China has certainly been busy since it won observer status at the May Arctic Council summit in Kiruna, Sweden. China is clearly after more than simply investment and trade opportunities as it continues to display its obsession with securing energy and other supplies where the U.S. Navy cannot or will not go. Unfortunately for Moscow, not only China but also the other new Asian members will seek to maximize their influence in the Council for many of the same reasons. The Arctic may be Russia’s home, but it can no longer be its castle.
Did you know there was a large POMO Thursday? And, did you know Friday is quadwitching? Do you care?
The table is set for a counter-trend rally Friday given these events.
But, as with any oversold or overbought condition, markets can remain that way for longer than you expect—just look at gold as an example.
The first phase of the boom has already taken place, the pullback seems to have run its course and Phase II is set to deliver fortunes.
Since we lost the deer yesterday as it was run over by bond sellers, it appears everyone else came to the realization that QE cannot be infinite, that EU event risk never went away, and that China does have a credit bubble and so it is time for the monkey. Where-ever we look today there is carnage. The superlatives are all extreme but are the biggest since Europe collapsed in October/November 2011 (preceding the coordinated global central bank bailout) - 1-day and 2-day drops in stocks the biggest in 19 months, Gold and Silver's second largest 1-day drop in 20 months, investment-grade and high-yield credit's worst 1-day and 2-day widening in 19 months, EM currencies (e.g. MXN) worst day in 19 months, Copper's worst day in 19 months, and the heaviest volume day in S&P futures in 20 months. While stocks closed at the lows of the day, Treasuries did see some buying come in the last hour or so - which appears to be safe-haven scrambling - and EUR weakness (post IMF) was trumped by JPY strength (unwinds) to drag the USD off its highs into the close.
A month ago, when stock markets around the globe were hitting all time highs, we wrote "The Bronze Swan Arrives: Is The End Of Copper Financing China's "Lehman Event"?" which as so often happens, many read, but few appreciated for what it truly was - the end of a major shadow leverage conduit (one involving unlimited rehypothecation at that),and the collapse of a core source of shadow liquidity. One month later, China's "Lehman event" is on the verge of appearing, and with Overnight repo rates hitting 25% last night, coupled with rumors of bank bailouts rampant, it very well already may have but don't expect the secretive Chinese politburo and PBOC to disclose it any time soon. So now that the market has finally once again caught up with reality, for the benefit of all those who missed it the first time, here is, once again, a look at the arrival of China's Bronze Swan.
Where's the buy-the-dip mentality? Yesterday's collapse triggered yet another Hindenburg Omen - the 7th in the last month) and it appears it is the equity market's turn for some pain as Treasuries (which initially weak) have stabilized 2-3bps higher in yield. The Dow has lost 15,000 and is down over 200 points today; the S&P 500 is testing back to its 1,600 level; but homebuilders are being battered (as clearly good is now officially bad). The S&P 500 is now the furthest below its 50DMA in 2013 - this is key as it has been critical support all the way up. Gold and Silver have been crushed (and copper and oil are following) this week so far and the USD is up 1.75% so far. Credit markets are being destroyed - investment grade spreads are 10bps wider to 90bps from FOMC.
The global liquidation wave started with Bernanke's statement yesterday, which was interpreted far more hawkishly than any of his previous public appearances, even though the Fed had been warning for months about the taper. Still, markets were shocked, shocked. Then it moved to Japan, where for the first time in months, the USDJPY and the Nikkei diverged, and despite the strong dollar, the Nikkei slumped 1.74%. Then, China was swept under, following the weakest HSBC flash manufacturing PMI print even as the PBOC continued to not help a liquidity-starved banking sector, leading to the overnight repo rate briefly touching on an unprecedented 25%, and locking up the entire interbank market, sending the Shanghai Composite down nearly 3% as China is on its way to going red for the year. Then, India got hit, with the rupee plunging to a record low against the dollar and the bond market briefly being halted limit down. Then moving to Europe, market after market opened and promptly slid deep into the red, despite a services and mfg PMI which both beat expectations modestly (48.6 vs 47.5 exp., 48.9 vs 48.1 exp) while German manufacturing weakened. This didn't matter to either stocks or bond markets, as peripheral bond yields promptly soared as the unwind of the carry trade is facing complacent bond fund managers in the face. And of course, the selling has now shifted to the US-premarket session where equity futures have seen better days. In short: a bloodbath.
UPDATE: China 7-day repo +374bps to 12%! China Flash PMI 48.2 (49.1 exp) - lowest in 9 months; worst 3-month plunge since Feb 2011.
