Published on February 12th 2010
We should not see yesterday’s rally (in North America) as a bullish signal, after the EU meeting’s statement. For this rally to be bullish, the Euro should have rallied as well! A reduction in the purchasing power of the Eurozone should not be seen as something positive for global growth…
Please, click here to read this article in pdf format: february-12-2010
(This is the last day of the week and “A View from the Trenches” will not be published again until February 25th, as we will be traveling.)
The statement released by European authorities yesterday was a mere expression of support for Greece, explicitly denying a request by Greece, for financial aid. The markets accordingly sold all things European, including and in particular Spanish financials. The picture does not look so good and yet, stocks outside the Euro zone (except for Athens, of course) rallied yesterday.
What do we make of this?
On one hand, we had another Treasuries auction yesterday. This time for $16BN 30-yrs, with the yield rising to 4.72%. The UST 2y10y curve ended 4bps steeper at 285bps. The Czech Republic was also deceived when it raised 15-yr debt on Wednesday and Greek banks seem to be facing funding problems. We also face significant uncertainty with the latest developments in Iran. But on the other hand, the markets received some “optimistic” releases too. Continuing job claims in the US kept their downward trend, Australia also saw an improvement in its labour market and the CPI reading in China was stronger than expected.
Briefly, of one thing we may be certain: Capital is flowing out of the Eurozone and into the rest of the world. But at the same time, capital seemed yesterday to also be preferring commodities and basic materials, which puzzles us, because the macroeconomic backdrop is bearish for us.
In our view, we should not see yesterday’s rally in North American stocks and credit, as well as in crude and oil, as a bullish signal, after the EU meeting’s statement. Why? Because for this rally to be interpreted as bullish, the Euro should have rallied as well! It didn’t and in fact plunged from a tall cliff, specially against the Canadian dollar. A reduction in the purchasing power of the Eurozone should not be seen as something positive for global growth (= for oil demand and hence for the Canadian market!)
Interestingly enough, Freddie Mac yesterday announced that it will buy practically all 120+days delinquent mortgage loans from its fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage Participation Certificate securities. We had foreseen a move of this type and discussed it in December and on our first letter of 2010 (www.sibileau.com/martin/2010/01/04 ). This is what we wrote then:
“…As credit spreads are already very low again, the increase in sovereign risk (yield) should make debt a less profitable investment, when compared against equity. In December, I associated this process with USD strength. Now, I am not so sure. Since my last letter of 2009, the US Treasury announced it would lift the cap on the Preferred Stock Purchase Program (refer Michael Cloherty’s “Removing the PSPP ceiling: Treasury’s unlimited support”, Bank of America’ “US Agencies” report of Dec 29/09). This explicit show of support for agency debt (which I assumed it was going to smoothly disappear in 2010) tells me that the USD strength will be only a relative notion in 2010. I say relative because the strength should show vs. those countries that explicitly decide to import USD inflation (i.e. Brazil) or face serious fiscal problems (i.e. Euro zone), while the weakness should show vs. those countries that will profit from the credit-inflated recovery (Emerging markets or commodity currencies, like the CAD)…”
Back to the impressive strength shown yesterday by the Canadian Dollar. At yesterday’s open, you needed 1.0621 CAD to buy 1 USD. At close, 1.05 were enough. The CAD was even stronger of course vs. the Euro, finishing at 1.4383 CAD/EUR, from 1.4591 at open. What granted such a move? In our view, the strength in the CAD was not fully reflected in the stocks market (TSX 60), which closed +1.32% higher, at 11,435.49pts. We think instead this movement may have mostly reflected a shift in central banks’ reserves, out of the EUR and into the CAD. What makes us think so? The relatively flat performance of crude oil, which still doesn’t break through its bearish trend.
Athens,auction,banks,CAD,Canadian,central banks,Czech,dollar,Euro,Europe,Eurozone,Freddie Mac,funding,global growth,Greece,Participation Certificates,rally,shift in reserves,Spain,Treasuries,USD
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Published on April 30th 2009
Suppose you own a business and 1/3rd of your product is being bought by a single customer. What if this biggest customer tells you that as of June, he or she will stop buying? What do you do with your inventory? Exactly! You liquidate it in a fire sale! You had been selling what this biggest customer was buying, and then buying what you thought this customer would buy next. This has been precisely our thesis No. 1. As the chart below shows, after the Fed’s announcement at 2:15pm yesterday, Treasuries (long-end) sold off.
