What we’ve been experiencing in markets is the plain and simple fear that always accompanies a broken story. The human reaction to a broken story is an emotional response akin to a sudden loss of faith. It’s a muted form of what Stephen King defined as Terror … the sudden realization that the helpful moorings you took for granted are actually not supporting you at all, but are at best absent and at worst have been replaced by invisible forces with ill intent. The antidote to Terror? Call the boogeyman by his proper name. It’s the end of the China growth story, one of the most powerful investment Narratives of the past 20 years. And that’s very painful, as the end of something big and powerful always is.
Every Federal Reserve Chair since 1979 has faced a notable challenge in the first 12-20 months of their tenure – something akin to capital markets “Bullies” hazing the new kid at school. Paul Volcker had the 1979-1980 Iranian oil shock/recession, Alan Greenspan the 1987 Stock Market Crash, and Ben Bernanke the 2007 Financial Crisis. Their responses shaped market perceptions about Federal Reserve priorities and set the stage for the remainder of their tenures, from Inflation-Fighting Volcker to Save-the-World Bernanke. Now, it is Chair Yellen’s turn...
"It's not necessarily out of control yet. But if they do not provide some stability pretty soon it will begin to affect not only the markets over there, but - as we saw today and somewhat last week - it affects markets all around the world. Financial Markets are correlated. We learned that back in 2008 When the fall of Lehman spread all around the globe."
The bubble headed bimbos and brainless stock touting twits will be in ecstasy today as the ever predictable rebound is under way. The market will soar by over 500 points at the opening as the excuse of the day is China’s desperate interest rate cut to try and stem their downward spiraling economy and markets. The Wall Street captured boob tube brigade will tell their almost non-existent viewership that all is well. The terrifying plunge is in the past. The economy is great. Housing is strong. Stocks are now a bargain. It’s the best time to buy. Now here are some facts...
The 3-month bounce in the Richmond Fed Manufacturing survey... is dead. From 13 in July, August saw it collapse to 0 (massivley missing expectations of a 10 print). This is the biggest absolute drop in the index since May 2006. Across the board, underlying factors crashed with Shipments plunging, New Orders cliff-diving, order backlogs disappearing and Capacity Utilization plunging. This is exactly what we would expect after a massive inventory build up that was not accompanied by a surge in sales... but the pundits stil proclaim "no signs of an imminent US recession."
Yesterday's market tumble finally brought the S&P and Nasdaq alongside the Dow Jones into correction territory, send the broader index down 11% from its highs, even as a vast majority of S&P constituents already preceded the index and are either in correction or in bear market territory. And yet, following today's latest central bank intervention, this time in the long overdue Chinese interest rate cut (which will hardly have a lasting impact on either the economy or stock markets), the S&P correction may may prove to be short lived: S&P is poised to open about 4% higher, delivering the latest "Bullard" moment to the S&P, this time courtesy of China. Still, the question remains: was that it for the long overdue correction, and what comes next.
- China’s Central Bank Cuts Interest Rates (WSJ)
- Chinese Stocks Crash Again to Extend Biggest Plunge Since 1996 (BBG)
- China cuts rates, reserve ratio to aid economy as stocks sink (Reuters)
- Wall St. suffers worst day in four years, S&P confirms correction (Reuters)
- Europe's Stocks Head for Best Day Since 2011 (BBG)
- Market turmoil clouds Fed rate outlook (FT)
- For All Its Heft, China’s Economy Is a Black Box (WSJ)
Brazil's flagging economy, which is mired in stagflation and remains a slave both to China and to what looks like intractable political turmoil, has destroyed nearly 550,000 jobs YTD. As Barclays notes, " [the July] print is compatible with 140,939 job eliminations, pretty close to the historical low of -154,355 in June."
It's a case of economic policy run amuck. Real estate development can boost the economy, under the right conditions: lots of jobs and economic activity get generated when homes are built or refurbished. And there is the wealth effect when home prices rise. But when taken to extremes - as it is today and was in the previous economic cycle consumer spending gets squeezed out in order to pay mortgages and rent. It becomes an incredibly unproductive use of capital. Simply put, we have a surge in college-age prostitution and it's the Fed's fault. It gives new meaning to the term "perverse monetary policies"
"We conclude that, under current circumstances, it is only a matter of time until Brazil loses its investment grade status."
The correction may soon morph into a full-fledged bear market if the Fed makes good on its supposed intentions to raise interest rates this year. Have no illusions, while most market observers are quick to blame the sell-off on China, this market was given life by the Fed, and the Fed is the only force that will keep it alive. Unfortunately for the Fed, it won't be able to get away with doing nothing for too much longer. Events may soon force it to show its hand. Then perhaps some may notice that the Fed is holding absolutely nothing and has been bluffing the entire time.
By starving investors of safe return, activist Fed policy has promoted repeated valuation bubbles, and inevitable collapses, in risky assets. On the basis of valuation measures having the strongest correlation with actual subsequent market returns, we fully expect the S&P 500 to decline by 40-55% over the completion of the current market cycle. The only uncertainty has been the triggers.
Following the recent broad market selloff which has taken all US stock indices into the red for 2015 and in some cases, red for the past 52 weeks, the real question traders should be asking themselves now that the power and potentcy of central bank intervention is increasingly questioned is whether stocks are now fundamentally cheap or at least, "fairly" valued. The answer, as SocGen's Andy Lapthorne points out, is a resounding no.
The last three times inflation expectations tumbled this low, the Fed was about to launch QE1, QE2, Operation Twist and QE3.
Three weeks ago, "something just snapped." Now, it is getting worse by the day.