The global reaction to the first round of the French presidential election was not confusing. Capital was sitting on the sidelines as the polls reflected a possibility of a second round Le Pen/Melenchon faceoff, which would have been devastating for global investors because fear of an EU break-up would have led to a massive repricing of risk premia. The avoidance of such an outcome led to a rush of capital into European markets, which provided support to Asia and the U.S. The German/French 10-year spread reacted as expected. The yield differential narrowed by a significant 20 basis points. The BUND yields rose against all European sovereign debt as Berlin’s haven status was rendered null and void for at least another two weeks. The GOLD and YEN also performed as expected as money rushed to purchase a risk on profile in a global zero interest environment. The EURO rallied by 2% as global capital flows into European stocks forced previous short euro positions to the sidelines. There’s nothing confusing about any of these outcomes. But let me throw some confusion onto some of the other geopolitical events making the front pages:
Archive for the ‘France’ Category
First, I am reposting part of the January 29 post as a reminder to pay attention to the narrative of Trump rolling back to the concept of Pax Americana. As the Trump administration begins to reveal its ambitions, there is a great deal of conversation about Trump becoming more presidential and that the “grown ups” are taking charge of policy. The demotion of Stephen Bannon ignited a discussion about the Wall Street crowd (Mnuchin, Ross, Cohn, Kushner) becoming aligned with the “Deep State.” The concept of the deep state is really the power of the entrenched bureaucracy as the primary source within the beltway.
This week brings Prime Minister Abe’s fiscal plan, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rate decision, the Bank of England’s monetary results and U.S. nonfarm payrolls on Friday. So let’s put some perspective to tonight’s main events. The RBA will announce its overnight interest rate and consensus is calling for a 25 basis point CUT to 1.5%. Analysts believe that the weakness in the natural resource sector is aiding the reduction in capital expenditure. Also, Aussie inflation is at the bottom of the RBA‘s target range, which provides rationale for the RBA. I am not so sure of a CUT for this is coming at the end of Governor Stevens’s term at the RBA. Dr. Phillip Lowe will take over September 16 so this is the penultimate meeting for Mr. Stevens.
Sometimes world leaders and CEOs ramble and say things that reverberate for longer than intended. Two things in particular are echoing in the canyons of poorly thought-out ideas: President Barak Obama’s comparing the military potential of ISIS to A HIGH SCHOOL JV BASKETBALL TEAM. Then, there’s the CEOs OF AMERICA’S HEALTH INSURANCE AND HOSPITAL INDUSTRY, ALONG WITH THE BIG PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, APPEARING REGULARLY AT WHITE HOUSE CONCLAVES TO ACTIVELY SUPPORT THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, PROCLAIMING AS THEIR RATIONAL: IF YOU ARE NOT AT THE TABLE THEN YOU ARE ON THE MENU.
And so it goes. As the light lifts off the European “bailout” it appears that most analysts agree that the “Agreement” was a lose-lose for the European Project. The Germans stood firm and placed unduly harsh demands upon the Greek electorate that had the temerity to openly reject the terms of debt resolution. Merkel had favored a real compromise until Alexis Tspiras deployed the nuclear option and went to referendum in an effort to better be able to negotiate with an intransigent Djisselbloehm and his ECOFIN council of Grand Inquisitors (see the Brothers Karamazov). The punishment meted out to the Greek nation is a loss for them but ultimately the real loss will be on Spain, Italy, and, of course France. The Germans have revealed that the use of Berlin’s money to support the EU is going to come at a price and it is the acceptance of an economic model for Europe that is German, its backdrop of course being sound money. Not the strong dollar mantra of the U.S. Treasury Secretary but an actual strong currency, at least until the German financial system enters a fragile state.
Earlier I was rereading a blog post from almost three years ago. I believe it still has great relevancy and gives us all perspective from where we have been to what the next three years may bring. Perspective for a global macro trader is very important for without it traders rush in where investors dare to tread.
As discussed ad nauseam, politics is trumping the economics of the Greek drama as the European finance ministers are trying to cut and paste a “bailout” solution that satisfies all parties. In what is being reported as terse discussions taking place in Brussels, the Financial Times reported that German Chancellor Merkel said, “There’s not going to be an agreement at any cost.” This Merkel comment is in direct contravention to Mario Draghi’s famous pledge in July 2012, “Whatever It Take” and no taboos.
Bill Gross was the darling of “access media” for promoting his favorite trade (what he called the short of a lifetime), the German bund. It captured the headlines on financial blogs but it is the wrong trade. If an investor wished to trade the “short of a lifetime,” the more appropriate tool would be the FRENCH OAT (the name for the French 10-year bond). It seems that Gross’s logic is based on the fact that the German BUND can only drop to -20 basis points because the ECB has determined that it will not purchase sovereign debt yielding less than its official reserve rate so over the time the BUND has a ceiling on its potential value. Gross is making the case that the ECB has so badly distorted the sovereign debt markets through its QE program that valuations are badly misaligned, BUT THE FRENCH OAT IS MUCH MORE OVERVALUED.
Notes From Underground: Are the 23.7% of Unemployed Spaniards Concerned About Portfolio Balance Channels?January 22, 2015
Well, the Earth did not stand still and markets were relatively rational as President Draghi unveiled a “genuine” QE program. It was a variation of yesterday’s leaks except the final amount was larger than what was rumored. The ECB will be financing the purchases of a mix of asset-backed securities and sovereign bonds to the tune of 60 BILLION EUROS every month from March at least until September 2016. The QE program is open-ended in that the ECB will reserve the right to continue purchasing more assets with printed euros if the inflation target is failing to rise to the 2 percent target level. The European equity markets were unchanged and the BUNDS and French oats fell until President Draghi assured the markets that the ECB would even purchase credit instruments with a NEGATIVE YIELD.
Last Friday, Chair Yellen delivered a speech at the Boston Fed’s Conference on Opportunity and Inequality. The present Fed Chair has frequently opined on the social and economic problems of income equality and I have been very critical of her wading into the waters of social and fiscal policy for many of the previous 80 years issues of wealth inequality have been dealt with through fiscal and social action. I don’t have a moral issue with Yellen’s outlook on wage inequality but I do not think it is the purview of the Federal Reserve Board to use its financial authority in placing the issue into the public domain. The FOMC has enough on its list of responsibilities without taking on the role of advocate for workers of America. Yellen’s dinner table and social engagements is a fine arena for her moral views but she dreads into very dangerous waters when using the political power of her office.