The central bankers have truly been the markets best friends and Draghi and Kuroda-san have been taking over where Ms Yellen has all but left off, but even they can do little in the face of protest and dissent by various members of the global populace and the continuing stupidity and arrogance of our “democratically” elected representatives.
It appears wherever one looks in the markets there are the skidmarks of PIMCO adjusting to life after Bill Gross. First it was MBS (and related derivatives), then CDS indices adjusted as redemption expectations raised risk premia, and now it is the short-end of the Treasury curve. As The FT notes, 3-month Eurodollar futures (instruments enabling traders to bet on the front-end of the yield curve and thus more accurately pinpoint their bets on Fed actions) saw asset managers (cough PIMCO cough) liquidate a record 868,853 contracts in the week to September 30 – the largest one-week change on record (each contract has a notional value of $1m). This dramatic shift suggests both a disagreement with Gross' "new normal" view of rates lower for longer (since liquidation is concentrated around the 2-year maturities) and a need to meet liquidity requirements from redemption requests.
While the biggest micro news of the weekend is certainly the report that Hewlett-Packard has finally thrown in the towel on organic growth (all those thousands laid off over the past ten years can finally breathe easily - they were not fired in vain), and has proceeded to do what so many said was its only real option: splitting into two separate companies, a personal-computer and printer business, and corporate hardware and services operations (which will certainly lead to even more stock buybacks only not at one but two companies) which in turn has sent its stock and futures higher, perhaps the most notable development in the macro world is Japan's realization finally that the weaker Yen is crushing domestic businesses, which has resulted in the USDJPY sliding to lows last seen at Friday's jobs report print, and also generally leading to across the board wekness for the dollar, whose relentless surge in the past 3 months is strongly reminiscent of the euphoria following the Plaza Accord, only in the other direction (and making some wonder if the Plaza Hotel caterer are about to see a rerun of September 22, 1985 in the coming weeks).
In the mid 1970's ,“experts” warned that gold would fall as interest rates rose. The opposite happened and as interest rates rose, gold rose more than 8 times in 3 years and 4 months - from $100/oz in 1976 to $850/oz in January 1980 (see chart). History does not repeat, but it frequently rhymes ...
I think this is a time where people will look back on us and see it as a period of practically central bank worship. The central bankers – Draghi, Yellen, Bernanke – have become almost celebrities in America. People have invested unreasonable hopes in what these central banks can know, and what they can do. I think that, sooner or later, the investing public will become disillusioned of these ideas.... I dare say that stock prices will not continue to rise uninterrupted at the same pace. That’s not a very interesting prediction, but the stock market is certainly a cyclical thing. I think it’s fair to observe that today’s ultra-low interest rates flatter stock market valuations. Stock prices are partly valued based on a discounted flow of dividend income. To the extent that the discount rate you use to value that stream of dividend income, which depends on interest rates, is artificially low, stock prices are artificially high. I think that the burden of proof is on anyone who would assert that we are in a new age of persistently and steadily rising stock prices.
Market weakness, as BofAML reports, has taken a toll on mutual fund and ETF flows, with stocks (-$9.56bn), HY bonds (-$1.56bn) and levered loans (-$1.17bn) all reporting significant outflows last week (ending on October 1st). There is a clear "up in quality" and "up in capital structure" rotation among investors as investment grade bonds saw huge inflows. Notably, most PIMCO funds, including the Total Return Funds, do not report flows weekly, and hence the bulk of this outflow was not reflected in the last week’s data. In a statement PIMCO said that outflows from the Total Return Fund totaled $23.5bn in September, so we will have to see just where that outflow hit.
It has been a week since Bill Gross dropped a tape-bomb on the fixed-income market and walked away from the firm he founded decades ago. Since then the world and their pet rabbit have commented (most notably David Tepper's "who cares?"); but one man has been markedly silent... until now. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, former PIMCO Co-CEO Mohamed Al-Erian told Betty Liu that Bill Gross' "departure - the fact that it happened and how it happened - was a surprise."
- How you know it is all a lie: Pelosi Presses Obama to Talk Up Stronger U.S. Economy (BBG)
- Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes Put Pressure on New York Fed (NYT), Uh, no they don't
- Clashes Break Out at Hong Kong Protest Site (WSJ)
- N.Y. Fed Lawyer Says AIG Got Billions Without Paperwork (BBG)
- Ebola’s Disease Detectives Race to Track Others Exposed (BBG)
- UPS, FedEx Want Retailers to Get Real on Holiday Shipping (WSJ)
- No more mailman at the door under U.S. Postal Service plan (Reuters)
What one can not exclude is that Blackrock, having worked with the ECB for an indefinite period of time, is intimately familiar with the long-term strategy of the biggest jawboning back in the world: Mario Draghi's ECB. Because while Draghi will say anything, as he started two years ago with his infamous "Whatever it takes" speech, his actual policy options are painfully limited. It is in this context that all those betting that public, US-style, QE will inevitably follow the private QE which is set to last at least two years, may want to sit down and read the following note from Reuters, which warns "investors loading up on some of the euro zone's riskiest government bonds on expectations that the European Central Bank will buy them are making a mistake" according to none other than BlackRock's head of European and global bonds said on Wednesday.
