This post was published at World Alternative Media
This post was published at World Alternative Media
In a merciful transition from Wall Street’s endless daily discussions and more often than not- monologues – of why vol is record low, and why a financial cataclysm will ensue once vol finally surges, lately the main topic preoccupying financial strategists has been the yield curve’s ongoing collapse – with the 2s10s sliding and trading at levels last seen in April 2015, and with curve inversion predicted by BMO to take place as soon as March 2018. And, according to at least one other metric, the yield curve should already be some -25bps inverted. This is shown in the following chart from Bank of America which lays out the correlation between the US unemployment rate and the 2s10s curve, and which suggests that the latter should be 80 bps lower, or some 25 basis points in negative territory.
Here is some additional context from BofA’s head of securitization Chris Flanagan, who views “the recent sharp flattening of the yield curve, which has seen the 2y10y spread go from 80 bps to almost 50 bps since late October, as the natural course of events at this stage of the economic cycle. Unemployment is low, and probably headed lower, and the Fed is intent on raising rates to stave off future inflation; we’ve seen this movie before and it typically ends with a flat or inverted yield curve. Based on history (and gravity), we think the most likely path forward is that the 2y10y spread reaches zero or inverts sometime over the next year or so and that recession of some kind follows in 2020 or 2021. (Given that the curve has flattened 30 bps in just over a month, projecting an additional 50 bps flattening over the next year is not really too bold.) Of course, much can happen along the way to change that outcome, but for now that seems to us to be the most likely course of events to us.”
Here Flanagan openly disagrees with the BofA’s “house call” of a steepening yield curve, and explains why:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.
It is undisputed that the last 2 quarters have demonstrated an impressive jump in corporate earnings growth, if mostly due to a beneficial base effect from plunging 2016 earnings which pushed them below levels reached in 2014. And naturally, this rebound has been more than priced into a market which has seen substantial multiple expansion since the Trump election to boot. But what is much more important for the market is what corporate earnings look like in the future, and it is here that Bank of America has just raised a very troubling red flag.
According to BofA’s Savita Subramanian, in November the S&P 500’s three-month earnings estimate revision ratio (ERR) fell for the fourth consecutive month to 0.99 (from 1.03), indicating that for the first time in seven months, there were more negative than positive earnings revisions, needless to say a major negative inflection point in the recent surge in profits. The bank’s more volatile one-month ERR also weakened to 0.94 (from 1.16).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 7, 2017.
Earlier today we showed a remarkable chart – and assertion – from Bank of America: “In every major market shock since the 2013 Taper Tantrum, central banks have stepped in (even if verbally) to protect markets. Following the Brexit vote, markets no longer needed to hear from CBs as they rebounded so quickly that CBs didn’t need to respond.” As a result, buy-the-dip has a become a self-fulfilling put.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.
Yet another UK trader is being punished by overzealous regulators for an accomplishment that should instead have earned him accolades: Outsmarting the machines.
In a case that echoes some of the circumstances surrounding the scapegoating of former UK-based trader Nav Sarao, former Bank of America Merrill Lynch bond trader Paul Walter has been fined 60,000 pounds by the FCA for a practice that regulators call ‘algo baiting’.
Algorithm baiting is similar to spoofing – a practice that has been banned by stock-market regulators as those markets have embraced high-frequency trading practices that have broken markets and made them more vulnerable to this type of manipulation. But fixed income markets, like the Dutch loan market Walter is accused of manipulating, have been slower to embrace HFT-type trading. Because of this delay, Walter is a pioneer. Using BrokerTec, a popular fixed-income trading platform, Walter would place a bunch of bids for a given bond, triggering trend-following algos to follow suit. Then he would quickly cancel the bids. Here’s a more complete explanation per the Financial Times.
Mr Walter entered bids for Dutch state loans that pushed up their price. Then, when other algorithmic trades followed him in response and raised their bids, Mr Walter sold to them and cancelled his quote. This happened 11 times between July and August 2014 while he was working for the bank, the FCA said, while on one occasion he did the opposite. He netted a total of 22,000 profit from this ‘algo baiting’.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.
