Bank of America
Last week, Bank of America warned that "it's getting frothy, man" based on the sheer surge of fund flows into equities. Here is the same firm with some other observations on what can simply be described as a "frothy", "overbought", "overmargined" market with "not enough bears."
When even Bank of America has a note titled "It's getting frothy, man", and joins such other bubble-warners as JPM, Bill Gross, Larry Fink, and David Einhorn, one can be absolutely positive that the Fed will do... absolutely nothing.
Now that an October taper is out of the question, bored investors, in a world in which fundamentals no longer matter, are looking forward to the next possible FOMC meetings and potential taper announcement dates, with three specific dates sticking out: December/January, which are really one cluster, and June, as possible announcement dates. Why are these dates important: because while a September tapering announcement would have resulted in a $4 trillion final Fed balance sheet (assuming the tapering proceeded to a full QE halt) before even more QE was unleashed, any subsequent taper dates imply a nice round number to the final Fed balance sheet at the end of 2014: either $4.5 trillion, assuming a January 2014 taper, or $5 trillion if the Fed waits until June to announce a tapering. This can be seen on the following chart from Bank of America...
- US Blasts Germany's Economic Policies (WSJ)
- Citigroup, JPMorgan Said to Put Currency Dealers on Leave (BBG)
- Watchdog: Syria Destroys Chemical-Arms Equipment (WSJ)
- Kynikos Alumni Start Hedge Fund Betting on Declining Stocks (BBG)
- China state media calls for stern action after Tiananmen attack (RTRS)
- IMF warns of financial shock risk to Africa (FT)
- Insurers Oppose Obamacare Extension as Danger to Profits (BBG)
- BoJ content to ignore Fed tapering and go its own way (FT)
- U.S. attorney wants DOJ to take civil action against BofA (RTRS)
- NSA Fallout Hits AT&T's Ambitions In Europe (WSJ)
The kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we’ve become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It’s almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.
- Contractors describe scant pre-launch testing of U.S. healthcare site (Reuters)
- Carney Says BOE Revamp Offers Wider Access to Cheaper Funds (BBG)
- Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters (Reuters)
- Merkel and Hollande to change intelligence ties with US (FT)
- Twitter IPO pegs valuation at modest $11 billion (Reuters)
- NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts (Guardian)
- Officials alert foreign services that Snowden has documents on their cooperation with U.S. (WaPo)
- Scottish Nationalists Lose Vote After Plant Threatened With Axe (BBG)
- Fernández contemplates a train wreck in Argentine elections (FT)
- Irish Government will consider ‘best options’ for bailout exit (Irish Times)
- Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On (BBG)
- More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around (Reuters)
- Contractors Point Fingers Over Health-Law Website (WSJ)
- Jury Decides Against BofA on 'Hustle' Program (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse to overhaul interest rates trading business (FT)
- Home Builders Target Higher End (WSJ)
- The Many Lives of Iron Mountain (NYer)
- Busy tourist season nudges Spanish unemployment lower (Reuters)
- Morgan Stanley Joins BofA in Broker Recruiting Truce (BBG)
- Ending World’s Longest Nonstop Flight Adds Five Hours (BBG)
- Deutsche Bank 170k
- Bank of America 170k
- HSBC 171k
- Citigroup 180k
- UBS 195k
- JP Morgan 195k
- Barclays 200k
- Goldman Sachs 200k
- FHFA Is Said to Seek at Least $6 Billion From BofA for MBS Sales (BBG)
- Record Pact Is on the Table, But J.P. Morgan Faces Fight (WSJ)
- Magnetar Goes Long Ohio Town While Shorting Its Tax Base (BBG)
- Mini-Wall Street' Rises in Hamptons (WSJ)
- Obama to call healthcare website glitches 'unacceptable' as fix sought (Reuters)
- Starbucks Charges Higher Prices in China, State Media Says (WSJ)
- Cruz Is Unapologetic as Republicans Criticize Shutdown (BBG)
- Berlusconi struggles to keep party united after revolt (Reuters)
- SAC Defections Accelerate as Cohen Approaches Settlement (BBG)
Following last week's last two day panic buying driven not by data (since in the US it has been delayed until late October and November, and elsewhere in the world it is just getting worse) but by the catalyst that the US isn't going to default (yes, that's all that is needed to push the S&P to all time highs) and just hopes that the tapering - that horrifying prospect of the Fed reducing its monthly monetization by $15 billion from $85 to $70 billion in line with the decline in the US deficit - will be delayed until March or June 2014 because, you see, the Fed isn't sure how the economy is doing, it makes no sense to even comment on the market. Squeezes, momentum ignitions, rumors about what Messers Bernanke and Yellen had for breakfast, Goldman's 2015 S&P forecast of 2100: that's the lunacy that passes for market moving factors. News, and reality, have long since been put in the dust. Just keep an eye on flashing read headlines, and try to buy (remember: anyone caught selling by the NSA is guaranteed a lifetime of annual IRS audits) ahead of the algos. That's what Bernanke's centrally-planned "market" has devolved to.
