It is still all about the Yen carry which overnight tumbled to the lowest level since November, dragging the Nikkei down by 4.8% which halted its plunge at just overf 14,000, only to stage a modest rebound and carry US equity futures with it, even if it hasn't helped the Dax much which moments ago dropped to session lows and broke its 100 DMA, where carmakers are being especially punished following a downgrade by HSBC of the entire sector. Also overnight the Hang Seng entered an official correction phase (following on from the Nikkei 225 doing the same yesterday) amid global growth concerns and has filtered through to European trade with equities mostly red across the board. Markets have shrugged off news that ECB's Draghi is seeking German support in the bond sterilization debate, something which we forecast would happen a few weeks ago when we pointed out the relentless pace of SMP sterilization failures, with analysts playing down the news as the move would only add a nominal amount of almost EUR 180bln to the Euro-Area financial system. Elsewhere, disappointing earnings from KPN (-4.3%) and ARM holdings (-2.5%) are assisting the downward momentum for their respective sectors.
Many fear that a decline of between 1,500 to 2,000 points in the Nikkei to raise doubts about 'Abenomics' (i.e., hoary inflationism combined with deficit spending). We are still wondering what Abenomics is supposed to achieve. With a graying population and consequently a shrinking work force, inflationary policies seem especially ill-conceived in Japan. Maintaining the market's calm is predicated on the belief that the inflationary policy pursued by Abe/Kuroda will actually fail. Moreover, Japan's government can simply not afford higher borrowing costs, as 25% of its tax revenue is already going toward merely servicing interest costs on its current outstanding debt. In other words, Japan's government bond market is a glaring example of a Ponzi scheme and only a rising stock market maintains the media's complicitness in this mirage.
Further protests and a plethora of headlines this morning from both sides in the troubled European (for now) nation. The Ukrainian foreign minister begins by noting that "its impossible to take Ukraine away from Russia," that Ukraine was "right to take attractive Russia offer," and that protests aren't peaceful. Opposition leader Klitschko responded that "Ukrainians dream of a stable, modern country," and that a majority of Ukrainians want "European values," and asks for "international help." Romania's Basescu is concerned and urges the Ukrainian army to stay out of the conflict. But, as Martin Armstrong notes below, according to a former adviser to Vladimir Putin, the economist Andrei Illarionov, the Kremlin will take one of three possible scenarios with respect to the Ukraine problem to "assert a lot of pressure on Kiev."
Despite the best efforts of CNBC to have every bull on Amazon explain how great it really is and how they could enable to magical profit machine any minute if they so choose, the hedge fund hotel stock du jour is now down 10% and Bloomberg headlines blare:
*SEC Short Sale Rule 201 is in Effect : AMZN (NASDAQ)
Last night's algo-ramp to VWAP (on rising Prime prices?) is a long-distant memory now...
If a third of all US homes cannot trade due to being underwater or not sufficiently above water to clear closing costs, then the US economy is going to suffer
Following discussions with Merkel, demands to de-escalate tensions from Barrose, and threats of sanctions from President Obama. Ukraine's President Yanukovych has gone on sick leave from "immense pshcological pressure." Despite his exclamations that he'll do everything for the sake of peace, he blames the opposition for "escalating the situation," which fits, rather ominously with warnings from former presdent Leonid Kravchuk. As The BBC reports, Ukraine's first post-independence president warned the country is on the "brink of civil war". While the Hyrvnia is not collapsing as much as it was (always the silver lining), money is running away from Ukraine stocks stuck at 5-year lows, bond term structure is inverted, and CDS are spiking back to recent highs over 1000bps.
The Fed tightens by a little (sorry, tapering - flow - is and always will be tightening): markets soar; Turkey tightens by a lot: markets soar. If only it was that easy everyone would tighten. Only it never is. Which is why as we just reported, the initial euphoria in Turkey is long gone and the Turkish Lira is basically at pre-announcement levels, only now the government has a furious, and loan-challenged population to deal with, not to mention an economy which has just ground to a halt. Anyway, good luck - other EMs already faded, including the ZAR which many are speculating could be the next Turkey, and certainly the USDJPY which sent futures soaring last night, only to fade all gains as well and bring equities down with it.
President Obama unveiled 12 key executive actions in his 6,778 word tome this evening at a reading level that was lower than the average of George W. Bush's SOTUs and the same as Clinton's (Flesch-Kincaid 9.8). From 'raising the minimum wage' to 'myRA' savings plans ("a guaranteed return with no risk"?) and from redesigned high schools to teach real-world skills (like EBT-card-usage?) to increasing college opportunities (blowing that bubble even bigger), it was a corporate-bashing, hopeful-job-creating manifesto that had less "hopes" and "dreams" than MLK's speech, but more "believing."
