New cycle lows in Eurozone inflation along with disappointing ISMs across various nations raise the probability of a dovish ECB meeting tomorrow, in Citi's view. However, as Deutsche expands upon, they do not see an obvious trigger for "actual" policy easing in the data and events since the last ECB Council meeting and any "action" will take the form of words, not deeds. Despite all the hope in the world, Deutsche warns there would have to be a substantive deterioration relative to current forecasts to elicit an asset purchasing/QE response from the ECB. Instead, more comments on Euro strength, stronger forward guidance, confirmation of the magic of OMT are more likely but so far the market is absolutely calling Draghi's bluff and saying 'put-up-or-shut-up' especialy in terms of EUR strength.
European leaders may have felt a momentary brief lapse in the wary feeling of disdain that has existed between them for years now, but that was once exacerbated by the financial crisis and the entire PIGS- story that ensued, with the debt crisis.
Saxo Bank's CEO Lars Seier Christensen has made it abundantly clear in the past that the EUR is a monumentally bad idea; he notes, the huge European bureaucracy and especially the political elite that feed off the EU will do all they can to prevent the EUR’s fall, at least until it becomes inevitable. This will be either due to pressure from voters (even if they are very rarely consulted in this post-democratic political structure) or from the markets, which eventually must reassume their role that has been perverted beyond recognition during the crisis: the true role of allocating capital and pricing money and assets rationally. But, Christensen explains, if we are stuck with this "Currency of Mass Destruction", shouldn’t we at least try to make some money from it?
Back in October, when European inflation shocked market observers after it tumbled to a then (revised)low of 0.7%, the reaction by the ECB was to shock everyone and lower rates by 25 bps - a completely unexpected move. Earlier today, Europe shocked everyone once again after it reported that annual Eurozone consumer inflation in March tumbled from 0.7% to a paltry 0.5%, the lowest level since November 2009, below already the depressingly low 0.6% forecast, driven primarily by energy costs which tumbled 2.1% courtesy of Japan continuing to export deflation (where are energy costs soaring? Look at the price of natgas in Japan for a hint).
After ramping in overnight trading, following the spike in Japanese stocks following another batch of disappointing economic data out of the land of the rising sun and setting Abenomics which sent the USDJPY, and its derivative Nikkei225 surging, US equity futures have pared some of the gains in what now appears a daily phenomenon. Keep in mind, the pattern over the past 6 consecutive days has been to ramp stocks into the US open, followed by a determined fade all the way into the close, led by "growthy" stocks and what appears to be an ongoing unwind of a hedge fund basket by one or more entities. Could the entire market be pushed lower because one fund is unwinding (or liquidiating)? Normally we would say no, but with liquidity as non-existant as it is right now, nothing would surprise us any more.
Contrary to most consensus views (including Citi's FX technical group) EURUSD has failed to move lower in 2014. Why?
Since the beginning of 2013, the market has been seen as invulnerable. Despite issues in the Eurozone, rising turmoil in the Mideast, riots and political clashes, rising oil prices and weak economic data - these issues bounced off the markets will little effect. The markets craved "bad news" as it provided insurance that the Federal Reserve would continue its "liquidity drip." It is important to note in the first chart above, that some of the biggest negative annual returns eventually followed 30% up years. The current levels of margin debt, bullish sentiment, and institutional activity are indicative of an extremely optimistic view of the market. Regardless, it is important to understand that it is always just a function of "when" a mean reverting event will occur. Unfortunately for many investors who fail to understand the "risk" they have undertaken within their portfolios, when that time comes it will matter "a lot."
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.
The Greek economic collapse, depression and bankruptcy has seen many odd things in its brief and often times violent history (in those days when the violent elements were not on strike), but this surely is the first time when one of the countless Greek bailouts may be on the rocks due to the disagreement over the definition of "fresh milk." No, really. Reuters explains that Greece's government risks another rebellion over bailout terms this week after milk producers lobbied against a move to free up prices as part of efforts to make the economy more competitive. Basically, for Greeks, milk is fresh if it is 5 days old or less, yet according to the always fascinating codex of the Troika, "fresh" can be labeled anything that is as old as 11 days.... including the salmonella bacteria it contains. What's worse, is that the "spoiled milk" scandal, far from a joke, has swept over the country, and now even threatens to topple the government.
If there was one thing that the market was demanding after last night's disappointing March HSBC manufacturing PMI, which has now fallen so low, local market participants are convinced a stimulus is imminent (despite China's own warnings not to expect this), and sent both the SHCOMP and the CNY surging, it would have been further weak data out of Europe, where the other possible, if not probable, "QE-stimulus" bank is located now that the Fed is in full taper mode. It didn't get precisely that however there was a step in the right direction when overnight the Euro area Composite Flash PMI eased marginally from 53.3 to 53.2 in March, largely as expected. The country breakdown showed a narrowing of the Germany/France Composite PMI gap owing to a notable (3.7pt) increase in the French PMI while the German PMI eased somewhat (1.4pt). On the basis of past correlations, a Euro area Composite PMI of 53.2 is consistent with GDP growth of around +0.4%qoq, slightly stronger than our Current Activity Indicator (+0.35%qoq).
In the early hours of yesterday morning European Union politicians struck a deal on legislation to create a single agency to handle failing banks and bail-ins in the Eurozone. It is important to realise that not just the EU but also the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most G20 nations all have plans for bail-ins. Prepare accordingly ...
A month ago we presented a must read interview by Swiss Finanz und Wirtschaft with respected value investor Howard Marks, in which, when explaining the motives driving rational investing he summarized simply, "in the end, the devil always wins." Today, we are happy to bring our readers the following interview with one of our favorite strategists, GMO's James Montier, in which true to form, Montier packs no punches, and says that the market is now overvalued by 50% to 70%, adding that there is "nothing at all" that has an attractive valuation, and that he sees a "hideous opportunity set."
When we reported early yesterday that Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan threateningly warned that since Twitter had ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal., that he would "destroy Twitter" and that "we'll dig up Twitter - all of them - from the roots," he raged, "they'll see the power of the Republic of Turkey" it may not have been quite clear what he meant. A few hours later it was revealed, when virtually all Twitter access was blocked in Turkey ten days ahead of the general election in a move that has already enraged the nation and resulted in a powerful public outcry.
Has the market done it again? Two weeks ago, Putin's first speech of the Ukraine conflict was taken by the USDJPY algos - which seemingly need to take a remedial class in Real Politik - as a conciliatory step, and words like "blinking" at the West were used when describing Putin, leading to a market surge. Promptly thereafter Russia seized Crimea and is now on the verge of formally annexing it. Over the weekend, we had the exact same misreading of the situation, when the Crimean referendum, whose purpose is to give Russia the green light to enter the country, was actually misinterpreted as a risk on event, not realizing that all the Russian apparatus needed to get a green light for further incursions into Ukraine or other neighboring countries was just the market surge the algos orchestrated. Anyway, yesterday's risk on, zero volume euphoria has been tapered overnight, with the USDJPY sliding from nearly 102.00 to just above 101.30 dragging futures with it, in advance of Putin's speech to parliament, in which he is expected to provide clarity on the Russian response to US sanctions, as well as formulate the nation's further strategy vis-a-vis Crimea and the Ukraine.