Does the economy move in predictable waves, cycles or patterns? There are many economists that believe that it does, and if their projections are correct, the rest of this decade is going to be pure hell for the United States. Many mainstream economists want nothing to do with economic cycle theorists, but it should be noted that economic cycle theories have enabled some analysts to correctly predict the timing of recessions, stock market peaks and stock market crashes over the past couple of decades. Of course none of the theories discussed below is perfect, but it is very interesting to note that all of them seem to indicate that the U.S. economy is about to enter a major downturn. So will the period of 2015 to 2020 turn out to be pure hell for the United States? We will just have to wait and see.
If, in the New Normal, newsflow and facts mattered, facts such as the German Zew Investor Expectations index crashing from 43.2 to 33.1, smashing expectations of a 40.0 print to the downside and down to the lowest since January 2013 nearly half the 7 year half reported as recently as December confirming Germany can no longer be Europe's growth dynamo courtesy of a still nosebleed high EURUSD, or facts such as overnight Chinese data missed in every category with industrial output up 8.7% y/y in April vs an estimated 8.9%, retail sales up 11.9% below the estimated 12.2% rise and ; Jan.-April fixed-asset investment growing 17.3% vs est. 17.7%, then futures may just posted a downtick. However, since it is a Tuesday, with a ~$1 billion POMO, one can ignore the fundamentals and proceed straight to buying anything and everything with indiscriminate abandon. The only question is whether the NY Fed orders Citadel to slam the VIX under 11 to start off the morning S&P rampage which should push the broad market index above Goldman's 1900 price target for the end of the 2014.
Is there anything fundamental to explain why the equity indices of the "Fragile Five" countries, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Turkey, have regained their recent highs? According to GaveKal the answer is a resounding no: "As investors, we like equity rallies to be propelled by fundamental factors, like earnings re-ratings or growth surprises. But there is little behind this rally to suggest any sustainable economic healing." So what is pushing this particular subset of risk higher? Why the global liquidity tsunami of course.
The Russell 2000 had its best day in over 17 months today - up 2.5% (best since Jan 2nd 2013) and +4% from Friday's lows. All US equity markets exploded higher our of the gate thanks to a ridiculous spike lower in VIX (below 12) and USDJPY stop-run back through 102 which squeezed "most shorted" dramatically higher. The Dow, Trannies, and S&P all made new record high closes...and it's not even Tuesday yet! Away from stocks, silver jumped over 2% for almost its best day in 3 months. Gold rebounded over $25 from overnight smackdown lows. Oil broke back above $100. Treasury yields rose modestly (2-3bps) - majorly out of sync with equity exuberance. JPY was large and in charge of stocks but the USD ended the day unchanged. S&P futures volume was 30% below recent average.
While US equity markets could not be more excited at the prospect of more bloodshed, more sanctions, and more WWIII, it seems the Ukrainian markets are not amused. Short-dated CDS are spiking, bond yields surging, stock prices tumbling, and the Hyrvnia is back at one-month lows. Ukrainian stocks are now the worst-performing market in the world and with 10Y bond yields back over 10% (and 5Y near 14%), it seems the exuberance for risk in Western markets is not spilling out into a nation that is 'saved' by the IMF loans and western confidence.
East Ukraine may be independent in a result which the Kremlin said it "respects" and hopes for a "civilized implementation" of the referendum results, and which assures further military escalation in the proxy war of east versus west, but stocks are happy to ignore it all again. The reason: a positive close over in Asia (ex-Japan) after China’s State Council pledged to reform markets buoyed demand for risk, although it really is just a follow through to the furious VIX slam in the last hour of US Friday trading, which said otherwise, means buying of US equities was the reason to buy US equities. More importantly and adding to the early spoo euphoria were comments by ECB's Nowotny who said that interest rate cut alone would likely be too little to combat low inflation - suggesting a European QE is coming - also acted as a catalyst for the latest uptick in stocks: when trapped like the ECB and when "guiding" to future activity, if unable to actually execute it, may as well go all the way. End result, Spoos up nearly 0.5% because, well, others are buying spoos.
The long-bond yield is now up 10bps on the week (and 5Y -4bps) leaving the yield curve steepening by its most in 20 months. Thanks to a handy - we don't need no stinking protection - VIX slam, US equity markets have recovered to highs of the day as the buying panic of yesterday is replayed once again.
