It's quiet out there; too quiet. But if you were watching carefully this morning, everyone's favorite government-subsidized bank - Citigroup - flash-crashed to the tune of a $1.2bn market-cap loss in a fraction under 100 milliseconds. A 1.3% micro-crash on absolutely massive volume so perfectly visualized thanks to Nanex. When does this 'liquidity-providing' fiasco stop?
Just five weeks ago, EURUSD traded back to 'fair-value' with its comparable ECB and Fed balance sheets. Since 7/20, things have got a little hope-fueled and now the picture is quite different. Based on EURUSD at 1.25, this 'implies' a Fed/ECB ratio of around 1.05x - which in turn provides us with a nice round $400bn expectation for NEW QE in the short-term. Of course, if Draghi goes full retard then the Fed's 'counter' will have to be even higher, but we suspect (ever so subtley) that this afternoon's action (with high beta, QE-sensitive 'everything' selling off) hints at more than a few 'investors' getting cold feet.
Not even the almighty power of AAPL could bring to bear a positive end to the day for the S&P 500 or the Dow. Most notably, the Dow Transports are now -2.3% from the highs last Tuesday and diverging aggressively lower. Volume was simply incredibly low today (with London close) in NYSE and S&P 500 e-minis where volume was its lowest of the year by a long-way. VIX soared today, up over 1.2vols to 16.4% with some major put-spread buying in SPY. The afternoon weakness in gold, silver, stocks broadly (and specifically Materials, Industrials, Discretionary, and Financials) tend to indicate a QE-off move but Treasuries (which rallied 2-4bps) were largely unmoved in the afternoon. The USD limped higher also (QE-off) all afternoon but ended the day practically unchanged with AUD weakness the standout. Oil was volatile as Isaac was downgraded, cracks were arb'd, and SPR-release rumors swung it around - though the economically-sensitive commodities all clustered together at the close around -0.5%.
There is a glaring divide between the G10 and Emerging Market economies in terms of what monetary easing is priced in - and what is not. Specifically, as Citi notes below, traders 'expect' the US, Europe, and Canada all to be tightening (raising rates) within 18 months, while expectations are for Australia (and the rest of the China-reliant nations across Asia) to see notable easing in that period - and already priced in. Brazil is the standout as far as 'inflation' fighting rate rises just as Eastern Europe is priced for the most 'easing' of rates. It seems clear that not every stimulating headline has the same value with this much EM easing priced in already - and hope priced into DMs.
It has officially become boring to joke about jokes about the record low volume, but here goes.
We tried to bite our tongue; we ignored some of the sheer hypocrisy of Cleveland Fed's Sandra' oh Sandy' Pianalto (that QE2 was a definitive success in 2010 but now LSAPs require more analysis of costs and benefits); but when she started down the road of praising the US consumer for deleveraging we had enough. In the immortal words of John Travolta: "Sandy, can't you see, we're in misery" as while she notes consumers cutting back on credit card debt (due to forced bankruptcies we note), Consumer debt has only been higher on one month in history! Soaring auto loans and student debt should just be ignored? There is no deleveraging - Total US Consumer debt is 0.23% from its all-time high in mid-2008, and will with all likelihood break the record at the next data point. Meanwhile her speech, so full of careful-not-to-over-commits can be summed up by the world-cloud that shows the six words most prominent: 'Monetary Policy', 'Financial Conditions', and most importantly 'Credit Economy'. Here's the deal: Consumer Debt is Consumer Debt.
In a little under two-and-a-half minutes, CNBC's Rick Santelli surveys the landscape of just what exactly is Quantitative Easing, why more debt does not solve the problem of too much debt, and why these actions (as even Frau Merkel has ascribed concern) are nothing but counterfeiting. He rhetorically questions how the printing of more money is the way to solve our 'problems', adding via Rick Rule, that "there's been no shortage of cash in the system; but one wonders [given] this economy seems based on liquidity, whether building an economy on what is, in fact, counterfeiting is very good for the economy in the long term?"
