While everyone was gushing over the spectacle on TV of a pro-HFT guy and anti-HFT guy go at it, yesterday afternoon we reported what was by far the most important news of the day, one which was lost on virtually everyone if only until this morning, when we reported that "Monetary Blockade Of Russia Begins: JPMorgan Blocks Russian Money Transfer "Under Pretext" Of Sanctions." This morning the story has finally blown up to front page status, which it deserves, where it currently graces the FT with "Russian threat to retaliate over JPMorgan block." And unlike previous responses to Russian sanctions by the West, which were largely taken as a joke by the Russian establishment, this time Russia is furious: according to Bloomberg, the Russian foreign ministry described the JPM decision as "illegal and absurd." And as Ukraine found out last month, you don't want Russia angry.
- GM enters harsh spotlight as Congress hearings begin (Reuters)
- Facebook's Zuckerberg earns $3.3bn through share options (BBC)
- Sheryl Sandberg has sold more than half her stake in FaceBook (FT)
- Chinese Dragnet Entangles Family of Former Security Chief, Zhou Yongkang (WSJ)
- NHTSA chief: GM did not share critical information with U.S. agency (Reuters)
- Citigroup uncovered rogue trading in Mexico, fired two bond traders (Reuters)
- Corporate America’s overseas cash pile rises to $947bn (FT)
- Thai anti-government protester killed, rekindling political crisis (Reuters)
- China Milk Thirst Hands U.S. Dairies Record 2014 Profits (BBG)
- Caterpillar accused of ‘shifting’ profits (FT)
- New iPhone 6 screens to enter production as early as May (Reuters)
The stock market really was rigged... “It’s 2009,” Katsuyama says. “This had been happening to me for almost two years. There’s no way I’m the first guy to have figured this out. So what happened to everyone else?” The question seemed to answer itself: Anyone who understood the problem was making money off it...
Back in October, when European inflation shocked market observers after it tumbled to a then (revised)low of 0.7%, the reaction by the ECB was to shock everyone and lower rates by 25 bps - a completely unexpected move. Earlier today, Europe shocked everyone once again after it reported that annual Eurozone consumer inflation in March tumbled from 0.7% to a paltry 0.5%, the lowest level since November 2009, below already the depressingly low 0.6% forecast, driven primarily by energy costs which tumbled 2.1% courtesy of Japan continuing to export deflation (where are energy costs soaring? Look at the price of natgas in Japan for a hint).
- Crimea Resolution Backed by U.S. Barely Gets UN Majority (BBG)
- Russian Buildup Stokes Worries (WSJ)
- As reported here first: China’s Developers Face Shakeout as Easy Money Ends (BBG)
- U.S. House Poised to Clear Sanctions Called Putin Warning (BBG)
- Bitcoin Prices Plunge on Report PBOC Orders Accounts Shut (BBG)
- Search for lost Malaysian jet shifts significantly after new lead (Reuters)
- Russian fund taps China and Middle East (FT)
- Long battle looms between U.S. college, athletes seeking to unionize (Reuters)
- Official warns EU-US trade deal at risk over investor cases (FT)
- New iPhone likely out in September, Nikkei daily says (AFP)
By this point, one has to be impressed at the resilience with which algos repeat the same pattern over and over again, hoping for a different outcome. It is now the 6th day in a row that the JPY-carry trade (be it USDJPY, EURJPY or AUDJPY) driven levitation has pushed equity futures smartly up in overnight trading. And by all accounts - in the absence of ugly macro news which in today's sparse data line up (just Personal Income and Spending and UMich consumer condfidence) - the same post early highs fade we have seen every day in the past week will repeat again. The overnight euphoria was driven primarily by Europe where Bloomberg reported 2 Year Spanish yields have traded below those of the UK for the first time since 2009. And since it is obviously not the strong fundamentals, what is continuing to happen, as has been the case since October 2013, is everyone is pricing in the ECB's QE, which even Weidmann is openly talkin about now, which simply means it will most likely never actually happen, certainly not until it is too late.
