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“Two Roads Diverged” – Wall Street’s Doubts Summarized As “The Liquidity Tide Recedes” | Zero Hedge

“Two Roads Diverged” – Wall Street’s Doubts Summarized As “The Liquidity Tide Recedes” | Zero Hedge.

From Russ Certo, head of rates at Brean Capital

Two Roads Diverged

As we know, it has been a suspect week with a variety of earnings misses.  Although I have been constructive on risk asset markets generally, equities anecdotally, as figured year end push for alpha desires could let it run into year end.  New year and ball game can change quickly.  Just wondering if a larger rotation is in order.

There is an overall considerable theme of what you may find when a liquidity tide recedes as most major crises or risk pullbacks have been precipitated by either combination of tighter monetary or fiscal policy.  Some with a considerable lag like a year after Greenspan departed from Fed helm, or many other examples.  I’m not suggesting NOW is a time for a compression in risk but am aware of the possibility, especially when Fed Chairs take victory laps, Bernanke this week.  Symbolic if nothing more.       Cover of TIME magazine?

I happen to think that 2014 is a VERY different year than 2013 from a variety of viewpoints.  First, there appears to be a dispersion of opinion about markets, valuations, policy frameworks and more. This is a healthy departure from YEARS of artificiality.  Artificiality in valuations, artificiality in market and policy mechanics and essentially artificiality in EVERY financial, and real, relationship on the planet based on central bank(s) balance sheet expansion and other measures intended to be a stop-gap resolution to  tightening financial conditions, adverse expectations of economic activity, and the great rollover….of both financial and non-financial debt financing.       Boy, what a week in the IG issuance space with over $100 billion month to date, maybe $35 billion on the week.        Debt rollover on steroids.

Beneath the veneer of market aesthetics, I already see fundamental (and technical) relevance.  This could be construed as an optimist pursuit or reality that markets are incrementally transcending reliance and/or dependence on the wings of central bank policy prerogatives.  The market bird is trying to fly on its own with inklings of a return to FUNDAMENTAL analysis.  A good thing, conceptually, and gradualist development of passing the valuation baton back to market runners.  A likely major pillar objective of policy despite more than a few critics worried about seemingly dormant lurking imbalances created by immeasurable policy and monetary and fundamentally skewed risk asset relationships globally.

This exercise of summarization of ebb and flow and comings and goings of markets and policy naturally funnels a discussion to what stature of central bank policy currently or accurately exists?  Current events.  What is the accurate stage of policy?

I actually think this is a more delicate nuance than I perceive viewed in overall market sentiment. Granted, we have taken a major step for mankind, which is the topical engagement of some level of scope or reduction of liquidity provisioning,” not tightening.”  Tip of the iceberg communique with markets to INTRODUCE the concept of stepping off the gas but not hitting the break.  Reeks of fragility to me but narrative headed in right direction to stop medicating the patient, the global economy.

Some markets have logically responded in kind.  The highest beta markets as either beneficiaries or vulnerable to monetary policy changes, the emerging markets, have reflected at least the optics of change with policy.  More auditory than optics in hearing a PROSPECTIVE change in garbled Fedspeak.  The high flyer currencies which capture the nominal flighty hot money flows globally affirmed the Fed message.

In literally the simplest of terms, the G7 industrialized, not peripheral; interest rate complex has simply moved the needle in form of +110 basis point higher moves in nominal sovereign interest rates.  And there are a bevy of other expressions which played nicely and rightly conformed to the messages coming out of the central bank sandbox.  But there are ALSO notable dichotomies, which send a different or even the opposite message.

I perceive a deviation in perception of message as some markets or market participants appear to be betting on taper or a return to normalcy in global growth or U.S. growth outcomes???  OR no taper, or conversely QE4 or whatever.  Sovereign spreads have moved materially tighter vs. industrial and supposed risk free rates (Tsys, Gilts, Bunds) both last year and in the first three weeks of 2014. Something a new leg of QE would represent, not a taper.   A different year!!!

There have been VERY reliable risk asset market beta correlations over the last 5 years and sovereign or peripheral spreads have been AS volatile and correlated as any asset class.  These things trade like dancing with a rattle-snake.  Greece, Spain, France etc.  They can bite you with fangs.  They have been meaningfully more correlated to high yield spreads and yields and to central bank balance sheet expansion as nearly any asset class.  So, the infusion of central bank liquidity into markets has seen “relief” rallies in peripherals and one would think the converse would be true as well.  The valuations have represented the flavor and direction of risk on/risk off or liquidity on/liquidity off reliably for many months/years.

But I THOUGHT markets were deliberating tapering views and expressions as validated by some good soldier markets BUT that is not necessarily what the rally in riskiest of sovereign “credits” is suggesting.  The complex seems to be decoupling with Fed balance sheet correlation and message.  Some are OVER 100 standard deviations from the mean!  They are rich and could/should be sold.     Especially if one was to follow the obvious correlation with the direction of central bank as stated.

But look to other arena’s like TIPS breakevens which also have been correlated with liquidity and risk on/off and central bank balance sheet expansion.  Correlated to NASDAQ, HY, peripherals and the like.   BUT this complex COUNTERS what peripherals are doing.  They haven’t shown up to the punch bowl party yet.  Not invited.      This is a departure of markets that have largely and generally been in synch from a liquidity and performance correlation view.

