If you are a stock picker, then it’s basically now or never for whatever investment discipline you might follow. Asset class and industry correlations have taken a surprising nosedive in recent weeks, which - as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes. should allow your strategy/blend of magic to (hopefully) shine versus the benchmarks. Average industry sector correlations to the S&P 500 have dropped to 69.9%, by far the lowest observation for over two years. High yield bonds now show just 16% correlation to U.S. stocks, and the numbers for Emerging Markets (58%), EAFE stocks (76%), and currencies like the Australian dollar (11%) are also plumbing new lows. Why the sudden return to a ‘Normal’ world? Expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin to ‘Taper’ its bond buying help, to be sure. As do actual inflows (some $8 billion last month) into actively managed mutual funds. We’ll have to wait and see if current trends continue, but for now we welcome the return of the ‘Stock picker’s market’. Let the dart-throwing begin...
I fully expect that tens of thousands of young Americans will be visiting Yemen in the near future.
A week that has been all about acronyms - GDP, PMIs, FOMC, ECB, BOE, ADP, ISM, DOL, the now daily record highs in the S&P and DJIA - is about to get its final and most important one: the NFP from the BLS, and specifically an expectation of a July 185K print, down from the 195K in the June, as well as an unemployment rate of 7.5% down from 7.6%. The number itself is irrelevant: anything 230 and above will be definitive proof Bernanke's policies are working, that the virtuous circle has begun and that one can rotate out of everything and into stocks; anything 150 or below will be definitive proof the Fed will be here to stay for a long time, that Bernanke and his successor will monetize everything in sight, and that one can rotate out of everything and into stocks, which by now are so disconnected from any underlying reality, one really only mentions the newsflow in passing as the upward record momentum in risk no longer reflects pretty much anything.
- Humans Beating Robots Most Since ’08 as Trends Shift (BBG)
- Easing of Mortgage Curb Weighed (WSJ)
- European Banks Face Capital Gap With Focus on Leverage (BBG)
- Signs Suggest China Warming to Idea of Stimulus (WSJ)
- China Coal-Fired Economy Dying of Thirst as Mines Lack Water (BBG)
- Jeans and shoes show criminal underbelly of China-EU trade (Reuters)
- How U.S. drug sting targeted West African military chiefs (Reuters)
- Japan scrambles jets after China plane flies by southern islands (Reuters)
- Apple Plots Return to Growth After Coping With Aging Lineup (BBG)
- AT&T Falls Shy of Analyst Estimates as Discounts Hurt Margins (BBG)
- SAC insider trading case takes twist (FT)
The Innovator’s Dilemma strikes again, this time with the news that the city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy protection. As a business term, ConvergEx's Nick Colas reminds us that the “Dilemma” describes how successful companies fall from grace because they ignore new competition with disruptive technologies at the low end of their markets. In a world that increasingly revolves around intellectual capital (a.k.a. people), government at all levels needs to think about how they do not fall prey to the same error. As for Detroit, any lasting solution likely needs far more government intervention than is currently possible. And so to where Detroit goes from here, we’ll borrow from another business paradigm that parses all solutions to troubled operations into three buckets: "Fix, Close or Sell." In summary, Detroit’s failures are certainly of its own making. The way forward will need leadership that is unavailable locally.
While last night's Tankan manufacturing reports met lowered expectations, it seems the reality of the domestic Japanese economy remains as bleak as ever. As Nikkei reports, Japan's domestic sales of new cars, trucks, and buses declined 15.8% for a year earlier in June for the second consecutive month. Even if one argues that Abenomics goal is not just boosting the domestic economy, total Japanese car sales were down almost 11% YoY as Honda saw its sales drop a stunning 40.7%. The latest figures continue this year's downward trend and while some blame the particularly sharp drop on fewer selling days in June, the auto dealer's association also said reflects the "ongoing severe" situation in the domestic market.
Were you under the impression that your credit card transactions are private? If so, I am sorry to burst your bubble. As you will see below, there are actually multiple government agencies that are gathering and storing records of your credit card transactions. And in turn, those government agencies share that information with other government agencies that want it. So if you are making a purchase that you don't want anyone to know about, don't use a credit card. This is one of the reasons why the government hates cash so much. It is just so hard to track. In this day and age, the federal government seems to be absolutely obsessed with gathering as much information about all of us as it possibly can. But there is one big problem. What they are doing directly violates the U.S. Constitution.
