10 Year Bond
Earlier today something happened which we haven't seen since a very brief period of time in 2010, and then going all the way back to 2007: Spanish 10 Year bond yields tumbled below those on US 10 Year Treasurys. So is this an indication that the Spanish bond market is suddenly safer, and more credible than that of the US? Of course not. All we are seeing is merely the manifestation of the latest ECB carry trade pushing local banks not to lend the ECB's cheap money out to consumers, but to engage in yet another Draghi-subsidized carry trade.
There has been a lot on bond buying in Europe and that enthusiasm has transferred over to the US in anticipation of Draghi's massive bond buying stimulus program similar to that of the U.S. Fed.
It has gotten beyond ridiculous: a few short hours ago the yield on the 10 Year bond tumbled to a fresh low of 2.49% (and currently just off the lows at 2.50%), wiping out all of yesterday's "jump" on better than expected Durables and leading to renewed concerns about the terminal rate, deflation and how slow the US economy will truly grow. Amusingly, this happened just as US equity futures printed overnight highs. Doubly amusing: this also happened roughly at the same time as Spanish 10 Year yields dropped to a record low of 2.827%, or about 30 bps wider than the US (moments after Spain announced that loan creation in the country has once again resumed its downward trajectory and a tumble in retail deposits to levels not seen since 2008). Triply amusing: this also happened just about when Germany had yet another technically uncovered 30 Year Bund issuance, aka failed auction. So yes: nothing makes sense anymore which is precisely what one would expect in broken, rigged and centrally-planned markets (incidentally those scrambling to explain with events in bond world where one appears to buy bonds to hedge long equity exposure, are directed to the minute of the Japanese GPIF pension fund which announced it would buy junk-rated bonds to boost returns - good luck to Japanese pensioners).
Yesterday's news from the NAR that in February all cash transactions accounted for 35% of all existing home purchases, up from 33% in January, not to mention that 73% of speculators paid "all cash", caught some by surprise. But what this data ignores are new home purchases, where while single-family sales have been muted as expected considering the plunge in mortgage applications, multi-family unit growth - where investors hope to play the tail end of the popping rental bubble - has been stunning, and where multi-fam permits have soared to the highest since 2008. So how does the history of "all cash" home purchases in the US look before and after the arrival of the 2008 post-Lehman "New Normal." The answer is shown in the chart below.
If there is one single event that could derail the euro experiment it is the German Federal Constitutional Court ruling on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and Outright Market Transactions (OMT).
Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
Japanese finances are in a shambles and very soon investors are going to run screaming from the Yen and JGB markets.
First it was China whose affair with "tapering" was short and sweet, and after the banking system nearly chocked in June on the PBOC's telegraphed tightening, the central bank has once again released the spigots with reverse repos galore. Then overnight, fighting a collapsing market, it was India's turn to "flip-flop" on its recent tightening drives, when in an attempt to stop the Rupee's implosion, the central bank announced it would purchase $1.2 billion in long-term bonds, along with other measures, in its first QE-like foray to stabilize markets. And while it did manage to prevent another rout to the bond and stock markets, with the 10 Year bond yield falling below 9% and the Bombay Stock exchange bank index jumping more than 5%, the currency initially pushed higher only to tumble to a fresh record low of 64.59 as foreign investors continue to pull out capital. Such concerns will not be ameliorated by what is now seen as outright confusion by the RBI which is tightening one day, easing the next, and generally unsure what it wants to focus on: inflation, rates, equities, a functioning banking sector or last but not least, the currency.
It's all about rates this largely newsless morning, which have continued their march wider all night, and moments ago rose to 2.873% - a fresh 2 year wide and meaning that neither Gross, nor the bond market, is nowhere near tweeted out. As DB confirms, US treasuries are front and center of mind at the moment.... the 10yr UST yield is up another 4bp at a fresh two year high of 2.87% in Tokyo trading, adding to last week’s 20bp selloff. As it currently stands, 10yr yields are up by more than 120bp from the YTD lows in early May and more than 80bp higher since Bernanke’s now infamous JEC testimony. We should also note that the recent US rates selloff has been accompanied by a rapid steepening in the rate curve. Indeed, the 2s/10s curve is at a 2 year high of 250bp and the 2s/30s and 2s/5s are also at close to their highest level in two years.
