How many more times will we be told that "it" doesn't matter... or it is "transitory" with regard any and every flashing red warning signal from asset values that are not centrally manipulated with regard asset values that are 'plunge protected'? Well to try and kill one of those myths off, we present the following chart... showing how a collapse in commodity prices is unequivocally bad for US equity markets...
Be prepared for the now imminent equity valuation reset. It is true the Fed now has the ability to manipulate the market well beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. However, it is also still true that when the bursting bubble achieves full momentum the Fed will be helpless to stop it. While the Fed feels increasingly omnipotent they will once again learn, that while natural laws can be bent, they cannot be broken.
In a repeat of Thursday's action, Chinese stocks which had opened about 1% lower, remained underwater for most of the session before attempting a feeble bounce which took the Shanghai Composite fractionally into the green, before the now traditional last hour action which this time failed to maintain the upward momentum and the last day of the month saw a surge in volume which dragged the market to its lows before closing roughly where it opened, -1.13% lower. This caps the worst month for Chinese stocks since since August 2009, as the government struggles to rekindle investor interest amid a $3.5 trillion rout, one which has sent the Shanghai market lower by 15% - the biggest loss among 93 global benchmark gauges tracked by Bloomberg.
Having exposed the reality that the world's capital markets are a manipulated shell game, Janus' Bill Gross has a message for the perpetual bulls in his latest letter to investors - "say a little prayer." Gross continues, "low interest rates are not the cure – they are part of the problem," warning that ZIRP has enabled, "a host of zombie and future zombie corporations now roam the real economy. Schumpeter’s 'creative destruction' – the supposed heart of capitalistic progress – has been neutered. The old remains in place, and new investment is stifled." As he previously warned, when the central bank manipulation is removed the likely trajectory of prices is downward...
With the major US equity markets within 1-2% of their record highs, Gavekal Capital notes that underneath the headline indices, stock markets are extremely tumultuous. Rather stunningly 21% of MSCI USA stocks are at least 20% off their recent highs, and 68% of Canadian stocks are in bear markets, but the real carnage is taking place in Emerging Markets.
There will always be some "crisis" or excuse to do nothing. But the fact remains that the U.S. economy is not at zero interest rate health. Monetary policy is broken with the status quo. Unlimited and constant central bank participation in the markets is ultimately destructive, encourages dangerous risk taking (just buy every dip, nothing can go wrong,) and has become too much of an aphrodisiac for policy makers. Savers are being told you are the patsies for share buybacks.
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 rise of China’s currency on global markets is arguably the most significant development in currency trading since the introduction of the euro in 1999."
It all looked so awesome in the pre-open... thanks to the overnight PPT. But as soon as US equity markets opened, the selling began as Biotechs were hammered lower sending Small Caps plunging and Nasdaq into the red...
For the first half an hour after China opened, things looked bleak: after opening down 5%, the Shanghai Composite staged a quick relief rally, then tumbled again. And then, just around 10pm Eastern, we saw a coordinated central bank intervention stepping in to give the flailing PBOC a helping hand, driven by the BOJ but also involving NY Fed members, that sent the USDJPY soaring which in turn dragged ES and most risk assets up with it. And while Shanghai did end up closing down -1.7%, with Shenzhen 2.2% lower at the close, the final outcome was far better than what could have been, with the result being that S&P futures have gone back to doing their thing, and have wiped out all of yesterday's losses in the levitating, zero volume, overnight session which has long become a favorite setting for central banks buying E-Minis.
Having gazed ominously at the extreme monetary policy smoke-and-mirrors intervention in bond markets, and previously explained that "the stock market is to important to leave to the vagaries of an actual market." While the rest of the world's central banks' direct (BoJ) and indirect (Fed, ECB) manipulation of equity markets, nobody bats an eyelid; but when PBOC steps on market volatility's throat (like a bull in a China bear store), people start complaining... finally. There is no difference - none! And no lesser Asian expert than Stephen Roach warns that we should be afraid, very afraid as he states, the great irony of manipulation, he explains, is that "the more we depend on markets, the less we trust them."
When we first exposed the shockingly dire lack of breadth in US equity markets, it was shrugged off by the mainstream media as yet another 'worry' in the wall to climb. It seems, however, that facts inevitably force their way to the surface and so both Bloomberg (more than 100% of this year’s increase in the S&P 500 Index is attributable to two sectors, health-care and retail. That’s the tightest clustering for an advancing year since at least 2000) and The Wall Street Journal (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Walt Disney Co. account for more than all of the $199 billion in market-capitalization gains in the S&P 500) have been forced to expose the ugly truth about US equities... it is not a stock market - it's a market of 6 tail-chasing momentum stocks.
Update: CHINA TO CONTINUE STABILIZING MARKET, SENTIMENT, PREVENT RISKS, CSRC SAYS
As Beijing pledges to remain supportive amid a harrowing decline in Chinese stocks, China may find itself with no exit strategy for its plunge protection program. As BofAML notes, "An 'indefinite' holding period is certainly possible – it’s how the government had dealt with the last round of bad debts in the banking system, i.e., by shifting them to bad banks and never crystalizing the losses. But even under such a scenario, there may be unintended consequences."
It all started in China, where as we noted previously, the Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% in closing hour, suffering its biggest one day drop since February 2007 and the second biggest in history. The Hang Seng, while spared the worst of the drubbing, was also down 3.1%. There were numerous theories about the risk off catalyst, including fears the PPT was gradually being withdrawn, a decline in industrial profits, as well as an influx in IPOs which drained liquidity from the market. At the same time, Nikkei 225 (-0.95%) and ASX 200 (-0.16%) traded in negative territory underpinned by softness in commodity prices.
"If investors want complete safety, they can't get much income, and if they aim for high income, they can't completely avoid risk. It’s much more challenging today with rates being suppressed by governments. This is one of the negative consequences of centrally administered economic decisions. People talk about the wisdom of the free market – of the invisible hand – but there’s no free market in money today. Interest rates are not natural."