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US Equity Futures Trade Near All Time High After ECB Goes All In

US Equity Futures Trade Near All Time High After ECB Goes All In

If it was Powell’s intention to have the S&P trade at an all time when he cuts rates by another 25bps next Wednesday, he achieved it.

S&P futures rose alongside Asian and European stocks as shares globally headed for a third weekly gain and a six week high as markets cheered signs of progress in US-China trade talks and the ECB’s just launched open-ended QE. Treasury yields climbed, with the US 10Y rising as high as 1.81%; the dollar slipped while the yuan rose and pound soared on easing no-deal Brexit fears.

 The resurgent risk appetite was largely the result of renewed trade war optimism after President Trump said on Thursday he was potentially open to an interim trade deal with China, although he stressed an “easy” agreement would not be possible.

Following a muted Asian session where many markets in the region were closed, we saw a groggy start in European trading after Bloomberg reported that most core European nations did not want to restart the ECB’s money printing program, the main bourses eventually traded well in the green, as basic resources and auto sectors outperformed, adding to what was already set to be a fourth straight week of gains.

“We have quite an interesting reaction to the ECB meeting with the sense of the pushback from the core countries, and that essentially that the ECB has now thrown its last cards in,” said John Hardy, head of FX strategy at Saxo bank. “It looks like we are also getting to some pretty interesting levels for yields. If the consolidation continues, at some point you have to question whether the easing (from the central banks) is actually there.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Argentina Is Officially In Default Again: S&P Downgrades Credit Rating To SD

Argentina Is Officially In Default Again: S&P Downgrades Credit Rating To SD

The IMF just broke its own record of incompetence: less than a year after its record, $57 billion bailout of Argentina was finalized, S&P just downgraded the country from B- to Selective Default – the equivalent to a default rating – following the government’s “reprofiling” of its debt on August 28, when it unilaterally extended the maturity of all short-term paper due to the continued inability to place short-term paper with private-sector market participants. Some $101 billion in debt is affected.

However, the selective default state will last for just one day, as only a few hours later, S&P will upgrade Argentina from SF to CCC-. As S&P explains, “under our distressed exchange criteria, and in particular for ‘B-‘ rated entities, the extension of the maturities of the short-term debt with no compensation constitutes a default. As the new terms became effective  immediately, the default has also been cured. Therefore, we plan to raise the long-term ratings to ‘CCC-‘ and the short-term ratings to ‘C’ on Aug. 30, in line with our policies.”

Here is the full summary of today’s action, per S&P:

  • Following the continued inability to place short-term paper with private-sector market participants, the Argentine government unilaterally extended the maturity of all short-term paper on Aug. 28. This constitutes default under our criteria, and we are lowering the local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘SD’ and the short-term issue ratings to ‘D’.
  • The administration is also sending legislation to Congress seeking support from the Argentine political class to engage in a re-profiling of the remaining debt, so we are lowering our long-term foreign and local currency issue ratings to ‘CCC-‘ on heightened risk of a default under our criteria.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Morgan Stanley Thinks The S&P Is About To Crash

Why Morgan Stanley Thinks The S&P Is About To Crash

Echoing Guggenheim’s fears that US equities are in for a dramatic collapse, Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson warns that “…if equity markets fail one more time at our key resistance point, we believe the reversal is likely to be sharper and deeper than one might expect, even if the earnings recession is more benign than we expect.

Via Morgan Stanley,

Breaking out is hard to do. 

The S&P 500 remains the pied piper for global risk markets yet it continues to struggle with current levels for the third time in the past 18 months. While our 2400–3000 call from 18 months ago may look vulnerable, we think this latest surge will fail again, as we don’t expect a Fed cut to rekindle growth the way market participants may be hoping,and now pricing.

Market internals remain weak…

While the S&P 500 has made new highs, leadership remains decidedly defensive, with bond proxies and high-quality stocks disproportionately contributing to performance.