Remember when housing was the primary aspirational asset for a still existent US middle class, to be purchased with some equity down by your average 30 year-old hoping to start a family in his or her brand new home, and, as the name implies, aspire to reach the American dream? Those days are long gone. Back in those days the interest rate on the 10 Year bond mattered as it determined the prevailing marginal affordability of leveraged real estate. That is no longer the case, at least not for about 90% of Americans, because as Goldman shows, while before the great crisis only 20% of home purchases were "all cash", since then the number has soared threefold, and currently the estimated percentage of cash transactions (by count and amount) has hit a record 60%. In other words, less than half of all home purchases are debt-funded, and thus less than half of all home purchases are actually representative of what middle-class America is doing.
Our "silver lining" concluding remark to last week's lackluster 10 Year bond reopening auction was that "the good news is that with the reopening, dealers should have some additional collateral for a while, or at least until the Fed monetizes it. Look for this CUSIP - VB3 (On The Run) to remain on the POMO exclusion lists for white a while." Sure enough, following the Friday settlement of this auction, things in the Treasury repo market have normalized somewhat after hitting very dangerous levels. How bad did it get? The following chart of failures to deliver from the NY Fed shows just how acute the shortage of "high quality collateral" (where the 10 Year is the fulcrum instrument) got in the past two months, with the total rising to $129 billion, or the biggest freeze in the repo market since the debt-ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011 when this number hit $280 billion.
Yesterday afternoon, following the rout in the US stock market, we made a spurious preview of the true main event: "So selloff in JGBs tonight?" We had no idea how right we would be because the second Japan opened, its bond futures market was halted on a circuit breaker as the 10 Year bond plunged to their lowest level since early 2012, hitting 1% and leading to massive Mark to Market losses for Japanese banks, as we also warned would happen. That was just the beginning, and suddenly the realization crept in that the plunging yen at this point is not only negative for banks, but for the entire stock market, leading to what until that point was a solid up session for the Nikkei to the first rumblings of a ris-off. Shortly thereafter we got the distraction of the Chinese Mfg PMI which dropped into contraction territory for the first time since late 2012, and which set the mood decidedly risk-offish, although the real catalyst may have been a report on copper from Goldman's Roger Yan (which we will cover in depth shortly) and whose implications may be stunning and devastating and may have just popped the Chinese credit bubble (oh, btw, short copper). And then all hell broke loose, with the Nikkei first rising solidly and then something snapping loud and clear, and sending the index crashing a massive 1,143 an intraday swing of 9% high to low, leading to an over 200 pips move lower in the USDJPY, and leading to a global risk off across the world.
The Bernanke Chicago speech became little more than a side show Friday. He did say the Fed was keeping a watchful eye on yield risk-taking given ZIRP. He’s a little late to that observation methinks.
Normally the New York Fed would not have to bother itself with such Series 7, 63-registration requiring, "financial advisor"-type things as predicting where the stock market will go, especially when it is its own trading desk that provides the impetus for more than 100% of the current equity rally. However, these are not normal times - they are New Normal. And as a result, Fed economists Fernando Duarte and Carlo Rosa have penned a "research" paper titled "Are Stocks Cheap?" in which they view the same reflexive "evidence" that Ben Bernanke himself used to answer a question during a recent press conference if he would still be buying stocks at record levels, namely the risk premium. This is what the NYFed's economists say on the matter: "We surveyed banks, we combed the academic literature, we asked economists at central banks. It turns out that most of their models predict that we will enjoy historically high excess returns for the S&P 500 for the next five years."
With China and Japan markets closed overnight, activity has been just above zero especially in the critical USDJPY carry, so it was up to Europe to provide this morning's opening salvo. Which naturally meant to ignore the traditionally ugly European economic news such as the April Eurozone Economic Confidence which tumbled from a revised 90.1 to 88.6, missing expectations of 89.3, coupled with a miss in the Business Climate Indicator (-0.93, vs Exp. -0.91), Industrial Confidence (-13.8, Exp. -13.5), and Services Confidence (-11.1, Exp. -7.1), or that the Euroarea household savings rates dropped to a record low 12.2%, as Europeans and Americans race who can be completely savings free first, and focus on what has already been largely priced in such as the new pseudo-technocrat coalition government led by Letta. The result of the latter was a €6 billion 5 and 10 year bond auction in Italy, pricing at 2.84% and 3.94% respectively, both coming in the lowest since October 2010. More frightening is that the Italian 10 year is now just 60 bps away from its all time lows as the ongoing central bank liquidity tsunami lifts all yielding pieces of paper, and the global carry trade goes more ballistic than ever.