When it comes to key players in a global fungible monetary system, a far more important decision-maker than the US government is the FDIC-insured hedge fund that controls all central banks: Goldman Sachs. Which is why it is certainly notable that moments ago none other than Goldman effectively downgraded Russia's sovereign risk by announcing it is "shifting from constructive to neutral view on Russian sovereign risk." With the legacy rating agencies now largely moot and irrelevant, what the big banks say suddenly has so much more import. But when the biggest - and most connected - bank of them all, outright lobs a very loud shot across the Gazpromia Russian bow, even Putin listens.
Today (like pretty much every other day), it will be all about the Fed and the start of its 2-day FOMC meeting, whose outcome will be influenced by today's 8:30 am CPI report as inflation (Exp. 0.1%) according to many is the only thing stopping the Fed from tapering in light of better than expected recent economic data as well as a clearer fiscal outlook. Or at least that's what the watercooler talk is. The hardliners now agree that since the Fed openly ignored the bond market liquidity considerations in September, that it will plough on through December with no announcement, and potentially continue into 2014 with zero chances of tapering especially now that we approach the end of the business cycle and the Fed should be adding accommodation not removing it. To that end, the consensus still is in favour of January or March for the first taper so markets are not fully set up for a move; conversely a dovish statement would probably result in yet another pre-Christmas, year end market surge, which in the lower market liquidity days of December is likely what the Fed is going for, instead of a volatile, zero liquidity sell off, despite Thursday's double POMO.
"IMPORTANT: FOR ALL US DOLLAR PAYMENTS TO A COUNTRY SUBJECT TO US SANCTIONS, A PAYMENT MESSAGE CANNOT CONTAIN ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: 1. The sanctioned country name. 2. Any name designated on the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) restricted list, which can encompass a bank name, remitter or beneficiary."
Contrary to some expectations, the budget deal has done absolutely nothing to push global markets or US futures higher which was to be expected: markets are no longer driven by fundamentals but by such things as carry pairs which signal monetary policies. Sure enough, as a result of the strength in the Yen, overnight markets have reacted with a mixture of cautiousness and optimism. On the cautious side, Asian equities are down across the board which can at least be partially attributed to nervousness at the prospect of a December Fed taper. If Congress passes the budget over the next few days, the probability of a taper next week increase at the margin, given that we have lower fiscal uncertainty (and higher spending) over the next two years. Losses in equities are being led by the Nikkei (-0.7%) and the Hang Seng (-1.3%). Asian credit shows no sign of taper nervousness this morning with the Asia IG index 4bp tighter and high beta EM names such as Indonesia trading firmer (5yr CDS -10bp). 10yr UST yields are unchanged at 2.80% and the US dollar is slightly stronger against the major crosses. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index is down 2.3% ahead of the results of China’s central economic work conference which is expected to end tomorrow and may set a number of economic targets for 2014.
It will be a long night in Kiev, where as warned previously, once things start rolling downhill, they will deteriorate rapidly. Via Bloomberg:
RIOT POLICE ARMED WITH CHAINSAWS APPROACH KIEV BARRICADES
UKRAINIAN POLICE MASS NEAR BARRICADES AT KIEV SQUARE
POLICE STORM PROTEST CAMP IN CENTER OF KIEV, AP REPORTS
UKRAINIAN POLICE INSIDE KIEV PROTEST CAMP
From Bernanke's infamous 2008 "not forecasting a recession" call to Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines 2004 "subprime assets are riskless" commentary, the following 10 "predictions" - as opposed to Wien "surprises" - will go down in infamy for their degree of errant-ness...
As the country's leaders search the world for funding, and in spite of the seemingly acquiescent removal of barriers from the government buildings by the police, the situation in Ukraine appears to growing more out of control:
- *UKRAINE'S TOP PROSECUTOR SAYS PROTESTS VIOLATE LAW
- *PROTESTS ENTAIL 'SEVERE CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY:' PROSECUTOR
- ARMED MASKED MEN SEIZE KIEV PARTY HEADQUARTERS OF JAILED OPPOSITION LEADER YULIA TYMOSHENKO-EYEWITNESS
- TYMOSHENKO PARTY SPOKESWOMAN SAYS RAIDERS TOOK COMPUTER SERVER, BLAMES POLICE; POLICE DENY INVOLVEMENT
As we warned previously, the nation's funding situation remains "precarious" and headlines will crow of consiliatory discussions, this action appears to be anything but - as perhaps the Ukrainian elite fear the same kind of "success" that the people's coup in Thailand appears to be having. Ukraine's CDS has reached its highest in 4 years.
Everywhere you look these days, central planning just can't stop reaping failure after failure. First it was Japan's Q3 GDP rising just 1.1%, well below the 1.9% in the previous quarter and the 1.6% expected, while the Japanese current account posted its first decline since of €128 billion (on expectations of a JPY149 billion increase) since January. What's worse, according to Asahi, Abe's approval rating tumbled to 46% in the current week, down from the low 60s as soon as early 2013, while a former BOJ member and current head of Japan rates and currency research, Tohru Sasaki, said that the high flying days of the USDJPY (and plunging of the JPY respectively) is over, and the USDJPY is likely to slide back to 100 because the BOJ would not be able to expand monetary easing by enough to repeat this year's "success." He definitely uses that last word rather loosely.
