In an effort to prevent genocide, President Obama has authorized US military action in Iraq "to protect Americans":
*OBAMA SAYS HE'S AUTHORIZED TARGETED AIR STRIKES IN IRAQ
*OBAMA SAYS HE'S AUTHORIZED HUMANITARIAN DROPS FOR REFUGEES
Global equity markets and Treasury yields are tumbling, oil and gold are up. President Obama concluded: "Today, America Is Coming To Help Iraq"... Again! Full speech below...
There were some minor fireworks in the overnight session following the worst Australian unemployment data in 12 years reported previously (and which sent the AUD crashing), most notably news that the Japanese Pension Fund would throw more pensioner money away by boosting the allocation to domestic stocks from 12% to 20%, while reducing holdings of JGBs from 60% to 40%. This in turn sent the USDJPY soaring (ironically, following yesterday's mini flash crash) if only briefly before it retraced much of the gains, even as the Pension asset reallocation news now appears to be entirely priced in. It may be all downhill from here for Japanese stocks. It was certainly downhill for Europe where after ugly German factory orders yesterday, it was the turn of Europe's growth dynamo to report just as ugly Industrial Production which missed expectations of a 1.2% print rising only 0.3%. Nonetheless, asset classes have not seen major moves yet, as today's main event is the ECB announcement due out in less than an hour. Consensus expects Draghi to do nothing, however with fresh cyclical lows in European inflation prints, and an economy which is clearly rolling over from Germany to the periphery, the ex-Goldmanite just may surprise watchers.
At 2.43%, 10Y Treasury yields are back at June 2013 levels with the entire complex pressing low-yields of the day (down 5-6bps on the week). The USD is strengthening (now up 0.45% on the week) to new 11-month highs. Equity markets are reeling in US and Europe. All major US indices are now down almost 1% from last week's payrolls data, and the Dow and Russell 2000 remain notably red year-to-date. In Europe, it's getting ugly fast, the broad European stock market is now down for 2014 with the periphery suffering the most. For 2014, Portugal is worst but Germany's DAX is -3.5% YTD. European bonds are also hurting with Italy, Portugal, and Spain spreads up 12-22bps, with German 2Y yields at 1bps - their lowest in 13 months. Gold is up on the week, jumping above $1300 this morning as copper slides.
Today, everyone believes that market price levels are largely driven by monetary policy and that we are all being played by politicians and central bankers using their words for effect rather than direct communication. No one requires convincing that market price levels are unsupported by real world economic activity. Everyone believes that this will all end badly, and the only real question is when.... There’s absolutely nothing sincere about the public sphere today, in its politics or its economics, and as a result we have lost faith in our public institutions, including public markets. It’s not the first time in the history of the Western world this has happened … the last time was in the 1930’s … and over time, perhaps a very long period of time, a modicum of faith will return. This, too, shall pass... It’s the public markets where faith has been lost, and that’s why the Golden Age of the Central Banker poses existential risks for firms and business strategies based on trading activity within those public markets.
Yesterday, the S&P and Nasdaq bounced hard off the pre-payrolls level from Aug 1st. From the moment US cash equity markets closed yesterday, stocks have been dropping back. But now, thanks to this:
SIKORSKI: RUSSIAN UNITS POISED TO PRESSURE OR INVADE UKRAINE
The Dow, S&P and now Nasdaq have tumbled below yesterday's lows, eradicating all the post-payrolls gains in stocks. Treasury yields are tumbling (5bps off highs) and gold and silver and rising.
With rates seemingly flip-flopped today (yields higher as stocks drop), we thought it worth skimming what the smart money in the bond market is thinking. As RBS Strategist Bill O'Donnell warns, "Janet must act like a diving instructor, hoping to bring levels to the surface without giving the economy the bends. What makes it really risky for Janet is that financial sector regulation has created a ‘one-way valve’ in secondary market liquidity. Nobody really knows how the system will hold up under duress." This is confirmed by Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann who fears, "the Fed will have difficulties controlling market gyrations and its potential loss of credibility from troubles that are likely to arise from its exit strategy."
On July 7, Bart Chilton, a former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, wrote an article about high-frequency trading for the New York Times's DealBook. He argued, in effect, that because high-frequency trading has become so central to the stock market, it must be serving some necessary purpose. This is false...
Dispassionate, non-conspiratorial rant , fact-based high level discussion of the sigificant drivers of the week ahead.
Alarm bells in the European banking system have been ringing for quite a while but nobody seems to be listening. The roaring capital markets are just too loud. But we have been keeping track of a few things.
"Where does [The Fed's] confidence come from?" demanded Stanley Druckenmiller recently. Grant Williams has an answer - Their “confidence” comes from a series of academic models and a lifetime spent studying theoretical finance and then applying it to real-world situations, often with disastrous effect. The day these people admit to themselves (let alone to the public) that what they have believed to be foolproof doesn’t actually work, is the day they render pointless their entire lives’ work... But that could change in a heartbeat.
Look for a speech on Friday August 22nd by Janet Yellen where she officially signals financial markets that they better start finding their respective chairs.
We have been warning for a while that not only is the high-yield credit market sending a warning but that it is critical for equity investors to comprehend why this is such bad news. This week has seen exuberant equity markets start to catch down to high-yield's warning but today's surge in HY credit spreads to six month wides is a rude awakening. Between outflows, a huge wall of maturities (and no Fed liquidity), and corporate leverage, the reach-for-yield just became an up-in-quality scramble. HY spreads are over 70bps wider than cycle tights implying the S&P 500 should be around 1775. When the easy-money-funded buyback party ends, will you still be dancing?
Up until the last day of July, everything was going great: stocks were solidly up for the month, the DJIA was on the verge of 17,000, and the wealth effect was flourishing, if not the economy. Then yesterday happened, and everything changed: not only did the S&P turn red for the month, but the DJIA slid to red for 2014. So what is the best performing asset class in July? With the PBOC now openly unleashing QE in its economy, no surprise that it was the Shanghai Composite, which returned over 8%, if virtually nothing since 2009. However, don't expect this to last: for China real estate is orders of magnitude more important than the stock market to boost the wealth effect. As for the best returning assets class in 2014 YTD: don't laugh - it's still Spain and Italy. Expect the day of reckoning for Europe's periphery to be fast, unexpected and very brutal.
Quietly, and without the drama associated with The Fed and ECB, China unveiled what looks like QE recently (as we discussed in detail here). Whether this is a stealth creation of a 'fannie-mae' structure to support housing or merely another channel for the PBOC to shovel out hole-filling liquidity is unclear. However, one thing is very clear, demand for CNY is surging (even as the PBOC weakens its fixing) and the Shanghai Composite is surging as hot money chases free money once again...
As every 'real' corporate bond manager knows (as opposed to playing one on television), forecasting from historical defaults is a fool's errand as the process is entirely cyclical and non-stationary. The fact that default rates have been low for 4 years (thanks to an overwhelming flood of liquidity-driven demand for yield) is of absolutely no use when pricing discounted cashflows into the future. However, as Fitch warns, a jump in US high-yield default rates looms. There have been 10 LBO related bond defaults thus far in 2014, compared with nine for all of 2013. While most sectors remain relatively clam, the utilities and chemicals sectors are seeing huge spikes in defaults... which explains why the market is starting to price that in.