Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
"At the end of the day, the Fed is confused and confusing, so if you spend too much time addressing their comments you end up confusing as well." The FOMC meeting was, simply put, slightly hawkish. Unfortunately, the markets’ outsized and illogical reactions are signs and symptoms that financial markets are broken. The FOMC’s meddling in financial market behavior could easily catch up to them in an ugly fashion.
After drifting unchanged for much of the overnight session, US futures exploded higher shortly after the previously noted SNB's NIRP announcement, which took place at 2 am eastern, which made it explicit that yet another banks will herd the bouncing dead cats right into new all time stock market highs, and following the European open, were carried even higher as the global "risk-on" momentum ignition algos woke up, spiking all recently depressed assets higher, including energy as Brent rose almost 3% despite Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying "it is difficult if not impossible" for OPEC and his kingdom to reduce output.
If the world's fifth largest trader of commodities has chosen to outright not trade gold, and thus not generate value for its shareholders over risks and fears that another, or two, or three, or a countless number of other prior "owners" may come knocking one day and demanding delivery of gold whose origin could not be documented by its trading intermediaries, and whose ownership link Gunvor is unable to trace, then just what on earth is really going on with the world's physical gold inventory (here's looking at you, Chinese gold-backed Commodity Funding Deals), and just what is the catalyst that will unleash what is essentially the infamous US mortgage robosigning scandal onto the gold arena, at which point owners of gold realize the gold they thought they owned, even if held safely in a deposit box deep in a gold vault in a safe offshore location, in reality "belongs" to someone else?
The rank economic cheerleading in the guise of “news” printed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the rest of the financial press never ceases to amaze. But on the heels of Congress’ pathetic capitulation to Wall Street over the weekend you have to wonder if even the robo-writers who compose the headlines are on the take. How could anyone in the right mind label this weekend’s CRomnibus abomination “A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress”? Apparently, that unaccountable plaudit was bestowed upon Washington by the WSJ solely because it avoided another government shutdown.
In the most ironic twist of all amid the "currency crisis" enveloping Russia, we suspect the world's central bankers will be looking on jealously as The CBR manages to achieve precisely what The BoJ and The Fed are desperate to achieve. In raising inflation expectations, The FT reports, Russians are hurriedly turning their depreciating Rubles into jewelry, furniture, cars, and apartments as the currency's collapse prompts a shopping spree that will likely lead to a surge in GDP. As one anxious shopper noted, "none of us know what’s happening. We’re all worried that the currency will keep falling," and so "it’s time to buy furniture!" And sure enough, shopping centers are currently experiencing a spectacular rush.
For those wondering if the CBR's intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes... for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74 76, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.
People are bombarded with sensation and that substitutes for thinking
More bloodbathery. Wherever we look today, things are not going well. While we have become used to day after day of Oil Producers' FX collapsing, today we see the tumble in Emerging Market FX rates begin to accelerate in a very Taper-Tantrum-esque manner. While the Ruble at 64 is grabbing headlines, Turkish Lira is utterly collapsing along with Indonesia and India overnight.
The biggest event of the coming week is surely the FOMC announcement on Wednesday, when as most expect, will see the Fed's language shifting from "considerable time" to "patient." But while "most" also expect this to be the preamble toward Fed hiking rates in mid-2015, some disagree.
After the worst week for stocks in years, and following a significantly oversold condition, it will hardly come as a surprise that the mean reversion algos (if only to the upside), as well as the markets themselves (derivative trading on the NYSE Euronext decided to break early this morning just to give some more comfort that excessive selling would not be tolerated) are doing all they can to ramp equities around the globe, and futures in the US as high as possible on as little as possible volume. And sure enough, having traded with a modestly bullish bias overnight and rising back over 2000, the E-Mini has seen the now traditional low volume spike in the last few minutes, pushing it up over 15 points with the expectation being that the generic algo ramp in USDJPY ahead of the US open should allow futures to begin today's regular session solidly in the green, even if it is unclear if the modest rebound in the dollar and crude will sustain, or - like on every day in the past week - roll over quickly after the open. Also, we hope someone at Liberty 33 tells the 10Y that futures are soaring: at 2.13% the 10Y is pricing in nothing but bad economic news as far as the eye can see.
Has too much bearish sentiment been priced in too fast in the price of oil?
In recent years Geoffrey Raymond's annotating opportunities have slowed to a trickle courtesy of every central bank going all-in on some $11 trillion in QE (and rising fast) to create the artificial impression that the financial system is stable (because in some parallel universe 6 years of endless bailouts somehow is equivalent to stability and is expected to "boost confidence"), although if recent market volatility is any indication, he may soon be making a repeat appearance, if only in front of energy trading desks at first. And while we await Raymond to once again make mainstream media headlines, he has a special holiday gift idea for all those Zero Hedgers who have not yet parlayed their trillions (if Joe LaVorgna is correct) in savings from plunging crude prices into even more consumerism. Presenting "Existential Rage in the Workplace" from Geoffrey Raymond.
Within the last 90 days there has been more convoluted messaging coming from the financial media, the main stream, as well as academia than we can remember. The more one looks or tries to find relevant, useful, actionable insights – the more they get conjecture. Personally we’ll take our chances with not gambling at all or looking to any of the so-called “experts” for clues. It keeps becoming abundantly more clear by the day: without the “Chair” behind the curtain. OZ is more attainable than following the road to financial freedom these people want to point out.