While the economy is showing some signs of impact from falling oil prices, a port strike in California, weak global demand for exports and an exceptionally cold winter; the markets are pushing all-time highs. There is much hype being placed on the ECB's plans for launching QE in March, however, much remains to be seen as to just how effective it will be in a negative interest rate/deflationary enviroment. But then again...there is always "hope."
What in god’s name does Janet Yellen think she is doing? Just a few weeks ago she established the ridiculous Fedspeak convention that “patient” means money market rates will not rise from the zero bound for at least two meetings. Now she has modified that message into “not exactly”.
Financial markets are upside down. Financial repression and belief in the “Fed put” pushed investors further and further out the risk curve over the past six years. Too many asset managers have remained fearful of underperforming peers and benchmarks; a powerful incentive to stay ‘risked-up’. The psychology of bullish, and faith in Fed abilities, have been too firmly embedded in the investor class. Given that markets don’t seem to want to believe that a June hike looks probable, we expect an outsized market reaction to a hike, lower long yields to accompany it, a flatter curve, wider credit spreads, higher market volatility, and materially lower equity markets.
and more news moving the markets
Following a quiet overnight session in which the main event appears to be a statement by Chinese premier Li for more active fiscal policy, which has pushed the metals complex higher, although technically every other asset class as well, with US equity futures set to open in fresh record high territory, even as 10Y yields around the world continue to decline, attention today will fall on the CPI print due out shortly, because if consensus is correct, January will be the first month this decade when US inflation posts a negative print, mostly due to the delayed effect of sliding commodity prices. As Deutsche recaps, the most important number today is the headline CPI where the headline YoY rate is predicted to be negative by the market (-0.1%) for the first time since 2009. Over this period the YoY rate stayed negative for 8 months. However before this we hadn't seen a full year decline since August 1955. In other words, a few months before what may be the first US rate hike for a new generation of traders, the US is set to print its first annual deflation since Lehman, transitory or not.
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
Is it time to spread Heating Gas and Gasoline in anticipation of the arrival of Spring? Is China "devaluing" the Yuan as policy? Is Ms. Yellen is taking rather more of a gamble than she is willing to admit?
While this morning's prepared remarks will be the same hodge podge of three-armed economist-speak, we suspect the Q&A will be a little aggressive as Fed Chair Janet Yellen faces The House Financial Services Committee. Having told the markets that "valuations are somewhat higher than normal," and "heightened leverage and weak underwriting terms are close to levels preceding the financial crisis," we are sure the Congressmen (and women) will focus attention on financial stability concerns - as opposed to back-patting celebrations of how well The Fed has done.
Stocks In Holding Pattern Following Blow-Off Top, Oblivious Of Fed's Warning Of "Stretched" ValuationsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/25/2015 08:00 -0400
Following the first of two Janet Yellen testimonies to Congress, the market read between the lines of what the Fed Chairman said when she hinted that "the Fed needs confidence on recovery and inflation before beginning to raise rates" and realized that the case of a June rate hike is suddenly far less realistic than previously expected, as a result not only did we see another blowoff top in stocks to fresh all time highs, a move which sent the USD lower, has pushed the median EV/EBITDA multiple to the mid 11x (!) range and the forward PE to just shy of 18x ironically coming on a day when the Fed itself warned about "stretched" equity valuations, and led to brisk buying of global Treasurys across the board, pushing the 10 Year in the US back under 2%, and due to the global convergence trade (because if the Fed returns to QE, it will be forced to buy up Treasuries not just in the US but around the globe, since net issuance including CBs globally is now negative) and leading to today's German 5 Year bond auction pricing at a negative yield for the first time ever.
With China's return from the Lunar New Year celebrations, it appears precious metals are benefitting from some pent-up demand. Gold, and its high-beta cousin Silver have jumped in the Asia session and are now the best performing asset post-Yellen testimony. US equity futures have drifted lower from the cash close and copper has given back most of its gains...
The last thing Janet Yellen needs to be doing right now is cheer-leading more risk taking on behalf of financial market participants!
If there was any debate whether Yellen's testimony today was hawkish or dovish, the bond market certainly made it clear what it thinks, when first the 10 Year yield tumbled back under 2.00%, and then moments ago, the Treasury auction of $26 billion in 2 Year paper continued to trend of strong demand for government paper, when 3.45 bidders lined up for every dollar for sale, at a closing yield of 0.603%, 0.5 bps through the When Issued.
It appears Janet Yellen's confidence-inspiring testimony that juiced stocks was interpreted as a buying opportunity for bonds. US Treasury yields are now down 10bps on the week with 10Y yields back with a 1% handle...