BOND SELLOFF DEEPENS; GERMAN 10-YR YIELD JUMPS 17 BPS TO 0.76%
SPANISH 10-YEAR BOND YIELD CLIMBS TO 2%; HIGHEST SINCE NOV. 24
ITALIAN 10-YEAR BOND YIELD CLIMBS ABOVE 2%; 1ST TIME THIS YEAR
10Y TREASURY YIELD CLIMBS 6BPS TO 2.31%, HIGHEST SINCE DEC. 8
U.K. 10-YR BOND YIELD CLIMBS 8 BPS TO 2.06%; MOST SINCE NOV. 24
JAPAN 10Y YIELD UP 7.5 BPS, SET FOR BIGGEST RISE SINCE MAY 2013
Since 2012, there’s been an unprecedented call from foreign nations to repatriate their gold from Federal Reserve vaults in the U.S. This is an incredible development given many countries’ 71-year reliance on the Fed as a custodian for their bullion. Something huge must of happened in the last few years to prompt such action. That something may be a break in foreign gold holders’ trust in the Fed as a custodian of their precious metals.
"Austerity is broken and has failed... Moreover, today’s short-term crisis management, which merely moves from one payment to the next, needs to stop... Future reforms should no longer target ordinary citizens, but above all the wealthy and the profiteers of 'nepotism'."
Mr. Max Ehrendfreund, writing in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, believes that he has discovered something new: that the world is producing too much and doesn’t know what to do with it. His solution, of course, is to confiscate the overproduced products, such as oil and cotton, from its rightful owners and give it to the people who need it. This phony problem and its statist solution goes back at least as far at the 1930’s socialist calls for “production for use” vs. the hated capitalist concept of “production for profit“.
This is how DB summarizes what has been the primary feature of capital markets this week - the huge move in European bond yields: "On April 17th, 10-year Bunds traded below 0.05% intra-day. Two and a half weeks later and yesterday saw bunds close around 1000% higher than those yield lows at 0.516% after rising +6.2bps on the day." Right out of the European open today, the government bond selloff accelerated with the 10Y Bund reaching as wide as 0.595% with the periphery following closely behind when at 9:30am CET sharp, just as the selloff seemed to be getting out of control, it reversed and out of nowhere and a furious buying wave pushed the Bund and most peripheral bonds unchanged or tighter on the day! Strange, to say the least. Also, illiquid.
With NIRP having turned traditional risk-free assets into guaranteed losers, investors have poured more than $9 billion into junk bond ETFs YTD, and while common sense dictates that buying at the top of an epic HY bubble just ahead of a rate hike cycle and against a backdrop characterized by disappearing liquidity in the secondary market for corporate credit is a fool's errand, most investors feel they have little choice.
We can officially confirm that the gold redemptions from the world's (allegedly) largest gold vault have continued, and another 10 tons of gold was put on a ship (or plane) in March in an unknown direction. Since Germany and the Netherlands started repatriating a portion of their gold held in Manhattan, some 217 tons of gold has been redeemed starting in February 2014 and just under 200 tons in the past 12 months.
On the heels of Monday's news that the IMF may demand a write-off of Greek debt by European creditors before the organization will disburse its portion of a €7.2 billion aid tranche to Athens, it now appears the situation has deteriorated further with unnamed Greek officials reporting "serious disagreements" between the IMF and the EU which may make a compromise "impossible" by the critical May 12 deadline.
After shrinking notably in Feb, March's US Trade deficit exploded. Against expectations of a $41.7bn deficit, the US generated a $51.4bn deficit - the worst since Oct 2008 and the biggest miss on record. Exports rose just $1.6bn while imports soared $17.1bn with the goods deficit with China soaring from $27.3bn to $37.8bn in March. Ironically, just as the "harsh winter" was found to lead to a GDP boost due to a surge in utility spending, so the West Coast port strike which was blamed for the GDP drop, was actually benefiting the US economy as it lead to a plunge in imports. In March, however, the pipeline was cleared, and US imports from China soared by over $10 billion to $38 billion. End result: prepare for upcoming Q1 GDP downgrades into negative territory.
- Fed's Yellen says met firm at heart of leak probes (Reuters)
- EU Raises Growth Outlook as ECB Counters Greek Threat (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton Takes Hit in WSJ Poll, but Holds Edge Over GOP Rivals (WSJ)
- China stocks slump on tighter margin rules, IPOs; Hong Kong down (Reuters)
- McDonald’s Chief Promises Turnaround in a Restructuring (NYT)
- German Bond Market Selloff Continues (WSJ)
- Vanguard overtakes Pimco’s Total Return following outflows in wake of Bill Gross’s departure (WSJ)
- EU Demands Concessions as Greece Hurtles Toward Deadlines (BBG)
- Junk Bonds Are The New Haven Assets (BBG)
If yesterday's laughable lack of volume (helped by the closure of Japan and the UK) coupled with hopes that the end of the buyback blackout period was enough to send stocks surging if only to end with a whimper below all time highs despite what is now looking like three consecutive quarters of Y/Y EPS declines according to Factset, today's ramp will be more difficult for the NY Fed and Citadel to engineer, not least of all due to the headwind of the overnight "incident" by China's stock bubble which saw the Shanghai Composite tumble by 4%, the most since January.
Gillian Tett, markets and finance commentator and an Assistant Editor and former U.S. Managing Editor of the Financial Times, wrote an important and little noticed article last week questioning complacency on the part of European policy makers regarding a Greek default and potential exit or ‘Grexit’. Tett argues that a Greek failure would lead, as Lehman’s did to “wider policy uncertainty: when Lehman failed, the entire paradigm for finance suddenly seemed unpredictable”.
"Greece is so far off course on its $172bn bailout programme that it faces losing vital International Monetary Fund support unless European lenders write off significant amounts of its sovereign debt, the fund has warned Athens’ eurozone creditors," FT reports, indicating that the organization may force the ECB and implicitly the German taxpayer to take the hit if Greece wants to receive the last tranche of aid under its existing program.
“When does our credit based financial system sputter / break down? When investable assets pose too much risk for too little return. Not immediately, but at the margin, credit and stocks begin to be exchanged for figurative and sometimes literal money in a mattress.” We are approaching that point now as bond yields, credit spreads and stock prices have brought financial wealth forward to the point of exhaustion. A rational investor must indeed have a sense of an ending, not another Lehman crash, but a crush of perpetual bull market enthusiasm.