The Dow is down for the 9th day of the last 11 since the exuberant Un-Taper spike in stocks. Crucially though, it appears the government's efforts to fear-monger equity markets into forcing action by the House Republicans is working. The all-important Dow 15,000 level has been breached to the downside and represents a much more important "economic" breach than the debt ceiling to any and every talking head it would seem...
It would appear that Warren Buffett's reassurance this morning that crossing the debt ceiling won't be so bad (trumpeted by any and all equity pitch men since) is being entirely ignored by the bond market. 1-month Treasury bill yields are soaring this morning - up 5bps at 12.5bps now (having touched 16bps - the highest yield in almost 3 years and notably higher than during the 2011 debt ceiling debacle). 1Y USA CDS are also up 3bps at 38.5bps this morning - notably inverted still. Of course, equity markets are surging back to open green for retail investors ignoring Obama's warning last night and Lew's "default has potential to be catastrophic" note this morning. In the meantime, the 1M1Y flattener trade we suggested goes from strength to strength as an indicator of market stress.
In and of itself, the government shutdown appears to be a limited market event. The indirect effect, however, is on the other main risk scenario for markets – the deal on the debt ceiling (which will need to be in place before October 17). An increase in the probability of breaching the debt ceiling would likely be destabilizing for the market. For one, the effect on growth will be far larger – our economists estimate that it would imply an immediate cut in spending equal to 4.2% of GDP (4Q average of the fiscal deficit). Second, it would raise the risk of a US sovereign default because the Treasury does not believe it has the authority to prioritize interest payments above other obligations. As such, with markets firmly focused on US fiscal matters - so where to from here?
US Equity markets started green and ended green despite giving back some POMO gains in the afternoon. The Russell 2000 closed at all-time highs with the best day in a month (up over 2% from yesterday's lows)... on the day the US government shutdown for the first time in 17 years. The big news was in commodity-land where gold and silver were smashed early (and silver rebounded somewhat) as were copper and oil. The lunatics had full control into the close as VIX was Heisenberg'd (along with EURJPY) taking the S&P to its highs of the day - totally incredible.
Spot the odd 4-week bill auction out...
US companies are warning about Q3 earnings at the second highest level since 2001, with estimates well below what they were just three short months ago. Of course, the US equity markets don't care - having rallied aggressively in the face of this collapse; lubricated by multiple-expanding QE and rev. repo. As Reuters reports, companies issuing negative outlooks outnumber positive ones by 5.2-to-1, the most negative since the 6.3-to-1 ratio in the second quarter, when however the "second half recovery" (which has been once again indefinitely delayed, perhaps to the third half?) was said would take place momentarily and lead to another mythical rebound. Industrials, Materials, and Tech top the list for negative pre-announcements.
As headline after headline hit today, US equity markets jumped and dumped as the early POMO ramp faded in an oh-so-familiar manner. As the day-session opened, "most shorted" stocks tumbled hard (-1.6% vs the market -1%) and that provided the ammo for the ramp as POMO and PMI hit. That rally stopped on time as EU closed and POMO ended and then Washington took over. FX and commodity markets were volatile early on a settled late as a EUR surge early on (on Italian political news) smashed the USD lower and sparked some risk on. The USD spent the rest of the recovering back to unchanged. Commodities ended the day cuffed at -0.5% in an oddly cozy way given the early rips and dips in Gold and Silver. The S&P has fallen 3.5% from its all-time un-taper highs, is closing right at its 50DMA, and underperformed gold and silver for the quarter.
Two months ago we were the first to highlight the 'real' great rotation in US equity markets as so-called "professionals" were selling in size as "retail" was the big buyer. Since then, market breadth has been weaker and the new highs are made on the back of fewer and fewer supposed "cult" stocks (as Cramer so aptly put it before Lumber Liquidators started to crumble). Perhaps the most infamous of the "cult" stocks is TSLA. At twice the market cap of Fiat, needing to sell 537,815 cars to meet expectations, and the gap in GAAP, Tesla closed at all-time highs on Friday. So who is buying?
This is at a time when we have real economic growth barely above 2% and nominal growth of just over 3% (abysmal by any standards) after six years of monetary easing and 5 years of QE1; QE 2; Operation twist; QE “infinity” and huge fiscal deficits. After last week Citi notes it is not clear that this set of policies is going to end anytime soon. It seems far more likely that these policies will be continued as far as the eye can see and even if there are “anecdotal” signs of inflation this Fed (Or the next one) is not a Volcker fed. This Fed does not see inflation as the evil but rather the solution. Gold should also do well as it did from 1977-1980 (while the Fed stays deliberately behind the curve). Unfortunately Citi fears that the backdrop will more closely resemble the late 1970’s/early 1980’s than the “Golden period” of 1995-2000 and that we will have a quite difficult backdrop to manage over the next 2-3 years.
