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...
Early weakness in Asia driven by US-follow thru selling and ongoing concerns about the us fiscal showdowns as well as the debt ceiling, if not by actual news, resulted in a red close in both the Nikkei and SHCOMP, as well as other regional indices such as the Sensex. This then shifted to Europe, where however stocks reversed the initial move lower and are seen broadly flat, with Bunds remaining bid on the back of month-end, as well as coupon and redemption related flows. However the move higher in stocks was led by telecommunications and health care sectors, which indicates that further upside will require another positive catalyst. There was little in terms of fresh EU related macroeconomic commentary, but according to a report published by the European Banking Authority, the EU’s biggest 42 banks cut their aggregate capital shortfall with respect to the “fully loaded” 2019 Basel III requirements to €70.4bln as of December 2012. This is amusing since not one European bank has actually raised capital, but merely redefined what constitutes capital courtesy of a liberal expansion of RWA, Tier 1 and various other meaningless definition which works until such time as the perilous European balance kept together by the non-existent OMT, is tipped over.
Following UMich confidence's biggest miss on record, the Conference Board misses expectations printing at its lowest since May 2013 as the last data was revsied higher. This is the largest MoM drop since March. Crucially, the headline index was saved by a surge in the "present situation" as expectations for the future plunged. As a reminder, Consumer Confidence has an awkward 4 year 4 month pattern of dysphoria to euphoria (though at progressively lower levels) and today's data merely confirms that the cycle of exuberance may have been broken.
Dispassionate macro overview.
The Venezuelan government is in a bind. They realize that 'the people' will stand-by idly as the nation's currency is devalued, as inflation soars, and blackouts continue as food shortages grow...(and the stock market soars) but take away a critical personal care item and the riots will begin. As Yahoo Maktoob reports, Venezuela's leftist government said Saturday it temporarily seized a major toilet paper factory hoping that it can end troublesome shortages of the staple personal care item. "The temporary occupation of [the toilet-paper manufacturing plant] is aimed at verifying that toilet paper industry production, marketing and distribution" are all in line with state policies, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter, without indicating how long the takeover would last. This action follows 'nationalization' of large farms amid President Maduro's claims that the White House is plotting the "collapse" of his government next month by sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies.
Given Bullard's earlier comments on 'bubbles' being so obvious to spot in the prior two examples he noted, we thought the following chart was instructive. As Global Financial Data's Ralph Dillon notes, They often say that the past is a mirror of the future. This has rung true a few times in our markets' history and this chart demonstrates that precisely. Except for one thing...
First, the bad news; the un-Taper-inspired collapse in the USD is not helping the JPY weakness that Abe desires and the NKY is now 200 points off its US day-session highs (though still green from yesterday) and the JASDAQ is red. But everywhere else there is much rejoicing... EM FX is back at 5 to 6 week highs with MYR, INR (fwds), and IDR all having major surges. Equity markets are green in general but the Philippines PSEi (+3%) and Indonesia's JCI (+4% but was +7.7% at one point) are an illiquid mess of over-exuberance. Gold, US Treasuries, and US equity futures are all holding gains or inching slightly better. Thai bonds are 22bps lower in yield, Indonesia -10bps, but Indian bonds for now are quiet. MSCI's AsiaPac Ex-Japan equity index is now back at highs from May 2011, having risen 12 of the last 16 days for a 9.7% gain. While the moves are large, they are not unprecedented and certainly don't signal a wholesale charge back in of new hot-money since volumes remain on the low side for now.
- Expectations for Fed to begin to taper asset purchases by USD 10-15bln
- Ranges for pace of Treasury purchases: high USD 45bln, low USD 25bln
- Ranges for pace of MBS purchases: high USD 45bln, low USD 30bln
- Some see FOMC lowering unemployment threshold from current 6.5%
- Summary of Economic Projections and Press Conference from Fed Chairman Bernanke follow the announcement