The recent correction in the commodities markets may be providing Bernake, Geithner and their easy money acolytes with a sense of relief given the relentless run up in prices of raw materials since the announcement of QE back in 2008, but they should not sleep tight just yet. As anyone in the markets will tell you, when any underlying has a price move so vertical in its trajectory it’s bound to face a correction as the smart money, having gotten in for fundamental reasons much earlier along the trend line now wait for the panic buyers or the Johnny-come-lately’s to give the rally that last unsustainable spike to unload their longs and leave the suckers holding $40.00 silver in their purses. So one must step back and take a long view. Although it would appear that those of us who warn that inflation is not just a threat but very much a fact of life now were knee-jerk pontificators jumping on the commodities rally trend for political (read: Fed/Obama bashing) reasons, the analysis is quite sound. Most important, it is methodical not emotional as price surges tend to make investors and analysts from time to time. Here are some facts: even with the inevitable correction in commodities, as of this writing crude oil is 35% more expensive than it was a year ago…advancing with ups and downs along the way from as low as $17.50/bbl in November of 2001 to its current level of over $100/bbl or around a 19% annual appreciation in a decade since the Fed started giving away dollars. Silver 93% Wheat 84% Cotton 100% Coffee 55% Cattle 10% etc etc. Gold is up 22% for the year. More revealing, it is up an astonishing 450% since 2001. In that same decade the USD index against all currencies shed 40% of its value.
Our chart of the day comes courtesy of Dylan Grice, and his fascinating "Hyperinflation in Japan" presentation given at the CFA annual meeting in Edinburgh which we will shortly share with readers, which shows that currency devaluation is not a Ben Bernanke, nor even a central bank, phenomenon. As the chart below shows, and as most monetarists know too well, it was the Romans who engaged in the first act of voluntary currency devaluation-cum-dilution, by progressively reducing the silver content (yes, even back then currencies were backed by precious metals: and guess what - no CDOs squared, cubed, or quadratic, were conceived by the local office of Goldmanus Sachus) until such time as it hit zero... and the Roman empire was no more. Ironically, the nearly 100% devaluation of the currency in Roman times took just over 2 centuries. This compares somewhat favorable to the 97% drop in the purchasing power of the US currency since the inception of the Federal Reserve.
CME goes full retard, and is now seriously threatening to destabilize the clearing structure of the market with what appears a panicked margin hike every single day in one or more commodities. Among today's products impacted RBOB and RBOB crack spreads, up by 21% and 50%, respectively, as the CME makes it all too clear which products the Obama memo said need to be killed post haste.
We just ran across a newswire headline that said what we have been warning about for about a month: "US Treasury auction to take US over debt ceiling on Monday." As a result, we took a look at today's DTS update, and indeed, come Monday's full settlement of this week's auctions, the jig is up. Prior to this week's $72 billion in auctions, total debt subject to the $14.294 Tr ceiling has risen to $14.280 trillion. There is no way the Treasury can cut $42 billion in debt next Monday (pro forma for the $16 billion Bill paydown settlement). Next up: panic.
RANsquawk Market Wrap Up - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 11/05/11
And while the open warfare between speculators and the administration, senators and exchanges continues, the gasoline fundamentals are poised to take another turn for the worse. As Reuters reports, "Valero Energy Corp's and Motiva Enterprises refineries in St. Charles Parish Louisiana, west of New Orleans, will be flooded if the Morganza Spillway is not opened, the St. Charles Parish emergency preparedness director said on Wednesday." Alas, the decision is not a simple one, and diverting the water from Louisiana, and attendant surge in gas prices once refining critical capacity is taken off line, would result in the flooding of Morgan City. From KFLY: "Officials say a decision on opening the
Morganza spillway could come soon. The Morganza Spillway is upriver
from Baton Rouge and could be opened today, or this weekend. The floodway pours into the Atchafalaya River, and on to the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, inmates are filling sandbags to protect properties that could
be damaged if the spillway is opened. If the Morganza spillway is
opened, Morgan City could see up to 20 feet of water. Mark Bernucho owns a fire and safety supply business across the street
from the 22-foot seawall, and he said it's the only thing keeping the
water away. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed water gauges
Wednesday, to monitor the rising river waters." So the administration is faced with another dilemma: not divert and potentially see a surge in gas prices, or divert, and risk flooding and be accused of pandering to the oil lobby, one short year after the same lobby was villainized for the biggest oil spill in history. The biggest loser, however, is all the real estate in proximity to the flooded Mississippi river.
