A look back at the headlines and market movements of the last month provides some useful color for why markets are weak and why now... As Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann warned early last month, there is a threshold point during the Fed’s attempt to normalize policy where the tide reverses and investors join in a sell-off in a race to avoid being left behind. This is why it's called the greater fool theory.
"The current levels of investor complacency are more usually associated with late stage bull markets rather than the beginning of new ones. Of course, if you think about it, this only makes sense if you refer back to the investor psychology chart above. The point here is simple. The combined levels of bullish optimism, lack of concern about a possible market correction (don't worry the Fed has the markets back), and rising levels of leverage in markets provide the "ingredients" for a more severe market correction. However, it is important to understand that these ingredients by themselves are inert. It is because they are inert that they are quickly dismissed under the guise that 'this time is different.' Like a thermite reaction, when these relatively inert ingredients are ignited by a catalyst they will burn extremely hot. Unfortunately, there is no way to know exactly what that catalyst will be or when it will occur. The problem for individuals is that they are trapped by the combustion an unable to extract themselves in time."
What we’re witnessing right now in US markets is a shift in the Narrative structure around Fed policy, and it’s hitting markets hard because the Narrative structure around the Fed as an institution has never been stronger or more constant... "So now we will all start to act as if the statements are true for Fed policy, no matter what we privately think the Fed will do or not do, and that behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a snowball rolling downhill, as more and more of all of us start to believe that this is what all of us believe. This is the power of a crowd looking at a crowd, and it’s a bitch."
Head Of Asia's Largest Clothing Retailer: "I Don’t Have An Optimistic View About Consumption In Japan"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/11/2014 14:43 -0400
Today we get some more on the ground perspective on the abysmal (second) reign of Abe, where the stock market may be approaching bear market territory (after everyone was convinced the Nikkei was set to soar in 2014), but it is really the economy which is about to get it, most likely resulting in Abe's second premature evacuation stage left (with the now traditional Imodium scapegoat) well before the work of Abenomics is completed, in the process sending the USDJPY once again back into double digit territory. The bottom line: “I don’t have an optimistic view about consumption in Japan,” Yanai told reporters yesterday in Tokyo. He said he had yet to see an effect on sales from the tax increase. He will quite soon, and he won't be happy with what he sees.
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
Today, as we plumb the depths of the US economic food-chain in that last bastion for the improverished US consumer, dollar stores, we find that that staple for low-cost "everything" Family Dollar, which operates 8,100 stores around the country, will be shutting down 370 stores "as it tries to reverse sagging sales and earnings." It was not clear immediately how many thousands of workers would be affected by the store shuttering. We assume "many to quite many." And what do they say? Why, that "the US economic recovery is obviously stronger than ever" of course!
"Fear Of Missing Out" - that is the only way one can explain the irrational idiocy with which asset "managers" are scrambling to allocate other people's money into today's "historic" Greek (where unemployment just printed at 26.7%) return to the bond market, and which according to Greek PM Venizelos was eight times oversubscribed, or far more demand than for the Facebook IPO. Ironically, while we joked earlier this week, when the Greek 5Y was trading in the 6% range that the new bond would issue at 3%, we were not too far off on the final terms which were largely expected in the mid-5% range. Instead, Greece shocked everyone when it announced that the avalanche of lemmings had made it possible for Greece to issue debt at a sub-5% yield, and a 4.75% cash coupon! Here is the final term sheet.
- J.P. Morgan's Dimon Describes Year of Pain (WSJ)
- SAC Faces a Final Reckoning for 14 Years of Insider Scam (BBG)
- New Standards for $693 Trillion Swaps Market Increase Risk of Blowup (BBG)
- China says no major stimulus planned; March trade weak (Reuters)
- As we said in 2012 would happen: Record Europe Dividends Keep $3 Trillion From Factories (BBG)
- Blame it on the algo: Deutsche Bank Said to Find Improper Communication in FX Case (BBG)
- Coke Sticks to Its Strategy While Soda Sales Slide (WSJ)
- Ukraine’s Rust Belt Faces Ruin as Putin Threatens Imports (BBG)
- RBC Joins Goldman in Suing Clients After Singapore Crash (BBG)
- U.S. House panel to look at aluminum prices, warehousing (Reuters)
- Brooklyn Apartment Rents Jump to a Record as Leases Surge (BBG)
Having warned just 6 weeks ago that high-yield credit and small high-tech firms may be in a bubble, Fed Governor Tarullo, ironically speaking at the Hyman Minsky Financial Instability Conference, suggested that the recuction in share of national income for "workers" (i.e. income inequality) is troubling. Furthermore, he added, "changes reflect serious challenges not only to the functioning of the American economy over the coming decades, but also to some of the ideals that undergird the nation's democratic heritage." His speech, below, adds that since there has been only slow growth so far, expectations for a growth spurt are misplaced and that the Fed-policy-driven recovery has "benefited high-earners disproportionately."
