A thumbnail sketch of the main events of during the week ahead.
New All time highs almost every single day, yet market volumes have literally collapsed. On any given day, you would see an average of 2M eminis (S&P Futures, spoos) trade, and now we are seeing barely 1M trade, sometimes even lower. This has left everyone, including big banks, who are now being forced to lay off traders amid the slowdown, asking the same question: WTF is going on?
For all those analysts who thought the debt binge of the previous decade marked end of the Age of Leverage, well, not so fast. It turns out that memories are short and government printing presses are powerful, and this combination has turned the “Great Deleveraging” into a minor speed bump on the road to something even more extreme. It was just six years ago that soaring consumer spending, massive trade deficits and generally excessive debt caused the biggest crisis since the Great Depression, and here we are back at it. The details are slightly different but the net effect is the same: inflated asset prices, growing instability and rising risk of a systemic failure capable of pulling down pretty much the whole show.
If corporate profits decline (as they did in Q1), what will hold up the market's lofty valuations other than the tapering flood of liquidity from the Federal Reserve? Answer: nothing. Complacent punters will discover to their great dismay that liquidity is only one dynamic of many.
Why low inflation in Europe is not caused by too high of interest rates and why a 10-15 bp cut in rates will not succeed.
The last 4 days have seen 10Y yields surge by over 20bps and recouple with equity market exuberance as the 'temporary' growth scare in bonds disappears into the mists of time (until the next one). This morning's farce in the markets was impressive as bonds managed to ignore all the weakness in hard data (weak ADP, dismal trade deficit, and worse productivity) and decided that what really matters is a seasonally-adjusted survey of the service industry.
Remember when the "thesis" for Q2 growth was that just because Q1 was so horrible, Q2 will have to bounce back? Well, oops.
The US trade balance collapsed in April dashing hopes for the exuberant hockey-stock rebound in Q2 GDP. This is the biggest trade deficit since April 2012 and the biggest miss from expectations since October 2008. The last 2 months have seen the biggest slide in the deficit in a year as trade gaps with the European Union and South Korea reach records and the deficit with China surged by $7billion to $28 billion. Impots of capital goods, autos, and consumer goods all set records. And Q2 GDP downgrades in 3...2...1...
- U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
- U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
- China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
- KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
- ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
- Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
- But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
We can all pretend that debt doesn’t matter. We can pretend that demographics don’t matter. We can pretend that raising taxes aids rather than frustrates an economy, and we can pretend that citizens will continue to bend over and be sodomized by central bankers.
Just in case you were not convinced what a fragile fallacious lie the entire world's status quo has become, the Bank of Japan just provided one more straw on the camel's back of faith-based investing. As Bloomberg reports, BoJ officials are concerned that cooler-than-normal weather triggered by El Nino this summer will curb spending and weigh on an economic rebound. The Japan Meteorological Agency this week forecast a 70% chance El Nino will occur, the highest since its last occurrence in 2009, bringing lower temperatures that could continue through autumn - and, according to Dai-Ichi, could lower growth by as much as 0.9 percentage points. "We can't rule out the potential that the El Nino this summer causes unexpected damage to Japan’s economy," Nagahama said... the first pre-blamed weather forecast from a central bank we are aware of. Of course, given the dismal retail sales data this morning, we suspect a cooler-than-expected summer will be the scapegoat for a lack of economic escape velocity in the US also.
Any day, week, month, quarter, year now... that J-Curve 'recovery' will come bounding over the horizon and save the Japanese economy from its inevitable death spiral... for now, presented with little comment aside for historical confirmation (as even Goldman Sachs has now given up on hope of a bounce), Japan's largest (seasonally-adjusted) Balance of Payment Trade Deficit ever... For FY2013 as a whole, the current account recorded a surplus of +¥789.9bn but was far lower than the +¥4.2tn in FY2012 and the lowest since comparable records became available in FY1985.
- Alibaba files for what may be biggest tech IPO (Reuters)
- Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank (BBG)
- Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments (WSJ)
- Thai court orders Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as PM (Guardian)
- German industry orders fell 2.8% in March, the biggest drop in one and a half years (RTE)
- Ukraine Bulls Scatter as Death Toll Mounts (BBG)
- China Property Slump Adds Danger to Local Finances (BBG)
- Stein Says Fed May See Bouts of Volatility as It Approaches Exit (BBG)
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So will Detroit be the first major city in the United States to be dominated by China? It could happen. Once upon a time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the world and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it is a rotting, decaying, bankrupt hellhole that is in desperate need of a savior, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appears to be fully convinced that China can be that savior.