There are a few “market anomalies” affecting the seasonality of stock returns that have captured some investor attention, like the day-of-the-week effect or the January effect, for example. They are called anomalies because – according to financial theory – the market should arbitrage away the regularity of such patterns. But in reality, it does not. As Goldman notes, there are similar patterns exist with respect to market volatility; and they are equally puzzling.
Despite exuberant Services and Manufacturing PMIs, Bloomberg's index of CEO sentiment remains stagnant near 2014 lows as April's hope for Q2 has faded into 'more of the same' by June. As Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone points out, in reality (in spite of all the hope), the second quarter is drawing to a close and it was a rough one for corporate America, with CEOs citing "slower growth in household income overall", "the recovery remains fragile, especially for customers on a budget", and perhaps most concerning, "whether or not this softness in store traffic is representative of a permanent sea change in customer behavior or a temporary phenomenon is hard to tell at this stage."
This week's "Things To Ponder" is focused on things that, in my opinion, far too many individuals are ignoring. Bob Farrell once wrote that "when all experts and forecasts agree; something else is bound to happen." Today, that is the case as much as it ever was. Despite rising geopolitical risks, weak economic data, deteriorating fundamentals and softer internals - the overwhelming belief is "equities are the only game in town." Of course, we have seen this mentality many times in past history whether it was 1929, 1987, 2000 or 2007. While every market peak was different, there were all the same.
The proof is clear. According to SWIFT, China’s renminbi is now the second most used currency in the world for global trade settlement, putting it ahead of even the euro. It’s happening. And based on the data, it’s completely obvious (as we continued to chronicle) to just about everyone but the US government. However, we were still surprised to see an article in the Financial Times’ banking intelligence subsidiary (‘The Banker’) entitled "The US’s dollar domination is coming to an end." This reality has become obvious to just about everyone... Reserve currencies come and go. So will the dollar. This is nothing new.
"In economics, [the mainstream] rely on experts who don't know what they are talking about," explains Professor Steve Keen in this brief but compelling documentary discussing 'when the herd turns'. "Herd behavior is a fundamental aspect of capitalism," Keen chides, but it is left our of conventional economic theory "because they don't believe it;" instead having faith that investors are all "rational individuals" (e.g. willing to pay 112x for OpenTable), which he notes, means "[economists] can't foresee any crisis in the future." The reality is - "we do have herd behavior" and people will follow the herd off a cliff unless they are aware its going to happen. "Contrary to herd wisdom, financial crisis are not unpredictable black swans..."
Children display beautiful and at times brutal honesty
The end game of three decades of excess is upon us, and we can't deny the weight of the debt imbalances that are currently in play. The medicine that the current administration is prescribing is a treatment for the common cold; in this case a normal business cycle recession. The problem is that the patient is suffering from a "debt cancer," and until the proper treatment is prescribed and implemented; the patient will most likely continue to suffer.
This morning’s Q1 GDP revision might have been a wake-up call. After all, clocking in a -2.9% - cold winter or no - it was the worst number posted since the dark days of Q1 2009. Well, actually, it was the fourth worst quarterly GDP shrinkage since Ronald Reagan declared it was morning again in American 30 years ago. Stated differently, 116 of the 120 quarterly GDP prints since that time have been better. Even when you adjust for the Q1 inventory “payback” for the bloated GDP figures late last year, real GDP still contracted at a -1.2% annually rate. Still, within minutes of the 8:30AM release, the Wall Street Journal’s news update did not fail to trot out the “do not be troubled” mantra. When the daily narrative is this lame it is no wonder that our happy talk financial system drifts toward the wall. The Cool-Aid drinkers have simply lost touch with reality.
All sorts of promises, explicit and implicit, were issued to win votes. All the promises are now empty, and we might as deal with this reality head-on... if we can muster up the almost-lost ability to deal with reality rather than rely on fantasy/wishful thinking.
UPDATE: FIFA bites back and bans Uruguay's Luis Suarez for 4 months
As 12ET rolls around and USA's soccer team prepares to engage zee Germans with the goal of advancing to the FIFA World Cup's knockout stage, Bloomberg undertook an 'economic' face off to see just how the two powerhouse nations stack up. The result - a 4-0 win for Germany does not bode well for the soccer...
Just imagine how strong the rally would have been if US GDP had contracted by 5%? The early weakness in US equities was instantly dismissed the moment US stock markets opened for trading to the general algo public (and POMO began to be disseminated). The S&P retraced a perfect Fib 61.8% of its losses of yesterday's highs and absolutely decoupled from the reality of FX (USDJPY for example) and bond (Treasury) markets suggesting today's low-volume levitation (after big volume pre-open plunge) is nothing but a dead cat bounce. Of course, the ammo for the magical ramp was a short-squeeze and a "VIX-Smash" but even that could not keep pace with the idiocy in stocks. Gold, silver, copper, and oil all rose along with stocks. Late-day VIX-slam lifted the S&P to unch on the week (same as "most shorted" stocks) but was unable to extend. As we 'joked' before the open, "If the complete collapse of the US economy doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs, nothing will."
In what appears to be the first real action post-Flash Boys, NY AG Eric Schneiderman will announce at 4pm ET that Barclays will be sued over fraud allegations related to its Dark Pool's preferential treatment of high-frequency traders. As Bloomberg notes, Barclays runs one of the market's largest dark pools. This comes 2 months after the NY AG sent requests for information to various major HFT shops. It seems, just as we noted here, that a potential scapegoat is being primed 'just in case' this 'market' can't withstand the Fed's pullback.
The conventional view of the Baby Boomers' retirement is a happy story: since we're living longer and remaining productive longer, Boomers will not be as much of a burden on Gen-X and Gen-Y as doom-and-gloomers assume. Not only are Boomers staying productive longer, they will draw upon their vast generational wealth as they age, limiting the financial burden on younger generations. This happy story is wrong on multiple counts.
It appears the sad reality that a consistently tapering Fed won't be able to support this fairy castle with words (forward guidance) alone as - rather unusually -this morning's double whammy of bad news has been taken as "bad news" by the market. Thanks to decisive break below 102 in USDJPY, stocks are dropping and bonds are rallying. Gold and silver are well bid (as copper and oil slide) and the USD is fading fast.