SocGen

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Frontrunning: August 25





  • Jackson Hole Theme: Labor Markets Can’t Take Higher Rates (BBG), or anything else for that matter
  • Kidnappers free American missing in Syria since 2012 (Reuters)
  • More unpatriots: Burger King in merger talks with Canada's Tim Hortons (Reuters)
  • California Quake to Cost Insurers Up to $1 Billion, Eqecat Says (BBG)
  • Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province (Reuters)
  • Missouri Governor Defends Ferguson Prosecutor (BBG)
  • Kuroda Douses Japan Stimulus Expectations (WSJ)
  • London Jihadi Call Vies With Banks in Canary Wharf Shadow (BBG)
  • Netanyahu Signals Expansion of Air Attacks in Gaza (WSJ)
  • Libya's Islamist Militias Claim Control of Tripoli (WSJ)
 
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After Russia Shutters McDonalds, The West Wonders Who's Next?





Following Russia's closure on several McDonalds in Moscow, the CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce is worried: "The question on my mind is: Is this going to be a knock on the door, or is this going to be the beginning of a campaign?" As Reuters reports, businessmen from both West and East are increasingly frustrated with the tit-for-tat sanctions (and their apparent lack of efficacy at anything but slowing global growth). Russian and Ukrainian CEOs joined Richard Branson to write "We, as business leaders from Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world, urge our governments to work together to ensure we do not regress into the Cold War misery of the past." As we noted previously, Europe has suffered most, and the following European companies remain the most exposed to escalation.

 
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Fed-Driven Complacency Sparks Record Streak Of VIX-Selling Inflows





We are sure this will end well... As CDS-based credit ETFs are launched, so the number of ways to 'sell' volatility (buy complacency) for retail equity investors have exploded in recent years as The Fed's stranglehold on uncertainty has continued. However, as Bloomberg reports, as VIX has tumbled in the last few weeks, investors are wagering on further declines - in the five weeks through Aug. 15, they put almost $320 million into the VelocityShares Daily Inverse VIX Short Term ETN (XIV): the longest stretch of weekly investments since the note began trading in 2010.

 
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Futures Tumble Again On Global Equity Weakness





If yesterday's selloff catalysts were largely obvious, if long overdue, in the form of the record collapse of Espirito Santo coupled with the Argentina default, German companies warning vocally about Russian exposure, the ongoing geopolitical escalations, and topped off by a labor costs rising and concerns this can accelerate a hiking cycle, overnight's latest dump, which started in Europe and has carried over into US futures is less easily explained although yet another weak European PMI print across the board probably didn't help. However, one can hardly blame largely unreliable "soft data" for what is rapidly becoming the biggest selloff in months and in reality what the market may be worried about is today's payroll number, due out in 90 minutes, which could lead to big Treasury jitters if it comes above the 230K expected: in fact, today is one of those days when horrible news would surely be great news for the momentum algos.  Still, with futures down 0.6% at last check, it is worth noting that Treasurys are barely changed, as the great unrotation from stocks into bonds picks up and hence the great irony of any rate initiated sell off: should rates spike on growth/inflation concern, the concurrent equity selloff will once again push rates lower, and so on ad inf. Ain't central planning grand?

 
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"London Fix" Gold Rigging By Bullion Bank Exposed In Class Action Lawsuit: The Complete Charts





While the allegations in the lawsuit are well-known to frequent (and all other) readers of Zero Hedge, we recommend reading the full filing as it explains in clear English just what the fixing process worked. Perhaps what is more interesting are the abnormalities in the price of gold as highlighted by Derksen, which clearly show the critical role the daily fix has in the manipulation of the price of gold, both in a downward and upward (mostly downward) direction: whichever suits the London Fix member banks.

 
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Creation Of S&P 500 ETFs Rises To All Time High





As if trying to figure out the impact of the central banks' balance sheets and China's record debt creation on stocks wasn't enough of a complexity (actually it really isn't that complex) for a market where fundamentals haven't mattered in 5 years, there is also the issue of ETF basket creation, best known for the daily 3:30 pm ramp when ETFs catch up with their underlying components in a rising market, giving it all a procyclical turbo boost. It is here that SocGen reports that in the past fortnight, there was record equity ETF creation, mostly focusing on the S&P 500.

 
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Druckenmiller: "Markets Are Spoiled, And Policy Makers Are Terrified"





Stanley Druckenmiller is no stranger to the pages of Zero Hedge as he appears immune to the herd-like status-quo-hugging nature of 99% of the financial markets lackeys that strut on TV. His comments today - lengthy, aggressive, and very worried about what the Fed has done - can be summed up in the following chart and his ominous conclusion, "when the Fed ends QE, there'll be a bear market."

 
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Are Share Buybacks About To Hit A Brick Wall?





