The chart below, which summarizes 5 years of Fed "forward guidance" on that most critical of variables - the Fed Funds rate - proves two things:i) there is nothing worse in this world than being a Fed Funds, or Eurodollar, trader, considering 5 years of forecasts have been systematically destroyed by a Fed which has failed time and time and time again to stimulate the economy enough to push it away from ZIRP (and why any hope for the first rate hike in mid-2015 are idiotic), and ii) when it comes to central planning, the economists that now openly control the bond and stock market and increasingly more of global capital flows, have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings perversely, since it is their actions that have made the required outcome - a self-sustaining, economic recovery - impossible.
Dispassionate discussion of the macro-political economic climate.
"Just after the United States entered World War II, two simultaneous initiatives unfolded that would dictate elements of financing after the war, through the joint initiatives of foreign policy measures and private banking whims. Plans were already being formulated to navigate the postwar peace, especially its international power implications for finance and politics, in the background. American political leaders and scholars began considering the concept of “one world” from an economic perspective, void of divisions and imbalances. Or so the theory went. The original plans to create a set of multinational entities that would finance one-world reconstruction and development (and ostensibly balance the world’s various economies) were conceived by two academics: John Maynard Keynes, an adviser for the British Treasury, and Harry Dexter White, an economist in the Division of Monetary Research of the US Treasury under Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau."
Dispassionate big picture overview.
"The global financial landscape was evolving. Ever since World War II, US bankers hadn’t worried too much about their supremacy being challenged by other international banks, which were still playing catch-up in terms of deposits, loans, and global customers. But by now the international banks had moved beyond postwar reconstructive pain and gained significant ground by trading with Cold War enemies of the United States. They were, in short, cutting into the global market that the US bankers had dominated by extending themselves into areas in which the US bankers were absent for US policy reasons. There was no such thing as “enough” of a market share in this game. As a result, US bankers had to take a longer, harder look at the “shackles” hampering their growth. To remain globally competitive, among other things, bankers sought to shatter post-Depression legislative barriers like Glass-Steagall. They wielded fear coated in shades of nationalism as a weapon: if US bankers became less competitive, then by extension the United States would become less powerful. The competition argument would remain dominant on Wall Street and in Washington for nearly three decades, until the separation of speculative and commercial banking that had been invoked by the Glass-Steagall Act would be no more."
The start of Q2 2014. US economy to strength. Japan's to weaken. Euro-area is barly growing, while the UK continues apace.
By this point, one has to be impressed at the resilience with which algos repeat the same pattern over and over again, hoping for a different outcome. It is now the 6th day in a row that the JPY-carry trade (be it USDJPY, EURJPY or AUDJPY) driven levitation has pushed equity futures smartly up in overnight trading. And by all accounts - in the absence of ugly macro news which in today's sparse data line up (just Personal Income and Spending and UMich consumer condfidence) - the same post early highs fade we have seen every day in the past week will repeat again. The overnight euphoria was driven primarily by Europe where Bloomberg reported 2 Year Spanish yields have traded below those of the UK for the first time since 2009. And since it is obviously not the strong fundamentals, what is continuing to happen, as has been the case since October 2013, is everyone is pricing in the ECB's QE, which even Weidmann is openly talkin about now, which simply means it will most likely never actually happen, certainly not until it is too late.
After tumbling overnight to just around 101.80, the USDJPY managed to stage a remarkable levitating comeback, rising all the way to 102.3, which in turn succeeded in closing the Nikkei 225 at the highs, up 1% after tumbling in early trade. The Shanghai Composite was not quite as lucky and as fear continue to weigh about a collapse in China's credit pipeline, the SHCOMP was down more than 0.8% while the PBOC withdreww even more net liquidity via repos than it did last week, at CNY 98 billion vs CNY 48 billion. That said, this morning will be the fifth consecutive overnight levitation in futures, which likely will once more surge right into the US market open to intraday highs, at which point slowy at first, then rapidly, fade again as the pattern has seemingly been set into algo random access memory. Which in a market devoid of human traders is all that matters.
