The key event overnight was the monetary policy announcement by the BOJ in which its kept it QE unchanged while the Board decided by unanimous vote to double the scale of two funding facilities, namely the Stimulating Bank Lending Facility and Growth-Supporting Funding Facility and to extend the application period for these facilities by a year. Both facilities are designed to stimulate the provision of funding to Japanese banks, allowing them to borrow from the BoJ at a fixed rate of 0.1%pa, for a period 4 years now, instead of 1-3 years previous. Some are arguing that by expanding its funding programmes but not changing its asset purchase targets, the BoJ has signalled its intention to ease policy whilst preserving firepower for extra stimulus in coming months when a sales-tax hike is due to kick-in. The result was a surge in both the Nikkei and USDJPY. The problem, and confirmation that once again the market is now a bunch of cluless automatons unable to analyze even one sentence below the headline level, is that as Goldman explained overnight, the "surprise" announcement was already fully factored in.
The global crisis that began in 2007/8 has unmasked many unsustainable economic dispositions. Unfortunately, the proper conclusions have still not been arrived at, as evidenced by the fact that the same old Keynesian recipes that have failed over and over again are being implemented on an even grander scale. One must not be misled by the claims of 'austerity' being imposed, as this has evidently little bearing on government spending as such, but is rather an attempt to squeeze more blood out of an already shriveled turnip, namely what remains of the private sector. Puerto Rico seems – at least so far – not any different in that respect.
They have promised more than they can possibly deliver, so a lot of their promises are going to be broken before we see the end of this current bust that began in 2000. And that outcome of broken promises describes the huge task that we all face. There will be a day of reckoning. There always is when an economy and governments take on more debt than is prudent, and the world is far beyond that point. So everyone needs to plan and prepare for that day of reckoning. We can't predict when it is coming, but we know from monetary history that busts follow booms, and more to the point, that currencies collapse when governments make promises that they cannot possibly fulfill. Their central banks print the currency the government wants to spend until the currency eventually collapses, which is a key point of The Money Bubble. The world has lost sight of what money What today is considered to be money is only a money substitute circulating in place of money. J.P. Morgan had it right when in testimony before the US Congress in 1912 he said: "Money is gold, nothing else." Because we have lost sight of this wisdom, a "money bubble" has been created. And it will pop. Bubbles always do.
The winner of a currency war is the country that ends up with the most gold.
CBOE's short-term VIX product (which tracks the implied volatility in stock options for a 9-day maturity) dropped to its lowest since inception this morning at 10.16%. The spread to the more 'usual' maturity VIX index is over 3.3 vols which isthe most inverted on record and thus the most short-term complacent equity investors have been since the lows in 2009. The exuberance of the last few days is equally and oppositely matched by the sheer lack of enthusiasm in volumes. S&P futures volume is 33% below recent averages today and as the chart below shows, it is clear where the volume in this "market" remains.
Take your pick of which "confidence" measure you choose to watch to confirm your previous "common knowledge" meme. Unsurprisingly, the government's own Conference Board indicator provides the highest level of confidence relative to recent months but today's beat by UMich (81.2 flat from last month but above 80.2 expectations) is the highest overall level among the indices. It seems not even the weather can dampen the enthusiasm of the US consumer (who is retail spending at a dismally low level?) Hardly surprising is the fact that the tumble in the current conditions index was entirely dissolved by the hope for the economic outlook which stands at 6 month highs! Short-dated inflation expectations also ticked up. Of course what really matters is keeping the dream alive that multiple-expanding confidence will cover up any and all missed expectations in macro and micro data.
Word count of the word "weather" in Joe LaVorgna's latest note explaining away today's third consecutive miss in retail sales and initial claims: 8. The humor, however, is this punchline: "Eventually, though, we should see some impressive weather-related snapback in economic activity." Wait, so the weather will deposit a few thousand dollars in all tapped-out US consumers' bank accounts? You do learn something every day.
I crush the JP Morgan Managing Director and Head of FX, John Normand, and his false-factual rant against Bitcoin. Fear, envy & loathing in seeing your bonus floating margin at cryptocurrency risk!
After initially sending the all important USDJPY carry pair - and thus all risk assets - into rally mode, the initial euphoria over manipulated Chinese trade data (see China Trade Puzzle Revived as Hong Kong Data Diverge), has all but fizzled and at last check the USDJPY was sliding to its LOD, approaching 102 from the wrong side. That, and a statement by the ECB's Coeure that the ECB is "very seriously" considering a negative deposit rate (and that the OMT is ready to be used even though it obviously isn't following the latest brewhaha from the German top court) have so far defined the overnight session, the latter having sent the EUR sliding across all major pairs.
Bitcoin plunged another 15% or so from its bounce highs this morning as volatility has picked up dramatically in the virtual currency. The reasons are numerous: JPMorgan has come out with a scathing attack - "bitcoin looks like an innovation worth limiting exposure to;" CoinDesk reports that major exchanges are under a "massive and concerted attack" by a bot system - creating a "fog of confusion" over the system; and perhaps most critically, BitStamp has followed Mt.Gox and halted withdrawals "due to inconsistent results from their bitcoin wallet" - due to the DDoS attacks...
While January was a bad month for the market, it was certainly one which the majority of hedge funds would also rather forget as we showed yesterday. So with volatility, the lack of a clear daily ramp higher (with the exception of the last 4 days which are straight from the 2013 play book), and, worst of all, that Old Normal staple - risk - back in the picture. what is a collector of 2 and 20 to do (especially since in the post-Steve Cohen world, one must now make their money the old-fashioned way: without access to "expert networks")? For everyone asking this question, here is Deutsche Bank with its take on which will be the best and worst performing strategies of 2014. So without further ado, here is the Deutsche Bank Asset and Wealth Management's forecast of hedge fund performance matrix...
BOTTOM LINE: Fed Chair Yellen's prepared remarks for her semiannual monetary policy testimony before the House Financial Services Committee were brief and did not contain any major surprises. The testimony itself will begin at 10:00am.
"I think Bitcoin will face serious challenges in the long run, although I believe such digital currencies could have a place in the economy in more well thought-through structures with values better linked to real assets."
US equity markets traded in a narrow range ahead of tomorrow's Yellen testimony with Trannies underperforming and Nasdaq outperforming. Cross-asset-class correlations picked up from their negligible levels on Friday as JPY (and increasingly 5Y bonds) are linked at the hip with stocks. The S&P cash tested almost up to 1,800 (but failed at 1799.94) then faded. Notably from the European close, equity handily outperformed credit markets - which ended closing near their wides of the day. Treasuries ended the day modestly bid (30y -2bps) but T-Bill yields are starting to reflect debt-ceiling concerns. The USD closed unch - drifting lower from overnight strength - but gold and silver rallied on the day (though faded of early highs). Late-day ramp efforts got the S&P green but failed to cross 1,800... and VIX decoupled on the ramp.
We have looked at US markets since Independence and Western Markets since The Middle Ages; but to really comprehend how far we have come, we need to press back to the dawn of civilization. 5000 years of interest-rates and commodity history and a trend is very clear as epochal events drive volatility.