While there was a plethora of macro data (starting with some ugly numbers out of Australia which clobbered AUD pairs overnight), China HSBC Services PMI dipping slighlty from 52.6 to 52.5, Final Eurozone PMI Services (printing at 51.2 up from 50.9 and beating expectations of the same on an increase in German PMI numbers from 54.5 to 55.7 and a decline in French PMI from 48.8 to 48.0), Eurozone retail sales declining by 0.2%, on expectations of an unchanged print, and much more (see below), perhaps the most important news of the day came from Japan which many expect will be the source of much more easing in the coming months and thus serve as marginal lever to push global fungible markets higher. However, not only did various BOJ officials for the first time in a while talk down expectations of a QE boost, but the head of the Japan GPIF said that it doesn't need to sell JGBs right now as it would "rock markets" and that instead can achieve its targeted 52% weighing as bonds mature, that it may buy foreign bonds instead to raise weighting to core target (as the Fed buys Japan bonds?), and that it will be very difficult for Japan to hit the BOJ's inflation target in 2 years. Is Japan already getting cold feet on rumors of more QE and did it realize there are only so many assets it can monetize. If so, watch out below on the EURJPY which has now priced in about 700 pips of expected BOJ QE boosting in early 2014.
Ongoing anti-regime demonstrations in Ukraine are weighing on investor's risk perceptions as CDS spike to near three-year highs today (up over 100bps). At a minimum developments lower president Yanukovich's chances of remaining in power beyond the spring 2015 elections and possibly undermine his hold on power earlier, further decreasing the likelihood of sizeable financial support from Russia. With Moody's earlier comments on the nation's "precarious external liquidity" position; as Goldman warns, with even higher political uncertainty ahead, an acceleration of capital outflows might also follow and while they think the authorities will eventually turn to the IMF to avoid a disorderly sell-off of the currency, recent events arguably raise the risks to that view. However, the capital outflows are already having an impact as Reuters notes, Russian banks are considerably exposed as Ukrainian banks should deposit runs escalate.
Goldman Reveals "Top Trade" Reco #5 For 2014: Sell Protection On 7-Year CDX IG21 Junior Mezzanine TrancheSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2013 08:22 -0400
If the London Whale trade was JPM selling CDS in tranches and in whole on IG9 and then more, and then even more in an attempt to corner the entire illiquid IG9 market and then crashing and burning spectacularly due to virtually unlimited downside, Goldman's top trade #5 for 2014 is somewhat the opposite (if only for Goldman): the firm is inviting clients to sell CDS on the junior Mezz tranche (3%-7%) of IG21 at 464 bps currently, where Goldman "would apply an initial spread target and stop loss of 395bp and 585bp, respectively. Assuming a one-year investment horizon, the breakeven spread on this trade is roughly 554bp (that is, 90bp wider than where it currently trades)." In other words, Goldman is going long said tranche which in an environment of record credit bubble conditions and all time tights across credit land is once again, the right trade. Do what Goldman does and all that...
With Ukraine's CDS spiking and the protests growing ever more violent, the government is oddly honest:
- *AZAROV SAYS KIEV PROTESTS SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL: INTERFAX
- *AZAROV SAYS GOVT AWARE OF PLAN TO SEIZE PARLIAMENT BUILDING:IFX
- *AZAROV SAYS UKRAINE ASKING WEST FOR HELP TO CALM PROTESTS: IFX
Of course, the only voice that matter is still calm:
- *PUTIN SAYS CRISIS IN UKRAINE WILL SUBSIDE
Is that a directive or a statement...?
While moderate recovery in growth and inflation is BofAML's rates team's base case, there are numerous risks to that forecast. The risk of tapering is already quite well known and they suspect it may not result in the significant market-moving event many expect when it actually happens; however, the following downside and upside risks threaten BofAML's central scenarios for 2014 as well.
The operative model of "growth" in America: rapid expansion/overbuilding in pursuit of poaching customers from existing competitors, a strategy that leads to massive overcapacity/redundancy and declining profits that then leads to mergers and shuttering hundreds of redundant outlets. Why has this doomed model of overbuilding and poaching sales become so dominant? Look no farther than the cheap-money policies of the Federal Reserve.
The overnight global scramble to buy stocks, any stocks, anywhere, continued, with the Nikkei soaring higher by 2% as the USDJPY rose firmly over 100, to levels not seen since May as the previously reported speculation that more QE from the BOJ is just around the corner takes a firm hold. Sentiment that the liquidity bonanza would accelerate around the world (with possibly more QE from the ECB) was undented by news of a surge in Chinese short-term money market rates or the Moody's one-notch downgrade of four TBTF banks on Federal support review. The release of more market-friendly promises from China only added fuel to the fire and as a result S&P futures are now just shy of 1800, a level which will almost certainly be taken out today as the multiple expansion ramp continues unabated. At this point absolutely nobody is even remotely considering standing in front of the centrally-planned liquidity juggernaut that has made "market" down days a thing of the past.