A month ago, Bill Gross stirred up a storm in rates with his tweet that the "Bull bond market was dead" which caught us by surprise because just in the preceding month, PIMCO's flagship Total Return Fund raised its allocation to government-related (read TSY) bonds to the highest in three years, with a net exposure of 40% of AUM, or about $117 billion. Of course, the data was backward looking so it was possible that the firm had changed its opinion entirely and in the following two weeks proceeded to purge its TSY holdings. It didn't. In fact, as of the May TRF holdings update, PIMCO's TSY holdings, which many expected to collapse, declined by a whopping... 2% of total from 40% (net of agency and swaps) to 38%. So much for the great Newport Beach rotation.
Gross: Surveillance policy of Bush 42 “puts forward a false choice btw the liberties we cherish & the security we provide.” B. Obama 2007
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) June 9, 2013
The last couple of weeks have been very interesting. Remember that, certain regional differences aside, Japan has, for the past two-plus decades, been the global trendsetter in terms of macroeconomic deterioration and monetary policy. The West has been following Japan each step on the way – usually with a lag of about ten years or so, although it seems to be catching up of late. Now Japan is the first developed nation to go ‘all-in’, to implement a no-holds-barred money-printing regime to (supposedly) ‘stimulate’ the economy. We expect the West to follow soon. In fact, the UK is my prime candidate. Wait for Mr. Carney to start his new job and embrace ‘monetary activism’. Carnenomics anybody? But here is what is so interesting about recent events in Japan. At first, markets did exactly what the central bankers wanted them to do. They went up. But in May things took a remarkable and abrupt turn for the worse. In just eight trading days the Nikkei stock market index collapsed by 15%. And, importantly, all of this started with bonds selling off. Are markets beginning to realize that all these bubbles have to pop sometime and that sometime may as well be now? Are markets beginning to refuse to dance to the tune of the central bankers and their printing presses? Are central bankers losing control?
All traders walking in today, have just one question in their minds: "will today be lucky 21?" or the 21st consecutive Tuesday in which the Dow Jones has closed green.
All else is irrelevant.
Bill Gross To Ben Bernanke: "It's Your Policies That Are Now Part Of The Problem Rather Than The Solution"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/04/2013 06:38 -0400
On practically every day of the past four years, we have said that it was the Fed's own policies that are causing the ever-deeper systemic weakness in the US (and now global with all central banks going "all in") economy, which in turn forces the Fed to intervene even more aggressively in an attempt to counteract, in turn generating ever more economic weakness, leading to even more intervention, which is why every incremental episode of QE is larger and longer, and why the economic baseline is ever lower in the most perverse feedback loop of the New Normal. Now, it is once again Bill Gross to catch up to Zero Hedge and conclude just this in his latest monthly letter: "It’s been five years Mr. Chairman and the real economy has not once over a 12-month period of time grown faster than 2.5%. Perhaps, in addition to a fiscally confused Washington, it’s your policies that may be now part of the problem rather than the solution. Perhaps the beating heart is pumping anemic, even destructively leukemic blood through the system. Perhaps zero-bound interest rates and quantitative easing programs are becoming as much of the problem as the solution." Which is why there simply is no way out as long as Bernanke stays in.
As the markets elevate higher on the back of the global central bank interventions it is important to keep in context the historical tendencies of the markets over time. Here we are once again with markets, driven by inflows of liquidity from Central Banks, hitting all-time highs. Of course, the chorus of justifications have come to the forefront as to why "this time is different." The current level of overbought conditions, combined with extreme complacency, in the market leave unwitting investors in danger of a more severe correction than currently anticipated. There is virtually no “bullish” argument that will withstand real scrutiny. Yield analysis is flawed because of the artificial interest rate suppression. It is the same for equity risk premium analysis. However, because the optimistic analysis supports the underlying psychological greed - all real scrutiny that would reveal evidence to contrary is dismissed. However, it is "willful blindness" that eventually leads to a dislocation in the markets. In this regard let's review the three most common arguments used to support the current market exuberance.
What is going to happen when the greatest economic bubble in the history of the world pops? The mainstream media never talks about that. They are much too busy covering the latest dogfights in Washington and what Justin Bieber has been up to. And most Americans seem to think that if the Dow keeps setting new all-time highs that everything must be okay. Sadly, that is not the case at all. Right now, the U.S. economy is exhibiting all of the classic symptoms of a bubble economy. What we are witnessing right now is the calm before the storm. Let us hope that it lasts for as long as possible so that we can have more time to prepare. Unfortunately, this bubble of false hope will not last forever. At some point it will end, and then the pain will begin.