Following the flash print's record miss, today's UMich consumer confidence came in below expectations (that had been cranked down from 81.9 to 78.0). At 77.5, it was the first miss in 2013 and the lowest print since April and the largest 2-month decline in 2013. This is the first consecutive monthly drop in 14 months and the largest miss vs expectations on record. Printing at 76.8 (against an expectation of 82.0), this is the lowest in 5 months and points to the picture we have been painting of a consumer increasingly affected by rising rates and soaring gas prices amid stagnant incomes. As Citi notes below, this is the exact same pattern we have seen play out in the last 2 cycles and suggest significant downside risk to US equities. The economic outlook sub-index collapsed to its lowest since April.
- House GOP banking on Plan C (Politico)
- Pimco shook hands with the Fed - and made a killing (Reuters)
- BlackBerry's Torsten Heins has a $55 Million golden parachute (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Urged to Pay More in Mortgage Deal (NYT)
- Soros Adviser Turned Lawmaker Sees Crisis by 2020 (BBG)
- U.N. Members Agree on Syria Disarmament (WSJ)
- U.N. Says Humans Are 'Extremely Likely' Behind Global Warming (WSJ)
- The non-falsifiable threats emerge: Shutdown Would Shave Fourth-Quarter U.S. Growth as Much as 1.4% (BBG)
- Swaps Rules Worry Industry: Coming Regulations Have Market Players Concerned About Possible Disruption (WSJ)
The last 4 days have seen the price of protection against a default on US Treasuries spike by the most in 4 years. While USA CDS trade on both a default and devaluation basis (as well as technical issues related to which Treasury is cheapest to deliver) this spike to 5-month highs (from what was extremely high levels of complacency) is very notable in light of today's Kocherlakota "whatever it takes" speech. While still well off 2011's debt ceiling debacle panic highs, this move does suggest more than just the politicians are worried about a technical default occurring on US debt. By way of comparison, Germany trades at 23bps and Japan at 61bps against USA's 32bps. But there is a way to trade the debt-ceiling debacle that doesn't invlove leveraged speculation in credit derivatives...
The best summary of what has (not) been going on in the downward drifting equity markets comes from DB's Jim Reid, quoting: "Markets are in non-panicky limbo at the moment ahead of the upcoming US budget debate. US equities fell for the 5th day in row (S&P 500 -0.27%) and although this is the worst run since the Christmas/New Year’s Eve period of 2012 (due to the fiscal cliff debacle), the cumulative fall is only -1.9% over this decline. Meanwhile Treasuries hit a 7-week low in yield as they recorded their 12th decline in the last 14 days." As has been the case over the past week, stocks in Asia have generally traded lower with the exception of the Nikkei225 which day after day continues to do its insane penny stock thing, first dropping -1.5% only to close up 1.2% on absolutely no news, but some chatter the Abe administration would raise the sales tax on October 1, only to offset the fiscal benefit by lowering corporate tax. How this has any net impact is beyond us. Proceeding to Europe, stocks failed to sustain the initial higher open and moved into negative territory, with Italian asset classes underperforming, as market participants digested reports citing Italian MP Gasparri saying that PdL lawmakers are ready to quit if Berlusconi is ousted. This in turn saw a number of Italian banking stocks come under intense selling pressure, with the Italian/German yield spread widening in spite of supportive reinvestment flows that are due this week.
The Federal Reserve continues to cling to a destabilizing and ineffective strategy. By maintaining its policy of quantitative easing (QE) – which entails monthly purchases of long-term assets worth $85 billion – the Fed is courting an increasingly treacherous endgame at home and abroad. By now, the global repercussions are clear, falling most acutely on developing economies with large current-account deficits. But there is an even more insidious problem brewing on the home front - wealth effects are for the wealthy (as the Fed knows too well). QE benefits the few who need it the least. That is not exactly a recipe for a broad-based and socially optimal economic recovery.
JAIN EXPECTS 3Q DEBT TRADING REV. TO DECLINE `SIGNIFICANTLY'
JAIN SAYS CB&S AFFECTED BY MARKET ENVIRONMENT
JAIN SAYS 3Q TRADING RESULTS DIDN'T BENEFIT FROM CATALYST
JAIN EXPECTS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL LITIGATION RESERVES
Stock promptly plunges because nobody could have possible foreseen this...