Yesterday afternoon, we tweeted:
What time tomorrow do we get the hope rally? Odds are between 10:30 and 10:45. Rejection news naturally just after 4 pm
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 14, 2013
And on the back of a statement from the White House that Obama and Biden will meet with McConnell, Reid, Pelosi, and Boehner - but "will not pay ransom" - and with the T-Bill market police on vacation, equity markets are surging back towards green (removing once again any incentive to act).
What politicians want from their regulatory efforts is a world of pure beta and zero alpha. This is the ultimate “level playing field”, where no one knows anything that everyone else doesn’t also know. The presumption within regulatory bodies today is that you must be cheating if you are generating alpha. How’s that? Alpha generation requires private information. Private information, however acquired, is defined as insider information. Insider information is cheating. Thus, alpha generation is cheating. QED. Why would politicians want an alpha-free market? Because a “fair” market with a “level playing field” is an enormously popular Narrative for every US Attorney who wants to be Attorney General, every Attorney General who wants to be Governor, and every Governor who wants to be President … which is to say all US Attorneys and all Attorneys General and all Governors. Because criminalizing private information in public markets ensures a steady stream of rich criminals for show trials in the future. Because the political stability of the American regime depends on a widely dispersed, non-zero-sum price appreciation of all financial assets – beta – not the concentrated, zero-sum price appreciation of idiosyncratic securities. Because public confidence in the government’s control of public institutions like the market must be restored at all costs, even if that confidence is misplaced and even if the side-effects of that restoration are immense.
In a world devoid for the past two weeks and certainly for foreseeable future of most US economic data (this week we get no CPI, Industrial Production and New Home Sales among others), markets are now reliant on China for an indication of how the economy is doing, which is why this weekend's weaker than expected Chinese exports (ignoring the fact that China trade data is largely made up) and higher than expected consumer price inflation (driven by higher vegetable prices), even as new yuan loans soared to CNY787 billion, well above the CNY675 billion estimate despite broader M2 slowing from 14.7% in August to 14.2% in September, means the Chinese economy is once again in a vice and following the summer's liquidity driven boost, is set to roll over. Which in turn means that once again the PBOC is flying blind: unable to inject more liquidity without risking broader inflation, while most indicators are already rolling over. In short, ugly and certainly rolling over Chinese economic indicators for the market to mull over on Columbus day, even though all this will be promptly forgotten once the Washington debt ceiling song and dance resumes and the now traditional 10:30 am surge grips the algotrons as the latest set of "imminent deal" rumors is unleashed.
We now appear to be close to the day of reckoning that likely determines what the coming weeks/months hold.
- Do we step back from the brink, see our politicians reach an agreement and carry on? Although to be fair, in 2011 the break below supports that led to accelerated losses in the equity markets actually took place once an agreement was reached.
- Do we break lower thereby causing the negative feedback loop/concerns that feed back into the economy, kill any possibility of tapering and sees the Fed re-establish its dovish credentials (Like 1998 and 2011)
- Do bond yields push higher after an agreement thereby increasing concerns about a negative feedback loop into the economy, housing, emerging markets, Europe (Like 2011) and ultimately the equity market?
Time will tell us the answers to the above questions, but whatever happens, Citi notes it looks like the price action in the near future is at pivotal levels that need to be watched closely.
It may seem counter-intuitive but the US dollar appreciated last week, despite the partial closure of the Federal government, the heightened risk of default and the nomination of Yellen. The dollar can move higher next week too.
Of course, equity markets can only hear one thing (for fear of the consideration of Plan B) but as The Washington Post notes, the Senate Republicans can't agree on how their meeting with Obama went.
- Good - Sen. Bon Corker: "I was pleasantly surprised, I think there's a gelling that's beginning to take place."
- Bad - Sen. Susan Collins: "I don't want to give the impress that he endorsed it, but he indicated there were 'elements' with which he agreed."
- Ugly - Sen John Cornyn: "...what could have been a productive conversation was instead another predictable lecture from the President that did not lay out a new path forward."
Summing it all up (and mixing metaphors) - it's a Goldilocks meeting for stocks.
With Gallup indicating the biggest 3-week decline in economic confidence since Lehman, it is hardly a surprise that UMich consumer confidence slumped to its lowest since January having fallen 3 months in a row. This is the 2nd monthly miss in a row - and biggest 3-month drop in 25 months - and appears to confirm the cyclical turn we have been discussing for a few months. And remember, the exuberance of multiple expansion relies on the ever-rising confidence of the people to lift it back to nebulous heights.
Equity markets are holding their gains despite the bond-market's bid this morning (and weakness in Nov bills).. it seems the optimism is a little premature...
