Overnight action saw EURUSD surging over 1.33 and retracing back into the US open as broadly European equity markets started to play catch up to European credit's recently weak performance. Couple that with a miss in jobless claims and the rise in WTI and Brent prices and shortly after the US open S&P futures fell 9pts rather rapidly. However, fears of margin compression or consumer spending impacts were quickly dismissed as every asset class took off and never looked back - as only one thing matters (and USD weakness and commodity strength confirmed that belief). Having underperformed the last day or two, HY credit jumped higher, catching up with IG and HYG's recent performance and over-taking stocks, as high beta took over again on the heels of what can only be assumed is central bank largesse as financials and energy names outperformed. There were some 'odd' disconnects among the broad asset classes today with Treasuries rallying euphorically after the strong 7Y auction, Gold rallying well and then losing a lump on a Zero Hedge margin rumor, and up-gaps in EUR (and down in USD) into the close to sustain the rally. While Oil was notably higher on the day, Silver took the honors - now up over 6% on the week - as Brent-WTI compressed this afternoon as the latter pushed above and held $108.5. The Treasury-Stock disconnect continues to grow, and yet when we adjust for the USD-numeraire, the two asset classes agree wholeheartedly on low-/no-growth - perhaps it is time for the 'transitory' word to re-appear.
The war parties in Israel and Iran are in full ascendancy.
We need to look to Europe now to see what TPTB have in store for us. This is the consummate problem, reaction, solution game being played for all the marbles. First, you get the problem “spiking interest rates for the peripheral countries.” Then the “reaction,” financial panic and fear. Finally the “solution.” The placement of unelected technocrats as the leaders of Greece and Italy with ties to all the power structure’s institution such as the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg group and of course Goldman Sachs. It is like a coup that takes the shadow government from the shadows and puts them in your face. The reason that this is so key is because we are next. They don’t want to roll up everything at once. If they can get Europe safely consolidated then they will move here. That is when interest rates in the U.S. will spike (problem), and we get panic (reaction) and then the solution (bankster technocratic committees in charge and the IMF to the rescue, ie loss of sovereignty). This is the plan and I see it as clear as day.
Americans participating in a recent Gallup poll showed the highest level of confidence in an economic recovery in a year. Sounds great, but you can’t ignore the nearly 13 million unemployed, the 46 million people on food stamps and the roughly 29% of the country’s homeowners whose mortgages are under water. They would find it hard to subscribe to the poll’s sunny conclusion. On the other hand, there’s no getting away from a bevy of seemingly increasingly favorable economic data, which, more recently, includes falling weekly jobless claims, four consecutive monthly gains in the leading economic indicators, somewhat perkier retail sales and a pickup in housing starts and business permits. Pounding home this cheerful view is the media’s growing drumbeat of increased economic vigor....Confused? How can you not be?
An explicit contagion path chart, since you probably won't get info like this anywhere else...
The surreal keeps getting surrealer. One could probably think that after being forced to pay for the privilege of having a job, to fund European bank solvency out of their pocket as part of the Greek "bailout", and finally to hand over their gold, the Greeks would have at least put up a fight. One would be wrong: instead of doing anything else than the occasional store front looting by marauding gangs, what Greeks are doing instead... is lining up for German lessons. Well, if you can't beat them, may as well learn their language. Athens News reports: "Ruediger Bolz has 350 students coming through the doors of his German language institute in central Athens each day - 20 percent up on a year ago. The rush among Greeks to learn German may seem odd after the war of words between the two countries, with Greeks fuming at German accusations of financial mismanagement and some media playing on Nazi caricatures of Berlin politicians. Yet for Bolz, who has run the Goethe Institute for the last six years, there is no mystery: his pupils are happy to side-step politics and face up to harsh economic realities by acquiring new skills." So years of debt slavery induced misery may be in store, and the sheep are delighted to get the electric cattle prod, but at least they get to beg their employers to take their money with the proper umlaut usage.
We have read, and written, all of this before (and speaking of, since 2012 is still a carbon copy of 2011, we could so easily just repost articles from February 2011, change the year, and nobody would notice - we could even save on robo-posting costs) but there is always something just so enjoyable in hearing the Chairman of the Fermentation Committee point out the glaringly obvious to the vacuum tubes in charge of a market which is now a 6-8 week lagging indicator to reality.
While the bulk of tangential themes in Albert Edwards' latest letter to clients "The Ice Age only ends when the market loses hope: there is still too much hope" is in line with what we have been discussing recently: myopic markets focused on momentum not fundamentals ("It's amazing though how the market can get itself all bulled up and becomes convinced that we are the start of a self-sustaining recovery. And funnily enough there's nothing more likely to get investors bullish than a rising market"), short-termism ("One thing you can say for the market is that it has an extremely short memory"), and that so far 2012 is a carbon copy of 2011 ("One thing you can say for the market is that it has an extremely short memory. Let us not forget that the performance of the equity market so far this year is almost exactly the same as we saw at the start of 2011 (in fact the performance has been similar for the last 5 months"), his prevailing topic is one of hope. Or rather the lack thereof, and how it has to be totally and utterly crushed before there is any hope of a true bull market. And just to make sure there is no confusion, unlike that other flip flopper, Edwards makes it all too clear that he is as bearish as ever. Which only makes sense: regardless of what the market does, which merely shows that inflation, read liquidity, is appearing in the most unexpected of places (read Edwards' colleague Grice must read piece on why CPI is the worst indicator of asset price inflation when everyone goes CTRL+P), the reality is that had it not been for another $2 trillion liquidity injection in the past 4-6 months by global central banks, the floor would have fallen out of the market, and thus the global economy. In fact, how the hell can one be bullish when the only exponential chart out there is that of global central bank assets proving beyond a doubt that every risk indicator is fake???
