The always pragmatic Art Cashin summarizes today's 12:30pm FOMC announcement. In summary: "look for the Fed to dangle a big carrot - some semi-specific course of action that would be put in place if the labor markets continue to worsen. Net/net, he needs to keep the door wide open and maybe outline certain milestone “triggers” that will allow the Fed to act later in an election year without being accused of being overtly political." Said otherwise, the happy ending will likely be deferred one more time. The market may not be very happy.
Everything today is all about the Fed, which at 12:30 pm will release its standard statement. The publication of Fed officials' forecasts and Chairman Bernanke's press conference will follow at 14:00 and 14:15, respectively. Some, like Goldman are convinced the Fed will announce new easing measures, which could take the form of a new LSAP, more Twist as well as a lengthening of short-term rate guidance beyond 2014, potentially going as far as announcing a Flow-based form of QE, while others such as BofA are fairly certain nothing will happen. Then at 2:00 pm the Fed will release its new economic projections, in which it is roundly expected that the Fed will revise its GDP forecasts for 2012 and 2013 lower, and unemployment - higher. Finally at 2:15 pm Bernanke will address Steve Liesman and a few other members of the fawning captured media. By then the market will be either much higher or much lower, although with about 5% of the recent market move driven entirely by pricing in of more QE, the risk is to the downside. In other words the hopium phase is over. It is now make or break for the Fed.
After a volatile morning’s trade, European equities are making gains. Having progressed through the session, markets saw a distinct period of volatility wherein peripheral 10-yr government bond yield spreads tightened markedly with their German counterpart, with the Spanish 10-yr yield making a test, but stopping short of a break below the 7.00% handle. The moves came in the wake of a relatively smooth Spanish T-Bill auction, which saw decent bid/cover ratios albeit with markedly higher yields on their 12- and 18-month lines. A modest relief rally was also observed when markets received confirmation that a recent ruling from the top German court regarding information on the ESM’s configuration does not bar the fund from coming into action and taking effect. In terms of data, markets have shrugged off a particularly poor ZEW survey from Germany, however a substantial weakening was observed in GBP following the release of the first deflationary May reading of CPI since records began. The pullback in cost-push inflation has given markets further reason to believe the BoE may conduct additional QE, as the price-level pressures have eased across the past two months.
Not like it should come as any surprise that the bank that first among peers "discovered" that flow, not stock matters, implying the Fed may literally never be able to stop monetizing, is expecting the FOMC to "ease monetary policy on June 20", but nonetheless here is the full just released Q&A from Goldman's Jan Hatzius, who just happens to be a Pound and Pence drinking buddy of former Goldmanite Bill Dudley, who just happens to run the New York Fed. Connects the dots. Implicit is that a big dollop of Large Scale Asset Purchases is imminent. That said, if the Fed does disappoint on June 20, and merely extends the maturity of bonds that it will sell as part of a Twist extension from 3 to 4 years, as the bond market appears to be implying (as first warned by Zero Hedge), then all bets are truly off. On the other hand, note where Goldman says: "However, it is also possible that the program would be specified as a "flow" of purchases of perhaps $50bn-$75bn per month." If that happens, gold is going to $2000, $3000, hell, $10,000 very soon, as it means the Fed will not stop printing ever again. Period.
That Italy is now at most days away from technical insolvency is not news: after all we reported on just this a week ago, citing not some fringe lunatics but Bloomberg economist David Powell who said that "Italy would probably be forced into receiving a bailout if it were to face another two weeks like the last seven days." This was a week ago... so one more week left, and things have not only not gotten better, they have gotten much worse. Which is why we were not very surprised to read the following just released news from Reuters: "Italy will push this week at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers for a semi-automatic mechanism involving the European Central Bank or the permanent bailout fund ESM to reduce spreads of euro zone bonds over Germany, Italy's European Affairs Minister Enzo Moavero said on Monday." Having done this for a while, we can tell Italy what the bond market, having perused the above sentence, just read: "semi-bailout." Because if Italy is implicitly demanding assistance from the ECB, and the Spanish bailout vehicle, the ESM, then things are about to hit the country with the €1.25 trillion in debt. It is all downhill from there. Oh, and here is what the bond market reads when they see ESM: "not so semi-subordination." Because if in Europe the idiotic plan to avoid a bank run is to announce preparations for one, followed by furious back pedaling, it is only logical (and we use the term loosely) that an attempt to avert a bailout will be pursued by requesting a semi version. Instead, that action always and only leads to one thing: waving the sellers right in.
