Open Market Operations
A week ago we wrote: 'While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters." Sure enough:
JP MORGAN COMMODITY CHIEF BLYTHE MASTERS LEAVING, WSJ SAYS
Farewell Blythe: we hope your replacement will be just as skilled in keeping the price of physical gold affordable for those of us who keep BTFD every single day.
As expected, the Federal Reserve has released its Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) non-monetizing-of-the-debt schedule for April with $30 billion of Treasury purchases (and $25 billion MBS). This is a 33% reduction from the 'normal' $45 billion Treasury purchase of last year. The POMO schedule very generously allows traders 3 days of non-money-printing potential shorting opportunities (Friday 4th, Thursday 17th, and Wednesday 30th)... however, this Friday is non-farm payrolls day and we will not be allowed a red day after that...
While the "developed" world scrambles to find a way to provide Ukraine with a bailout in such a way that Russia doesn't turn off the gas, Ukraine is doing some scrambling of its own to assure the local banks, which have been plagued by both bank runs and a collapse in the currency to record lows over the past few days, that it will be there to provide funding on a business as usual basis. Itar-Tass reports that "Ukrainian banks will be provided with necessary liquid assets, including cash." But there is a condition: the funding will only come "if they will remain under open control of the National Bank of Ukraine, the newly-appointed NBU Chairman Stepan Kubiv is quoted as saying on the bank’s official website."
- Ukraine Seeks $35 Billion as Yanukovych Warrant Is Issued (BBG)
- Ukraine's fugitive president wanted for mass murder (Reuters)
- Polar Vortex to Bring More Snow on Return to U.S. This Week (BBG)
- China property prices continue to rise (FT)
- Microsoft Said to Cut Windows Price 70% to Counter Rivals (BBG)
- Pentagon to propose shrinking Army, scrapping some jets (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Turn Bearish on S&P 500 as VIX Advances (BBG)
- Draghi’s Data Jigsaw Takes Shape as ECB Readies Showdown (BBG)
- China, eyeing Japan, seeks WW2 focus for Xi during Germany visit (Reuters)
The 'cash on the sidelines' myth has more lives than a cat. No matter how often the logical fallacy underlying it is pointed out, Wall Street continues to propagate it. Nevertheless, money and credit are of course extremely important factors in the analysis of asset markets. The below provides what are hopefully a few useful pointers as to which data one should keep an eye on in this context.
As China Orders Its Smaller Banks To Load Up On Cash, Is The Biggest Ever "Unlimited QE" About To Be Unleashed?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/10/2014 12:46 -0400
The Chinese new year may be over which following a last minute bailout of its insolvent Credit Equals Gold Trust product was largely uneventful, but already concerns about domestic liquidity are once again rising to the surface following reports that China’s banking regulator ordered some of the nation’s smaller lenders to set aside more funds to avoid a cash shortfall, which as Bloomberg notes signal rising concern that defaults may climb. Which brings us to the question du jour: is the PBOC is laying the groundwork for what developed markets would call an open-ended liquidity injection which can be use to bail out one and all banks on an a la carte basis. Or, in the parlance of our times, the biggest QE bazooka of all because with total banking assets of nearly $25 trillion, said bazooka better be ready to fire at a moment's notice?
After Friday's surge fest on weaker than expected news - perhaps expecting a tapering of the taper despite everyone screaming from the rooftops the Fed will never adjust monetary policy based on snowfall levels - overnight the carry trade drifted lower and pulled the correlated US equity markets down with it. Why? Who knows - after Friday's choreographed performance it is once again clear there is no connection between newsflow, fundamentals and what various algos decide to do. So (lack of) reasons aside, following a mainly positive close in Asia which was simply catching up to the US exuberance from Friday, European equities have followed suit and traded higher from the get-go with the consumer goods sector leading the way after being boosted by Nestle and L'Oreal shares who were seen higher after reports that Nestle is looking at ways to reduce its USD 30bln stake in L'Oreal. The tech sector is also seeing outperformance following reports that Nokia and HTC have signed a patent and technology pact; all patent litigation between companies is dismissed. Elsewhere, the utilities sector is being put under pressure after reports that UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey urged industry watchdog Ofgem to examine the profits being made by the big six energy companies through supplying gas, saying that Centrica's British Gas arm is too profitable.
If what happened in the last days of 2013 was indeed merely reverse repo-assisted window dressing, then we would expect the that first days of 2014 should see a comparable collapse in the magnitude of the Fed's reverse repo operations. Sure enough, as the chart below shows, this is precisely what has happened following today's far more modest $56.7 billion reverse repo operation conducted among 50 bidding counterparties and the Fed, of course.
If yesterday's price action in the moments following (and preceding) the FOMC announcement was just a little suspicious, with a seemingly endless supply of VIX selling originating as if from nowhere (or perhaps the 9th floor of Liberty 33) the morning after has so far been a snoozer. Perhaps this is to be expected following the third biggest one-day surge in the stock market in the year (1st = Jan 2nd, 2nd = October 10th), or perhaps the market is finally focusing on Bernanke's tongue in cheek suggestion that the taper may be lowered by $10 billion per month (we disagree as described previously). Or perhaps the creep higher in 10 Year yields, at 2.915% at last check and just shy of the 3.00% psychological level, is finally being noticed. Or perhaps the fact that China, very surprisingly, is also tapering concurrently is finally being appreciated as is the fact that despite all talk of preparedness, developing economies were hardly left unscathed following yesterday's development. Whatever the reason, the euphoria this morning has "tapered."
