“If you run out of chips, you are out of the game.”
"The market is manic depressive and it swings from seeing only the positives to seeing only the negatives," notes the world’s biggest distressed-debt investor, Howard Marks, but for now, as Bloomberg reports, the extremes (in risk pricing and sentiment) that usually signal opportunity (or capitulation) are not present. As Guggenheim's Scott Minerd warns, "wholesale panic" is what's needed before the market turns, and as RBS notes, "1,800 might come pretty quick."
"Security prices are not low. I wouldn’t say high, but full. So people are thinking cautiously but they’re acting bullish and they’re behaving in a pro-risk fashion. While investor behavior hasn’t sunk to the depths seen just before the crisis, in many ways I feel it has entered the zone of imprudence... The market is not an accommodating machine. It will not go where you want it to go just because you need it to go there."
When the word 'bloodbath' just doesn't quite sum it up, distressed debt investors's bonuses have been obliterated in 2015. Despite seeking safety away from oil and coal companies, one trader exclaimed, the pain is "like cancer, it's spreading throughout the body," as every industry from materials to retail and industrials has collapsed... though, as Bloomberg reports, some investments stood out in their awfulness.
With at least 83 percent of these companies' operating cash being spent on debt repayments - the highest on record - the renewed collapse in crude oil prices of the last month has renewed focus on the tidal wave of defaults that the credit market is increasingly pricing in (and stocks not).
The current surge in deflationary pressures is not just due to the recent fall in oil prices, but rather a global epidemic of slowing economic growth. While Janet Yellen addressed this "disinflationary" wave during her post-meeting press conference, the Fed still maintains the illusion of confidence that economic growth will return shortly. Unfortunately, this has been the Fed's "Unicorn" since 2011 as annual hopes of economic recovery have failed to materialize.
- Compare: S&P 500 Futures Advance After U.S. Stocks Ignored Global Rally (BBG)
- And contrast: Global Stock Rally Grinds to a Halt (BBG)
- And be very confused: Global Stocks Lower on U.S. Interest Rate Uncertainty (WSJ)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Wavers on September Rate Rise (WSJ)
- Time for more QE: Abe Adviser Says Next Month Good Opportunity for BOJ Easing (BBG)
- Brazil downgraded to junk rating by S&P, deepening woes (Reuters)
- Kiwi dollar tumbles after New Zealand cuts interest rates (Reuters)
- Unhappy Voters Shake Up Presidential Race (WSJ)
- China stock exchanges step up crackdown on short-selling (Reuters)
- China Dethroned as World’s Most Liquid Stock Market After Curbs (BBG)
- Xiaomi retakes the smartphone lead in China as Apple slips (Engadget)
- Impact of EPA’s Emissions Rule on Industry to Vary (WSJ)
- Citadel’s Ken Griffin Leaves 2008 Tumble Far Behind (WSJ)
- Greece says expects bailout deal by Aug 18 (Reuters)
"If investors want complete safety, they can't get much income, and if they aim for high income, they can't completely avoid risk. It’s much more challenging today with rates being suppressed by governments. This is one of the negative consequences of centrally administered economic decisions. People talk about the wisdom of the free market – of the invisible hand – but there’s no free market in money today. Interest rates are not natural."
"They are going to be toast. It will be one of our first levels of shorting the moment we start to see cracks, because it’s ripe with retail, emotional investors."
While investor behavior hasn't sunk to the depths seen just before the crisis, Oaktree Capital's Howard marks warns, in many ways it has entered the zone of imprudence. "Today I feel it's important to pay more attention to loss prevention than to the pursuit of gain... Although I have no idea what could make the day of reckoning come sooner rather than later, I don’t think it’s too early to take today’s carefree market conditions into consideration. What I do know is that those conditions are creating a degree of risk for which there is no commensurate risk premium."
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
Liquidity is plentiful when you don't care about it and scarce when you need it most
"...The negative divergence of the markets from economic strength and momentum are simply warning signs and do not currently suggest becoming grossly underweight equity exposure. However, warning signs exist for a reason, and much like Wyle E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner, not paying attention to the signs has tended to have rather severe consequences."
What would happen, for example, if a large number of holders decided to sell a high yield bond ETF all at once? In theory, the ETF can always be sold. Buyers may be scarce, but there should be some price at which one will materialize. But we can’t get away from depending on the liquidity of the underlying high yield bonds. The ETF can’t be more liquid than the underlying, and we know the underlying can become highly illiquid.... no investment vehicle should promise more liquidity than is afforded by its underlying assets. Do these recent promises represent real improvements, or merely the seeds for subsequent disappointment?