Citi's credit strategy team warns, for non-financial corporations - fundamentals have turned. Low interest rates hae helped keep debt service burdens low but, as they suggest, releveraging tends to sneak up on you. Leverage is as high as its ever been outside recession. This may not be a problem today, or tomorrow, but the leverage clock is ticking... and credit markets have no room for downside surprises (and, as we have vociferously explains, if credit spreads rise as the credit cycle 'cycles' then the underpinning for the entire buyback/dividend driven 'fudge' for stock valuations is removed)... and risks seem far higher in the US (than Europe) going forward. In the end we know this is unsustainable - the question is when (in 2007 it lasted 10 months or so...) but things change very quickly once collateral chains start to shrink. Perhaps this is why Carl iCahn called the top - because he knows the ability to re-leverage (his bread and butter trade) is over...
For the first time since the 'recovery' began, Gallup reports that consumer's average daily spending flatlined year-over-year. As Gallup concludes, at a daily rate of $87, Americans' average daily spending in March looks positive by comparison to spending over the past five years. But the stall in spending, both month-over-month and compared with a year ago, most likely signals a continuation of the lackluster retail sales seen so far in 2014. While government data suggested that retail sales rebounded in February (though still the weakest YoY since Nov 2009), the Gallup data appears to confirm the post-weather pent-up-demand has failed to arrive.
On April 1, as was widely known, Japan raised its sales tax from 5% to 8% - a move many dread could unleash a recession as happened the last time Japan hiked a consumption tax in 1997. A week later the verdict on just how much consumption was frontloaded ahead of the hike is in, as we get the first sales data on the ground. The result is, in short, a disaster: overnight the Nikkei reported that Japanese department store Takashimaya’s revenue in April 1-7 period crashed 25%!
- Top Medicare Doctor Paid $21 Million in 2012, Data Shows (BBG)
- Separatists build barricades in east Ukraine, Kiev warns of force (Reuters)
- Greece launches sale of five-year bond (FT)
- High-Frequency Trader Malyshev Mulls Accepting Outside Investors (BBG)
- U.S. defense chief gets earful as China visit exposes tensions (Reuters)
- GM Workers Who Built Defective Cars Fret About Recall (BBG)
- Kerry, Congress Agree: Superpower Status Not What It Was (BBG)
- Crimeans Homeless in Ukraine Seek Solace in Kiev Asylums (BBG)
- JPMorgan's Dimon says U.S. banks healthy, Europe lagging (Reuters)
The positive sentiment stemming from a positive close on Wall Street and saw Shanghai Comp (+0.33%), Hang Seng (+1.09%) trade higher, failed to support the Nikkei 225 (-2.10%), which underperformed its peers and finished in the red amid JPY strength as BoJ's Kuroda failed to hint on more easing. Stocks in Europe (Eurostoxx50 +0.32%) traded higher since the open, with Bunds also under pressure amid the reversal in sentiment.
Alcoa kicked off earnings season yesterday, with shares up 3% in after-market hours. Focus now turns to the release of the FOMC meeting minutes.
The mainstream recovery narrative has an astounding “recency bias”. According to all the CNBC talking heads, the 192,000 NFP jobs gain reported on Friday constituted another “strong” report card. Well, let’s see. Approximately 75 months ago (December 2007) at the cyclical peak before the so-called Great Recession, the BLS reported 138.4 million NFP jobs. When the hosanna chorus broke into song last Friday, the reported figure was 137.9 million NFP jobs. By the lights of old-fashioned subtraction, therefore, we are still 500k jobs short—notwithstanding $3.5 trillion of money printing in the interim. The truth is, all the ballyhooed “new jobs” celebrated on bubblevision month-after-month have actually been “born again” jobs. That is, jobs which were created during the Fed’s 2002-2007 bubble inflation; lost in the aftermath of the September 2008 meltdown; and then “recovered” during the renewed bubble inflation now underway.