Simply put, either large cap Financials are cheap, or the entire U.S. equity market is still overpriced. Their precipitous decline year to date means markets fear they are both the transmission mechanism for a global slowdown/recession to come and a primary victim of that event.
Venezuela's central bank has begun negotiations with the suddenly troubled Deutsche Bank to carry out gold swaps "to improve the liquidity of its foreign reserves as it faces heavy debt payments this year", payments which it won't be able to fund unless it manages to "liquify" its gold. "One of the sources said the central bank has taken an unspecified amount of gold out of the country so that it can be certified, which is required for gold that is used in such swaps."
A multi-decade Credit Bubble is coming to an end. The past seven years has amounted to an incredible blow-off top and the ongoing worldwide collapse in financial stocks provides powerful support for the bursting global Bubble thesis. Few are yet willing to accept the harsh reality that the world has sunk back into crisis as mal-investment, over-investment and associated wealth destruction remain largely concealed so long as financial asset inflation persists. This is true as well for wealth redistribution. The unfolding adjustment process will deflate asset prices so as to converge more closely with deteriorating underlying economic fundamentals.
The Central Banks have turned us into dispensible members of the Suicide Squad
It certainly does feel like groundhog day today because while last week's near record oil surge is long forgotten, and one can debate the impact the result of last night's Iowa primary which saw Trump disappoint to an ascendant Ted Cruz while Hillary and Bernie were practically tied, one thing is certain: today's continued decline in crude, which has seen Brent and WTI both tumble by over 3% has once again pushed global stocks and US equity futures lower, offsetting the euphoria from last night's earnings beat by Google which made Alphabet the largest company in the world by market cap.
"Experience in other countries that have entered into this territory should sober you up on the likely economic and inflation impact. No country that has gone into negative rates has experienced major shifts in its growth and inflation profile – minor, yes; major, no. As a consequence every dip into negative rates has been followed by additional moves."
China’s stock market is a small, relative matter; the more troubling imbalances lie and remain elsewhere. This change in production profitability is concerning on three fronts: China’s industry persists at only getting worse even though it has already reverted to a state not seen in a decade or more; consumer appearances may seem generally optimistic despite all that but only because industrial activity has yet to fully make adjustments through resources and labor; and financial trends are likely already at the stage of self-reinforcement within and without.
Two weeks ago we, in collaboration with several readers, requested an official response from the Fed through a Freedom Of Information Act submission. Surely if the Fed would go so far as to call us liars, it would have no problem either responding or providing the required information. This is what we got back.
"I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them."
With The Fed definitely off the table, China promising nothing but daily liquidity drips, and Europe unable to do anything but jawbone, the world's bullish equity market investors are anxiously trawling for a central bank to save the world. Tonight's BoJ meeting could well be it - though judging by their past epic failures - it will be anything but successful as QE23 looms in Japan. “The need for a Kuroda bazooka is increasing,” said Yuji Shimanaka, an economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo. “This is decision time for Kuroda” as additional stimulus can stop the trend of yen gains and falling stocks.
Between 1990 and 2010, eventually 37 banks would become JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup. The “Big Four” retail banks in the United States collectively hold 45% of all customer bank deposits for a total of $4.6 trillion... as the biggest got biggest-er all thanks to the very visible hand of The Fed's free money.
What does the world really want from oil prices?
With all eyes on the overnight spike in crude oil prices (up 5% and back over $30, this must be the bottom right?), OPEC remains far from impressed with its basket price hovering at (or near) record low levels at $22.48. In fact, the collapse of the OPEC basket price in the last 3 weeks has been the fastest drop since October 2008. However, no matter the chaos occurring various oil instruments (OIL 40% premium to NAV), Citi has decided this is it and dubbed being long oil from here "the trade of the year."
- Stocks, oil soar as Draghi the dove tames global bears (Reuters)
- Massive snowstorm poised to wallop U.S. East Coast (Reuters)
- Oil Rises in Biggest Rally Since August Amid Volatility Surge (BBG)
- Nikkei spikes more than 900 points after rebounds overseas (Japan Times)
- China's Working-Age Population Sees Biggest-Ever Decline (WSJ)
- Oil Is `Trade of the Year' for Citigroup After Iran Export Surge (BBG)
- U.S. Payment of $1.7 Billion to Iran Raises Questions of Ransom (WSJ)
One thing is clear: banks are not only not telling the full story, but the story they are telling is compromised. Still one has to start somewhere with whatever data is publicly available, so courtesy of Reuters, here is a summary of what the big U.S. banks who have reported Q4 earnings so far, say about their energy exposure.