With reports of near mutiny in Syriza's ranks amid the back-bending they have done to try to meet Germany's demands - only to be abjectly denied by a non-ultimatum-setting Schaeuble - it is perhaps time to prepare (ahead of tomorrow's apparent "G" day) for the possibility that Greece creates a systemic event. As Goldman recently warned, there are aspects that leave us more worried than we have been since the start of the Euro area crisis with a tight schedule to avert a disorderly outcome. Risk markets so far have traded in a resilient (well managed) manner but risks of an accident remain and here is how Goldman suggests you hedge that exposure.
"Suffice it to say that current equity markets are no place for long-term investors, and that even a resumption of risk-seeking investor preferences would demand a considerable safety net. For now, we believe the best interpretation of recent market action is as a hopeful, low-volume short-squeeze to marginal new highs, despite early deterioration in market internals following a period of extreme overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions. This pattern is much like we observed in September 2000 and October 2007."
There was much confusion yesterday when algos went into a buying frenzy on news that Greece would submit a request for a 6 month loan extension, believing this means Greece has caved and will agree to a bailout programme extension as well. Nothing could have been further from the truth as we explained first moments after the headline struck, and also as Reuters validated moments ago when it said that "Greece will submit a request to the euro zone on Wednesday to extend a "loan agreement" for up to six months but EU paymaster Germany says no such deal is on offer and Athens must stick to the terms of its existing international bailout." But since the political nuances of diplomacy are lost on the math Ph.Ds who program the market-moving algos, the S&P did manage to roar above 2100 on what was another headfake and then forgot to sell off on the reality.
Two months ago we showed, and explained in great detail, how in the new normal the role of gold is nothing more than a funding "currency" to allow the BOJ to sell Yen against it (on a borrowed basis, which is also why the LBMA halted reporting its GOFO data as of the end of February, as it would not be pleasant for the central bank cartel to demonstrate just how much institutional gold shortfall there developed following major BOJ interventions). So for all those who are curious what it looks like when the BOJ "enters the house", here it is...
MMT: Monetizing Muppet Trades. This one made good money!
It has been a quiet start to the week, with US equity futures and European stocks mostly unchanged with all eyes on what progress (if any) will be made between Greece and the Eurogroup, where the press conference is scheduled for 7:00 pm GMT (expect significant delays) in what is otherwise expected to be a relatively subdued day with the US away from market and a light macroeconomic calendar.
The week just ended laid bare any pretensions that there is not something wrong (seriously wrong) within the natural world of both the macro underpinnings of business as well as finance. Unimaginable just a short 6 years ago, the U.S. equity markets closed at a height once again never before seen in human history highs, (it has more than tripled from the 2008 bottom!) but has done so solely on Keynesian fairy tales. The issue now is: does the fairytale end in a nightmare?
Bell Curves have become fatter and flatter. They may even be inverted. The term “bell curve” comes from the shape of the curve that depicts all occurrences distributed around the most-probable event. Data points in the ‘tails’ are now more frequent. Hyper-active central banks might be ensuring both a melt-up bubble and a market crash: larger ‘right-tail’ and ‘left-tail’ outcomes.
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
US equity markets are quietly doing what they do - go up and stay up. But in the biggest markets in the world - US Treasury, Japanese bonds, and foreign exchange - something turmoily is happening. Yields are cratering today.. The USDollar is getting hammered on the back of JPY gapping dramatically stronger and EUR surging.
What's an equity investor to do these days?
So far it has been an overnight session which clearly forgot to take its lithium, with futures first tumbling after CNBC's "leak" that a Greek deal had been reached was refuted, only to surge subsequently on both the Riskbank's foray into NIRP and QE which crushed the Swedish currency and sent its stocks to recorder highs, and more importantly, on the latest ceasefire out of Minsk which has pushed Russian and European assets substantially higher. While only the most naive believe that any palpable end to Ukraine hostilities will emerge as a result of today's delay, expect for Greek headlines to return with a vengeance as today it is Tsipras' turn to speak at a summit of the 28 European Union leaders set to begin momentarily.
The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:
LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA
Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?