Is the stock market bubble about to burst? I know that I have been touching on this theme over and over and over again in recent weeks, but I can’t help it. Red flags are popping up all over the place, and the last time so many respected experts were warning about an imminent stock market crash was just before the last major financial crisis. Of course nobody can guarantee that global central banks won’t find a way to prolong this bubble just a little bit longer, but at this point they are all removing the artificial support from the markets in coordinated fashion. Without that artificial support, it is inevitable that financial markets will experience a correction, and the only real question is what the exact timing will be.
For example, Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett originally thought that the coming correction would come a bit sooner, but now he is warning of a ‘flash crash’ during the first half of 2018…
Having predicted back in July that the ‘most dangerous moment for markets will come in 3 or 4 months’, i.e., now, BofA’s Michael Hartnett was – in retrospect – wrong (unless of course the S&P plunges in the next few days). However, having stuck to his underlying logic – which was as sound then as it is now – Hartnett has not given up on his ‘bad cop’ forecast (not to be mistaken with the S&P target to be unveiled shortly by BofA’s equity team and which will probably be around 2,800), and in a note released overnight, the Chief Investment Strategist not only once again dares to time his market peak forecast, which he now thinks will take place in the first half of 2018, but goes so far as to predict that there will be a flash crash ‘a la 1987/1994/1998’ in just a few months.
This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on November 20th, 2017.
To much fanfare, mostly out of president Trump, on Thursday the House passed their version of the tax bill 227-205 along party lines, with 13 Republicans opposing. The passage of the House bill was met with muted market reaction. The Senate version of the tax reform is currently going through the Senate Finance Committee for additional amendments and should be ready for a full floor debate in a few weeks. While some, like Goldman, give corporate tax cuts (if not broad tax reform), an 80% chance of eventually becoming law in the first quarter of 2018, others like UBS and various prominent skeptics, do not see the House and Senate plans coherently merging into a survivable proposal.
Indeed, while momentum seemingly is building for the tax plan, some prominent analysts believe there are several issues down the road that could trip up or even stall a comprehensive tax plan from passing the Congress, the chief of which is how to combine the House and Senate plans into one viable bill.
How are the two plans different?
Below we present a side by side comparison of the two plans from Bank of America, which notes that the House and the Senate are likely to pass different tax plans with areas of disagreement (see table below). This means that the two chambers will need to form a conference committee to hash out the differences. There are three major friction points:
the repeal of the state and local tax deductions (SALT), capping mortgage interest deductions and the delay in the corporate tax cut. The House seems strongly opposed to fully repealing SALT and delaying the corporate tax cuts and the Senate could push back on changing the mortgage interest deductions. Finding compromise on these issues without disturbing other parts of the plan while keeping the price tag under the $1.5tn over 10 years could be challenging.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 17, 2017.
Last week, Peter Schiff did an interview on The Street and talked about the US stock market, saying, ‘Well, the bubble keeps getting bigger.’ We’ve been talking about this ballooning bubble for months. After a while, it’s easy to blow us off as pessimistic contrarians who just don’t get it. But amazingly, large numbers of investors also believe the stock market is way overvalued.
But they keep buying anyway.
Bank of America called it ‘irrational exuberance.’
The latest fund-manager survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch found that a record 48% of investors say the US stock market is overvalued. Meanwhile, 16% of investors say they are taking on above-normal risk. That’s also a record, eclipsing risk-taking during both the dot-com and housing bubbles.
This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 15, 2017.
The latest monthly Fund Manager Survey by Bank of America confirmed what recent market actions have already demonstrated, namely that, as BofA Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett explained, there is a “big market conviction in Goldilocks leading to capitulation into risk assets” while at the same time sending Fund managers’ cash levels to a 4-year low, and pushing “risk-taking” to a new all-time high, surpassing both the dot com and the 2007 bubbles.
BofA’s takeaways from the survey, which polled a total of 206 panelists with $610 billion in AUM, will not come as a surprise to those who have been following this survey in recent months, and which reaffirms that while investors intimately realize how bubbly assets have become, they have no choice but to buy them.
The latest survey highlights:
It’s still all about FAANG froth: the biggest market conviction is in Goldilocks (+ price action in FAANG/BAT, Bitcoin) resulting in bull capitulation; A stunning chart shows that risk-taking among Fund Managers hit an all time high in the lastest period…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 14, 2017.
