Just when we thought centrally-planned markets could no longer surprise us, here comes last night's superspike in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 100 pips higher in the past few trading days and moments ago crossed 105.000. The reason for the surprise is that while there was no economic news that would justify such a move: certainly not an improving Japanese economy, nor, for that matter, a new and improved collapse, what the move was attributed to was news that Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who has been advocating for the GPIF to reduce allocation to domestic bonds, may be appointed the Health Minister when Abe announces his new cabinet tomorrow: a reshuffle driven by the fact that the failure of Abenomics is starting to anger Japan's voters. In other words, the GPIF continues to be the "forward guidance" gift that keeps on giving, even if the vast majority of its capital reallocation into equities has already long since taken place. As a result of the USDJPY surge, driven by a rumor of a minister appointment, the Nikkei is up+1.2%, which in turned has pushed both Europe and Asia to overnight highs and US equity futures to fresh record highs, with the S&P500 cash now just 40 points away, or about 4-8 trading sessions away from Goldman's revised 2014 year end closing target.
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
What is hard to measure is often hard to manage. Employers using new technologies need to base hiring decisions not just on education, but also on the non-cognitive skills that allow some people to excel at learning on the job; they need to design pay structures to retain workers who do learn, yet not to encumber employee mobility and knowledge sharing, which are often key to informal learning; and they need to design business models that enable workers to learn effectively on the job (see this example). Policy makers also need to think differently about skills, encouraging, for example, industry certification programs for new skills and partnerships between community colleges and local employers. Although it is difficult for workers and employers to develop these new skills, this difficulty creates opportunity. Those workers who acquire the latest skills earn good pay; those employers who hire the right workers and train them well can realize the competitive advantages that come with new technologies.
S&P Futures Surge Over 2000, At Record High, On Collapsing Japanese, European Economic Data, Ukraine EscalationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/29/2014 07:07 -0400
Following Wednesday's laughable tape painting close where an algo, supposedly that of Citadel under the usual instructions of the NY Fed, ramped futures just over 2,000 to preserve faith in central planning, yesterday everyone was expecting a comparable rigged move... and got it, only this time milliseconds after the close, when futures moved from solidly in the red, to a fresh record high in seconds on no news - although some speculate that Obama not announcing Syrian air strikes yesterday was somehow the bullish catalyst - and purely on another bout of algo buying whose only purpose was to preserve the overnight momentum. Sure enough, this morning we find that even as bond yields around the world continue to probe 2014 lows, and with the Ruble sinking to fresh record lows as the Ukraine situation has deteriorated to unprecedented lows, so US equity futures have once, driven by the now generic USDJPY spike just after the European open, again soared overnight, well above 2000 and are now at all time highs, driven likely by the ongoing deflationary collapse in Europe where August inflation printed 0.3%, the lowest since 2009 while the unemployment remained close to record high, while the Japanese economic abemination is now fully featured for every Keynesian professor to see, with the latest Japanese data basically continuing the pattern of sheer horror as we reported yesterday.
That was quick! Last November Snapchat was valued at $2 billion in the private VC market; by Q1 that had risen to $7 billion; and yesterday it soared to $10 billion. Gaining $8 billion in market value in just nine months is quite a feat under any circumstance - but that’s especially notable if you’re are a company with no profits, no revenues and no business model. How much does it cost to manipulate an entire market? Apparently not much. And it’s getting cheaper!
The surge in North American oil and gas production is arguably the most important development in energy over the last decade. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that North America doesn’t have nearly enough oil and gas pipelines to accommodate its 11-million-barrel-a-day output level. Both are good examples of how pipelines – considered the safest way to move oil and gas – have become politicized and scrutinized, and not without reason. Despite their reliability, pipelines still lead to an unacceptable rate of safety mishaps. They corrode and rupture, which threatens workers and nearby communities. In 2013 alone, over 119,000 barrels of oil were spilled in 623 incidents. America’s existing pipelines are getting older and more prone to corrosion, and over the next five to 10 years, there will be a significant increase in the number of new pipelines. And that is creating a huge opportunity for better pipeline safety technology.
If you like your de-escalation, you can keep your de-escalation. To think that heading into, and following the Russia-Ukraine "summit" earlier this week there was so much hope that the tense Ukraine civil war "situation" would somehow fix itself. Oh how wrong that thinking was considering overnight, following rebel separatists gains in the southeast of Ukraine which included the strategic port of Novoazvosk and which is "threatening to open up a new front in the war" including setting up a land corridor to Russia controlled-Crimea, Ukraine's president Poroshenko for the first time came out and directly accused Russia of an "Invasion", or at least a first time in recent weeks, saying he has convened the security council on the recent Russian actions.