We are now used to the daily dispensation of deep twitsight by Pimco's head. Today's installment does not disappoint: in under 140 characters, the bond kind breaks down the now thoroughly dis-proven Efficient Market Hypothesis for the "new normal" in which both alpha and beta are purely functions of virtual central bank printers. However, his view on what happens when said virtual ink runs out (or rather if) is well-known by all at this point. The only question is when.
Gross:Alpha is gr8ly a function of beta &the levered structurs that domin8 credit mkts. No beta? Skinnier alpha ahed 4 unsuspecting investrs
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 21, 2013
- IMF Tells Central Europe to Spend More (WSJ)
- Tornadoes Blast Oklahoma (WSJ)
- Frenetic search for survivors as 91 feared dead in tornado-hit Oklahoma (Reuters)
- JPMorgan investors on edge over vote on Dimon; what if they win? (Reuters)
- Wealthy bank depositors to suffer losses in EU law (Reuters)
- Yen Slips as Amari Backtracks (BBG)
- Japan Ready for More Yen Weakness Despite Recent Comments (WSJ)
- IRS officials back on Capitol Hill hot seat over targeting (Reuters)
- Li Keqiang pledges China boost to India trade (FT)
- Europe's Recession Sparks Grass-Roots Political Push (WSJ)
- Obama and Xi to meet in effort to calm growing US-China rivalry (FT)
- Berlin plans to streamline EU but avoid wholesale treaty change (FT)
- France must reform or face punitive measures - EU's Oettinger (Reuters)
Last week, Bill Gross did not mince his words when he said that he now "sees bubbles everywhere" and that "when that stops there will be repercussions" but for now Benny and the Inkjets, not to mention his band of merry statist men, who take from the poor and give to the wealthy, are playing the music on Max, and so one must dance and dance and dance. And after one legacy bond king, it was the turn of that other, ascendant one - Jeff Gundlach - to share his perspectives Bernanke's amazing bubble machine. His response, to nobody's surprise: "there is a bubble in central banking. We are drowning in central banking and quantitative easing.... And it's not ending until there are some negative consequences."
It is only logical that when one of the smarter people in finance warns that he "sees bubbles everywhere" that he should be roundly ignored by those who have no choice but to dance. Because Bernanke and company are still playing the music with the volume on Max, and if not for POMO there is always FOMO. However, if there is any doubt why this "rally is the most hated ever", here are some insights from the Bond King from an interview with Bloomberg TV earlier today: "We see bubbles everywhere, and that is not to be dramatic and not to suggest they will pop immediately. I just suggested in the bond market with a bubble in treasuries and bubble in narrow credit spreads and high-yield prices, that perhaps there is a significant distortion there. Having said that, it suggests that as long as the FED and Bank of Japan and other Central Banks keep writing checks and do not withdraw, then the bubble can be supported as in blowing bubbles. They are blowing bubbles. When that stops there will be repercussions. It doesn't mean something like 2008 but the potential end of the bull markets everywhere. Not just in the bond market but in the stock market as well and a developing one in the house market as well."
Bill Gross, who manages the world’s largest bond fund, has indicated that the 30+ year old super cycle bull market in bonds has ended. This is very bad news for the markets.
Gross: AP, IRS? Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do TO you.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 16, 2013
It’s amazing what people can trick themselves into believing and even shout about when you tell them exactly what they want to hear. It was disappointing to see Brad DeLong’s latest defense of Fed policy, which was published this past weekend and trumpeted far and wide by like-minded bloggers. If you take DeLong’s word for it, you would think that the only policy risk that concerns hedge fund managers is a return to full employment. He suggests that these managers criticize existing policy only because they’ve made bad bets that are losing money, while they naively expect the Fed’s “political masters” to bail them out. Well, every one of these claims is blatantly false. DeLong’s story is irresponsible and arrogant, really. And since he flouts the truth in his worst articles and ignores half the picture in much of the rest, we’ll take a stab here at a more balanced summary of the pros and cons of the Fed’s current policies. We’ll try to capture the discussion that’s occurring within the investment community that DeLong ridicules. Firstly, the benefits of existing policies are well understood. Monetary stimulus has certainly contributed to the meager growth of recent years. And jobs that are preserved in the near-term have helped to mitigate the rise in long-term unemployment, which can weigh on the economy for years to come. These are the primary benefits of monetary stimulus, and we don’t recall any hedge fund managers disputing them. But the ultimate success or failure of today’s policies won’t be determined by these benefits alone – there are many delayed effects and unintended consequences. Here are seven long-term risks that aren’t mentioned in DeLong’s article...
When the head of the world's largest bond fund starts paraphrasing war-time phrases, you know nothing is what it seems...
Gross: Never have investors reached so high in price for so low a return. Never have investors stooped so low for so much risk.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 14, 2013
It seems to us that this can only end one way and the fight on the beaches this time will be between economic reality and central-bank-inspired mass hypnosis.