With the spigot about to be turned down there will be a marked effect on earnings and profits in American corporations as borrowing costs rise and as all of the gains that could be taken were utilized from our very low interest rate environment. Much of the corporate earnings gains during the last two years did not result from growth but from financial management which was to be anticipated and expected. Those schemes, however, have been brought to an end by the rise in interest rates. In the meantime the Fed, in every manner possible, will try to downplay what Mr. Bernanke has done. The Governors will make speeches. Tidbit swill be handed to the Press. Calming remarks will come from every corner of the great machine and every stock guru on the planet will focus on the Bernanke's remark that the overall economy is improving. Fortunately I have seen this game before exorcised by every Fed during the last forty years. The correct response is, "Bah Humbug" and the correct viewpoint is to watch what they do and not what they say. They will say what suits them. What they do will be a different story.
After Thursday night's global liquidation fireworks, the overnight trading session was positively tame by comparison. After opening lower, the Nikkei ended up 1.7% driven by a modest jump in the USDJPY. China too noted a drop in its ultra-short term repo and SHIBOR rate, however not due to a broad liquidity injection but because as we reported previously the PBOC did a targeted bail out of one or more banks with a CNY 50 billion injection. Overnight, the PBOC added some more color telling banks to not expect the liquidity will always be plentiful as the well-known transition to a slower growth frame continues. The PBOC also reaffirmed that monetary policy will remain prudential, ordered commercial banks to enhance liquidity management, told big banks that they should play a role in keeping markets stable, and most importantly that banks can't rely on an expansionary policy to solve economic problems. Had the Fed uttered the last statement, the ES would be halted limit down right about now. For now, however, communist China continues to act as the most capitalist country, even if it means the Shanghai Composite is now down 11% for the month of June.
Europe plays catch down to credit and the Bernanke/China double whammy. The broad Bloomberg Europe 500 equity index tumbled over 3% today - its worst day since November 2011 and fell below its 200DMA for the first time in 11 months. Europe's Dow (EuroStoxx 50) fell a stunning 3.7% - its worst since October 11 - smashing thorugh its 200DMA and notably red year-to-date. Sovereigns widened dramatically with Italy and Spain spreads +20bps or so. The EUR is having its worst 2-day run against the USD in 3 months. Europe's VIX closes at its highest in 4 months. Europe's high-yield credit market saw its worst day in 19 months and is back notably above its 200DMA. Not pretty overall.
The days of reasonable economic forecasting are over. Today, an economic forecast is more like the analysis of a criminal mind than the evaluation of economic data. The dominating role of government overpowers markets intentionally. In the short-term that will continue. Reactions to Federal Reserve minutes referencing continuation, alteration or cessation of quantitative easing cause stock markets to move by over 100 points. Other markets are affected by government interventions, just not so noticeably. Long term, markets will overpower government. Welfare states can no longer maintain their level of spending, services and welfare. However, they dare not stop lest civil unrest and violence break out. The bind they are in has no solution. Governments around the world are doing whatever is necessary to survive. Lying, stealing and outright confiscation will begin in order to support their bankruptcies. Cyprus was a minor precursor of what is coming.
Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.
Dare 'Ye Test the Analysis To Ascertain It's Virility? Madness, I say! Sheer, Utter Madness! In other words - SYSTEMIC RISK is here, NOW!
In a confirmation that the S&P is starting to get worried about the drones surrounding the McGraw Hill building resulting from the ongoing litigation with Eric Holder's Department of Injustice, not to mention a reminder that US downgrades always happen after hours, while upgrades must hit before the market opens, Standard & Poors just upgraded the Standard & Poors 500 the US outlook from Negative to Stable. On what "receding fiscal risks" did the S&P raise its assessment of the US - the fact that the US is now at its debt limit, that there is no imminent resolution to the credit issue, or the 105% and rising debt/GDP - read on to find out. And of course, the countdown until the S&P wristslap settlement with the DOJ is announced begins now, as does the upgrade watch by Buffett's controlled Moody's of the US to AAAA++++.