Yesterday’s 1.7% rise in the CRB index matched the 2nd biggest in about a year. The highest level in 9 months is being met by mostly yawns in conventional yields. Looking specifically at the epicenter of the biggest bubble, that being the European bond market, there is an uptick in inflation expectations as the German 10-year inflation breakeven is up 3 bps to 1.24% and that is the most in 8 months. The French 10 yr breakeven is up by 2 bps and the UK 10 yr inflation breakeven is higher by 2.5 bps. Just read again the rising inflation commentary in the Markit press release on eurozone services and manufacturing and combine with this the rise in commodity prices and I have to believe that higher inflation is one of the most underappreciated risks in the European bond market. Putting aside sovereign yields for a second, if you didn’t see last week the yield to worst on the ICE Bank of America Merrill Lynch euro high yield index fell to 2%. Repeat that back a few times, this European junk bond yield index is yielding 2%. The US 5 yr Treasury yield is yielding 2%. The US 5 yr inflation breakeven closed at a 5 month high yesterday but is highly correlated too to the CRB index.
Another anecdotal commentary on inflation out of Europe, Markit reported its German construction figure for October which was little changed at 53.3 but they said ‘intense supply chain constraints contribute to a sharp rise in input costs… The incidence of delivery delays was one of the greatest seen for over a decade, while purchase price inflation was pushed to a 6 year high.’ Also, the demand for labor is getting heated as the ‘rate of job creation was among the fastest seen since data collection began in late 1999.’ The German 10 yr bund yield sits there at just .34%
This post was published at FinancialSense on 11/07/2017.
When previewing today’s FOMC announcement, we said that at least according to some, this morning’s refunding announcement may have a bigger impact on the market as there is less consensus (and more confusion) about what would be unveiled. As JPM analyst Jay Barry told Bloomberg, the quarterly refunding announcement at 8:30am ET Wednesday ‘has the possibility to be a bigger event for markets in the morning than the Fed statement in the afternoon’ as participants are divided on whether the Treasury will announce increases to coupon auction sizes Wednesday, or wait until the 1Q refunding announcement in February:
‘There’s a dispersion of views because of the pivot the Treasury Department has had over last few years,’ specifically toward portfolio metrics and aiming to extend the weighted average maturity of the portfolio. Merely reversing the cuts that have been made to 2Y and 3Y auctions since 2013 wouldn’t serve that objective. ‘If they don’t get announced tomorrow, it’s a muted rally, and if they do, it’s a muted steepening.’
Furthermore, as Bloomberg summarizes, going into today’s announcement, market participants were divided leading into the announcement with most seeing no increase immediately to auction sizes just yet, seeing only bill auction changes for now: Barclays, NatWest, Bank of America, Credit Agricole, Jefferies, Stone & McCarthy Research Associates and Citigroup all saw no change; JPMorgan Chase, among other, looked for small increases across maturities.
Well, moments ago the US Treasury reported the breakdown of the refunding auctions, which led to Treasuries promptly paring some early losses (and leading to the predicted muted curve flattening) after the Treasury Department maintained its coupon auction sizes over the next three months, while the refunding statement did not comment on ultra-long issuance.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 1, 2017.
Crackdown efforts by bank regulators are put on hold.
The volume of leveraged loans – the riskiest loans Wall Street banks provide – has surged 38% year-over-year and has already beaten the full-year record set in 2013, according to Dealogic. Total of leveraged loans outstanding has reached $1.25 trillion.
Nine of the 10 largest banks in the leveraged-loan business have already surpassed their respective 2016 full-year totals, according to Bloomberg data, cited by the Financial Times, including Bank of America (about $120 billion in leveraged loans so far this year); JP Morgan (about $110 billion), Goldman Sachs ($79 billion); and Barclays ($72 billion). Of the top ten, only Wells Fargo ($69 billion) is still lagging behind last year.
The fees that the banks are raking for putting these loans together are also record-breaking: $8.3 billion so far this year, just 6% below the full-year total of 2016.
This post was published at Wolf Street on Oct 30, 2017.
In all the euphoria over yesterday’s “dovish taper” by the ECB, markets appear to have forgotten one thing: the great Central Bank liquidity tide, which generated over $2 trillion in central bank purchasing power in 2017 alone – and which as Bank of America said last month is the only reason why stocks are at record highs, is now on its way out.
