Global equity markets were battered for another day as investor fears continued to outweigh any desire to add risk to portfolios. All U.S. data releases were better than expected and even auto sales proved to be a million more units above consensus on an annualized basis. The equity markets did try to rally but the attempt was short-lived and by market’s end the selloff was greater than 2.5%. Commodities were soft and the DOLLAR continued to rally on its haven status. The BOND market saw the impact of the “TWIST” as it is now October and the SOMA (SYSTEM OPEN MARKET ACCOUNT) began its work on affecting TREASURY DURATION.
Posts Tagged ‘Aussie’
DON’T SPEAK TOO SOON
FOR THE WHEEL’S STILL IN SPIN
AND THERE’S NO TELLIN’ WHO
THAT ITS NAMIN’
FOR THE LOSER NOW
WILL BE LATER TO WIN
FOR THE TIMES THEY,
THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
The markets have greeted Sunday’s purported U.S. budget deal with a great sigh of relief as the S&P futures have opened 1.5% higher. At this moment it is difficult to determine what exactly has been agreed. It seems that Boehner was able to placate the “TEA PARTY” caucus for the moment–enough to get some compromise.
A house divided is of course one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches. Unfortunately, the speech can be directed against EUROPE or the U.S. Yes, the S&Ps and other equity indexes suffered a large selloff as investors are growing disillusioned with the divisiveness that is persisting from the halls of Washington. The ramping up of incendiary rhetoric from both sides of the aisle is finally irritating some investors to raise cash as fears increase that nobody is going to be able to “stop the trains.”
For all those who have ever been involved with American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), it is easy to see the similarity between the EBA‘s “stress tests” and a youth soccer game. Like AYSO, the Euro STRESS TESTS meant that everyone who plays gets a trophy for showing up. The philosophy is that every participant is a WINNER. Also, there is no keeping score for that would be bad sportsmanship. So, the EURO STRESS TESTS are treated in the same light.
Let us hope that the FED and Chairman Bernanke are not following Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction. Today, the FOMC released the minutes from the last meeting and as widely expected the predominant interest was in the discussion of the FED‘s exit strategies from the QE2 program. It seems that FED BOARD members were pushing the idea of raising rates prior to the unloading of assets that have accumulated on the FED‘s balance sheet. There were many opinions about the significance of the various proposals that the FED is considering, but it seems that the FED itself is very uncertain about which procedure will produce what impact.
It seems that overnight many traders were selling the EURO because of news that the Portuguese Government was to fall. As I have written about this before, it is certainly no surprise. The only surprise was its timing as it comes as the “RUBBER STAMP SUMMIT” is taking place today and tomorrow. Also, the credit rating agencies downgraded many Spanish Banks, making the EU SUMMIT that much more volatile. Throw in the French anger toward the Germans regarding its Libyan decision and the mood in Europe continues to darken.
As everybody tuned into some form of media knows, Hu Jintao, the President of China, is in Washington for high-level meetings with President Obama. After all the pageantry and display of hospitality, the U.S. President took the effort to admonish the Chinese leader on human rights within China, or rather, the lack of human rights. Mr.Obama also lectured the Chinese leadership on the importance of a world power acting responsibly on the world stage, hence the need for China to be a partner in opposing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and, of course, in leashing the North Koreans.
The unemployment number on Friday was tepid relative to consensus. The ADP data on Wednesday raised Wall Street’s “animal spirits” and ramped up expectations of a NFP number of more than 200,000. Hours worked and average hourly earnings were also soft. The outlier on the data was the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE which dropped to 9.4 percent from 9.8 percent. Soon after the report was released, an avid reader, ASA, pointed out a piece on ZERO HEDGE, that analyzed what an aberration a 103,000 job gain is in relation to such a significant drop in the rate of the unemployed.