Underperformance of broader indices like the Russell 2000, Wilshire 5000,and equal-weighted S&P 500 suggest poor breadth, which is not a healthy development.

… Because fundamentals remain weak. 

We have been consistent in our view that growth would disappoint this year on both the earnings and economic fronts. Earnings forecasts have fallen significantly since the beginning of the year and economic surprises have skewed to the downside.

We have been consistent in our view that growth would disappoint this year on both the earnings and economic fronts. Earnings forecasts have fallen significantly since the beginning of the year and economic surprises have skewed to the downside.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Big disappointments in capital spending and business surveys suggest growth could slow further in 2H. Our economists are forecasting a material deceleration in 2H US GDP vs 1H.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

Pain Is Inevitable; But Suffering Is Optional

How to avoid becoming collateral damage in the coming crash.

Sometimes you really do find enlightenment at the top of the mountain.

I spent this week hiking in Montana’s Bitterroot mountain range, as a participant in the pilot run of a new personal-growth-through-adventure-travel startup.

In our group was a famous professional cyclist, who had been a superstar on the Tour de France for many years.

He has a fascinating life story, both on and off the bike. His tales of the super-human efforts required to prevail at the most elite level of this punishing sport are mind-blowing.

The relentless and gruelling training covering thousands and thousands of kilometers. The near-starvation state cyclists exist in to maximize their power-to-weight ratio. Endless travel. Horrific crash injuries. Sponsor pressures. The money and politics driving the sport. Overbearing regulators. Cut-throat teammates. And of course, the pervasive doping.

When we asked him how he managed to persevere at the top of such a demanding sport for so long, despite the huge toll it took on his health and his marriage, he thought for a moment then said: “I suppose I’m just really good at suffering”.

It’s clear that, in addition to some truly amazing experiences, his cycling days have left him with a legacy of damage that he’s still working through.

As he shared this with us, one participant wisely advised him to remember: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Yes, he’ll still need to deal with the aftereffects of his racing years. But it’s up to him how much power he wants to give them over his happiness and life path from here.

From Mountains To Markets

I’m struck by how relevant the above advice is to investors right now.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the end of the ten-year bull market has arrived.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“No One Has Outlawed Recessions” Stockman Sees S&P Fair Value “Way Below 2000”

“If you’re a rational investor, you need only two words in your vocabulary: Trump and sell,” says David Stockman, former President Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget director, warning that a 40% stock market plunge is closing in on Wall Street.

While not the first time Stockman has warned of a catastrophe waiting to happen in markets, he told CNBC’s Futures Now that, after the worst monthly loss for global stocks since the financial crisis, that the early rumblings of that epic downturn are finally here.

“No one has outlawed recessions. We’re within a year or two of one,”  adding that:

“fair value of the S&P going into the next recession is well below 2000, 1500 – way below where we are today.”

According to Stockman, Trump’s efforts to get the Fed to stop hiking rates from historical lows is misdirected…

“He’s attacking the Fed for going too quick when it’s been dithering for eight years. The funds rate at 2.13 percent is still below inflation,”

Specifically, Stockman notes the trade war is a major reason why investors should brace for a prolonged sell-off.

“The trade war is not remotely rational,” he said.

If the dispute worsens, it “is going to hit the whole goods economy with inflation like you’ve never seen before because China supplies about 30 percent of the goods in the categories we import.”

Stockman ends on an even more ominous note:

“We’re going to be in a recession, and we’re going to have another market correction which will be pretty brutal,” Stockman said.

“[Trump]’s playing with fire at the very top of an aging expansion.”

For now, all traders can think about is tomorrow – but we suspect Stockman will be right in the end.

Gas companies face Californian wipe-out, say S&P, Moody’s

Gas companies face Californian wipe-out, say S&P, Moody’s

Ratings agencies say the state’s bid to go 100% renewable poses a ‘significant threat’ to gas generators’ credit stability

Newport Wedge, California (Photo: Tom Walker/Flickr)

Gas companies in California face credit downgrades, ratings agencies say, after the state pledged to get all of its power from renewable sources by 2045.

