Stress Test

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Mark Spitznagel On The Value Of Tail-Hedged Equities

Due to the principal-agent problem in the asset management industry, most money managers rationally have a propensity to use a negatively skewed payoff distribution. This kind of behavior, in aggregate, is also evidenced in the historical data, which shows significant losses for professional investors during the largest market downturns. Most investors and asset allocators, in addition to these negatively skewed positions, further view the returns of hedging strategies in a vacuum, rather than as a holistic part of their broader portfolio. Thus, they are likely to consider portfolio hedging programs to be a drag on their performance numbers and further undervalue them. We believe these factors, among others, contribute to a market segmentation that creates an undervaluation in tail-risk hedges.

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SNB Decision Sparks Calls For Polish Mortgage Bailout; Central Bank Against It

As we noted last week, the Swiss National Bank's decision to un-peg from the Euro (thus strengthening the CHF dramatically) will have very significant repercussions - not the least of which is for Hungarian and Polish Swiss-Franc-denominated mortgage-holders. The 20% surge in Swiss Franc translates directly into a comparable jump in the zloty value of loan principles and and monthly payments for about 575,000 Polish families owing a total $35 billion in mortgages denominated in the Swiss currency which has prompted calls for Poland's government to bail them out. Never mind the FX risk, the low-rates were all anyone cared about and now yet another 'risk-free' trade has exploded, Deputy PM Piechocinski says, if the franc "remains above the 4 zloty level, the government may provide support" to debtors but Poland's Central Bank is not supportive of the bailout.

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What The Soaring Swiss Franc Means For Hungarian And Polish Mortgages

Spoiler alert: nothing good, because what until yesterday was, indicatively, a 1 million mortgage (in HUF or PLN terms) is suddenly a 1.2 million mortgage. But what about the details? Here they are, courtesy of Goldman Sachs.

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First Euroarea Deflation Since Lehman Sends Futures Higher; Brent Tumbles Below $50 Then Rebounds

Things in risk land started off badly this morning, with the worst start to a year ever was set to worsen when European equities came under early selling pressure following news of German unemployment falling to record low, offset by a record high Italian jobless rate, with declining oil prices still the predominant theme as Brent crude briefly touched its lowest level since May 2009, this consequently saw the German 10yr yield print a fresh record low in a continuation of the move seen yesterday. However, after breaking USD 50.00 Brent prices have seen an aggressive bounce which has seen European equities move into positive territory with the energy names helping lift the sector which is now outperforming its peers. As a result fixed income futures have pared a large majority of the move higher at the EU open. But the punchline came several hours ago courtesy of Eurostat, when it was revealed that December was the first deflationary month for the Eurozone since the depths of the financial crisis more than five years ago, when prices dropped by -0.2% below the -0.1% expectation, and sharply lower than the 0.3% increase in November, driven by a collapse in Energy prices.

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Two Months After Saying "Deflation Isn't Going To Happen" ECB Warns "Negative Inflation" Is Coming

ECB's Vitor Constancio, October 26, 2014: "The scenario of deflation is not there because indeed we don't consider that deflation is going to happen."

ECB's Vitor Constancio, December 20, 2014:" "We now expect negative inflation in the coming months."

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2014 Year In Review (Part 2): Will 2015 Be The Year It All Comes Tumbling Down?

Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."

"I’m tired of being outraged!"

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Frontrunning: December 17

  • Citigroup is pleased: Obama signs $1.1 trillion government spending bill (Reuters)
  • Oil holds below $60 as OPEC, Russia keep pumping (Reuters)
  • 5 Things to watch at the December Fed Meeting (WSJ)
  • Russia Tries Emergency Steps for 2nd Day to Stem Ruble Rout (BBG)
  • Ruble crisis could shake Putin's grip on power (Reuters)
  • Apple Curbs Russia Sales as McDonald’s Lifts Prices (BBG)
  • Traders Betting Russia’s Next Move Will Be to Sell Gold (BBG)
  • China Warms to a More Flexible Yuan (WSJ)
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Frontrunning: December 16

  • Ruble Sinks to 80 a Dollar Defying Surprise Russia Rate Increase (BBG)
  • Oil slumps near $59 for first time since 2009 on oversupply (Reuters)
  • Oil sinks, Russian moves fail to quell nerves (Reuters)
  • Fed Seen Looking Past Low Inflation to Drop ‘Considerable Time (BBG)
  • Students Among Dead as Pakistan Gunmen Kill 126 at Army School (BBG)
  • Repsol to buy Talisman Energy for $13 billion (Reuters)
  • Indonesia’s Rupiah Erases Decline After Central Bank Intervenes (BBG)
  • Anti-Islam Rally Grows as Immigrant Backlash Hits Europe (BBG)
  • Saudi Arabia is playing chicken with its oil (Reuters)
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Frontrunning: December 15

