Over the last five years, we have developed an unhealthy obsession with the Federal Reserve, in particular, and central banks, in general, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Investors have abdicated their responsibilities for assessing growth, cash flows and value, and taken to watching the Fed and wondering what it is going to do next, as if that were the primary driver of stock prices. The Fed has happily accepted the role of market puppet master, with Federal Bank governors seeking celebrity status, and piping up about inflation, the level of stock prices and interest rate policy. We don't know what will happen at the FOMC meeting, but we hope that it announces an end to it's "interest rate magic show."
"August Sucks," concludes MIT Quant guru Andrew Lo, reflecting on the systematic-trading strategy effects on markets, and it's not going to get better any time soon. As he explains to Bloomberg, "algorithmic trading is speeding up the reaction times of these participants, so that’s the choppiness of the market. Everybody can move to the left side of the boat and the right side of the boat now within minutes as opposed to hours or days." As we have noted many time, Lo explains how "crowded trades have got to the point of alpha becoming beta," warning that volatility-targeting strategies (such as Risk-Parity) are not only "exaggerating the moves," but he cautions omniously reminiscent of the August 2007 quant crash, "I think they are creating volatility of volatility."
China Loses All Control, Spends 600 Billion Yuan On Plunge Protection In August, Tightens Capital ControlsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/08/2015 06:38 -0500
So much for exiting the market. According to Goldman's estimates, China spent CNY600 billion propping up the stock market in the month of August alone. Meanwhile, MNI reports that in the wake of the yuan devaluation, SAFE began "'urging' [companies to] actively take measures to limit foreign exchange purchase for advance payment under imports... and postpone forex purchases."
What is the reason for the drop? Well, one can believe the ECB's stated explanation which is that due to European summer vacations, activity in Europe has ground to a halt. Of course, this would suggest that monetization in the Eurozone is continent on managers' summer vacation plans, which is probably an even more troubling explanation of ECB activity bottlenecks than what may be really going on in Europe. The alternative? As we noted over the weekend when we reported that now even the IMF is discussing the upcoming limits to BOJ QE as a result of sellers running out of BOJs to hand over to the BOJ, the same may be taking place in Europe
Last week’s volatility to the downside was entirely predictable, as the first leg down during this ongoing market crash reached the correction stage of 11%. The technical bounce was a given, as the 30 year old HFT MBAs on Wall Street have been trained like rats to BTFD. In their lemming like minds, it has worked for the last six years of this Federal Reserve created “bull market”, so why wouldn’t it work now. Last week was their first lesson in why it doesn’t work during bear markets, and we’ve entered a bear market. John Hussman seems amused at the shallowness of the arguments by Wall Street shills and CNBC cheerleaders about the future of the stock market in his weekly letter. After this modest pullback from all-time highs, the S&P 500 is still overvalued by 92%...
More debt begets higher market value of equites which in turn improves the debt/equity ratio which gives the incentive to issue more debt ad infinitum. Or in a slightly simpler version, debt begets more debt. We have seen the story before. In the shaded grey areas we highlight episodes when the virtuous relationship turns ferociously vicious. Remember, markets take the escalator up, but the elevator down. And the longer the escalator the further down the elevator goes.
The REAL RISK currently is not missing some of the upside if the bull market does begin to resume, but rather catching the downside if this correction turns into a full-fledged bear.
The risk-off tide is rising, and sand castles of QE will only hold the tide back for a brief period of apparent calm.
"Not 'IF' but 'WHEN central banks lose control?' The global financial repression pushed investors to invest cash in risky assets, such as property and equity. The scale of global policy interventions is trumping all fundamental factors for now. Investors should keep in mind that the road is never straight and next month should be full of potentially disruptive events impacting sharply overcrowded assets and trades. History shows that such misallocation of resources creates bubbles that can last before fully blowing; the question is not if, but when."
It is time for a comprehensive audit of Janet Yellen ’s Federal Reserve - and not just for the reasons presidential candidate Rand Paul and others have given. The Fed needs to be audited to see if its ruling body has broken the law by manipulating financial markets that are outside its jurisdiction.
Think about it. We are currently watching global stock markets gyrate toward breakdown trying to anticipate the whims of a cloistered professor who never launched a business, never met a payroll, never shipped a product, and never won an election, yet has been empowered to determine the price of money. What’s even stranger is that people consider this normal. Ask yourself: Why do we wait on pins and needles for Janet Yellen to set interest rates yet laugh at the idea that kings once set the “just price” for a loaf of bread?
"The Quantitative Easing Hangover Is Starting" - Dallas Fed Dead-Cat-Bounce Collapses To Post-2009 Recession LowsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/31/2015 09:41 -0500
With the biggest miss sicne April 2013, Dallas Fed's 2-month dead-cat-bounce has collapsed to -15.8 (against expectations of -4.0). This is practically the weakest level for the manufacturing index since 2009. The entire report is a disaster - Fisher's exit seems well timed? - as New Orders crash from +0.7 to -12.5 and Pries Paid craters from +0.1 to -8.0.Even worse, 14 of the 15 'hope' indicators declined and as one respondent warned "the quantitative easing hangover is starting." We have 3 simple words - "not unequivocally good."
In markets distorted by permanent manipulation the most powerful incentive is to borrow as much money as you can and leverage it as much as you can to maximize your gains in risk-on asset bubbles. However, a core dynamic is laying waste to global financial markets: the greater the level of central bank/government manipulation, the greater the systemic fragility.
...one theory is that some within the Fed realized that QE wasn’t working, and never worked, thus another path was needed. But what alternative did they have, since rates were already ZERO? So maybe they changed course and took a strong dollar policy vs. a weak one to intentionally weaken the commodity sector and thus boost consumer spending. Throughout this down turn, that message has been repeated by Yellen herself many times, as a source of economic stimulus and for sure has been repeated over and over in the media and the talking heads of Wall Street.