This was a point first made by Deutsche Bank’s Alan Ruskin two weeks ago, who looked at the collapse in global vol, and concluded that “as we look at what could shake the panoply of low vol forces, it is the thaw in Central Bank policy as they retreat from emergency measures that is potentially most intriguing/worrying. We are likely to be nearing a low point for major market bond and equity vol, and if the catalyst is policy it will likely come from positive volatility QE ‘flow effect’ being more powerful than the vol depressant ‘stock effect’. To twist a phrase from another well know Chicago economist: Vol may not always and everywhere be a monetary phenomena – but this is the first place to look for economic catalysts over the coming year.”
He showed this great receding tide of liquidity in the following chart projecting central bank “flows” over the next two years, and which showed that “by the end of next year, the combined expansion of all the major Central Bank balance sheets will have collapsed from a 12 month growth rate of $2 trillion per annum to zero.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
Last weekend, One River’s CIO Eric Peters explained what he thought would be the nightmare scenario for the next Fed chair, who as we now know will either be Jerome Powell or John Taylor, or both (with an outside chance of Yellen remaining in her post). According to the hedge fund CIO, the “worst case scenario” is one in which despite an improving economy, yields simply refuse to go up, leading to the final asset bubble and Fed intervention that “pops” it:
‘if we don’t see a sustained cyclical jump in wages, then yields won’t go up. And if yields don’t go up, then the asset price ascent will accelerate,’ continued the strategist. ‘Which will lead us into a 2018 that looks like what we had expected out of 2017; a war against inequality, a battle for Main Street at the expense of Wall Street, an Occupy Silicon Valley movement.’ He paused, flipping through his calendar. “Then you’ll have this nightmare for the next Federal Reserve chief, because they’ll have to pop a bubble.’ While Peters never names names in his pieces, the “strategist” in the weekend letter was BofA’s Michael Hartnett, who several days after Peters penned the above, followed up with some thoughts of his own on precisely this topic, and in a note released this week, described what he believes is the “biggest market risk” for the market. Not surprisingly, it is precisely what Peters was referring to in the above excerpt.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2017.
On Wednesday, we noted the renewed tightness developing in dollar funding markets. Ignoring embryonic signs of stress in the financial ‘plumbing’ can be dangerous. The divergence of LIBOR from Fed Funds on 9 August 2007, which occurred two months prior to the peak in the Dow, always comes to mind. Fast-forwarding to the present when Mark Cabana, Bank of America’s head of US STIR, has been fielding client questions about the impact of proposed US tax reform. In particular, clients asked for Cabana’s view on what effect dollar repatriation by US corporates might have on funding markets if favorable tax treatment is forthcoming.
Spoiler alert – negative for dollar funding markets (and of course positive for the dollar).
Cabana explains ‘As Washington has increasingly focused on tax reform, clients have asked questions about how repatriation might impact the front end of the US rates curve. While there are still many unknown elements of the plan, we believe repatriation could provide modest upward USD funding pressure for foreign banks but likely leave the overall stock of commercial paper outstanding little changed.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2017.
Mirroring the pattern set by JPM and Citi yesterday, Bank of America reported revenue and earnings that modestly beat expectations, with Q3 revenue of $21.8BN and $22.1BN on an adjusted, FTE basis, just above the $21.9BN consensus estimate, generating net income of $5.6 billion (up 13% Y/Y), and EPS of $0.48, above the $0.46 estimate, and higher than the $0.41 reported Y/Y, even as sales and trading revenues slumped, and FICC revenue tumbled by 19%.
Net interest income increased 9% for the second consecutive quarter, or $1.0B, to $11.4B. BofA achieved this as its Net Interest Yield (i.e. NIM) rose fractionally from 2.34% in Q2 to 2.36% in Q3, a number just barely higher than the 2.35% expected. As the bank explained, the Net Interest Income increased “reflecting the benefits from higher short-end interest rates, loan growth and one additional interest accrual day, partially offset by higher deposit pricing in GWIM and the full quarter impact from the sale of the non-U. S. consumer credit card business.”
BofA also gave the following interest rate sensitivity as of Sept 30: “+100bps parallel shift in interest rate yield curve is estimated to benefit NII by $3.2B over the next 12 months, driven primarily by sensitivity to short-end interest rates.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.
