Back in early/mid 2007, just as the subprime bubble was bursting but Wall Street was desperate for the party to go on, when VIX was flirting with single digits (crushing the swaption market due to lack of vol), when record, multi-billion LBOs were a daily thing, and when corporate bond spreads barely registered any risk on the horizon, there was one dominant trade for those credit traders who saw the writing on the wall (as they usually do 3-6 months ahead of their equity trading peers): going long cheap index puts while funding the cost of carry by selling a steep long end and pocketing the roll down. That trade is back.
For once Mario Draghi was right. A day after the European central bank head warned of a spike in volatility, volatility did just that, with markets everywhere from China to Europe seeing volatility explode.
Buildings make a statement about their owners. FIFA-Hauptquartier seems to be saying: our owners have a boatload of cash... and in a world where heavily-manipulated stock markets are constantly achieving all-time highs, the message from the 'market' is just as full of it as Blatter.
Rates have been so low for so long, that many of the traders who will be on the front lines if and when the Fed ever does decide to start down the long path to normalizing policy have never, in their professional careers, seen a rate hike. “The experience that many investment operations have with rising rates for most of us is very low for some it’s nonexistent," Jeff Gundlach warns.
Like Houston, the financial system has been flooded with liquidity over recent years which has ultimately only had one place to flow - the financial markets. That excess liquidity has sent prices soaring to record highs despite weakting macro economic data. While many hope that the Central Banks can somehow figure out how to keeps the rivers of liquidity from overflowing their banks, history suggests that eventually bad things will happen. Of course, for investors, that translates into a significant and irreperable loss of capital.
Bill Gross just revealed another aspect of trading in the new (or any) normal: one may get the direction and the timing with laser-like precision (as Gross did on his Bund trade), but if said trade is excecuted in a way where the inherent "coiled spring" volatility of the Gross-defined "new normal" blows up the trade structure, the losses will make one wish never to have had the correct idea in the first place.
As investors and traders ponder what’s next for the financial world’s safe haven asset par excellence, and as everyone from the world’s most famous bond traders to the ECB tries to comprehend how the market could have possibly become so thin so fast, we bring you a bit more in the way of visual proof that central planners have become the world’s greatest bubble blowers as well as a bit of history that may hold clues as to what's next.
No one stays on top forever, and to be sure, when Bill Gross' long reign at the top of the fixed income universe finally came to a sudden and rather unceremonious end last October, the race to lay claim to the inevitable outflows from PIMCO's Total Return Fund was on. Now, a winner has emerged — and it's not Jeff Gundlach.
It seems yet another hero of the recent cyclical bull market, resp. echo bubble, may be in danger of falling from grace. This has already happened to his predecessor Alan Greenspan, who has been gradually demoted from “Maestro” to “irresponsible bubble blower”. In this sense the somewhat less praise-laden verdicts that are lately emerging with respect to Ben Bernanke could be seen as an early warning sign.
“When does our credit based financial system sputter / break down? When investable assets pose too much risk for too little return. Not immediately, but at the margin, credit and stocks begin to be exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal money in a mattress.” We are approaching that point now as bond yields, credit spreads and stock prices have brought financial wealth forward to the point of exhaustion.A rational investor must indeed have a sense of an ending, not another Lehman crash, but a crush of perpetual bull market enthusiasm.