- Here come the rolling blackouts: Obama takes on power plant emissions as part of climate plan (Reuters)
- Walking Back Bernanke Wished on Too Much Information (BBG)
- As previewed last week: Bridgewater "All Weather" is Mostly Cloudy, down 8% YTD (Reuters)
- U.S. Said to Explore Possible China Role in Snowden Leaks (BBG)
- Coeure Says No Doubt ECB Loose Monetary Policy Exit Distant (Bloomberg)... so a "recovery", but not at all
- U.S. steps up pressure on Russia as Snowden stays free (Reuters)
- Texas' Next Big Oil Rush: New Pipelines Ferrying Landlocked Crude Expected to Boost Gulf Coast Refiners (WSJ)
- Singapore Offsets Bankers as Vacancies Fall (BBG)
- Asian Stocks Fall as China Sinks Deeper Into Bear Market (BBG), European Stocks Rally With Bonds as Metals Advance (BBG)
- Qatar emir hands power to son, no word on prime minister (Reuters)
- Reports on surveillance of Americans fuel debate over privacy, security (Reuters)
- Apple to Yahoo Deny Providing Direct Access to Spy Agency (Bloomberg)
- Misfired 2010 email alerted IRS officials in Washington of targeting (Reuters)
- Spy vs Spy: Cyber disputes loom large as Obama meets China's Xi (Reuters)
- When NSA Calls, Companies Answer (WSJ)
- How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading's Rise and Fall (BBG)
- Japan's Pension Fund to Buy More Stocks (WSJ)
- ‘Frankenstein’ CDOs twitch back to life (FT)
- China’s ‘great power’ call to the US could stir friction (FT)
- Toyota Tries on Corolla Look That’s Just Different Enough (BBG)
Gross: What hath Kuroda wrought? JGB yields a bigger influence on Treasuries than tapering potential.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 28, 2013
Japan Economy Minister: "Yen's Excessive Strength Has Been Largely Corrected; Further Weakness Could Be Harmful"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/19/2013 15:32 -0400
As if sniffing at the threat the ongoing collapse in JGBs, culminated by Toyota pulling a bond issue on soaring yields, which forced even JPM to come out with an ominously titled piece called the "VaR Shock" driven by the epic plunge in the Yen, Japan's economy minister Akira Amari has hit the wires saying "the yen's excessive strength has been largely "corrected," and further weakness could be harmful, Japan's economy minister said Sunday, suggesting the Japanese government may be happy with the currency's current level. Economy minister Akira Amari, responding to a question on how far the yen should weaken, replied that while he couldn't comment himself, "it's being said that the correction of the strong yen is largely completed. If the yen keeps on weakening a lot more, it will have a negative impact on peoples' lives."" Now the question is will those millions in Mrs. Watanabe housewives suddenly stuck in margin calls scramble to take profit, which could send the USDJPY soundly back into double digit territory, or will the momentum machine, facilitated by Getco's relentless scramble to perpetuate momentum ignition and drift, mean Japan has officially lost control of the Yen, and in a world in which only the BOJ's actions matters, will USDJPY 120 be next, together with the even greater "negative impact on people's lives" such a move would have (but not for those buying apartments at the yet to be built 432 Park).
Despite the eagerness of Abenomics and the new BOJ head Kuroda to have their cake and eat it too, in this case manifesting in soaring stock prices, plunging Yen, rising GDP and exports, and most importantly, flat or declining bond yields, so far they have succeeded in carrying out three of the four, as it is physically impossible for any central planner to completely overrule the laws of math, economics and physics indefinitely. Volatility aside the recent surge in yields higher is finally starting to take its tool on domestic bond issuers. As Bloomberg reports, already two names have pulled deals from the jittery bond market due to "soaring" borrowing costs. The first is Toyota Industries which as NHK reported, canceled the sale of JPY20 billion debt. Toyota is among Japanese firms that put off selling debt as long-term yields on government debt have risen, increasing borrowing costs, public broadcaster NHK says without citing anyone. Last week JFE Holdings announced it would delay plans to sell bonds due to market volatility. So two names down... and the 10 Year is not even north of 1%... But perhaps, more importantly, what happens to JGB holdings as the benchmark Japanese government bond continues trading with the volatility of a 1999 pennystock, and as more and more VaR stops are hit, forcing even more holders to dump the paper out of purely technical considerations: a topic we touched upon most recently last week, and which courtesy of JPM, which looks back at exactly the same event just 10 years delayed, now has a name: VaR shocks. For those who wish to skip the punchline here it is: A 100bp interest rate shock in the JGB yield curve, would cause a loss of ¥10tr for Japan's banks.
ConvergEx's Nick Colas undertook a recent trip to Afghanistan. As he notes, the country has a long way to go to reestablish a viable economy and political stability, but he saw enough to be optimistic on both counts. Security around the capital is tight, and Afghan troops look professional and disciplined. There is ample food on display in countless local grocery stands. Girls go to school throughout the city, although women are a less common sight on the streets. Scarcity makes for odd economic outcomes – the only passenger car you’ll see is a Toyota Corolla, imported from different countries. No Afghan will be surprised that you are a tourist in their country – they are still very proud of its history and resilience. Westerners there will assume you are “On business.” Here are seven “Postcards from Kabul” with his last observations from this trip.
Despite the aura of control, Fed officials (and casual observers) may sense things spinning out of control. Of course, hyper-fragility is exactly the effect that all the Fed’s own actions would predictably lead to. When you divorce truth from reality, strange things are bound to happen. There is one thing that we know for sure in this strange period when bankers have tried to manage reality in the absence of truth: that advanced industrial-technological economies designed to run on $20-a-barrel oil can’t run on $100-a-barrel oil, and that is why the US economy was subject to financialization in the first place - to offset declining productive activity by an attempt to get something for nothing. The world is about to find out that you really can’t get something for nothing. It will be a harsh lesson.
- The number of bond funds that own stocks has surged to its highest point in at least 18 years (WSJ)
- Clubby London Trading Scene Fostered Libor Rate-Fixing Scandal (WSJ)
- Cheap money bankrolls Wall Street's bet on housing (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan reveals concerns over easing policy (FT)
- iPads and low-end rivals propel higher tablet shipments (Reuters)
- China Cyberspies Outwit U.S. Stealing Military Secrets (BBG)
- Draghi Fuels Bets on Rate Cut With Risk of Limited Impact (BBG)
- China guides renminbi to fresh high against US dollar (FT)
- Japan is preparing to start up a massive nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant (WSJ)
- Apple’s Ive Seen Risking iOS 7 Delay on Software Overhaul (BBG)
- UBS faces calls for break-up at investor meeting (Reuters)