Following this morning's near terminal posturing by JC Trichet, who almost, but not quite, is about to hike rates any minutes now, we promise, which saw the EUR surging to near 1.40, a far more troubling side effect is the accelerating flattening of the Bund yield curve. As can be seen below, the German 2s10s has dropped from a high of 210 bps in December to 156 bps, a nearly 25% contraction. Luckily, it has another whopping 14 points to take out the September lows, which back then resulted in deplorable European data, indicating how much more sensitive the continent is to the fluctuations in the yield curve. Furthermore, as March is when the calendar festivities in Europe start for real, German banks are rightfully cursing JCT to hell following his failed attempt to secure his ECB legacy as a hawk on the way out. Should the ECB indeed follow through with an April tightening, look for the iTraxx Senior Financials index to start the slow grind wider as risk in European banks come back with a vengeance.
The "correction" is over. The last time silver was here, the 10 Year was at 12.45%, the 2s10s was inverted -210 bps, and gold was $600.
Why Contrary To The Chairman's Lies, A Record Steep Yield Curve May Be The Most Bearish Indicator AvailableSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/09/2011 15:38 -0500
The most important characteristic of current capital markets, aside of course from now completely irrelevant stocks, which there is no point in even discussing any more as the Russell 2000 has become nothing more than a policy tool for Bernanke in pitching idiot Congressmen how "successful" his failed monetary policy has been when all it indicates is how good he is at manipulating stock prices, is the record steepness of the yield curve, as we have been pointing out month after month (oddly the topic never gets boring as it hits a new record wide with each passing month). And while to Ben the steepness is simply more good news to regale his questioners, who have no idea what the difference between a bond price and yield is, with, it is just as easily the most bearish indicator available. Nick Colas explains why "the bears also have more fodder from the steep yield curve than an Alaskan salmon run: the long end of the curve could be blowing out over inflation fears, persistent government debt issuance, or even a future downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt." But don't worry- the Chaircreature will never acknowledge that there is a yang to every ying. Especially not when the ying has to be so well priced, that Bernanke's midichlorian count has to be off the charts to get his liquidity extraction timing perfectly and avoid either a hyperdeflationary or hyperinflationary collapse.
Goldman's John Noyce once again lays out all the main charts to keep a track off in the coming week, with a particular focus on the EURUSD, EURUSD 2 Year swap spreads, USD 2 and 10 Year swap spreads, but most interesting are Noyce's observations about the 2s10s treasury curve, which he believes Noyce is set to resume flattening from record steep levels: "Putting all the pieces together; the aggressive weekly moving average setup and triangle like consolidation on 2-year swaps, the relatively less aggressive weekly moving average setup on 10-year swaps and the current extreme level of the 10-year/2-year curve, it seems the market is at a juncture where a break higher in short-end yields would be very significant both in specific yield related terms and also due to the USD’s +ve correlation to short-end U.S. yields in a number of currency pairs."
As we have highlighted over the past week, one of the best performing asset classes in trecent days has been rice. And judging by the just released CFTC Commitment of Trader data, the speculators are waking up to the possibility that rice has along way to go higher. The Non-Commercial Net Speculative positions in Rough Rice (per CBOT), have jumped to 5,811 in the week ending February 1, and are now the highest they have been in over a year. They are also double where they were less than 4 weeks ago. Of course, with increasingly more popular speculative positions, the concern that profit taking rallies will appear should be widely anticipated. We expect at least one-two broad selloffs in rice in the coming days, following which distribution the path for continued moves higher in the grain should be wide open.
Today's NFP data has sent the treasury complex in a tizzy: the 30 year has now lost its support levels and the yield is up 6 basis point to 4.72%. And since this move would have been expected in the case of a huge NFP beat ('economy improving' rhetoric), but not on today's atrocious result (and if the BLS needs the services of snowy apologists, like DB'a LaVorgna whose only job lately is to explain why economic data are subpar due to the motion of celestial bodies, perhaps it needs to refine its seasonal adjustment to account for snowfall in, gasp, winter), this is merely yet another indication that the long-end vigilantes are once again making a push for an outright QE3 announcement, a development which was predicted by Zero Hedge at the time QE2 was launched.
