Once again we get confirmation that this administration is the most transparent in history. The State Department's Marie Harf explained that John Kerry will not be attending the Select Committee hearing on Benghazi and must postpone his testimony to the House Oversight committee due "critical diplomatic work" he is undertaking. As the full letter below explains:
*HARF SAYS KERRY 'WILL APPEAR ONCE ON BENGHAZI'; SAYS NO NEED FOR KERRY TO GO BEFORE TWO COMMITTEES
*KERRY HAS 'CRITICAL DIPLOMATIC WORK' ON SUBPOENA DAY OF MAY 29
Furthermore, the State Department adds, "we believe there are witnesses better suited to answer questions regarding the Department’s response to Congressional investigations of the Benghazi attacks."
Two Former Government Officials Tell Us What It's All About ...
"Notwithstanding the view that we may see S&P get up to 1950 (+/- a little) over the next fortnight or so, over the rest of Q2 and Q3 we could see a decent correction of up to 20% in the risk-on trade. Low 1700s in the S&P attracts, and thereafter, depending on weekly closes, low 1600s/mid-1500s S&P could be in play. For now, however, the key level to the upside is 2000 as a weekly close on the S&P – if achieved then I would have to revisit my bearish bias for the belly of 2014. To the downside a weekly close below 1770 would, I feel, easily put a 1700 S&P within reach. Beyond that I would need to assess data and price action at the time before highlighting the next set of levels, but I would not be surprised to see policymakers again attempt to boost markets later this year - there should be no surprise if this happens because the reaction function of central bankers has become depressingly predictable."
Dispassionate discussion of the near-term forces at work in the foreign exchange market.
One can’t help but look at the situations transpiring around the globe and hope: things are different this time. The problem is being different puts it right back in line with that other caveat: history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And so lies the most troubling aspect facing not only the U.S. economy, but quite possibly the world as whole. For if things rhyme anything inline with past events in history: We’re all in a dung heap of QE based minutia, with Geo-political ramifications the “intellectual” crowd never contemplated as possible – let alone probable.
As another week passes by the markets have made no real movement in months. News flow, outside of Yellen's testimony, was also rather slow as first quarter's earnings season begins to come to a close. However, there were a few articles that we read this week that we thought you might find interesting as well... from the dangers of hidden leverage (in the re-burgeoning CDO markets) to the history if bubbles (and their lack of logic) and the demise of the US small business.
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.