The Fed is playing a very dangerous game here. It was way behind the curve on deflation and economic weakness going into the crash of 2008. Today, it continues to worry about deflation when the clear signs show that inflation is already on the rise.
The Turkish yield curve has inverted once again as the 10Y bond yield in the troubled nation crosses 11% and hits record highs for that maturity. 2Y at 11.2% has broken to almost 5 year high yields as the Lira also presses back lower to six-week lows. This comes as the nation mourns the death of a teenager from last year's riots and Erdogan remains defiant ahead of March 30 elections in the face of rising calls from the EU to let the law run its course:
- *TURKEY 10-YR BOND YIELD RISES TO 11.34% RECORD ON CLOSING BASIS
- *ERDOGAN: MAR 30 VOTE MOST IMPORTANT IN TURKEY DEMOCRACY HISTORY
- *ERDOGAN SAYS VIOLENT PROTESTS WON'T BRING DEMOCRACY TO TURKEY
- *EU PARLIAMENT URGES TURKEY NOT TO INTERFERE WITH LEGAL PROBES
- *ERDOGAN RECITES ISLAMIC POEM FOR WHICH HE'D BEEN JAILED IN 1997
So once again political instability is soaring and with it capital outflows and bond yields. No, EM is not fixed!
Unlike most trading sessions in the past month, when the overnight session saw a convenient algo assisted USDJPY/AUDJPY levitation, tonight there has been no such luck for the permabullish E-Trade babies who are conditioned that no matter what the news, the next morning the S&P 500 will open green regardless. Whether this is due to ever louder fears that what is happening in China can not be swept under the rug this time will be revealed soon, but as of this moment both the USDJPY, and its derivative, US equity futures, are looking at a sharp lower open, as gold continues to press higher, while the traditional tension points such as Russia-Ukraine, and ongoing capital flight from some of the more "fringe" emerging markets, continues. Expect more of the same today as people finally peek below the Chinese surface to realize just how profoundly bad the situation on the mainland truly is. And while we realize macro news are meaningless, especially in Europe where the ECB is now the sole supervisor of all asset classes, the fact that Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia and Portugal, are all in deflation, and many more countries lining up to join the club, probably means that absent a massive global credit impulse, we have certainly reached the upward inflection point from the most recent $1+ trillion injection of liquidity by the Fed, not to mention the ongoing QE by the BOJ.
Russia's military action in Crimea was out of weakness. He was afraid having a potentially hostile power on his border and losing his naval base in Crimea. He is at risk of repeating mistakes of the Soviet Union in not taking market forces seriously enough.
Stocks in Europe failed to hold onto early gains and gradually moved into negative territory, albeit minor, as concerns over money markets in China gathered attention yet again after benchmark rates fell to lowest since May 2012. Nevertheless, basic materials outperformed on the sector breakdown, as energy and metal prices rebounded following yesterday’s weaker than expected Chinese data inspired sell off. At the same time, Bunds remained supported by the cautious sentiment, while EUR/USD came under pressure following comments by ECB's Constancio who said that financial markets misinterpreted us a little, can still cut rates and implement QE or buy assets. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly API report after the closing bell on Wall Street and the US Treasury will kick off this week’s issuance with a sale of USD 30bln in 3y notes.
The Turkish Lira is tumbling this morning (+150pips at 2.22); rapidly devaluing back towards pre-emergency-rate-hike levels and Turkish bond yields have surged back to levels seen in mid-2009. The driver appears to be the release of several political prisoners, suggesting the President is starting to lose control and given that 'political stability' is the key factor for many of these EM debt markets. The government, however, remains adamant that an "operation" by some institutional holders of lira bonds to "threaten" Turkey's economy started after the probe into government corruption began in mid-December.
This week brings a slew of central bank meetings: At the forefront will be the BOJ meeting on Tuesday where no changes to monetary policy are expected. However, we will be watching the commentary closely for hints to further monetary easing in the coming months. Goldman, and others, still expect the BOJ to provide additional stimulus in the second quarter of this year as the impact of the consumption tax hike on the economy becomes visible - it is that expectation that sent the USDJPY above 100 in late 2013 and any disappointment by the BOJ will certainly have an adverse impact on the all important Yen carry pair. In terms of the key data to watch this week, the themes of recent weeks remain the same: US activity data, with retail sales and the U. Michigan Consumer sentiment survey the main releases, European inflation trends (French and German HCPI data on Thursday and Friday, respectively), and finally external balances in EM. Within that group, the latest data points for trade and current account balances in India, Turkey and South Africa will receive the most attention.
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."
As we reported yesterday, after getting permission to cross the Bosphorus, the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun departed the Greek port of Souda Bay on its way to the Black Sea. As of a few hours ago, it is already there. Sky News reports that the USS Truxtun passed the Dardanelles strait earlier today on its way to the Black Sea amid heightened tension over the crisis in Ukraine and reports that Russia has now 30,000 troops in Crimea.
Yesterday we reported that with the US aircraft carrier, CVN-77 George H.W. Bush, anchoring in Piraeus, Greece, an unnamed US warship had been granted permission by Turkey to cross the Bosphorus and enter the Black Sea. There was speculation it may be the carrier itself, even though such a crossing would be forbidden by the Montreaux Convention. Today we have the answer: it is not CVN-77, but one of the ships from its aircraft carrier strike group - the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxton, which as the clip below shows, just departed the Greek port of Souda Bay earlier today.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said on Wednesday they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar after it had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others' internal affairs. The move, unprecedented in the 30-year history of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), follows the Bahrain state minister for information Samira Rajab saying she has evidence of Qatari media provocation against her country. As Gulf News reports, Qatar has been a maverick in the region, backing Islamist groups in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East that are viewed with suspicion or outright hostility by some fellow GCC members. Not a good sign for the oil-generating center of the world.
Scrape away the media sensationalism and geopolitical posturing and it boils down to a simple dynamic: follow the energy.
In a brief statement this morning, Turkish military authorities have admitted that:
- *EIGHT TURKISH F-16 JETS TRACKED RUSSIAN PLANE IN BLACK SEA
- *TURKEY SCRAMBLED F-16'S YDAY AS RUSSIAN PLANE NEARED BORDER
Which appears odd given this was a "military exercise" that we are sure the Russians had cleared with neighboring nations that it would be entering their airspace. The Turkish air force has been busy recently following the failed 'drunk' Sochi hijacking and Syrian intercepts.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.
Yuan volatility is part of a major rebalancing of global trade. The next phase of EM turmoil will involve banking crises in several countries including China.