Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
10Y yields are back below 2.20% and 30Y below 2.85% - awkwardly close to the Bullard lows - and stocks appear to be waking up to the massive squeeze-driven decoupling in the last 6 weeks (as USDJPY tests below 118.00). Small Cap Russell 2000 has plunged back into the red year-to-date, and the rest of the equity complex is not "off the lows". Remember, it's all about the fun-durr-mentals.
We doubt anyone will find it one bit surprising that as Bank of America observes in its latest weekly hedge fund monitor, "S&P500 longs increase to six month high" with all equities bought. And alongside that, and confirming that the short squeeze in the Treasury market will continue indefinitely, "10-yr contracts were sold at a strong pace to increase net short positioning to largest in six months." Why? Because that imminent economic recovery which everyone has been betting on since the second half of 2013 is just not coming, seasonally adjusted low-paying temp, retail, teacher and secretary jobs notwithstanding.
B-Dud Explains The Fed’s Economic Coup (Or Why Every Asset Price Influencing Monetary Policy Transmission Is Now Manipulated)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2014 20:30 -0400
The Fed can do only do two concrete things to influence these income and credit sources of spending - both of which are unsustainable, dangerous and an assault on free market capitalism’s capacity to generate growth and wealth. It can induce households to consume a higher fraction of current income by radically suppressing interest rates on liquid savings. And it can inject reserves into the financial system to induce higher levels of credit creation. But the passage of time soon catches up with both of these parlor tricks.
"The time to liquidate a given position is now seven times as long as in 2008, reflecting much smaller trade sizes in fixed income markets. In part the current liquidity illusion is a product of the risk asymmetries implied by the zero lower bound on interest rates, excess reserves in the system, and perceived central bank reaction functions. However, interest rates in advanced economies won’t remain this low forever. Once the process of normalization begins, or perhaps if market perceptions shift, and it is expected to begin, a re-pricing can be expected. The orderliness of that transition is an open question."
Never in the history of US equity markets has the S&P 500 closed above its 5-day moving average for 28 days in a row... until today. While most indices tracked sideways in a very narrow range today, Trannies outperformed (helped by weaker oil, but even when oil rallied intraday Trannies rallied too). VIX tracked back below 12.5 with an inverted term structure for the 5th day in a row. The USD lost ground for the 2nd day in a row, driven by EUR strength (with notable AUD weakness extending). Silver rallied as gold flatlined and copper tumbled after US GDP beat. However, the two big themes today were the collapse in oil prices (as rumors/news ahead of OPEC sent volatility soaring) to a $73 handle - the lowest close since 2010; and the plunge in Treasury yields (with a very stroing 5Y auction and big block trade in TLT suggesting short-covering). Finally, AAPL broke above a $700 billion market cap briefly today but was unable to hold it.
The last few weeks have been the strongest and most consistent rallies in US equity market history. US equity markets have traded above their 5-day moving average for 27 days - the longest such streak since March 1928 (h/t MKM's John Krinsky) and all amid GDP downgrades, missed PMIs, and downward earnings outlook revisions. Given the holiday week, it is hardly surprising volume was weak today. Stocks were very mixed today with Russell 2000 and Nasdaq leading the way (along with Trannies) as Dow and S&P showed very small gains - to record highs though. Bonds were also bid with a strong 2Y auction extending the drops in yields (0-2bps) led by 7Y. The USDollar fell 0.4% - led by EUR strength - as JPY, CAD, and AUD all weakened. Despite USD weakness, oil (big drop intraday), copper, and gold also dropped on the day with silver ending +0.25%. VIX dropped to 12.66 - its lowest close in over 2 months.
Looking for answers to both financial safety as well as financial freedom in the same light or viewpoint where it seems one only needs to “think like a billionaire” or “tweak” or “slightly modify” perceptions on how one approaches these financial markets today – will hurt more than it will help. The Wall Street everyone believes they are dealing with today is just in name and memory. What made sense just 6 years ago not only doesn’t but rather if you try to apply any sense that resembles “common sense” you might as well be asking the Cheshire cat for a more straight answer. "How exactly are you handling the stresses and strains having to basically push sound fundamental theories or market underpinnings aside and now trade and position money at risk based solely on what some Central Bank will do next?" This is the avenue I wish Tony had driven or sought.
Despite the knee-trembling awesomeness of a double-whammy promise of liquidity, US equity markets ended the week on a decidedly down note. The realization that Draghi's all talk (no impact on US stocks) and PBOC's move is not a liquidity surge and has limited impact on the economy left stocks tumbling once the opening OPEX levels had printed. The USD rose notably on the day after EUR plunged under 1.24 on Draghi (USD +0.9% on the week). Despite USD strength, gold rose 1% (as did Silver) on the week, rising for the 3rd week in a row for the first time in 4 months (and the 3rd Friday surge in a row). Oil rose 1% on the week, breaking an 8-week losing streak but Copper prices fell around 0.3% on the week, having given back the kneejerk gains post-PBOC today. Treasury yields dropped after kneejerking higher on PBOC. 30Y at 3.01% had its 2nd lowest weekly close since May 2013. VIX melted down into the close to 13.01. Late-day buying panic lifts stocks off their lows leaving Dow & S&P at all-time recordest highs of all-time ever in history (as small caps closed red).
Following the October swoon, stocks have vaulted to all-time highs. As we discussed previously in "Sentiment Is Off The Charts Bullish," there have only been few occasions where investors have felt so "giddy" about the financial markets. Such periods of exuberance have never ended well for investors as they were deluded by near-term "greed" which blinded them to the building risks. One of the things that we pay attention to is the ratio of the S&P 500 compared to longer duration bonds.
For the 25th day in a row (one short of an all-time record), the S&P closed above its 5-day moving-average. Despite dismal Asian, European, and US PMIs, US equity markets sreaked higher at the US Open, tagging yesterday's highs, then stalling when Europe closed. Small Caps led the day as shorts were squeezed once again but Trannies and Russell 2000 remain negative on the week. US Treasury yields dropped notably after European and ended the day 2-3bps lower (with 30Y unch on the week). The USD rose very modestly close-to-cvlose but traded lower thru the EU and US sessions (AUDJPY was in charge of stocks today). Copper dropped on China growth fears but oil, silver, and gold rose on the day (leaving gold +0.5% on the week). HY credit slammed tighter with stocks early then decoupled after EU closed. Dow & S&P close at record highs.
The vast majority of investors are ignoring a major warning that this bounce is not to be trusted.