Contrary to those blaming the Fed for causing stocks to fall by “raising rates” (which Joe Salerno reflects on here) we want to stress the fact that, in raising rates, the most that the Fed could do is unravel previously made mistakes. In other words, there is nothing praiseworthy in the first place about artificially propped up stock market levels. We have no interest in lauding the longevity of the bubble, because the bubble is the enemy of the healthy economy. The collapsing equity markets reveal where bubbles were formed and that our alleged prosperity is an illusion. And this is precisely what former Dallas Fed Chairman Richard Fisher stated in a conversation on CNBC last week when he confessed: “We frontloaded a tremendous market rally to create a wealth effect.”
For the 13th month in a row, The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Outlook was contractionary with a stunning -34.6 print following December's already disastrous collapse back to -20.1, post-crisis lows. With "hope" having plunged back into negative territory (-2.2) in December, January saw a complete collapse to -24.0 as one respondent exclaimed, "we expect the continued depression in the oil and gas industry to negatively impact our customer base and result in significant demand reduction."
Following a rerun of September 2015, when Draghi sent market expectations about ECB action sky-high only to massively disappoint in December (we will have to wait until March to see if it is deja vu all over again) last week, this week is just as big for central bank jawboning with the FOMC (Wednesday) and the BoJ meeting on Friday, with hopes that they will at least hint of more easing if not actually do much.
After the biggest two-day surge in oil in seven years, early in the overnight session both Brent and WTI continued their run for a third day, entering a bull market, 20% up from recent lows hit just last week (still 15% down on the year) when Saudi Arabia spoiled the momentum party after the world’s biggest crude exporter said it’s keeping up investments in energy projects while diesel consumption in China dropped for a fourth consecutive month, signaling an industrial slowdown. And thanks to the near record correlation between equities and oil, global stocks and US equity index futures initially rose only to slide following the Saudi comments.
Moody's took the global energy sector to the woodshed, placing 175 global oil, gas and mining companies and groups on review for a downgrade due to a prolonged rout in global commodities prices that it says could remain depressed indefinitely. Here are the 69 US, 19 Canadian and 13 European companies (the full list of all global companies can be found here) that just Moody's black list, a grand total of 101 companies which now face a downgrade threat on just about $540 billion in total debt.
When the FOMC is deliberately manipulating asset prices and credit spreads... collateral damage is inevitable.
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.
The end of America’s oil “miracle” is coming and there’s nothing Wall Street can do to stop it. At this point in the game, no one is going to finance the oil patch's cash flow deficits and the fundamentals in the oil market are laughably bad. As Bloomberg reports, Wall Street is about to have a serious bout of “indigestion” because recent auctions suggest that “some bankrupt oil and gas drillers can’t give their assets away.”
Do you have some extra space in your garage or attic? Or perhaps you own an oil tanker you aren’t currently using. Or maybe you have a storage unit that’s got a little extra room next to an old mattress and box springs. If so, you may want to call up oil producers in North Dakota and ask if they’d care to send you some free oil.
"While we are taking what we believe to be the appropriate reserves for that, I'm just not prepared to give you a specific number right now as far as the amount of reserves that we have on that particular book of business."
<Q - Mike L. Mayo>: What percent of the $17 billion is not investment grade?
<A - John R. Shrewsberry>: I would say most of it. Most of it.
<Q - Mike L. Mayo>: So most of the $17 billion is non-investment grade.
<A - John R. Shrewsberry>: Correct.
What's wrong with this picture?
It is the “Core of the Core” that now concerns us the most. That is where Federal Reserve (and global central bank) policies have left their greatest mark. It is at the “Core of the Core” where momentous misperceptions and market mispricing have become deeply entrenched. It’s the “Core of the Core” that has attracted enormous amounts of “money” over recent years. It’s also here where I believe leverage has quietly been used most aggressively. Over recent years it became one massive Crowded Trade. Now the sophisticated players must contemplate beating the unsuspecting public to the exits.
The Dallas Fed met with the banks a week ago and effectively suspended mark-to-market on energy debts and as a result no impairments are being written down. Furthermore, as we reported earlier this week when first nothing the rumor, the Fed indicated "under the table" that banks were to work with the energy companies on delivering without a markdown on worry that a backstop, or bail-in, was needed after reviewing loan losses would exceed the current tier 1 capital tranches.