Following the hushed-up default by Everbright Bank last week, the liquidity situation in China has gone from bad to worse - with 1Y IRS now at all-time record highs. Many are now questioning whether the dramatic elevation in short-term financing rates is "here to stay," and with the Chinese yield curve now inverted in a similar fashion (and period) as the US Treasury market prior to the US recession in 2007, the clarion call for government stimulus is loud from the addicts. However, as HSBC notes today, since the government is now putting more emphasis on balanced growth and market reforms, it will tolerate GDP growth in the 7-7.5% range and will therefore take no strong measures to boost growth unless there is a risk of growth slowing to 7%. The red flags are piling up in the world's supposed growth engine...
The 20th century could be categorized as THE century when communications took off and we started living in each other’s pockets. Lives had been ruined by war, trouble and strife. Wealth had been redistributed beyond belief. There were no longer just a few that were making the profits, but there were growing classes of people that wanted recognition.
A conversation with a mining entrepreneur who succesfully built and sold a Mongolia Coal explorer.
For the sixth day in a row, the Dow managed a triple digit gain/loss - the first time since Sep/Oct 2011 - as markets appear to playing out a perfect echo of last year's June FOMC meeting with a ~3% 4-day gain in the run-up to the decision only to give it all back in the next few days. In the same way as last year, despite the rally in stocks, VIX (hedging) is rising, credit is diverging (hedging), and bonds are bid (though this appears more a Taper-off trade this time). Today's volume was among the lowest of the year (even accounting for holiday trading days) but that didn't stop the Dow ended up within a Hilsenrath headline of its all-time highs (though VIX near YTD highs, credit near YTD high spreads, and bonds close to YTD high yields). Silver, gold, and copper were hit hard today (-1.8% on the week) as WTI surged back up to $98.50; the USD retraced back to unchanged on the week (JPY -1%); Treasury yields are now up 4-5bps on the week (unch today); and while stocks looked good off the Friday surge, the last few minutes today saw them give back some of the exuberance back as hedgers turned to sellers (helped by a smash'n'grab in HYG) but all-in-all, equity investors seem very confident that Bernanke won't let them down.
As noted yesterday, and perhspa even more prescient now Anastasiades is back with the begging bowl, the debt crisis in Cyprus and the subsequent "bail-in" confiscation of bank depositors' money matter for two reasons: 1. The banking/debt crisis in Cyprus shares many characteristics with other banking/debt crises. 2. The official Eurozone resolution of the crisis may provide a template for future resolutions of other banking/debt crises. It also matters for another reason: not only is the bail-in a direct theft of depositors' money, the entire bailout is essentially a wholesale theft of national assets. This is the inevitable result of political Elites swearing allegiance to the European Monetary Union.
The FX and precious metals markets are swinging wildly around this morning (amid no news) as US equities remain anchored to hope (and VWAP) ahead of the FOMC tomorrow. Copper is also sliding quickly but WTI is back above $98 as the USD gets back to unchanged on the week. Treasury yields spiked early but have reverted to unchanged now. Credit markets have done nothing but widen (worsen) from the open this morning - also ignoring equity's stability - but hedgers are active as VIX remains higher on the day.
In UBS' view, 1994 is critical for guiding investing today. The key point about 1994 was not that US bond yields rose during a global recovery. But that the leverage and positioning built up in previous years, on the assumption that yields would remain low, then got stressed. The central issue, they note, is that a long period of lacklustre growth, low rates and easy money induces individual investors, funds, non-financial corporates and banks to reach for yield. In many cases, they gear up to do it. And as Hyman Minsky warned; in this way, stability breeds leverage, and leverage breeds instability. It is much less likely that we see the US enter a ‘high plateau’ of growth as we saw from 1995-98, where the US saw a powerful productivity & credit fuelled boom while the emerging markets deflated. And it makes it more likely that the US stays on a lower trajectory, interspersed with periodic recessionary slowdowns in the years ahead. The point at which the market realises this would likely herald a significant risk-off event.
"Part of my advantage, is that my strength is economic forecasting, but that only works in free markets, when markets are smarter than people. That’s how I started. I watched the stock market, how equities reacted to change in levels of economic activity and I could understand how price signals worked and how to forecast them. Today, all these price signals are compromised and I’m seriously questioning whether I have any competitive advantage left. Ten years ago, if the stock market had done what it has just done now, I could practically guarantee you that growth was going to accelerate. Now, it's a possibility, but I would rather say that the market is rigged and people are chasing these assets, without growth necessarily backing confidence. It's not predicting anything the way it used to and that really makes me reconsider my ability to generate superior returns. If the most important price in the most important economy in the world is being rigged, and everything else is priced off it, what am I supposed to read into other price movements?" - Stanley Druckenmiller