"Artificial, credit-stained activity will never be more than a fleeting substitute for fundamental demand. And when the artificiality inevitably subsides, what is left is far worse than not having entertained it at the start. That too is a testament against the illicit concept of neutrality. We may all be dead in the long run, but it used to be nice to enjoy the fruits of free economic expansion whilst awaiting the unavoidable."
As we noted in the pre-open this morning, with the weekend just around the corner, it was virtually assured that the S&P would close at an all time high today - after all the people need to be confident when they go shopping at malls with money they don't have (but delighted by paper profits they haven't booked) so they boost the US non-GAAP GDP (at least before the BEA too, like Italy, changes the definition of GDP to include cocaine and hookers). Finally, assuring a (likely record) low-volume levitation today is the early closure of the bond pit ahead of Memorial Day holiday which also means only a skeleton crew of algos will be frontrunning each other to push the S&P over 1,900. Summing it all up perfectly - VIX closed at 15-month lows, Russell 2000 had its best week in 3 months, and Treasury yields are 13bps lower than when the S&P was last here... un-rigged.
A year ago it was the US which first "boosted" America's GDP by $500 billion - literally out of thin air - when it arbitrarily decided to include "intangibles" to the components that 'make up' GDP (in the process cutting over 5% from the US Debt/GDP ratio). Then Spain joined the fray. Then Greece. Then the UK. Then Nigeria, which showed those deveoped Keynesian basket cases how it is really done, when it doubled the size of its GDP overnight when it decided to change the base year of its GDP calculations. Now it is Italy's turn, and like everything else Italy does, this latest "revision" of the definition of GDP easily wins in the style points category. As Bloomberg reports, "Italy will include prostitution and illegal drug sales in the gross domestic product calculation this year." Yup: blow and hookers. And that, ladies and gents, how it's done.
Following the only major overnight econ event, which was the May German IFO Business Climate Index which dropped from 111.2 to 110.4 missing expectations of 110.9, the USDJPY has been on a soaring rampage higher hoping to push equities along with it (because now that gold manipulation is a proven fact, it is only a matter of time before the link between manipulating the USDJPY on thin volume with massive leverage and rigging the equity market is uncovered too), and at last check was just shy of 102.000. For now equity futures have failed to be dragged along although with the S&P all time high just around the horizon, the psychological level of 1900 staring the rigged market in the face, and the weekend just around the corner, it is virtually assured that the S&P will close at an all time high today - after all the people need to be confident when they go shopping at malls with money they don't have (but delighted by paper profits they haven't booked) so they boost the US non-GAAP GDP (at least before like Italy, the BEA too changes the definition of GDP to include cocaine and hookers). Finally, assuring a (record?) low-volume levitation today is the early closure of the bond pit ahead of Memorial Day holiday which also means only a skeleton crew of algos will be frontrunning each other to push the S&P over 1,900.
The key news overnight were global manufacturing PMIs which can be summarized as follows: Japan contraction; China contraction, but less than expected (as reported before); and most recently, Europe which expanded but dropped and missed, at 52.5, down from 53.4 and below the consensus estimate of 53.2. The weakness was fully driven by France which has moved back into a contraction phase in both manufacturing and services, which were 49.3 and 49.2, down from 51.2 and 50.4, respectively (although with the recent surge in train station remodelling, the mfg aspect may soon be boosted). The market soaked up the Chinese numbers with fervor, sending the algo-controlled USDJPY into a buying frenzy which in turn pushed up US equity futures, only to see a gradual fade of the Chinese euphoria when the European data hit.
Another right of perfectly round number supports: while the Shanghai Composite once again dipped below 2000 overnight to as low as 1991 only to close modestly higher, and the Nikkei followed suit, also sliding below the psychological support level of 14,000 to an intraday low of 13,964 only to close just above 14,000 if in the red, it was the USDJPY that has suffered the most technical pain when shortly after 2:30 am eastern time, the USDJPY dropped by nearly 40 pips, hours after the BOJ indicated that not only is it happy with where in the QE process it stands, but hinted there may well be no more QE, and certainly nothing imminent . In the process, the USDJPY fully smashed the 200 DMA, with the next key parallel support being the 200DMA in the EURJPY at 138.08 (which was at 138.34 last). When that too gives way, it is a straight line to double digits in the USDJPY, and the countdown to the end of the Abe regime begins in earnest.
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
Having pricked the Biotech bubble with the simple questioning of the ballooning prices of drugs, it appears Congress may be well on its way to bursting the M&A Mania as Senator Carl Levin pushes his anti-inversion legislation by increasing, once again, the complexity of the tax code:
- *SEN. LEVIN SAYS U.S. FACING 'FLOOD OF TAX AVOIDANCE'
- *LEVIN BILL INCLUDES TWO YEAR MORATORIUM TO ALLOW FOR TAX REVAMP
- *LEVIN BILL RAISES THRESHOLD FOR INVERSIONS TO 50 PERCENT
“This is about leveling the playing field and rooting out flagrant tax abuse in our system...The fact that companies can change their tax liability to low-tax jurisdictions on paper while maintaining operations and ownership in the U.S. is unacceptable" We're glad they know what's best for all of us. Ironically, while the US makes the tax code so complex everyone wants to get out of the country, in italy the PM wants to simply it so much people can file by text message.
The last few days have been the worst for peripheral European bonds in well over a year. Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal have all seen yields jump and credit spreads soar in the last week as 'faith' in Draghi appears to be faltering. The reason this is concerning is, as we explained here, in the new normal, negative feedback loops have gone and instead we have hyperbolic loops which, when broken, end much more badly than a self-correcting un-rigged market would.
An economy where most people work for the state or a global corporation is an economy that has lost its knowledge of the key entrepreneurial building blocks.
The ECB, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the Riksbank of Sweden announced a new gold agreement this morning. They announced they have no plans to sell significant quantities of gold and reaffirmed the importance of gold bullion as a monetary reserve asset.
They say that gold is a geopolitical metal. Gold is real money with no counterparty risk and, furthermore, an excellent wealth preserver in time and space. Like fiat currencies (dollar, euro, yen, Yuan etc.), gold’s price is also influenced by political events, especially those having an international impact. Alan Greenspan, ex-chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that gold is money “in extremis”. This is why gold is part of most central banks’ reserves. It is the only reserve that is not debt and that cannot be devalued by inflation, contrary to fiat currencies.
One glance at the following chart prepared by the Economist, showcasing the world's largest importers of weapons, and more importantly, exporters, and one could almost imagine why both the US and Russia have an interest in a "contained" (or not so much) regional war...