- As we warned in May 2013... Gross Exposes $42 Trillion Bond Market’s Key Flaw in Exit (BBG).... hint: no liquidity
- WTI Crude Slips Below $90 for First Time in 17 Months (BBG)
- Traders Thank Fed for Once-in-Decade Surge in Profit (BBG)
- Islamic State committing 'staggering' crimes in Iraq: U.N. report (Reuters)
- Philippine Islamist militants threaten to behead German on October 17 (Reuters)
- Draghi’s Buying Spree for the ECB Might Start Modestly (BBG)
- Russian Officials Say No Plans for Capital Controls (WSJ)
- Indians Join the Wave of Investors in Condos and Homes in the U.S. (NYT)
- Leader of Mexican drugs cartel captured (FT)
- Dallas Ebola patient vomited outside apartment on way to hospital (Reuters)
While we already documented the crash in Japanese stocks earlier, the biggest market development overnight is the plunge in crude, with both Brent and WTI plunging, the latter sliding under $90 for the first time in 17 months, extending yesterday's selloff after Saudi Aramco cut Arab Light OSP in Asia to 2008 levels. Brent drops to lowest since June 2012. This also confirms that the global slowdown whose can is kicked every so often in a new bout of money printing, is arriving fast. That, and the imminent crackdown on today's Hong Kong protest will likely be the biggest stories of the day, even as the spread of Ebola to the US is sure to keep everhone on edge.
He's back. A month after Appaloosa's David Tepper explained the end of the bond bull market was here (and 10Y rates are now 5bps lower), the trend-following master-of-the-universe explained to Bloomberg TV's Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker how the departure of Bill Gross from PIMCO was "nothing... who cares?"; why "the US economy is pretty good", how junk bonds are at "fair value" and stocks are cheap as "multiples are not high." Finally he explains how he "wished he didn't have any investment" in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and clarifies in his billionaire-all-knowing-ness how he is sure the United States can contain Ebola.
- European Bond Yields Go Negative (WSJ)
- Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S. (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Protesters Step up Pressure on Leung to Quit (BBG)
- JPMorgan to face U.S. class action in $10 billion MBS case (Reuters)
- Turkey mulls military action against Islamic State (Reuters)
- Singapore Home Prices Fall for Fourth Straight Quarter on Curbs (BBG)
- Italy's Economic Woes Highlight Dilemma for European Central Bank (WSJ)
- Advanced iOS virus targeting Hong Kong protestors (Reuters)
- Fed Scrutiny of Leveraged Loans Grows Along With Bubble Concern (BBG)
- Mosquito Virus That Walloped Caribbean Spreads in U.S. (BBG)
Despite the ubiquitous v-shaped recovery in stocks from the US open to EU close (decoupling entirely from bonds), stocks slumped into the end of the quarter leaving the S&P and Dow barely positive for Q3 and Russell 2000 down 7.9% - its worst quarter since Q2 2011 (and -5.2% year-to-date). Treasury yields flip-flopped around in a 4-5bps range with a late-day ramp (suggesting liquidations cough PIMCO cough) leaving 30Y -1bps on the week. The USDollar suged higher in the European session and traded lower in the US session. The bigger news on the day was the carnage in commodities that appeared to occur around the European close (desk chatter of commodity fund liquidations). Silver and WTI Crude were monkey-hammered, gold and copper dropped to down 1% on the week. VIX pumped and dumped again but closed above 16. Stocks closed very weak with Russell tumbling 1.5% on the day to not "off the lows."
Things are rapidly shifting from bad to worse for PIMCO. In a triple whammy this morning, Bloomberg reports the Total Return Fund ETF (managed previously by Bill Gross) has suffered $446 million outflows (or over 12.5% of assets) so far; Morningstar downgrades the fund from 'gold' to 'bronze' citing "uncertainty regarding outflows and the reshuffling of management responsibilities"; and perhaps most concerning - given our previous warnings over bond market illiquidity - The FT reports, US regulators are monitoring trading and fund flows surrounding PIMCO's Total Return Bond fund warning investors they should contemplate the unintended consequences of pulling their money and the possibility of systemic risk disruptions, fearful of "runs."