? To answer this question, below we present the entire universe of marketable US debt, in one simple chart showing the average yield by product type on the Y-axis, and the total debt notional on the X.
While hardly a crash, today's AAPL driven market swoon is certainly not the stuff centrally-planned market confidence is built on (not to mention yet another day of various abnormal stock trading patterns in some of the more retail-heavy held stocks which will hardly break the pattern of domestic capital flowing out of equities and into bonds). And as we have seen in the past two weeks, when even green days have resulted in the infamous "market conditions" clause being triggered for companies attempting to sell equity or raise debt, today's red day, assuming of course, the fat pipe between Citadel and the FRBNY is not unclogged for the last hour of trading ramp, may mean that a surge of "market conditional" excuses by companies and underwriters is imminent. The reason: as the WSJ reports there are no less than 10 IPOs in the next 3 days. Should today's market tone persist into the close, we would be very surprised if even half of these price in a market in which the primary market bid disappears on even a -0.01% close.
While the 0.4% perfectly unmanipulated and totally coincidental swing in the unemployment rate in an Obama favorable direction one month before the election came at a prime time moment for the market, one hour ahead of the open, setting the market mood for the rest of the day (which despite all best efforts still closed red, valiant efforts by Simon Potter and the FRBNY's direct pipe to Citadel notwithstanding), there was one other, far more important data point released by the government's department of agriculture, sufficiently late after the market close to impact no risk assets. That data point of course was foodstamps (or the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka SNAP), and we are confident that no readers will be surprised to learn that foodstamp usage for both persons and households, has jumped to a new all time record.... Finally, and putting it all into perspective, since December 2007, or the start of the Great Depression ver 2.0, the number of jobs lost is 4.5 million, while those added to foodstamps and disability rolls, has increased by a unprecedented 21 million.
Think the US has it bad with its "soaring" gas price, which is now back to $3.75 per gallon? Think again. Here, courtesy of Bloomberg, is a list of the countries whose gasoline cost puts what Americans pay at the pump to shame. In order of descending gas prices, below are the 20 places in the world where one does not want to "fill 'er up."
Update via CNBC:
- CITADEL, KRR SAID NO LONGER TO BE LOOKING AT KNIGHT
- KNIGHT CAPITAL CLOSE TO FUNDING DEAL, CNBC'S KATE KELLY SAYS
- KNIGHT MAY GENERATE ABOUT $400 MLN FROM INVESTORS, KELLY SAYS
- GETCO, TD AMERITRADE LIKELY PART OF INVESTMENT GROUP: KELLY
Knight Capital is scrambling: it has a few hours to convince any potential suitors that it is worth some $300 million more alive than having its carcass picked off at a cost of $0.01 over its debt (which itself will likely be materially impaired) in a Chapter 11 Stalking Horse sale. If the Sunday before the Lehman, and MF Global, bankruptcy filings is any indication, the third time will not be the charm for the company whose 1400 employees may have no place to call work at 9am tomorrow. Sadly, in a world in which entire countries and continents have taken on the patina of Schrödingerian felinism, constantly shifting between alive and dead states depending on who is looking, we would take the under on the probability that the firm's lawyers will not be visiting 1 Bowling Green at some point in the next 16 hours.
Corporations may or may not be people, but money has always talked, and the wealthy certainly do have a lot of excess cash lying around which they would rather prefer spending in hopes of generating the highest IRR possible by influencing the outcome of the presidential race. Below is a look of the uber-rich who have contributed at least $1 million to the major PACs as disclosed to the Federal Election Commission.
This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied - The SequelSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/19/2012 18:05 -0500
Two years ago, in January 2010, Zero Hedge wrote "This Is The Government: Your Legal Right To Redeem Your Money Market Account Has Been Denied" which became one of our most read stories of the year. The reason? Perhaps something to do with an implicit attempt at capital controls by the government on one of the primary forms of cash aggregation available: $2.7 trillion in US money market funds. The proximal catalyst back then were new proposed regulations seeking to pull one of these three core pillars (these being no volatility, instantaneous liquidity, and redeemability) from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal would give money market fund managers the option to "suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets." In other words: an attempt to prevent money market runs (the same thing that crushed Lehman when the Reserve Fund broke the buck). This idea, which previously had been implicitly backed by the all important Group of 30 which is basically the shadow central planners of the world (don't believe us? check out the roster of current members), did not get too far, and was quickly forgotten. Until today, when the New York Fed decided to bring it back from the dead by publishing "The Minimum Balance At Risk: A Proposal to Mitigate the Systemic Risks Posed by Money Market FUnds". Now it is well known that any attempt to prevent a bank runs achieves nothing but merely accelerating just that (as Europe recently learned). But this coming from central planners - who never can accurately predict a rational response - is not surprising. What is surprising is that this proposal is reincarnated now. The question becomes: why now? What does the Fed know about market liquidity conditions that it does not want to share, and more importantly, is the Fed seeing a rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions in the future, that may and/or will prompt retail investors to pull their money in another Lehman-like bank run repeat?
High-frequency trading became so competitive that on a truly level playing field no one could make money operating at high volumes. Starting in 2008, there had been a frantic rush into the high-frequency gold mine at a time when nearly every other investment strategy on Wall Street was imploding. That competition was making it very hard for the firms to make a profit without using methods that Bodek viewed as seedy at best. And so a complex system evolved to pick winners and losers. It was done through speed and exotic order types. If you didn’t know which orders to use, and when to use them, you lost nearly every time. To Bodek, it was fundamentally unfair—it was rigged. There were too many conflicts of interest, too many shared benefits between exchanges and the traders they catered to. Only the biggest, most sophisticated, connected firms in the world could win this race.
Brian Sack, whom we have all grown to love and loathe, and whose mysterious Citadel trade tickets seemingly out of nowhere have prevented financial meltdowns on more than one occasion, may be leaving us next Friday, but that does not mean the Plunge Protection Team will remain headless. Meet Brian's replacement: Simon Potter, who before joining the NY Fed was... assistant professor of economics at UCLA, Johns Hopkins University, New York University and Princeton University and who " has written extensively on nonlinear dynamics over the business cycles. Recent topics have included forecasting the probability of recession, large panel forecasting models, modeling structural change and inflation expectations." So now we have a Keynesian economics professor with an expertise in "modeling inflation expectations" in charge of the S&P. Swell.
The following EOD commentary from Goldman's S&T desk pretty much summarizes how everyone feels.