Harley Bassman

Canadian Home Sales Crash In June

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June posted their largest monthly drop since 2010, with the Greater Toronto market leading the decline.

"Quant Quake": What Was Behind Last Week's Historic CTA Crash, And Is Another One Imminent

Markets continue to set long-term records for price instability or “fragility”, with a five sigma sell-off in the S&P 500 on 17-May, a 3 sigma drop in the Nasdaq 100 on 9-Jun, a 3 sigma rally in commodities last week and a 3 sigma sell-off on average across global bonds. The net result was a 5-sigma drawdown in CTAs, the worst since 2000, excluding the quant crash of 2007.

"It's Never Different This Time" PIMCO Warns "The Tides Of Risk Will Flow Eventually"

The old Wall Street expression is “They don’t ring a bell at the top.” This snarky adage is usually employed by those saddened financial managers who ride a successful investment to a peak and then watch in horror as it reverses course to a level below their cost basis. A pity this notion is misguided, since the market frequently “rings the bell.” It is just that most market participants are not listening. Perhaps they should be listening now.

Weekend Reading: It's Probably A Trap

The “bullish case” is currently built primarily on “hope.” Hope the economy will improve in the second half of the year; Hope that earnings will improve in the second half of the year; Hope that oil prices will trade higher even as supply remains elevated; Hope the Fed will not raise interest rates this year; Hope that global Central Banks will “keep on keepin’ on.”  Hope that the US Dollar doesn’t rise; Hope that interest rates remain low; Hope that high-yield credit markets remain stable.

Pimco Economist Has A Stunning Proposal To Save The Economy: The Fed Should Buy Gold

"In the context of today’s paralyzed political-fiscal landscape how silly is it to suggest the Fed purchase a significantly large quantity of gold bullion at a substantially greater price than today’s free-market level, perhaps $5,000 an ounce?  Admittedly, this suggestion is almost too outrageous to post under the PIMCO logo, but NIRP surely would have elicited a similar reaction a decade ago. But upon reflection, it could be an elegant solution since it flips the boxes on a foreign currency “prisoner’s dilemma”. Most critically, a massive gold purchase has the potential to significantly boost inflationary expectations, both domestic and foreign."

The Complete FOMC Cheat Sheet: All You Need To Know

The data, according to many analysts, have been broadly supportive, with stronger growth and a tightening in the labor market that should allow the Fed to be "reasonably confident" that inflation will gradually return to target. That said, heightened global risks could lead to a tactical delay. Economisseds remain evenly split on the prospect of the first rate increase in 9 years.

Harley Bassman: "The Fed Is Trying To Land A Jumbo Jet On A Football Field"

Once upon a time, one of the best sell-side analysts in the MBS space was Merrill Lynch's "Convexity Maven" Harley Bassman: he was so good, in fact, he was quickly soaked up to the buyside, or at least the prop-trading side, when several years ago he left Merrill to join Credit Suisse as a prop trader. It was here that he provided some insightful trade ideas such as "The "Anti-Widowmaker" Trade: Get Paid To Wait For The Japanese House Of Card To Collapse" and previewed the "Inevitable 'Taper'" at a time when most still didn't think the Fed was running out of paper to monetize. Then, about a year ago, Bassman disappeared again, only to reappear in a new capacity at recently-troubled bond manager Pimco. It is from here that following a year-long silences, he has just sent out his latest letter, in which he picks up on his favorite topic: implied volatility in rates, and the arbitrage opportunities it provides courtesy of epic risk mispricing in the current quote-unquote market, courtesy of the Fed's 6 year+ centrally-planned manipulation of, well, everything. 

Jeff Gundlach's "What Hath QE Wrought" Webcast

It's that time in the quarter, when Jeff Gundlach takes the mic to walk everyone though his latest thoughts on the market, as well as the most recent capital allocation of his fund, DoubleLine, which like PIMCO, had a less than memorable 2013, although 2014 is certainly starting off on a far better foot for bond funds everywhere. Also who knows: with MBS guru, "convexity maven" Harley Bassman announcing today he is leaving Credit Suisse and joining Pimco, maybe Gundlach will shock everyone with an announcement that El-Erian is moving from Newport Beach and making Doubleline, and West LA, his new home?

The "Anti-Widowmaker" Trade: Get Paid To Wait For The Japanese House Of Card To Collapse

Taking a “short position” in either Japanese interest rates or their currency is a fundamentally sound idea; however it may take three to seven years for the “Macro-profits” to be fully realized. Over that time, a short position will demand a cost, either in the terms of the negative carry of a spot position or the time decay of a short-dated option. Additionally, since it is unlikely you will enter the trade at the extreme, there could be some mark-to-market vibrations that may breach your risk limits. To the rescue is the strange circumstance of a widening USD vs. JPY Rate differential in conjunction with a flattening Volatility Term Surface. Below is a table of mid-market values for Par Strike USD call // JPY put options with expiries from one-year to ten-years. The critical observation is that a five-year option costs more than a ten-year option; thus the weird dynamic of owning an option with (effectively) positive “theta”: You are paid to own an option !

Yellen's Odds To Replace Bernanke Slide To Contract Lows

It is not a good time for Janet Yellen. The one time Bernanke-replacement favorite who many were confident would be the next Fed chair, and whose odds in the initial stages of the Fed race were 75%, is so far out of the running one can almost ignore her candidacy. At least if the market makers behind Paddy Power, and the Fed Chair market betting participants have it right. As of today, her odds have slumped to the lowest in the life of the contract, or 29.4%, below the 36.4% from mid August. The leader by an even greater margin: Larry Summers whose 2/5 odds, or 70%, mean that absent a material change in rhetoric, will be the person Obama announces as Fed chairman replacement over the next month.

The Inevitable 'Taper' And Avoiding 'The Giddiness Of Weimar'

With all eyes fixed on GDP and unemployment data this week (and all their revised and propagandized unreality) for more hints at if (not when) the Fed will Taper; the dismal reality that few seem willing to admit is that it is when (not if) and that the announcement of a "Taper" has nothing to do with the economy. There are three key factors driving this decision: Bernanke's bubble-blowing and bond-market-breaking legacy, the political 'clean slate' his successor needs, and, most importantly, the fear that QE will be discovered for what it is - monetization. As BoJ's Kuroda admitted last night "if QE is seen as financing debt, this could lead to rise in yields." With deficits falling, the Fed's real actions will be exposed (unless QE is tapered) and as Kyle Bass has explained before, it was out of the hands of the BOJ (or The Fed) and entirely up to market psychology.