- Omnicom, Publicis call off proposed $35 billion merger (Reuters)
- Apple in talks for $3.2bn Beats deal (FT)
- Alibaba IPO Grew Out of ’80s Chaos and Guy From Goldman (BBG)
- Nigeria's president at WEF pledges to free kidnapped girls (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Joins Wells Fargo in Rolling Out Jumbo Offerings (BBG)
- It's 1999 all over again: Young Bankers Fed Up With 90-Hour Weeks Move to Startups (BBG)
- ECB stimulus talk knocks euro, peripheral yields (Reuters)
- Deutsche Bank Currency Crown Lost to Citigroup on Volatility (BBG)
- London Taxis Plan 10,000-Car Protest Against Uber App Use (BBG)
- Pfizer Holders Could Face Tax Hit in a Deal for AstraZeneca (WSJ)
It has been a very quiet session so far, and despite the slow-mo levitation in the USDJPY, its impact on US equity futures has been minimal if not negative. In fact, following yesterday's latest late day tumble, which Goldman summarized as follows, "Equities tried and failed again to break 1885, it continues to be the level that we can’t escape"... it would appear we are increasingly changing the trading regime, and as Guy Haselmann explained simply, markets are slowly but surely coming to the realization that the Fed's crutches are being taken away (that they may well return following a 20%, 30%, or more drop in the S&P is a different matter entirely) and that the economy will not grow fast enough to make up for this. Perhaps the most notable "event" is the sheer avalanche of banks pushing up their forecasts for an ECB rate cut (and or QE start) to June following Draghi's yesterday comments. And so the 1 month countdown begins until the end of forward guidance, or until the ECB "shatters" its credibility as expained yesteday.
US equity markets were off to the races when stocks opened and Yellen began to speak but the late-day ugliness was written on the wall by a total lack of support from either volume or any other risk-market. The S&P ramped up to last Friday's spike highs, Zero Hedge reminded traders that Biotech P/Es were double what they expected, and the 30Y auction tailed ugly was enough - with a dearth of news (aside from downplayed escalations in Ukraine) stocks dumped and played catch down with JPY (weakness) and Bond (strength). EUR weakness (from Draghi Jawboning) provided the impetus for USD strength but leaves the USD unch on the week. Considerable divergence in bonds today (30Y +3bps, 5Y -3bps) means the curve is steepening modestly. VIX was running stocks today and we slammed back under 13 briefly and closer higher on the day. Ugly day for high beta stocks with the Russell near 6mo lows (and the Dow is back in the red for 2014)
Despite Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen's (repeat) attempt to steal the show today, the first when the ECB reports its monetary decision (with zero real chance of announcing any change in policy considering all the furious, and failed, attempts to jawbone the Euro lower) as it faces the dilemma of deflationary pressure, record low bond yields and interest rates at record lows coupled with an export crushing Euro just shy of 1.40, and a practical impossibility to conduct QE even as the hawks jawbone a "potential" European QE to death, while Janet Yellen conducts the second part of the congressional testimony this time before the Senate Budget Committee where she will again, say nothing at all, it appears the world will be focused on Russia once again after the latest 24 hour "de-escalation" gambit is now once again dead and buried and on top of it is Putin waving a "come launch a nuclear attack at me, bro" flag.
With everyone and their mom confused at how bonds can rally when stocks (the ultimate arbiter of truthiness) are also positive, we have seen Deutsche confused (temporary technicals), Bloomberg confirm the shortage, and BofA blame the weather (for a lack of bond selling). Today, we have two more thoughtful and comprehensive perspectives from Gavekal's Louis-Vincent Gave (on why yields are so low) and Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann (on why they' stay that way).
Bank of America, whose stubborn, and quite abysmal "short Treasurys" call, has been one of the worst sellside trade recos in recent history and cost investors countless losses, has an update. Only instead of doing a mea culpa and finally admitting it was wrong, the bailed out bank has decided to provide humor instead. Namely it too has joined the ranks of countless others providing an "explanation" (or in its case, an "excuse") for the relentless bond bid. The punchline: "cold weather."
- Alibaba files for what may be biggest tech IPO (Reuters)
- Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank (BBG)
- Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments (WSJ)
- Thai court orders Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as PM (Guardian)
- German industry orders fell 2.8% in March, the biggest drop in one and a half years (RTE)
- Ukraine Bulls Scatter as Death Toll Mounts (BBG)
- China Property Slump Adds Danger to Local Finances (BBG)
- Stein Says Fed May See Bouts of Volatility as It Approaches Exit (BBG)
Perhaps the most important "news" of the day is that it is non-Tuesday. Yes, there was actual news news, like German factory orders dropping -2.8% on expectations of a 0.3% increase, French industrial production down -0.7% on expectations of a 0.3% increase (both misses driven by a soaring Euro which is now spitting distance away from the 1.40 ECB "redline"), the Nikkei tumbling 2.9% to just above 14000, the Shanghai Composite down 0.9%, SocGen Q1 profit plunging 13% and conveniently blaming it on Russia, speaking of Russia things continue to deteriorate even though Interfax reported that the country has received the first part, some $3.2 billion, of the promised IMF bailout - money which will be used to promptly pay Gazprom... and buy gold, a sudden conflict between China and Vietnam escalating over the placement of an offshore oil rig and so forth, but in the new normal, none of this matters.