Having promised "whatever it takes" and now doing what many thought was un-possible, Mario Draghi has managed to smash EURUSD back to 14-month lows below 1.30 (without actually buying one bond - just promising) and has sent yields on most European bonds negative to 2Y (and Germany near negative in 4Y).
In Citi's Steven Englander's latest note, he notes that every major FX trade in place right now is a carry trade in one form or another, differing only in their scope and in the risk they entail. This has 5 significant implications...
The Central Bank policies of the last five years have damaged the capital markets to the point that the single most important item is no longer developments in the real world, but how Central banks will respond to said developments.
Capitalism gets into deep trouble when the price of financial assets becomes completely disconnected from economic reality and common sense. What ensues is rampant speculation in which financial gamblers careen from one hot money play to the next, leaving the financial system distorted and unstable - a proverbial train wreck waiting to happen. That’s where we are now.
- Off balance sheet vehicles? Check
- Conflicted bank "research" recommending muppets buy stock while soliciting banking fees from same stock? Check
- Hoping to sell debt on to muppets? Check
- Chinese corruption? Check
- State bailout of failed bank? Check
This seems to be the biggest question in financial markets for me right now because the math just doesn`t add up any way you slice it.
Investors in European Bonds are running over each other all in an effort to front run what the Big Banks have been begging the ECB to begin a bond buying program. It is hilarious as European yields are already ridiculously low right now, how much lower do they think these yields can go?
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...
Key highlights in the coming week: US Durable Goods, Michigan Conf., Services PMI, PCE, and CPI in Euro area and Japan. Broken down by day: Monday - US Services PMI, New Home Sales (Consensus 4.7%); Singapore CPI; Tuesday - US Durable Goods (consensus 7.5%) and Consumer Confidence; Wednesday - Germany GfK Consumer Confidence; Thursday - US GDP 2Q (2nd est., expect 3.70%, below consensus) and Personal Consumption; Euro area Confidence; CPI in Germany and Spain; Friday - US Michigan Conf. (consensus 80.1), PCE (consensus 0.10%), Chicago PMI; Core CPI in Euro area and Japan (consensus 2.30%). Additionally, with a long weekend in the US coming up, expect volumes into the close of the week to slump below even recent near-record lows observed recently as the CYNKing of the S&P 500 goes into overdrive.
Just what Europe needs... more QE... this is the real problem - not only is demand for credit weak in the periphery as the balance sheet recession rolls on, but "real" borrowing costs are at near-record highs... Despite Draghi's earlier comments and promises, cramming SME loans down the throats of borrowers at suppressed risks will do nothing but kill bank balance sheets (most critically the ECB's)...
The pattern should be seared in your memory by now. If you fail to recognize it, you could be struck with a huge financial blow. It’s a pattern that has played out over and over throughout history: a government gets into financial trouble, then denies there’s a problem, which is followed by a surprise wealth grab. That’s exactly what happened when bank deposits in Spain and Cyprus were raided. We’ve also seen retirement savings confiscated in some form in Poland, Portugal, and Hungary. Capital controls have been imposed in Cyprus and Iceland. Of course these aren’t the only examples of blatant government thievery. These examples are just within Europe and just within recent years. They can and will happen anywhere.
The main event of the week will be Yellen's long awaited speech at the Jackson Hole 3-day symposium taking place August 21-23. The theme of this year's symposium is entitled "Re-Evaluating Labour Market Dynamics" and Yellen is expected to deliver her keynote address on Friday morning US time. Consensus is that she will likely highlight that the alternative measures of labour market slack in evaluating the ongoing significant under-utilisation of labour resources (eg, duration of employment, quit rate in JOLTS data) have yet to normalise relative to 2002-2007 levels. Any sound bite that touches on the debate of cyclical versus structural drivers of labour force participation will also be closely followed. Unlike some of the previous Jackson Hole symposiums, this is probably not one that will serve as a precursor of any monetary policy changes but the tone of Yellen's speech may still have a market impact and set the mood for busier times ahead in September.
News of the Ukrainian destruction of part of a Russian military convoy sent European stocks (and bond yields) plunging. German DAX futures lost all the gains from the US close last Friday as 2Y bonds closed at -1bps and 10Y bunds at a record low 96bps. European equity indices all lost significant ground on the news today but generally held on to some gains on the week. Peripheral bond spreads pressed wider today but ended the week lower (Spain -5bps, Portugal -25bps). High yield spreads jumped over 20bps on the news. Europe's VIX soared over 20 today (from 16 earlier).
The record-breaking outflows in high-yield bonds are not the only indication that the U.S. economy could be on the verge of very hard times. Retail sales are extremely disappointing, mortgage applications are at a 14 year low and growing geopolitical storms around the world have investors spooked. For a long time now, we have been enjoying a period of relative economic stability even though our underlying economic fundamentals continue to get even worse. Unfortunately, there are now a bunch of signs that this period of relative stability is about to end. The following are 14 reasons why the U.S. economy's bubble of false prosperity may be about to burst...
Global crises wreak havoc on all levels of existence, not to the mention the great cost to human lives. If we are to learn from history, however, it seems as though we might have to nevertheless brace ourselves for yet another one in the near future, as it marks the end of one saeculum and the start of a new economic paradigm aligned more positively with proper balances of trade, debt, and policies. The US is trying to postpone the crisis by printing money, however this is creating currency wars with nearly all major central banks in the world. As history has shown us time and again, causing this delay through money printing will only aggravate the problem, not only not preventing the inevitable, but indeed making the transition more painful and costly.