Despite yesterday's slow drift lower off the early gains, The Dow's 8th win a row and the "best May since 2005" was heralded as proof that all the world's problems are behind us and it's plain-sailing from here to new record highs.
However, as former FX trader and fund manager Richard Breslow warned "I keep visualizing oblivious fun-seekers in danger of getting way out over their skis."
And judging by today's price action - they were...
Stocks down, gold down, bonds down, the dollar is spiking along with VIX...
But, as Bloomberg reports, there are a lot more problems looming...
Emerging markets aren’t heavy, they’re setting up to implode...
Ten-year Treasury yields aren’t struggling with what to do around this distracting 3% level. They’ve broken back above the, this time, really “psychologically” critical barrier and are coiling for a now inevitable move higher. Do not pass go, do not collect your coupon payment.
The dollar is no longer trying to hold on to recent gains, it’s going to run everything else over. And equities are preparing for a renewed bout of illness from geopolitical risk and trade wars. The price action notwithstanding.
All or none of this could come to pass. But it is a collection of trades du jour that one needs to make sure can hang together. And whether their purveyors will be willing to stick with them, even without instant gratification, remains to be seen. It isn’t the green or red on your screens that should inform your mood. It’s actually meant to work the other way around.
The first thing I’d ask is how much is positions versus view. Both matter, but the former has taken on a significance that can have a lasting, even if not ultimately dispositive, effect on asset prices. Washouts used to take hours or maybe days to be cleared. Now they can last weeks. Or seconds. Made all the worse by the enormous and often blind accumulation of yield grabs.
How many “investors” in Turkish lira or Argentine pesos really had any business carrying this risk? Is today’s caning of the lira from President Erdogan’s latest, and not groundbreaking, comments or because the much rumored “surprise” rate hike wasn’t forthcoming? This is not meant to argue Turkey isn’t in an economic mess. But you can’t actually make an informed decision without knowing the back story.
Contagion across the asset class can have as much to do with portfolio damage control as any real causal relationship. I shudder when I think of all the inquiries about getting into frontier markets. Last week we were still being told that emerging market economies are in great shape to withstand higher global rates. Not true, but never mind. Today, there is “underlying vulnerability” galore.
But why just pick on EM? European government bonds have spent the last two days behaving exactly the same way. So many people relying on Super Mario to buy their inventory. And then along came Francois Villeroy. And yet, peripheral spreads remain bid.
In equities, that asset we all love to hate, a big leap is being made from a risk-off sentiment to the fact that they trade pretty well. Aren’t they supposed to do something bad before being sent to the penalty box? Frankly, I’d rather sell the S&P 500 on a break below 2700 than here. Especially, because the canaries are getting a bit long in the tooth. I’ll tell you what: watch the Shanghai Composite against resistance at 3200 if you want an early warning sign.
As for the dollar, just remember that we’re back to square one on the year. It neither went to zero nor has it flown. Look at it right now and forget what happened during a very trying first part of the year. It too could be back here from stale positions that no longer were working.
Maybe we’re getting closer to a point where not everyone will have the same positions and we can get back to having fun.