When Spanish bonds traded at yields above 7% last Summer, the world's central banks went into a whirlwind to proclaim that these levels did not represent reality (in spite of the depression-era style economic data the nation was spewing). Fast forward nine months, the data is worse and getting worserer but yields - through the guiding hand of Draghi, the self-referential buying of domestic banks, and the BoJ's risk-is-no-object reach for anything non-JPY denominated - have crushed to 4.3% pre-crisis levels. Meanwhile, a few thousand miles south, the nation of Rwanda is issuing its first international debt today at a 7% yield (to the Japanese we are sure) as over 90% of the world's sovereign bond markets are at or near all-time low yields. But, the smart money is leaving, as PIMCO notes, "this central bank-inspired rally has made the markets expensive... relative to fundamentals"
Another day, another set of horrible European data that merely stokes the idiocy of bad is good front-running of an ECB rate cut next week. We remain somewhat skeptical that a rate-cut will actually do anything here for this 'fragmented' continent when simple old 'free-money' is not fixing anything. But anyway... European stocks surged ahead again - even after yesterday's best day in 9 months. The difference today... European sovereign bonds deteriorated quite notably with Italian spreads wider by 10bps (despite its equity market's strength reasoned on the possibility of a new PM). Spain and Italy are up 6% and 5% respectively this week, and their bond spreads -32bps and 21bps respectively. We are sure this will end well. No pressure, Mr. Draghi...
The implications of the latest political developments in Italy.
When it comes to Italy, the market may have priced in every possible favorable outcome (the ECB and Kuroda will take care of the rest), but the country still has no Prime Minister and its economy continues to be in freefall with record unemployment and ever higher bank non-performing loans month after month. And while it may have elected a new figurehead president after 6 attempts last week, the choice of Prime Minister will hardly be as simple, especially since as the WSJ reports, this will likely be Enrico Letta, deputy of the Democratic Party (which as a reminder is in complete chaos following last week's internal coup and the resignation of its head Bersani over the weekend), at a time when Berlusconi's PDL lead in the polls continues to increase. Why the Bunga veteran would agree to a premiership by his opponents remains unclear, and with a parliamentary vote coming, it is doubtful just how smooth the approval process will be in a country best known for its dysfunctioning political process.
It is one thing for the market to no longer pay attention to economic fundamentals or newsflow (with the exception of newsflow generated by fake tweets of course), but when the mainstream media turns full retard and comes up with headlines such as this: "German Ifo Confidence Declines After Winter Chilled Recovery" to spin the key overnight event, the German IFO Business climate (which dropped from 106.2 to 104.4, missing expectations of 106.2 of course) one just has to laugh. In the artcile we read that "German business confidence fell for a second month in April after winter weather hindered the recovery in Europe’s largest economy... “We still expect there to have been a good rebound in the first quarter, although there is a big question mark about the weather,” said Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale SA in London." We wonder how long Bloomberg looked for some junior idiot who agreed to be memorialized for posterity with the preceding moronic soundbite because this really is beyond ridiculous (and no, it's not snow in the winter that is causing yet another "swoon" in indicators like the IFO, the ZEW and all other metrics as we patiently explained yesterday so even a 5 year old caveman financial reported would get it).
A key goal of propaganda is to mystify and obscure the Power Elites' real quandary and agenda. For example: we're just trying to help you out here, folks, by inflating another "wealth effect" bubble that will make you feel more prosperous. You're gonna love the warm fuzzy feeling of a return to the good times, even if you own zip-zero-nada in the way of productive assets. Or: we're raising your taxes and expropriating your money via inflation to stabilize the system that benefits you. (And yes, you may kneel and kiss Janet Yellen's ring.) The current level of mystification is truly extraordinary. But fortunately, we own a demystification device that scrubs out the mystification, leaving only stark, unforgiving reality. The global Status Quo--the U.S., the E.U., China, Japan, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, et al.--has only one choice: do more of what has failed spectacularly.
Despite rising (and record) unemployment, non-performing loans at record levels crushing the banking system's balance sheets, pension funds all-in, and their Italian neighbor now expecting more budget cuts of almost 1% of GDP in 2015-17 (and further downside risks to the GDP forecasts); Italian and Spanish bond spreads are pressing below critically 'positive' levels. While Italy remains above recent low spreads, Spain has just breached the 300bps (spread to Bunds) level; last seen in November 2011. The last 3 days have been the best run in Spanish bonds for six months. This level has been significant resistance a number of times since the European crisis began, but this time it's different, since the BoJ is seemingly blind to 'risk' and only sees 'return'. With the market telling the politicians that Europe is fixed, is it any wonder they are all asking for a stop to austerity? Or is bad once again good, as it forces Draghi's hand to follow his BoE, BoJ, Fed compatriots down the rabbit hole?
