The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:
LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA
Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?
It would appear the powers that be are getting nervous. Yesterday, Fed Governor Jerome Powell (and Fisher and Plosser) stepped up the central bank’s push against what he termed congressional efforts to extend political influence over monetary policy, calling them "misguided" and "in violent conflict with the facts." Today we have Senator Elizabeth Warren trying to sound supportive of transparency but proclaiming that she opposes Rand Paul's "Audit The Fed" Bill because it promotes "congressional meddling in the Fed’s monetary policy decisions," and has "dangerous implications for financial stability and the health of the global economy."
In the absence of any notable developments overnight, the market remains focused on the rapidly moving situation in Greece, which as detailed over the weekend, responded to Europe's Friday ultimatum very vocally and belligerently, crushing any speculation that Syriza would back down or compromise, and with just days left until the emergency Eurogroup meeting in three days, whispers that a Grexit is imminent grow louder. The only outstanding item is what happens to the EUR and to risk assets: do they rise when the Eurozone kicks out its weakest member, or will they tumble as UBS suggested this morning when it said that "the escalation of tensions between the Greek government and its creditors is so far being shrugged off by investors, an attitude which is overly simplistic and ignores the risk of market dislocations" while Morgan Stanley adds that a Grexit would likely lead to the EURUSD sliding near its all time lows of about 0.90.
- Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
- Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
- Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
- Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
- How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
- U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
- Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
- Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)
- Obama to focus on middle class in State of Union address (Reuters) - all 4 of them?
- European Stocks Buoyed by ECB Hopes (WSJ)
- China's 2014 economic growth misses target, hits 24-year low (Reuters)
- Federer on Swiss Franc Shock: "Does It Mean I've Got to Win Now?" (BBG)
- First-time buyers help Christie’s reach record sales (FT)
- So it was the NSA? U.S. Spies Tapped North Korean Computers Prior to Sony Hack (BBG)
- Why Chinese Developer Kaisa's Default Risk Has Money Managers Spooked (BBG)
- Morgan Stanley Misses Estimates on Drop in Bond-Trading Revenue (BBG)
Last week we focused on potential manipulations of the opaque and self-regulated process by which the conflicted members of ISDA’s Determinations Committee (“DC”) determine whether a triggering event has occurred. This week we will focus on the inherent problems in the External Review process, as set out in the Determinations Committee’s rules.
"Is the recent bout in volatility yet another ‘buy-the-dip’ opportunity or a sign of worse to come? Investors struggle to both keep up with the markets while protecting themselves against a severe correction. By taking a step back, investors might be able to see the forest for the trees to gauge whether their portfolio is ready for what lies ahead." What we find most interesting is that there is very little concern that something could negatively impact the markets. In fact, if anything would actually happen, it will just be a mild 10-15% correction. The problem is that historically, such outcomes have only been found in "rarified air."
- Twelve shot dead in Paris (Reuters)
- Eurozone Consumer Prices Fall for First Time Since 2009 (NYT)
- Euro's Drop is a Turning Point for Central Banks Reserves (BBG)
- How $50 Oil Changes Almost Everything (BBG)
- Mercedes-Benz Moving U.S. Headquarters to Atlanta (WSJ)
- Greek 10-Year Bond Yields Exceed 10% for First Time Since 2013 (BBG)
- How Even Dairy Farmers Get Squeezed by Rigging in the $5.3 Trillion Currency Market (BBG)
- AirAsia jet tail found underwater, black box may be close (Reuters)
- Italy Unemployment Rises to New High (Bloomberg)
As investors and market participants become increasingly aware of the regulatory failures that allowed for manipulation of LIBOR, FOREX, municipal bond bidding and certain commodities markets, regulatory sources are increasingly expressing concern that they have paid too little attention to potential manipulations of an arguably larger, more systemically important and less regulated market – the CDS market as self-governed, through ‘regulatory license’, by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).
I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that we gold advocates have gone all in. We have made one argument for gold...
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
China carried out a long-range missile flight test on Saturday using multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, according to U.S. defense officials. As The Washington Free Beacon reports, the test of a new DF-41 missile, China’s longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile, marks the first test of multiple warhead capabilities for China (the DF-41 is capable of carrying up to 10 warheads and has a maximum range of 7,456 miles, allowing it to target the entire continental United States). Rick Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, warned "the beginning of China’s move toward multiple warhead-armed nuclear missiles is proof that today, arms control is failing to increase the security of Americans."
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
After drifting unchanged for much of the overnight session, US futures exploded higher shortly after the previously noted SNB's NIRP announcement, which took place at 2 am eastern, which made it explicit that yet another banks will herd the bouncing dead cats right into new all time stock market highs, and following the European open, were carried even higher as the global "risk-on" momentum ignition algos woke up, spiking all recently depressed assets higher, including energy as Brent rose almost 3% despite Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying "it is difficult if not impossible" for OPEC and his kingdom to reduce output.
With expectations that the FOMC would drop "considerable time," ignore foreign market instability, and shrug off HY credit's demise (as they had previously said it was a bubble), the members did not let anyone down...
- *FOMC SAYS IT CAN BE 'PATIENT' IN APPROACH TO RAISING RATES
- *FOMC DECLINES TO MENTION RECENT GLOBAL MARKET INSTABILITY
- *FOMC SAYS PATIENT APPROACH 'CONSISTENT WITH OCT. STATEMENT'
- *FISHER, PLOSSER, KOCHERLAKOTA DISSENT IN FOMC DECISION
For the 3rd FOMC meeting in a row, equity markets have surged (and decoupled from bonds); we will soon see if history repeats a third time.
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs: 1988.00, 10Y 2010%, Gold $1195, WTI $57.50