NYSE volume was the 3rd lowest of the year so far (while ES was just below average) as stocks leaked lower all day to small net losses by the close. Financials led the drop in stocks as they start to catch up the credit market weakness we have been pointing to for over a week but while HY (the high yield credit spread index) continues to underperform (and stocks following at a lower beta), IG (investment grade credit spread index) modestly outperforms (the up-in-quality rotation) but HYG (the high-yield bond ETF) surged today into a world of its own once again. We suspect this is driven by 'arbitrage' flows between HY's recent richness and HYG's cheapness (as well as potential HY new issue impacts). Gold (and to a lesser extent Silver) was the story of the day as it exploded (perhaps on the Greek gold-collateral news) over $1780 intraday (now up over $55 in the last 3 days) although the USD did nothing (FX was quiet with JPY inching lower and EUR small higher as DXY leaked higher on the day to -0.25% on the week). The rest of the commodity complex jumped also (with WTI losing ground into the close even as Brent kept going - suggesting the spread decompression was in play). Treasuries rallied from early in the European day with yields dropping 6-8bps from the peaks and shifting the entire curve into the green for the week now (10y and 30Y around 1bps lower in yield). ES couldn't get significantly above VWAP today and CSFB's fear index (which tracks equity option skews) is at record highs which both suggest a preference to sell/cover is appearing (even as VIX diverged modestly from stocks today with implied correlation rising).
Since the system itself has disconnected risk from consequence with backstops, guarantees and illusory claims of financial security, then it is has lost the essential feedback required to adapt to changing circumstances. As the risk being transferred to the system rises geometrically, the system is incapable of recognizing, measuring or assessing the risk being transferred until it is so large it overwhelms the system in a massive collapse/default. The consortium has only two ways to create the illusion of solvency when the punter's $100 million bet goes bad: borrow $100 million from credulous possessors of capital or counterfeit it on a printing press. These are precisely the strategies being pursued by central banks and states around the globe. BUt since risk remains disconnected from gain/loss, then capital and risk both remain completely mispriced. Risk is being transferred to the entire global financial system at a fantastic rate, because counterfeiting money or borrowing it on this scale to cover losses creates new self-reinforcing feedbacks of risk....At some unpredictable stick/slip point, the accumulated risk will cause the system to implode like a supernova star.
There is a very clear relationship between economic growth and sufficient quantities of high quality energy. A crude measure of energy quality is its price. The lower the price for a unit of energy, the higher its quality (or net energy), but this is a very crude measure that can and often is heavily distorted by subsidies, market pressures, and other factors. As we squint at the world price for oil and note that Brent today is trading at $120 per barrel, it is clear that this high price is signaling that energy is now more expensive than it used to be. By adopting the belief that Peak Oil has been debunked, one runs the risk of missing the larger story that our current economic model is unsustainable. And that stocks and bonds and other traditional investments that derive a large portion of their current value from expectations of future growth simply may not perform anything like they have in the past. And worse, that recent and continuing efforts to revive the old economy by printing money risk the destruction of the money system itself. Given this all-too-human tendency to attempt to preserve the status quo, in this case by printing money, I must reiterate my advice to be sure that gold forms a significant portion of your core portfolio.
...This is a chart of the Greek bank stock index, which has gone from an all out demented euphoria to suicidal depression in 5 days, as the rumor that Greece is "saved" has been replaced with the reality that Greece is still "completely broke" - if you bought on Monday like most momos, on the expectation that the torrid surge higher would continue, you have now lost 24%. We are awaiting the latest January deposit data from the Greek banking system eagerly, as something tells us Greek citizens, who are already congregating at Syntagma square for today's daily riot, did not follow Venizelos' advice to either "WORK, WORK, WORK" or for that matter "DEPOSIT, DEPOSIT, DEPOSIT."
Crude oil spiked to nine-month high primarily on investors fear of potential conflict over the escalating tensions between the US, Europe, Israel, and Iran. Right now, it seems Iran could be the one blinks first (war or peace).
Everyone is on the same side of this boat. I want to be on the other side.
Highly paid shills for the status quo on Wall Street have recently been wheeled out to observe the fundamental ugliness of western government bonds. They are correct. This is an asset class that has managed to defy the laws of economics in becoming ever more expensive even as its supply swells. Their response has been to recommend piling into stocks instead. The logic here is not so pristine. If Napier's thesis is correct, the West faces a period of outright deflation, which will be deeply traumatic for exactly the sort of speculative stocks that have lately done so well. Admittedly, the picture is confused, and prone to all sorts of political horseplay, as observers of the long-running euro zone farce can attest. Nevertheless, when faced with a) huge underlying uncertainties; b) structurally unsound banking and government finances; and c) central banks determinedly priming the monetary pumps, we conclude that the last free lunch in investment markets remains diversification. G7 government bond markets are a waste of time (though you may end up being cattle-prodded into them regardless). But there are still investment grade sovereign markets offering positive real yields. Stock markets are partying like 1999. Which, in many cases, it probably is. We would normally advise to enjoy the party but dance near the door.