If you don’t like how things work in a free market, just change the rules and financial engineer whatever the results you would like to achieve. And so, since 1995 we have been going from boom to bust from one bubble to the next as we try to navigate the financial markets that have been turned into a circus act.
Since it's not Tuesday (the only day that matters for stocks, of course), call it opposite, or rather stop hunt take out, day. First, it was the BOJ which, as we warned previously, would disappoint and not boost QE (sorry SocGen which had expected an increase in monetization today, and now expects nothing more from the BOJ until year end), which sent the USDJPY sliding, only to see the pair make up all the BOJ announcement losses and then some; and then it was Europe, where first German retail sales cratered, printing at -1.9%, down from 2.0% and on expectations of a 1.7% print, and then Eurozone inflation once again missed estimates, and while rising from the abysmal 0.5% in March printed at only 0.7% - hardly the runaway inflation stuff Draghi is praying for. What happened then: EURUSD tumbled then promptly rebounded a la the flash crash, and at last check was trading near the high of the day.
The last time Goldman Sachs urged clients to "sell", it was gold - and in the next quarter, they were the largest acquirer of the precious metal via ETFs. So when the muppet-murdering bank suggests this morning that, while "we have been caught in choppy action" there is a slow awakening of Treasury bears and recommends shifting from a neutral to short-duration position in bonds... one can't help but wonder just what the bank will do with all the bonds clients sell to them...
If this evening's data from Tokyo on April's Consumer Price Inflation is any guage on the national inflation picture, those hoping for moar stimulus had better start praying for war. Thanks to favorable comps and the April 1st tax rise, Tokyo CPI jumped to 2.9% YoY - its highest since 1992 - and well above the BoJ's 2% inflation goal. Mission accomplished (almost)... except that the economy just won't play ball and now stocks are fading too (along with Abe's approval ratings).
On the way up, every sell-side strategist points to remodeling as a leading indicator for the housing recovery as confidence in the value of their home prompts real people to "invest" in upgrades and remodel their homes. That has been the story... until now. As NARI reports, the Remodeling Business Pulse (RBP) data of current and future remodeling business conditions show current condition ratings fell significantly in March - in fact they fell from multi-year highs to one-year lows as "homeowners remain slow to make the decision to move ahead with higher-priced projects." Of course, weather is blamed, and they are 'optimistic' about the future, but one look at the chart below and it is clear something changed...
"We were wearing life jackets. We had time... If people had jumped into the water... they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out." An entire ship full of passengers dutifully followed the instructions set forth by the crew. The "experts" told them what to do...."We're putting on our life vests. They're telling us to wait and stay put, so we're waiting..." Yet as it turned out, the ferry quickly became submerged. And following orders cost many their lives. 302 are either dead or missing. Just like Sewol, many countries in the West are sinking, and it’s up to you whether you sink with them or jump ship while there’s still time.
Moving onto overnight markets, apart from China we are seeing broad based gains across most Asian equities. Bourses in Japan, Korea and Australia are up +0.2%, +0.2% and +0.5% respectively whereas the Hang Seng and the Shenzhen Composite indices are down -0.2% and -1.1% as we type. The gains in broader Asia Pacific followed what was another constructive session for risk assets yesterday during US trading hours. The S&P 500 (+0.38%) rose for its 5th consecutive day partly driven by better corporate earnings from the likes of GE and Morgan Stanley. Staying on the results season, we’ve had 70 of the S&P 500 companies reporting so far and the usual trend is starting to emerge in which earnings beats are faring better than revenue beats. Indeed the beat:miss ratio for earnings has been strong at 77%:23% whereas revenue beats/misses are more balanced at 50%:50%. Looking ahead, markets should get ready for another big week of US earnings.
Japan is where the Keynesian economic model rubber hit the road. And it's proven that QE is ultimately an economic dead end.
