The Fed’s zero interest rate policy has provided a subsidy to investors for the past 7 years. The lure of easy profits from cheap money was wildly attractive and readily accepted by investors. The Fed “put” gave investors great confidence that they could outperform their exceptionally low cost of capital. These implicit promises by central banks encouraged trillions of dollars into ‘carry trades’ and various forms of market speculation. Complacent investors maintain these trades, despite the Fed’s warning of a looming reduction in the subsidy, and despite a balance sheet expected to shrink in 2016. It has been a risk-chasing ‘game of chicken’ that is coming to an end. Changing conditions have skewed risk/reward to the downside. This is particularly true because financial assets prices are exceptionally expensive...There are warning signs and visible market stresses beyond those mentioned yesterday.
A sample of charts currently on our radar
Here is the paradox as succinctly summarized by Deutsche Bank, which notes that the current -29% year-over-year drop in the CRB index implies YoY headline CPI inflation falling from 0.1% to -0.9% over the next couple of months, or just in time for the September or December FOMC meetings both proposed as the "lift off" date. This would be the largest year-over-year drop since September 2009 (-1.3%) and one of the lowest prints in modern history.
On a day when market participants will care about only one thing - how hawkish (or dovish) the FOMC sounds at 2:00 pm (no Yellen press conference today) - Chinese stocks provided the usual dramatic sideshow and traded unchanged or modestly negative for most of the day despite the latest $100 billion injection, the close of trading on Wednesday was a mirror image of what happened in the last hour on Monday, as various Chinese "plunge-protection" mechanism went into a furious buying frenzy and government-backed funds rushed to buy anything that trades in the last 60 minutes of trading in what may be the most glaring example of banging the close yet.
The Bloomberg Commodity Index tumbled once again today, hitting its lowest level since 2002. Stocks did not. We have seen this kind of 'deflationary' boom before... and it did not end well...
Over the past 6 weeks, the Industrial Metals Index has gotten pummeled, losing its entire post-”false breakdown” gains... and that downside could mean more than just losses in this space – it could be a warning sign for global economic demand.
The financial world today is now an island on its own – separated from the real economy, as can be seen by the paradox of record high valuation in the stock market coinciding with record low inflation, employment , productivity and no hope. There is asset inflation, but deflation in the real economy. When the world has been this long at the zero-bound, the misallocation, the inability to reform, and a toolbox without new tools creates a mandate for change. "I expect stocks to trade sideways for the balance of 2015 and have now sold all my fixed income, increased my gold exposure, and I’m looking to buy mining companies and overall to increase my exposure to commodities beyond the normal allocation."
The biggest overnight story was neither out of China, where despite the ridiculous surge in new account openings and margin debt the SHCOMP dipped 08%, or out of Japan, where the Nikkei dropped 2.7%, the biggest drop in months, after the BOJ disappointed some by not monetizing more than 100% of net issuance and keeping QE unchanged, but Europe where for the second day in a row there was a furious selloff of Bunds at the open of trading, which briefly sent the yield on the 10Y to 0.38% (it was 0.6% two weeks ago), in turn sending the EURUSD soaring by almost 200 pips to a two month high of 1.1250, and weighing on US equity futures, before retracing some of the losses.
There is a tremendous denial by analysts and economists currently of the deteriorating economic underpinnings.
“No stock-market crash announced bad times. The depression rather made its presence felt with the serial crashes of dozens of commodity markets. To the affected producers and consumers, the declines were immediate and newsworthy, but they failed to seize the national attention. Certainly, they made no deep impression at the Federal Reserve.” - 1921 or 2015?
Can the US economy ignore or even benefit from the winds of deflation blowing from offshore? With a current CAPE (Cyclically Adjusted PE) in excess of 27X, the US market is clearly answering this question in the affirmative. It is worth pausing to ponder just how much this optimism for a US de-coupling has already been reflected in prices. The Solid Ground was very bullish on global equities from 1Q 2009 to 1Q 2011, but then turned bearish, believing that QE was insufficient to prevent deflation. The failure of QE to generate ever higher inflation is now a matter of record, but very clearly US equities cheered this failure and the need for continual QE from 2011 to 2014.
2014 may go down as the year when gold and silver conspiracy “theories” became conspiracy “facts” as banks globally were found to have conspired to rig the prices of gold, silver, currency and many other markets.
A bull market in the US Dollar is underway and its magnitude and duration are likely to catch everyone by surprise
On one hand, global growth is slowing down. And on the other, the cost of living is rising. That’s a bad combination, but we’ll make it. While you’re waiting for QE4 to see how it all goes down, remember to hold on to your assets… if you have any.
Overview of the capital markets as if they were not managed by an evil cabal.