By surprising markets with a move to a negative deposit rate, the Bank of Japan gave investors temporary reprieve, providing a much needed opportunity to pare portfolio risk at better prices. Unfortunately, the improvement in financial asset prices will be short-lived; except, of course, for long-maturity Treasuries.
Following years of QE-inspired excess returns, investors in 2016 suddenly find themselves embroiled in a broad and brutal bear market. The 10-year rolling return loss from commodities (-5.1%) is currently the worst since 1938, and equal-weighted US stock index down 25% from recent highs. However, in BofAML's view, the pertinent question for investors is whether the current bear market represents a healthy "reset" of both profit expectations and equity and credit valuations, or more ominously, the onset of a broader economic malaise that will require a major policy intervention in coming months to reverse.
That giant sucking sound you hear is the P&L of macro/FX hedge funds as they look in dismay at their USDJPY exposure.
It is safe to say that nobody expected the BOJ stunner announced last night, when Kuroda announced that Japan would become the latest country to unleash negative interest rates, for one simple reason: Kuroda himself said Japan would not adopt negative rates just one week ago! However, a few BIS conference calls since then clearly changed the Japanese central banker's mind and as we wrote, and as those who are just waking up are shocked to learn, negative rates are now a reality in Japan. The immediate reaction was to send the USDJPY surging by nearly 200 pips, back to levels seen... well, about a month ago.
"The BoJ actions should lead to further intensification of global currency wars with central banks around the world trying to engineer sustained competitive devaluation against the background of slowing global trade and growth as well as persistent commodity price disinflation. With its latest measures the BoJ will allow Japan to borrow more growth from its trading partners and limit the severity of the imported disinflation."
Well that did not last long. After initial exuberance over The BoJ's wishy-washy decision to adopt a 3-tiered rate policy including NIRP, markets have realized that without further asset purchases (which were maintained at the current pace), there is no ammo to lift stocks. An almost 200 point surge in Dow futures has been erased and Nikkei 225 has dropped 1000 points from its post BOJ highs... as 10Y JGB yields hit record lows at 11bps and 20Y JGB yields drop to 82bps - the lowest since 2003
With The Fed definitely off the table, China promising nothing but daily liquidity drips, and Europe unable to do anything but jawbone, the world's bullish equity market investors are anxiously trawling for a central bank to save the world. Tonight's BoJ meeting could well be it - though judging by their past epic failures - it will be anything but successful as QE23 looms in Japan. “The need for a Kuroda bazooka is increasing,” said Yuji Shimanaka, an economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo. “This is decision time for Kuroda” as additional stimulus can stop the trend of yen gains and falling stocks.
According to the head of financial markets research Asia Pacific at Rabobank, Michael Every, not only has China not begun to delever at all, but since McKinsey's update, its debt has risen by another 70% of GDP! According to Every, China's 2015 debt-to-GDP might be as high as 346%, and while that is in line with wealthier developed economies but is “vastly higher” than any EM peer.
CAT confirmed the flow through from its depressed retail sales picture when it announced that not only did revenue tumble by 23% to $11 billion, but it missed already deeply cut estimates of $11.4 billion, leading to a 111% collapse in operating profit which from $1.1 billion turned into a $114 million loss in the quarter. To be sure, the company tried to pull an Alcoa and stuff massive restructuring charges in the quarter amounting to $689, boosting non-GAAP EPS by $0.89 to $0.74, however one can simply ignore this latest accounting fudge attempt.
"I worked without sleep or rest. After Prime Minister Abe put my self at the helm of Abenomics, I put my life on the line for my national duty over the past three years."
Following the Fed's disappointing "dovish, but not dovish enough" statement which effectively admitted Yellen had committed policy error by hiking just as the US economy "was slowing down" which in turn lowered the odds of a March rate hike to just 18%, it was up to oil to pick up the correlation torch, and so it did, rising in an otherwise mixed session which has seen European stocks slide on continued weakness surrounding Italian banks, many of which have been halted limit down, while Asia was treading water following news of the resignation of Japan’s "Abenomics" minister Akira Amari to over a graft scandal, and yet another day of Chinese stock dropping.
"Nobody is really sure where we go from here, and nobody is brave enough to make the call,” Peter Dixon, Commerzbank AG’s global equities economist in London told Bloomberg. “Corporate earnings season won’t provide much of a support - markets may find a floor if the Fed is extremely dovish tonight. At least investors will have time to think and reassess valuations."
It has been another volatile, illiquid, whipsawed session, driven by the only two things that have mattered so far in 2016, China and oil.... and stop-hunting algos of course.
The status quo "solution" to the decline of opportunities for meaningful work is predictably top-down: guaranteed income for all, a.k.a. "welfare for all." This is of course a re-hash of the Keynesian Cargo Cult's 1930 fix for the Great Depression, except on a far grander scale. If the "solution" doesn't enable the accumulation of capital in all its forms by individuals and households, it isn't a real solution--it's just another top-down scheme that institutionalizes subsistence serfdom.