While last week's relentless panic buying has been extensively commented on, it was last week's nearly 50% plunge in near-term stock vol that the major news as the world went from risk off mode to risk on. It wasn't just stocks whose volatility imploded: it was the implied near-term volatility of all asset classes that was hammered in the past three days. But while everyone is fascinated by the rapid VIX down move, it is what someone did on Friday by betting that VIX will double by February in a 24/29 VIX Call Spread, that was of note. The amount wagered: $6.7 million. Whether or not this was an outright trade, or a hedge (and if one listens to Jamie Dimon perjuring himself to Congress, any trade is a hedge, adding further to the confusion) is unknown, but it is not pocket change betting that the plunge in vol will be merely transitory.
While the downward Q4 GDP revisions were inevitable courtesy of the government shutdown scapegoat (making a joke out of the sellside exuberance in late 2012 which had seen 3% growth some time around now,) starting first at Goldman, and shortly after at JPM both of which cut their Q4 GDP forecasts by 0.5% to 2.0%, we had yet to see the persistent bullish bias spill over into 2014. That just changed following an overnight cut by Bank of America of Q1 2014 growth estimates from 3.3% to 2.8%. Certainly, this is the first of many as once again optimism proves unjustified. But who can blame it: after all there will have been "only" 5 years of QE, and the Fed's balance sheet will be only $4 trillion at December 31, 2013, implying a S&P of 1800.
If there is anything the market has shown in the past 16 days of government shutdown, which is set to reopen this morning in grandiose fashion following last night's 10 pm'th hour vote in the House, is that it no longer needs Washington not only to function but to ramp higher. All it needs is the Fed, which in turn needs an unlimited debt issuance capacity by the US Treasury which it can monetize indefinitely, which is why the debt ceiling was always the far more pressing issue. In other words, the good news is that the can has been kicked, and now the government workers (who will need about a week to get up to speed), can resume releasing various government data showing just how much 5 years of now-open ended QE have impaired the US economy, and why as a result, even more years of unlimited QE are in stock (because in a Keynesian world, what caused the problem is obviously what will fix it). The bad news: the whole charade will be repeated in three months. More importantly, with futures no longer having the hopium bogey on the horizon, namely the always last minute debt deal, they have finally sold off on the back of a weaker USD. It is unclear if the reason for this has more to do with climbing the wall of shorters which is now gone at least until February when the soap opera returns, or what for now, has been an absolutely abysmal Q3 earnings season. Luckily, in a centrally-planned world, plunging stocks is bullish for stocks, as it means even more Fed intervention, and so on ad inf.
On the surface, the latest Q3 bank numbers to come out of Bank of America today, were not quite as bad as those previously reported by the other TBTFs, namely JPM, Wells and Citi. At a (massively adjuste4d) EPS of $0.20, this was just 1 cent below the expected $0.21, even as net revenue of $21.74 billion missed expectations of $21.95 billion. So far so good. At least so good until one realizes that of the $5.1 billion in pretax income, some 1.4 billion, or over a quarter, was from the usual accounting magic well of gimmicks: loan loss reserve releases! In fact, the $1.391 billion in reserve reduction driven by $1.7 billion in charge offs offset by a tiny $0.3 billion in provisions, was the highest reserve release in the past year, only lower than last Q3's $2.3 billion, when the bank - just like today - was in desperate need of any source of fake earnings. Why? Because the bank's loan origination group, just like all other banks', cratered, and saw non-interest income in its real estate services division implode by $1.5 billion to just $844 million. So much for whatever housing recovery the rose-colored glasses ones had envisioned...
It's gotten beyond silly: with less than a day to go until the first X-Date, beyond which if Jack Lew is correct (he isn't) all hell will break loose if the US doesn't have a debt deal in place, stocks couldn't care less, Bills continue to sell off, carry traders only care how big the central banks' balance sheets are, all news are generally shunned and yet stocks have soared 600 DJIA points on Harry Reid's relentless optimism a deal will get done, even though so far none has. Today, as we observed on Monday, we expect more of the same: stocks and futures will ignore the reality that the midnight hour will come and go with no deal in place, but will continue to explode higher as Harry Reid's latest set of "optimism" headlines hits the tape in low volume trading. We expect the first big hope rally around POMO time, then shortly after Senate comes back in Session, around noon. Then for good measure, another one just before market close. Why not: it's not like the "market" even pretend to be one anymore. Keep an eye on today's 4-Week bill auction before noon. It should be a far bigger doozy than yesterday's longer-dated bills.