In a trend observed every day this week, S&P futures are slightly in the red ahead of a post-open ramp with the VIX rising to 9.91, as Asian shares climb, European stocks are little changed. WTI crude pares recent gains, slipping below $51 after API showed an unexpected crude build. Earnings season launches with bank earnings reports from JPMorgan and Citigroup, while Economic data include PPI figures, jobless claims.
As Reuters notes, broader investor risk sentiment has improved this week after Catalonia dialed back plans to break away from Spain, with MSCI’s 47-country world stocks index reaching a record high. Global equities now appear to be taking geopolitical developments such as the secessionist push in Spain and tensions on the Korean peninsula in their stride, to reach those record tops.
Analysts will be keeping a close eye on banks Q3 reports: Trading probably dropped from the same period a year earlier. Executives from JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America Corp. told investors last month to expect declines ranging from 15 percent to 20 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., coming off its worst first half for the trading business in more than a decade, said the third quarter remained challenging. Subdued volatility, especially compared with the turmoil from Brexit and the U. S. election a year earlier — made the period particularly tough.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 12, 2017.
After September was declared the lowest volatility month on record, October is starting auspiciously, if only for the vol sellers.
After last week stocks rose again on renewed hopes of a Trump tax deal and following a payrolls report which showed the hottest wage inflation since the financial crisis, the S&P 500 closed the week 1.19% higher, while the Russell 2000 added 1.30%, the NASDAQ 100 increased 1.43%, and the Dow gained 1.65%.
And while implied vol limped up slightly week-over-week as the VIX increased 0.14 points to 9.65 last Friday, this was the eighth consecutive close below 10. However, on Thursday the VIX closed at 9.19, the lowest close of all time. The trend appears set to continue, because as Bank of America’s derivatives expert Benjamin Bowler writes while October tends to have the highs volatility of all months of the year, this time is different and currently the annualized month-to-date realized vol for the S&P is 5.22%, the lowest October we’ve seen on record spanning back to 1928. For comparison, the median SPX realized vol in October is 17.22%, while the 1st percentile is 6.15%. Interestingly, the other four lowest vol Octobers were all in the 1960s (’61, ’64, ’65, and ’68), the period prior to “The Great Inflation” and rapidly rising rates of the 1970s.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.
With the race for the next Fed chair in its final stretch as Trump is now expected to make his decision over the next few weeks, and following recent reports from Bloomberg, Politico and the WSJ, the three frontrunners to replace Yellen, according to PredictIt, are Kevin Warsh, Jerome Powell, Gary Cohn and unexpectedly, Neel Kashkari, following yesterday’s endorsement by Jeff Gundlach…
… Bank of America has put together a handly cheat sheet laying out a summary of the major views by the 4 key contenders.
Focusing on the top four candidates, BofA, predictably, sees Warsh as the most hawkish and most likely to change the way the Fed conducts monetary policy, leaning toward rules-based policy. BofA also thinks Warsh would favor a lower ultimate size of the balance sheet but would be a strong proponent of deregulation. Meanwhile, Powell is the establishment candidate who won’t ‘rock the boat’ as his stance is consistent with the current framework of the Fed. As for Cohn, he would likely lean a bit more dovish and emphasize putting in place monetary policy to complement fiscal policy reform.
Here is the full breakdown, according to BofA, which shows just how “unconventional” Warsh is in the context of his peers.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 4, 2017.
Last Friday, when looking at the historic, record lows in September volatility and the daily highs in US and global equity markets, BofA’s chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett said that the “best reason to be bearish in Q4 is there is no reason to be bearish.”
That prompted quite a few responses from traders, some snyde, a handful delighted (some bears still do exist), but most confused: after all what does investors (or algo) sentiment have to do with a “market” in which as Hartnett himself admits over $2 trillion in central bank liquidity has been injected in recent years to prop up risk assets.
To explain what he meant, overnight Hartnett followed up with an explainer note looking at the “Great Rotation vs the Great DIsruption”, in which he first reverted to his favorite topic, the blow-off market top he dubbed the “Icarus Rally”, which he defined initially nearly a year ago, and in which he notes that “big asset returns in 2017 have been driven by big global QE & big global EPS.”
But mostly “big global QE.”
And with global QE continuing, Hartnett, who two months ago predicted a volatile fall (and winter), now sees that Icarus ‘long risk’ trade extended into autumn “by low inflation, big liquidity ($2.0tn central bank buying), high EPS, and promise of US tax reform.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 2, 2017.