The biggest fear the market currently has is not the ongoing crisis in the Emerging Markets, not the suddenly slowing economy, not even China's credit bubble popping: it is that Bernanke's successor may have suddenly reverted to the "Old Normal" - a regime in which the Fed is not there to provide the training wheels should the S&P suffer a 5%, 10% or 20% (or more) drop. Whether such fears are warranted will be tested as soon as there is indeed a bear market plunge in stocks - the first in nearly three years (incidentally the topic of the Fed's lack of vacalty was covered in a recent Reuters article). So, assuming that indeed the most dramatic change in market dynamics in the past five years has taken place, how does one trade this new world which is so unfamiliar to so many of today's "younger" (and forgotten by many of the older) traders? And, more importantly, how does one look for the signs of a bottom: an Old Normal bottom that is. Courtesy of Convergex' Nicholas Colas, here is a reminder of what to look forward to, for those who are so inclined, to time the next market inflection point.
In the aftermath of yesterday's Developed Market rout, it may come as a surprise how - relatively - quiet the EM bourses were. Because while the now ongoing Argentina reserve depletion continues (the country has $28 billion left - a drain of over $2 billion in two weeks, the Turkish political instability is still there, and everyone from Hungary to South Africa to India are lamenting the Fed's taper, for the most part traders were ignoring developments out of the emerging world. This may change today when just over an hour ago, Russia announced it would cancel a bond auction for the second consecutive week after an emerging-market rout sent yields on January 2028 bonds to record highs. The reason cite: market conditions.
It is still all about the Yen carry which overnight tumbled to the lowest level since November, dragging the Nikkei down by 4.8% which halted its plunge at just overf 14,000, only to stage a modest rebound and carry US equity futures with it, even if it hasn't helped the Dax much which moments ago dropped to session lows and broke its 100 DMA, where carmakers are being especially punished following a downgrade by HSBC of the entire sector. Also overnight the Hang Seng entered an official correction phase (following on from the Nikkei 225 doing the same yesterday) amid global growth concerns and has filtered through to European trade with equities mostly red across the board. Markets have shrugged off news that ECB's Draghi is seeking German support in the bond sterilization debate, something which we forecast would happen a few weeks ago when we pointed out the relentless pace of SMP sterilization failures, with analysts playing down the news as the move would only add a nominal amount of almost EUR 180bln to the Euro-Area financial system. Elsewhere, disappointing earnings from KPN (-4.3%) and ARM holdings (-2.5%) are assisting the downward momentum for their respective sectors.
In economics the chicken must always come home to roost. Man can only live beyond his means for so long. Bernanke’s reputation hinges upon the market not tanking as his successors close up the spout of gushing currency. The endpoint is coming. When it happens, the house of cards will tumble down. And with it will come the livelihoods and hopes of many. With every boom there is a bust. It’s an immutable fact of government intervention into the economy. As Bill Bonner writes, articles full of lavishing praise for Bernanke will begin appearing in coming weeks. Writing puff pieces on state bureaucrats is often a high-paying gig. But they all reveal a particular trend: celebrating the wise achievements of someone empowered to govern society. When businessmen are praised in print, their accomplishments are chalked up as minor victories reserved for the few. When the selfless man of charity is given his due, the praise is mild. When a lord of government sees the pages of a major periodical, it’s the kind of brown-nosing that would make a teacher’s pet uncomfortable. For now, Bernanke will bask in exaltation. But his just deserts are coming. You can bet $4 trillion on it.
Following yesterday's continued slide to record lows against the Central Bank's currency basket, the Russian Ruble is rallying this morning as Russian Central Bank chief Elvira Nebiullina jawboned the threat of renewed intervention to "smooth out" markets:
*NABIULLINA SAYS FX MKT INTERVENTIONS NEEDED FOR FIN. STABILITY; BANK ROSSII 'SMOOTHING OUT' SHARP RUBLE SWINGS
One can only hope that - despite the bank runs, a plan not to raise rates, and a canceled bond auction - Russia has more success that Turkey is "fixing" the problem of QEasy money flows. The Ruble "basket" has reverted back to pre-Turkey levels.
