Bank of America believes the increasing geopolitical tensions in Iraq risk regional contagion, with the potential for negative spillover to global markets. If Iraq were to see further turmoil, in addition to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, we believe it could destabilize the region further, disrupt oil production and exports, and provide fertile ground for terrorist activity to extend its reach. They review the background of Iraqi turmoil, and discuss the political, economic and market implications in 10 questions; noting that the root of the problem is the central government’s non-inclusive and sectarian policies.
There has been a lot of money made by being patient waiting for the events to play out, and then coming in and shorting the Oil Markets the last five years.
it is suddenly not fun being a Fed president (or Chairmanwoman) these days: with yesterday's 2.1% CPI print, the YoY rate has now increased for four consecutive months and is above the Fed's target. Concurrently, the unemployment rate has also dipped well below the Fed’s previous 6.5% threshold guidance, in other words the Fed has now met both its mandates as set down previously. There have also been fairly unambiguous comments from the Fed’s Bullard suggesting that this is the closest the Fed has been to fulfilling its mandates in many years. Finally, adding to the "concerns" that the Fed may surprise everyone were BOE Carney’s comments last week that a hike “could happen sooner than the market currently expect." In short: continued QE here, without a taper acceleration, merely affirms that all the Fed is after is reflating the stock market, and such trivial considerations as employment and inflation are merely secondary to the Fed. Which, of course, we know - all is secondary to the wealth effect, i.e., making the rich, richer. But it is one thing for tinfoil hat sites to expose the truth, it is something else entirely when it is revealed to the entire world.
Events in Iraq are changing by the hour, now that US combat boots are "on the ground", expect them to change even faster. For those looking to catch up on the most recent overnight news out of this latest civil war torn country, here is the full update.
Back in Feb 2013 we introduced the "Brent Vigilantes" and reminded traders how stock markets (and macro economies) react to shifts in the oil price with the two trading together to a 'tipping point' at which point strocks belief in growth breaks. We further confirmed that this is even more worrisome in the case of an oil price shock which strongly suggests that VIX at 12 is not pricing in the volatility that we have seen in the past when the oil complex starts to shake.
The situation in Ukraine and Iraq have gone from bad to worse. There is the potential for a wider Middle East conflict as the region remains a ‘powder keg.’ Iraq may be the match that sees the region explode into chaos and war - with attendant effects on global oil prices and the global economy.
Best week for WTI crude in 6 months (to 9 month highs). Worst week for the Dow Transports in 2 months (3rd worst in 10 months)... and while 5s30s flattened to its equal lowest since January 2009, 10Y Treasury yields ended the week just 1bp higher in yield. Late day VIX smashing was trumped by rumors of the death of Iraq's PM Maliki (which was later denied and sent VIX reeling lower again). The USD ended the week modestly higher (+0.2%) with GBP strength and EUR weakness the main theme. Silver and gold were bid (safety and CCFD unwinds) with the best week in 3 months. Copper and iron ore were down for the 3rd week in a row. "Most shorted" stocks rose for the 5th week in a row (notably decoupling from the broad markets's weakness in the last few days). So it seems that the market does not trade on bad news; it trades on fake rumors.
"The latest escalation in Iraqi tensions has introduced new event risk for global oil markets. However, current options market pricing suggests oil markets are still attaching a low probability to an oil price spike over the coming months. We believe this sanguine approach to oil price spike risk reflects the fact that the major oil infrastructure in Iraq has not (yet) fallen into the hands of the militant extremists." - Deutsche Bank
Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.
It seems blood on Iraq streets and infringements near oil reserves is enough to pop crude oil price, break the airlines bubble, stall the Trannies unstoppable surge, and spark volume selling through the US equity markets. We will be reassured that this is a buying opportunity and that 'nothing fundamental has changed' and the US is 'the cleanest dirty shirt' but when the Chinese are tamping down carry with flip-flopping CNY fixes, the ECB has shot his mini-bazooka, and we know the Fed ain't un-tapering anytime soon (as they are fearsome of complacency and financial fragility), it makes one wonder if the corporate buyback machine can overwhelm the geopolitical-risk selling pressure of the rest of the world. Trannies dropped to their worst day in 4 months as all major US equities reversed any Draghi gains. Treasuries were well bid (-6bps and lower in yield on the week) as gold also benefited from safe haven status rising up to $1275. Copper slipped further south. Oil was the big news, spiking up to $106.70 (9 month highs). It's not Tuesday - what did you expect? (and remember there are no Friday POMOs in June).
Now that 25 year old math PhD HFT programmers have finally figured out what this thing called Iraq is, and why headlines around it should factor into algo trading signals, here, for their benefit is a summary of the latest events in Iraq, and also for everyone else confused why crude is back to levels not seen since last summer.
It seems, as we noted earlier, that the machines running the crude oil pricing algos are running on a 24-hour delay but as ISIS pushes on towards Baghdad, takes Tikrit and images of burning refineries hit YouTube, crude oil prices have shot up. WTI Crude is back over $106, a level not seen since Sept 2013 and is the highs for this time of year since 2008's consumer-sapping levels. This recent strength has already leaked into gas prices (though there is more to come if the normal lag is anything to by) as regular gas prices have not been higher for this time of year since 2011. So there we have it - the excuse for Q2 GDP consumption weakness....
Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?
One major factor to the slow growth/low inflation in the U.S. is the Wall Street Yield Trade. By incentivizing unproductive use of capital, low interest rate via monetary policy is actually deflationary.
Crude oil prices dropped after earlier macro data but fell more aggressively around 1130ET. Desks are scrambling for reasons for the heavy volume selling pressure though some have noted that suggestions by Ukraine's newly elected president will meet with Putin were responsible for some 'war premium' being lifted. WTI and Brent both fell at the same time... The selling appears orderly - not machines-gone-wild...