House Financial Services Committee
and more news moving the markets
While this morning's prepared remarks will be the same hodge podge of three-armed economist-speak, we suspect the Q&A will be a little aggressive as Fed Chair Janet Yellen faces The House Financial Services Committee. Having told the markets that "valuations are somewhat higher than normal," and "heightened leverage and weak underwriting terms are close to levels preceding the financial crisis," we are sure the Congressmen (and women) will focus attention on financial stability concerns - as opposed to back-patting celebrations of how well The Fed has done.
Stocks In Holding Pattern Following Blow-Off Top, Oblivious Of Fed's Warning Of "Stretched" ValuationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2015 07:00 -0500
Following the first of two Janet Yellen testimonies to Congress, the market read between the lines of what the Fed Chairman said when she hinted that "the Fed needs confidence on recovery and inflation before beginning to raise rates" and realized that the case of a June rate hike is suddenly far less realistic than previously expected, as a result not only did we see another blowoff top in stocks to fresh all time highs, a move which sent the USD lower, has pushed the median EV/EBITDA multiple to the mid 11x (!) range and the forward PE to just shy of 18x ironically coming on a day when the Fed itself warned about "stretched" equity valuations, and led to brisk buying of global Treasurys across the board, pushing the 10 Year in the US back under 2%, and due to the global convergence trade (because if the Fed returns to QE, it will be forced to buy up Treasuries not just in the US but around the globe, since net issuance including CBs globally is now negative) and leading to today's German 5 Year bond auction pricing at a negative yield for the first time ever.
It may signal that the ECB and Eurozone are set to embark on a gold accumulation programme. More likely, it is simply a way to bolster confidence in the euro due to increasing doubts about the viability of the single currency.
Fed Chair Yellen will be presenting her semi-annual monetary policy testimony - sometimes called the "Humphrey-Hawkins" testimony - today (Senate Banking Committee) and tomorrow (House Financial Services Committee). She is not expected to stray too far from the most recent FOMC statement's "On the one hand, there is recent strong labor market data; but on the other hand, the broader set of US activity data has not been as robust recently, and the inflation outlook has dimmed," uncertainty. The Q&A will of course contain the most fireworks (if last year's Yellen vs Warren deathmatch is anything to go by). Notably, The Fed will also release its semi-annual Monetary Policy Report (which last year contained the warning "valuation metrics in some sectors do appear substantially stretched.")
Fed Chair Yellen will be presenting her semi-annual monetary policy testimony - sometimes called the "Humphrey-Hawkins" testimony - on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Goldman expects Yellen not to stray far from the message of the January FOMC statement and meeting minutes, seeing it unlikely she will preempt the Committee by sending a strong signal on whether "patience" will be removed from the statement at the March meeting. The testimony will probably not be a major market mover. Nonetheless, to the extent there are risks to our "don't rock the boat" expectation, Goldman thinks they are skewed toward a slightly more dovish tilt.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
Welcome to the new old normal 'Murica... buy those homes... lever up... spend the HELOC... die a debt serf...
Before we first exposed proof of the conspiracy fact that global Central Banks are indeed trading US equity futures, it was dismissed as tin-foil-hat-wearing, pajama-wearing, basement-living conspiracy theory. So it is, perhaps, quite notable that Congress itself has now admitted that Central Banks are trading futures and that it is good for liquidity (and thus, we pre-suppose, it's for your own good, average citizen).
"Boy, was I wrong," exclaimed Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Stanley Fischer, "I thought that when Dodd-Frank started, that the banks would not succeed in influencing it, having lost all the prestige they lost." Just like the Fed's economic and rate forecasts, Fischer's political perspective could not have been more incorrect. Rather stunningly confirming Fischer's admission, The Hill reports JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon made calls to lawmakers on Thursday urging them to support the "cromnibus" spending bill, according to no lesser brain-trust than Rep. Maxine Waters. Perhaps Fischer inadvertently summed up the state of reality as WSJ reports, when he opined, "we are two bad decisions away from not being an independent central bank." We might suggest the "two" decisions went by a long time ago.
When we commented on Mel Watt's Einsteinianly-insane plans to reform FHFA, allowing bad creditors to buy houses (again) with only 3% down-payments (again), we expected nothing but echoes as the "it's everyone's 'right' to own a home"-meme gets played out for all to see in this goldfish-like societal memory that has entirely lobotomized the actions (and impact) of when this idiocy was trued before. However, a funny thing happened this week... called an 'election'. And The Republicans have been quick to take note of Obama-appointee Mel Watt's (replacing acting director Ed Demarco - who had some less-politik plans for real reform) plans with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling exclaiming he was "extremely concerned," about Watt's "efforts to force taxpayers to back high-risk mortgages with ultra-low down payments," concluding this plan "must be rejected."
"Obama should just resign. He is outrageous. He supported the NSA and has claimed the CIA does not spy on Congress. Well, the Inspector General has released his report and oops – yes the CIA spies on Congress. Obama has used the NSA, IRS, and the CIA to attack everyone. These people behind the curtain are the unelected. Obama is either a stooge or part of the real danger to the survivability of our nation long-term."
- Fighting erupts in Ukraine as crash investigators arrive (Reuters)
- Russian Billionaires in ‘Horror’ as Putin Risks Isolation (BBG)
- Israel kills militants entering from Gaza, death toll tops 500 (Reuters)
- The other Gaza: In violent weekend, at least 40 people shot in Chicago (Reuters)
- Barclays Dark Pool Drew Early Alarms (WSJ)
- Finance Industry Bonus Hit in Poll as Revenue Disappoints (BBG)
- Severstal to Sell North American Units (WSJ)
- Yum, McDonald's apologize as new China food scandal brews (Reuters)
- Yellen Wage Gauges Blurred by Boomer-Millennial Workforce Shift (BBG)
- Ukraine Offers to Hand Over Malaysia Airlines Probe to Dutch (WSJ)
Now that the World Cup is over, and following last week's global macro reporting slumber (aside for the Portuguese risk flaring episode of course), things pick up quite a bit in the coming week. Here are the key events.