New Home Sales
At precisely 4 am Eastern two opposite things happened: the German IFO Business Climate for July printed at a better than expected 106.2 vs 105.9 in June and higher than the 106.1 consensus: news which would have been EURUSD positive. And yet the EUR tumbled. Why? Because at the same time the ECB provided an update to the chart that "keeps Mario Draghi up at night" as we reminded readers yesterday - the ECB's all important credit creation update in the form of the M3, which not only missed expectations (of +3%) but declined from 2.9% to 2.3%. But more importantly, ECB lending to private sector shrank for the 14th consecutive month in June, and slid to a new record low 1.6% in June, down from a 1.1% in May.
First the bad news (which for the market is good news): the revised May New Home Sales number was 459, down from 476K, which means last month's beat of expectations of 462K was actually a miss which would have sent the S&P soaring. Now the good news (which for the market is bad): the June New Home Sales seasonally-adjusted annualized number was 497K: the highest since May 2008 (even if far below the prior housing bubble peak) represented by an unadjusted June number of 48K actual houses sold, with more than half of it coming from the 26K new homes sold in the south. So good right right? Not really: the reason why there was a pick up in volume was not because there was far greater demand, but for the usual Economics for Dummies reason why there is demand: prices plunged.
Plunging Chinese manufacturing and an 11 month low PMI got you down? Don't worry: there's a Europe for that, which overnight reported that manufacturing and service PMI in Germany and, don't laugh, France soared far above expectations (German Mfg and Services PMIs of 50.3 and 52.5, up from 48.6 and 50.4, and above expectations of 49.2 and 50.8; French Mfg and Services PMIs of 48.3 and 49.8, up from 47.2 and 48.4 and an 11 and 17 month high, respectively, blowing away expectations of 47.6 and 48.8). The result was a composite Eurozone Manufacturing PMI of 50.1, above 50 for the first time since February of 2012, up from 48.8 and at a 24 month high - reporting the largest monthly increase in output sunce June 2011, as well as a composite Services PMI of 49.6, up from 48.3, and an 18 month high. In other words, European Composite PMI is expanding (above 50) for the first time since January 2012.
With earnings season in full swing as some 20% of the S&P is expected to report, the quieter macro picture moves to the backburner especially with the Fed now silent for a long time. Looking at key central banks events, at the Turkey central bank meeting this week, Goldman expects that the bank is more likely to deliver a moderately hawkish “surprise” and hike the lending rate by 100bp to 7.5% (7.0% for primary dealers), and leave the key policy (1-week repo) and the borrowing rates unchanged at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Among the other central bank meetings this week, benchmark rates are expected to remain unchanged in New Zealand, Philippines and Colombia, in line with consensus, while a 25bp cut is expected to be announced at the Hungary MPC meeting.
Let’s face it, the Las Vegas real estate market has gone full Chinese. By full Chinese, we mean a centrally planned bubble has been created that is just asking to blow up. We’ve covered the renewed insanity of the Las Vegas market before, but this article from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal provides even more detail. In a nutshell, as a result of Assembly Bill 284, which essentially made foreclosures impossible in Nevada, extremely delinquent homes are not coming for sale, and this phony market signal is leading to rampant overbuilding and price speculation. Bubbles and bullshit. It’s the American way.
Once again it is all about central banks, with early negative sentiment heading into Asian trading - following the disappointing announcement from the PBOC about "ample liquidity" leading to the 6th consecutive drop in the Shanghai Composite while the PenNikkeiStock index tumbled yet again - completely erased and flipped as Mario Draghi spoke, although not to explain his involvement with the latest European derivative window-dressing scandal, but to announce that he is, once again, "ready to act" (supposedly through the OMT, which despite the best hopes to the contrary, still DOES NOT OFFICIALLY EXIST) and that while it is up to government to raise growth potentials, growth would "partly come from accommodative policy." In other words, ignore all BIS warnings, for Europe's unaccountable Goldmanite overlord Mario Draghi continues to promise more morphined Koolaid (read record Goldman bonuses) to any banker that comes knocking.
It was shaping up to be another bloodbathed session, with the futures down 10 points around the time Shanghai started crashing for the second night in a row, and threatening to take out key SPX support levels, when the previously noted rumor of an imminent PBOC liquidity injection appeared ex machina and sent the Shanghai composite soaring by 5% to barely unchanged, but more importantly for the all important US wealth effect, the Emini moved nearly 20 points higher from the overnight lows triggering momentum ignition algos that had no idea why they are buying only knowing others are buying. The rumor was promptly squashed when the PBOC did indeed take the mic, but contrary to expectations, announced that liquidity was quite "ample" and no new measures were forthcoming. However, by then the upward momentum was all that mattered and the fact that the underlying catalyst was a lie, was promptly forgotten. End result: futures now at the highs for absolutely no reason.
This morning's 11.5% week-over-week plunge in mortgage applications is the fourth week of fading demand in a row as it appears the bloom is very much off the rose of the second-coming of the housing bubble. This makes it the worst plunge in mortgage applications since June 2009 and the lowest level of activity since December 2011. Wondering how this is possible? We explained in detail here but this collapse in mortgage demand fits perfectly with Mark Hanson's insights that a number of "large private mortgage bankers had mass layoffs last Friday to the tune of 25% to 50% of their operations staff." This all feels very deja vu all over again.
