As "The Russian Spring" spreads across various sub-regions of current non-Russian sovereign nations, Russian historian Sergey Lebedev warns that Transdniestria is “the first liberated part of Novorossiya,” Putin’s term for what he sees as a new state spreading across Ukraine into Moldova and perhaps beyond... here is what that region will look like... welcome to Novorossiya, or as one would translate it... New Russia.
Looking for a reason? Don't bother... having disconnected from JPY carry thanks to Draghi's injection of volatility, it was left up to the VIX-slammers to push stocks back up near record highs once again.
Reflecting proudly on how her words were received (surprise!) dovishly yesterday during her congressional hearing (and stocks closed green), we are sure Fed Chairmanwoman Janet Yellen will be brimming with "nothing can stop me now" confidence as she heads into the ring with the Senate Budget Committee. The big headline from yesterday's Q&A that "the recent flattening out in housing activity could prove more protracted than currently expected," will we are sure be caveated with excess hope and exuberance today as yet another set of politicians attempt to pin her back down to 6 months. The biggest thing to watch, we suspect, if she reiterates her "sell small caps" recommendation...
- China’s Trade Unexpectedly Rises (BBG)
- 'We're already not in Ukraine' - rebel east readies secession vote (Reuters)
- Pro-Russian Separatists in Ukraine Reject Putin's Call to Delay Vote (WSJ)
- Vietnam’s Stocks Post Biggest Loss in Decade on China Tensions (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Extend Their Slide (WSJ)
- Carney Looks to Untested Tools as House Prices Boom (BBG)
- New Draghi Era Seen on Hold at ECB as Euro Area Recovers (BBG)
- Woman With Printer Shows the Digital Ease of Bogus Cash (BBG)
- Regulators See Growing Financial Risks Outside Traditional Banks (WSJ)
Despite Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen's (repeat) attempt to steal the show today, the first when the ECB reports its monetary decision (with zero real chance of announcing any change in policy considering all the furious, and failed, attempts to jawbone the Euro lower) as it faces the dilemma of deflationary pressure, record low bond yields and interest rates at record lows coupled with an export crushing Euro just shy of 1.40, and a practical impossibility to conduct QE even as the hawks jawbone a "potential" European QE to death, while Janet Yellen conducts the second part of the congressional testimony this time before the Senate Budget Committee where she will again, say nothing at all, it appears the world will be focused on Russia once again after the latest 24 hour "de-escalation" gambit is now once again dead and buried and on top of it is Putin waving a "come launch a nuclear attack at me, bro" flag.
In a word... "mixed" Early ugliness gave way to another ramp job courtesy of USDJPY's 101.50 level holding - which managed to clamber the Dow to unchanged on the week and stabilize the S&P (after it bounced off its 50DMA). But... Nasdaq and Russell just could not get it together until the last few minutes thanks to a VIX slam, JPY ramp and 30Y dump. Yellen's testimony pushed some volatility through markets and perhaps provided the extra pressure on the small caps (after warning of valuations). The term structure steepened modestly with 30Y +1.5bps and the rest of the curve rallying 2-3bps (10Y unch). The USD rallied modestly off 19-month lows. Gold had its worst day in 3 weeks, breaking below 1300 and testing its 100DMA (tick for tick with silver on the day). Oil prices jumped back up to around $101 as Copper slipped back towards $3. And finally, we hesitate to mention it... today's market schizophrenia was enough to trigger a Hindenburg Omen.
It is unclear if the most recent crackdown on synthetic drugs was prompted by today's Yellen testimony, but according to AP, the US government - seemingly in desperate need to find new things to spend money on - has decided to take its vendetta with sellers of drugs, just synthetic drugs, personal, and starting this morning, "broadened its national crackdown on synthetic drug manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers as federal agents served hundreds of search and arrest warrants in at least 25 states.... The DEA has been cracking down on synthetic drugs, including so-called bath salts, spice and Molly."
In a few short minutes, Fed Chairmanwoman Janet Yellen will hold the first part of her two-day testimony in Congress before the Joint Economic Committee (followed by testimony before the Senate Budget Committee), in which she will regale members of congress with tales about harsh weather in the first quarter, and who snow managed to subtract over $50 billion from the US economy in Q1.
Perhaps the most important "news" of the day is that it is non-Tuesday. Yes, there was actual news news, like German factory orders dropping -2.8% on expectations of a 0.3% increase, French industrial production down -0.7% on expectations of a 0.3% increase (both misses driven by a soaring Euro which is now spitting distance away from the 1.40 ECB "redline"), the Nikkei tumbling 2.9% to just above 14000, the Shanghai Composite down 0.9%, SocGen Q1 profit plunging 13% and conveniently blaming it on Russia, speaking of Russia things continue to deteriorate even though Interfax reported that the country has received the first part, some $3.2 billion, of the promised IMF bailout - money which will be used to promptly pay Gazprom... and buy gold, a sudden conflict between China and Vietnam escalating over the placement of an offshore oil rig and so forth, but in the new normal, none of this matters.
In this brave New Normal world, a Chinese contraction is somehow expected to be offset by a rebound in Europe's worst economies, because following China's latest PMI miss, overnight we were told of beats in the Service PMI in Spain (56.5, vs Exp. 54.0, a 7 year high sending the Spanish 10 Year to fresh sub 3% lows), Italy at 51.1, vs Exp. 50.5, also pushing Italian yields to record lows, and France 50.4 (Exp. 50.3). We would speculate that macro events such as these, as fabricated as they may be, are relevant or even market-moving, but they aren't - all that matters is what the JPY and VIX traders at the NY Fed do in a low volume tape, usually in the last 30 minutes of the trading day. And since the trading day today happens to be a Tuesday, and nothing ever goes down on a Tuesday, the outcome is pretty much clear, and not even the absolutely abysmal Barclays earnings report has any chance of denting the latest rigged and manufactured low-volume levitation.
This time is different - check; Moral Hazard - check; Easy Money - check; Overblown growth stories - check; No valuation anchor - check; Conspicuous consumption - check; Ponzi finance - check... and, of course, Irrational exuberance: check!
This week, markets are likely to focus on US ISM Nonmanufacturing, services and composite PMIs in the Euro area (expect increases), ECB’s Monetary Policy Decision (expect no change in policy until further ahead), and Congressional testimony by Fed’s Yellen.
Court challenges to constitutionally dubious laws that have been introduced since the WTC attack, as well as to the highly questionable activities of the national security apparatus, have been regularly stopped in their tracks with the argument that the plaintiffs 'lacked standing'. In the case of the indefinite detention provision this argument is especially bizarre, since all those who will acquire 'standing' in the future will no longer have access to the courts – the very thing the plaintiffs tried to challenge. This seems hardly compatible with how a nation of laws is supposed to operate, but as Rothbard pointed out, the State will always find a way to transcend its limits.
Capture, corruption, irreparable harm--and little hope for change.
Of the economic reports and events in the week ahead, we identify four potential drivers and emphasize one--the ECB meeting.