Financial credits remain the big underperformer hinting at much less risk appetite than USD-based stocks would indicate for now but broad risk assets staged an impressive bounce recovery on better than average volumes today as early weakness in Europe was shrugged off with better-than-expected macro data in the US (claims and Philly Fed headlines) and then later in the morning the story in the ECB Greek debt swap deal. We discussed both the macro data and the debt swap deal realities but the coincident timing of the ECB story right into the European close (when we have tended to see trends reverse in EUR and risk anyway) helped lift all risky asset boats as USD lost ground. The long-weekend and OPEX tomorrow likely helped exaggerate the trend back today but we note HYG underperformed out of the gate and while credit and stocks did rally together, the afternoon in the US saw stocks limp higher on lagging volumes (and lower trade size) as credit leaked lower. Treasuries sold off reasonably well as risk buyers came back (around 8bps off their low yields of the day pre-ECO) but rallied midly into the close (as credit derisked). Commodities all surged nicely from the macro break point this morning with Copper best on the day but WTI still best on the week. Silver is synced with USD strength still (-0.25% on the week) as Gold is modestly in the money at 1728 (+0.4% on the week) against +0.47% gains for the USD still. FX markets abruptly reversed yesterday's USD gains with most majors getting back to yesterday's highs. GBP outperformed today (at highs of the week) and JPY underperformed (lows of the week). VIX shifts into OPEX are always squirly and today was no different but we did see VIX futures rise into the close. We wonder if the last couple of days of Dow swings and vol spikes and recoveries will remind anyone of the mid-summer day swings last year?
Are we really in an economic recovery or is it a figment of the Fed's quantitative easing? This will be the biggest factor in the 2012 elections.
The more we dig into the bones of President Obama's new budget plan, the more it becomes clear that, as JP Morgan's Michael Cembalest notes, the battles of the future (among our peak-polarized political class) will be between raising taxes and cutting entitlements as the discretionary spending well is empty. As the Budget Control Act cuts this discretionary spend to a 50-year low (close to only 5% of GDP), it is the rise in entitlements (and of course interest costs) that appear mandatory for now and will need to be 'balanced' with tax revenue growth that is expected to rise from 15% of GDP to 20% of GDP by 2022 (thanks largely to a belief that cyclical recovery will save us). As the real ranks of the long-term unemployed and now disabled benefits receivers swell, it seems clear how the entitlement-taxation see-saw will swing unless there is change everyone can believe in.
Now everybody's bank bashing, of course the reason to bash the banks is 4 years old, despite Bove-like analysis to the contrary. I will discuss this on CNBC for a FULL HOUR tomorrow from 12 pm to 1pm.
It is only appropriate that in the days after Valentine's day, the theme of dumping is revisited. Specifically that of securities. As was pointed out yesterday following the latest TIC data, there was a lot of dumping of US Treasurys by foreign official authorities, with both China and Russia (but not only) proceeding to sell a demonstrative amount of US paper. However, that is not all. As the first chart below from today's Bloomberg Brief shows, foreign purchases of US corporate bonds has once again rolled over and remains quite week. As Bloomberg notes: "Foreign investors appear to have little faith in the U.S. economic recovery. They sold $20.7 billion of corporate bonds in December, leaving the one-year mean at minus $3.6 billion. That compares with a 12-month average of $47.3 billion in May 2007. Acquisitions of U.S. stocks were also weak. They totaled minus $11 billion versus a 12-month average of $2.1 billion." And in a stunning display of reciprocity, US residents, not content with selling of US stocks as retail outflows soared in December, also proceeded to dump the rest of the world en mass, as the net sale of foreign securities by US Residents soared to an all time high.
Busy day in the economic headlines arena, with Housing Start, Claims PPI and Philly Fed all on deck. Goldman summarizes the expectations and the upwardly biased consensus.
- Europe Demands More Greek Budget Controls in Bid to Forge Rescue (Bloomberg)
- Moody's Warns May Downgrade 17 Global Banks, Securities Firms (Reuters)
- Officials at Fed Split on More Bond Buys (Hilsenrath)
- Greek deal delays pressure periphery (Reuters)
- Talk, but No Action, to Break US Grip on World Bank Job (Reuters)
- Greek Rhetoric Turns Into Battle of Wills (FT)
- Greece Seeks Monday Bailout Deal, EU Questions Remain (Reuters)
- US Lawmakers Announce Payroll Tax-Cut Deal (Reuters)
- China Leader-In-Waiting Xi Woos and Warns US (Reuters)
- China's FDI falls 0.3% in Jan (Reuters)
Greek President (And Nazi Resistance Fighter) Lashes Out At "German Boot" For Pushing Country To The BrinkSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/15/2012 17:28 -0400
The following extract from a Bloomberg article suggests that the German mission of getting Greece to file for bankruptcy on its own, thus removing the perception that Europe has given up on the first (of many) terminal patient, own has almost succeeded. "Greek President Karolos Papoulias slammed Germany’s finance minister for recent comments about his country as stalled bailout talks stoked tensions between Greece and the northern European countries funding its rescue. “I don’t accept insults to my country by Mr. Schaeuble,” Papoulias, who fought in the resistance against the Nazis during World War II, said in a speech today. “I don’t accept it as a Greek. Who is Mr. Schaeuble to ridicule Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns? We always had the pride to defend not just our own freedom, not just our own country, but the freedom of all of Europe."
