Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. “You will know that the financial markets have reached peak instability and volatility when Britney Spears rings the opening bell.”
Many have recently drifted toward believing the Fed will be ‘lower for longer’. My view is that the Fed will be ‘sooner, but slower’. In other words, I expect the Fed to hike in March or sooner, but then run into problems that will slow the pace (and make it difficult to get to 1% by the end of 2015). Moreover, today’s equity market ‘melt-up’ should be a warning sign to the Fed of the moral hazard, one-way, bubble-like conditions it has instigated.
And just like that, the Ebola panic is back front and center, because after one week of the west African pandemic gradually disappearing from front page coverage and dropping out of sight and out of mind, suddenly Ebola has struck at global ground zero. While the consequences are unpredictable at this point, and a "follow through" infection will only set the fear level back to orange, we applaud whichever central bank has been buying futures (and the USDJPY) because they clearly are betting that despite the first ever case of Ebola in New York, that this will not result in a surge in Ebola scare stories, which as we showed a few days ago, may well have been the primary catalyst for the market freakout in the past month.
Albert Edwards is angry, and understandably so: almost exactly two weeks after warning readers to "sell everything and run for your lives" and the market was on the verge of its first correction in years, several powerful verbal interventions by central banks from the Fed, to the BOJ to the ECB have staged yet another massive rebound which has nearly wiped out all the October losses. Central-planning aside (and ask how much the USSR would have wished for central planning to indeed have been "aside") we share his frustrations, almost to the point where we would reiterate word for word Edwards' furious outburst, as follows: "Simply put, the central banks for all their huffing and puffing cannot eliminate the business cycle. And they should have realised after the 2008 Great Recession that the longer they suppress volatility, both economic and market, the greater the subsequent crash. Will these morons ever learn?"
Buyback-manipulated earnings produced the low-volume opening face-ripper everyone wanted and stocks took off, recovering yesterday's late losses and not looking back.Trannies were the big winners, led by a resurgence in Airlines (as Ebola in US is fixed) and, despite drastically lower than average volume, stocks kept lifting after EU close on a bed of AUDJPY and USDJPY... until 1450ET (when NYC Ebola headlines hit). Airlines were hit hard, S&P futures dumped back to VWAP, VIX was whacked back above 17, and the exuberant day transformed into merely a great day for stocks. Weakness in Treasuries and the HY bond ETF (despite notable compression in HY spreads) had the smell of a lot of HY issuance being hedged and unhedged but TSYs ended the day up 6-7bps (off their highs post-NYC-Ebola headlines). The USD rose for the 3rd day in a row taking gold lower. Copper (China) and Oil (Saudi) rose on the day (oil unch on the week).
130 banks are being tested. 12-18 will fail. And on top of that, almost a third of 130, that’s over 40, will pass while still getting their feet wet. That means anywhere between 40% and 44% of Eurozone banks either fail or are in bad shape. If 40% of your banks are either dead in the water or barely floating, I’d say you have a major problem. We all know our world, be it politics or economics, consists almost exclusively of spin these days, but in the face of these numbers we very much wonder how many people will be willing to bet their own money that Europe can get away with another round of moonsmoke and roses come Monday.
While VIX pumped-and-dumped (in a manner never seen before in its history), 'real' volatility of the day to day moves across the major stock indices remains extremely elevated. For the Nasdaq and Dow Transports, the average true range over the last few weeks is the highest since the post-Lehman collapse...
The current trade-off is not the contemporaneous one between more versus less policy stimulus today, but is an intertemporal trade-off between more stimulus today at the expense of more challenging and disruptive policy exit (and disruptive markets) in the future. The FOMC's dialog needs to change immediately.
Seven years after the start of the financial crisis, economic and financial conditions remain far from normal. In the ‘Wonderland’ of near-zero interest rates, many of the traditional relationships that have governed the way in which markets and cycles evolve have broken; the value of historical analysis has weakened. In Goldman's view, there are three very different near-term paths that economies and markets can now follow, and that imply very different outcomes for financial markets... (What GS realizes, in short, is The Fed is entirely boxed-in)
The last 2 days have seen enormous volatility in the Saudi Riyal exchange rate, purportedly oil-related FX hedging programs as the SAR dropped to its lowest sicne Dec 2008, but the most extreme 'moves' were left to The Kingdon's top Muslim cleric. As The BBC reports, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, exclaimed that Twitter is "the source of all evil and devastation". As the 12th most influential Muslim in the world, it perhaps matters that he says users were using Twitter to "promote lies, backbite and gossip and to slander Islam," but citizens of Saudi Arabia, who are some of the heaviest users of Twitter, did not appreciate his remarks, summe dup by one tweet, "People need an outlet to express themselves, to start to disclose what's hidden and drop the masks, without fear or commands, or censorship from anyone."
Who are they trying to fool? (again)
Once upon a time, one of the best sell-side analysts in the MBS space was Merrill Lynch's "Convexity Maven" Harley Bassman: he was so good, in fact, he was quickly soaked up to the buyside, or at least the prop-trading side, when several years ago he left Merrill to join Credit Suisse as a prop trader. It was here that he provided some insightful trade ideas such as "The "Anti-Widowmaker" Trade: Get Paid To Wait For The Japanese House Of Card To Collapse" and previewed the "Inevitable 'Taper'" at a time when most still didn't think the Fed was running out of paper to monetize. Then, about a year ago, Bassman disappeared again, only to reappear in a new capacity at recently-troubled bond manager Pimco. It is from here that following a year-long silences, he has just sent out his latest letter, in which he picks up on his favorite topic: implied volatility in rates, and the arbitrage opportunities it provides courtesy of epic risk mispricing in the current quote-unquote market, courtesy of the Fed's 6 year+ centrally-planned manipulation of, well, everything.
What a difference 24 hours makes. Yesterday, ECB rumors sparked precious metal buying on heavy volume. Today, more denials of ECB corporate bond buying combined with a slightly-hotter-than-expected inflation print (i.e. lower odds of Fed unleashing QE4) has sent silver (and gold) tumbling... on very heavy volume...
The Recent Liquidation Avalanche As Explained By Dan Loeb, And Why He Is Back To Shorting Stocks AgainSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/22/2014 09:23 -0400
"Amidst this volatility and performance dispersion, we struggle with our instinct that it is a good time to short stocks with the reality of the past few years of short-selling carnage. We were intrigued by investment legend Julian Robertson’s recent comments that, “we had a field day before anyone knew anything about shorting. It was almost a license to steal. Nowadays it’s a license to get hosed.” There is no doubt that the complexities around single name short selling have increased massively following 2008 – partly as a function of government regulation and intervention, partly due to negative rebates being the norm – but we have slowly been getting back in to the shallow end of the pool." - Dan Loeb
It will be the plotline of scary stories parents tell their children for decades to come: in Q1 2014, the US economy was supposed to grow 3%... and then it snowed. This led to a -2% collapse in the world's largest economy. Yes, inconceivably heavy snowfall (in the winter), and frigid temperatures (in the winter), were the reason for a $100+ billion swing in US GDP. Well, as the following chart from DB's Torsten Slok shows, of the roughly $2 trillion in GDP the global economy is expected to grow in 2015, about 90% of that is expected to come from China and the US!