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.
Austerity: Also known as “sado-fiscalism”. A forlorn attempt to stave off government bankruptcy.
Keynesians: Economists “who hear voices in the air (and) are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back” (John Maynard Keynes).
Never have markets carried so much risk. And never have markets been as vulnerable to an abrupt change in perceptions with regard to central banker competence, effectiveness and capabilities. At the minimum, global markets will function poorly, but risk is now high for a disorderly – Party Crashing - "run" on financial markets, as faith in central banking begins to wane.
"Artemis Vega Fund LP and associated institutional managed accounts gained approximately +15.49% gross of fees on September 1, 2015 on a day the S&P 500 index lost -2.96%. Please note this performance was for the day.... Our models currently register a 30% probability the VIX will re-test highs above 40 in the next 21 days."
Like a dog returns to its vomit, the Fed's speculative bubble policy enables the one percent to once again feast on the carcass of the real economy. 'And no one could have ever seen it coming.' Once is an accident. Twice is no coincidence. Remind yourself what has changed since then. Banks have gotten bigger. Schemes and fraud continue. What will the third time be like? And the fourth?
When we see guys like Bernie Sanders get visibly angry at guys like Alan Greenspan it behooves all of us to go beyond the entertainment of it or some prima facie agreement and to truly understand why the anger is justified. If we were to all take the responsibility to understand the lifeblood of our American existence i.e. the economy, we will most certainly be moved to remove not only the policymakers but the system that together serve only those at the top of the economic food chain and at a cost to the rest of us. When we do we will be asking why in the hell is no one yelling at Janet Yellen??
During a short stay in Shanghai a few weeks ago on unrelated business, we had an opportunity to witness the ground zero of the China market frenzy at its peak and its nascent plunge. Chinese retail investors make up 85% of the market, a far cry from the U.S. where retail investors own less than 30% of equities and make up less than 2% of NYSE trading volume for listed firms in 2009. Combined with the highest trading frequencies in the world and one of the lowest educational levels, describing China’s market as immature is an understatement.
The ongoing decline in the VIX starting last week (and still going) is the largest supernormal volatility collapse in VIX history. Over the past 2 years, we have been experiencing a quantifiable ‘outlier’ or ‘black swan’ decline in the VIX every 6 months as evaluated against history. We can only point to government intervention as the core reason. We firmly believe that this moral hazard produces a hidden leverage and “shadow market gamma” that at some point will result in a sustained volatility outlier event in the opposite direction.
Investors are too myopically focused on expectations of a steep rise in bond yields and on using central bank stimulus to pile back into riskier assets. There is too much complacency. We believe the upside potential for Treasuries prices for the balance of the year is once again being greatly underestimated. The long end should continue to perform well under various scenarios. If the Fed hikes in September or earlier, the back end should perform well. If the Fed breaks its implicit promise to hike rates in September, its credibility would be damaged: unless of course, it was due to a significant deterioration in the economic or political landscape. Either outcome would likely benefit long Treasury security prices.
Next week's key events and data, if we can look beyond Greece and China.
Markets are beginning to signal that policy makers are losing control. Many second-order-effects of the unprecedented and experimental global actions taken since the 2008 crisis are beginning to manifest. There are always causes and effects that develop; but they do so at different speeds. Many actions in recent years have prioritized 'benefits today' over 'consequences tomorrow'. 'Tomorrow' is approaching ever more quickly. There is no 'free lunch'.
After hiking the haircuts on Greek banks' ELA collateral, the ECB decided it was time to apprise the market of its "risk management" procedures. The result: an epic display of central banker hypocrisy.
When it comes to Greece, and Europe in general, "hope" continues to remain the driving strategy. As Bloomberg's Richard Breslow summarizes this morning, "if you were looking for a word to describe the general feeling of equity markets today, you might well pick hopeful. U.S. equity futures opened higher and have been up all day. European bourses opened cautiously higher as they await word, any word, from the European finance ministers or more importantly, Chancellor Merkel. Equity markets will continue to be very reactive to European headlines, but so far, no news has been taken as a reason for hope." Which incidentally, has been the general investment case for the past 6 years: "hope" that central banks know what they are doing.
Tumbling Futures Rebound After Varoufakis Resignation; Most China Stocks Drop Despite Massive InterventionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/06/2015 06:52 -0400
More than even the unfolding "chaos theory" pandemonium in Greece, market watchers were even more focused on whether or not China and the PBOC will succeed in rescuing its market from what is now a crash that threatens social stability in the world's most populous nation. And, at the open it did. The problem is that as the trading session progressed, the initial 8% surge in stocks faded as every bout of buying was roundly sold into until every other index but the benchmark Shanghai Composite turned sharply red.
- N1 – Soft deal: The most unlikely scenario is that the euro-area partners offer a much softer programme to Greece.
- N2 – Default-and-stay: Moderately less unlikely is a scenario where Greece defaults but stays in the euro thanks to a direct recapitalisation of Greek banks by the euro-area partners, with the Greek government using only domestic resources for the country’s fiscal needs.
- N3 – New deal: The third scenario is one in which the rising economic and political cost of a closed banking system results in the Syriza government being replaced by a new government of national unity and a new deal with creditors being reached.
- N4 – Grexit: In our view, Grexit and Scenario N3 are the most likely – with about equal probabilities.