Nic Lenoir throws down the gauntlet and takes on Goldman Sachs directly following their recent upgrade of the EURUSD target to 1.40: "Not that many layups or exciting trades in the G10 out there with equities in a slow melt up and the long end in Fixed Income stuck in a range for the last month. If you missed out on the sell-off in metals or did not have the UK GDP data ahead of the market don't despair just yet, we have a very interesting set-up to sell EURUSD here...We stand below the 61.8% of the sell-off since the November highs, the hourly divergence is staggering also. I strongly favor shorts here. Less convinced traders traders can wait for the break of the trend support which comes around 1.3640. Given the recent advance I think we should see a retracement back to at least 1.34 even if we are to utlimately advance further. I am bearish EUR as I don't believe this currency has a place in this world anymore, but even raging bulls should be cautious here."
Markets have remained range bound since the start of the year in Fixed Income and very little conviction seems to be present. Equities have been grinding higher but a lot of technical signs are flashing red and volumes are anemic so participation is minimal. Finally in FX the USD has also been range bound with the dollar index stuck between 77.5 and 81.5. Last week was another example, with slightly higher yields and weaker USD, but overall not much worth expanding on in the G10. However emerging markets took a beating from Wednesday onwards. Mexico & Brazil's stock markets are posting worrying technical patterns, following Asia which has been leading the way south. AUDUSD is sitting just above the 01/12 lows and the 100-dma and a break would confirm a move lower towards at least 0.95. The market broke the trend since last May on Wednesday while a retest pf the trend line as resistance is customary we would only look for selling opportunities here. This is in line with poor trading in emerging market bonds of late and China seems to be experiencing a liquidity crunch with the Shibor experiencing a lot of volatility. - Nic Lenoir
For technical reasons already discussed, I am generally bearish on US Fixed Income for the near/medium term. What bothers me with the way we have traded is that since December we are essentially stuck in a range which is much more reminiscent of a bear flag than a bottom in the long end. Also, while implied volatility has come in a lot since the local lows of 12/15, realized volatility is actually very high in Fixed Income. As a matter of fact the spread between Fixed Income realized volatility and Equities realized volatility is at historical levels. Lastly, while in this ZIRP environment sell-offs have been associated with steepening of the curve, given the reflation arguments in vogue and all the hype about inflation, it would make sense to see this sell-of capped by some proper pressure in the short-end or at least the belly of the curve. We caught the bounce from 103 in 10s30s up to 120 but here I suspect pressure on the curve in the long end is about to return. To better illustrate these last 2 arguments, we were able to buy for our clients some 99.00 puts expiry February on EDH2 for only 5bps on Wednesday. Knowing that hardly 2 weeks ago the contract was trading at 98.85, it seems that implied volatility was quite shy of reflecting what is realized in the market. This is indicative of a quite high level of complacency despite high realized volatility. I have added charts for the 10Y US Treasury future. Targets indicate targets of 117-14 to the downside at the minimum. The support of the recent range is 119-20, this will be the acceleration level confirming the next leg lower is on its way. For the Bund I had already specified I was looking for a move towards 121.45 at least.
