"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.
If U.S. stocks have stabilized – granted, a big 'IF' - you can thank the fact that markets don’t believe the Federal Reserve’s outlook on interest rates. Bad news will keep the doves “Fed” (yes, a pun… it’s Friday) and the hawks at bay. A spate of good U.S. news while the rest of the developed world slows is the worst potential outcome in this narrative.
Having rotated their attention to the T-bill market in Japan (after demand for the Bank of Japan's cheap loans disappointed policymakers) in an effort to ensure enough freshly printed money was flushed into Japanese markets, the BoJ now has a major problem. For the first time since QQE began, Bloomberg reports the BoJ failed to buy all the bonds they desired. Whether this is investors unwilling to sell (preferring the safe haven than stocks or eu bonds) or that BoJ has soaked up too much of the market (that dealers now call "dead") is unclear. Japanese stocks - led by banks - are sliding as bond-demand sends 5Y yields (13bps) to 18-month lows.
The last time the stock market reached a fevered peak and began to wobble unexpectedly was August 2007. Markets were most definitely not in the classic “price discovery” business. Instead, the stock market had discovered the “goldilocks economy." But what is profoundly different this time is that the Fed is out of dry powder. Its can’t slash the discount rate as Bernanke did in August 2007 or continuously reduce it federal funds target on a trip from 6% all the way down to zero. Nor can it resort to massive balance sheet expansion. That card has been played and a replay would only spook the market even more. So this time is different. The gamblers are scampering around the casino fixing to buy the dip as soon as white smoke wafts from the Eccles Building. But none is coming. For the first time in 25- years, the Wall Street gamblers are home alone.
We have been discussing the widespread belief in "the narrative of central bank omnipotence" for a number of months (here and here most recently) as we noted "there are no more skeptics. To update Milton Friedman’s famous quote, we are all Bernankians now." So when Saxobank's CIO and Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen warns that "the mood has changed," and feedback from conference calls and speaking engagements tells him, there is a growing belief that the 'narrative of the central banks' is failing, we sit up and listen.
One would think that after last week's market rout, the worst in years, that Goldman clients would have just one question: why just a month after you, chief Goldman strategist David Kostin said to "Buy Stocks Because Hedge Funds Suck; Also Chase Momentum And Beta", are stocks crashing? No really: this is literally what Kostin said in the first days of September: "investors should buy stocks which should benefit from a combination of beta, momentum, and popularity as funds attempt to remedy their weak YTD performance heading into late 2014." Turns out frontrunning the world's most overpaid money losers wasn't such a great strategy after all. In any event, that is not what Goldman's clients are asking. Instead as David Kostin informs us in his weekly letter to Jim Hanson's beloved creations, "every client inquiry focused on the same four topics: global growth, FX, oil, and small-caps."
At the end of the day, the Fed with its misguided theories have demolished capitalism: the single most powerful form of wealth generation in the history of mankind. All the Fed has really accomplished is leverage the entire financial by an even greater amount… which has set the stage for a collapse that will make 2008 look like a picnic.
This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as one starts to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, it is clear Keynes wad right in his call for a hybrid currency when he recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold convertibility, the world needed an alternative way to prevent destabilizing imbalances from developing. On the heels of Treasury Economist Kenneth Austin and former-Obama chief economist Jared Bernstein discussing the end of the USD as a reserve currency, Michael Pettis summarizes 10 reasons the USD's reserve status has become an 'exorbitant burden'.