- Mounting Wall Street fears of US default (FT)
- This is what the US government does when it is "shut down" - CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels (WaPo)
- SEC Weighs Overhaul of Exchanges’ Self-Regulatory System (WSJ) - just let Goldman and JPM do all the policing; not like anyone cares anymore
- Reid Sets Tone for Democrats in Shutdown Fight (WSJ)
- No Movement in Shutdown Standoff (WSJ)
- Shutdown will not slow Fed nomination, says Obama (FT)
- Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed (WSJ)
- Tesla Says Car Fire Began in Battery (AP)
- China Services Index Increases in Sign of Sustained Rebound (BBG) or sustained data manipulation
Despite the president's tongue-in-cheek warning to Wall Street that this time it's different, and it that "it should be concerned", that same Wall Street continues to roundly mock his attempts to talk it lower on the third day of America's "shutdown", knowing very well that if things ever turn bad, Mr. Chairman, aka the S&P chief risk officer, will get to work, and rescue everyone from that pesky thing known as losses. Whether the offsetting optimism was driven by made up China non-manufacturing PMI rising from 53.9 to 55.4, the highest in six months, or just as made up non-core European PMI data which also beat expectations despite Germany Services PMI continuing to telegraph a weakness, dropping from 54.4 to 53.7, is unknown and once again not important. So while futures are modestly lower if only until such time as the daily 3:58pm VIX slam takes place just before market close, do not expect any major moves in stocks until either the GOP finally folds and lets Obama have his way, or bundles all shutdown legislation into the debt ceiling negotiation, and careens the US right into the debt ceiling deadline on October 17 without any legislation in place.
If yesterday was the paradoxical government shutdown "relief rally" pushed higher by a last minute VIX smashing ramp, today reality is starting to set in and global stocks and US futures are set to open lower. The FTSE MIB remains the only European bourse to trade in positive territory in today’s session, having touched upon 2 year highs as it is expected the political tumult that threatened to cause a collapse of the Italian government will be resolved today even as the latest news indicate Berlusconi's PDL will support the Bunga godfather after all. Other European equities have failed to benefit from this as market participants remain cautious ahead of the ECB rate decision today when Draghi may or may not (most likely) announce a new LTRO.
If there is one day the Fed's trading desk actually did want futures lower, if only for purely optical purposes and to at least suggest that the government, and not the Fed, is still in charge of the US, it is the day when the US government - for the first time in 17 years - has shut down. They certainly did not want the S&P to be up nearly 0.5% mere hours after Congress and the presidency confirmed to the world that in a world in which "the Chairman gets to work", a functioning government is completely irrelevant. Yet this is precisely what is going on. What is making matters worse is that on the other side of the world, Japan also finally announced the well-telegraphed sales tax increase to8%, offset by a JPY5 trillion yen "stimulus" which however Japan said, much to the Chagrin of Mrs. Watanabe and a 100 pip overnight plunge in the USDJPY, would be funded not with more new bond issuance (and thus without new "wealth effect" generating monetization). It is unclear just how it will be funded but since increasingly more global fiscal and monetary policy is based on science fiction we know better than to ask.
- Government Heads Toward Shutdown (WSJ), First U.S. Shutdown in 17 Years at Midnight Seen Probable (BBG), Congress in game of chicken (RTRS)
- Italian Premier Pursues Last-Ditch Rescue of Government (WSJ)
- Election risk rattles Italian government bonds (RTRS)
- Obama and Ryan Stay on Sidelines on Budget (WSJ)
- Volcker Rule Costs Tallied as U.S. Regulators Press Deadline (BBG)
- Faltering Chinese Factory Growth Adds to Rebound Fears (FT)
- Health Law Hits Late Snags as Rollout Approaches (WSJ)
- Apple Overtakes Coca-Cola as Most Valuable Brand, Study Finds (BBG)
- Euro-Area September Inflation Slows More Than Forecast on Energy (BBG) - Puting will fix that shortly
European equities trade negatively as political tensions on both sides of the Atlantic dampens risk appetite and a lower than expected HSBC manufacturing PMI figure from China further weighs upon investor sentiment. In the US, government is on the precipice of the first shutdown since 1996 after House Republicans refused to pass a budget unless it involved a delay to Obama’s signature healthcare reforms. If the Republicans follow through with their threat a shutdown will occur at midnight tonight. As a result a fixed income in the US and core Europe benefit with investors wary of the immediate harm a shutdown will do to confidence in the economy.
Back in August, just after the false flag chemical weapon attack in Syria, we showed that despite all the posturing by the Obama administration (and, of course, France's belligerent, socialist leader Francois Hollande), the nation behind the entire Syrian campaign was not one of the "democratic", Western nations but none other than close neighbor Saudi Arabia, and the brain orchestrating every move of the western puppets was one Bandar bin Sultan, the nation's influential intelligence chief. We also explained the plethora of geopolitical and mostly energy-related issues that Saudi and Qatar had at stake, which they were eager to launch a regional war over, just to promote their particular set of selfish interests. A month later, in clear confirmation that this was precisely the case, the WSJ reported that the recent overtures by Obama, brilliantly checkmated by Putin, to push for a peaceful resolution with not only Syria, but suddenly Iran as well, has managed to infuriate Saudi Arabia: traditionally one of the US' closest allies in the region and the key source of crude oil to the western world.
