It has been another whiplash, rollercoaster, illiquid session which saw US equity futures tumble early overnight driven by a bout of USDJPY and Nikkei selling, only to regain all losses as European, and BIS, traders walked in, and promptly BTFD. In fact at last check, it was as if all the fireworks that took place just a few short hours ago and sent the ES as low as 2037, and below what has become the key support level, the 50-DMA never happened.
Venezuela, Argentina, and... China? are the 3 best performing stock markets in March in USD terms (with Ukraine close behind). It is the Greeks that have borne the brunt of global derisking through The Ides, Athens Stock Index down over 15% and the worst-performing stock market in the world for March. Year-to-date, Russia joins the 3 amigos at the top of the list (up almost 11% in USD terms) and Ukraine remains the clear laggard, down almost 33% in USD terms. The best performing global stock market in 2015 in local currency terms is... Denmark!?
Did stocks window dressing come one day early in this volatile, bipolar, stop-hunting, HFT-infested market? Looking at futures this morning, which are down about 12 points already on yet another surge in the USD which has sent the EURUSD just above 1.07, the lowest since March 20 , and the USDJPY back under 120 now that the "strong dollar is bad for stocks after all" algo seems to be back from vacation, all those hedge funds who chased risk higher yesterday because their peers did the same, may find they are all selling on the way down. It will be oddly ironic if all of yesterday's widely touted gains evaporate comparably in the first 10 minutes of trading today, and lead to an end in the longest streak of quarterly increases in two decades.
A number of economists have proposed the implementation of what has been dubbed "QE for the people." They seem to prefer to apply the principle "When in trouble, double." Given the massive mistakes which were made by central banks from Weimar to Bernanke and the relentless attempts to use the printing press to finance governments, it probably shouldn't take much to convince people of alternatives, and not more of the same, right?
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.
"The Risks Are Very High" Swiss Billionaire Warns "Global Financial Markets Have Never Been This Distorted Before"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/29/2015 20:15 -0400
"Global financial markets are more distorted than ever before and accordingly, the risks are very high... All equity and currency markets are pretty extended, at present; and many of the bond markets are as well... We know that the longer a distortion prevails, the more investors get used to it and it becomes the “new normal” to them. That’s where the problem lies! I see three potential threats..." - Felix Zulauf
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
As Moscow and Seoul throw their support behind China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the question is no longer about the end of dollar hegemony but rather about the extent to which the new venture will be used to institute a global shift towards the yuan.
There is a risk that Japan, China, and the US will not sit on their hands while the euro loses value, with the world possibly even sliding into a currency war. Moreover, the southern EU countries, instead of leaving prices unchanged, could abandon austerity and issue an ever greater volume of new bonds to stimulate the economy. Competitiveness gains and rebalancing would fail to materialize, and, after an initial flash in the pan, the eurozone would return to permanent crisis. The euro, finally and fully discredited, would then meet a very messy end. One can only hope that this scenario does not come to pass, and that the southern countries stay the course of austerity. This is their last chance.
While the euro itself has recovered a bit from its worst levels in recent sessions, euro basis swaps have fallen deeper into negative territory on par with the epic nosedive of 2011. We are not quite sure what the move means this time around, since there is no obvious crisis situation – not yet, anyway. A negative FX basis usually indicates some sort of concern over the banking system’s creditworthiness and has historically been associated with euro area banks experiencing problems in obtaining dollar funding. This time, the move in basis swaps is happening “quietly”, as there are no reports in the media indicating that anything might be amiss. Still, something is apparently amiss...
"One of the potential options Syriza might eventually consider could be a popular referendum on Eurozone membership – a step that would obviously involve great risks and uncertainties," UBS says, as Athens stares down a tough month ahead and an even tougher June and July.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, this morning's futures reaction to last night's shocking start of a completely unexpected Yemen proxy war, which has seen an alliance of Gulf State launch an air, and soon land, war against Yemen's Houthi rebels, is what one would expect: down, and down big. This is surprising, because on previous occasions one would expect the NY Fed, or its pet hedge fund, Citadel, or the BOJ or ECB (via the CME's "Central Bank Incentive Program") to aggressively buy ES to prevent a slide, something has changed, and for the BTFDers, that something may be very fatal with the e-Mini rapidly approaching a 1-handle yet again. The offset to tumbling stocks, as previously observed, is oil, with WTI soaring over 6% in a delayed algo response to the Qatar headlines.
The German hyperinflation episode in the early 1920s is often quoted as an example of the dire consequences of excessive money printing – a leading industrial economy succumbing to the dangers of currency debasement promoted by incompetent central bankers. Alas, the reality is more complex than that, particularly when certain geopolitical and economic constraints of that time are taken into consideration. And as we shall see, we can draw some important lessons from that episode that can help us gauge the effectiveness of our very own currency debasement in the 21st century.
US Hegemony, Dollar Dominance Are Officially Dead As China Scores Overwhelming Victory In Bank BattleSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/25/2015 17:00 -0400
The China-led development bank essentially marks an epochal shift away from traditionally US-dominated multinational institutions like the IMF and the ADB. Meanwhile, it also represents an implicit attempt by the Chinese to usher in a kind of sino-Monroe Doctrine. The more isolated the US becomes as it relates to the new venture, the more transparent its motives seem. This was never about “standards” (the original excuse for Washington’s opposition to the bank), but rather about stifling Chinese ambition. "America seems to be confirming China’s darkest fears: it has adopted a policy of containment that is wrong in principle and has failed in practice," notes The Economist.