Back in the summer of 2011 during the debt ceiling debacle, S&P did the unthinkable: it dared to speak the truth when it downgraded the US from its pristine AAA rating, setting off a stock market selloff and paradoxically sending bonds to record low yields. This resulted in a vindictive Tim Geithner promptly warning the Chairman of McGraw-Hill the US would retaliate (which it did), the termination of then CEO Devan Sharma (and his replacement with the all too friendly COO of Citibank), and most importantly, a still ongoing legal fight in which the DOJ sued S&P (and only S&P, not Moody's, not Fitch) allegedly for rating improprieties during the first housing bubble, but even 5 year olds knew it was just to teach S&P a lesson. Today we learn just what the cost is for anyone who dares to downgrade the US. The answer: $1,000,000,000. That is the amount that S&P has decided it will agree to pay in a settlement with the DOJ to put all this "truthiness" unpleasantness behind it.
Now that the World Cup is over, and following last week's global macro reporting slumber (aside for the Portuguese risk flaring episode of course), things pick up quite a bit in the coming week. Here are the key events.
Poor algos: after they got no love on Monday from the overnight USDJPY selling team which took the all important pair back to the 200 DMA, today, inexplicably (it is a Tuesday after all, and if one can't frontrun a rigged market surging higher on Turbo Tuesday may as well throw in the towel on free money and learn about fundamental analysis) the same overnight USDJPY selling team has pushed the key carry pair to below the 200 DMA, and has dragged US equity futures lower with it for the second day in a row.
It is the last day of not only the month but also the quarter, not to mention the halfway point of 2014, which means that window dressing by hedge funds will be rampant, as they scramble to catch up some of the ground lost to the S&P 500 so far in 2014. Most likely this means that once again the most shorted names will ramp in everyone's face and the short side of the hedgie book will soar, further pushing hedged P&L into the red, because remember: in a market in which all the risk is borne by the Fed there is no need to hedge.
Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.
- World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast After ‘Bumpy’ 2014 Start (BBG)
- Al-Qaeda Offshoot Threatens Iraq Oil Site After Taking Mosul (BBG)
- Fed Prepares to Keep Record Balance Sheet for Years to Come (BBG)
- EU investigates tax rulings on Apple, Starbucks, Fiat unit (Reuters)
- Cantor Loss Shocks Republicans, Dims Immigration Changes (BBG)
- More surveillance: Google to Buy Satellite-Imaging Startup for $500 Million (WSJ)
- Tea Party activist who defeated Cantor focused on budget, immigration (Reuters)
- Airbus Suffers Worst Order Loss as Emirates Deal Scrapped (BBG)
- Amazon.com plans local services marketplace this year (Reuters)
- Amazon Stops Taking Advance Orders for ‘Lego’ and Other Warner Videos (NYT)
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
- The Fed can't print trade? World Trade Flows Fall in First Quarter (WSJ)
- PBOC’s Zhou Says China May Have Housing Bubble in ‘Some Cities’ (BBG)
- ECB's Weidmann - Reviving ABS market not task for central bank (Reuters)
- LOL: Fitch upgrades Greece by a notch to 'B'; outlook stable (Reuters)
- LOL x2: Spain Sovereign Debt Rating Upgraded by S&P (BBG)
- China Will Vet Tech Firms After Threatening U.S. Retaliation (BBG)
- US to claim victory over China in WTO car dispute (BBG)
- Obama urges Democrats to vote in midterms, attacks Republicans (Reuters)
- U.S. Military Pushes for More Disclosure on Drone Strikes (WSJ)
Following the only major overnight econ event, which was the May German IFO Business Climate Index which dropped from 111.2 to 110.4 missing expectations of 110.9, the USDJPY has been on a soaring rampage higher hoping to push equities along with it (because now that gold manipulation is a proven fact, it is only a matter of time before the link between manipulating the USDJPY on thin volume with massive leverage and rigging the equity market is uncovered too), and at last check was just shy of 102.000. For now equity futures have failed to be dragged along although with the S&P all time high just around the horizon, the psychological level of 1900 staring the rigged market in the face, and the weekend just around the corner, it is virtually assured that the S&P will close at an all time high today - after all the people need to be confident when they go shopping at malls with money they don't have (but delighted by paper profits they haven't booked) so they boost the US non-GAAP GDP (at least before like Italy, the BEA too changes the definition of GDP to include cocaine and hookers). Finally, assuring a (record?) low-volume levitation today is the early closure of the bond pit ahead of Memorial Day holiday which also means only a skeleton crew of algos will be frontrunning each other to push the S&P over 1,900.