As the cost of living increases around the globe, wage protests and strikes have become commonplace, particularly in the emerging market space:
- BOE to Sign Agreement With China on Yuan Clearing Next Week (BBG)
- U.S. law firm plans to bring suit against Boeing, Malaysia Airlines (Reuters)
- Citigroup Fraud Stings Mexico Star as Medina-Mora Chased (BBG)
- Fraternity Chief Feared for Son as Hazings Spurred JPMorgan Snub (BBG)
- UBS suspends six more forex traders (FT)
- Goodbye CSCO Q1 EPS: China to strengthen Internet security after U.S. spying report (Reuters)
- Good luck: Spain Banks With $55 Billion of Property Seek Deals (BBG)
- Citic Pacific Said to Plan About $4 Billion Public Offering (BBG)
- Yahoo Japan to buy eAccess from SoftBank for $3.2 billion (Reuters)
- "Whatever it takes" to talk down the Euro: Euro, peripheral bond yields fall on ECB easing debate (Reuters)
Why is Citigroup not like any of the top four banks, including JPM, WFC, USB or BAC?
After tumbling overnight to just around 101.80, the USDJPY managed to stage a remarkable levitating comeback, rising all the way to 102.3, which in turn succeeded in closing the Nikkei 225 at the highs, up 1% after tumbling in early trade. The Shanghai Composite was not quite as lucky and as fear continue to weigh about a collapse in China's credit pipeline, the SHCOMP was down more than 0.8% while the PBOC withdreww even more net liquidity via repos than it did last week, at CNY 98 billion vs CNY 48 billion. That said, this morning will be the fifth consecutive overnight levitation in futures, which likely will once more surge right into the US market open to intraday highs, at which point slowy at first, then rapidly, fade again as the pattern has seemingly been set into algo random access memory. Which in a market devoid of human traders is all that matters.
“Too Big To Fail” … Fails
Another year, another failure by Citigroup to i) pass the Fed's stress test and ii) be able to stop investing cash in such idiotic fundamental concepts as CapEx, and instead reward activist shareholders with increased dividends and buybacks. As the WSJ reports, Citigroup "failed to get Federal Reserve approval to reward investors with dividends and stock buybacks, a significant blow to Chief Executive Michael Corbat's effort to bolster the bank's reputation following a 2008 government rescue." Hardly surprising for a bank which effectively was wiped out in the crisis and which only survived thanks to the Fed-backed crammed-up, spinoff of billions of toxic assets into a bank bank, however certainly surprising for a bank that is supposed to be "fixed" five years into a "recovery." What's worse, the stock is now trading below the infamous $5 level on a pre-split adjustment level - the same split that was supposed to at least optically, give the impression that things at Citi are ok. Turns out optics is only half the answer.
To really appreciate “too big to fail,” you must first and foremost understand that it is a political concept that springs from a sense of liberal privilege and entitlement.
For some inane reason, about a year ago, there was a brief - and painfully boring - academic tussle between one group of clueless economists and another group of clueless economists, debating whether Too Big To Fail banks enjoy an implicit or explicit taxpayer subsidy, courtesy of their systematic importance (because apparently the fact that these banks only exist because they are too big in the first place must have been lost on both sets of clueless economists). Naturally, it goes without saying that the Fed, which as even Fisher now admits, has over the past five years, worked solely for the benefit of its banker owners and a few good billionaires, has done everything in its power to subsidize banks as much as possible, which is why this debate was so ridiculous it merited precisely zero electronic ink from anyone who is not a clueless economist. Today, the debate, for what it's worth, is finally over, when yet another set of clueless economists, those of the NY Fed itself, say clearly and on the record, that TBTF banks indeed do get a subsidy. To wit: " in fact, the very largest (top-five) nonbank firms also enjoy a funding advantage, but for very large banks it’s significantly larger, suggesting there’s a TBTF funding advantage that’s unique to mega-banks."
- U.S. Small-Cap Rally Sends Valuation 26% Above 1990s (BBG)
- Russian troops seize Ukraine marine base in Crimea (Reuters)
- Apple in Talks With Comcast About Streaming-TV Service (WSJ)
- Top J.P. Morgan Executive in China to Leave Bank (WSJ)
- Treasury's Lew to undergo treatment for enlarged prostate (Reuters)
- Billionaire Sought by U.S. Holds Key to Putin Gas Cash (BBG)
- Israel closes embassies around the world as diplomats strike (Reuters)
- Herbalife to Nominate Three More Icahn Candidates to Board (BBG)
- Australian ship homes in on possible debris from Malaysia plane (Reuters)
- California DMV Investigating Potential Credit Card Breach (WSJ)