With the Q2 US reporting season upon us, SocGen's quant research team focuses on the deteriorating state of corporate balance sheets in the US. Despite Intel going full retard on forecast buybacks, as we remarked numerous times, US firms are starting to show the strains of having to buy back $500bn of shares every year, whilst cash flows were under pressure. Leverage, SocGen argues, is starting to become an issue... and with it the ability to fund ever more expensive buybacks to maintain the illusion of EPS growth

 
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... In Which SocGen Starts A Rumor That The Next QE Will Come From China





The US is tapering, with the Fed knowing any further monetization of private sector bonds will lead to a crash in the already illiquid bond market; Japan is stuck with its massive QE, jawboning every day a rumor that first appeared in November of 2013 (and which sent the USDJPY 500 pips higher and has so far been nothing but a lie) that it may do more, but has unleashed such a firestorm of imported inflation, plunging real wages and collapsing exports that there is nothing Abe or Kuroda can do to boost the Nikkei "wealth effect" or halt what now appears an almost certain 2014 recession.  Europe, too, saw a rumor emerge in November 2013 that it would also launch QE, however it won't: instead the ECB just went NIRP and is threatening to do ABS purchases, which just like the OMT pipedream will never happen simply because there aren't enough unencumbered assets to monetize (most of which are already have liens with local banks) while an outright QE would require redrafting Article 123. So what is a world starved for "outside money" to do? Why make up another rumor, this time focusing on the last possible source of QE: China.

 
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The Complete Annotation Of SocGen's Latest Hit Piece On Gold





Gold has held firmly above $1300 for over two weeks, confounding those who said it would never see that key level again, but as the constantly-bearish SocGen explains in this 'astounding' report, gold's downturn is set to return... except their reasoning has a fatal flaw - it's entirely factually incorrect.

 
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Futures Prepare To Take Out Dow Jones 17,000





We could focus on whatever events took place in the overnight session or the seasonally-adjusted economic data avalanche that will dominate US newsflow over the next two days (ADP, ISM New York, Factory Orders, Services ISM, Yellen Speaking, and of course Nonfarm payrolls tomorrow), or we could ignore all of that as it is absolutely meaningless and all very much bullish, and use a phrase from Standard Chartered which said that "the dollars Yellen is removing could be compensated for by cheap euros from the ECB; result may be enough cash sloshing around to underpin this year’s run-up in risk assets even if  the Fed begins mulling higher interest rates too." In other words, the bubble will go on, as the Fed passes the baton to the ECB, if not so much the BOJ which is drowning in its own imported inflation. Case in point: two of the three HY deals priced yesterday were PIK, and the $1 billion in proceeds was quickly used to pay back equity sponsors. The credit bubble has never been bigger.

 
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Second Half Kicks Off With Futures At Record High On Lethargic Yen Carry Levitation





BTFATH! That was the motto overnight, when despite a plethora of mixed final manufacturing data across the globe (weaker Japan, Europe; stronger China, UK) the USDJPY carry-trade has been a one-way street up and to the right, and saw its first overnight buying scramble in weeks (as opposed to the US daytime trading session, when the JPY is sold off to push carry-driven stocks higher). Low volumes have only facilitated the now usual buying at the all time highs: The last trading day of 1H14 failed to bring with it any volatility associated with month-end and half-end portfolio rebalancing - yesterday’s S&P 500 volumes were about half that compared to the last trading day of 1H13.

 
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A Reminder Of How Stocks React To Oil Prices





Back in Feb 2013 we introduced the "Brent Vigilantes" and reminded traders how stock markets (and macro economies) react to shifts in the oil price with the two trading together to a 'tipping point' at which point strocks belief in growth breaks. We further confirmed that this is even more worrisome in the case of an oil price shock which strongly suggests that VIX at 12 is not pricing in the volatility that we have seen in the past when the oil complex starts to shake.

 
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SocGen 10-Year Outlook: 100% Chance Of Recession; S&P To 4,000 Or... 500





No matter what, SocGen sees US equity performance over the next 10 years as modest at best. They note that US equities face three headwinds: cyclically-adjusted valuations (CAPE, starting date 1881) have returned to very expensive territory, corporate margins stand at historically high levels, and after already five years of growth from the 2009 trough, we estimate that the probability of another recession kicking in is close to 100% within the forecast timeframe (the longest cycle ever was 120 months, or 10 years). While their central case is 'moderate growth and inflation', they project a possible high growth surge to 4000 for the S&P 500 and a deflation scenario which would put the S&P 500 at 500 (-12% per annum).

 
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Draghi Is "Desperate To Avoid A Japan-Style Lost Decade"





As we noted previously, it is likely that whatever Draghi does this week "will not deliver a significant impulse to the real economy" in Europe but while negative rates are almost guaranteed (based on the consensus), reviving the ABS market (via focused QE) is being heralded by many as a positive swing factor. Unfortunately, as SocGen explains, even if the ECB began purchasing ABS in H2 2014, the size and reach of the market is not enough to move the scale as Europe acts desperately to avoid a Japanese-style lost decade.

 
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