On Tuesday, the Dow fell 272 points. No big deal, of course - we rebounded the most in 3 years yesterday. But what if it continued? Just six years ago it fell 51%. It could easily do so again – back down to, say, 8,000. There would be nothing unusual about it. 50% corrections are normal. You know what would happen, don’t you? Ever since the "Black Monday" stock market crash in 1987 it has been standard procedure for the Fed to react quickly. But what if Yellen & Co. got out the party favors... set up the booze on the counter... laid out some dishes with pretzels and olives... and nobody came? What if the stock market stayed down for 30 years, as it has in Japan?
And it all started off so promisingly, when after the biggest selloff in US stocks in two months, the BOJ and its preferred banks once again sold 6J (i.e., bought USDJPY) in the morning Japan session (while collecting CME liquidity rebates of course), sending the pair from below 108 to half the way to 109, and naturally taking global futures higher while pushing yields lower when as ITC says a "large TY seller knocked USTs to lows during the session" - hmmm, wonder who the large seller was. And then... the "rebound euphoria" fizzled a la Sodastream, sending the Nikkei sliding 1.2%, and US equity futures back to unchanged with the bond surge returning and sending German Bunds to new all time highs once again, while the Dax briefly broke below under 9000 before stabilizing at the key support level. It is unclear what caused the failure in central bank euphoria, although some suggest that the latest bevy of disappointing economic news wasn't quite bad enough.
The good thing about Germany’s bad, make that awful, numbers is that they will raise the voices of euroskeptics across the country. If there is to be a change in view or politics from Angela Merkel and her people, it’s not going to be what the rest of Europe wants, a softer stance on Mario Draghi’s ABS junk paper purchases. Quite the opposite: Germans will increase their calls for Deutschland first, and Merkel can no longer ignore them.
"The concept of an independent central bank clearly focused on price stability is neither old-fashioned nor outdated," exclaimed Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann. As The WSJ reports, he criticized the European Central Bank’s decision to buy private-sector bonds and signaled his fierce opposition to purchasing government bonds, underscoring his reluctance to back additional stimulus measures to combat weakness in the eurozone economy. "There is a risk of monetary policy, especially in the euro area, being held hostage by politics," Mr. Weidmann said, tying fiscal policies together through ECB bond purchases “is a dangerous path,”
While the biggest micro news of the weekend is certainly the report that Hewlett-Packard has finally thrown in the towel on organic growth (all those thousands laid off over the past ten years can finally breathe easily - they were not fired in vain), and has proceeded to do what so many said was its only real option: splitting into two separate companies, a personal-computer and printer business, and corporate hardware and services operations (which will certainly lead to even more stock buybacks only not at one but two companies) which in turn has sent its stock and futures higher, perhaps the most notable development in the macro world is Japan's realization finally that the weaker Yen is crushing domestic businesses, which has resulted in the USDJPY sliding to lows last seen at Friday's jobs report print, and also generally leading to across the board wekness for the dollar, whose relentless surge in the past 3 months is strongly reminiscent of the euphoria following the Plaza Accord, only in the other direction (and making some wonder if the Plaza Hotel caterer are about to see a rerun of September 22, 1985 in the coming weeks).
For the US, it’s now shooting fish in a barrel – but just for now. The three-pronged plan the Fed has started to execute is plain for everyone to see... And it will have the rest of the world begging for mercy.
"What people underestimate is that what's at stake is the entire credibility of the rules," warns one EU official as The WSJ reports, is preparing to reject France’s 2015 budget, that would be the biggest test yet of new powers for Brussels that were designed to prevent a repeat of the eurozone’s sovereign-debt crisis. With the looming handover to former French FinMin Pierre Moscovici (fox, henhouse?) it appears the current European Commission will not stand for Current French FinMin Sapin's plan that would run a budget deficit of 4.3% of GDP next year (far greater than the 3% deficit it had previously promised) put France’s budget in "serious noncompliance" with the new EU rules and risking sanctions of as much as 0.2% of GDP. The credibility of Brussels' new powers threatens to be seriously undermined if big countries such as France and Italy are able to flout the new rules as "it’s not like they will try - and fail; they're actually planning not do it," another EU official said.
While the 0.001% of the world dine together and plan their next moves, here are the main events in the week ahead.
Italy is back in recession for the third time since 2008. Germany’s economy contracted in the second quarter of 2014 and will likely be in recession before the first quarter of 2015. France has registered zero growth for six months now.
In is only fitting that a week that has been characterized by deteriorating macroeconomic data, and abysmal European data, would conclude with yet another macro disappointment in the form of Markit's sentiment surveys, for non-manufacturing/service (and composite) PMIs in Europe which missed almost entirely across the board, with Spain down from 58.1 to 55.8 (exp. 57.0), Italy down from 49.8 to 48.8 (exp. 49.8), France down from 49.4 to 48.4 (exp. 49.4), and in fact only Russia (!) and Germany rising, with the latter growing from 55.4 to 55.7, above the 55.4 expected, which however hardly compensates for the contractionary manufacturing PMI reported earlier this week. As a result, the Composite Eurozone PMI down from 52.3 to 52.0, missing expectations, as only Germany saw a service PMI increase. And yet, despite or rather thanks to this ongoing economic weakness, futures have ignored all the negative and at last check were higher by 9 points, or just over 0.4%, as the algos appear to have reconsidered Draghi's quite explicit words, and seem to be convinced that his lack of willingness to commit is merely "pent up" commitment for a future ECB meeting. That or, more likely just another short squeeze especially with the "all important" non-farm payrolls number due out in just over 2 hours, which for the past 24 hours has been hyped up as sure to bounce strongly from the very disappointing, sub-200K August print.
The wobble in world markets continues, with stock indices across all time zones down steeply in recent sessions. Investors are not only realigning their exposure in anticipation of tighter liquidity conditions as the US Federal Reserve finally brings its asset purchases to a close later this month (see More Fools Than Money?). After today’s European Central Bank (ECB) meeting they are also looking nervously at the magnitude of the task facing eurozone policymakers. And they appear to be coming to the conclusion that generating a rebound in growth may be too tough a job for Europe’s leaders to accomplish in the near term.
"If you call a life of surveillance, anxiety and ceaseless toil in the service of a government you didn’t elect 'freedom', then you and I have a very different idea of what that word means." There are only two possible futures facing the United States, and neither one is pretty. Whether the collapse is gradual or gut-wrenchingly sudden, the results will be chaos, civil strife and fascism.
Broad European stocks plunged into the red for 2014 today as a rattled Mario Draghi disappointed a hungry-for-more risk market. Bloomberg's BE500 index dropped its most since June 2013 to 2-month lows led by weakness in Italian banks. UK stocks underperformed (-3.6%) but Spain, Italy, and Portugal all tumbled 2-3%. The selling pressure interestingly stayed in stocks as bond spreads rose only modestly and EURUSD roundtripped to only a small rise from pre-ECB. Notably, US equities are cratering as they are so used to the pre-EU-close pump that did not happen.
About 36 months ago Ireland’s two-year notes were yielding 14% and its government and the Brussels apparatchiks were scrambling with tin cup in hand to stave off disaster. Now their yield is negative 0.01%.