Despite proclamations that markets would open 'normally', Thai SET50 (stock market) futures are indicated to open -4.2% - its biggest drop since January's collapse. Thai CDS are modestly wider (+5 to 130bps) but early Bhat weakness has been rescued back by a mysterious bidder (rumored to be the central bank by several traders). The last 2 times martial law was invoked - in an entirely non-coupy-coup-like manner - general market weakness was less than we have seen so far. Of course, the army has decided that in the interests of avoiding the "provocation of unrest and triggering fear" it will "ban the broadcast and distribution of news." Nothing like a military-coup, that is not a coup, with total media censorship to encourage capital flows and maintain peace in the nation.
When it comes to the topic of the marginal utility of debt, or how much GDP does a dollar of debt buy (an example of which can be seen here), most people are aware that the developed world is facing ruin: with debt across the west already at record, nosebleed levels, and with GDP growth slowing down (due to capital misallocation, thank you Fed, demographic and productivity reasons), it is only a matter of time before it doesn't matter how many trillions in debt a given treasury will issue (and a given central bank will monetize) - the credit impulse will simply not translate into incremental economic growth. But did those same people also know that Asia is almost as bad if not worse as the west when it comes to the marginal utility of debt?
- Two-Thirds of Insurance Exchange Enrollees Paid Premiums (WSJ)
- Panic: Criminal Charges Against Banks Risk Sparking Crisis (BBG)
- Did the junk bubble pop: Junk Loans Pulled as Investors Say No After Fed Raises Concerns (BBG)
- CME mulls price fluctuation limits for gold, silver futures (Reuters)
- AT&T Has Approached DirecTV About Possible Acquisition (WSJ)
- NBA sets wheels turning for Clippers sale; Oprah in wings (Reuters)
- One way to fix prison overcrowding: Florida Jail Hit by Deadly Blast (WSJ)
- New Boeing jets hold key to more than half of future sales (Reuters)
- Sony slashes profit estimate by 70% (Guardian)
The coming week will be busy in terms of data releases in the US; highlights include an improvement in consumer confidence, anemic 1Q GDP growth, and solid non-farm payrolls (consensus expects 215K). Wednesday brings advanced 1Q GDP - consensus expected a pathetic 1.1% qoq, on the back of what Goldman scapegoats as "weather distortions and an inventory investment drag", personal consumption (consensus 1.9%), and FOMC (the meeting is not associated with economic projections or a press conference). Thursday brings PCE Core (consensus 0.20%). Friday brings non-farm payrolls (consensus of 215K) and unemployment (6.6%). Other indicators for the week include pending home sales, S&P/Case Shiller home price index, Chicago PMI, ADP employment, personal income/spending, and hourly earnings.
Bonds, Gold, and JPY are bid this morning as US equity futures are fading fast. The Dow and S&P futures are now back below pre-AAPL/FB levels and Nasdaq futures falling fast. Gold is back above $1300 (up over $30 from yesterday's pre-Putin lows). Treasuries, led by the long-end, are rallying as safe-haven bids appear across the whole complex. 30Y yields are down to 3.53 - the lowest since July. JPY is bid once again as USDJPY tests back to the crucial 102 level.