Late in the life of every financial bubble, when things have gotten so out of hand that the old ways of judging value or ethics or whatever can no longer be honestly applied, a new idea emerges that, if true, would let the bubble keep inflating forever. During the tech bubble of the late 1990s it was the “infinite Internet.” During the housing bubble the rationalization for the soaring value of inert lumps of wood and Formica was a model of circular logic: Home prices would keep going up because “home prices always go up.” Now the current bubble – call it the Money Bubble or the sovereign debt bubble or the fiat currency bubble, they all fit – has finally reached the point where no one operating within a historical or commonsensical framework can accept its validity, and so for it to continue a new lens is needed. And right on schedule, here it comes: Governments with printing presses can create as much currency as they want and use it to hold down interest rates for as long as they want. So financial crises are now voluntary. The illusion of government omnipotence is no crazier than the infinite Internet or home prices always going up, but it is crazy.
The confusion reigns. The USD (aside from against the EUR) is bid and Treasuries are being sold along with precious metals in a continuation of yesterday's taper-tantrum. However, stocks (and crude oil) are surging. As JPY's implosion of moar QE from Japan expectations lift carry traders back from the grave.
Sickcare is unsustainable for a number of interlocking reasons: defensive medicine in response to a broken malpractice system; opaque pricing; quasi-monopolies/cartels; systemic disconnect of health from food, diet and fitness; fraud and paperwork consume at least 40% of all sickcare funds; fee-for-service in a cartel system; employers being responsible for healthcare, and a fundamental absence of competition and transparency. Obamacare simply speeds up the coming collapse. The neutron bomb has gone off, unseen by politicos and the Elites who wrote the bill. It is already undercutting fulltime employment, and it will soon add momentum to the free-fall erosion of small business growth and employment.
There are increasing signs of deflationary risks in the developed world, suggesting bonds are set for a comeback.
- When it fails, do more of it - Bank of Japan hints at extending ultra-loose monetary policy (FT)
- PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves (BBG)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (Hilsenrath)
- Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era (Reuters)
- Debt Limit Rise May Not Be Needed Until June, CBO Says (BBG)
- Some Insurance Regulators Turn Down White House Invitation (WSJ)
- Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman (WSJ)
- U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary (Reuters)
- French business sector contracts sharply (FT)
- How Germany's taxman used stolen data to squeeze Switzerland (Reuters)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (WSJ)
- France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief (Reuters)
Following yesterday's latest Taper Tantrum, it was critical to get a smattering of bad global overnight news to provide the ammunition for the algos that not all in the world is fine and the easy monetary policy will continue indefinitely pushing stocks ever higher at the expense of the global economy. Sure enough first China, and then Europe complied, following the biggest China Flash PMI miss and drop in 6 months, followed shortly thereafter by a miss and a drop in the Eurozone Composite PMI down from 51.9 to 51.5, below expectations of an increase to 52.0, primarily on the back of a decline in the Service PMI from 51.6 to 50.9, with 51.9 expected even as the Mfg PMI rose modestly from 51.3 to 51.5. The country breakdown showed a significant deterioration in France and an improvement in Germany. But the biggest overnight driver by a wide margin was the Yen, which tumbled nearly 100 pips and the USDJPY hit an overnight high of just over 100.90, which pushed the Nikkei up by almost 2%, and kept the futures well bid. However, what has confused algos in recent trading is the expected denial by Draghi of a negative interest rate, which while good for the EURJPY that drives the ES, what is the flipside is that this means less easing by the ECB, and thus interpreting the data does not result in a clear BTFD signal. Which may be a problem because should stocks close red today it will be the first 4 day drop in who knows how long.
The following Top Ten Market Themes, represent the broad list of macro themes from Goldman Sachs' economic outlook that they think will dominate markets in 2014.
- Showtime for the US/DM Recovery
- Forward guidance harder in an above-trend world
- Earn the DM equity risk premium, hedge the risk
- Good carry, bad carry
- The race to the exit kicks off
- Decision time for the ‘high-flyers’
- Still not your older brother’s EM...
- ...but EM differentiation to continue
- Commodity downside risks grow
- Stable China may be good enough
They summarize their positive growth expectations: if and when the period of stability will give way to bigger directional moves largely depends on how re-accelerating growth forces the hands of central banks to move ahead of everybody else. And, in practice, that boils down to the question of whether the Fed will be able to prevent the short end from selling off; i.e. it's all about the Fed.