On 10 September, California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which would require 100% of the state electricity’s to come from carbon-free sources.

That would have no immediate effect on most gas generators, according to a report by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) analyst Michael Ferguson this month. However, he said: “We believe that over the long term, with the growth of renewable energy, these utilities face a significant threat to their market position, finances, and credit stability.”

Within a fortnight of the California bill, S&P had revised its ratings outlook for Middle River Power, an equity firm backing a natural gas-fired plant providing electricity for 500,000 people in San Berdinado, from stable to negative. On top of increased competition from renewables, the credit agency cited “a more challenging (…) regulatory environment for natural gas-fired assets over the long term because of aggressive renewable energy goal”.

“This gas plant is going to have to be refinanced,” Ferguson told Climate Home News, “and it’s going to get more and more difficult to refinance over the long-term because they are going to be facing increasing renewable penetration… Longer-term the prospects for [all] gas generation are going to be weaker.”

S&P’s report largely echoes an assessment by its rival Moody’s, released in September. According to Moody’s, the state’s new legislation was “credit negative” for companies Calpine Corporation, NRG Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

S&P Reveals $5.8 Trillion In “Hidden” Chinese Debt With “Titanic Credit Risks”

When it comes to estimating China’s total outstanding debt, there has long been confusion about the real number with most putting the debt/GDP at around 250%, while the IIF last year calculated China’s debt load as high as 300% of GDP.

Now, China watchers can one add another ~40% of debt/GDP to the total because according to S&P, China’s local governments have accumulated 40 trillion yuan ($5.8 trillion) – or even more – in off-balance sheet debt, suggesting the already record surge in defaults is set to accelerate further.

“The potential amount of debt is an iceberg with titanic credit risks,” S&P credit analysts wrote in a report Tuesday, Bloomberg reported, with much of the build-up related to local government financing vehicles, which don’t necessarily have the full financial backing of local governments themselves.

LGFV debt has emerged as a growing risk for China’s economy, because with the national economy slowing, and as a result of a crackdown on shadow lending and a Beijing quota for issuance of local-government bonds not enough to fund infrastructure projects to support regional growth, authorities across the country have resorted to LGFVs to raise financing, according to S&P.

That’s left LGFVs “walking a tightrope” between deleveraging and transforming their businesses into more typical state-owned enterprises, S&P warned.

Meanwhile, debt vulnerabilities continue to rise as a result of the previously reported record surge in Chinese corporate defaults this year, as Beijing seeks to roll back a decades-old practice of implicit guarantees for debt.

And while so far LGFV debt has avoided an event of default, several issues have come close, with local government bailouts taking place only in the last minute, adding to concerns about LGFVs vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, according to S&P the riskiest LGFVs include the following:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Measuring The Equity Bubble – “You Are Here”

On best revisions for GDP and earnings in 2018 after Tax reform, the S&P is now less expensive than before, at just 57% above historical average…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/20180118_PEG1.jpg

In this brief note, we wanted to update our value indicator for the S&P, after the steep consensus upgrades to US earnings and US GDP that followed the US tax reform.

We assess how big of an improvement should we see after the reform, assuming a GDP growth of 3.40% in 2018, which is the average of the 10 highest analysts’ forecasts surveyed by Bloomberg, and assuming a 26% jump in earnings in 2018, again at the top end of surveys. We conclude that, against such most generous estimates, the ‘Peak PEG’ ratio for the S&P improved by almost 10%, or, rephrased, it is almost 10% off peak.

It follows that the S&P is now above historical averages by a mere 57%.

