European shares rose as Fiat rebounded on hopes concerns about parallel to Volkswagen are overblown, Asian stocks were little as Chinese shares fell to the lowest level of 2017 after poor export data, and U.S. equity-index futures rose ahead of a deluge of bank earnings. The dollar is headed for a weekly loss and gold trades at the highest price in almost two months.
"This is another firm that, while I wouldn’t say they were fine a week ago, they didn’t look like they were headed to collapse, and a week later they’re dead. It was messier than optimal. Is it systemic or not? Fingers crossed, we hope not."
Oil prices have risen over 20% since the OPEC production cut agreement at the end of November. While concerns abound on quota cheating and increased production from Libya, Nigeria and US shale, the incoming US administration could change the market completely through strategic oil sales and new import taxes.
Taken together recent economic data paint a picture of a global economy that’s finally returning to the kind of solid growth and steady, positive inflation that most people consider both normal and good. Unfortunately, the reason for the improvement is emphatically not good: In 2016 the world borrowed a huge amount of money and spent the proceeds. The result is “growth,” but not sustainable growth.
Courtesy of record low rates throughout most of 2016, overall debt issuance in the year rose to just over $6.6 trillion, breaking the previous annual record set in 2006. Corporations accounted for more than half of the $6.6 trillion, while the rest included sovereign bonds sold through syndication, US and international agencies, mortgage-backed securities and covered bonds.
"Markets don’t have a purpose any more - they just reflect whatever central planners want them to. Why wouldn’t it lead to the biggest collapse? My strategy doesn’t require that I’m right about the likelihood of that scenario. Logic dictates to me that it’s inevitable..."
Global stocks extended the longest winning streak since September, with Asia up 0.8% and Europe rising 0.7% while bonds and credit markets strengthened amid hopes that the European Central Bank will prolong quantitative easing, while optimism an Italian bailout of Monte Paschi will prevent European bank contagion, has pushed European financial stocks higher. US equity futures were little changed.
Moments ago Fitch added some more fuel to the Italian bank fire when it announce it has changed its outlook on Italian banks to negative, a reflection of "its increased vulnerability to shocks following the asset-quality deterioration in legacy portfolios. A step-up in pressure from authorities and market participants on the sector to reduce the very high levels of impaired loans has increased urgency and risks for Italian banks"
According to Morgan Stanley, 2017 will be a year in which odds of a boom and bust have materially increased, consistent with a late-cycle US environment. So late, in fact, that one look at the chart below shows the US cycle has not only plateaued but is now stalling and is turning over.