With the world's suckers investors (CEOs, politicians, and peons alike) all hanging on every word the man-behind-the-curtain has to say on Friday, Stone & McCarthy has crafted an excellent 'what-if' of key takeaways and interpretations ahead of Friday's Jackson Hole Symposium speech by Bernanke. Will Draghi toe the line? Will China be pissed? and what rhymes with J-Hole? On balance, we think Bernanke will save the policy directives for the FOMC meeting (potentially disappointing the market) while highlighting that the Committee is vigilant and flexible, and ready to act.
Military budgets are only one gauge of military power. A given financial commitment may be adequate or inadequate depending on the number and capability of a nation's adversaries, how well it spends its investment, and what it seeks to accomplish, among other factors. Nevertheless, trends in military spending do reveal something about a country's capacity for coercion. The following charts, from the Council of Foreign Relations, present historical trends in U.S. military spending and analyze the forces that may drive it lower.
Welcome to the new America — where banks must be protected at all costs. Whether it’s a bailout or a trumped up charge to silence a protestor, if the banks want it, they get it. The district attorney in the case has dropped the charge of attempted robbery. However, a terroristic threat charge remains. Meanwhile, the economic evidence is mounting that countries that want to recover need to tell the banks to take a hike.
It seems the 'we -really-want-it-but please-don't-blame-us-when-it-all-goes-pear-shaped' meme continues in Europe as ECB's Asmussen adds his own peculiar mix of talking out of both sides of his mouth, (via Bloomberg):
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS DOUBTS ABOUT EURO'S SURVIVAL UNACCEPTABLE FOR ECB
- *ASMUSSEN: ECB STILL WORKING ON DETAILS OF BOND PLAN, WILL ADDRESS SENIORITY CONCERNS
- *ASMUSSEN: ECB WILL STRICTLY SEPARATE MON. POL., SUPERVISION ROLES
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS ECB CAN'T PAY FOR FISCAL POLICY MISTAKES
- *ASMUSSEN: WE WON'T TAKE SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITY WITHOUT TOOLS
- *ASMUSSEN SAYS HE PREFERS BAILOUT FUND TO BUY BONDS BEFORE ECB
Clearly there is still ongoing uncertainty and confrontation within the governing council - and it is obviously not just Weidmann. Market response - not a blip in ES or EURUSD!
With London closed, the market's 'police' were away and so the mice played. Credit markets (sovereign and corporate) went absolutely nowhere as trading was minimal to negligible but equities just could not help themselves as the path of least resistance was to retraced back up from Friday's loss. The move in European equities is simply catch up to Friday's post-European-close levitation in the US (admittedly with a little higher beta) and volume was as dismal as one would expect. FX markets are also dead with EURUSD up only 5 pips at the EU close - having traded in a 40 pip range since it opened on Sunday night (most of which was around the Asian and European data releases). Quiet - in a word - with reality returning tomorrow as London's credit traders come back.
It doesn't get any better than this - or at least in the last 30 years we have not seen a post-panic rally in risk appetite extend beyond the current length of this move. Credit Suisse's Global Risk Appetite index, which is notably tracking lower with ISM New Orders data, has not extended beyond this time-frame from any of its previous 'deep-panic' peaks. While equity markets contonue to diverge higher, risk appetite is notably lagging and one has to wonder if that historical 'animal-spirits' trough-to-peak period (which is set to coincide with Jackson Hole, FOMC, and ECB meetings) will hold once again as hope fades and reality rears its ugly head.
A recent article discusses an old document (the "Report from Iron Mountain") supposedly written by a committee of academics, explaining why war was necessary as an organizing principle of society. In reality, nature thrives on diversity and yet the current authoritarian vision of the ever-more centrally-planned world appears to be to create a larger political union still. But the end is coming for them. We have entered the twilight of their vision. It is the same fear that motivates the Report from Iron Mountain. The system is too complex to be controlled. Back then the authorities said they feared chaos breaking out over the necessary changes to the economy that would follow from a transition to perpetual peace. In reality they feared the loss of control.