Today's financial markets make a mockery out of sanity and logic. The difference between what SHOULD happen and what IS happening is perhaps the greatest it has been in our investing lifetimes. If you're perplexed, flummoxed, frustrated, stymied, enraged, bored, irritated, insulted, discouraged -- any or all of these -- by the ever-higher blind grinding of asset prices over the past several years, despite so many structural reasons for concern, you have good reason to be.
It's official - everyone's involved! According to the 21st Century Business Herald, at least 17 financial institutions involved in copper, aluminum and other nonferrous metals financing business face losses of almost 15 billion Yuan (not including the contagious rehypothecated collateral chains involved) due to the over-invoicing of the Qingdao port. Crucially, it appears that the evaporation of collateral (i.e. multiple loans secured by the same collateral) has been confirmed officially and banks such as Standard Chartered have already ceased any new business via this supposedly secured channel.
- Tea Party struggles to repeat Cantor-style shock in Tennessee (Reuters)
- Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq (WSJ)
- Oil Rallies as Militant Advance in Iraq Threatens Crude (BBG)
- Gold Set for First Back-to-Back Weekly Gain Since April (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Get Stung by Slow Markets (WSJ)
- Sterling nears 5-year high after Carney speech (FT)
- Britain Warns Boom in Real-Estate Prices Threatens Economy (WSJ)
- East Europe Leaders Urge EU Unity to Counter Russia (BBG)
- Formula One Said to Be Valued at $8 Billion as Malone Seeks Stake (BBG)
- Dumb and dumber: Abe Plans Company Tax Cut in 2015 as Kuroda Warns on Budget (BBG)
With another day of little otherwise completely irrelevant macro news (because following last night's abysmal Australian jobs data one would think the AUD would be weaker; one would be wrong), market participants - all 3 of them - and algos (which have finally uncovered where Iraq is on google maps) are finally turning their attention to the latest conflict in Iraq (because they obviously no longer care about the martial law in Thailand or the civil war in Ukraine), where the Al Qaeda spin off ISIS overnight seized at least 310K B/D in refinery capacity in northern Iraq according to the Police, and what is more concerning, is now less than a 100 kilometers away from Baghdad. Will ISIS dare to venture further south? Keep an eye on crude for the answer.
Over 1 in 5 homes (with $674 billion of mortgages) in China stand empty... and if you think that urbanization will fix that, as WSJ reports, a 10 percentage point rise in the urbanization rate (already at 54%) would result in only a 2.6% drop in vacancy rates. China has a major over-supply issue thanks to property developers who had rushed into the market to build homes, which have been a popular investment as prices seemed bound to keep rising. But now, as Vanke recently warned, things are changing and "the golden era" of China's property market are over. The vacancy rate of sold residential homes in urban areas reached 22.4% in 2013 and as new home prices are slashed to move product, a 30% drop would leave 11.2% of Chinese homes underwater on their mortgages...
WeChat, the popular instant messaging service in China, has been the subject of a 3-month crackdown on cyber-crime by police in the Guangdong Province where Tencent (WeChat's parent) is based. Having created a CNY 10 million fund for whistleblowers, the company reports:
*WECHAT SHUTS 20M PROSTITUTION-RELATED ACCOUNTS: XINHUA
WeChat has over 600 million active users (so there's stillplenty of pr0n we suspect), but we wonder just how much carnage this will do the now hookers-and-blow dominated GDP calculations of the world's major economies.
- World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast After ‘Bumpy’ 2014 Start (BBG)
- Al-Qaeda Offshoot Threatens Iraq Oil Site After Taking Mosul (BBG)
- Fed Prepares to Keep Record Balance Sheet for Years to Come (BBG)
- EU investigates tax rulings on Apple, Starbucks, Fiat unit (Reuters)
- Cantor Loss Shocks Republicans, Dims Immigration Changes (BBG)
- More surveillance: Google to Buy Satellite-Imaging Startup for $500 Million (WSJ)
- Tea Party activist who defeated Cantor focused on budget, immigration (Reuters)
- Airbus Suffers Worst Order Loss as Emirates Deal Scrapped (BBG)
- Amazon.com plans local services marketplace this year (Reuters)
- Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘Lego’ and Other Warner Videos (NYT)
The tidal patterns of this market have become so well-known to even the least observant: push the USDJPY (or other JPY carry pairs) higher starting around 6am Eastern, then ramp it just before US open to launch cross-asset momentum ignition algos in FX which then carry over to spoos and the broader "market." In the meantime, overnight selling of USDJPY allows a reset before ensuing buying during the US daytime session. Rinse. Repeat. Sure enough, just after 6 pm Eastern, the same USDJPY which catalyzed yet another all time high close had been sold off, leading to a 0.85% drop in the Nikkei and US equity futures which are showing an unprecedented ungreen color. Don't worry though: the pattern is too well-known and practiced by now, and we fully expect USDJPY levitation to pick up shortly, which is the only signal ES-algos need, trampling over any kind of newsflow both good and bad, and leading to yet another all time record high which it goes without saying is completely detached from any underlying reality at this point and at any time over the past 5 years.