The Peak PEG ratio, using Peak Earnings and Trend Growth

The ‘Peak PEG’ ratio is a variation of the Shiller P/E and the Hussman P/E indicators. It measures the price-earnings to growth ratio (PEG ratio) not for a single stock but for the market as a whole. The ‘Peak PEG ratio’ is a price to peak-earnings multiple, adjusted for long-run trend growth. It considers the highest (rather than average) earnings over the previous 10 years (top 2 quarters on the last 40) and then divides for growth potential. It uses top earnings so to conservatively assume the best profit generation capability for stocks in a decade to persist, thus defusing a common critic to the Shiller P/E. It uses GDP trend growth so to proxy earnings growth potential, which is highly correlated to it over time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

S&P Downgrades Venezuela To “Selective Default” After Bondholder Meeting Devolves Into Total Chaos

S&P Downgrades Venezuela To “Selective Default” After Bondholder Meeting Devolves Into Total Chaos

Creditors had little expectations from today’s ad hoc meeting with “soon-to-default” Venezuela, and with good reason: not only was the meeting attended by several sanctioned Venezuelan officials, potentially jeopardizing the legal status of any bondholders who voluntarily appeared at the Caracas meeting meant to “restructure and refinance” Venezuela’s massive debt load, but it was nothing but total confusion, with neither Venezuela, nor creditors knowing what is on the agenda, why they were meeting, or what is the endgame. In sum, the meeting resulted in no firm proposals, lasted no more than 30 minutes, consisted largely of an angry rant by an alleged drug dealer who also happens to be Venezuela’s vice president, and ended as chaotically as it started.

Quoted by Reuters, one unnamed bondholder had a perfectly succinct summary of what happened today, or rather didn’t:

There was no offer, no terms, no strategy, nothing,” the bondholder said, leaving the meeting that lasted a little over half an hour at the ‘White Palace’, departing with a colorful gift-bag containing Venezuelan chocolates and coffee.

Credit walked in as confused as they left, a little over a week after President Nicolas Maduro stunned investors with a vow to continue paying Venezuela’s crippling debt, while also seeking to restructure and refinance it; the two things are literally impossible at the same time. There is another problem: both a restructuring and a refinancing appears out of the question, due to U.S. sanctions against the crisis-stricken nation, which make discussions with the key negotiators who has been put on a sanctions black list, grounds for potential arrest. A default would compound Venezuela’s already disastrous economic crisis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Connecticut Capital Hartford Downgraded To Deep Junk, S&P Says “Default Virtual Certainty”

Connecticut Capital Hartford Downgraded To Deep Junk, S&P Says “Default Virtual Certainty”

Two months after S&P downgraded the state capital of Connecticut, Hartford, to junk, when it cuts its bond rating from BB+ to BB- citing growing liquidity pressures and weaker market access, the city which has been rumored is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection and which has seen an exodus of corporations and businesses in recent months, just got more bad news when S&P downgraded it by a whopping 4 notches deeper into junk territory, from BB- to CC, stating that “a default, a distressed exchange, or redemption appears to be a virtual certainty.”

“The downgrade to ‘CC’ reflects our opinion that a default, a distressed exchange, or redemption appears to be a virtual certainty,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Victor Medeiros.

The rating agency also warned that it could take additional action to lower the rating to ‘Default’ if the city executes a bond restructuring or distressed exchange, or files for bankruptcy.

In our view, the potential for a bond restructuring or distressed exchange offering has solidified with the news that both bond insurers are open to supporting such a measure in an effort to head off a bankruptcy filing. Under our criteria, we would consider any distressed offer where the investor receives less value than the promise of the original securities to be tantamount to a default.

 In short: while Chicago has so far dodged the bullet, the capital of America’s richest state (on a per capita basis), will – according to S&P – be also the first to default in the coming months.

Full S&P note below:

Hartford, CT GO Debt Rating Lowered Four Notches To ‘CC’ On Likely Default

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

S&P Downgrades China To A+ From AA- Due To Soaring Debt Growth

S&P Downgrades China To A+ From AA- Due To Soaring Debt Growth

Four months after Moody’s downgraded China to A1 from Aa3, unwittingly launching a startling surge in the Yuan as Beijing set forth to “prove” just how stable China truly is, moments ago S&P followed suit when the rating agency also downgraded China from AA- to A+ for the first time since 1999 citing risks from soaring debt growth, less than a month before the most congress for Chiina’s communist leadership in the past five years is set to take place. In addition to cutting the sovereign rating by one notch, S&P analysts also lowered their rating on three foreign banks that primarily operate in China, saying HSBC China, Hang Seng China and DBS Bank China Ltd. are unlikely to avoid default should the nation default on its sovereign debt. Following the downgrade, S&P revised its outlook to stable from negative.