The depressed tone overnight following AAPL's disappointing earnings mysteriously evaporated just ahead of the European open, when around 2 am Eastern the all important USDJPY began an dramatic ramp, (with ES following just behind) which saw it rise from the Monday closing level of 102.600 all the way to 103.250, in what appears to have been a new frame-setting stop hunt ahead of a variety of news including the start of the January - Bernanke's last - FOMC meeting. One of the potential triggers for the move may have been the RBI's unexpected hike in the repurchase rate to 8.00% with an unchanged 7.75% consensus, which was its second consecutive INR-boosting "surprise." Among the amusing comments by RBI's Rajan, justifying the ongoing (loising) fight with inflation, was that India's consumer numbers are weak because of inflation. But... isn't that the Keynesian cargo cult's wet dream?
Earlier, we debunked an alarmist Forbes story about halted cash transfer by PBOC decree, which was erroneous along various lines all explained previously, not in the least that the actual announcement had first appeared some three weeks ago. And despite the kneejerk reaction of some of our more fatalist readers and not to mention the general public, the reality is that China has more than enough real problems (Trust Equals Gold being at the forefront) and certainly does not need to add imaginary, made up ones, conceived only with the intention of generating conflated ad revenues through click-baiting headlines. Which is why we commend Forbes for, better late than never, pulling the story even without providing an explanation of how this story appeared in the first place. Because where the article once was, there is only a 4-0-Forbes now...
FX markets featured significant volatility in the past week, though the driver of that volatility was a combination of several idiosyncratic factors, rather than a core underlying narrative. Widespread risk aversion and position unwinds dominated market trading with China PMI, weak US earnings, and BoJ un-dovishness cited among more systemic factors. Turkey and Argentina (among others) have more idiosyncratic risks (and limits approaching) but as Barclays notes, market positioning has played a major role in the moves as market volatility appears to have been the straw that broke the carry-trade's back - for now... as EM currency returns have notably decoupled from moves in US rates.
In the last year Bitcoin has gone 'viral'. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, a lot has happened in 2013: Price appreciation, yes, from $20 to +$800 – the result of this online “Currency” going from science project to mainstream topic. Volatility too – disruptive technologies seldom travel a level path. The story, Colas notes, is about to change, and there are three critical gates which bitcoin must navigate in the New Year. First is regulation, and we will get a good dose of that next Tuesday and Wednesday when the New York State Department of Financial Services holds hearings on bitcoin and potentially issuing a ‘Bitlicense’ to help regulate business which transact in the currency. Second is adoption – how will existing businesses incorporate bitcoin into their sales, marketing and payment channels. Lastly will be volatility, which will have to come down in 2014 to encourage broader use.
It's Risk Off time.
Things got really out of control, and the USDJPY plunged by some 150 pips in the matter of hours, plunging as low as 102, when EM revulsion once again hit participants, in particular TRY and ARS which also supported bid tone in USTs. This also saw spot TRY rate print fresh record high, while 5y Turkish CDS rate advanced to its highest level since June 2012, while at the same time Argentina announced it would life currency controls and dollar purchases in the aftermath of the ARS devaluation by 13%. And since everything tracks the JPY carry pair as we have been showing for the past year, futures once again plunged overnight, for now held by 1810 support, Treasurys are bid throughout, with the same treasury yields that have "no where to go but up" sliding to 2.71% from 2.87% at the beginning of the week, while gold is finally spiking as the realization that absolutely nothing has been fixed, that apparently nobody got the taper is priced in memo, and that soon the Fed will have to untaper, begins to spread. Are the central planners finally starting to lose control?
In a week that has been marked by astonishing mainstream media headlines, BFI Capital’s CEO Frank Suess happened to give an outstanding interview about the outlook for global currencies, gold and manipulation in the markets. These developments are significant and could mark a tipping point. Up until now, the currency and precious metals manipulation has been a topic associated with conspiracy theorists in the corners of the blogosphere. The interesting fact is that this news breaks out exactly at the time when most people are being trapped into the “economic recovery” news. With the markets hanging at the lips of the central bankers, it is fair to say that “the central banks are the markets.” Frank Suess points out that, for several decades now, central banks around the world, with the US Federal Reserve in the lead, haven’t allowed business and credit cycles to happen anymore. In fact, they have been fighting consistently every sign of recession with more money, resulting in a race to the bottom of world currencies. The effect of this on world currencies is that they are shuffling each other down in a see-saw pattern...
Citi's credit group is bullish; but, as they admit, for all the wrong reasons. Bullish, because they still believe that the extraordinary liquidity environment which has dominated the last four years will remain in place this year (despite tapering) and for the wrong reasons because aside from their doubts about the foundations of much of the economic recovery itself, nearly all the factors that they would normally base their view on the markets on seem to be pulling in the opposite direction. In their own words, "everything is expensive; and the market is driven purely by a variant of the Greater Fool's Theory."