US Treasury yields have risen sharply in the last four weeks with 10yr yields higher by about 50bps. Direct causation is hard to find. While the economic data has improved in places, the prices have moved much more than the facts. For just about every good piece of data, there was an equal piece of bad news. Then of course, there is Ben Bernanke who made the slightest hint to the possibility that a tapering of purchases could begin "in the next few meetings" if the economics warranted. But trying to position a trade based on the impact of the Fed quickly becomes a reflexive exercise going no place because the Treasury market finds a way to reflect macroeconomics despite them. The history of the Fed shows that economics always trumps their effects. This isn't to say that at any given moment, the Fed may have interest rates at a different level than they otherwise would be, but it isn't useful to use this as a reason to buy or sell because a change in their buying could just as easily mean that the economy will be weaker and thus rates would fall as that they would cause rates to rise. What this recent yield back-up boils down to is that the market is expecting that there is self-sustaining, above trend, GDP growth coming. It isn't often that prices become this divorced from fundamentals. Expecting self-sustaining above trend growth is hoping, not the result of a careful analysis. We continue to think that no matter how forceful this back-up has been, or where it ultimately peaks, we will see new low yields in the Treasury market before this cycle is over. Here are 7 short-term and 3 long-term reasons why we think they won't stay up here for long...
Those who recall about the implicit housing subsidy we discussed when we coined the term "foreclosure stuffing" which is merely the well-planned systemic bottleneck to clearing foreclosed properties already in the system, and thus artificially reduce housing supply will be happy to learn that according to RealtyTrac the average time for a foreclosed property to sell just hit a record at nearly 400 days across the entire nation.
Today, another one of the original "big boys" has called it curtains on the landlord business: "We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest", according to the CEO Bruce Rose of Carrington, one of the first investors to use deep institutional pockets (in this case a $450 million investment from OakTree) and BTFHousingD. Rose's assessment of the market? "There’s a lot of -- bluntly -- stupid money that jumped into the trade without any infrastructure, without any real capabilities and a kind of build-it-as-you-go mentality that we think is somewhat irresponsible.... We’ll sit back in the weeds for a while and wait for a couple of blowups,” he said. “There’ll be a point in time when we’ll be happy to get back into the market at levels that make more sense.”
"The last 36 hours have perhaps been evidence as to what might happen if stimulus is withdrawn before the global recovery has been cemented and what might happen if Japan makes mistakes along the way to their attempted new dawn. With the Chinese data still ambiguous, Europe still in recession, Japan in the very early stages of a growth experiment and with the US recovery still historically very weak one has to say that liquidity has been the main market fuel in recent months. So central banks have to tread carefully and the Fed tapering talk and the BoJ's seemingly benign neglect policy towards JGBs has had the market fretting." - Deutsche Bank
The Nikkei dropped by 7.3% at the end of the day and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped by 2.5%. Shanghai maintained a moderate fall at just 1.2% (if you believe that data now!). The Asian markets are down.
Once again: The FOMC minutes had nothing to do with overnight's events, especially since both Ben Bernanke and Bill Dudley made it very clear previously that for any tapering to occur (and which is supposedly bullish according to David Tepper, who may finally be done selling to momentum chasers) if ever, the economy would have to be be stronger (which is of course a paradox because it is the Fed's QE that is making the economy weaker). If anything, the minutes reminded us that there is a mutiny in the FOMC with finally someone having the guts to say on the record that Bernanke is blowing a bubble - something never seen before on the official FOMC record. And after all, the Nikkei opened way up, not down. It was only after the realization of what soaring bond yields mean for, wait for it, stocks (despite central planner promises that it is soaring bond yields that are a good thing - turns out, they aren't) that the sell-off really started. That, and of course copper, and the end of the Chinese Copper Financing Deals arrangement that has been China's illicit cross-asset rehypothecation scheme for years (more shortly). So in a nutshell, here is what has transpired so far, courtesy of Bloomberg.
Yesterday afternoon, following the rout in the US stock market, we made a spurious preview of the true main event: "So selloff in JGBs tonight?" We had no idea how right we would be because the second Japan opened, its bond futures market was halted on a circuit breaker as the 10 Year bond plunged to their lowest level since early 2012, hitting 1% and leading to massive Mark to Market losses for Japanese banks, as we also warned would happen. That was just the beginning, and suddenly the realization crept in that the plunging yen at this point is not only negative for banks, but for the entire stock market, leading to what until that point was a solid up session for the Nikkei to the first rumblings of a ris-off. Shortly thereafter we got the distraction of the Chinese Mfg PMI which dropped into contraction territory for the first time since late 2012, and which set the mood decidedly risk-offish, although the real catalyst may have been a report on copper from Goldman's Roger Yan (which we will cover in depth shortly) and whose implications may be stunning and devastating and may have just popped the Chinese credit bubble (oh, btw, short copper). And then all hell broke loose, with the Nikkei first rising solidly and then something snapping loud and clear, and sending the index crashing a massive 1,143 an intraday swing of 9% high to low, leading to an over 200 pips move lower in the USDJPY, and leading to a global risk off across the world.