We are once more in the hands of Occam’s Razor, namely that oil prices are falling hard because demand is falling hard. The scale gives us insight into the nature of the slowing of the global economy, to which the US is a full part, meaning that comparisons only with past and serious downslopes is not a welcome development; nor should it be “unexpected.” Mainstream commentary seeks to reject this simple and basic argument because it cannot fathom, predicated on its penchant for nothing but parroting economic “authority”, that the world could fall so deeply into recession once more drowning not just in oil but also “stimulus.” Once you get past the idea that “stimulus” isn’t, logical sense is restored.
The worldwide economic and industrial boom since the early 1990s was not indicative of sublime human progress or the break-out of a newly energetic market capitalism on a global basis. Instead, the approximate $50 trillion gain in the reported global GDP over the past two decades was an unhealthy and unsustainable economic deformation financed by a vast outpouring of fiat credit and false prices in the capital markets. In short, when the classical Austrians talked about “malinvestment” the pending disasters in the global steel and iron ore industries (and also mining equipment and other supplier industries) are what they had in mind.
Today's early close across markets likely means that the blow-off top multiple-expansion mania phase (because forward EPS estimates over the past couple - that means 2 to Janet Yellen fanatics - weeks have in fact declined) of 2014 may be coming to an end. However with already abysmal volumes literally grinding to an early halt at 1:15 pm Eastern today, and with a market as boring as this one, where any news is immediately interpreted as good, not matter how bad it actually is or how "revised" or "goal-seeked", we may see futures, which already are trading some 4 points above fair value, successfully levitate by another 20 points and hit Goldman's 2100 year end target - year-end for 2015 that is - one year ahead of time.
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.
"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."
I realise that it is not normal to have a bearish risk view for December through to mid-January. Normally markets tend to ramp up in December and early January before selling off later in January. But this year I do think things are different. One look at the moves in core bond markets over 2014, when almost everyone I talked to had been bearish bonds, paints a stunning picture. I would entitle this picture ‘The Victory of Deflation’, or (as many folks now talk about (but still generally dismiss)) ‘The Japanification of the World’. I may end up eating my words in 2015 if the US consumer does come through, but if he or she does not, then we may well need QE4 from the Fed to battle the incredibly strong headwinds of deflation around the world. And I will revert on this subject, but to me the coming ECB QE and more BOJ QE are woefully inadequate substitutes for USD Fed QE.
The fundamental issue confronting investors is about supply and demand. In recent weeks, as energy prices and other industrial commodity prices fell, investors focused on supply. The stimulative effect of the fall in prices, and the likely policy response by some major central banks, such as the ECB, and possibly the BOJ. This was good for equity markets and weighed on the euro and yen.
The US dollar's run stopped last week, but not before new highs were recorded against the euro, sterling, and the yen. By the end of the week, the euro had risen 1.4%, sterling 0.9%, and the yen had risen as much as the two of them put together. It was the biggest weekly gain for the yen in 16-months.
There is one pressing question that international investors will be mulling this weekend: How far and how long is the dollar's correction?
Not quite as many fireworks overnight, in another session dominated by central banks. First it was revealed that China had injected CNY400 billion into the banking system to add liquidity as the economy slows, which is ironic because on the other hand China is also seemingly doing everything in its power to crash its nascent stock market bubble mania, following the latest news that China’s CSRC approved 12 IPOs ahead of schedule which is seen as a pre-emptive step to tighten interbank liquidity amid the recent rise in margin trading. Another central bank that was busy overnight was Russia's, which proceeded with its 5th rate hike of the year, pushing the central rate up by 100 bps to 10.50% as expected. Elsewhere, the Bank of England wants to move to a Fed-style decision schedule and start releasing immediate minutes as Governor Mark Carney overhauls the framework set up more than 17 years ago. The Swiss National Bank predicted consumer prices will drop next year and said the risk of deflation has increased as it vowed to defend its cap on the franc. Finally Norway’s central bank cut its main interest rate for the first time in more than two years and signaled it may ease again next year as plunging oil prices threaten growth in western Europe’s biggest crude exporter.
Now that China is on the same boat as the rest of the world, and its stock market is a direct reflection of hopes for constant liquidity injections by the central banks, nothing could be better for stocks than bad news, which is precisely what it got. After the biggest crash in the Shanghai Composite in 5 years, what China got just the bad economic update it needed, when it reported a PPI of PPI (-2.7%, Exp. -2.4%), the 33rd consecutive decline and a CPI (1.4%, Exp. 1.6%), lowest since November 2009, when the big banks’ RRR rate stood at 15.5% vs. current 20%. And so hope of yet more PBOC interventions to halt China's deflation promptly reversed SHCOMP losses of over 4% on the session (at which point it was just shy of correction territory from recent highs hit just this week), and stocks surged to close up almost 3%, erasing half of yesterday's losses. This spike came despite reports Chinese regulators may limit brokerages' interbank borrowing.
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.
Without doubt, the most memorable line from the latest quarterly report by the BIS, one which shows how shocked even the central banks' central bank is with how perverted and broken the "market" has become is the following: "The highly abnormal is becoming uncomfortably normal.... There is something vaguely troubling when the unthinkable becomes routine." Overnight, "markets" did all in their (central banks') power to justify the BIS' amazement, when first the Nikkei closed green following another shocker of Japanese econ data, when it was revealed that the quadruple-dip recession was even worse than expected, and then the Shanghai composite soaring over 3000 or up 2.8% for the session, following news of the worst trade data - whether completely fabricated or not - out of China in over half a year.
The ongoing slump in oil prices looks set to take their toll on London’s “super prime” property markets with attendant consequences for the rest of the London property market. Foreign money that had been flooding into the UK from a whole array of international sources and parking in London real estate is drying up.
Today's Market-Boosting Disappointing Economic News Brought To Your Courtesy Of Euroarea's Service PMIsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2014 08:11 -0400
Those wondering why European stocks are higher but off earlier highs, the answer is simple: the latest Service ISM was bad but it wasn't a complete disaster. And while RanSquawk notes that "the particularly disappointing slew of Eurozone Service PMI’s from France and Spain capped any potential upside seen across the European indices" stocks are clearly green on hopes Europe's ongoing economic devastation accelerates enough for the ECB to finally start buying Stoxx 600 and various other penny stocks. This is what happened, in Goldman's words: the November Euro area final composite PMI came in at 51.1, 0.3pt below the flash (and Consensus) estimate. Relative to October, the composite PMI fell by 0.9pt. The weaker final composite PMI was driven by flash/final downward revisions to the German manufacturing PMI and the French services PMI. Today’s data also showed some improvement in the Italian services PMI, and a deterioration in its Spanish counterpart.