A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
Having already warned that looming political uncertainty is not at all priced-in to US equities, Goldman's Alec Phillips points out that legislation was introduced earlier this week (July 7) in the US House that would attempt to revamp the FOMC's monetary policy process. The bill would require the FOMC to justify to Congress each policy decision relative to a Taylor rule specified in the legislation. While Goldman, do not expect the bill to get very far, but the issue does appear to be a growing focus for some lawmakers and we expect further action on it in the near term.
Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced to 10 years in prison for bribery, money laundering and other corruption that spanned his two terms as mayor--including the chaotic years after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Mr. Nagin was convicted Feb. 12 of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businessmen who wanted work from the city or Mr. Nagin's support for various projects. The bribes came in the form of money, free vacations and truckloads of free granite for his family business. The 58-year-old Democrat had defiantly denied any wrongdoing after his 2013 indictment and during his February trial.
- Xi Says China Conflict With U.S. Would Be Disaster (BBG)
- Short selling drops to lowest level since Lehman (FT)
- Scoping the new subprime as watchdogs cry 'bubble' (Reuters)
- Carlos Slim to break up América Móvil empire (FT)
- Jury Acquits Rengan Rajaratnam in Insider-Trading Case (WSJ)
- Hamas rockets land deep in Israel as it bombards Gaza Strip (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Buyers Queue for New Homes After Prices Plunge (BBG)
- Rebel Stronghold in Ukraine Braces for Its Showdown (WSJ)
- Tiny Houses Big With U.S. Owners Seeking Economic Freedom (BBG)
- Chinese Cash-Bearing Buyers Drive U.S. Foreign Sales Jump (BBG)
While the situation between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, pulling the markets' attention away from the recent developments in Iraq (as for the Ukraine civil war, forget it), the big news overnight came out of Chine which reported another contraction in consumer prices, which both declined to 2.3% and missed expectations of a 2.4% print (down from 2.5%). Producer Prices had another negative print, the 28th in a row, and have remained negative since 2012. This led to the Hang Seng Index falling at the fastest rate since late June to erase all YTD gains. However, as has now become the norm, macro news hardly impacted US equity futures, which are driven exclusively by the Yen carry trade, which unlike yesterday's pounding, has traded rangebound between 101.6-101.7 keeping US equity futures just barely in the green. We expect the momentum ignition algo to kick in at some point, for absolute no fundamental reason beside the NY Fed trading desk issuing a green light, sending the USDJPY surging, taking the Spoos with them, and helping stocks forget all about the weak Asian session.
EURUSD drop may have further to go given that the relative policy outlook would push Fed/ECB balance sheet ratio lower before long. Citi's Valentin Marinov believes, relative data surprises as well as forward looking cyclical gauges like bank stocks are starting to favor USD over EUR and he points out that leveraged accounts could start adding to shorts again as real money continue to sell EUR.
The biggest congressional leakage scandal in the past year is the most recent one to cross the rabit hole of all-out absurdity: According to Reuters, the Ways and Means panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator's demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist. The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission's attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.
According to a paper by economists at UC Northwestern University and UC Berkeley, Anna Cieslak and Adair Morse and Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, another, even more surprising trading pattern using FOMC announcement has emerged. Specifically, anyone who engaged in the simple "even" strategy of buying the stocks of the S&P 500 on the day before a Fed policy announcement, selling them a week later, then buying them again the following week and sticking with the pattern until the subsequent Fed meeting generated a whopping 650% return since 1994, far outperforming the inverse "odd" strategy which shocking had a negative return over the past two decades years, and jsut as surprisingly, outperforming the market's own 505% return during this period.
Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, The NY Times reports that the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. However, as James Risen (who himself faces jail time thanks to the White House) reports, a senior official of the notorious private security firm allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator leading the probe into the firm’s Iraqi operation. Stunningly (or not), the US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” Richter added; now we wonder what gave them that idea?
"According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's reference scenario, domestic oil production is going to peak at 14.6 million barrels a day in 2019 and then drop to 12.7 million barrels a day in 2040. Given the 2013 consumption level of 18.9 million barrels of crude a day, the U.S. will never be a net oil exporter under this scenario,... The U.S. crude producers need the flexibility of exporting oil or selling it domestically. As for the political dreams of making the U.S. a major oil exporting power, or even of energy independence backed by the shale boom, they are just that -- dreams."
Back in 2011 Goldman, when the FDIC-insured bank holding company with no deposits, was slapped with the biggest at the time SEC penalty for shorting CDOs it had sold to clients, it started a trend of scapegoating all its evils on a lone, then 20-something individual, Fabrice Tourre, who seemingly had "worked alone" and whose actions were not supervised by anyone: the chain of responsibility started and ended with him. Naturally, nobody went to jail. A few years later, stuck in the biggest scandal of its post-bankruppcy existence involving over 20 million recalls in just the first 6 months of 2014 alone, GM has decided that what worked for Goldman should work for it too, and as the WSJ reports, is "pinning of a decadelong failure to recall defective cars on a lone engineer." Meet Raymond DeGiorgio, said lone engineer.
Following Darrell Issa's subpoena of Lois Lerner's hard drive, the rather stunning (and ripped from the pages of a badly written inside-Washington TV mini-series) news is that the IRS reports that the hard drive in question has been destroyed (just as we hinted last night). "We've been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview and as Politico reports, Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s crashed hard drive has been recycled, making it likely the lost emails of the lightening rod in the tea party targeting controversy will never be found, according to multiple sources. Issa is pissed... blasting in a statement that the 'lost emails' meme was "just one more attempted deception... e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention." His response... requesting the White House attorney's testimony on Lerner's emails.
Following the release of the "deeply troubling" 315-page "Valukas Report" and the firing of 'all' those responsible for multiple deaths from GM's 'Kevorkianesque' cars, CEO Mary Barra is back on the Hill to face the music once more from The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Having explained in her previous testimony that she could answer their questions as she did not have the information, Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) noted, now "we will have the chance to get those answers and compare the company's findings to our own." Of course, one wonders if the politicians will ask about how GM silenced a whistleblower.
The market is highly confident that it has a good handle on tomorrow’s FOMC meeting, despite the fact that several factors will require modification. There is high conviction that the Fed will not surprise the market, but rather take a “steady as she goes” approach that delivers a market consensus outcome. The reasons for this view are obvious and logical; however, such complacency breeds risk as well as opportunity, because the arguments for accelerating tapering to $15 billion (per month) are quite compelling.