Those who adhere to the don’t-stop-til-you-get-enough theory of sovereign borrowing, and by extension argue for a scrapping of the debt ceiling, couldn’t be more misguided. In free markets with no Fed money market distortion, interest rates can be a useful guide of the amount of real savings being made available to borrowers. When borrowers want to borrow more, real interest rates will rise, and at some point this crimps the marginal demand for borrowing, acting as a natural “debt ceiling.” But when markets are heavily distorted by central bank money printing and contrived zero-bound rates, interest rates utterly cease to serve this purpose for prolonged periods of time. What takes over is the false signals of the unsustainable business cycle which fools people into thinking there is more savings than there really is. Debt monetization has a proven track record of ending badly. It is after all the implicit admission that no one but your monopoly money printer is willing to lend to you at the margin. The realization that this is unsustainable can take a while to sink in, but when it does, all it takes is an inevitable fat-tail event or crescendo of panic to topple the house of cards. If the market realizes it’s been duped into having too much before the government decides it’s had enough, a debt crisis won’t be far away.
With the schizophrenia that seems to have availed across the FOMC members (hawks are doves, doves are hawks, tapering is not tightening, etc.) it is not surprising that the minutes reflect some confusion:
- *FOMC SAW `SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT RISKS' REMAINING FOR ECONOMY
- *FED TAPER LIKELY IN COMING MONTHS ON BETTER DATA, MINUTES SHOW
- *METLIFE FOUNDATION, SESAME WORKSHOP PARTNER TO PROVIDE FINL
- *FOMC SAW DOWNSIDE RISKS TO ECONOMY, LABOR MARKET `DIMINISHED'
- *FOMC SAW CONSUMER SENTIMENT REMAINING `UNUSUALLY LOW'
- *FOMC SAW RECOVERY IN HOUSING AS HAVING `SLOWED SOMEWHAT'
So summing up - when we get to an unknown point in the future with an unknown state of parameters, we may do an unknown amount of tapering - maybe possibly. Pre-Minutes: SPX 1791, 10Y 2.75, EUR 1.3444, Gold $1262
- Top China Banks Triple Debt Write-Offs as Defaults Loom (BBG)
- PBOC suspends open market operations again (Global Times)
- Eurozone bank shares fall after ECB outlines health check plan (FT)
- O-Care falling behind (The Hill)
- Key House Republican presses tech companies on Obamacare glitches (Reuters)
- J.P. Morgan Faces Another Potential Huge Payouta (WSJ)
- Yankees Among 10 MLB Teams Valued at More Than $1 Billion (BBG)
- Free our reporter, begs newspaper as China cracks down on journalists (Reuters)
- Peugeot Reviews Cost-Saving Alliance With GM (WSJ)
Asia Slides As China Overnight Repo Soars On Fears Of Another Domestic "Tapering" Episode, Preparations For Bank Loan DefaultsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/23/2013 05:48 -0400
Following the past two days of reports in which we noted that both the broader Chinese housing market was overheating and reflating at an unprecedented pace as 69 of 70 cities posted Y/Y home price gains, while a separate report showed a blistering 12% price increase in Shanghai new homes in one week, it was only a matter of time before the PBOC resumed its tighter policy posturing, which infamously sent short-term repo rates to 25% briefly in June and nearly led to a collapse of the already fragile local banking system, in an attempt to pretend it is still in control of what is now the world's fastest growing credit bubble and of course, Chinese inflation which is now impacted not only by record domestic credit production but by hot money flows from both the Fed and the BOJ. Predictably enough, as reported overnight by the Global Times, the PBOC suspended its open market operations Tuesday without injecting money as usual, a move that analysts said was in response to a surge in foreign capital inflows in September. And just like the last time the PBOC proceeded to "surprise" the market with its own tapering intentions, overnight funding rates soared, with the one-day repo rate surged 67 bps, most since June 20, to 3.7561%; while the seven-day repo rate rose 42 bps, most since July 29, to 4.0000%. This, however, brings us to the far more important story, one reported by Bloomberg overnight, and one which we predicted is inevitable over a year ago: namely that the Chinese banks, filled tothe gills with bad and non-performing debt, are finally preparing for the inevitable default onslaught and as a result have suddenly tripled their debt write offs in what can be best described as preparing for an avalanche of defaults.
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".
It appears there is just a little excess liquidity sloshing around out there. Moments ago the Fed announced that as part of its most recent overnight reverse repo "liquidity withdrawal preparedness test", some 87 entities provided the Fed with a whopping $58.2 billion in overnight liquidity in exchange for Treasury collateral at a 0.01% stop out rate. This was the largest amount in liquidity soaked up (or, alternatively, collateral provided) by the Fed in its recent history of Temporary Open Market operations going back to 2012.