The commodity market is saying global growth is slowing. But, there is hope, as BofAML's David Woo notes, the US equity market is saying US consumers are still going strong; and the FX and European sovereign markets seem to believe Mrs. Watanabe is about to embark on a global shopping spree. However, like us, Woo thinks it is unlikely that these markets will all turn out to be right. At the same time, we agree completely with Woo's assessment that markets may be under pricing three macro risks: the ability of Beijing to ease policy aggressively in the face of strong home price appreciation may be limited; the positive wealth effect of US housing recovery may not be enough to offset the contractionary impact of fiscal tightening; Japanese money may stay at home longer than expected. As he concludes, "something will have to give and a major re-alignment of the markets, the odds of which are rising, will probably not be either smooth or benign."
The world remains transfixed in the belief that the Federal Reserve can 'prime' the economic pump one more time via monetizing trillion-dollar deficits ad nauseum, inflate its balance sheet to unprecedented levels, and still successfully exit from this largesse leaving behind a 'better' place for mankind. Judging by crescendo of cognitive dysfunction, the nominal price level of US equities can dismiss current weakness since we just have to wait a little longer (and print a little moar) and the old normal growth will rise phoenix-like from the ashes of our post-debt-super-cycle world. The truth is far simpler - US equity markets are not valued on earnings (LTM, current, or forward); they are not priced off discounted dividends; there is no discounting of macro upturns; or great rotations. Since the crisis began, there is only one thing that matters, as Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg notes from this stunning chart, "the NYSE Market Cap, this cycle, actually went up dollar for dollar with the expansion of the Fed's pregnant balance sheet."
Due to decades of unreserved credit growth that temporarily boosted the appearance of sustainable economic growth and prosperity, rational economic behavior cannot produce real (inflation-adjusted) economic growth from current levels. The nominal sizes of advanced economies have grown far larger than the rational scope of production that would be needed to sustain them. This fundamental problem explains best the current state of affairs: malaise (i.e., bank system de-leveraging and economic stagnation) spreading through the means of production and the need for increasing policy intervention to stabilize goods, service and asset prices (by depressing the first three and inflating the last?). We live and work in a contrived meta-economy that can be managed through narrow channels in financial and state capitals. Given the overwhelming past misallocation of capital cited above, we think the most important realization for investors in the current environment is that price levels of goods, services and assets may be biased to rise but they are not sustainable in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. The crowd is ignoring the obvious, as all signs point towards the next currency reset.
There have been several recent developments that have flown in the face of both neo-liberalism and ordo-liberalism and thrown investors off balance. Discuss.
US equity indices are in their own little world of glee today. Treasuries, credit, FX markets, swaps, commodities are not playing along. So what is going on? These two charts may help to explain...
While Cyprus has been brushed away as a "storm in a teacup" and asset-gatherers stare blankly at their screens pointing at record highs to confirm the "market knows best", it appears something rather important 'broke' that day (and hasn't stopped breaking since). While we have discussed the rather glaring divergences between US equities' exuberance and global equity markets and macro- and micro- data; supposedly the Fed's key indicator (the 5Y5Y forward inflation expectation) has reversed rather significantly. The last two times, forward inflation expectations dropped so significantly, the ECB launched LTRO and the Fed launched QE3. It seems the BoJ's QQE is not having the effect perhaps they had hoped on inflation expectations. Will the Fed have to come to the rescue once again? And how will gold react to that?
With the entire world's attention focused on Boston, the FX carry pair traders knew they had a wide berth to push futures, courtesy of some EURUSD and USDJPY levitation overnight, which started following news out of Japan that the G-20 would have no objection to its big monetary stimulus - of course they don't: they encourage it: just look at the levitation in the global wealth effect stock markets since it started. The Friday humor started early: "Japan explained that its monetary policy is aimed at achieving price stability and economic recovery, and therefore is in line with the G20 agreement in February," Aso told reporters. "There was no objection to that at the meeting." "We explained (at the G20 meeting) that we're convinced that the measures we're taking will be good for the global economy as they will help revive Japanese growth," Aso said. And by global economy he of course means stocks. Shortly thereafter, when Europe opened, the real levitation started as someone, somewhere had to offset what would otherwise be a 100 point plunge in the DJIA just on IBM's miserable results alone. Sure enough what better way to do that than with a wholesale market "tide" offsetting one or two founder boats.
