"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
If the worst Chinese trade data in years (and by that we mean unmanipulated, because what was released last night is merely China offsetting blatantly BS Q1 trade data), and yesterday's S&P downgrade of Italy (which has sent BTPs lower although the EURUSD drop was offset by buying pressure resulting from Stolper closing out his EURUSD long) doesn't send the Stalingrad & Poorski 451 to new all time highs, then all the Chairman's efforts to make a complete farce of the "market" will have been for naught. But while the Fed keeps pushing mom and pop into stocks, he may want to tell his friends at the CME to hike WTI margins, because this morning's latest surge in crude to over $105 will really start hurting refiner margins, and due to the overall energy complex roaring higher, gas prices too, which incidentally just crossed $3.50 in the wrong direction this morning.
On occasion of an address to economists at a conference in France, Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann reminded the audience that 'the ECB cannot solve the crisis', because it is due to structural reasons and therefore requires structural reform. Weidmann rightly fears that governments will begin to postpone or even stop their reform efforts now that the ECB has managed to calm markets down. In a Reuters article on the topic, a number of people are quoted remarking on ECB policy. What is so interesting about this is how far removed from reality general perceptions are when it comes to judging current central bank policies. In short, Weidmann wants to end the three card Monte, whereby commercial banks buy the bonds issued by governments because they don't have to put any capital aside for the purpose, which bonds they then can in turn pawn off to the central bank for refinancing purposes. Weidmann wants to see the connection between banks and sovereigns severed, a connection that has been fostered by governments over many centuries in order to enable them to spend more than they take in through tax revenues.
The central bank "reason" goal-seeked for today's US overnight ramp - because it sure wasn't fundamentals with both German exports (-2.4%, Exp. +0.1%) and Industrial Production (-1.0%, Exp. -0.5%) missing - was the weekend Spiegel story that despite the unanimous decision by the ECB last week to keep rates unchanged, ECB chief economist Peter Praet and Mario Draghi himself had insisted on a 25 bps rate cut. They were, however, stopped by seven council members from the northern euro states, including Weidmann, Knot and Asmussen. As a result, Draghi was steamrolled in the final vote. Yet somehow this is bullish for risk, pushing equity futures higher and peripheral debt spreads lower, even as the EURUSD has drifted higher. Of course, one can't have an even more dovish ECB as a risk on catalyst alongside a rising Euro, but who cares about news, fundamentals, or logic at this point. All that matters is that US futures are higher, which was especially needed following yet another rout in the Shanghai Composite which dropped 2.44% back under 2,000 following news that China's Finance Ministry has told central government agencies to cut expenditures by 5% this year, and a 1.4% drop in the PenNikkeiStock225 on a weaker USDJPY. Remember: all is well in the global economy (whose forecast is about to be cut by the IMF) if the US is generating a record number of part-time jobs.
Once again it is all about central banks, with early negative sentiment heading into Asian trading - following the disappointing announcement from the PBOC about "ample liquidity" leading to the 6th consecutive drop in the Shanghai Composite while the PenNikkeiStock index tumbled yet again - completely erased and flipped as Mario Draghi spoke, although not to explain his involvement with the latest European derivative window-dressing scandal, but to announce that he is, once again, "ready to act" (supposedly through the OMT, which despite the best hopes to the contrary, still DOES NOT OFFICIALLY EXIST) and that while it is up to government to raise growth potentials, growth would "partly come from accommodative policy." In other words, ignore all BIS warnings, for Europe's unaccountable Goldmanite overlord Mario Draghi continues to promise more morphined Koolaid (read record Goldman bonuses) to any banker that comes knocking.
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."