In the run-up to June, financial markets continue to be trapped within multi-month trading ranges: GT5 1.2-1.8%, DXY 92-100, ACWI 380-440, SPX 1850-2100, VIX 12-20. So what are the catalysts & “trades of the unexpected” should risk assets finally breakout or breakdown?
In early June the Swiss will be called upon to make a historic decision. Switzerland is the first country worldwide to put the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income (of $2,500 per month for every man, woman, and child for doing absolutely nothing) to a vote and the outcome of this referendum will set a strong precedent and establish a landmark in the evolution of this debate. The main argument of the supporters of this initiative is that it would support the people that will, or already do, lose their jobs to automation and technological progress; a defensive move against “the rise of the robots” as they put it. The promise of a free lunch is by no means a new thing in politics. Getting “something for nothing” is an age-old shiny trinket that has been dangled before the eyes of the public since time immemorial...but at the end of day, someone will have to pay for it.
By now we are accustomed to hearing about US spy planes flying recon missions that are either infringing or extremely close to infringing on the borders of other countries - especially Russian borders. A US defense attache has been summoned by Russia's Defense Ministry to explain why a US spy plane was not only flying close to Russia's border on Sunday, but dangerously close to civilian aircraft as well.
- Asian stocks near 11-week lows, dollar bounces on Fed rate view (Reuters)
- Poll Finds Lack of Enthusiasm for Clinton and Trump (WSJ)
- Oil falls for fifth day as focus returns to growing exports (Reuters)
- The Hedge Fund That Couldn't Stay Open Long Enough for a Big Payday (BBG)
- French police break up refinery blockade in anti-reform showdown (Reuters)
"I don’t see Brexit as a panacea, but merely the chance to manage one’s own affairs and to conduct one’s own debates over what should or should not be done by the state in one’s name...In Britain’s case, the change would inevitably give rise to economic winners and losers and it may easily be imagined to involve some additional, net short-term expense of time and effort as the country moves to adapt. But to pretend, for example, that Europe will maliciously shut out UK exports or discourage the tourists and holiday-homers from visiting in their droves and so risk a devastating retaliation from its biggest source of external income is worse than a joke."
Government bonds rose and the yen strengthened as investors weighed the timing of the Federal Reserve’s next increase in interest rates and the outlook for inflation. Commodities slid, led by metals, while stocks in Europe declined. Treasury 30-year yields fell for a third day. The yen rose from near this month’s low. Futures on the S&P 500 also declined after initially jumping higher in thinly traded, illiquid tape.
While the US has been focused on resolving LGBT rights issues and deciding whether or not the Confederate flag can fly in cemeteries, Switzerland has focused on something that's actually productive. After 17 years of work, and at a cost of $12 billion, Switzerland has engineered and constructed the world's longest and deepest railroad tunnel. At a depth of 7,500 feet, the 35 mile long GBT cuts underneath the Alps, and will remove natural barriers to trade and tourism, along with easing the burden of freight traffic on Switzerland's ecosystem.
What do financing your retirement as well as finding affordable healthcare and the possibility of losing your job all have in common with each other?
On 23 June 2016, this British citizen will be voting to leave the European Union. To me it’s clear: the EU has not only become too big for its own good, it’s too big to do hardly anything good. Back in 1975 when the UK first confirmed membership in the EU (when it was called the European Economic Community), it made sense. But the EU didn’t turn into a peaceful, efficient, multi-national trading bloc that enables commerce and prosperity. Rather it has become an ever-expanding, unaccountable bureaucracy ruling over vastly disparate nations who are increasingly at odds with one another.
It has been more of the same overnight, as global stocks piggybacked on the strong US close and rose despite the lack of good (or bad) macro news, propelled higher by the two usual suspects: a higher USDJPY and a even higher oil, if mostly early on in the trading session.
As Icahn was selling, or just before as we don't know precisely when Icahn, who has since indicated he has turned massively bearish on the overall market, one entity was buying every AAPL share it could find. In fact, according to its latest 13F, everyone's favorite central bank that openly admits it is also a wholesale buyer of stocks (with a portfolio of some $100 billion), the Swiss National Bank reveals that in Q1 it bought another 4.1 million in AAPL shares, bringing its total to a record 14.5 milion shares.
Following a scramble by European nations to issue ultra long-dated government paper, which saw France and Belgium sell 50-year bonds last month, while Ireland and Belgium went all the way and issued century bonds, with even Switzerland locking in 42-year paper yesterday, moments ago Spain was the latest to extend maturities all the way to 2066 when it sold €3 billion in 50 year bonds at Midswaps+50. According to MarketNews, the issue was over 3 times oversubscribed with the orderbook closing at €10.5 billion.
By all accounts Bernhard Gubser was living the American Dream. Born in Switzerland he moved to the Land of the Free in the early 1980s to work at an international shipping company based in Laredo, Texas. Eventually Mr. Gubser worked his way up to be President of the company and began traveling around the world to expand the business. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in the 1990s, something that would eventually cost him $1.35 million...
In defending their long held short positions, the Comex Banks have now issued enough new contracts to drive total open interest back to levels not seen since 2011. Will they be successful in capping price or are they about to get a religious experience? We're about to find out.
The current financial market volatility increasingly reflects loss of faith in policy makers. Celebrity central bankers are learning that they must constantly produce new miracles for their followers. For the moment, the volatility is confined to financial markets and the effect on the real economy is limited. The ever present risk is of a doom loop where financial market problems lead to banking system weakness which, in turn, feeds a credit crunch and a contraction in economic activity. That familiar movie does not have a happy ending.