Two biggest move overnight came from everyone's favorite carry pair, the USDJPY, which may have finally read what we said yesterday, namely that with the Fed and ECB both doing its job, there is little need for the Bank of Japan to repeat its Halloween massacre for the second year in a row, and as a result will keep its QQE program unchanged. It promptly tumbled from its 121 tractor level, to just above 120.25, where BOJ bids were said to be found. With the FOMC October meeting starting today, the other overnight catalyst was not surprisingly the latest Hilsenrath scribe in which he removed any uncertainty about a Wednesday hike, "leaving mid-December as the central bank’s last chance to raise rates this year."
Accounting fraud remains at the heart of the fix instituted by Ben Bernanke and the ploy has been copied by authorities throughout the global financial system, including the central banks of China, Japan, and the European Community. That it seemed to work for the past seven years in propping up global finance has given too many people the dangerous conviction that reality is optional in economic relations. The recovery of equity markets from the disturbances of August has apparently convinced the market players that stocks are invincible. Complacency reigns at epic levels. Few are ready for what is coming.
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The inherent problem of "eternal bullishness" is the "wilfull blindness" to the underlying data in an effort to chase short-term returns. This leads to the unfortunate problem of being "all-in" on every hand which has a devastating consequence when a mean reverting event occurs. In the end, it does not matter IF you are "bullish" or "bearish." The reality is that both "bulls" and "bears" are owned by the "broken clock" syndrome during the full-market cycle. However, what is grossly important in achieving long-term investment success is not necessarily being "right" during the first half of the cycle, but by not being "wrong" during the second half.
"The end of QE mattered" admits BofAML, adding that "the impact was not replaced by BoJ or ECB dollars." It is this new 'hostile' investment backdrop as liquidity cheer swings to illiquidity fear (and two years of non-stop "pain trades") that has faith in the big three bull beliefs fading fast. October's "pain trade" has been a broad-based rally in all risk assets, but there are a number of factors preventing BofAML getting more bullish now that risk has surged.
In our Chinese stock market wrap following Friday's unexpected rate cut, which saw the Shanghai Composite storm out of the gate, we said that "we would not be surprised to see China's stocks sliding back into the red very shortly as "sell the news" concerns return, and as the increasingly more addicted "markets" demand even more liquidity from central banks just to stay unchanged, let alone rise to new all time highs." Sure enough, with just minutes to go before the close, the SHCOMP wiped out all its daily gains and was set for a red close had it not been for the "national team" miraculous last minute intervention which was inevitable after Friday's PBOC rate cut, and which lifted the composite 0.5% into the green as the euphoria was rapidly evaporating.
"It could simply be 1998/99 all over again. After all, a “speculative blow-off” in asset prices is one logical conclusion to a world dominated by central bank liquidity, technological disruption & wealth inequality. What worked back then? What rose from the rubble of 1998? How would one position for one final melt-up on Wall Street..."
The powers that be have lost control. After almost a century of playing the Wizard of Oz, the curtain is disintegrating. Institutions to ensure control, stability and prosperity are failing. People and markets were not to be trusted and most of these institutions were established to protect against such freedom. Bureaucrats, central planners and big governments were to be the answers for a better world. The damage of nearly a century of this nonsense is suddenly becoming evident. Things fall apart is characterized by institutions that no longer are trusted or believed in.
Equity markets have not priced a meaningful slowdown in global corporate earnings. They are still pricing in central banker commentary... for now. History teaches us that equity turbulence accompanied by meaningful economic softness often marks the turn from a secular bull market in to a bear market.
Yesterday morning, when previewing the day's tumultuous events, we said that "Futures Are Firm On Hope Draghi Will Give Green Light To BTFD." And boy did Draghi give a green light, that and then some, when his press conference unleashed one of the biggest one-day US equity rallies in 2015. This morning it has been more of the same, with global market momentum on the heels of Draghi's confirmation that Europe's economy is again backsliding (it's a good thing, if only for stocks), leading to momentum for US equity futures, which together with soaring tech/cloud, earnings if no other, are on their way to take out recent all time highs.
After yesterday's dramatic late day market rout catalyzed by the tumble in the biotech sector in general, and Valeant in particular, and foreseen in its entirety by Gartman who went bullish just hours before, this morning US equity futures and European stocks have recouped some losses on the recursive, and traditional, hope that Mario Draghi will say something to push risk higher when he speaks in 2 hours at the ECB's press conference in Malta. And yet, just like Yellen a month ago, Draghi faces the paradox of reflexivity that after years of being ignored, is the "new thing" in town: how does he intervene and demonstrate he is readier than ever to set up stimulus, without panicking investors over euro area’s health.
Global Capitalism is trapped in its own Prisoner’s Dilemma; fourty four years after the end of the Bretton Woods System global central banks have manipulated the cost of risk in a competition of devaluation leading to a dangerous build up in debt and leverage, lower risk premiums, income disparity, and greater probability of tail events on both sides of the return distribution. Truth is being suppressed by the tools of money. Market behavior has now fully adapted to the expectation of pre-emptive central bank action to crisis creating a dangerous self-reflexivity and moral hazard. Volatility markets are warped in this new reality routinely exhibiting schizophrenic behavior. The tremendous growth of the short volatility complex across all assets, combined with self-reflexive investment strategies, are creating a dangerous ‘shadow convexity’ that will fuel the next hyper-crash.
The "moar easing" hope-strewn panic-buying of the last few days is rapidly turning into regret as US equity markets tumble back into the red for the week. The biggest driver today appears to be pressure on the Healthcare sector driven by Biotechs collapse and break below a key uptrend... As one veteran trader noted... The plunge in stocks has a very 'liquidation' feel to it...
"Real investors" are simultaneously nervous and hopeful, confident yet resigned. Yes, their basic belief in equities as an investment class is sound and supported by the last five years of good performance. At the same time, they understand the nuances of the bear case extremely well and are prepared for a long slog of lower returns.
With less than 2 weeks left until the "debt ceiling accident" that Jack lew has warned about, T-Bills (maturing beyond Nov 3rd) are being dumped wholesale. Oct 29th Bills are trading -1bps but Nov 12th Bills are up 6bps at 12bps, the 1-month WI is at 16bps. Of course, equity markets will be the last to notice and algos appear to be seeing this as a panic-buying-opportunity.