- Only time will define Bernanke's crisis-era legacy at Fed (Reuters)
- Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs (BBG)
- Investors Look Toward Safer Options as Ground Shifts (WSJ)
- Fed Policy Makers Rally Behind Tapering QE as Yellen Era Begins (BBG)
- Rating agencies criticise China’s bailout of failed $500m trust (FT)
- Russia to await new Ukraine government before fully implementing rescue (Reuters)
- U.S. readies financial sanctions against Ukraine: congressional aides (Reuters)
- Companies resist president’s call for minimum wage rise (FT)
- Secret Swiss Funds at Risk as Italy’s Saccomanni Visits Bern (BBG)
- Top Democrat puts Obama trade deals in doubt (FT)
- Erdogan to Give Rate Increase Time Before Trying Other Plans (BBG)
From Citi: From the viewpoint of domestic US economic conditions the Statement is completely anodyne. From the point of view of EM, the Fed has just said "hasta la vista, baby"
As we begin 2014, it is important to recognize the levels of INSANITY currently existent in the world enabling us to understand the apocryphal nature of the times we live in and prepare ourselves to meet the challenges it represents. The world is leveraged to an extent that has never before seen in history! Debt now masquerades as NOMINAL growth and REAL growth has ceased. Headline economic reports are now nothing more than POLITICALLY CORRECT HOAXES to FOOL the public at large and mask the betrayal of the public by the leaders who hold the reins of power. ECONOMIC Stagnation emerged after the 2008 Global financial crisis and in real terms has NEVER ENDED!
The Status Quo views real estate bubbles as a "good thing": as home prices rise, the homeowner's collateral (equity) rises, creating both a psychological "wealth effect" (now that we're richer, we can afford to borrow and blow more money) and a temporary (and thus phantom) increase in collateral that will support more household debt. What few seem to realize (or discuss) is how rising home prices push rents higher.This is an entirely pernicious effect, as renters aren't getting any more "home" for the higher rent--they're paying more money for the same shelter. Central Planning pushing housing prices higher is not win-win--it is lose-lose-lose.
- Citigroup 165K
- Barclays 175K
- UBS 185K
- HSBC 191K
- Goldman Sachs 200K
- JP Morgan 215K
- Bank of America 220K
- Deutsche Bank 250K
Following the missed expectations of the Manufacturing PMIs in China, it appears 'reform' is having the exact slow-growth-inducing credit-creation-dampening effects many had worried about (but dismissed because - well the Fed has out back right?). HSBC's China Services PMI slumped by its most in 8 months to its lowest level since August 2011 (the 2nd worst level since the data began). New business expansion in particular dropped to its lowest level in 6 months and while labor market conditions improved marginally, HSBC - desperate to cling to some silver lining - noted the Composite PMI remains above 50 (phew) - adding "we expect the steady expansion of manufacturing sectors to lend support to service sector growth..." or not. Markets are disappointed...
A look at the technical condition of the fx market, interest rate differentials, central bank developments and the data due out in the week ahead.
Well, it took three years, but finally the Goldman Sachs-based head of the New York Fed, Bill Dudley, admitted what we all knew. From a speech just given by NY Fed's Bill Dudley at the 2014 AEA meeting in Philadelphia:
"We don't understand fully how large-scale asset purchase programs work to ease financial market conditions"
Or, in other words, "we still don't know how QE works." It just does (thank you Kevin Henry). And this coming from the people who want their word to become equivalent to gospel in a time when QE is being phased out and replaced with forward guidance. Luckily, at least the Fed knows all about how "forward guidance" works.
The recent strength of the euro and sterling seemed to evaporate, while the yen and dollar-bloc currencies recovered. Is this a major trend change or was it simply reflecting some position adjustment in a thin market?
Worried about being priced out of the housing market once again? Concerned that longer-term fixed rates will rise? It seems the general public, guided by the always full of fiduciary duty - mortgage broker - has reverted to old habits and is charging back into Adjustable-Rate Mortgages. As The LA Times reports, ARMs, which all but vanished during the housing bust, are back - accounting for 11.2% of homes purchased in November (double that of the year before)! While not the Option Arms of yesteryear, it would appear people, pushing for lower monthly payments, remain completely oblivious to the word "adjustable" when they shift their risk to the shorter-end. Though, as the 'experts' continue to tell us, rising rates won't affect housing negatively - not at all...