Something serious is brewing under the hood...
Whatever happens with the nuclear negotiations this summer, and as much as Tehran wants cooperation and not confrontation, Iran is bound to remain - alongside Russia - a key US geostrategic target. What the Pentagon - with customary hubris - does not see is Moscow and Tehran easily identifying the power play; the US government's hidden agenda of manipulating a "rehabilitated" Iran to sell plenty of oil and gas to the EU, thus undermining Gazprom.
It appears the ammunition for another leg higher in bond yields and small cap stocks is running dry quickly. As BofAML notes, speculators added to Russell 2000 positions for the 5th of the 6 weeks, reducing small cap shorts to smallest in a year. Spec buying of crude continues unabated with the 4th week in a row lifts net long to highest since August. The bond complex is at extremes everywhere: large specs bought 2Y bonds for the 7th week in a row, lifting the 2Y bond net long to a 2-year high; but levered funds have never been more short the long-bond. Finally, VIX Spec shorts have soared to one-year highs. All-in-all positions are extreme to say the least.
It has been a story of two markets so far, with China's Shanghai Composite up another 3% in today's continuation of the most ridiculous, banana-stand driven move of the New Normal (and there have been many ridiculous moves in the past 6 years) on the previously reported hints that the PBOC is gearing up to start its own QE, while Europe and the Eurostoxx are lagging, if only for the time being until Citadel and Virtu engage in today's preapproved risk-on momentum ignition, on Greek jitters, the same jitters that last week were "fixed"and sent Greek stocks and bonds soaring. Needless to say, neither Greek bonds nor stocks aren't soaring following what has been the worst week for Greece in months.
With the USDJPY's ascent to 125, 150 and higher having seemingly stalled just under 120, with concerns that the BOJ may not monetize more than 100% of its net debt issuance suddenly surfacing, the BOJ and the Nikkei would take any help they could get. They got just that an hour ago when Fitch downgraded Japan's credit rating from A+ to A, citing lack of sufficient structural fiscal measures in FY15 budget to replace deferred consumption tax increase.
Judging by the action today, all that mattered today was 2117.39 - that is the S&P 500's previous closing record high from March 2nd. One glimpse at the charts below and the VIX-slamming is evident (especially at the close) as each time it came close to losing the record high, a miraculous deep-pocketd volatility-seller stepped in...
Great News, the Chinese manufacturing economy is contracting at its fastest pace in a year... at least that is the reaction in the Shanghai Composite. After selling off from the open, when HSBC China Manufacturing PMI printed a considerably worse than expected 49.2 - the lowest since April 2014 - stocks took off, energized the future easing expectations that are assured to come from a PBOC now hell-bent on providing speculative tools for any- and every-one just to keep the populace from revolting.
From 8x over-subscribed to 60c on the dollar in one year: (almost) well played "yield chasers" with other people's money!
Some thoughts on boosting aggregate demand
We simply don’t see any time in the future that would see Americans start spending again at a rate anywhere near what would be required for an economic recovery. However, that is by no means a generally accepted point of view in the financial press; and so these issues must be addressed time and again until people begin to understand, and quit making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons. People have a right to know what’s truly happening to their lives, and their societies. And they’re not nearly getting enough of it through the ‘official’ press.
Back in April 2013, Apple shocked the world when in a dramatic U-turn to Steve Jobs beliefs, it announced what was "the largest single share repurchase authorization in history" when it boosted its share repurchase authorization to $60 billion from $10 billion. Today, GE did its best to match this number, when it reported that as part of a massive business restructuring, it announced a "new Board authorization of up to $50B buyback." This is how it will fund it.
As auto-loan volumes explode (and terms are extended), many of the post-cash-for-clunkers herd are rapidly coming to the realization that the loan they are carrying (and increasingly not paying) is on a wasting asset. As Goldman Sachs notes, The Manheim Index measured 124.5 in March, essentially used-car prices flat yoy after four consecutive months of solid increases. On a sequential basis, the index posted a 0.5% decline in March, following a 0.2% decline in February, confirming Goldman's expectations for a correction in residual values going forward, driven by rising inventory in the off-lease channel... and this pricing pressure is likely to spill over into new car prices.
It had to happen sooner or later... in the new normal of yield-reaching, collateral-shortage-ing, money-printing economalypse, the Swiss government has become the first ever to issue a 10Y sovereign bond at a negative yield. As WSJ notes, while several European countries have sold government debt at negative yields up to five years of maturity - which means investors effectively pay for the privilege of buying it - no other country has previously stretched this out as long as 10 years. Mission Accomplished Central Bankers?
In a new study, the IMF asks whether there's a global slump in real private investment (spoiler alert: yes there is and it's broad-based and endemic in advanced economies) and also suggests that productivity growth across the globe is likely to remain constrained for the foreseeable future.