It has been a quiet start to Quadruple Witching Friday (expiration of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures) but expect that to change, as erratic price action is a recurring hallmark of Quad Witches, especially with persistent low volume and markets that tend to shut down for no reason. So far stocks have traded steady in Europe this morning, credit spreads widened and Bunds traded in positive territory as market participants positioned for the much-anticipated German elections which are to be held on Sunday, with exit polls to be made available after the close of polling stations at 6pm local time. Ahead of that, and as reported here previously, Germany’s AfD Eurosceptic party could win enough support in the general election on Sunday to gain seats in the German Bundestag, an opinion poll published for a leading newspaper has forecast for the first time. Basic materials and utilities underperformed in Europe, with RWE trading sharply lower in Germany after the company announced plans to cut its dividend by half (and with the Adidas fiasco yesterday, one wonders just how bad things in Europe really are).
The cardinal rule of investing – and life, frankly – is, according to ConvergEx's Nick Colas, "When the facts change, you have to change your point of view." The Fed’s decision to maintain its current pace of bond buying at yesterday’s FOMC meeting is one of those fact-changing events. Markets were primed for a reduction, and along with a host of other flashing yellow lights that was enough to make plenty of market watchers cautious. Yes, the Fed will eventually cut the QE tow rope if/when labor markets improve, but for now, Colas notes, they seem content to keep toting the barge and lifting the bale. That leaves markets free to head to the bar, hopefully avoiding incarceration along the way. Remember 1999 though, he warns, when markets ripped through Q4 because so many investors had bided their time waiting for the dot-com bubble to collapse earlier in the year? Cue the music, because this is beginning to look like the same market setup.
We hope everyone is enjpying the spoils of war from reading the FOMC statement and buying appropriately. Of course, as Nanex shows, unless your trigger finger hit that big green button within a millisecond or so, you missed the entire move...
Today, the Italian Senate will vote at 8:30 PM whether to formally expel the 76-year old former prime minister, Sylvio Berlusconi. Concurrently, the winner of three of the six Italian elections in the past 20 days will launch a delayed nationwide address on his political future. The contents of said address are unclear however, as Reuters reports, "political sources and local media said he would not use the address to torpedo the fragile left-right governing coalition of centre-left Prime Minister Enrico Letta - at least for now - despite weeks of threats to do so." Furthermore, as WSJ adds, citing a column in daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, Marco Travaglio noted that Mr. Berlusconi came in third in the February vote but managed to pick the head of state, the prime minister and the government program. "Given all that, it would be crazy to trigger a crisis," observed Mr. Travaglio, a longtime critic of Mr. Berlusconi. That said, and as is well-known, the media magnate is highly unpredictable and in the past has made several versions of video announcements so he can choose one only at the last minute. However, no matter the content, what is most curious is that the vote, the Berlusconi expulsion vote and nationwide address, as well as the Bernanke press conference, which is also due at 2:30pm Eastern, will all coincide.
Half Of Syrian Rebels Are Jihadists Fighting For Al Qaeda-Linked Groups, British Defense Study FindsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/16/2013 17:35 -0500
Until now, there was mostly speculation and conjecture that among the Syrian "rebel" parties assisted by the Obama administration and the west in their attempt to overthrow Assad, are various groups either supported or comprising of factions consisting of Al Qaeda, Jihadists and other extremist Islamic group. That speculation is now fact according to extracts from a British defense study published in Monday's Daily Telegraph, according to which Jihadists and members of hardline Islamist groups make up almost half of forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As AFP reported, the analysis by defense consultancy IHS Jane's, due to be published in full later this week, puts the number of rebel forces at around 100,000. And half of this number are combatants on an ideological crusade against the west, who are partially or fully affiliated with Al Qaeda, and who will always seek a sponsor when carrying out whatever military operation is most profitable at any given moment. With Made In The USA weapons that is.
- Summers Quit Fed Quest After Democrats Spurned Obama Favorite (BBG)
- Geithner Still Not Interested in Fed Chair Slot (WSJ)
- Gross’s Trade Sours as Bonds Lose Faith in Fed Guidance (BBG)
- Bob Diamond calls for bank rules shake-up (FT)
- Russia says may be time to force Assad's foes to talk peace (Reuters)
- Iran Dials Up Syria Presence (WSJ)
- Kerry Seeks to Sell Syria Deal (WSJ)
- Shutdown of Japan’s Last Nuclear Reactor Raises Power Concerns (BBG)
- Emerging Stocks Rise to 3-Month High as Bonds Gain on Fed (BBG)
- Bernanke’s Maradona swerve hits bonds (FT)
Privacy: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the NSA, as it enters every computer and pries whatever data can be stolen and recorded in perpetuity. Its ongoing mission: to explore the internet and all TCP/IP packets, to seek out new emails, phone records, backdoors, webcams and bank accounts, to boldly go where no man with or without a search warrant has gone before.
