"... the growing perception that central banks are moving away from QE-style programmes to negative interest rates is less supportive for equities, in our opinion. With little evidence so far that negative rates boost aggregate economic activity, the risk is that this policy tool increasingly resembles a more blatant form of 'beggar thy neighbour' currency devaluation. A shift towards a more nationalistic and perhaps less coordinated global policy response could signal a quickening in the pace of fiat currency debasement and augurs badly for risk appetite, in our view."
The recent reversal is definitely positive. Both false breakouts and false breakdowns often turn out to be reliable trend change signals. An additional bonus in this case was that the initial breakdown has induced widespread capitulation. Contrary to the immediately preceding rally attempt, the current one has been a “scared rally” so far. The mainstream financial press is still busy penning obituaries on gold, which is generally a good sign as well.
Oil prices around USD 30/bbl mean that an increasingly significant volume of future oil projects no longer make sense. Although Deutsche Bank does not expect US crude inventories to reach capacity, rising US inventories and high US crude imports may heighten downside pressures to push prices closer to marginal cash costs of USD 7-17/bbl for US tight oil, with few plausible scenarios for a strong price recovery in the short term,
Clearly, something’s gone horribly awry. Hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity likely have something to do with the shiny streets. Conversely, sloth, drug abuse, and mental defectives likely have something to do with the blighted streets. But we also have an inkling that 20 years of activist Fed policy has left its marks all over both.
"The world’s central banks can’t save us anymore." That was the message from some of the world’s most prominent investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday. Each was resistant to putting on fresh positions and expected asset prices to head downward. In short, they say, the only winning move is not to play the game. “The trade now is to hold as much cash as possible,” said Nikhil Srinivasan, chief investment officer for Generali, a European insurer with $480 billion in assets. “Equity markets could go down 15% to 20%.”
"At this point we think that the negative feedback loop between market performance, volatility and the real economy (wealth effect) is becoming a significant risk for the S&P 500... as some assets are near the top and others near the bottom of their historical ranges, we are obviously not experiencing an asset bubble of all risky assets, but rather a bubble in relative performance: we call it a Macro-Momentum bubble."
"We would be surprised that in this highly leveraged world, in combination with a structural decline in market liquidity, a 7-year cycle decline would just be mild. We think it’s actually just the other way around and in this context we see last year’s rise in volatility as just the start of a period with exceptionally high volatility where we wouldn’t be surprised to see record spikes in volatility over the next 12 to 17 months."
SocGen Looks At The Devastation Across Markets, Sarcastically Concludes It Is "Time For A US Rate Hike"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/14/2015 08:53 -0500
"The solution to uncertainty is cheaper valuations. If problems are priced in, investors can afford to look through near terms concerns and focus on the longer term. Worryingly, we have exactly the opposite situation today. Average stock valuations are close to historical highs – so we have lots of risk and little in the way of valuation cushion.... Time for a US rate rise then?"
"... the next 12-18 months will be divided into three periods corresponding to the three distinct regimes of market dynamics. They can be summarized by the following modes of the curve: short-term tactical bear flatteners on the back of a Fed liftoff story, followed by volatile bear steepeners of the “taper-tantrum” type around mid-year, and a bull-flattening finale as structural factors deem rate hikes to be a policy mistake."
Why - after commodities - China is set to change the landscape on energy in the coming years
The Ghost Cities Finally Died: For China's Steel Industry "The Outlook Is The Worst Ever Amid Unprecedented Losses"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/29/2015 21:35 -0500
In late 2014 something happened: for whatever reason the most unregulated aspect of China's financial system, its shadow banks, not only stopped lending money but actually went into reverse, thus putting a lid on China's Total Social Financing expansion, which had been the world's "under the radar" growth dynamo for so many years. At that moment not only did China's ghost cities officially die, but it meant an imminent collapse for China's steel industry. That collapse has arrived.
The recent bi-polar behavior in spot-VIX empirically supports the theory that a structural weakness now exists in this market by crowding of short volatility players. Short volatility sellers ridicule the fact that the prospectus for the iPath Long Volatility ST Index (VXX) clearly states that the ETF has an expected long-term return of zero. They should ask themselves, is it better to know with certainty you are going to go bankrupt slowly, or be completely ignorant of the fact you will go bankrupt suddenly.
Central banks are fearful and unwilling to normalize but artificially high valuations across asset classes cannot be sustained indefinitely absent fundamental global growth. Central banks are in a prison of their own design and we are trapped with them. The next great crash will occur when we collectively realize that the institutions that we trusted to remove risk are actually the source of it. The truth is that global central banks cannot remove extraordinary monetary accommodation without risking a complete collapse of the system, but the longer they wait the more they risk their own credibility, and the worse that inevitable collapse will be. In the Prisoner’s Dilemma, global central banks have set up the greatest volatility trade in history.
The single most important “unknown unknown” today is any random event that may unexpectedly cause global central banks to withdraw their stated support of markets. Moral hazard has contributed to a significant build up in short and leveraged volatility creating a shadow ‘volatility gamma’ that reinforces the current trend in volatility direction. Rising volatility is followed by more rising volatility and vice versa. The pattern is creating a pro-cyclical monster of short volatility that, if left unchecked will contribute to a repeat of the May 2010 Flash Crash or 1987 Black Monday Crash. August 2015 was just an appetizer.