The current consternation among global equity markets is centered around the recent considerable rise in bond yields globally. Historical precedents, or the lessons they contain, which bear some resemblance to present market conditions suggest the recent spike in bond yields would appear to have historical evidence to back up those who harbor concerns about its potential negative impact on stocks – a negative impact that may be of a long-term nature.
In welfare state America its virtually certain that through one artifice or another taxes will go up and the national debt burden will rise to crushing heights in order to keep the baby boomers’ entitlements funded. While Keynesians and Wall Street stock peddlers are clueless about the implications of this - it actually doesn’t take too much common sense to get the drift. Namely, under a long-term path of fewer producers, higher taxes and more public debt, the prospects for rejuvenating the previous historically average rates of real output growth are somewhere between slim and none - to say nothing of the super-normal rates implied by the markets’ current bullish enthusiasm.
"We are sellers this morning of the Russell and we are buyers of the S&P, for the chart of the former is ominously bearish while the chart of the latter is interestingly bullish."
While we are delighted that you take advantage of the daily posts on Zero Hedge detailing flagrant spoofing across various asset classes (which you use to promptly ban two gold manipulators yesterday), the reality is that with every passing day the market becomes more disjointed, more fragmented, more broken.
The recent quietude in the markets has our attention. Quietude in markets nearly always leads to unexpected increases in volatility. We use the term volatility not necessarily only in the sense of “must go down”, but rather in the sense that the quiet period will soon end. It could just as well result in a blow-off move (in the case of stocks) as in a sharp decline – at least from a purely technical perspective. The currency markets seem a bit more unsettled and have been making big moves for quite some time, which curiously haven’t altered the trajectory of “risk assets” much.
The current equities bull run seems unstoppable. No amount of geopolitical concerns, Greek default fears, rate hikes, US dollar strength, crude oil price volatility, Russian sanctions or whatever else you can think of can put a dent on it. Perhaps we should take a step back and try to understand what is driving this strength. OK, we know that central banks continue to spike the punchbowl, but what is the actual transmission mechanism that directs all this liquidity into equities – as opposed to commodities for instance, which continue to struggle?
Honest price discovery is essential to capitalist prosperity since it is the miraculous mechanism by which capital is raised from savers and investors and efficiently allocated among producers, entrepreneurs and genuine market-rate borrowers. What the central banks have generated, instead, is a casino that is blindly impelled to churn the secondary capital markets and inflate the price of existing assets to higher and higher levels - until they ultimately roll-over under their own weight. The Easy Button addiction of our central bankers is thus not just another large public policy problem. It is the very economic and social scourge of our times.
It appears the ammunition for another leg higher in bond yields and small cap stocks is running dry quickly. As BofAML notes, speculators added to Russell 2000 positions for the 5th of the 6 weeks, reducing small cap shorts to smallest in a year. Spec buying of crude continues unabated with the 4th week in a row lifts net long to highest since August. The bond complex is at extremes everywhere: large specs bought 2Y bonds for the 7th week in a row, lifting the 2Y bond net long to a 2-year high; but levered funds have never been more short the long-bond. Finally, VIX Spec shorts have soared to one-year highs. All-in-all positions are extreme to say the least.
A look ahead into next week's macro forces.
* Silver surges 6.5% in dollars and 19% and 12% in euros and pounds *Oil and most commodities declined on economic concerns in the quarter (see table) *U.S. stocks eked out minor gains to new record highs and look toppy *Gold performance impressive given strength of dollar and equities, oil collapse and negative sentiment
Does it really take purportedly intelligent people six years to see that the macros are not responding? Better still, isn’t it time for the Fed to explain the exact channel by which its interest rate pegging and forward guidance is supposed to be transmitted to the main street economy? After all, if these channels are blocked or ineffective - then its flood of liquidity never leaves the canyons of Wall Street. In that event, the central bank actually functions as a financial doomsday machine, inflating the next financial bubble until it bursts. Then, apparently, its job is to rinse and repeat.
Janet Yellen noted that everything was awesome and that stocks were now slightly "on the high side" of their historical range. It appears no one showed her the Russell 2000 which has a valuation multiple of just about 90x LTM earnings (as reported by the 2000 companies which comprise the index, and which were certified as accurate by 4,000 CEOs and CFOs on penalty of jail time). The mystery of how the Fed remains so stubbornly bubble blind - just like it did during the dotcom and housing bubbles - is thus revealed. The self-evident reason is that the purported geniuses who comprise our monetary politburo drink the Wall Street Cool-Aid about forward ex-items EPS. The Fed is driving a two-ton bubble machine, but has no clue that it has become a financial death trap.
The one thing to note about today's "decisive" jobs number, is that most are scrambling to warn that they really have no idea what it will be due to yet another unprecedented instance of cold weather and snow in the winter (see "Goldman Warns Snow May Leads To Lower Jobs Number, But Snowstorms Will Result In Higher Wages"). The reality is that, based on recent ADP trends and the shale patch reality and recent ISM/PMI surveys, today's NFP should print well below 200,000 (unless some 100,000 bartenders were hired in the deep of winter), not where Wall Street consensus expects it, at 235,000 (on a range of 150K to 370K.