Yet another round of less than impressive macroeconomic data from China and Eurozone failed to deter equity bulls and heading into the North American crossover, stocks in Europe are seen higher, with tech and financials as best performers. The disappointing PMI data from Germany, where the Services component fell below the expansionary 50, underpins the view that the ECB will likely cut the benchmark interest rates next month and may even indicate that it is prepared to provide additional support via LTROs. As a result, the EONIA curve bull flattened and the 2/10s German spread flattened by almost 3bps to levels not seen since June 2012. In turn, Bund future hit YTD peak at 146.77 and the next technical level to note is 146.89, 1st June 2012 high. However it is worth noting that the upside traction is also being supported by large coupon payments and redemptions from France, the second highest net market inflow for 2013.
If there was any debate about the global economic contraction, driven largely due to pundits confusing manipulated stock market levitation with this anachronistic thing called the "economy" and fundamentals for the fourth year in a row, all doubts were removed after this morning's manufacturing PMI data out of China, which as reported previously was a big disappointment (sending the Composite firmly into the red for the year down 2.57% to 2184.5) only to be followed by just as disappointing manufacturing and services PMI data out of Germany, which tumbled from 49 and 50.9 to 47.9 and 49.2, respectively, missing estimates of 49.and 51. The composite German PMI tumbled to a 6-month low of 48.8 as a result, meaning the European economic deterioration is just getting started, and at the worst possible time for Merkel several months ahead of her reelection campaign. The end result was a miss in the blended Eurozone Mfg PMI, which dropped from 46.8 to 46.5, even as the less relevant Services component eaked out a small gain from 46.4 to 46.6, on the back of a dead cat bounce in French economic indicators. Bottom line: a contraction in both European manufacturing and services for the 15th consecutive month. Some "recovery."
Often times, for the best, closest to the ground perspective on economic opportunities in any given economy, there is hardly any more convincing metric than observing the level of net migration of foreigners into a country, and subsequently out. First, it was Italy, where net immigrants from Afghanistan and Bangladesh came, they saw, and promptly took the first boat back to whereever it was they came from. Then, a year ago we first showed that the endless media propaganda has little to no impact on the marginal cheap worker in the US, as Mexican immigrants finally became emigrants after realizing that real demand for their services, even as bargain basement wages, simply does not exist. And now, it was only logical that Europe's economic basket case with unemployment levels so high one literally needs bigger charts, was the next to follow. As BBC reports, in 2012 the Spanish population of 47.3 million declined by some 206,000 as "immigrants left the country amid a major economic crisis." The actual population change consisted of native Spaniards growing by a token 10,000 more than offset by the 216,000 registered foreign residents who decided to just pack it up and go back, mostly from Ecuador and Colombia. One could say they threw in the proverbial (Spiderman) towel, or at least sold it on Ebay.
Between an 87-year-old Italian, a bearded American, two Japanese sociopaths, and a world in desperate search of 'yield', the yields on Spanish 10Y debt have collapsed in recent days to 4.50% - its lowest since November 2010 (and Italy at around 3.54% also close to 29 month lows). With the backdrop that no harm can ever come to another government, corporate, or high-yield bond ever again, the $660 billion in excess Fed and BoJ liquidity needs to be invested and why not grab the riskiest stuff there is. European stocks ended mixed with Italy and Spain soaring and the rest in the red or unch. Corporate credit rallied, outperforming stocks, but Swiss 2Y rates remained at 3-month lows. Europe, market indications aside, remains very unfixed; but given the leadership's insistence that the market knows best, we assume we should not expect more austerity or belt-tightening as 'investors' are willing to take the bankers' promises as gospel. Just as a reminder - we saw this kind of 'confidence' before in 2011, did not end so well...
The week ahead brings key leading indicators of global activity. The flash PMI's in China and Euro area will be published on Tuesday. Bloomberg consensus expects the China flash to be slightly lower than the previous reading and that the Euro area flash releases for manufacturing and service activity will rise slightly. In addition, Korean 20-day export data for April will provide a good guide to both the external sector in Korea and the likely momentum of Asian exports more broadly. For the same reasons, Taiwan export orders are worth a look as well. The week ahead also provides Q1 GDP prints in US, UK, and Korea. Goldman expects US GDP to rise by 3.2%. The Australia CPI print may open the door to an RBA rate cut as soon as May and Japanese CPI is likely to underscore why the BoJ policy has shifted aggressively. Friday also brings an update of the BoJ's outlook, along with the next BoJ meeting (unchanged policy expected).
With no macro data on the docket (the NAR's self promotional "existing home sales" advertising brochure is anything but data), the market will be chasing the usual carry currency pair suspects for hints how to trade. Alas, with even more ominous economics news out of Europe, and an apparently inability of Mrs Watanabe to breach 100 on the USDJPY (hitting 99.98 for the second time in two weeks before rolling over once more), we may be rangebound, or downward boung if CAT shocks everyone with just how bad the Chinese (and global) heavy construction (and thus growth) reality truly is. One asset, however, that has outperformed and is up by well over 2% is gold, trading at $1435 at last check, over $100 from the lows posted a week ago, and rising rapidly on no particular news as the sell off appears to be over and now the snapback comes and the realization that Goldman was happily buying everything its clients were selling all along.
An attempt to look ahead at the drivers of the capital markets in the week ahead.
Where German industrial companies plan to invest: a slew of losers out there, including Germany