I am not an economist, but as a strategist I believe there is a case for a multi-year period of weak growth in the US, which could be magnified by an EM slowdown as the EM bloc diverges policy to deal with its own domestic positive output gaps, domestic inflation problems and domestic asset bubbles. The obvious problem is that the US has an excess debt problem and a central bank that seeks to solve asset bubbles that burst by creating new asset bubbles. This policy has been proved a failure. Remember that debt does not equal wealth, that asset bubbles do not equal wealth, that more liquidity does not equal money but instead equals more debt, and that liquidity does not equal capital.
The MBA reported the results of its weekly mortgage applications survey earlier and the leading indicators for the housing price collapse continue coming fast and weak. After rising by 5% in the prior week, the market composite index plummeted by 12.9%, a major reversal, which confirms that as we have been saying, no matter the record 2s10s spread, few if any are taking "advantage" of surging mortgage yields and refinancing. Indeed, the Refinance index decreased by 15.3%, hitting the lowest level since January 2010, while the Purchase Index is at the lowest since October 2010. And so, in addition to global rioting, add the complete collapse in the housing market as the natural offset to a market meltup inducing QE 2. As such, the tradeoff becomes: debt monetization and Russell 2000 at 36,000 (bankers win) or a complete housing market wipe out and accelerating global food price revolutions (middle class is not eradicated). We take the former any day.
EUR Shorts Crucified, And The Fun Is Not Done Yet As Specs Expect Food Price Surge To Persist, Further Curve SteepeningSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2011 16:44 -0500
Last Friday, following the disclosure that net commercial EUR short positions has surged to -45,182, nearly a double from the -24,201 the week before, we expected a massive short covering squeeze, which would bring the EURUSD far higher. Today, the CFTC released its weekly update of non-commercial futures exposure. As expected, the covering rally was fierce and intense, and is likely still ongoing: net non-speculative long positions surged by 49,291, in line with the highest one week move in recent years, the biggest of which was recorded in June 2010 when net shorts collapsed by 49,585. The net result pushed net spec positions from -45,182 to 4,109, and resulted in a move in the EURUSD from 1.33 last Friday to 1.3621 at last check. We believe the short covering rally is now over. This is further corroborated by the drop in USD longs in the past week from 10,057 to 5,210. Other currencies were not surprisingly quiet in the past week, with little notable action in either CHF, GBP or JPY net spec exposure.
Over the past week, one of the less noticed and more notable developments, was that the 2s10s quietly climbed back to just short of all time record wides: at 273 bps, the curve is just 13 basis point away from the all time record 286 bps achieved on February 2, 2010. For those who still don't understand how this most recent gift to the banks by the Fed and the government works, the math is that for every 100 bps in spread widening, banks make profits by borrowing free at the 2 Year and lending out at the 10 Year spread (on a Price x Volume basis, although as we will discuss momentarily while the price (i.e. spread) may be there the volume is missing), even as home prices decline by about 12% for each percentage point. In other words, in the past year the entire double dip in home prices can be attributed to the spike in long-term rates, which have in turn caused mortgage rates to jump to year highs. All of this has been predicated by increasing concerns that the Fed will allow runaway inflation, as a result pushing 10 and 30 Year spreads (and gold) ever higher. And while traditionally, a steep curve implies substantial bank profits, this time it is really is different, as demand for mortgages, by far the biggest bank product beneficiary from rising LT interest rates, is non-existent - recent new and refinancing mortgage applications are plumbing 15 year lows, meaning that even if banks make exorbitant profits on a spread basis, there is just not enough of them to go around, which in turn means that banks once again have to rely on accounting gimmicks such as declining reserve provisions to pad their books. And unfortunately for the banks, every incremental basis point increase from here on out only means accelerating home price deflation (regardless of how many days in a row cotton, wheat and whiskey closes limit up), which will wreak havoc on myth of any "recovery." This is in fact the most salient point of Scott Minerd's of Guggenheim latest letter: while the bulk of his latest thoughts is focused on Europe, we believe that the critical part if really that dealing with US interest rates. As he concludes: "The story in housing remains a compelling reason yields on the 10-year note above 4 percent are simply not sustainable at this juncture." We complete agree, which also means that the strawman of higher bank earnings due to the yield curve is now dead and buried. Alas for all the bank bulls, from this point on the only direction the curve can go is down... Unless of course the Fed really loses control of the long end in which case all bets are off and QE3 is sure include purchases of MBS.
