If yesterday's non-record, red-tick close can be attributed to algos applying the wrong ISM seasonal factor to the day, believing it was Wednesday instead of the permabullish Tuesday, today there is no such excuse, which is why we fully expect the unallowed redness with which futures are currently trading to promptly morph into a non-red color especially with the USDJPY doing it best to ramp to 103.000 levels overnight, stopping out all shorts, and push spoos to fresh record highs. It is an algo world after all. It appears that already record low volatility is being pushed even lower in anticipation of numerous imminent data releases, including today's ADP and Services ISM (first, second and final release), tomorrow's ECB announcement and Friday's payrolls number. Which while good for low volume levitation means bank trading revenues continue to deteriorate forcing banks to pitch M&A deals to clients, which in turn result in even more synergies and more layoffs: because in order to preserve the bottom line, crushing real employment further is perfectly acceptable collateral damage.
As the chart below shows, there’s much the Fed doesn’t understand, while at the same time showing that QE may have little purpose beyond providing a massive gift to wealthy traders and investors. With regard the question of where a dollar of QE goes, the answer is “not far.” Outside of pushing up asset prices and encouraging an occasional luxury purchase, it doesn’t seem to escape the financial sector. Liquidity that might otherwise be offered by private institutions is instead provided by the Fed, and – as Phil Collins might put it – that’s all.
While the last 2 weeks have seen numerous Fed heads, most vociferously Bill Dudley, warning of 'complacency' in markets, fearsome of low volatility and worried about low risk spreads. Of course, investors don't care - don't fight the fed unless the fed tells you to sell, appears the mantra-du-jour. Fed communications are not working... and so they have left it to their mouthpiece - WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath - to explain that they are indeed concerned at just how risk-free markets have become..."Federal Reserve officials, looking out at mostly calm financial markets, are starting to wonder whether tranquility itself is something to worry about."
A day after the Federal Reserve warned that "low level of expected volatility implied by some financial market prices might also signal an increase in risk appetite" and this complacency; the Bundesbank has decided to try and jawbone back investors' exuberance across Europe. As Die Welt reports, while stocks and bonds are near record highs across Europe - thanks to the ECB's Mario Draghi's promises, Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret warned "we see risks - despite the fact that markets are calm," and perhaps incredibly suggested investors "flatten all risks now to avoid the herd behavior."
It would appear the mantra of "don't fight the Fed" is one that only applies when they are saying "buy stocks." As we have been consistently discussing, yesterday's minutes exposed some concerns: "the low level of expected volatility implied by some financial market prices might also signal an increase in risk appetite" and thus complacency and Fed's Fisher open "concern at almost no volatility in markets." So while J-Yell and her buddies see no bubbles... we thought the following chart, which is 'the sum of all volatilities' across FX, equity, and interest rate markets, might help...
- Eric Holder proves he is no US banker puppet by smashing another foreign bank: BNP Falls as U.S. Probe Said to Cost More Than $5 Billion (BBG)
- Fuld Was Top CEO When Fed Last Raised as New Neutral Era Beckons (BBG)
- Tymoshenko loses her magic in Ukraine presidential race (Reuters)
- GOP Sees Primaries Taming the Tea Party (WSJ)
- Heard that one before: Russian troops preparing to leave Ukraine border area (Reuters)
- Vietnam riots land another blow on the global supply chain (FT)
- Heard that one before too: Bank of England minutes show some members closer to voting for rate rise (Reuters)
- BOJ Refrains From Easing With Signs Japan Weathering Tax Rise (BBG)
- Miner Freeport Pressured by Water Costs as Copper Prices Slide (WSJ)
- Talks to end Thai crisis inconclusive, new round called (Reuters)
- Japan Court Blocks Reactor Restarts (WSJ)
“The stock market is filled with people who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” – Philip Fisher.
A 51-point personal perspective on some of the challenges facing today’s investor...
Fed's Williams and Fisher are talking this morning in an oddly frank (and concerning) manner...
WILLIAMS SAYS 'SOFT LANDINGS' IN MONETARY POLICY NEVER HAPPEN
WILLIAMS: FED NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO BE WARY OF EXCESSIVE RISK
Williams says our extraordinary policies could have adverse consequences down the road
Fisher must be wary of markets potential to overshoot
So, we have had Tarullo (Feb) and Yellen (May) warning of bubbles in small caps and credit and now Williams and Fisher sounding some alarms... Don't fight the Fed! (unless the Fed says 'sell') It seems the market is heeding the message in the short-term...
It was supposed to be a blistering Mega Merger Monday following the news of both AT&T'a purchase of DirecTV and Pfizer's 15% boosted "final" offer for AstraZeneca. Instead it is shaping up to be not only a dud but maybe a drubbing, with AstraZeneca plunging after its board rejected the latest, greatest and last offer, European peripheral bond spreads resume blowing out again, whether on concerns about the massive Deutsche Bank capital raise or further fears that "radical parties" are gaining strength in Greece ahead of local elections. But the worst news for BTFDers is that not only did the USDJPY break its long-term support line as we showed on Friday, but this morning it is taking even more technician scalps after it dropped below its 200 DMA (101.23) which means that a retest of double digit support is now just a matter of time, as is a retest of how strong Abe's diapers are now that the Nikkei has slid to just above 14,000, while China, following its own weak housing sales data, saw the Shanghai Composite briefly dip under 2000 before closing just above it. Overall, it is shaping up to be a less than stellar day with zero econ news (hence no bullish flashing red headlines of horrible data) for the algos who bought Friday's late afternoon VIX slam-driven risk blast off.
When is marginable collateral not marginable collateral? When it is an ETN, or Exchange Trade Note: the cousin of the Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). The very mutated, and unabashedly evil cousin of the ETF that is. At least such is the view of US brokerage Interactive Brokers " Pursuant to a recent decision by FINRA whereby Exchange Traded Notes (ETNs) will no longer be eligible for Portfolio Margining, these securities, including options having an ETN as an underlying, will be phased out of the program by OCC during the week of May 19, 2014."
More Reasons QE Is a Dud
“I am often asked why I do not support a more rapid deceleration of our purchases, given my agnosticism about their effectiveness and my concern that they might well be leading to froth in certain segments of the financial markets. The answer is an admission of reality: We juiced the trading and risk markets so extensively that they became somewhat addicted to our accommodation of their needs… you can’t go from Wild Turkey to cold turkey overnight."
40% of European firms say the severity of late-payment problems were preventing them from hiring as "even when the public sector pays promptly, the money doesn't sloosh down the system promptly because of the culture of late payment." As the FT reports, small and medium-sized enterprises are the hardest hit by late-payment consequences with nearly three-quarters saying nothing has changed in the last few months and in fact nearly half saying the problem is getting worse. "The late payment consequences for businesses pose a real threat to Europe’s competitiveness and social wellbeing," warns one analyst, as "companies are deliberately not sticking to the provisions of the EU directive as a way of managing their cash flow." The reason - of course - the unintended consequences of policy-makers centrally planned efforts to ensure nothing bad ever befalls an important firm/nation ever again - "It's a way of borrowing off smaller companies – and they should be held to account."
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.