There is a wider significance to this long-held misapprehension. Namely, that Keynes – so enamoured of his circular flow visualisation of the economy and yet also so prone to the confusion of mere snapshot accounting identities with dynamic and causative phenomena – also held that banks were simple, passive intermediaries in the system and could therefore safely be shorn of having any true role to play in the determination of financial variables. Having similarly insisted that saving and investment MUST be equal (accounting v causation, again), he was thus left with nothing by which to determine the rate of interest and so opted for his ludicrous ‘liquidity preference’ idea that the rate of interest is a bribe by means of which to discourage the common man’s economy-sapping fetish for hoarding money. From there, it was but a short step to the vilification of savers as the enemies of public well being and - via the further idiocy of the ‘liquidity trap’ with which this seemed perennially to threaten us - to the evils inherent in the incessantly inflationary ravings of the likes of Paul Krugman and all the other bien pensants of his stripe.
The FOMC is now meeting for the first time with Janet Yellen as Chair. Goldman's US team expects the FOMC to deliver an accommodative message...alongside a continued tapering of asset purchases. However, they note, their market views here are likely to shift little in response, as much of that dovishness is arguably already priced, particularly in US rates. SocGen notes that "qualitative guidance" will probably consist of two components: the FOMC’s forecast for the fed funds rate (aka “the dots”) providing a baseline scenario, and a descriptive component signalling the elasticity of this rate path to the underlying economic outlook. SocGen also warns that this transition is worrisome for inflation in 2015. But BofA suggests this is not problem as The Fed will indicate the US economy "lift-off" in late-2015 will save us all.
Dispassionate look at next week's calendar.
"I happen to think that 2014 is a VERY different year than 2013 from a variety of viewpoints. First, there appears to be a dispersion of opinion about markets, valuations, policy frameworks and more. This is a healthy departure from YEARS of artificiality. Artificiality in valuations, artificiality in market and policy mechanics and essentially artificiality in EVERY financial, and real, relationship on the planet based on central bank(s) balance sheet expansion and other measures intended to be a stop-gap resolution to tightening financial conditions, adverse expectations of economic activity, and the great rollover" - Russ Certo, Brean Capital
As one might have expected the tension during the most recent FOMC meeting was palpable in the minutes as opposing dovish and hawkish less dovish views on the costs and benefits (and non-comprehension of the machinations) of QE were evident.
- *FED OFFICIALS SAW WANING BENEFITS FROM MONTHLY BOND PURCHASES
- *MANY FOMC MEMBERS FAVORED QE TAPERING IN `MEASURED STEPS'
- *MOST FOMC PARTICIPANTS WERE MORE CONFIDENT IN JOB MARKET GAINS
- *FOMC PARTICIPANTS `MOST CONCERNED' ABOUT QE RISKS TO STABILITY
The likely path of tapering seems clear (and mention of extending the reverse repo facility is notable) but how forward guidance will be implemented remains the hottest topics and Eurodollar prices suggest the latter even more so than the former.
Pre-FOMC Minutes: S&P Futs 1832.0, Gold $1225.5, 10Y 2.995%, EURUSD 1.3570, USDJPY 104.95
Dolllar weakess is largely concentrated against euro and sterling and those handful of currencies that move in their orbits. The US dollar is firm against the dollar-bloc and yen and many emerging market currencies.
If yesterday's price action in the moments following (and preceding) the FOMC announcement was just a little suspicious, with a seemingly endless supply of VIX selling originating as if from nowhere (or perhaps the 9th floor of Liberty 33) the morning after has so far been a snoozer. Perhaps this is to be expected following the third biggest one-day surge in the stock market in the year (1st = Jan 2nd, 2nd = October 10th), or perhaps the market is finally focusing on Bernanke's tongue in cheek suggestion that the taper may be lowered by $10 billion per month (we disagree as described previously). Or perhaps the creep higher in 10 Year yields, at 2.915% at last check and just shy of the 3.00% psychological level, is finally being noticed. Or perhaps the fact that China, very surprisingly, is also tapering concurrently is finally being appreciated as is the fact that despite all talk of preparedness, developing economies were hardly left unscathed following yesterday's development. Whatever the reason, the euphoria this morning has "tapered."