“China’s prolonged period of strong credit growth has increased its economic and financial risks,” S&P said. “Since 2009, claims by depository institutions on the resident nongovernment sector have increased  rapidly. The increases have often been above the rate of income growth.  Although this credit growth had contributed to strong real GDP growth and higher asset prices, we believe it has also diminished financial stability to  some extent.”

According to commentators, the second downgrade of China this year represents ebbing international confidence China can strike a balance between maintaining economic growth and cleaning up its financial sector, Bloomberg reported. The move may also be uncomfortable for Communist Party officials, who are just weeks away from their twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle.

The cut will “have a relatively big impact on Chinese enterprises since corporate ratings can’t be higher than the sovereign rating,” said Xia Le, an economist at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in Hong Kong. “It will affect corporate financing.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Connecticut Capital Hartford Downgraded To Junk By S&P

Connecticut Capital Hartford Downgraded To Junk By S&P

One week ago, Illinois passed its three year-overdue budget in hopes of avoiding a downgrade to junk status, however in an unexpected twist, Moody’s said that it may still downgrade the near-insolvent state, regardless of the so-called budget “deal.” In fact, a downgrade of Illinois may come at any moment, making it the first U.S. state whose bond ratings tip into junk, although as of yesterday, credit rating agencies said they were still reviewing the state’s newly enacted budget and tax package. The most likely outcome is, unfortunately for Illinois, adverse: “I think Moody’s has been pretty clear that they view the state’s political dysfunction combined with continued unaddressed long-term liabilities, and unfavorable baseline revenue performance as casting some degree of skepticism on the state’s ability to manage out of the very fragile financial situation they are in,” said John Humphrey, co-head of credit research at Gurtin Municipal Bond Management.

And yet, while Illinois squirms in the agony of the unknown, another municipality that as recently as a month ago was rumored to be looking at a bankruptcy filing, the state capital of Connecticut, Hartford, no longer has to dread the unknown: on Tuesday afternoon, S&P pulled off the band-aid, and downgraded the city’s bond rating by two notches to BB from BBB-, also known as junk, citing “growing liquidity pressures” and “weaker market access prospects”, while keeping the city’s General Obligation bonds on Creditwatch negative meaning more downgrades are likely imminent.

The downgrade to ‘BB’ reflects our opinion of very weak diminished liquidity, including uncertain access to external liquidity and very weak management conditions as multiple city officials have publicly indicated they are actively considering bankruptcy,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Victor Medeiros. Hartford has engaged an outside law firm with expertise in financial restructuring. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jeff Gundlach: “Things Are Going To Get Pretty Scary”

Jeff Gundlach: “Things Are Going To Get Pretty Scary” 

One day before the Fed’s June statement, Jeff Gundlach once again accurately predicted the somber mood that would ensue as a result of Yellen’s Wednesday decision and press conference when he correctly said that “Central Banks Are Losing Control.” Today, in the aftermath of James Bullard stunning U-turn where he cast aside years of fake hawkishness and emerged as the market manipulating dove he had been all along, Gundlach appeared on CNBC, to discuss many things, among which his latest take on central banks.

Specifically, he said that central banks are “out of control” because they don’t understand the consequences of their own policies. On CNBC’s “Halftime Report“, the DoubleLine bond guru projected that markets are likely to see another round of negative interest rates before central bankers realize they aren’t working and that fiscal stimulus may be the better option. “The policies that they’re implementing don’t have the consequences that they’re looking for,” he said.