Like gold and silver which got tattooed vis a vis down 35%+ performance last year MOSTLY, but not exclusively, due to perceptions of winds of central bank change.  BUT even within a contrary, the fact that rallies in Spain, France, Greece, and Italy reflect more of central bank easing notions, the opposite of taper.  In essence, the complex has gone batty uber-appreciation this year.  Sure, many eyeball the Launchpad physical metals marginal stabilization no longer falling on a knife but the miner bonds and the mining stocks are string like bull with significant appreciation.  This decidedly isn’t the stuff of taper which had the bond daddy’s romancing notions of 3% 10yr breaks, 40 basis point Green Eurodollar sell-offs,  emerging market rinse, and upticks in volatility amongst other things.

Equity bourses appear to be changing hands between investors with oscillating rotations which mark the first prospective 3 week consecutive sell-off in a while.  New year.  This is taper light.       Somewhere in between and further blurs the correlation metrics.

So, which is it?  Are we tapering or not and why are merely a few global asset classed pointed out here, why are they deviating or arguably pricing in different central bank prospects or scenarios or outcomes?

I’m not afraid but I am intrigued as to the fact that there may some strong opinions within markets and I perceive a widely received comfortability with taper or tightening notions, negative leanings on interest rate forecasts, a complacency of Fed call if you will.  And all of these hingings occur without intimate knowledge of the most critical variable of all, what Janet Yellen thinks? She has been awfully quiet as of late and there are many foregone conclusions or assumptions in market psyche without having heard a peep from the new MAESTRO.

Moreover, looking in the REAR view mirror within a week where multiple (two) Fed Governor proclamations, communicated and implicated notions which arguably would be considered radical in ANY other policy period of a hundred years.  How to conduct “monetary policy at a ZERO lower bound (Williams) ” and “doing something as surprising and drastic as cutting interest on excess reserves BELOW zero (Kocherlakota).”

This doesn’t sound like no stinking taper?  A tale of two markets.  To be or not to be.  To taper or not to taper.  Two roads diverged and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  Robert Frost.

Which is it? Different markets pricing different things.  Right or wrong, the market always has a message; listen critically.

Russ

Euro-enthusiasts can’t quite hide their contempt for the masses – Telegraph Blogs

Euro-enthusiasts can’t quite hide their contempt for the masses – Telegraph Blogs.

Anti-slavery campaigners were also written off as cranks and gadflies

How do you get a poll to register a large majority in favour of EU membership? Easy. Confine your survey to quangocrats, charity heads, civil servants, CEOs of multi-national corporations and the like. The pro-EU lobby group, British Influence, has been trying to get people excited about its poll of “leading figures” – that is, 700 bien pensantmetropolitans of whom, sure enough, 69 per cent want to stay in the EU. Indeed, the only surprise is that, of a demographic specifically selected for pro-Brussels bias, 31 per cent don’t agree.

Not that I blame British Influence: when every poll of the general population shows an anti-EU majority, you have to clutch at whatever support you can find. Nor am I saying that all, or even most, of the people surveyed are beneficiaries of the Brussels racket. They don’t have to be. When enough NGOs get money from the Commission, even those that don’t tend to be inflected by the Euro-enthusiasm of their peers. When a large number multinationals and megabanks have invested in lobbying to get rules that suit them, other corporates get carried along by the groupthink.

Let’s run over some of the other things that all these “leading figures” have favoured over the years, shall we? State planning, prices and incomes policies, the SDP, the ERM. Almost without exception, the “leading figures” trotted out by British Influence to argue for the EU were, a decade ago, making precisely the same arguments about joining the euro: we’ll lose influence, overseas investment will dry up, blah blah fishcakes. If they were forecasters in the private sector, they’d have been sacked long ago. But because they represent the goody-goody consensus, they can always be sure of a sympathetic hearing from the BBC.

For as long as I can remember, the European debate has involved an element of snobbery. Supporters of the project are not so much pro-EU as anti-Eurosceptic, seeing themselves as defenders of moderate, decent, civilised values against Blimps, oiks and football hooligans. I’ve lost count of how many people in Brussels have said to me, “You know, Hannan, you’re very broadminded for a Eurosceptic”. They mean to be nice, but they reveal their narcissism.

Well, let me be broadminded now. It may be true that the Eurosceptic movement has more than its share of eccentrics. You know what? The same is true of every movement that takes on the orthodoxy. You can’t read history without being struck by how many oddballs and misfits were attracted, in the early stages, to the campaign against slavery, say, or the campaign for a universal franchise. Any movement that challenges the status quo will attract, as well as principled reformers, people who are simply grumpy about life in general. But this doesn’t make them wrong.

The Chartists and the Suffragettes were attacked by their opponents in exactly the same terms as Ukip today: as a bunch of mavericks and obsessives. When the vote was extended to all adults, the moderate men, the sensible men, the men of bottom and judgment, suddenly remembered that they had favoured the idea all along. The same will happen with Brexit. Just watch.

 

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