My entire focus right now is on the commodity complex. The reason why is simply because I believe the post-dotcom economy is completely unsustainable, and this is not only starting to be very much apparent to the general public but also fiscally very expensive to maintain. However, governments are inventing all sorts of accounting trickery, legal vehicles, and running the printing presses overtime in order to preserve the status quo. Maintaining this situation, which is quite the opposite of an equilibrium (consumers don't produce, structural deficits, unfunded liabilities, pegged currencies preventing the markets to rebalance trade etc...), will lead to bubbles and complete mispricing of financial assets. Only when financial markets are taken to extremes that provoke public anger turning into violence will politicians be forced to actually think of the structural issues without having the luxury of hoping that the next one in the seat will be the one facing the task. If bonds sell-off riskier assets will be repriced lowed to reflect higher rates in turn provoking greater demand for bonds. So the most likely culprit for the end game will be commodity prices since nobody will ever complain if stocks rise 400% (a 10% drop is a national emergency). Only when commodity prices are high enough that they put the entire system at risk will we be forced to let nature take its course, companies and governments default, and experience the deflationary shock that we cannot ultimately avoid. This reflection became much more concrete than theoretical when I watched on the news cops dressed as civilians being lynched by the Tunisian mob over the weekend. - Nic Lenoir
The data calendar is very light this week. The most of important piece of data is the Empire manufacturing survey which will or will not confirm recent uptick in industrial production. Claims will be of note as well after last week's uptick. We are still far from seeing a trend confirming the job market is on stable footing. If this continues we will end up with yet another disappointg NFP headline and lower unemployment rate as the participation rate in the active population keeps dropping. Most of the focus will be on the international scene: food riots in Algeria and Tunisia where it led to the ousting of the president are not without reminding me of those observed in 2008. As I was in France over the weekend I did get much closer to the situation with Tunisian protesters creating havoc in Paris and gruesome scenes of violence. The level of public anger is scary and there is little doubt that this is something a lot of political leaders around the world should watch and reflect upon: it could happen to any of them faster than anyone thinks. - Nic Lenoir
If you were worried about the Portuguese auction tomorrow fear not! Japan decided to be proactive fighting this latest break-out of European sovereign CDS rates and extend a very unselfish hand. Indeed how could one doubt their good intentions? All they want is to make sure their currency stops appreciating in order to keep the youth unenployment rate in Italy around 29%. Following China's lead Japan announced they would buy European bonds. With only 200% debt to GDP ratio it makes sense for them to go ahead and chip in to help Portugal throw bad money after an even worse structural issue. China gets relatively little bad press for supporting European markets as conventional wisdom assumes their official 20% debt to GDP ratio is accurate. Other analysts much better informed on the subject than I am, in fact some even created a fund dedicated to benefit from when China's economic miracle is exposed for the ponzi scheme it is, claim actual numbers are much closer to 120% but the people's republic uses all sorts of accounting trickery and local government vehicles to disguise the true extent of its indebtedness. Japan however shall not benefit from the general public's stupidity with debt levels well publicized. Indeed as we discussed many times before, Japan's public debt is astronomical...Obviously Japan's announcement had not so much to do with their desire to rescue Portuguese finances, but instead is aimed in my opinion to the obvious secondary effect of weakening the JPY. That will work to temporarily slow down the fall of EURJPY, but when it comes to USDJPY it is exclusively driven by the 2Y UST/JGB rate spread. So if Japan really wants to weaken the Yen they might as well start dumping their 2Y treasuries. With the time interval between solvency crises shrinking exponentially as the eventual end game approaches, I have my doubts as to how much good will come from this touching display of Eurasian brotherly love. Perhaps is this why the Dollar index refuses to trade South this morning... - Nic Lenoir
With economic numbers in the US on the rise and surprising the market ever since the last Empire survey, the USD is on the rise. Many have placed bets on a weaker greenback and higher commodity prices. The rational is certainly understandable. I have been rather skeptical. While there is no doubt that the only way for the US to be competitive in the global economy would be a significantly weaker USD or protectionism, along with some reconsideration of certain social programs or union agreements, I have favored a stronger dollar because of the weakness of the USD and because I am highly doubtful that the current recovery is sustainable at all without massive stimulus. Truth be told it is the failure of QE 2.0 to bring lower rates in the US that made the USD turn. So I must admit while I had my eye on the right horse the catalyst was not the one I expected. - Nic Lenoir
I have been constructive on the dollar index for a little while. I had drawn attention a few weeks back when we broke the 60-dma as it has been an excellent envelope since 2008 for the price action bullish or bearish. My thinking was that one should try buying on a retest. Sure enough we almost saw tick-for-tick the moving average on Friday (at a time when most certainly very few bought). What now? Well one cannot ignore that from the lows of early November to the local highs of November 30 the wave pattern looks like a corrective a-b-c in a generally bearish trend. However as you know looking at the chart bigger picture I believe 2008 marked the lows and we are about to embark on a major bullish move. - Nic Lenoir
I should have embraced the corruption and policies I cannot stand rather than keep too bearish a focus, which only thankfully to careful tactical considerations based on technical observations did not turn into a complete disaster. So while we did overall a good job looking for technical opportunities to express our views, I will need to be much more cynical when it comes to assessing potential government intervention in the economy...I am however convinced that no real positive societal growth will be possible in the West without addressing entitlement programs, pension issues, the cost of production in developed economies whether it is via currency revaluation or protectionism, and a more responsible management of the world's natural resources should probably make the list too. Can we continue inflating this mercantilist world economy without an absolute collapse in the value of Western currencies? The answer is not "maybe not", it's not even close: we can't and it's obvious...So with all that said, I would like to close the circle and close the discussion with what I think is possible for 2011. - Nic Lenoir
We have already discussed at length European sovereign spreads, the cost of keeping the PIIGS in the eurozone, the inevitable break-up down the road of the EMU, and how EURCHF is ratting out major stress in the system at a time when everybody is trying their best to look the other way. Today adding to our arsenal of charts highlighting the build of massive distortions in the system, I look at EURCHF against Eurostoxx. A friend of mine sent a chart that got me thinking about quantifying the distortion between the two. In order to compare apples to apples, I compared the 1-month % change of both EURCHF and Eurostoxx normalized using their respective volatility. Basically I divide the 1M % change in Eurostoxx by the VDAX index (equivalent of VIX for the Dax) and multiply it by 100. For EURCHF I use the annualized volatility implied by 1M options.
