A look at the psycholgoy of traders as reflected in the price action ahead the new week which promises to be eventful.
Trillions upon trillions in “stimulus” and the FOMC is left, pathetically, fighting for the distinction of “it’s not as bad as it looks.” That would seem to make this the most costly economic age ever conceived, with global implications that are just now starting to be felt as whatever faith was leftover from 2008, wrong or right, wears off all over the world. That is a highly combustible deficiency, since the longer the global economy remains disorientated the more likely it is to experience not just recession but, since this is all still so leveraged (even more poorly this time), something potentially worse.
Stocks may be ignoring the 'dollar' and liquidity more broadly (at least as far as repurchases are concerned) but the continued stress in the eurodollar world has had an accumulating effect in some places. Primarily that has been shown in the once-thriving junk space, including more illiquid “products” like leveraged loans... By and large, there seems to be renewed concerns about liquidity, economy or both.
The last time the Fed tried to exit a period of massive balance sheet expansion coupled with ZIRP - back in 1937 - its strategy completely failed. The Fed tightening in H1’37 was followed in H2’37 by a severe recession and a 49% collapse in the Dow Jones. This is the ghost of 1937 and it is about to make a repeat appearance.
The serial bubbles of the 2000’s are nothing more than what was wrought of the 1920’s, in general. The monetary character of both is not coincidence, as the failures that bookend each of these ages induces the transformation: from monetary to fiscal and back to monetary again. That looks like progress and accountability, but in each it only leads to more extreme measures (relative to the last) to still achieve what Robert Owen and Karl Marx conceived more than a century and a half ago. That leads us to 2015 and what is certainly the ragged end of the eurodollar standard. The third socialist age was undone by August 2007, but that did not stop its proprietors of “eurodollar socialism” under the name “investor capitalism” from trying to rebuild and restore it to full capacity. The groundwork has already been laid, and it is exactly what you would expect given the history since 1907. There are no widespread details about a return to capitalism and sound money practices, only how to overcome the third installation of that timeless barrier thrown down in the collapse of each of the asset bubbles so far – value.
We should not even want to rebuild the world as it was in the decade of the 2000’s because it was so unbelievably unstable, a fact revealed persistently in the nearly eight years since that peak. Economists and central bankers treated the Panic of 2008 and the Great Recession as if it were a temporary interruption in an otherwise healthy system, a cyclical problem that over time heals on its own. Most of them still, to this day, hold the same view and the world’s economy and financial system is paying the costs of doing so. The eurodollar economy is falling apart and no amount of orthodoxy can reverse it because the eurodollar economy is orthodoxy.
The Fed sees no risks of bubble trouble because they are looking at it all from the 2008 perspective. That is completely wrong-headed; if there is a “next one” it will have nothing to do with subprime mortgages, or even mortgages and real estate. Everyone seems to simply assume that the subprime problem ended in 2008, if only by crash. That is true but only of mortgages. Deleveraging is myth as debt has still expanded, and greatly, just not in the same exact places. There are certainly auto and student loans that have exploded exponentially, especially in subprime categories, but if there is another credit bubble now, the third, it is undoubtedly corporate debt.
"...recent indications have darkened the probability spectrum to the point that it may actually be worth examining a worst case scenario. My gut sense is that there is indeed a recession forming, and one that looks worse by the month, so there are numerous relevant factors that demand attention the greater the potential for it. That starts with leverage and any transmission from finance to the economy."
At some point in the middle of the last century, economics of money shifted to economics of psychology. Abenomics is the perfect example of this faith-based policy. The Japanese economy, to any clear mind, took a huge turn for the worst under Abenomics yet its practitioners are still, somehow, given the final word on judging its performance, meaning that the mainstream still, somehow, subscribes to the religion.
A little over two years ago, in the middle of April 2013, there was a gold crash that came seemingly out of nowhere. Worse, for gold investors anyway, that crash was repeated just a few months later. Where gold had stood just shy of $1,800 an ounce at the start of QE3, those cascades had brought the metal price down to just $1,200. For many, especially orthodox economists, it heralded the end of the “fear trade” and meant, unambiguously, that the recovery had finally at long last arrived. However, gold price activity since QE3 has been a warning, and a big one, not cause for victory celebrations.
The last time large speculators were as aggressively buying silver as last week was September 1997. The net long non-commercial positioning in Silver futures, according to the CFTC rose almost 22,000 contracts last week to a 3-month high (which is closing in on the 'longest' since 2005). Gold, not be out-precious'd also saw major buying. Net speculative longs in gold added over 45,000 contracts - the most since July 2005 - lifting net long positions to their highest in 3 months. Perhaps, just perhaps, as Alhambra's Jeffrey Snider notes, this is due to Yellen putting the 'dollar' back on suicide watch.
Episodes of “corrections” are apparently happening more frequently according to BofAML's credit strategist Barnaby Martin and given the extremities of liquidity, profits, technological disruption, regulation, and income inequality, BofAML warns 'gently' that the potential for a cleansing drop in asset prices cannot be dismissed. Most likely catalysts: Consumer, Rates, A-shares, Speculation, High Yield. "We advise selling risk into strength, buying volatility into weakness, advocate higher than normal levels of cash and would add some gold."
A look at the drivers for the week ahead.
The trio of macro-prudential policy, the onset and evolution of shadow banking, and the nebulous concept of financial stability may have become a toxic cocktail which can be instrumental in moving forward the Federal Reserve’s timeline for lift-off zero bound rates. The intuition here is stooped in concepts of volatility and how market structure evolution may contribute or detract from asset volatility. Volatility is the square root of time. Financial repression times time equals volatility. Financial repression and/or macro-prudential policy times time equals the inverse of financial stability. Financial stability inverted equals volatility squared.
Nothing is ever permanent with the QE’s because they were doomed from the start. The “dollar” system can never be refined and remade to its prior station because it was irrevocably broken on August 9, 2007. All that QE’s have done is to create reverberation within the downward channel which may, in the end, only exacerbate the degree of imbalance that weighs on the inevitable shift.