It has been quite an eventful week between Scotland's battle over independence, the Federal Reserve's FOMC announcement and the markets making new all time highs. The FOMC announcement was more comedy than anything else as the continued facade of the Fed's forecasting capabilities was revealed, it appears the biggest factor in the world of investing and for this weekend's list of "Things To Ponder" we have accumulated a few reads relating to the Fed.
One look at YHOO stock and one wonders just what is the creative way that the market, if not Gene Munster of course with his upgrade last night from $4 to $48, believes Marissa Mayer will create several billion in value. Negative value that is. Why several billion? Because when one strips out the 22.6% stake YHOO owns in Alibaba at its current market cap, the net value one gets is just shy of negative $10 billion.
While none of these people, many of whom are unemployed and paid by others to stay in line for days, will spend the $3,600 someone in China just paid for a "gold" iPhone, they will gladly pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket, or in many cases simply lease with zero money down, the latest and greatest aspirational gadget to show they are cooler than they actually are.
So much for any Scottish referendum vote "surprise": the people came, they voted, and they decided to stay in the 307-year-old union by a far wider margin, some 55% to 45%, than most polls had forecast, even as 3.6 million votes, a record 85% turnout, expressed their opinion. The gloating began shortly thereafter, first and foremost by David Cameron who said "There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people." Queen Elizabeth II, who is at her Scottish castle in Balmoral, is expected to make a rare comment on Friday. But while a No vote was where the smart betting money was ahead of the vote anyway, and is thus hardly a surprise, the most curious thing overnight was the complete roundtrip of cable, which was bought on the rumor and then sold off on the news, roundtripping by nearly 200 pips.
Cable (GBPUSD) is surging as the first results from the Scottish Referendum hit and a resounding "No" to independence appears confirmed. Almost back to pre-Scottish-Vote-fears level (1.66), cable is up 250 pips in the last 24 hours (its biggest move in over a year). GBP is also strengthening notably against EUR (2-year highs), CHF (2 year highs) and of course the JPY (6 year highs) as the Japanese government admits defeat and downgrades its economic assessment for the first time in 5 months (hence sell JPY as they 'must' do more money printing (despite Japanese businesses all pushing for a stronger JPY). FX markets are extremely volatile this evening and implicitly, equity futures are clanging around cluelessly. The USD Index is flat (gaving retraced all FOMC gains). Gold is down on the Japan news (below $1220).
Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
This has been an unusual year for the global economy, characterized by a series of unanticipated economic, geopolitical, and market shifts – and the final quarter is likely to be no different. How these shifts ultimately play out will have a major impact on the effectiveness of government policies – and much more. In the next few months, the buoyant optimism pervading financial markets may prove to be justified. Unfortunately, it is more likely that investors’ outlook is excessively rosy.
With the Fed unleashing its bubble-watchers last week, on the heels of warnings from the Central Bankers' Central Bank (BIS), The IMF has decided it is time to chirp in. As Mises' David Howden notes, after promoting QE for years (see here and here), the IMF is finally coming to realize what has been apparent for years now to almost everyone who doesn’t work for the Fed or the IMF: that low interest rates encourage risky decisions.The IMF warns, "financial market indicators suggested investor bets funded with borrowed money looked 'excessive' and that markets could quickly deflate if there were surprises in U.S. monetary policy or the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East."
With a Fed hinting at exit strategies, gold has tumbled to 2014 lows (and almost in the red year-to-date) as traders apparently forget Japan, China, and European central banks continue to (or are set to) print more money into the global reflation trade. It appears that as the West continues to sell 'paper' gold, the East remains enamnored as the PBOC announced this morning:
*CHINA TO FORM SHANGHAI GOLD BENCHMARK, PBOC GOVERNOR SAYS GOLD MARKET IMPORTANT PART OF FINANCIAL MARKET
*SHANGHAI GOLD MARKET HAS TO AVOID SYSTEMIC RISK: PBOC'S ZHOU
Furthermore, traders have noted physical buying interest continues in the Asian region as premiums rise in China and India.
The Fed came across as somewhat hawkish relative to expectations, according to Citi's Stephen Englander, but FX made an outsized move against high-beta G10 and EM relative to equities buying and moderate money market moves... here's why...
For the 41st month in a row, the Japanese Trade Balance is in deficit (around JPY1 trillion). Of course, the fact that exports fell 1.3% (but but devalued currency means competitive?) means nothing as all that really matters is the collapsing JPY (now at 108.60) at its weakest against the USD in 6 years. That can mean only one thing - a surging Japanese stock market - as the Nikkei breaks 16,000. What is odd - just as in the US - is the rising equity index (no doubt helped by Japanese pension funds buying JPY393billion in Q2) against a backdrop of plunging indivdidual stocks. Sony is limit down (as we explained earlier) with offers outnumbering bids 8-to-1. And that's Japan...
Minutes ago the Yen hit another multi-year low against the dollar, which sure enough, is great for the nominal value of Japanese stocks, if horrible for the actual Japanese companies, the Japanese middle class, and pretty much everyone except for a few superrich people. Such as Sony. Because the (now former) electronic giant, which once upon a time was the target of an activist campaign by none other than Dan Loeb who mysteriouly saw value in the company, once again stunned everyone when it reported overnight that it expects its annual loss to swell to $2 billion, but, far worse, canceled the payment of its dividend for the first time ever after writing down the value of its troubled smartphone business.
For climate change activists and those hoping for an energy future dominated by renewables or even less-polluting natural gas, the death of coal cannot come quickly enough. But with coal still the dominant form of cheap electricity throughout the world, it is unlikely the bogeyman of climate change will disappear anytime soon.
“It’s a questionably unquestionable situation... Are the markets prepared for a shocking answer... Will Janet Yellen announce the final end to QE? Or electrify the bulls with more accommodation? Can Yellen’s eloquent elocution energize the markets…or will she magnetize the bears? Tune in next time Fed fans... Same Fed time... Same Fed channel”
The financial media has no concern of negative outcomes, Wall Street has growth priced in that has never occurred in history, and there is NO expectation of a recession built into any forward assumptions. We have indeed discovered financial “Utopia,” or at least that is what is currently believe.
It has been a story of central banks, as overnight Asian stocks reversed nearly two weeks of consecutive declines - the longest stretch since 2001 - and closed higher as the same catalysts that drove US equities higher buoyed the global tide: a combination of Chinese liquidity injection (for the paltry amount of just under $90 billion; "paltry" considering Chinese banks create over $1 trillion in inside money/loans every quarter) and Hilsenrath leaking that despite all the "recovery" rhetoric, the Fed will not be turning hawkish and there will be no change in the Fed language today (perhaps not on the redline but Yellen's news conference at 2:30pm will certainly be interesting), pushed risk higher, if not benefiting US equities much which remains largely unchanged.