Posts Tagged ‘SNB’

Notes From Underground: Feeding the Ducks When They Quack

January 9, 2018

Since the unemployment data, I have tried to write an appropriate blog but “all my words came back to me in shades of mediocrity” so I refrained from adding to the stream of vapid commentary that fills the Internet. But let’s proceed as the markets provided movement based on some sense of heightened inflation expectations. There is certainly money flowing into commodity based investments as OIL, COPPER, GOLD, and a litany of other natural resources have become a repository for money concerned with investments other than crypto currencies. The U.S. employment data was well within the range of expectations. The important average hourly earnings and the average work week were close to the consensus forecasts. The Canadian data beat estimates for the second consecutive month. The consensus was for an unemployment rate of 6% and addition of 2,000 jobs. The actual data was 5.7% unemployed and almost 80,000 new jobs, with two-thirds being part-time.

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Notes From Underground: Did I Miss Anything?

December 17, 2017

There were myriad central bank meetings last week as the FED, ECB, BOE, SNB, Bank of Mexico and others rendezvoused. With the exception of the Fed, all maintained their current policies. (The U.S. FED raised rates, which was 99% baked in.) The ECB was as dovish (as expected) and President Draghi has a few new issues to confront as Italian elections are scheduled for March 4, 2018. The Italian situation is already impacting sovereign bonds as the Italian 10-year yield rose against the German and French equivalents. BUT I FULLY EXPECT FOR THE ECB TO BREAK THE CAPITAL KEY RULES BY PURCHASING MORE ITALIAN DEBT THAN ALLOWED. POLITICS WILL BE DRAGHI’S MAIN CONCERN.

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Notes From Underground: It’s Halloween and Nothing Scares the Markets

October 31, 2017

It has been a few days since the ECB announced its intentions. There was no surprise as President Draghi met market expectations by beginning a NON-TAPER, cutting QE by 30 billion euros beginning in January 2018. So as we considered the outcome of PACE and DURATION, the ECB cut the pace in half and extended the program by nine months to September 2018. The most significant piece of the Draghi press conference was his persistence on making the composition of future purchases. It seems that the ECB will utilize the European corporate bond market to meet its requirement and stay true to its CAPITAL KEY. By buying more corporate debt the ECB will find enough German assets to buy. The major problem for the European markets is that UNLIKE the U.S. financial system, European banks are a much more important actor as they provide far more corporate loans on a percentage basis of GDP than U.S. banks. The U.S. financial system relied to a far greater extent on issuing bonds. We have previously discussed the absurd chart showing European high yield debt to have a lower interest rate than 10-year U.S. Treasuries.

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Notes From Underground: A Celebration Of The Greatest Act Of Financial Alchemy (Ever)

October 25, 2017

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has pulled off the greatest act of alchemy by printing copious amounts of Swiss francs (CHF) and turning the currency into real corporate assets. The SNB has grown its balance sheet to CHF800 billionĀ  from CHF500 billion in 2015, 85 percent of which is foreign exchange holdings in various forms. As the SNB struggled to weaken the franc to prevent the ultimate safe-haven currency from strengthening and putting the Swiss economy into a DEFLATIONARY SPIRAL. The Swiss experiment began January 15, 2015 as the SNB officially removed the EUR/CHF PEG, which it was attempting to HOLD. Yet the market kept buying the franc despite the SNB’s efforts (the PEG had a 1.20 floor).

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Notes From Underground: Who Gets Eaten and Who Get’s to Eat (Sweeney Todd)

October 15, 2017

As Stephen Sondheim wrote in the dark musical Sweeney Todd, “What’s the sound in the world out there. It’s man devouring man. The history of the world, my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.”

I open with this thought in regards to a wonderful op-ed piece in the Barron’s over the weekend by John Curran titled, “The Coming Renaissance of Macro Investing.” Curran has the pedigree of writing this piece as he served his time at one of the greatest global macro funds, Caxton Partners. There are no greater thinker/traders than Stan Druckenmiller or Bruce Kovner. When it came to understanding the role of foreign currencies in creating investment opportunities Kovner is the wisest I have ever had the pressure to read. The last 10 years have been difficult for the global macro discretionary crowd but as John Curran suggests the winds of change are blowing. This is also a theme I have been discussing of late. The big difference in my opinion is that short-term trades will morph into momentum investments.

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Notes From Underground: The More Things Stay the Same, the More the Headlines Change

September 14, 2017

The BOE held true to consensus and kept rates unchanged and maintained its balance sheet at 435 billion pounds, with the votes were exactly the same as the August meeting. The POUND fell on the initial headlines but the algos reversed as it was reported that there MAY be a need to raise rates due to the lessening slack in the economy. Governor Carney is reading from the Mario Draghi book, “Rules For Central Bankers.” He cited Brexit as the cause of a supply shortage because of reduced investment into the U.K. Wow! This is nonsense as stagnant wages are limiting domestic demand but Carney insists the negative fallout is constraining supply. With interest rates at record lows British firms could borrow all the cash they need to finance expansion. Carney needs BREXIT as the cover for his massive error. Remember when he panicked and cut rates following the BREXIT vote?

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Notes From Underground: Shelter From the Storm

August 9, 2017

Not a word was spoke between us,there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point ,had been left unresolved
Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm
Come in, she said, I’ll give you shelter from the storm

When Bob Dylan released this song 42 years ago it was on the album Blood on the Tracks. When the FED embarked on its QE1, QE2 and QE3 it was to respond to the blood coursing through the streets of the U.S. financial system. The U.S. banking system was threatened with insolvency and the FED‘s monetary injections sheltered the banking system from a storm of forced systemic liquidation of assets. QE1 coupled with a questionable TARP program did prevent a systemic liquidation but QE2 and QE3 I always believed were superfluous but in the land of counterfactuals it is an impossible point to prove.

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Notes From Underground: I Knew I Would Return

August 2, 2017

Last week’s FOMC meeting proved BORING and left me speechless … but not thoughtless. The only phrase of significance was the use of “RELATIVELY SOON” in placing some forward guidance to the beginning of quantitative tightening (h/t Boockvar). We have no idea what “relatively soon” means but I continue to ask: WHY WAIT? Yes, it may be because the FED is nervous about the potential of DEBT CEILING caused by a Congress filled with know-nothings and do-nothings clogging the day-to-day financing of government operations.

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Notes From Underground: Cleaning Out The Financial News Stables

July 24, 2017

Today, Rick Santelli and I offered insights into this week’s FOMC meeting, coupled with the recent ECB actions. I noted that the Italian BOND FUTURES Monday were trading above the June 27 close when ECB President Mario Draghi roiled global credit markets with his Sintra,Portugal speech, which suggested that the removal of a deflationary scare would allow the ECB to begin tapering its QE program. The fact that Italian 10-year yields are lower today than four weeks ago is indicative of the power of the QE bond purchases. Why?

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Notes From Underground: Warren Knocks Out Mnuchin

May 18, 2017

In Thursday’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took a beating from Senator Elizabeth Warren over the issue of Glass-Steagall. There are many policy issues in which I disagree with Senator Warren but when it comes to Wall Street regulation, she is one of the most knowledgeable people in the Senate and far beyond those walls. During the Great Financial Crisis she appeared regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg television networks. While merely a Harvard law professor, she offered great insights and understood the depths of the problems that caused the crisis. If Jamie Dimon had not blocked her appointment as head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (a wild conjecture on my part), she would not be a U.S. Senator. After president Obama caved in to Wall Street pressure, Warren ran for the Senate in Massachusetts in 2012, defeating Scott Brown.

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