While parts of the world experience economic hardship, a team of Portuguese, UK, Japanese, Italian and Dutch astronomers has found an even bigger slump happening on a cosmic scale. In the largest ever study of its kind, the international team of astronomers has established that the rate of formation of new stars in the Universe is now only 1/30th of its peak and that this decline is only set to continue. The team, led by David Sobral of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, publish their results in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society… Dr Sobral comments: “You might say that the universe has been suffering from a long, serious “crisis”: cosmic GDP output is now only 3% of what it used to be at the peak in star production!”
Another boring session, worsened by year end inactivity… Good close. Fiscal Cliff haggling on-going with a positive spin this time and Risk riding high.Spain catching up and paring yesterday’s soft patch, as is Italy. ESToxx at the highest since Aug 2011. Credit very squeezed. EUR strong. Merry Mood!
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus " (Bunds 1,42% +5; Spain 5,29% -12; Stoxx 2647 +0,7%; EUR 1,322 +50)
Utterly boring Monday session, worsened by year-end inactivity… Won’t get any better going forward, probably. Fiscal Cliff a cliff-hanger (I know, cheap)… Spain on the heavier side with contingent funding holes still popping up here and there.
"Jingle Bell Rock" (Bunds 1,37% +2; Spain 5,41% +4; Stoxx 2628 unch; EUR 1,317 +30)
Bingo Bongo, Good News hailing, Sleepily digesting in the South to end Stuck… What an uninspiring week… Felt slow as a Sunday Afternoon– for 5 days in a row… The only thing that wasn’t lazy and laid back was the EUR.
Even as the Nobel peace prize award-winning administration has been vocally partially withdrawing, but never fully, US troops from various middle eastern nations over the past several years, it appears that it has decided to open up a brand new military front, and position US soldiers in yet another hotspot, which is sure to escalate in the future, namely Syria, where yesterday, quietly in the media blanket coverage of the Newtown tragedy, the Pentagon said that some 400 US troops and several Patriot missile batteries would be stationed as part of a NATO force to protect Turkey from "potential Syrian missile attack." As the AP reports, "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed a deployment order en route to Turkey from Afghanistan calling for 400 U.S. soldiers to operate two batteries of Patriots at undisclosed locations in Turkey, Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters flying with Panetta." As is well known to those who follow the local conflict, the traditional narrative is that the US is supporting the oppressed Syrian rebellion, which has been fighting the Assad regime as glorious guerrilla freedom fighters. What is less known is that parts if not all of the Syrian rebellion have an "explicit stamp of approval" from Al Qaeda, the same Al Qaeda, which when useful, is carted out to justify US foreign, and at times very domestic, interventions, and the trampling of all civil liberties (see U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens) , in various other parts of the world.
Utterly boring Friday session, worsened by year end inactivity… PMI figures, which were actually needed on the more positive side to justify the latest levels in Risk were just so so in Europe. But, who cares? Periphery recovering further with Spain actually the best performer on the week (outside the bailed-out gang). US stuck despite better figures.
"Stuck in the Middle with You" (Bunds 1,35% unch; Spain 5,37% -1; Stoxx 2628 +0,2%; EUR 1,314 +60)
Markets getting back to some normality with the Periphery still recovering, although less today after the auctions, Bunds 5 wider on the week, Italy 10, but Spain 7 tighter across the curve from last Friday. Equities and Risk oblivious to that anyway and synching with the US. Getting difficult to find something crisp out there with reduced news flow and volatility. Excitement to be found in the US on FC developments, now that Greece, Spain and Italy are seemingly off the table and that the FED has moved to QE4.
"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (Bunds 1,35% +1; Spain 5,38% +4; Stoxx 2622 -0,2%; EUR 1,308 +40)
With gold and silver down this morning - following a mysterious vertical plunge last night (once again) - we thought ConvergEx's Nick Colas' timely discussion of gold was worthwhile. As he notes, Gold is the ultimate personality test for investors. Some hate it, excoriating its adherents for their lack of faith in human ingenuity – gold has been valuable since before humans could write. And some swear by the yellow metal, in the belief that it is the last vestige of rationality in a world of financial assets manipulated by central banks and opaque trading venues. What gets lost in the wash is that gold is a commodity and can be analyzed as such. On that basis, here is the 'Top 10' list of real-world fundamentals for gold.
