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..."
Virtually every day there is an eruption of lunacy from one central bank or another somewhere in the world. In short, the central banks of the world are embroiled in a group-think mania so extreme and irrational that it puts one in mind of the spasm of witchcraft trials that erupted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony nearly four centuries ago. As a practical matter, this mania amounts to a race to the currency bottom and the final extinguishment of the price discovery mechanism in every financial market on the planet. Flying blind, the financial markets are thus bubbling - in the delirium phase - like never before. That is, until they don’t.
While no one will be entirely surprised in today's consequence-less world, the "bombshell" news that Greek Independent MP Pavlos Haikalis claims he was offered EUR 2-3 million in order to vote for Greece's next President is no less shocking in its exposure. As AP reports, it is the second such claim from the Independent Greeks. Another of the party's lawmakers claimed last month that someone had approached her with the intention of bribing her. The government immediately jumped into defense mode and dismissed the claims as "badly acted theater" and called for any evidence to be made public. However, as KeepTalkingGreece reports, "sources" from the prosecutor’s office told media that Haikalis did indeed submitfootage, and according to latest information, told the briber’s name to the Greek Police. This can only bring Goldman's worst-case scenario - a Cyprus-style collapse - even closer for Greece.
Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.
The one thing that Jordan can't do in this war is appear to be weak.
Through the overly-complex verbiage riddled with a copious number of contingencies, a simple message was actually able to surface. The net result is modestly hawkish and one consistent with our "Sooner but Slower" rate cycle perspective. Markets are being driven more by fear of missing the upside, and fear of under-performing peers and benchmarks, than by any other factor. This Pavlovian response has worked well in recent years and encouraged by the Fed. However, this pattern is in the 9th inning. Moreover, such herd-like behavior will run into great difficult due to dreadful market liquidity that is the result of regulatory over-reach; indications that were evident in markets over the past few weeks.
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.
"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."
As previewed earlier today, in a vote whose outcome was widely anticipated, Greece's Samaras failed to get enough votes (200) to push through his choice for president, Stavros Dimas.
- GREECE'S SAMARAS FAILS TO GET VOTES TO ELECT PRESIDENT: TALLY
- GREECE'S SAMARAS LOSES FIRST OF THREE DEC. VOTES ON PRESIDENT
As a reminder, this is the first of three votes, in which the candidate needs 200 votes. ND and PASOK have together 155 seats in the Parliament, and they expected to win some votes from independent MPs and possibly also some votes from Independent Greeks and Democratic Left MPs. According to Greek media, the government expects to win a total of 162-165 votes for Dimas in the first round. The final vote: 160 For, 135 Against, and 5 Abstain. In other words, Samaras is a crucial 20 votes short of getting his candidate pushed through in 2 weeks, after which follow a messy election that according to recent polls may well be won by left-wing Syriza and its anti-bailout leader, Samaras.
Crude Continues Slide, Ruble Stabilizes, US Futures Rebound As Global Stocks Slump: All Eyes On YellenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/17/2014 06:50 -0500
Previewing today's market: near record low liquidity, with chance of ridiculous volatility in the Ruble, energy and equity markets. While no doubt today's main event will be the "considerable" FOMC announcement and the Fed's downward-revised economic projections followed by Yellen's press conference, what traders will be most excited by is that, finally, Jim Bullard will no longer be bound by the blackout period surround FOMC decisions, and as such can hint of QE4 again at his leisure during key market inflection (i.e., selling) points.
Last weekend’s election in Japan was the opposite of exciting. The upcoming elections in Greece, however, are another matter entirely. What’s really different about the Greek elections now and the Greek elections in 2012 is the lack of a Oh-My-God-Look-At-Greece media Narrative today, particularly in the US. Here it’s all oil, all the time, which means that any power transition in Greece will come as a big negative “surprise” to US investors and US markets. What we can tell you with confidence is that the Common Knowledge of the market today is that Greece is “fixed”, which means that any un-fixing will hit markets like a ton of bricks. It’s an asymmetric risk/reward profile – in a bad way – for global markets in general and European markets in particular.
Let's pause for a moment, take a breath, and reflect on what has happened. As Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann notes, "The current market environment means that prices of securities can move wildly and to previously unforeseen and unexpected levels. For many, P&L management and financial survival will trump economic valuation." But what does all this mean for The Fed tomorrow?
For those wondering if the CBR's intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes... for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74 76, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.
Pretend, for a minute, that you’re a money manager in today’s manipulated world...
The biggest event of the coming week is surely the FOMC announcement on Wednesday, when as most expect, will see the Fed's language shifting from "considerable time" to "patient." But while "most" also expect this to be the preamble toward Fed hiking rates in mid-2015, some disagree.