Something interesting happened when the ECB announced last week that its balance sheet was about to rise by €1 trillion gross, and hit a record €3 trillion net earlier today: the EURUSD barely budged. Why? Because as a reminder, the key driving relationship for relative risk performance of 2012 as we forecast back in December is the correlation of the Fed and the ECB's balance sheets, and the EURUSD, respectively, because while we may pretend that there is still alpha in this joke of a market, the truth is that in this new normal only beta matters (the more lever the better), and the only beta that matters is that generated by relative USD strength/weakness.
In this context, we bring back readers to the chart that may be the only one that matters: the cross-correlation of the Fed/ECB total assets, and the EURUSD spot, where the first thing that stands out is that the pair should be 1000 pips lower at least. And yet it isn't. The reason for that is that the FX market is actively expecting, despite all rhetoric otherwise, an injection from the Fed. What is convenient is that the chart allows us to calculate how much the expected QE3 will be: since the absolute value of the Fed/ECB size (currency invariant) is now 0.9685m or the lowest in history, the ratio would have to raise to 1.18 for EURUSD asset implied parity. Which means the Fed's balance sheet would have to increase by about $650-700 billion promptly.
That's only what's priced in (paging Dick Fisher) courtesy of perpetually lax Fed monetary easing decisions in the past. What would happen if the Fed were to really not do QE3 any time soon is that not only would the market not ramp, but we would see a collapse in risk, with the S&P driven to nearly triple digits, which is where it was last time the EURUSD was around 1.20 back in the August 2011 lows. On the other hand, that kind of relative market drop (especially in crude) is precisely what the Fed will need to proceed with QE3. So: who will blink - the Fed or the market?