The labor day period ended and the markets returned to risk-off profile as the media was awash with stories about the European stress tests being flawed. It seems that some analysts have awoken to the fact that the European tests were curved so as not to be overly bogged down by sovereign debt issues. There is nothing new to this as we talked about the flaws in the tests when they were administered, but the market ran with the “story” anyway and so we had a day of risk off. In addition to the Euro stress tests there was some softer German manufacturing data, which aided the equity selloff and, of course, put downward pressure on the EURO and other non-dollar currencies. The YEN, SWISS FRANC and GOLD were the biggest beneficiaries along with the long end of the global DEBT markets.
The Japanese are certainly not happy with the YEN strength but at this time it seems like there is not a great deal that the BOJ or MOF plan to do. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Naomi Fink, who we consider to be a first-rate analyst, argues that the appreciating YEN may well be a blessing for the Japanese. We don’t agree with her analysis at the present time, but we think she raises many interesting points and is certainly worth reading and considering.
In Australia, we heard that Julia Gillard has cobbled together a Labor-led coalition in Australia. If the outcome means that the resource extraction gets watered down, we would view this as a positive for the AUSSIE. The Labor program has yet to be finalized so we are still cautious in our Aussie bullishness. The RBA stood pat on rates and offered a somewhat hawkish statement, but global growth uncertainty tempered any Aussie growth prospects.
Tomorrow morning we will hear from the Bank of Canada. The market is mixed about the probability of a rate rise–overnight rates are currently 75 basis points and it’s 50/50 that they will raised to 100 basis points. As with Australia, we will read the statement carefully. The latest data in Canada has been mixed but the BOC has been desirous of getting ahead of the curve but we want to see if the lack of U.S. growth causes the Canadians to hold rates since they remain cautious because of slowness in the other developed countries.
A reader of ours raised a question about the reason Larry Summers is in China during recent economic policy headlines from the OBAMA administration. The point raised was that Summers may be there to inform the Chinese that there are plans to refinance MBS mortgages and because China holds a great deal of that paper they want to let them know what the plans are and the potential impact the REFINANCE will have on the Chinese. Maybe a mark down of MBS is a far less painful path than to have tariffs and surcharges imposed on Chines imports. Senator Schumer is banging the drums louder for Chinese revaluation, which will benefit no one but send fears of an impending trade war. We stress again that the biggest bang the Obama administration can get would be a massive refinance plan, which would result in much lower monthly mortgage payments and aid millions of people who are currently underwater on their homes but would stay current with a much lower monthly payment.
Renowned investor Wilbur Ross added more support to this argument. Ross, who has invested heavily in the finance business in the last two years believes that the government should aid homeowners to avoid “negative equity rat holes.” In an interview, Ross said “holders of MBS securities should get tax benefits for giving borrowers better terms.” Yes, we know that ROSS and his companies will come out to the good but we only care if the policy makers latch on to this concept. Mortgage relief is what is needed to halt the rise in foreclosures, which is putting even more pressure on bank balance sheets and thus tying up the securitization market. Credit will not flow until banks have some sense of certainty that the downward pressure on residential real estate is abating. The effort to stem the balance sheet recession has to begin somewhere. Why not mortgage relief? Drips and drabs of tax relief will not prevent further write downs or get credit flowing, for as the market asked today: Is that all there is?
The news on the economic front is tepid at best, which has given rise to the long end of the treasury market. As the BOND and NOTE futures continue to rally, the airwaves are full of talk about a bubble in the fixed income market. We don’t think a BUBBLE is forming, but what is happening is that many HEDGE funds overstayed their welcome on the 2/10 steepener. The steepener trade was a great trade as the FED pushed rates down on the front end to help aid the Banks in their profitability in a very uncertain credit market. (This was the same policy that the FED used back in the early nineties when the FED eased the pain of the banks, and Savings & Loan crisis. It created a very steep curve.) The FED did it again beginning in 2007 as the current DEBT crisis unfolded and the BOND VIGILANTES pushed the 2/10 curve out to more than 280 basis points, which provided banks with an easy profit center to help shore up its balance sheets. Of course bank profits came out of the pockets of anyone who had savings in short-term money instruments.