Initially both European stocks and US equity futures were grateful that China has picked at least one asset class to prop up overnight, and rose in an extremely illiquid market with European shares gaining for first time in 4 days, as S&P futures rise even as the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index just fell to the lowest level in more than 4 years. However, as of moments ago the Stoxx 600 had faded all its earlier gains and was trading near the flatline, as an algo takes out all stops on the top and bottom once more, and looks set to move on to US futures shortly.
Once China set the Yuan fixing some 0.5% lower, the biggest drop since the August devaluation, all hell broke loose and unleashed a global selling panic after China's stock market was promptly shut down less than 30 minutes into trading, then European shares dropped the most in more than 4 months as Asian equities plunges, as did US stock futures, the dollar weakened against the euro and the yen; crude plunged to fresh 12 year lows. Gold rose.
Happy New Year Californians - behold the power of monopoly and regulatory capture.
On the heels of a 59% plunge in new Class 8 orders, we get a fresh take on freight transportation from Morgan Stanley and as you might expect, the picture is most assuredly not pretty. The bank's TLFIs are bumping along at their lowest levels since the crisis for flatbed, hot van, and refrigerated, suggesting the malaise is widespread.
Wait, isn't direct funding of the Treasury against US policy: after all, hasn't Bernanke been on the record countless times repeating that the Fed does not monetize the US deficit? Not anymore...
As oil prices wallow near multi-year lows, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the new cartel controlling oil prices is not OPEC but world credit markets. From Saudi Arabia’s record $100 billion deficit to shale oil’s continuing reliance on cheap credit funding, it’s clear that no major oil producer or company in the world right now is economically self-sufficient based on oil revenues alone. This situation has left the flow of oil and the decision on when to stop pumping the increasingly tarnished black gold in the hands of banks rather than oil men.
My overriding theme and the central drama for the coming year is that unexpected events can take on greater importance as the Federal Reserve ends its near-decade-long Zero Interest Rate Policy. Consensus premises and forecasts will likely fall flat, in a rather spectacular manner. The low-conviction and directionless market that we saw in 2015 could become a no-conviction and very-much-directed market (i.e. one that's directed lower) in 2016. There will be no peace on earth in 2016, and our markets could lose a cushion of protection as valuations contract. (Just as "malinvestment" represented a key theme this year, we expect a compression of price-to-earnings ratios to serve as a big market driver in 2016.) In other words, we don't think 2016 will be fun.
Two weeks ago we said that "those who have savings at US banks, please don't hold your breath to see any increase on the meager interest said deposits earn." We were wrong: some should certainly have held their breath, because as the WSJ reports today, "some bank customers won’t have to wait much longer to reap benefits from the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates." Some, such as clients of J.P. Morgan, which will begin raising deposit rates for some of its "biggest clients" in January. "Biggest" clients, of course, is a universal euphemism for "wealthiest."
Because we squandered our opportunity to correct our own problems, our problems shall be our legacy. It’s wretched how dumb we are in our greed to have everything right now in the cheapest way possible and how willing we are to force the debts of that consumption upon our grandchildren and to pretend that won’t hurt them. We live in economic denial.
Banks have finally woken up to the risk their billions in C&I loans issued to fund "financial engineering" are exposed to. The reaction: an unprecedented surge in loan collateralization, with the percent of total loans secured by collateral soaring by nearly 50% in the past quarter to a record 55.9%, the highest ever!
Cynical short-sellers are targeting some of Wall Street's most famous short-sellers. Amid plunges in the stock prices of David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital and Dan Loeb's Third Point reinsurance entities, Bloomberg reports that bearish investors have piled in pushing short interest (as a percent of shares outstanding) to its highest since 2009.
Someone forgot to give the banks the memo that the Fed's first rate hike since 2006 was supposed to, at least on paper, benefit the savers of America and not so much the, well, banks.. Because the ink hadn't even dried on the Fed's statement and one after another banks revealed that they would promptly boost their Prime lending rate from the current benchmark of 3.25% to the new Fed Funds-implied prime rate of 3.50%.
Soaring junk bond redemptions; rising investment grade (and high yield) yields pressuring corporate buybacks; record corporate leverage and sliding cash flows; Chinese devaluation back with a vengeance; capital outflows from EM accelerating as dollar strength returns; corporate profits and revenues in recession; CEOs most pessimistic since 2012, oh and the Fed's first rate hike in 9 years expected to soak up as much as $800 billion in excess liquidity. To Wall Street's strategists none of this matters: as Bloomberg observes, virtually every single sellside forecasts expects "no end to the bull market."
With global freight costs collapsing, as China trade dries up, status-quo-hugging talking heads have point to America's car sales and picture some islandic isolation that means investors in US equities are immune. Well that little dream just burst. Rail freight carloads tumbled 5.1% in October, dramatically accelerating the 1.6% drop in Q3 as a strong dollar crimps exports, retailers whittle down excess inventory and energy investment stalls. Until recebtly, the one bright spot in rail traffic was auto shipments... but even that just plunged and is now at the seasonally weakest since 2008.
The rout beneath the relative calm of the market surface continues today as another sector has gotten crushed today in reaction to the domestic and global collapse in trade, the spreading domestic manufacturing recession and the bursting of the commodity bubble: truckers, and especially the heaviest, Class 8 trucks, those with a gross weight over 33K pounds, those which make up the backbone of U.S. trade infrastructure and logistics.