"They are going to be toast. It will be one of our first levels of shorting the moment we start to see cracks, because it’s ripe with retail, emotional investors."
How the intersection of Fed policy, the post-crisis regulatory regime, and illiquid markets turned ETFs into the new financial weapons of mass destruction.
After weeks of overnight turbulence following every twist and turn in the Greek drama, this morning has seen a scarcity of mostly gap up (or NYSE-breakding "down") moves, and S&P500 futures are unchanged as of this moment however the Nasdaq is looking set for another record high at the open after last night's better than expected GOOG results which sent the stop higher by 11% of over $40 billion in market cap. We expect this not to last very long as the traditional no volume, USDJPY-levitation driven buying of ES will surely resume once US algos wake up and launch the self-trading spoof programs. More importantly: a red close on Friday is not exactly permitted by the central planners.
On Wednesday, Carl Icahn and Larry Fink engaged in an epic debate about the role ETFs play in perpetuating systemic risk. Icahn, taking a page from the Tyler Durden playbook, talks phantom liquidity before calling BlackRock "a dangerous company", and opining that Fink and Janet Yellen are "pushing the damn thing off a cliff."
On the heels of Sunday's landmark referendum in Greece, all eyes are now on global financial markets and how the European Central Bank intends to prevent contagion in the event Greece exits the currency bloc.
“If you distort markets for long periods of time and then you remove those distortions, you’re subject to unanticipated volatility,” TCW's Jerry Cudzil tells Bloomberg, adding that the firm is "as defensive as [it's] been since pre-crisis.”
"In the United States, it took 18 quarters (4.5 years) before fixed business investment regained its pre-recession peak, in chain-volume terms. That compares with an average of just five quarters before business investment recovered to its peak level prior to the onset of previous post-War recessions; previously, it had never taken longer than three years for that milestone to be attained."
"Wall Street’s generous supply of funds to U.S. oil drillers helped create the American energy boom. Now that same access to easy money is keeping them going, despite oil prices that are languishing around $60 a barrel," WSJ says, proving that the era of easy money has in fact led to deflation.
Successive rounds of government bond monetization have worked to destroy the Treasury, JGB, and EU core markets while the post-crisis regulatory regime has seen dealers back away from providing liquity in the secondary market for corporate credit just as the very same monetary policy that broke government bond markets has led to an explosion of new issuance from corporate borrowers, creating the potential for a self-feeding catastrophe in the event of selloff in corporate bonds.
Put simply: the market is quickly running out of props. Eventually we’re going to get a correction. But with so little buying power in the markets that could correction would very easily become a Crash.
No matter what investors SAY they will do, they will almost always succumb to the emotional investment mistakes caused by being human.
"... some stressed more than others about it but all concluded that the last few weeks in rates were eye-opening. No-one really knew how to hedge or price for it in a world where you need to hit short-term performance targets. This supports my view that liquidity premiums will never be properly priced in this cycle and investors will stay in assets too long in order to maximise short-term performance.... when this cycle does end there is likely to be savage moves in markets where either investors need to sell or where they are able to sell."
If yesterday's strong 3 Year auction caught the hordes of shorts unaware, sending the repo rate plunging from a super special -1.7% to positive, today's just concluded 10 Year auction was nothing short of epic, in virtually every possible way.
“The biggest worry of the buy side around the world is that there has been a dramatic decline in liquidity from the sell side for many fixed income products,” Prudential's David Hunt tells Bloomberg, echoing Jamie Dimon and confirming what we've been shouting about for years.
What happens in the event a Fed rate hike triggers widening corporate credit spreads in a corporate bond market devoid of liquidity? Could it indeed be the case that the Fed’s highly anticipated “lift-off” will serve as the catalyst for credit market carnage? Some traders think so.