The recent drop in WTI crude oil prices has brought out the ubiquitous "well, that's a tax cut for the US consumer" recency-biased talking-heads always looking for a silver-lining to justify something. What they fail to notice, is at $103.57, this is the highest price WTI crude oil has ever been at the end of September. The reason timing is important is the annual cycle of oil prices means comparing Summer with Winter and so on is misleading. So is the highest price ever for oil in the Fall still a positive for the economy?
It would appear that between the fears of a government shutdown and the battle over the 'full faith and credit' of the US, traders have decided that the stroke-of-midnight agreement is potentially less viable this time as both parties feel the other has more to lose. The USD is being sold against all majors and gold, silver, and WTI crude is well bid as investors seek the safety of hard assets over printable fiat. Of course, that could all change on the next economic data or Washington headline... buckle up...
Being bullish on the market in the short term is fine... The expansion of the Fed's balance sheet will continue to push stocks higher as long as no other crisis presents itself. However, the problem is that a crisis, which is 'always' unexpected, inevitably will trigger a reversion back to the fundamentals. The market will eventually correct as it always does - it is part of the market cycle. The reality is that the stock market is extremely vulnerable to a sharp correction. Currently, complacency is near record levels and no one sees a severe market retracement as a possibility. The common belief is that there is 'no bubble' in assets and the Federal Reserve has everything under control.
The best summary of what has (not) been going on in the downward drifting equity markets comes from DB's Jim Reid, quoting: "Markets are in non-panicky limbo at the moment ahead of the upcoming US budget debate. US equities fell for the 5th day in row (S&P 500 -0.27%) and although this is the worst run since the Christmas/New Year’s Eve period of 2012 (due to the fiscal cliff debacle), the cumulative fall is only -1.9% over this decline. Meanwhile Treasuries hit a 7-week low in yield as they recorded their 12th decline in the last 14 days." As has been the case over the past week, stocks in Asia have generally traded lower with the exception of the Nikkei225 which day after day continues to do its insane penny stock thing, first dropping -1.5% only to close up 1.2% on absolutely no news, but some chatter the Abe administration would raise the sales tax on October 1, only to offset the fiscal benefit by lowering corporate tax. How this has any net impact is beyond us. Proceeding to Europe, stocks failed to sustain the initial higher open and moved into negative territory, with Italian asset classes underperforming, as market participants digested reports citing Italian MP Gasparri saying that PdL lawmakers are ready to quit if Berlusconi is ousted. This in turn saw a number of Italian banking stocks come under intense selling pressure, with the Italian/German yield spread widening in spite of supportive reinvestment flows that are due this week.
Another day, another POMO pump followed by a collapse to close at the the lows as the S&P 500 has its first 5-day negative closing run in 2013. Only the NASDAQ remains above Un-Taper levels with the Dow back below 'Summers' levels and the S&P heading that way. Treasury yields slid further (-4 to 5bps) to 7-week lows (down 10 of the last 11 days) as the 7Y broke back below 2.00%. Gold and Silver rallied (after the ubiquitous opening smackdown idiocy) with both positive on the week now. The USD sold off as JPY strengthened to the week's highs and EUR pushed back to unchanged on the week. WTI was slammed lower (in a seeming mirror of the PMs) ending back at $102.28 (-2.4% on the week) nearly 11 week lows. For the second day in a row VIX closed lower as stocks sold off (unwinding hedges and reducing underlying exposure perhaps?)
Early weakness in Asia driven by US-follow thru selling and ongoing concerns about the us fiscal showdowns as well as the debt ceiling, if not by actual news, resulted in a red close in both the Nikkei and SHCOMP, as well as other regional indices such as the Sensex. This then shifted to Europe, where however stocks reversed the initial move lower and are seen broadly flat, with Bunds remaining bid on the back of month-end, as well as coupon and redemption related flows. However the move higher in stocks was led by telecommunications and health care sectors, which indicates that further upside will require another positive catalyst. There was little in terms of fresh EU related macroeconomic commentary, but according to a report published by the European Banking Authority, the EU’s biggest 42 banks cut their aggregate capital shortfall with respect to the “fully loaded” 2019 Basel III requirements to €70.4bln as of December 2012. This is amusing since not one European bank has actually raised capital, but merely redefined what constitutes capital courtesy of a liberal expansion of RWA, Tier 1 and various other meaningless definition which works until such time as the perilous European balance kept together by the non-existent OMT, is tipped over.
Everything was proceeding according to central-plan with a gradual rise in risk and a decline in the USD until 4 am Eastern, when the German IFO Business Climate data was released and missed across the board (107.7 vs Exp. 108.0; Current assessment 111.4 vs Exp. 112.5; Expectations 104.2 Exp.104.0), reminding everyone now that Merkel is cemented for the near future, the immediate prerogative for Europe is to get the EUR lower, one way or another. A returning bid to the dollar also has pushed 10 Year yields under 2.70%, while once again sending various EM currencies sliding, and bringing back cross asset volatility to a world whose Sharpe ratio over the past several months has plummeted into negative territory. Increasing concerns about a government shutdown (misplaced) will likely prevent a solid bid from developing under markets.