The major unintended consequence of government and central bank intervention since Volcker's stand against inflation has been to generate its nemesis; deflation. With interest rates near zero in the major economies, there is nowhere for rates intervention to go to provide a stimulus. Strangely the answer must be higher interest rates. We will then see some "creative destruction" which is what the financial system needs to reset and start a proper economic cycle, but with the investment banks, who stand to lose the most, controlling the strings (just how do you think the US Budget bill got changed to allow banks’ derivative positions to be included in subsidiaries covered by FDIC insurance? ie the taxpayer covers their losses) we need stronger hands at the tiller than a coalition of "politicians" or a lame duck president. We need somebody with balls... any volunteers?
If you, like the BIS, are sick and tired of central bankers, and in this case the ECB's endless jawboning and now daily QE threats, determining the level of stocks, well then today is a good day as any to take your blood pressure medication. Because first it was ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco who told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated and urged the bank to buy government debt, and then, yet another regurgitated story, came from CNBC whose "sources" reported that the ECB QE would be based on contributions from national central banks and paid in capital. And while otherwise the cross-correlation trades would have at least pushed the crude complex modestly higher, today it was Goldman's energy analyst Jeffrey Currie finally throwing up all over oil, with a report in which he said that "because shale can rebound quickly once capital investments return, we now believe WTI needs to trade near $40/bbl for most of 1H15 to keep capital sidelined."
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
"The Greek political turmoil is likely to complicate matters for the ECB’s preparation of a sovereign QE programme. The prospect of the ECB potentially incurring severe losses is likely to intensify the debate within the Governing Council, where sovereign QE remains controversial. It could also make the start of a buying programme already on January 22 even more ambitious. In addition, the spectre of default could create new limitations on any sovereign QE design."
The Greater Abomination: Washington's Lies About TARP's "Success" Are Worse Than The Original Bailouts, Part ISubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/23/2014 12:38 -0400
The mainstream economics narrative is so far down the monetary rabbit hole that the blinding clarity of the chart below has no chance whatsoever of seeing the light of day. That’s because it dramatizes the real truth regarding all the Fed gibberish about “accommodation” and “stimulus”. Namely, that what lies beneath its “extraordinary measures”, such as ZIRP, QE, wealth effects and the rest of the litany, is a central banking regime that systematically destroy savers. Period. TARP wasn’t “repaid” with a profit. It was simply perpetuated and morphed into a new form of destructive state subvention and malinvestment.
This morning's bounce in stocks off the overnight lows is being entirely ignored by credit markets. US HY Energy spreads just broke 1050bps - record highs, worst than during the 98 crisis. Broad HY spreads have surged wider to 18-month wides. But perhaps most worrisome, investment grade credit spreads are 'relatively' underperforming, bursting to 77.5bps - the widest in 14 months.
High-yield energy bond spreads are crashing-er. Up 15bps to 880bps today, these are record wides and massively impact the economics of these firms - no matter how much investors want to ignore it. This is contagiously spreading across the broad high yield and even investment grade credit markets as high yield bond prices crash below the mid-October Bullard lows...
Stocks were modestly weak overnight amid poor Japanese, Chinese, and European data, but as soon as the US cash markets opened, stocks surged higher algorithmically testing up to unchanged briefly for the S&P 500 and squeezing small-cap shorts (as usual).. until Europe closed. Stock started to lose steam but once Nasdaq and Russell broke red, programs slammed stocks lower and despite a late-day bounce, stocks gave up all the gains from Friday's "awesome jobs data" and then some with Trannies and Small Caps worst. Momo names all suffered - most notably TWTR & TSLA. VIX broke above 14.5 briefly, closing up 2.4 at 14.2. Treasury yields plunged 5-7bps at the long-end (1-2bps at the short-end) flattening significantly. Credit markets were clubbed - with HYG taking the brunt and ending at Bullard lows. Gold and silver gained solidly (as USD slipped 0.3% led by JPY strength) as copper fell 0.5% and oil price crashed again. Markets turmoiled notably into the oil pit close (margin calls) and stabilized modestly after... but the S&P 500 still closed below its 5DMA.
The S&P 500 Energy sector stocks are down over 12% year-to-date, tumbling over 3% today to fresh 20-month lows. The spread (or risk) of high-yield energy credits surged again today, breaking above 850bps for the first time... The overall high-yield credit market is being dragged wider by this contagion as hedgers try to contain the collapse that is possible. For now, the S&P 500 remains entirely ignorant of the fact that over a third of its CapEx was expected to come from this crushed sector...
The oil and gas boom in the United States was made possible by the extensive credit afforded to drillers. Not only has financing come from company shareholders and traditional banks, but hundreds of billions of dollars have also come from junk-bond investors looking for high returns. Junk-bond debt in energy has reached $210 billion, which is about 16 percent of the $1.3 trillion junk-bond market. That is a dramatic rise from just 4 percent that energy debt represented 10 years ago. junk bonds pay high yields because they are high risk, and with oil prices dipping below $70 per barrel, companies that offered junk bonds may not have the revenue to pay back bond holders, potentially leading to steep losses in the coming weeks and months. The situation will compound itself if oil prices stay low.
Four years ago, bankers, politicians, and traders were patting themselves on the back after Petroleo Brasiliero (Petrobras) raised a stunning $70 billion in the world's largest share sale, as Bloomberg reported at the time, investors bet on its plans to double output within a decade by tapping offshore fields. Things haven't worked out so well...
This may not quite be the blow-off top in the merger bubble as companies rush to frontrun the ECB and buy whatever still isn't nailed, but it is getting close. Because while earlier today Baker Hughes announced it would accept the Halliburton offer to buy it unchallenged in a $35 billion transaction leading many to wonder just how much lower the price of oil is still set to drop, moments ago the Allergan "White Knight" swooped from up on high, and as had also been leaked in recent weeks, Actavis agreed to buy the botox- maker which Ackman and Valeant had been so eagerly chasing for months in order to let the roll-up pharma pad its non-GAAP books with another 2-3 years of pro forma "synergies" add backs. This means that between Halliburton and Actavis, today we have had the first $100 billion "Merger Monday" in over a decade.
As its recent 10-K confirmed, AAPL's domestic cash - the amount of cash available for such corporate transactions as dividends and buybacks - had dropped to just $18.1 billion (and that is including the several billion in commercial paper issued in fiscal Q4), the lowest domestic cash hoard since March 2010, a time when AAPL's offshore cash was a tiny $24 billion compared to the near record $137 billion last quarter! So knowing full well that a buyback a day keep the Icahnator away, AAPL, urgently looking to refill its domestic cash since its offshore cash remains untouchable (absent being taxed on its repatriation), did the only thing it could do: prepare to issue more bonds, which is what we forecast would happen a few weeks ago, and what the WSJ overnight confirmed is already in progress.
When all else fails, and there is no growth, what you gonna call? Buybackbusters!
Because after doing the math, we find that the biggest stock market surge in 2014 was over what boils down to be a central bank injection of... $5 billion per month?