Source close to last night's talks tell me CR deal is not as close as many press reports; House Rs far from ready to move on a clean CR
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 11, 2013
Everyone is pointing to national polls blaming the Repblicans and this there is pressure to act... do not forget "All politics is local"
JPM Hammered By Massive $9.2 Billion In Legal Expenses, Posts First Loss Under Dimon; Takes $1.6 Billion Reserve ReleaseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/11/2013 06:42 -0500
So much for the JPM "fortress balance sheet." Moments ago the bank which 18 months ago stunned the world with the biggest prop trading loss in history, just reported its first quarterly loss under Jamie Dimon, missing expected revenue of $24 billion with a print of $23.88 billion, but it was net income where the stunner was in the form of a $0.4 billion net income. The reason: the fact that from the government's best friend, Jamie Dimon has become the punching bag du jour, and having to pay $9.15 billion in pretax legal expenses, the biggest in company history. Considering that the other key component of Q3 net income was a whopping $1.6 billion in loan loss reserve releases, one wonders just how truly strong Q3 earnings really were. But of course, this being Wall Street, all negative news is "one-time" and to be added back. Which is why JPM promptly took benefit for all charges, which means adding back the $7.2 billion legal expense and $992 MM reserve release after tax benefit. In short: of the firm's $1.42 in pro forma EPS, a whopping $1.59 was purely from the addback of these two items.
As we noted last night, yesterday's move in US equity markets showed signs of investor panic and capitulation. BofAML points out that the inversion of the VIX to levels that have coincided with market lows for much of this year, the significant underperformance of recent outperformers (the NASDAQ Comp fell 2% and the Russell 2000 fell 1.72% vs an S&P500 decline of 1.23%), and pop in the ARMS Index all point to signs of capitulation. While this is encouraging from a technical perspective, as it says we are one step closer to completing the multi-week correction, they warn - it does not mean the correction is finished.
For all expectations of a big jump in US futures overnight on the largely priced in Janet Yellen nomination announcement which is due at 3 pm today, the move so far has been very much contained, as expected, with a modest 90 minute halflife, as the markets' prevailing concern continues to be whether the debt ceiling negotiation will be concluded by the October 17 deadline or if it would stretch further forcing the government to prioritize payments. There is however some hope with Bloomberg reporting that some possible paths out of the debt impasse are starting to emerge with less than a week before U.S. borrowing authority lapses after Obama said he could accept a short-term debt-limit increase without policy conditions that set the terms for future talks. Whether this materializes or just leads to more empty posturing and televized press conferences is unclear, although as Politico reports, the stakes for republicans are getting increasingly nebulous with some saying they are "losing" the fight, while the core GDP constituency is actually liking the government shutdown.
The 4.3% drop from recent highs in the S&P 13 days ago is the largest drop over that period since mid November 2012. The S&P broke its 11-month uptrend and closed below its 100DMA having fallen 11 of the last 14 days post Un-Taper. VIX broke back above 21% briefly (almost its highest level of 2013). Homebuilders were ugly as were the rest of the high-beta momo stocks. Equity markets tracked FX carry (AUDJPY mostly) on the day but the USD ended the day modestly higher (albeit amid wide dispersion). Treasuries were mixed with the short-term battered (1w to 1m Bills +10-15bps!!!!), 2Y +5bps on the week, 30Y -2.5bps (which is notable in that it is not tracking stocks implying some angst over TSY ownership). Gold, Silver and Copper were pushed lower as stock fell but the PMs remain bid on the week. Stocks dived into the close with no VIX monkey-hammering to help; The Dow is now 5.9% off its highs and testing its 200DMA for the first time this year.
Amid the bluster of yet another press conference, equity markets chopped around jerking up and down 5 points at a time for the S&P 500. But one market, the Treasury Market, went only one way. While it is all too easy to watch the tickers and listen to the glib bloviation of any and all talking head exclaiming that there is no-way, zero-chance, totally unlikely, impossible that the US government would technically default - the Treasury-Bill market is less confident (10/17s +8.5bps to 22.5bps, 10/31s +7.5bps to 23.5bps). In fact, the T-Bill yield has now spiked massively more than during the 2011 Debt-Ceiling debate (and stocks - for now - have not).
Yesterday we described the various scenarios available to Treasury in the next few weeks should the shutdown and debt ceiling debacle carry on longer than the equity markets believe possible. As BofAML notes, however, the most plausible option for the Treasury could be implementing a delayed payment regime. In such a scenario, the Treasury would wait until it has enough cash to pay off an entire day’s obligations and then make those payments on a day-to-day basis. Given the lack of a precedent, it is hard to quantify the impact on the financial markets in the event that the Treasury was to miss payment on a UST; but the following looks at the impact on a market by market basis.
Looking at the equity market and some of the background dynamics Citi's FX Technical group cannot help but be reminded of 2011. They also warn, despite the constant hope-driven rallies this week, there are also some aspects of what we saw in 1998 and similarities with 2000 that are worth noting. The bottom line, we have had the view for some time that we would see a much deeper correction in the equity market (in excess of 20%). Recent price action and developments might (just might) be suggesting that it is time to revisit that theme.