"None dare call it a “currency war” because that would be counter to G-10/G-20 policy statements that stress cooperation as opposed to “every country for itself”, but an undeclared currency war is what the world is experiencing. Close to the same thing happened in the 1930’s, a period remarkably similar to what many countries’ policies resemble today.... Negative/zero bound interest rates may exacerbate, instead of stimulate low growth rates in all of these instances, by raising savings and deferring consumption... Asset prices for stocks, high yield bonds and other supposed 5-10% returning investments, become stretched and bubble sensitive; Debt accumulates instead of being paid off because rates are too low to pass up – corporate bond sales leading to stock buybacks being the best example. The financial system has become increasingly vulnerable only six years after its last collapse in 2009.... Central banks have gone and continue to go too far in their misguided efforts to support future economic growth."
While the economy is showing some signs of impact from falling oil prices, a port strike in California, weak global demand for exports and an exceptionally cold winter; the markets are pushing all-time highs. There is much hype being placed on the ECB's plans for launching QE in March, however, much remains to be seen as to just how effective it will be in a negative interest rate/deflationary enviroment. But then again...there is always "hope."
"For me the shorting opportunity looks as great as it was in 07/09, if only because people are still looking at what is hap-pening and believe that each event is an individual, isolated event. Whether it’s the oil price fall or the Swiss franc move, they’re seen as exceptions. ... we used all our monetary firepower to avoid the first downturn in 2007-09, so we are really at a dangerous point to try to counter the effects of a slowing China, falling commodities and EM incomes, and the ultimate First World effects. This down cycle is likely to be remembered in a hundred years . Sadly this down cycle will cause a great deal of damage, precisely because it will happen despite the efforts of the central banks to thwart it."
Everyone’s heard of trickle down economics, but how about “trickle down QE”? Here’s Citi to explain how a hypothetical credit strategist will visit your fictional office and use the concept of trickle down QE to convince an imaginary you to go long euro HY credit via synthetic exposure to Crossover mezz tranches (you can’t make this stuff up)...
From a Citi global credit survey: "...over 65% of respondents said they believed action from central banks in Europe and the US would be the principal force driving credit index spreads [and] surprisingly, in a year with major political catalysts in Europe, and ongoing regional tensions in the Middle East and Russia, only 4% of respondents felt that geopolitical risk would be the major factor driving spreads.”
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
As expected following yesterday's scorching 3 Year bond auction in which Indirect, aka official foreign, demand soared to the highest in 5 years, today the trend of relentless demand from abroad for US yields continued, when the Treasury sold $21 billion in 10 Year paper, which not only priced 1.4 bps though the When Issued 2.014%, hitting the high yield precisely at 2.000%, but saw the highest Indirect Bid, of 59.5%, since December of 2011.
While not quite as brisk as last month's 3 Year auction, today's just concluded sale of $24 billion in 3 Year paper was very solid for one more month, with the High Yield pricing at 1.05%, an impressive 1.1 bps through the When Issued, even as the yield jumped from January's 0.926%. The Bid to Cover, perhaps reflecting the extra pick of 12 bps in yield, rose ever so little, increasing from 3.330 to 3.345. But it was the internals where as usual the action was, with the recent trend of collapsing Direct demand not disappointing, and in January only 7.2% of the final takedown when to Directs: the lowest since April 2012. The offset: a surge in the Indirects, typically foreign central banks, which ended up with 48.9% of the paper - the most since May of 2010!
While PRexit is yet to hit the headlines, Puerto Rico bonds joined an illustrious club of ne'er-do-wells today with its 10Y yield spiking above 10%...
How to trade through the Greek crisis negotiations and the post-crisis world? This flow chart explains it.
"Conditions in the global economy are clearly abnormal. The policymaker response to those conditions is extraordinary, with minimal focus on an all-out push for higher growth. Instead, the primary focus is on boosting “inflation” with repeated doses of bondbuying, stock-buying and super-low interest rates"
"A trait you'll see among the world's best investors is the willingness -- even desire -- to talk about their mistakes. They analyze what went wrong, why they were mistaken, and how they can learn from their errors so they don't repeat them. Everyone makes mistakes, but they seem to grasp what most of us have a hard time admitting: It's your (and my) fault."
Remember the "great rotation"? Neither do we, because the bank that year after year coined the term to prepare investors for a renormalization of the economy as bond yields rise alongside stocks (something that happens in any normal, non-centrally planned banana world), that would be Bank of America for anyone confused, just reported that in the latest week, EPFR data showed inflows to all fixed income funds of $16.04 billion – the highest on record going back to at least 2008. On the "other side of the spectrum were stocks that had $5.52bn of outflows, down from a $1.62bn inflow in the prior week." And just like that, it's a bond-pickers' market, even as central banks trade with each other in various dark pools to keep global equities, and thus confidence, stable even as the capital tsuniami screams deflation for years to come.
Deflation remains the enemy thanks to debt, deleveraging, demographics, tech disruption & default risks. US aggregate debt is today a staggering $58.0 trillion (327% of GDP); the number of people unemployed in the European Union is 23.6 million; Greece has spent 90 of the past 192 years in default or debt restructuring. 7 years on from the GFC... The massive policy response continues. Central bank victory means that lower rates, currencies, oil successfully boosts global GDP & PMI’s in Q2/Q3, allowing Fed hikes in Q4. Bond yields would soar in H1 on this outcome. Defeat, no recovery, and currency wars, debt default and deficit financing become macro realities.
We can certainly "hope" that the markets will continue to march endlessly higher. However, "hope" has never been an effective portfolio management strategy. Considering that the decline in oil prices is supposed to good for the consumer, even though personal spending declined in the most recently reported period, the decline in dividends will certainly have a negative effect on those depending on those dividends. The current detachment between spending and the stock market will likely be corrected rather harshly at some point.