While the FOMC Minutes due out in less than an hour is what everyone is looking forward to, the big surprise announcement of the day was the repeat of a rumor released initially 6 months ago, namely that the ECB is considering negative deposit rates - a concept we first speculated about back in June of 2012. Alas, just like last time, the latest incarnation of the NIRP rumor appears to be merely more hot air (and certainly will be exposed as such once the non-compliant mostly German ECB members hit the tape). One person who says not to hold your breath for an ECB negative rate, is Citi's Valentin Marino, who says not only is a negative deposit rate unlikely before the results of the AQR and stress tests as it would accelerate bank deleveraging, but that it "could worsen the pervasive credit crunch and add to the growth headwinds and deflation risks in in the currency block. It would erode investors’ confidence in Eurozone’s financial institutions and accentuate their relative underperformance."
The Fed’s economic models, and 99% of the economic models employed by Central Banks in general, believe that monetary easing can bring about an economic recovery. The primary argument for this crowd if QE has thus far failed to produce a recovery is that the QE efforts have not been big enough. And then there’s Japan...
- JPMorgan $13 Billion Mortgage Deal Seen as Lawsuit Shield (BBG)
- J.P. Morgan Is Haunted by a 2006 Decision on Mortgages (WSJ)
- World powers, Iran in new attempt to reach nuclear deal (Reuters)
- Keystone Foes Seek to Thwart Oil Sands Exports by Rail (BBG) - mostly Warren Buffet?
- How Would Fed Deal With Debt Ceiling Crisis? Look to Minutes for Clues (Hilsenrath)
- Anything to prevent the loss of prop trading: 'Volcker Rule' Faces New Hurdles (WSJ)
- BOE Sees Case for Keeping Record-Low Rate Beyond 7% Jobless (BBG)
- Obama Backs Piecemeal Immigration Overhaul (WSJ)
- Abenomics Seen Cutting Japan Bad-Loan Costs to 2006 Low (BBG)
After the DJIA and S&P briefly crossed the key resistance levels of 16000 and 1800, the upper bound on the markets has been looking increasingly more distant and this morning's lack of an overnight ramp only makes it more so. Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is that with both Yellen and Bernanke on the tape yesterday, the S&P still was unable to close green. This follows on Monday's double POMO day when the S&P once again closed... red. Not helping things was the overnight announcement by the Japanese government pension fund, the GPIF, in which the fund announced it would lower its bond allocation further however the new law to reform the GPIF could be written by spring 2015. This was hardly as exciting as the market had expected, and as a result both the USDJPY and the ES-moving EURJPY find themselves at overnight lows. Will the EURJPY engage in its usual post 8 am ramp - keep a close eye, especially since the usual morning gold and silver slam down just took place.
My personal guess is that the U.S. market, especially the non-blue chips, will work its way higher, perhaps by 20% to 30% in the next year or, more likely, two years, with the rest of the world including emerging market equities covering even more ground in at least a partial catch-up. And then we will have the third in the series of serious market busts since 1999 and presumably Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, et al. will rest happy, for surely they must expect something like this outcome given their experience. And we the people, of course, will get what we deserve. We acclaimed the original perpetrator of this ill-fated plan – Greenspan – to be the great Maestro, in a general orgy of boot licking. His faithful acolyte, Bernanke, was reappointed by a democratic president and generally lauded for doing (I admit) a perfectly serviceable job of rallying the troops in a crash that absolutely would not have occurred without the dangerous experiments in deregulation and no regulation (of the subprime instruments, for example) of his and his predecessor’s policy. At this rate, one day we will praise Yellen (or a similar successor) for helping out adequately in the wreckage of the next utterly unnecessary financial and asset class failure. In the meantime investors should be aware that the U.S. market is already badly overpriced. This market is already no exception, but speculation can hurt prudence much more and probably will. Ah, that’s life. And with a Fed like ours it’s probably what we deserve.
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), "we've got to stop this, this is going to be bad." He adds, on the incoming QEeen, "she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn't believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good." However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, "eventually the markets will just say, "We're not going to play this game anymore", and we'll have a serious collapse." The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes "if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it's blue because I have found that most people won't even bother to look out the window..." Rogers concludes, "everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy," because as he ominously warns, when 'it' collapses, "there will be big change.
USDJPY and Nikkei futures don't know what to make of tonight's data. Is it bad enough that we buy stocks (sell JPY) on the basis that Abe and Kuroda will have to do more or is it so bad that it 'proves' no matter what they do, the gig is up. It seems, by the reaction the latter as Japan's trade balance collapses to the 3rd worst on record. Exports rose 18.6% (more than expected) but it is the imports that soared higher (26.1% vs 19.0% expectations) on the back of surging fuel costs. So, Abe got his inflation - on the cost push side (crushing margins) and not the animal-spirit-competitive exuberance demand-pull side. Perhaps it is time to rename it Abe-wrong-ics. Of course, we await Goldman's blessing of the number as just wait one more quarter for the J-curve to turn up on this devaluation cycle... we wait patiently...
In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’s real estate market has created not a “soaring” real estate market as economists always incorrectly explain them, but massive real estate market distortions better known as a bubble.