There is more to Deutsche Bank than just that douchey joke of an economist who appears on CNBC every other day to repeat that the November NFP number was irrelevant (incidentally we agree, simply because everything out of the BLS now has the same trustworthiness as Chinese data, and the November number was politically motivated to pass the UI extension) and who changes his story diametrically and on a daily basis, with every incremental piece of economic data that does not fit his amateur theories. Deutsche Bank has always had a very decent fixed income platform, and we are happy to announce that in reading the firm's 2011 FI forecast we encounter not only views that diametrically oppose those of the aforementioned hack (for which alone the report is worth reading), but also has some very detailed and insightful observations (which we are confident David Rosenberg would agree with wholeheartedly). The report's summary: bonds may drop a little more, then surge once it becomes clear the economy is as scroomed as always. And another interesting observation, which has to the do with ending the 10s30s flattener trade. We tend to agree with that as well. Having almost penetrated 100 bps today, the second retest proved unsuccessful, and the time for a steeper long-end is coming (primarily due to a renormalization of the curve), and a flattening of the 2s10s.
Considering how suddenly it has once again become fashionable to talk the Treasury curve (as expected, the halflife of the contagion conversations was 2 weeks), after conveniently ignoring it for about 6 months when it continued to show deteriorating profitability for banks, we think it is useful to provide a reminder of what the curve looks like currently.
What The Rout In MBS Means For Pimco And Broader MBS Investor Alternatives, As The Market Wakes Up To RiskSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/09/2010 11:16 -0500
Wonder why various PIMCO funds are getting hammered over the past week? Simple: the fund's recent push into mortgages, especially on margin, has backfired, and courtesy of the surge in mortgage rates which we highlighted yesterday, has left the world's biggest bond fund, second only the Federal Reserve, hoping for a last minute Hail Mary (Pimco can't print money unlike the former). As a reminder, while Pimco's TRF is positioned well to benefit from the steepening in the 2s10s courtesy of its 4.86 effective duration, we are unsure how the massive flattening of the 10s30s is impacting the firm. What we are absolutely sure of, is that the plunge in MBS prices in the recent week has left the fund gasping for air. Recall that the TRF has increased its MBS holdings by $50 billion in the prior two months (and likely continued in November), which is why the entire rates complex must prevent the ongoing rout in 10s and 30s as otherwise the negative convexity threatens to force an avalanche of selling first by the PIMCOs of the world, then everyone else. We present some very relevant commentary out of CRT on the MBS crunch conundrum.
After Morgan Stanley's call for the 10 Year hitting 4.5% in 2010 ended up being one of the worst calls of the year (together with each FX call by the Goldman team), the firm's head rates strategist Jim Caron is back on the scene with his latest set of Top Trades for 2011, as well as some views on where the fixed income market is headed next year. In summary: just fast forward the firm's bearish 2009 view on yields one year forward. After all if the firm was so wrong one year, it can't possibly be wrong two years in a row...
Technically it a joke to call what we are seeing day in and day out, at least in equities, a market, but for old time's sake, here is a recap of what happened today in stocks, rates, corporates, FX, and a focus on the two key events from late in the day: the bombs from Bernanke and Merkel.