Correlation is not causation; but coincidence means you're on the right path. Looking at the charts of Stocks, Commodities, and Precious Metals, we wonder just what it was that President Obama said at his 11amET White House meeting last Thursday...
We all know that markets don’t always reflect the health of the economy. It is not unusual to experience stellar market returns in an otherwise mediocre economic backdrop – something that investors are currently experiencing. But future success in this investing climate is a greater challenge and requires a good hard look at how realistic earnings expectations are. The bottom line is that actual earnings growth will be substantially lower than what is currently built into stock prices. This view is contrary to current consensus expectations and could potentially serve as a major headwind for the market once investors begin to share it in coming months.
That escalated quickly. Germany's DAX is now negative year-to-date (at 5-month lows), Copper is at 18-month lows, the bid for safety has driven 2Y Swiss rates under -10bps, their lowest in 3 months, and US equity markets are crumbling after yesterday's dead-cat-bounce. There was little to no pre-open ramp this morning, no EUR-levered pump, and VIX is not playing ball with the manipulators. Something changed; the denial is beginning to unwind. Gold and silver are modestly bid as we suspect physical demand bleeds back into paper. Maybe stocks are catching down to the 'WTF' reality (as we discussed here and here).
Every scheme in Europe than can be rigged has been or is being rigged and, in the end, it will only be the fools that are left in this game. It is not the greater fools either but the mandated fools who take directions from Brussels who takes their directions from Berlin. We cannot emphasize enough the great risk that anyone takes now by investing in anything in Europe. You can ignore liabilities, you can play pretend and not count liabilities but in the end they are still there and the losses must be finally acknowledged. Gold gave you a head's up.
While China's trifecta miss of GDP, Retail Sales and Industrial Production all coming lower than expected was likely a factor in the overnight rout of gold, the initial burst of selling started well before the Chinese data hit the tape, or as soon as Japan opened for trading with forced financial institution selling to prefund cash for any and all future JGB VaR-driven margin calls. It was all downhill from there, literally, with overnight selling of gold punctured by brief burst of targeted stop hunting, sending the metal down $116 per ounce, as spot touches $1385 after trading nearly at $1500 yesterday and down $200 in 4 days. End result, whether due to a re-collapsing global economy, margin calls, fears forced Cyprus gold selling will be imposed on all other insolvent European countries, coordinated central bank slams, hedge fund positioning, long unwinds, liquidations, fears about future demand, or whatever the usual selling suspects are, is that gold tumbles an unprecedented 7.8% on 230,000 contracts in one day, and well over 10% in two days, pushing the yellow metal 14 day RSI band to 18, meaning it is now most oversold since 1999. In brief, it is an all out panic, with Goldman still telling clients to sell, i.e., buying every shiny ounce all the way down (not to mention India, where accordingto UBS Friday demand was double the average).
The equity rally over the past 18 months has been driven by multiple expansion. As Morgan Stanley's Gerard Minack notes, equity markets have been highly correlated with macro surprises – whether economic data have been exceeding, or falling short of, consensus forecasts – through this expansion. However, we note that the potential for a market setback is extreme; as the gap between what seems increasingly needed to sustain the rally – better growth and earnings news – versus the prospect of weaker US growth is as wide as it has been in five years. The macro news flow is now disappointing in the major developed economies. Moreover, there’s been a pseudo-seasonal pattern to the ebb and flow of surprises, with weakness typical in the middle quarters of the year. The very recent weakness in the US is more troubling though as it is set against the backdrop of already-sluggish global growth, which is most pronounced in the developed markets; and reflecting the sag in global growth (and earnings), global equities have already stalled outside the US. The out-performance of equities versus bonds over the past year is consistent with solid macro improvement and as the chart below indicates, that hope is fading fast.
The Analytics Group of IIROC performed a Trading Review and Analysis of High Frequency Trading on Canadian equity markets. IIROC uses a methodology to identify user IDs exhibiting high order-to-trade ratios, or HOT User IDs, and covers the period from August 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011.
In Greece "Cribs" is known as "Caves." Watch the following video to understand why.