One of the recurring themes the western media regurgitates at every opportunity is that while the western "diplomatic" sanctions against Russia are clearly a joke, one thing that will severely cripple the economy is the capital market embargo that has struck Russian companies, which are facing $115 billion of debt due over the next 12 months. Surely there is no way Russia can afford to let its major corporations - the nexus of its petroleum trade - go insolvent, which is why Putin will have to restrain himself and beg western investors to come back and chase appetiziing Russian yields (with other people's money of course). Turns out this line of thought is completely wrong.
It has been a largely event-free weekend except, of course, for the previously reported re-escalation in Ukraine following what was a lethal shooting in the east Ukraine city of Slavyansk blamed on Ukraine's Right Front, which has made a mockery, as expected, of the Geneva Ukraine de-escalation announcement from last Thursday. Overnight in Asia, Japan reported its largest ever trade deficit, providing yet more evidence that Abenomics has been an abysmal failure: all we are waiting for now is confirmation that basic Japanese wages have fallen yet again, which would make nearly 2 years in a row of declines. Still, the USDJPY, gamed as usual by HFT algos for which FX is now the last respite as the equity market crackdown gets louder, is doing its best to ramp from the overnight lows and ahead of the traditional US market open surge, as a result equity futures are modestly higher.
For the first time since the bailout/restructuring, Greece will issue long-term debt to the public markets. These 5 year-term English Law bonds (which is entirely unsurprising given the total lack of protection local-law bonds suffered during the last restructuring) are expected to yield between 5 and 5.25%. That is modestly higher than Russia, below Mexico, and one-sixth of the yield investors demanded when the crisis was exploding. The secondary market has rallied to this entirely liquidity-fueled level leaving onlookers stunned (and likely Draghi et al. also). Greece must be 'fixed' right? Just don't look at the chart below...
Another week, another Chinese default. A month after Chaori Solar's default turned on its head a long-held assumption that even high-yielding debt carried an implicit state guarantee, yet another Chinese firm has succumbed to the inevitable logic of lack of cash flows. As a reminder, a technical default late last month by a small construction materials firm, Xuzhou Zhongsen Tonghao New Board Co Ltd, was the first in China's high-yield bond market. However, in that case the guarantor of that bond eventually agreed to fund the required interest payment, resulting in the first bailout of the first high yield default. Still if Xuzhou doesn't want the distinction of the first Chinese HY default, many are lining up for that particular prize - such as a small manufacturer of polyester yarn based in China's wealthy Zhejiang province has declared bankruptcy, threatening its ability to meet an interest payment on a high-yield bond due in July.
There is a reasonably quiet start to the week before we head into the highlights of the week including the start of US reporting season tomorrow, FOMC minutes on Wednesday and IMF meetings in Washington on Friday. On the schedule for today central bank officials from the ECB including Mersch, Weidmann and Constancio will be speaking. The Fed’s Bullard speaks today, and no doubt there will be interest in his comments from last week suggesting that the Fed will hike rates in early 2015.
- Nato chief defends eastern advance (FT)
- Russia looks east as it seeks to rebalance trade interests (FT)
- Plane from Guinea briefly quarantined in Paris after Ebola scare (AFP)
- US attacks Japan’s stance on Trans-Pacific Partnership (FT)
- Thank you IMF: Ukraine PM says will stick to austerity despite Moscow pressure (Reuters)
- U.S. Army seeks motive for Fort Hood shooting rampage (Reuters)
- China Slowdown Adds to Emerging-Market Growth Hurdles, IMF Says (BBG)
- Top investors press Allianz to step up oversight of Pimco (Reuters)
- U.S. to Evaluate Role in Mideast Peace Process, John Kerry Says (WSJ)
- Scientists dismiss claims that Yellowstone volcano about to erupt (Reuters)
- Ukraine detains 12 riot police on suspicion of 'mass murder' (Reuters) - on CIA orders?
The risk that creditors, savers and bondholders, rather than taxpayers will bear the brunt of rescuing a bank in trouble form part of the first credit ratings given to 18 of Europe's biggest banks yesterday by new ratings agency, Scope.