This week's biggest news is not the Non-Farm Payrolls, or the European Central Bank or even Portugal's government falling. No - this week's big deal is the openness with which the Federal Reserve is preparing a major margin call on the too-big-to-fail banks in the US. This has been a long time coming since the introduction of the Dodd-Frank law back in 2010 but it is a game changer. Remember all macro paradigm shifts come from policy impulses, often mistakes. Is the Fed about to given the whole banking industry a major margin call?
With part two of today's Fed-a-palooza due out shortly in the form of the May 1 FOMC meeting minutes, here is an informative recap of the current roster of assorted birds at the FOMC via Bank of America. Of course, since every decision always begins and ends with Ben, and soon his replacement Janet, all of below is largely meaningless.
50% In Favor of Directly Breaking Them Up ... Many More In Favor of Stopping Artificial Support and Letting them Shrink On Their Own
No, American Banks DON'T Need to Be Big to Compete with Bigger Foreign Rivals
The problem with “too-big-to-fail” is first and foremost the behavior of our beloved political leaders in Washington
The Fed is set to become considerably more dovish in 2013 and beyond as Evans and Rosengren become voting members. It seems unlikely that any new 'Bernanke' would drastically alter the Fed's path; and so we present the 'Doves' path to prosperity (in nominal terms). As BofAML notes, "More immediately, the doves largely support the idea that policy should be kept easy “for a considerable time” after the recovery is underway. Market participants thus should be cautious not to overreact to better near-term data: the Fed isn’t likely to turn notably more hawkish any time soon."
- Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
- And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
- With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
- IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
- Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
- IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
- Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
- Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
- Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
- EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
- Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
All you need to read and some more.
- More HFT Posturing: SEC Probes Rapid Trading (WSJ)
- Fed’s Bullard Says Monetary Policy May Be at Turning Point (Bloomberg)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Hosts Global Gathering on Easy Money (WSJ)
- Dublin ‘hopeful’ ECB will approve bond deal (FT)
- EU Proposes a Beefed-Up Permanent Bailout Fund (WSJ)
- Portugal Town Halls Face Default Amid $12 Billion Debt (Bloomberg)
- Hidden Fund Fees Means U.K. Investors Pay Double US Rates (Bloomberg)
- Europe Weighs Trade Probes Amid Beijing Threats (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan Stimulus Row Fueled by Kono’s Nomination (Bloomberg)
Here are today's economic highlights, for anyone who cares and is deluded to think that any economic numbers actually still matter and drive the market and not vice versa.
Instead of tackling any specific and highly volatile high frequency macroeconomic data points today (which will most likely be diametrically inverted in the next update iteration), today David Rosenberg focuses on sundry items and flights of fancy that are worth noting, such as that "the S&P 500 has recorded 62 consecutive days in which it has swung by 1% or more in intraday trading. The Dow has also closed 1% higher or lower 38 times since the beginning of August (compared with just 25 in the first seven months of the year)." Additionally, Rosie shares some views on the Paradox of thrift, i.e., that "spending on appliances, jewellery, watches, air travel, recreation vehicles, cameras, gambling is actually lower today than in 2005", on credit unions whose customers don't want to borrow money, " "Too few of its 95,000 members, most of whom live or work in five counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, want to borrow money. And too many are making extra payments on mortgages and car loans — or paying off personal loans ... Provident's loan portfolio has shrunk by 25% since the end of 2008, including a 5% drop in the first nine months of this year" but most notably concludes with the observation that while the 2008 "Great Financial Crisis" was quite memorably, "I wonder whether we'll say 2008 wasn't the real crisis — it was a warm-up, but the real crisis was the sovereign debt crisis in Europe....It is clear that the situation in Greece has deteriorated markedly and that the scope for any further fiscal restraint without triggering some sort of revolution is small. The only way toward fiscal sustainability — to get the sovereign debt/GDP ratio down to 110% by 2020 — is for investors to grant the country a jubilee of sorts and accept a 60% write-down." Naturally, France will throw up over any proposal that sees a 60% haircut Greek haircut, not so much due to Greek losses per se, but due to imminent losses when Portugal, Ireland, Italy and lastly Spain (to which four countries France has exponentially more exposure) decide to do the same as Greece and start underreporting data, striking daily, and overall just shut down their economies.
Different views for next week....
When we first reported on Bill Gross' massive surge in duration and accelerated purchase of Mortgage Backed Securities a week ago, we said, "That's either what is called betting one's farm on Operation Twist, or, betting one's farm that the next thing to be purchased by the Fed in QE3 or QE4 depending on how one keeps count, will be Mortgage Backed Securities." It was the letter. Confirmation that Bill once again frontran the Fed comes courtesy of Daniel Tarullo who in a speech at Columbia University, talking about the labor market of all things, just said the following: "I believe we should move back up toward the top of the list of options the large-scale purchase of additional mortgage-backed securities (MBS), something the FOMC first did in November 2008 and then in greater amounts beginning in March 2009 in order to provide more support to mortgage lending and housing markets." And there you go: watch as the market rips on the expectation that the US will bail out China all over again. Oh wait, at this point China couldn't care less what happens to the GSEs stack. So unfortunately as can be expected, this is nothing but yet another bailout of US banks, which lately have been buying up MBS like crazy (Gross is not the only one with the hotline), and expecting to flip right back to Brian Sack: after all something has to be done to save the poor things from a total pancaking of the Treasury curve.