Suppose you own a business and 1/3rd of your product is being bought by a single customer. What if this biggest customer tells you that as of June, he or she will stop buying? What do you do with your inventory? Exactly! You liquidate it in a fire sale! You had been selling what this biggest customer was buying, and then buying what you thought this customer would buy next. This has been precisely our thesis No. 1. As the chart below shows, after the Fed’s announcement at 2:15pm yesterday, Treasuries (long-end) sold off. (There was also profit taking in the Agency market):
April 30th 2009, Intraday: 30-yr Treasury (white) vs. S&P500 (orange) Source: Bloomberg Analysis: Tincho's letter
The FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) expressed no change in the plans to buy $1.25 Tr of Agency mortgage-backed securities, $200 bn of Agency debt and $300 bn of Treasuries. There was also no change to the fed funds target range. At 1:22 pm, Mr.Volcker, Chairman of the newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Chairman of the Fed between 1979 and 1983, had said that the current administration was committed to supporting banks. I think that led the market (and me) to believe there was going to be an upsize in Fed’s Treasuries purchases and, as the chart shows, that pushed Treasuries up (for a short time). The FOMC said the economy continued to contracting, but at a slower pace (GDP -6.1% q/q annualized).
I can’t understand stocks. The S&P 500 shot up on the news, and although it ended lower, it was still +2.16% (873.64pts). Why is this hard for me to see? If the long-term (30-yr) risk-free yield rose above 4% post-FOMC and the USD fell against the Euro and the Canadian dollar (=outflow of capital), why are stocks higher? (The USD rose against the yen and Pound, but this reflects and does not explain the rise of stocks). Isn’t a risk-free 4% yield good enough? Maybe it isn’t so risk-free … To make things more interesting, Treasuries in the short-end (2- yrs) had a solid bid, steepening the curve at close. Before I continue, I must say, thesis no. 3 (proposed on Friday) was refuted yesterday (= I was wrong!). There was no announcement of an exit strategy and stocks went up. I could say that to stop buying (FOMC statement) somehow indicates the way out (exit) of this mess, but I think the Fed is only bluffing, and it will keep buying anyway…Perhaps, we may have to first look at the credit markets. The CDX IG12 index finished at 168 bps (-9bps) and the High Yield index also did well, about 2 pts up. Even the leveraged loan LCDX index rose more than 1 pt. What is this supposed to mean? Maybe the market is seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps the Chrysler negotiations are positive, the distressed debt exchanges we are witnessing will really avoid defaults, perhaps the bank issuance coming outside of the FDIC-backed program (Goldman Sachs sold yesterday $2BN 6% 5-yr notes priced at T+410bps) is also a good sign. If this is the case, the market may wait for a confirmation this Friday, with the release of the ISM Manufacturing Index, before it moves anywhere (Readers’ feedback is welcome)…On this basis, I will wait until Friday, before I reject thesis No. 3. ONE LAST THOUGHT: If we are comfortable with a 4% long-term yield, with double-digit debt exchanges, with oil going higher on oversupply and stocks higher on awful news, maybe Keynes was right when he said that (refer April 28th letter): “…when output has increased and prices have risen, the effect of this on liquidity-preference will be to increase the quantity of money necessary to maintain a given rate of interest…” (General Theory, Chapter 13, published in 1936). We may indeed need more money to maintain the higher yields, to repay the double-digit maturities, a barrel of oil, Citibank shares or my morning coffee! I only hope that more money is also needed to pay your and my salary!
Agency,Canadian dollar,CDX,Chrysler,Citibank,dollar,Euro,FDIC,Fed,Federal Open Market Committee,FOMC,GDP,Goldman Sachs,IG12,Keynes,Leveraged Loan LCDX,oil,Paul Volcker,Pound,S&P 500,Thesis No. 1,Thesis No. 3,Treasuries,USD,Yen
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