Gundlach pointed out the chart which we said back in 2010 is the only one that matters: the S&P’s liquidity “flow” manifested by the Fed’s balance sheet overlaid on top of the Fed’s balance sheet:

He said that “it’s really uncanny how the S&P500 rallied when they were doing QE and expanding their balance sheet, and how the S&P never goes anywhere when they stopped expanding their balance sheet. They stopped QE3 back in December of 2014 and the S&P500, the DJIA, the Nasdaq are all exactly the same when they stopped expanding their balance sheet. The S&P has been dead money for 18 months.”

That – once again – resolves the whole “flow vs stock” debate.

So what went wrong? According to Gundlach, chief among central bank mistakes was negative rates.  

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Monetary Base, Buybacks and the Stock Market

We often see charts comparing the S&P 500 to the growth in the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, or more specifically, to assets held by the Fed. There is undeniably a close correlation between the two, but it has struck us as not very useful as a “timing device”, or an early warning device if you will.

Recently we have come across a video of a presentation by Bob Murphy, in which he uses a slightly different comparison that might prove more useful in this respect. Instead of merely looking at Fed assets, he uses the total monetary base. Here is a chart comparing the monetary base to the S&P 500 Index since 2009:

1-Monetary Base vs SPXThe monetary base (red line) vs. the S&P 500 (blue line) – as can be seen, sometimes one or the other series leads, but in recent years the monetary base has been a leading indicator. It probably lagged the market in 2010/11 due to the fact that traders at the time bought stocks in anticipation of more monetary pumping – whereas nowadays the market appears to be reacting with a slight lag to changes in base money – click to enlarge.

Below is a chart that shows consolidated assets held by the Federal Reserve system for comparison. Since the Fed is currently reinvesting funds from MBS and treasuries that mature, its total asset base is basically flat-lining since the end of QE3. Obviously, all that can be gleaned from this fact is that the central bank is currently not activelypumping up the money supply. Currently money supply growth is therefore largely the result of commercial bank credit growth.

2-Fed AssetsAssets held by the Federal Reserve – flat-lining since the end of QE3. Interesting, but not useful as a short term leading indicator of the stock market – click to enlarge.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here Comes The Big Flush—–Recession Pending, Fed ‘Put’ Ending

Here Comes The Big Flush—–Recession Pending, Fed ‘Put’ Ending

Talk about sheep being led to the slaughter. The S&P 500 is up 11% from its February 11th intra-day low (1812) because Wall Street still has inventory to unload. That much is par for the course.

Yet the signs of an impending macroeconomic and profits implosion are now so overwhelming that it is truly remarkable that there are any bids left in the casino at all. This morning’s release of business sales for January, for example, showed another down month and that the inventory-to-sales ratio for the entire economy is now at 1.40X—–a ratio last recorded in May 2009.

As Zero Hedge so aptly put it:

“Look at this chart!”

Once upon a time, real economists, investors and traders knew that business sales, wages and profits are the heart of the matter. No longer. The self-referential sentiment surveys, financial conditions indices and bullish spin on Fed word clouds which animate today’s casino muffle the fundamentals almost entirely.

Yesterday on Bloomberg TV, for example, my downbeat view was challenged with a chart showing that Goldman’s financial conditions index had perked up during the last 5-weeks. Where, I was asked, is the recession?

How about the quarter century of history shown below? Business sales reported this morning were down by 5.1% from their July 2014 cyclical peak. Self-evidently, declines of that magnitude have occurred only twice since 1992, and both of them bear the shaded imprint of recession.

How about the quarter century of history shown below? Business sales reported this morning were down by 5.1% from their July 2014 cyclical peak. Self-evidently, declines of that magnitude have occurred only twice since 1992, and both of them bear the shaded imprint of recession.

The chart also bears something else. Namely, real economic meat and potatoes. Even at their slumping January level, business sales came in at a $15.5 annual trillion rate. That’s something; it measures the entire churn of manufacturing, wholesale and retail sales from coast-to-coast

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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