Merkel Wins Bellwether Vote As Coalition Partner Founders; Anti-Euro Party Ascent Could Derail CoalitionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/15/2013 12:50 -0500
There was good and bad news for Angela Merkel as today's exit polls from the Bavaria (GDP of $619 billion, bigger than the output of Poland or Austria) state elections - the bellwether vote ahead of next weekend's federal elections (previewed here) - were released. On one hand, the CDU's sister party, the Christian Social Union or CSU, was set to win a majority in Bavarian state elections (where the CDU does not contest the ballot), giving the incumbent a boost as she heads into the final week of her campaign before a national vote Bloomberg reports. But the surprise of the day was the strong showing of the The Free Voters, who want Greece to exit the euro, oppose euro-area bailouts and want to trim the power of the European Union, won 8.5 percent, the ZDF projection showed. It is precisely the ascent of anti-Euro powers that could upset the final election "arithmetic" in jeopardy. As Reuters reports, "a new anti-euro party could enter Germany's national parliament after an election next week, pollsters said on Sunday, potentially upsetting Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes of returning to power with her current coalition partner."
Financial circles in Hong Kong are buzzing today on the new Goldman Sachs projection that gold may drop below $1,000 an ounce. The central thess: since the US economy is out of the woods, there’s no longer a need for gold as a risk hedge. But as one senior-level manager at a major investment bank noted, "Nobody knows what the f**k is going on..." However, this mentality entirely misses the point of precious metals. When the hopes and dreams of the entire global financial system rest on the lies of politicians, the whims of central bankers, and the mountains of debt they have all accumulated, things could turn on a dime... tomorrow. Gold is an insurance policy. It’s a form of money that you might never need to use. But should that need ever arise, you’ll be so much better off for owning it.
Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
Stanley Druckenmiller's World View: "Catastrophic" Entitlement Spending, "Bizarre" & "Illusory" Asset Markets, & Beware The TaperSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2013 20:50 -0500
During an extended interview with Bloomberg TV, billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller provided a seemingly fact-based (and non-status-quo sustaining, commission-taking, media-whoring) perspective on a very wide variety of topics. The brief clips below touch the surface, with the detailed annotated transcript below providing details, as Druckenmiller opines on the looming catastrophe in entitlement spending "when you hear about the National debt being $16tn; if you actually took what we promised to seniors and future taxes, present value to both of them, that number is $200tn," why the Fed exit will be a big deal for markets, "it is my belief that QE has subsidized all asset prices and when you remove that, the market will go down," and his changing views on Obama "I was drinking the hope and change Kool-aid... in hindsight, he probably needed more experience for this job." Looking back to the financial crisis, he warns, "...a necessary condition to have a financial crisis, in my opinion, is too loose monetary policy that encourages people to take undue risk and go on the risk curve and do silly things. We should have shut this down in 1998, 1999. The NASDAQ bubble, we should have raised rates, we didn’t. Then we got the implosion."
I’ll scratch your back and you can scratch mine is the motto of the National Security Agency according to the latest revelations made about the data stored by the immense surveillance program of the NSA, which routinely provides intelligence data with Israel.
Five years after the financial crisis former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says "the world shouold prepare for a new financial crisis" in tomorrow's Handelsblatt newspaper. His view, based on the "unacceptable" nature of too-big-to-fail banks and the lack of reform of the GSEs and the shadow-banking industry, stands in direct opposition to the leader of one of those TBTF banks. James 'not Jim' Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, told Charlie Rose last week that "the probability of [it] happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine." Who would you trust?
No, that is not a typo, at least not according to the blog of traffic counting website Compete.com, which notes that with 7.1 million unique visitors, the website of the newspaper that broke the Edward Snowden scandal and has been covering the NSA's spying scandal has seen an unprecedented increase in traffic. Granted the Y/Y number is an aberation due to the switchover from Guardian.co.uk to an impartial dot com address, but either way, as Compete notes, just "Guardian.co.uk over the recent months also shows that the news outlet had their best month for unique visitors (UVs) in two years."
I guess this means we can quote him on it...