Amid the collapse of the global carry trade, no nation on earth has benefited more (and is now suffering more) from the dash-for-trash, buy-the-pig-sty trade than Greek stocks and bonds. Combining carry unwinds with uncertainty over snap Presidential elections (which could usher in a left-wing anti-EU party into power) and a 'technical-only' extension of its handouts from Troika and Greek capital markets are in freefalll. The Athens Stock Index is down over 11% on the day, destroying 3 weeks of gains; the Greek 3Y bond price has collapsed (as the carry-traders pile out through small doors) inverting the yield curve - never a good sign.
In the 2003-2004 playbook, “considerable period” gave way to “patient” as a signal that the hikes were drawing closer, and it is interesting that the words “patient” or “patience” have shown up quite frequently in recent Fed speeches. The problem with a simple shift to “patience” without any qualifications on December 17 is that back in 2004 this shift occurred just 4½ months before the first hike, and some market participants might therefore take it to mean a hike before June.
The investment game is becoming more suspect and dangerous as asset price levels continue to ignore economic weakness and the lack of necessary political reform. Instead, many investors (not just in the EU) have become conditioned like B.F. Skinner rats to bid up financial risk assets whenever a central banker makes a promise about accommodation or further stimulus; this even occurs when data disappoints, because investors expect ‘the promise’ to soon follow. Fear of missing the upside and underperforming peers and benchmarks is what makes this reflexivity work. This is actually a sad state of affairs and an ever-more dangerous and epic game of chicken. This conditional response pattern is unsustainable. Indebtedness and market speculation continue to soar. In the end, printing is a not a solution, but a source of long-term harm to markets and national economies.
About That 2100 S&P Target For 2015, Goldman Was Only Kidding, Now Sees Even More Ridiculous Multiple ExpansionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/06/2014 16:14 -0400
It was just one short month ago when, on the back of the soaring dollar (which has since soared even more), as well as "diminished global GDP growth and lower crude prices", Goldman's David Kostin cut his EPS for 2015 and 2016 from $125 and $132 to $122 and $131. Then, it was just two short weeks ago, the same David Kostin said "we expect the P/E will contract and the index will slip during the second-half of 2015 as the Fed takes its first step in the long-awaited tightening cycle. Our S&P 500 year-end 2015 target of 2100 implies a modest 5-10% P/E multiple compression to 16.0x our top-down 2016 EPS estimate or 14.6x bottom-up consensus earnings estimates." And then, with the S&P now about 20 points away from Goldman's 2015 year end target (and just 120 points from the government-backed hedge fund's 2016 year end target!), the very same David Kostin admits that he was only kidding and that the S&P may in fact rise to a whopping 2300 in the coming year...
The reaction to today's blockbuster noise-ridden jobs data is muted in stocks but bonds are sending some complicated and uncomfortable signals. 2Y yields are 6-7bps higher and 30Y yield are now unchanged (havingbeen 4-5bps higher) as the market prices in short-term Fed action and the implicit medium-term economic weakness expected. This 6-7bps flattening of the 2s30s curve has crushed the spread to 234bps - below levels seen as Lehman failed and near Summer 2012's cycle lows. But we are sure 2015 will be the year that rates rise... right?
B-Dud Explains The Fed’s Economic Coup (Or Why Every Asset Price Influencing Monetary Policy Transmission Is Now Manipulated)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2014 20:30 -0400
The Fed can do only do two concrete things to influence these income and credit sources of spending - both of which are unsustainable, dangerous and an assault on free market capitalism’s capacity to generate growth and wealth. It can induce households to consume a higher fraction of current income by radically suppressing interest rates on liquid savings. And it can inject reserves into the financial system to induce higher levels of credit creation. But the passage of time soon catches up with both of these parlor tricks.
"The stock market just keeps zooming up. A low equity allocation must be hurting you now... For all purposes, this is a hideously expensive market. I don’t care if it’s a bubble or not. It’s too expensive, and I don’t need to own it. That is the problem. This is the first central bank sponsored near-bubble. There is just nowhere to hide... but... to think that central banks will always be there to bail out equity investors is incredibly dangerous."
Prepare For ECB Disappointment: 'We Do Not Expect Any Additional Easing To Be Announced", Goldman WarnsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/06/2014 08:29 -0400
"we do not expect any additional easing to be announced in addition to the various measures adopted between June and September. We expect Mr Draghi’s remarks to be focused on the Comprehensive Assessment of Euro area banks, and on the fact that the decline in oil prices is lowering headline inflation in most advanced economies."
On balance, Morgan Stanley feels that broad-based QE, (i.e. large-scale purchases of government bonds) is further away for the ECB than the market currently believes. Presently they only assign a subjective 40% probability to such a step being taken; whereas the euro rates market is already pricing in the ECB resorting to a broad-based purchase programme with a very high probability of 80-100%. Goldman agrees warning specifically that "Sovereign QE is not imminent... and indeed may never happen." It appears no matter what, disappointment is guaranteed for the market.
Central banks are printing rules almost as fast as they’re printing money. The consequences of these fast-multiplying directives — complicated, long-winded, and sometimes self-contradictory — is one topic at hand. Manipulated interest rates is a second. Distortion and mispricing of stocks, bonds, and currencies is a third. Skipping to the conclusion of this essay, Jim Grant is worried: "The more they tried, the less they succeeded. The less they succeeded, the more they tried. There is no 'exit.'"
Having disproven the "yield curve is not inverted so there cannot be a recession anytime soon" meme, we thought the following chart of a much more macro-economic-data-related indicator that appears to be a useful timing tool for suggesting recessionary conditions exist would provide some more useful context than an articially-manipulated 'market' interest rate. As Evergreen Gavekal notes, the ratio of coincident-to-lagging conference board indices has an admirable record as a recession forecaster... and is at its lowest level since Sept 2009.
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)
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.
This past week investors took a blow from a sharp selloff in the financial markets. Now that the correction has occurred, at least to some degree, the question that must be answered is simply: “Is it over?” That is the basis of this weekend’s reading list which is a compilation of reads that debate this point. The bulls remain wildly bullish, believing that this is simply a “dip” in the ongoing “bull market.” The more pessimistic crowd sees the opposite.