It was a bad week for freedom loving people, but I believe there are enough patriots left in this country to change our course. We are being buried under a blizzard of lies on a daily basis. We have a choice. We can support the existing corrupt crony capitalist establishment (Obama & Romney) or we can declare war on lies, deceit and misinformation by rallying behind the only person who would truly attempt to reverse decades of corruption, sleaze, incompetence, bloat, debt accumulation, and a warped version of free market capitalism – Ron Paul. He is the only public figure willing to level with the American people and tell them the truth. Will we let the concept of truth fade out of the world? The choice is ours.
“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell
Some of the key headlines from the just released FOMC minutes via Bloomberg, which however don't show anything out of the ordinary:
- A FEW FED OFFICIALS SAID MORE BOND BUYING MAY BECOME NECESSARY. So (1-Few) did not see it as necessary
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `GRADUAL’ IMPROVEMENT IN LABOR MARKET
- FOMC OFFICIALS SAW `MODERATE’ IMPROVEMENT IN HOUSEHOLD SPENDING
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `DEPRESSED’ HOUSING SECTOR
- FOMC OFFICIALS SAID GLOBAL FINANCIAL STRAINS POSED BIG RISKS
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS FORECAST INFLATION WOULD REMAIN `SUBDUED’
- SOME FED OFFICIALS FAVORED QE IF INFLATION FALLS, GROWTH SLOWS
No this is not a trick question... well maybe a little. Minutes ago the National Association of Home Builders announced that its Housing Market index soared from 25 to 29, trouncing not only expectations of a 26 print, but just like the Empire Fed, the highest forecast. This was supposedly the highest since May 2007. In other words, everyone is confident, and the commentary is that this print is "reinforcing optimism that the housing market is finding a bottom" and that "this consistency suggests that the housing market is moving toward more sustainable growth." That at least is the spin. Below we show the reality, in the form of the Mortgage Brokers' Association mortgage applications index. We somehow fail to see just where the onslaught of demand for new home loans is, and just where all this optimism comes from.
- Europe ushers in the recession: Euro-Area Economy Contracts for the First Time Since 2009 (Bloomberg)
- Greek conservative takes bailout pledge to the wire (Reuters)
- China Pledges to Invest in Europe Bailouts (Bloomberg) - as noted last night, the half life of this nonsense has come and gone
- Japan's Central Bank Joins Peers in Opening the Taps (WSJ)
- EU Moves on Greek Debt Swap (EU)
- EU Divisions Threaten Aid For Greece (FT)
- Athens Woman facing sacking threatening suicide (Athens News)
- King Says Euro Area Poses Biggest Risk to UK’s Slow Recovery (Bloomberg)
- Sarkozy to Seek Second Term, Banking on Debt Crisis to Boost Bid (Bloomberg)
Earlier, you heard it from Jeff Gundlach, whom one can not accuse (at least not yet) of sleeping on his laurels and/or being a broken watch, who told his listeners to "reduce risk right now" especially in the frenzied momo stocks. Now, it is David Rosenberg's turn who tries to refute the presiding transitory dogma that 'things are ok" and that a Greek default will be contained (no, it won't be, and if nobody remembers what happened in 2008, here is a reminder of everything one needs to know ahead of the "controlled", whatever that is, Greek default). Alas, it will be to no avail, as one of the dominant features of the lemming herd is that it will gladly believe the grandest of delusions well past the ledge. On the other hand, they don't call it the pain trade for nothing.
The man whose fund is a pale shadow of his once invincible self, especially around the time he could tell Goldman which securities to short for him, with hapless and gullible Euros on the other side (but, hey, Goldman makes a market) continues to be the laughing stock of the market, following the latest 13F (with $13.9 billion AUM compared to $20.7 billion as Sept 30) release by Paulson. And considering the complete lack of liquidity in the market in Q4 (which is only getting worse now), the portfolio unwind of Paulson's holdings explains some very acute securities moves in November and December of 2011. Particularly the collapse in gold, which contrary to what economist Ph.D.s will tell you, was not due to technicals, or fundamentals, but due to Paulson dumping another 20% of his GLD, which is now just $2.6 billion as a share class, compared to $4.6 billion as of June 30, we for one can't wait for him to dump it all so that there is no more "Paulson overhang" in gold. Of course since this is a gold share class, it won't happen as long as Paulson & Co survives, but one can dream. What is far more laughable is that in the fourth quarter, Paulson dumped his entire Bank of America common stake (of which he had 64 million shares), his entire Citi common of 25 million shares (worth $627 million at Sept 30) and more than half of both his Capital One and SunTrust stakes, which went from $880 million to $401 million, and from $546 million to $210 million. He also cut almost his entire stake in Wells Fargo which went from $575 million to $96 million. That sure is some conviction in the always appropriately named "Recovery Fund." It is oddly ironic that precisely these stocks are the ones that have soared in Q1 as the Paulson overhang has been lifted.