"The art of life is the art of avoiding pain." ~ We'll see how this goes.
"Private Debt Doesn't Matter" Because "Banks Can't Create Money Out of Thin Air"
From Deutsche Bank, below is a list of key events to watch over the next several weeks – events that could have bearing on how the euro sovereign debt crisis evolves. Of particular note: in the next 6 weeks there are 18 or so days on which Spain, Italy or, yes, Greece will be issuing debt. Have that espresso machine ready.
One European think tank which has been spot on in its skepticism over the past two years, is OpenEurope. Below they share their views on the next steps for Greece.
Relief in the markets, after the worst case scenario from the Greek elections was averted, proved to be decidedly short-lived. Although the pro-bailout New Democracy party came in first with 129 seats (with an additional 50 seat bonus) the markets still await confirmation of an actual working coalition given a caretaker government has been in place now for approximately two months. A degree of uncertainty in regards to the demands the new coalition will place on negotiating the country's bailout terms has resulted in many investors being unwilling to get their toes wet just yet. Away from the election fever, rising Spanish yields continue to spook the market with the 10yr yield breaching the 7% level, prompting aggressive re-widening of the 10yr government bond yield spreads. The move comes at a crucial time for Spain as they look to come to market tomorrow in 12 and 18 month bills followed by three shorter dated bonds to be tapped this Thursday. Meanwhile, the FX markets have reflected the shift in sentiment with EUR/USD well off its overnight highs and the USD index firmly supported by the prevailing flight to quality bid. However, the biggest currency move of the day came in the early hours after the rupee (INR) weakened substantially following the RBI's decision to leave rates on hold, this coupled with Fitch changing the country's outlook to negative from stable has kept the currency under pressure throughout the day.
This weekend, everyone's attention will be on the Greek elections, however it is Spain that has now become the "fulcrum security" of Europe. As such, events in Greece are merely a catalyst that will set off a chain of events that will have an impact not only on Spain, but on all of Europe, and thus, the world. As we pointed out last week after the Spanish bailout announcement, based on a preliminary analysis which had been compiled by Deutsche Bank's europhiles hours before the formal announcement, and one which just happened to be a carbon-copy of what was proposed as the 'final (and failed) Spanish solution', it appears that the events in Europe are if not orchestrated by the largest German bank, then certainly receiving part-time advice. Which brings us to the present, where we find that even Deutsche Bank has given up hope for interim solutions, having realized that the market will no longer accept transitory, feeble arrangements. Instead DB is now formally calling for a big bang resolution, one coming from the ECB. Here is the punchline: "ECB has room for manoeuvre, but needs political cover for a ‘big’ policy" or said otherwise, "A shock is required to get a liquidity response." In other words: Europe's only real hope for even a stop gap solution... is a wholesale market crash, not surprisingly the very same conclusion that Citi reached on May 19 when they warned that only Crossover (XO) at 1000 bps or wider could push Europe into acting... Basically stated, anything less than a controlled market crash, one that finally gets the ECB involved with Germany's persmission of course, merely pushes the market higher on nothing but hope of an intervention that said market lift makes even more improbable, as now both Citi and DB admit, which can and will lead to an uncontrolled market collapse, one from which not even the ECB will be able to extricate Europe.
What makes for a good investment is price. Price is everything. You need to receive value in excess of the price paid. An investment’s value is the amount of real cash its underlying assets can reasonably be expected to deliver to its shareholders in the future, discounted for its risk – period. The investment’s price will either be higher than its value (an uncompensated risk), the same as (neutral) or lower than its value (a compensated risk). But since value is an imprecise measurement, the best one can do is to build in a margin of safety by buying investments that are at deep discounts to a reasonable estimated value. Too many investors let an investment’s short-term price movements, or perceptions of short-term price movements drive their decisions. But since short-term price moves are unknowable, irrelevant and independent of investment merits, this is not worthy of any time spent analyzing. If short-term price moves were knowable, then a cadre of top-performing chartists and market technicians would have far greater net worths than Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger and the Saudi Royal Family. They would need only apply leverage to their process and repeat it a few times in order to accrue hundreds of billions of dollars. Question: How many market technicians occupy the Forbes 400? Answer: Zero. Why? Because successfully guessing future price moves based on charts, MACD indicators or tea leaves is not a repeatable process. Investors who do this generally have poor outcomes because they are pursuing answers to the wrong question.
The right question is: where is the value?