In November, NYU Professor Nouriel Roubini stated, “gold at $1,500 is utter nonsense.” In less than two years, gold was above $1,900. This week, the mad professor is back with his swiss-cheese logic and anti-gold rants.
Portugal suffered the most - with its bond spreads now a huge 45bps wider on the week. It seems between the ever-increasing vol in Japan, a rapidly fading JPY carry funding mechanism, and lack of fresh meat from Draghi, Italian and Spanish bonds and stocks are losing their 'greater fool' bid. Sovereigns are seeing their worst day since February; stocks among their worst days since Feb - with several Spanish and Italian banks halted limit-down (as ECB's QE-like collateralization was not eased); and EUR is strengthening against the USD as risk-flows are repatriated. Italian and Spanish stocks are now at 6 week lows, and Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese credit spreads at six-week highs. European financial and corporate credit are now wider (worse) on the year and equities are catching down. And the ultimate 'greater fool' momentum trade - GGBs - is fading - now down 9.5% in the last week...
The European Central Bank warned yesterday that six quarters of recession are eroding the resilience of banks and risk ending what it describes as 'the calmest period in financial markets since 2011'. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, the Bloomberg Euro-area Financial Conditions Index has averaged 0.31 this year, compared with -1.47 in 2012 and the measure has only ended in negative territory on three days this year. However, it has very recently fallen to its lowest in a month as financial CDS begin to rise (even with Mrs. Watanabe's presence) to once again wider on the year. As The ECB adds, "Financial stability conditions in the euro area remain fragile. Several vulnerabilities in the interaction between sovereigns, banks and the macroeconomy persist."
Gold edged higher today supported by strong physical demand internationally and especially in Asia.
Demand in the physical market continued to hold prices near $1,400/oz as the recent drops in the spot market encourage buyers internationally to accumulate bullion.
Many are still wondering who (or what) stole the jam from the Japanese stock market's doughnut just three short days ago. Some blame an out-of-control bond market; others fear members of the BoJ recognizing they have blown the bubble too big too soon; still more fear the jawboning on JPY devaluation that has seemingly about-faced recently. The reality is - none of these were surprises or new to the marketplace. But in this world of free-flowing totally fungible central bank liquidity, we suspect the following chart is the real answer. Simply put, the S&P 500's bubble just couldn't keep pace with the Nikkei 225's and with USDJPY unable to support the relative price appreciation difference - the six-sigma richness of Japan to the US was just too much. Two-and-a-half months of 'outperformance' undone in 3 days leaves the question - is it over?
While yesterday saw the mainstream media cock-a-hoop at the fact that we pulled 'off-the-lows' with the phrase "buy the dip mentality" parrotted prayer-like every minute of the afternoon. Overnight shenanigans saw that BTFD mentality come and then quickly go and now the US market is fading fast. USDJPY has broken below 101 and US equity markets are testing below yesterday's lows... Treasury yields are now low on the week for the long-bond; gold and silver are holding up as JPY strength is weakening the USD broadly. Meanwhile, European peripheral debt is getting monkey-hammered (worst 2 days in 8 months)...
There was quite a bit of dispersion among European equity indices today (with Italy worst and Spain actually holding up - albeit down 1.4%) but the European equivalent of the S&P 500 (the BE500) dropped 2% - its biggest single-day plunge in 10 months. Credit markets - just as in the US - have been warning of a disconnect for two weeks and today's equity dive has more than halved that divergence. European sovereigns are wider by 10-15bps. Europe's VIX is over 2 vols higher at 18.4% (its highest in a month). European financial stocks dropped by their most in 3 months and European high-yield credit worsened by its most in 3 months. A late-day ramp made things alook a little better than they had earlier with a 100 pip rally in EURUSD off earlier lows seemingly providing some help.
"Preservation of Capital," has reached epic seriousness in a world with interest rates at unsustainable lows and underlying economic fundamentals that cannot support today's yields. The irrational game goes on based upon one thing and one thing only which is the creation of capital by all of the world's central banks. The money must go somewhere and so it does but the disconnect between the equity markets and bond yields from the real world is frightening. Nowhere on the planet is it scarier than in Europe.