"The relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked, and those who watch and track them, is the relationship between masters and slaves." - Chris Hedges
You may be familiar with the story of how the US government confiscated gold bullion and then made owning it illegal back in 1933. Actually this event is more accurately termed a nationalization. Americans were forced under harsh penalties to sell their gold at an artificially low “official price.” Many have speculated that the US government could once again turn to gold confiscation/nationalization if it became desperate enough. But would the US government really turn to a 1933-style grab again? We would argue that they wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean the threat to your gold has diminished. Quite the opposite.
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.
In the rush to make QE’s taper and the follow-on “forward guidance” appear more data-related than of due concerns about the structural (and ultimately philosophical) flaws in the economy, the regressionists of the Federal Reserve have come up with more regressions - a 19-factor model to determine Yellen's 'labor market conditions'. What does this mathematical reconstruction of the labor market tell us about the labor market? If you believe the figures, this has been one of the best recoveries on record. No, seriously...
It is unclear exactly why stock futures, bonds - with European peripheral yields hitting new record lows for the second day in a row - gold, oil and pretty much everything else is up this morning but it is safe to say the central banks are behind it, as is the "de-escalation" algo as a meeting between Russia and Ukraine begins today in Belarus' capital Minsk. Belarusian and Kazakhstani leaders will also be at the summit. Hopes of a significant progress on the peace talks were dampened following Merkel’s visit to Kiev over the weekend. The German Chancellor said that a big breakthrough is unlikely at today’s meeting. Russian FM Lavrov said that the discussion will focus on economic ties, the humanitarian crisis and prospects for a political resolution. On that note Lavrov also told reporters yesterday that Russia hopes to send a second humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine this week. What he didn't say is that he would also send a cohort of Russian troops which supposedly were captured by overnight by the Ukraine army (more shortly).
A few days ago when we commented, somewhat in jest, on the seemingly impressive strategic planning behind the Islamic State Jihadists becoming a "commodities trading powerhouse" (when it was revealed that ISIS had sold the grain it had stolen from the Itaqi government back to the government), we described just how well-versed in the ways of the modern world ISIS was. Now, thanks to Bloomberg we can quantify this particular strategy, and put top-line numbers with the ISIS faces, so to speak: "The Islamic State, which now controls an area of Iraq and Syria larger than the U.K., may be raising more than $2 million dollars a day in revenue from oil sales, extortion, taxes and smuggling, according to U.S. intelligence officials and anti-terrorism finance experts."
It's been one of those days. First, the CME broke for 4 hours due to what some suggested were HFT connectivity issues, then Russia announced it would send a second humanitarian convoy into Ukraine (a big risk off move the first time it was announced, now not even an algo stirred), then Germany reported that the IFO Business Confidence/Climate dropped for the fourth consecutive month to 106.3 from 108.0, below the 107.0 expected, with the IFO chief economist stating that German GDP expectations are likely to be cut to 1.5% from 2.0% later in the year, and finally the French government collapsed due to disagreement over policy between finance minister Valls and economy minister Montebourg. All in all, a typical day in Europe's slow-motion implosion. So why are Spanish and Italian bank stocks soaring and European bond yields reaching new record highs? Simple: following Draghi's speech on Friday at Jackson Hole, which at initial read was hardly as dovish as many had expected, the FT and various other media outlets promptly changed the narrative and made it seem as if the ECB head was about to unleash QE.
From Arab Spring-related uprisings in Libya or Egypt, to a civil war in Syria and now violence in Iraq and the Ukraine, geopolitics are impacting oil. True, geopolitical risk measured by combat deaths does not always correlate well with market volatility. But wars and conflict are easy to spot on an oil price series. With combat deaths rising four fold in the last 10 years, oil markets should prepare for more turmoil. BofA 's Francisco Blanch asks "Can the US preserve geopolitical stability?" America still takes up 38% of global military spending, but appetite for foreign adventures has been low. As an example, a drop in US combat deaths in recent years has been mirrored by a rise elsewhere. Following a drop to multi-decade lows, implied vol in long dated oil options at 15% looks cheap. Oil after US hegemony may not be as steady.