Even as Washington stares into a fiscal abyss of its own construction, there is one bright spot: the ongoing global popularity of the $100 bill. The U.S. Treasury/Federal Reserve launched their latest version of the venerable C-Note just this week, printing $350 billion worth over the last 12 months to meet anticipated robust worldwide demand. Given that $100 bills last about 15 years in circulation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes that these record amounts seem to indicate very strong worldwide demand for hard currency rather just replacing old stock. In the US, by contrast, the ‘Cashless economy’ is coming hard and fast.
At the time of publication, the United States government is shut down. That does not mean the gears of the state have come to a thankful halt. Over three-quarters of Washington’s global hegemony remains fully functional. Tax dollars are still being redistributed. Wars continue to be waged. The public at large is going about its day unbothered by the furlough of tens of thousands of government employees. For once, apathy has paid off. The only poor souls bemoaning the shutdown are the ones sitting at home. The United States government is not going away anytime soon. The same government workers kicked out of their day-job will go crawling back once given the green light. Being called the equivalent of worthless will be of no consideration. The paycheck is paramount to their dignity. They have our sympathy, but there would be more to share if the state didn’t thrive off the fat of the rubes.
Confused at the growing pile of unpaid food-stamps? Unsure just how many non-essential government-workers are still on furlough? Befuddled by the duration of the shutdown? Fear no more, the following interactive "Shutdown Clock" quantifies just how dismal US politics has become.
Unlike her predecessors, Janet Yellen has never had a youthful dalliance with hawkish monetary ideas. Before taking charge of the Fed both Alan Greenspan, and to a lesser extent Ben Bernanke, had advocated for the benefits of a strong currency and low inflation and had warned of the dangers of overly accommodative policy and unnecessary stimulus. (Both largely abandoned these ideals once they took the reins of power, but their urge to stimulate may have been restrained by a vestigial bias against the excesses of Keynesianism). Janet Yellen, who has been on the liberal/dovish end of the monetary spectrum for her entire professional career, has no such baggage. As a result, we can expect her to never waver in her belief that stimulus is the answer to every economic question.
As we noted last night, yesterday's move in US equity markets showed signs of investor panic and capitulation. BofAML points out that the inversion of the VIX to levels that have coincided with market lows for much of this year, the significant underperformance of recent outperformers (the NASDAQ Comp fell 2% and the Russell 2000 fell 1.72% vs an S&P500 decline of 1.23%), and pop in the ARMS Index all point to signs of capitulation. While this is encouraging from a technical perspective, as it says we are one step closer to completing the multi-week correction, they warn - it does not mean the correction is finished.
As headline after headline was regurgitated and used a momentum igniting ammo in stocks, the S&P managed to get back to post-Yellen-news highs before dumping into the close on the back the Fidelity "Sell" news. S&P futures closed perfectly at VWAP (and green) but the Russell and Nasdaq closed red. The Dow bounced off its 200DMA and set the lows for the day. USD strength across the board was not rotating into stocks or bonds or PMs as we suspect cash is the friend of the repo-angst deleveraging ahead. Copper and Oil are -2.3% on the week, Gold -0.4% and Silver remains positive +0.5% on the week. Treasury yields limped higher to +2bps or so on the week. VIX fell back on the day from spike high levels of 2013.
Not much comment necessary on a topic we have beaten to horse pulp in the past 2 weeks aside to note that this time is ironically different from 2011 as the inversion in the CDS curve is considerably more biased to a piling up of short-term default risk than in 2011.
It would appear the US government, in all its shutdown might, has made a decision. The State Department has issued a statement that the US "wants to see Egypt succeed," via an "inclusive, democratically elected civilian government," but in the meantime will be "recalibrating assistance to Egypt to best advance US interests." A translation of the political double-speak - it's a coup and we won't be sending any military aid or cash directly to the country anymore...
Everyone knows that one of the immediate catalysts of the near systemic collapse in the aftermath of the Lehman bankruptcy, one which set in motion the sequence of events that led to Bernanke increasing the Fed's balance sheet fourfold, was when the Reserve Primary Money Market Fund announced on September 16 that the value of its shares had dropped to 97, sparking an epic run on money market funds, and requiring an immediate bailout first from its sponsor, and then the Federal Reserve and US government. What is far less known is that the Reserve Primary Fund was just one of many money market funds that got locked out and was in danger of collapse following the decision to let Dick Fuld hang. How many? According to a research note released by the NY Fed itself, at least 28 more!
Many market-watching prognosticators have dismissed the spike in T-Bill rates on the basis of "well it's only a few pennies, why worry..." missing entirely the 50-100x leverage in TRS and the almost inifinite rehypothecation risk implicit in a missed payment (even if temporary). It seems, despite these views, Fidelity Investments - the largest manager of money-market mutual funds - said, according to AP, that it no longer holds any US government debt maturing around the time of the nation could hit ist borrowing limit. Action - it would seem - speaks louder than words.
As the old Mark I Bernanke rusts and loses power, President Obama has been working on the new improved Mark II version of the Fed Chair. It's older, more female, less facial hair (from what we can see), but critically more dovish in all the places the US investing public demands... Behold, Yellenomics...
In 4 minutes (and really under 1 minute when the summary headlines hit), WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath managed to parse the 25-page and considerably more diverse of opinion FOMC Minutes into a bite-sized 535 words summarizing the key sections. His conclusion, as we noted previously, despite the various members' angst, they still want to start winding down QE this year and end it next year. It would appear that his 'translation' of the minutes for the investing public offers little hope for moar QE anytime soon - even if fiscal drags are sustained. We are confident neither Hilsenrath, nor anyone else in the legacy media, ever breache[s|d] s the FOMC embargo when they receive the minutes ahead of general release for broader preparation: after all, in a time when everyone is suddenly concerned with the Fed leaking data in advance, that would just be uncivilized.
Stocks Resume Ramp As Old News That Republicans Are Heading To White House, Is Again Regurgitated LateSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/09/2013 14:41 -0400
In a second iteration of news not being read hours ago and suddenly surprising the algos in charge of stock market momentum, minutes ago headlines blasted reports that Boehner would go to a White House meeting. This is precisely what Politico, again, said would happen at 7 am this morning but since apparently nobody bothered to read it, and since it is suddenly news again, everyone is grasping on this "revelation" as if it is a new development. It isn't.