  • Sydney Siege Sparks Muslim Call for Calm Amid Backlash Fear (BBG)
  • Oil Spilling Over Into Central Bank Policy as Fed Enters Fray (BBG)
  • Biggest LBO of 2014: BC Partners to acquire PetSmart for $8.7 billion (Reuters)
  • Tremble algos: the SEC has hired... "QUANTS" (WSJ)
  • When the bubble just isn't bubbly enough: There’s $1.7 Trillion Locked Out of China’s Stock Rally (BBG)
  • Oil price slide roils emerging markets, yen rises (Reuters) - may want to hit F5 on that
  • Libya Imposes Force Majeure on 2 Oil Ports After Clashes (BBG) ... and will resume production in days
  • Amid Crisis, Pimco Steadies Itself (WSJ)
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Crude Drops, Yields Slump, Futures Tumble

Anyone who was hoping the market would rebound on last-minute news that the US government has gotten funding for another 9 months, will be disappointed this morning, when futures are finally starting to notice the relentless decline in crude, and with Brent down another 1% as of this writing following yet another cut in the forecast of Global oil demand by the IEA (the 4th in the last 5 months) and with Chinese industrial production also missing estimates (recall that the Chinese slow-motion hard landing has been said by many to be the primary catalyst for the crude collapse) which however pushed Chinese stocks higher on hopes of even more stimulus, the S&P is trading lower by some 14 points, the 10 Year is in the red zone at 2.12%, and the USDJPY is close to session lows. In short: Kevin Henry's "ETF" desk at the NY Fed will have its work cut out to generate one of the now traditional pre-weekend feel good, boost confidence stock market ramps.

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"These Are Astonishing Figures, Evidence Of A 1930s-Style Depression"

"...What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another. These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves."

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ECB Inflation Expectations Crash; Slashed By Half In Just 9 Months

Back in March the ECB predicted 2014 inflation would be 1.0%, with prices rising to 1.3% in 2015. Since then one can say that deflation has once again taken hold, and following two consecutive cuts to 2014 inflation expectations, moments ago Draghi just released the ECB's latest set of inflation expectations. In a nutshell: in just 9 short months, the ECB's current year inflation forecast has been cut in half, with 2015 inflation also down nearly 50%, from 1.3% to 0.7%.

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Stocks Rebound, Oil Resumes Slide, Ruble Tumbles As Yen Flirts With 119

A few days of near-record crude volatility (which the CME is scrambling to reduce following 2 crude margin hikes in the past week) is giving way to the New Normal default thinking: that central banks will soon take care of everything. And sure enough, just an hour earlier, US equity futures had jumped 8 points on virtually zero volume, wiping out all of yesterday's losses, driven higher by that new "old favorite", the USDJPY, which has once again resumed its climb higher, briefly rising above 119.00 once again and sending the Nikkei and the Topix to fresh 7 year highs, perfectly oblivious to both yesterday's Moody's downgrade and now open warnings from both Eisuke Sakakibara and Goldman Sachs that further declines in the Yen will accelerate the collapse of the Japanese economy. And, since there is also zero liquidity in the market, that entire gain was also just as promptly wiped out with futures now practically unchanged from yesterday's close.

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Frontrunning: December 1

  • Moody’s Downgrades Japan’s Credit Rating (WSJ)
  • China Factory Gauge Drops as Shutdowns Add to Slowdown (BBG)
  • Euro zone factory growth stalls in November as new orders sink (Reuters)
  • Espírito Santo Faces Money-Laundering Investigations (WSJ)
  • Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms Caracas to Iran (BBG)
  • Hong Kong warns protesters not to return after clashes close government HQ (Reuters)
  • Bond Secrets Decoded 9,539 Miles From Wall Street in Lot (BBG)
  • Ruble Rally Turns to Rout as Fortunes Tied to Sinking Oil (BBG)
  • Loans Made in Blink as Banks, Funds Vie for LendingClub Clients (BBG)
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Frontrunning: November 24

  • Grand jury expected to resume Ferguson police shooting deliberations (Reuters)
  • PBOC Bounce Seen Short Lived as History Defies Bulls (BBG)
  • Home prices dropped in September for the first time since January (HousingWire)
  • UPS Teaches Holiday Recruits to Fend Off Dogs, Dodge NYC Taxis (BBG)
  • US oil imports from Opec at 30-year low (FT)
  • Hedge Funds Bet on Coal-Mining Failures (WSJ)
  • Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms (BBG)
  • How the EU Plans to Turn $26 Billion Into $390 Billion (BBG)
  • The $31 Billion Bet Against Brazil’s New Finance Minister (BBG)
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