The most commonly forwarded arguments against the implementation of a true 100% gold-backed sound money system can easily be disproven and thoroughly debunked with a small dose of history and another dose of logic.
Today is probably the first day in a while in which minute-by-minute rumors on the Fiscal Cliff will not be on the frontburner (with yet another late day rumor yesterday of an imminent deal turning out to be a dud, when it was reported that Obama's latest grand compromise was to lower his initial tax hike demand from $1.6 to $1.4 trillion, or still $600 billion more than last summer's negotiated number), with Ben Bernanke and QE4 taking center stage instead. By now it is a foregone conclusion that Ben will proceed with extending Twist as first predicted here, into an unsterilized bond buying operation, in effect confirming that there has been zero improvement in the economy, as another $1 trillion is about to be injected until the end of 2013, and more trillions after that. The good thing is that all pretense that the Fed cares about anything but the market is now gone. The bad thing is that the Fed will continue to take over the capital markets until it and the other central banks are the only traders remaining. The only question is whether the market, now well into massively overbought territory, will fizzle and snap back after Bernanke's news announcement, and will QE4EVA (as we believe QE3+1, aka QEternity-er, should be called) have been fully priced in by the time it was announced?
Markets recovering quite nicely from the Italian shock. Add some better outlook figures and we’re all friends again. The Spanish bill auction was less punishing than could have been feared. US opening stronger. Everything else is all good again. Greek bonds stellar.
"(Ain't That) Good News" (Bunds 1,32% +2; Spain 5,45% -9; Stoxx 2623 +1,0%; EUR 1,299 +60)
In a sharp turn around from the open, Italian and Spanish 10yr government bond yield spreads over German bunds trade approx. 10bps tighter on the day, this follows several market events this morning that have lifted sentiment. Firstly from a fixed income perspective, both Spain and Greece managed to sell more in their respective t-bill auctions than analysts were expecting and thus has eased concerns ahead of longer dated issuance from Spain this Thursday. In terms of other trigger points for today's risk on tone the December headline reading in the German ZEW survey was positive for the first time since May 2012 coming in at an impressive 6.9 M/M from previous -15.7 with the ZEW economists adding that Germany will not face a recession. Finally, reports overnight have suggested that Italian PM Monti could be wooed by Centrist groups which means that if he wanted too the technocrat PM could stand for elections next year albeit under a different ticket. As such yesterday's concerns over the Italian political scene have abated and the FTSE MIB and the IBEX 35 are out performing the core EU bourses. Looking ahead highlights from the US include trade balance, wholesale inventories and a USD 32bln 3yr note auction, however, volumes and price action may remain light ahead of the key FOMC decision on Wednesday.
Surprisingly stable Risk. BTPs shot down in style. Italy? Down. Chinese data? Partially weak. Japan? In recession. French data? Weak. German data? Strong. Wow! Better have Friday’s PMI numbers really good. Analysts having to reinvent themselves once more as political experts to glare into a smoky crystal ball… Italian contagion contained, for now. Uh…Uh…!
"Uh...Uh - Bingo Bongo " (Bunds 1,30% unch; Spain 5,54% +9; Stoxx 2598 +0,0%; EUR 1,293 -20)
The Target2 imbalances caused much consternation earlier this year as some economists focused on them as either signs that a transfer union was a fact on the ground, or alternatively, as a sign of the pending costs to Germany, which German politicians fail to acknowledge.
Much ink has been spilled trying to decipher the true meaning, but we know that the Target2 imbalances are nothing more or less than a reflection of the intra-euro area current account imbalances. Before the crisis those imbalances were financed largely by the private sector. That was part of the financial integration process whereby creditors would recycle their surpluses by primarily buying bond in the debt countries.
The hoaxes remain and grow more cumbersome and obvious every day - and yet, the headline-reading machines and self-referentially-biased managers of stocks justify just one more BTFD episode. To wit, Mark Grant discusses the Greek buyback debacle with its political (and entirely not economic) mandate, noting "Mr. Draghi knows the truth and Ms. Lagarde knows the truth and their credibility is whacked once again;" Berlusconi's potential return in Italy and the hoax of any pretense of an entente cordiale re-emerging between north and south flies out the window; the 'tax the rich' hoax as a solution for years of profligate spending and the 'then vs us' meme that is increasingly spewed forth from DC; and the ultimate hoax of Bernanke's money printing morasse. Happy Monday.