Moments ago, St. Louis Fed president Bullard gave one of his signature yellow-backgrounded presentations to the Tennessee Bankers Association Annual Meeting taking place at the favorited by 1%-ers everywhere Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. The bulk of his presentation is the usual trite platitudes, but he did have some chose comments, such as:
- BULLARD: FED SHOULDN'T BE `INTERVENING' ALL THE TIME IN MARKETS
So just intervene from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm in the US equity market? But what will those who have been screaming about rigged, manipulated, broken US equity markets rail about if the Fed isn't intervening all the time in "markets", and if some semblance of normalcy, even if highly crashy, returns?
As we have been reporting (and forecasting for the past several years), the Eurasian anti-US Dollar axis is rapidly taking shape, with recent events catalyzed and certainly accelerated by US foreign policy in Ukraine, which has merely succeeded in pushing Russia that much closer, and faster, to China. The latest proof of this came overnight when the FT reported that Russian companies are preparing to switch contracts to renminbi and other Asian currencies amid fears that western sanctions may freeze them out of the US dollar market, according to two top bankers. Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now," ... "It looks like this is not just a blip, this is a trend,” said Mr Teplukhin of Deutsche Bank.
- Attorneys Known for Large Civil Settlements Line Up to Sue GM Over Company's Handling of Defective Ignition Switches (WSJ)
- Pakistani Taliban attack airport in Karachi, 27 dead (Reuters)
- U.S. Official: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Has Declined to Speak to His Family (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Talks Resume in Brussels to Avoid Cut-off This Week (BBG)
- China's Central Bank Flexes Muscle (WSJ)
- China says Vietnam, Philippines' mingling on disputed isle a 'farce' (Reuters)
- World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes (BBG)
- Kraft Raises Prices on Maxwell House, Yuban U.S. Coffee Products (BBG)
- United Continental: One Sick Bird (WSJ)
With the VIX smashing last week to levels not seen since early 2007, the S&P rising to all time highs, and European core and peripheral bond yield this morning touching historic lows, it would appear that the "market" has priced in every possible negative outcome. Which, as Goldman showed over the weekend is clearly not the case at least as investors are concerned who continued to sell stocks across the board in May even as the market broke out to record levels making many wonder who is buying stocks (for more read here)? Expect more of the same, and with some luck we will get a single digit VIX in the coming days as newsflow slows down following payrolls week and ahead of the world cup start in Brazil.
While we have warned about the problem with near-infinitely rehypothecated physical/funding commodities/metals, be they gold or copper, many times in the past, and most recently here, it was only this week that China finally admitted it has a major problem involving not just the commodities participating in funding deals - in this case copper and aluminum - but specifically their infinite rehypothecation, which usually results in the actual underlying metal mysteriously "disappearing", as in it never was there to begin with. It would appear our fears of global contagion (through various transmission channels) are now coming true as WSJ reports that as many as a half-dozen banks are trying to determine whether the collateral for loans they made to commodities traders was used fraudulently by a third party to obtain other loans. As we detailed previously, it appears the day when the Commodity Funding Deals finally end is fast approaching... and as we note below, why that will certainly be a watershed event.
If predicting yesterday's EURUSD (and market) reaction to the ECB announcement was easy enough, today's reaction to the latest "most important ever" nonfarm payrolls number (because remember: with the Fed getting out of market manipulation, if only for now, it is imperative that the economy show it can self-sustain growth on its own even without $85 billion in flow per month, which is why just like the ISM data earlier this week, the degree of "seasonal adjustments" are about to blow everyone away) should be just as obvious: since both bad news and good news remain "risk-on catalysts", and since courtesy of Draghi's latest green light to abuse any and every carry trade all risk assets will the bought the second there is a dip, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well. It certainly was overnight, when the S&P500 rose to new all time highs despite another 0.5% drop in the Shcomp (now barely holding on above 2000), and a slight decline in the Nikkei (holding on just over 15,000).
"Banks are worried about their exposure," warns one warehousing source, "there is a scramble for people to head down there at the minute and make sure that their metal that they think is covered by a warehouse receipt actually exists." The rehypothecated catastrophe that we discussed in great detail here (copper financing), here (all commodities), and here (global contagion) appears to be gathering speed as the China's northeastern port of Qingdao has halted shipments of aluminum and copper due to an investigation by authorities after they found "there is a discrepancy in metal that should be there and metal that is actually there."