Some may accuse us of simply recycling the same post over and over, with pictures of what appears like periodic violent rioting in Athens. Trust us: these are brand new, and the main reason why there is a seemingly massive media blackout of the events in Greece is because the journalists themselves are on strike. Luckily, the WSJ has compiled the following selection of pictures showing just how ugly the reality in an otherwise civilized European country has become. And since much of the proposed next round of austerity spending cuts would come from reducing wage costs in the public sector, cuts in operating expenses at state-owned enterprises, and reduced defense and health-care spending, the vicious cycle of more violent demonstrations will continue as even more cuts are implemented.
Today is shaping up to be an identical replica of the action from last Thursday as seen on the chart below. That's two flash crashes in less than a week. Whether this is driven by another margin hike known only to the CME and its closest, or due to news from Reuters that 17 senators have written to the CFTC to immediately crack down on excessive speculation in crude oil, is unclear, and largely irrelevant. The outright campaign to stomp out any non-stock trading is in full force. The message is clear: the only place where investors can henceforth put their money in is in stocks.
Because one video is worth one thousand pictures...
The fed has just released its new POMO schedule for the period from May 12 to June 9. In essence, every single day between now and Thursday June 9 will see a POMO, except for holidays and June 2. The total amount to be monetized is just $93 billion consisting of $80 billion in Treasurys (no surprise) and just $13 billion in MBS, confirming that as we have expected, the QE Lite component of monetization is coming to a rapid end as few if any prepay their mortgages with the Fed any longer. The MBS component is down from $17 billion as of the last schedule, and from $22 billion two months ago. The total monthly amount of $93 billion is the lowest of any monthly QE2 schedule. And following the end of this schedule, there is just another 20 days before QE2 ends on June 30, meaning from now until the end of the ramp, there is at best about $160 billion in incremental capital courtesy of Brian Sack and Printocchio. Furthermore, as of the end of this POMO schedule, the Fed will have monetized just $711 billion. Throw in another $60 billion total
for the remaining period through June 30, and the Fed will be woefully
short of its upside range of monetizing up to $900 billion in USTs and
And so another $24 billion in liquidity is sucked out of the market, at least temporarily until PDs flip Cusip QN3 back to the Fed. The bond priced at a 3.21% high yield, and a 3.00 Bid To Cover, the lowest so far in 2011. Nonetheless, the bond came inside to the WI which was about 3.222%, confirming the risk off aspect of today's market. Primary Dealers took down 44.4%, with Direct responsible for 8.4%. This means Indirects were left with 47.2%: better than April, but the second lowest of 2011, only better than April's 42.4%. The other question of how this will settle, together with yesterday's $32 billion and tomorrow's $16 billion, under the debt ceiling, we will discover in a few days.
Today's (further) ceiling busting $24 billion 10 Year bond auction is set to price in under 10 minutes, at 1 PM. That's $24 billion in liquidity that wil be taken out of the market on this flashy crashy day. Keep an eye on cross-asset volatility as the bond prices. One thing is certain: the CME will hike a variety of margins today based on vol models across the commodity space in the aftermath of this second wipeout in a week, which will be further exacerbated by a plethora of margin calls hitting at 3:45pm as Prime Brokers start dialing for dollars.
Update 2: NYMEX GASOLINE, HEATING OIL LIMITS NOW 50 CENTS, CRUDE $20. Basically the CME just doubled daily limits. Of course, the CME is happy to double the drops... but never the surges.
Update: CME RESUMES TRADING ON NYMEX CRUDE, PRODUCTS FUTURES
- CME HALTS TRADING ON GAS, CRUDE OIL, HEATING OIL FUTURES
- CME TRADING HALT IN ENERGY FUTURES WILL LAST 5 MINUTES
So now crashes cause the entire market to be halted? Swell
So much for the Chinese IPO bubble, which accounted for 25% of all public offerings in the past year. DATE, which just went public at $11, is now plummeting as underwriters have entirely abdicated their market floor duties. Below is the much vaunted "Chinese Face Book" RenRen, whose epic collapse is a harbinger of what will happen to our own pretty soon. Also, we demonstrate what happens when an equity bubble pops and an IPO stock plunges 10% below its IPO price in 25 minutes or less.
A snapshot of the US Afternoon Briefing covering Stocks, Bonds, FX, etc.
Market Recaps to help improve your Trading and Global knowledge