"We are still in a very cautious environment for emerging-market currencies and unless there is a sharp turnaround in commodity prices or capital flows, I still think there’s going to be pressure on the ringgit and the rupiah."
For SocGen, as a result of a rather unfortunate credibility-losing accident, the Fed will not be one of the two major factor that will drive markets in the fourth quarter. So what will? According to the French bank, it is all up to China and Earnings now.
"Our model indicates the US equity market could potentially drop by 30% in the event of an ‘EM lost decade’ and by 60% in the event of a China hard landing (i.e. S&P 500 back to its lows)."
The best headline to summarize what happened in the early part of the overnight session was the following from Bloomberg: "Asian stocks extend global rally on stimulus bets." And following the abysmal data releases from the past three days confirming that the latest centrally-planned attempt to kickstart the global economy has failed, overnight we got even more bad data, first in the form of Australia's trade deficit, and then Germany's factory orders which bombed, and which as Goldman said "seems to reflect genuine weakness in China and emerging markets in general and this will weigh on the German manufacturing sector."
China's massive interventions in the offshore yuan spot look to have begun affecting liquidity in Hong Kong as heavy CNH buying by Chinese banks coincides with a spike in O/N HIBOR. The question now would appear to be this: how long before something snaps in mainland money markets?
"... this time we would see deeply negative interest rates in the US (and Europe). Sweden has led the way, dipping their toe below the water line with their current -0.35% policy rates but there will be more, much more along these lines. For if -0.35% is possible, why not - 3.5% or less? It goes without saying that deeply negative interest rates would be accompanied by a massively expanded QE4 in the US. The last seven years of exploding central bank balance sheets will seem like Bundesbank monetary austerity compared to what is to come."
Two weeks ago, when no one was talking about the possibility of a government shutdown, we warned it was coming. Today, as Politico reports, with very little time left to reach a deal, budget experts project a 75% chance of a shutdown. No matter how immaterial in terms of their economic impacts, government shutdowns create uncertainty and thus influence Fed decisions and as SocGen notes, with the odds of an October liftoff low, a government shutdown could lower them further. Although funding issues should be resolved by the December FOMC meeting, there is a small chance that the fiscal standoff extends into the end of the year (i.e. due to a temporary continuing resolution), creating another deterrent for the Fed.
The chart below shows the annual change in 12-month forward S&P 500 EPS expectations. This series is based on forward consensus expectations and therefore excludes many of the write-downs and exceptional items that are currently pushing down actual reported profits. It is more akin to operational profits and has never been this negative outside of a recession!
In short, activist Fed policy is both ineffective and reckless (and the historical data bears this out), and that the Federal Reserve has pushed the financial markets to a precipice from which no gentle retreat is ultimately likely. Similar precipices, such as 1929 and 2000, and even lesser precipices like 1906, 1937, 1973 and 2007 have always had unfortunate endings. A quarter-point hike will not cause anything. The causes are already baked in the cake. A rate hike may be a trigger with respect to timing, but that’s all. History suggests we should place our attention on valuations and market internals in any event.
Spoiler alert: none of these scenarios end well...
Exactly one month ago, in the aftermath of the Chinese devaluation announcement, we made a simple prediction. "Biggest immediate loser from China's devaluation: Brazil" Today, following the overdue, long anticipated, and yet "shocking" downgrade of Brazil by the S&P to junk, this prediction is coming true.
When it comes to crisis, SocGen notes that there is an abundance of case studies; and against the backdrop of the uncertainty shock delivered by China and the subsequent market tumult, market participants have been looking to the history books for clues as to what could happen next. While individual crises create their own risks, SocGen warns, the overriding risk is that markets are taking less comfort today from the idea that central banks may step in with further QE-style liquidity injections to save the world.
The good news: the collapse in global market cap since May of 2015 is not the worst ever.
The bad news: the $9 trillion drop in combined market cap between the MSCI All World index and Chinese stocks, is the second highest ever, surpassed only by the $13 plunge in global market capitalization in late 2008.
Logically, the massive liquidation of USD assets by China and other emerging market central banks should put upward pressure on UST yields and will, all else equal, work at cross purposes with DM central bank QE. But all else is never really equal...
"If the pace of FX intervention remains at USD86bn per month, we estimate that the PBoC could lose up to USD510bn of its reserves between June and December 2015, which would represent a nonnegligible decline of 14%."