Not everything continues to be happily melting up courtesy of today's first, of two, POMOs in progress. Across in Europe, the EURCHF continues to flash a red alert, demonstrating that despite the overeager attempts by the various central banks to paint a rosy picture into year end, just like in 2009, not all is good, as the EURCHF freefall refuses to abate, and the pair dropping as much as 100 pips on the day in a day of otherwise quite trading. The relevance of this pair was previously discussed extensively by Nic Lenoir and Bruce Krasting. At this point one has to wonder just how XXX-rated are the pics of Hildebrand that are in Ben Bernanke's possession for him to have so much leverage over the Swiss National Bank, which has pretty much given up on monetary intervention/stimulus. Oh well, who cares: it's only the current account side of the GDP. The country can simply stock up on a few hundred billion in inventories just like the US and call it growth. Mission accomplished.
As gold is currently breaking out courtesy of another concerted take down of the dollar, which has sent futures surging, and the EURCHF to a fresh all time, and very ominous, low, FMX Connect provides some insight on how to trade the current gold bounce.
EURCHF has been making all time lows, and so it did get one meager headline on Bloomberg but it wasn't exactly the talk of the town. However, the attached chart shows that EURCHF selling off implies that something bad is brewing for sovereign bonds in Europe. The chart represents the EURCHF against the spread between the 2Y average sovereign yield (weighted by notional outstanding) and the 2Y EONIA which is 2Y compounded overnight rate. One can see fairly quickly that over the past couple 18 months one rarely goes without the other. Practically it just means that whenever money is flying out of Euro into Swiss Franc it's highly likely that people (the same people) are getting rid of their Eurozone sovereign bonds. This is not the widest divergence we have seen but the EURCHF is breaking out lower, and with reports that last week's purchases of Eurozone bonds by the ECB was the lowest since the beginning of November it is not crazy to expect renewed selling pressure to manifest shortly. - Nic Lenoir
Data this week is relatively light given and it's a holiday week. 3rd Quarter GDP at this point has no informative value regarding current and future economic activity. The slew of housing data is also inconsequential. Everyone knows housing is in a double dip so any slight improvement will be used by pundits to talk up the economy but fundamentals remain in the dumpster. Continuing claims is probably the most important piece of data this week given that durable goods is such a volatile series. As a result I feel the markets this week will be mainly driven by sentiment and price action rather than news flow, especially given thin late December markets. Here are some of the key elements I am watching. - Nic Lenoir
Nic Lenoir On Why The Euro Is About To Crash And Burn, And Why His Concern For The "New Normal" Is Not Slow Growth But Civil WarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/15/2010 18:45 -0400
Today 6 countries in Europe were the theater of riots. I highlighted in the past that voting turn-out has been on the rise in the past 8 years after a steady decline the 3 previous decades. During the credit boom fat and happy citizens had no time to vote, too busy producing or even more so consuming. Now with unemployment through the ceiling and poor economic perspectives people have started voting again. The next step is that they realize that no one in the political spectrum currently has any guts or brain and therefore no one offers a real credible fair solution, at least for now. When they do they burn things up. Because things are a little worse in Europe economically, and because the people there actually do realize the people in power are monkeys, they have now reached that stage of realization where burning things up is the logical response. Don't think the US will remain immune to this symptom of the new normal (unlike El Erian I have not revised up my forecast, and my concern is not slow growth but civil war).