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Futures Storm Higher To Start The Week As “Most Hated Rally” Steamrolls Bears

Futures Storm Higher To Start The Week As "Most Hated Rally" Steamrolls Bears

US equity futures rose to start the week as the "most hated…

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Futures Storm Higher To Start The Week As "Most Hated Rally" Steamrolls Bears

US equity futures rose to start the week as the "most hated meltup" continued just as we said it would over the weekend as stubborn bears are forced to cover and start chasing higher out of FOMO, while Treasury yields fell while investors assessed the path of monetary policy ahead of this week's critical CPI data. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.7% while S&P 500 futures gained 0.5% by 7:30 a.m. in New York after the underlying benchmarks dropped on Friday following news that US job growth soared beyond expectations. Meanwhile, the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped to 2.79% after soaring at the end of last week, while the dollar dipped and bitcoin jumped above $24K.

In premarket trading, stocks tied to renewable energy, such as Tesla, rose after the Senate passed a key bill that Democrats called the largest investment in fighting climate change ever made in the country. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency-exposed companies like Coinbase Global Inc. and Riot Blockchain Inc. climbed as Bitcoin breached $24,000. Bank stocks are also higher in premarket trading as the broader equity market rises. In corporate news, Avalara is being acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $93.50 a share in a deal that values the tax software maker at roughly $8.4 billion. Meanwhile, Robinhood is set to pay $9.9 million to resolve lawsuits over crashes on its trading platform in 2020.

“The sentiment will mostly depend on this week’s inflation data,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “If US inflation starts easing, the Fed could rethink about smaller rate hikes, which could give another positive swing to the stocks.”

Friday's "stellar" jobs data eased fears of a recession while increasing the chances that the Federal Reserve will be more aggressive in its fight to tame inflation. Over the weekend, San Fran Fed President Mary Daly said the central bank is “far from done yet” in bringing down prices and suggested a 50 basis-point rate increase isn’t the only option on the table for the next meeting.

The Friday payrolls data surprise “was large enough to re-ignite the inflation debate and renew focus on US CPI prints,” said Peter McCallum, a strategist at Mizuho. “Indeed, a very unexpected move lower in US CPI is needed for the market to stop thinking about the Fed having to do more. And with more tightening, the probability of a hard landing rises.”

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg notes, the S&P 500 climbed more than 6% over the past four weeks, approaching the level of two standard deviations for data going back 30 years.

That’s unusual in the absence of a clearly event-driven market such as during the global financial crisis or the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, The advance in equities could face another test from a likely contraction in corporate margins next year as costs remain high, according to strategists at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

"We think it’s premature to sound the all-clear simply because inflation has peaked,” Morgan Stanley strategists led by Michael Wilson said. “The next leg lower may have to wait until September” as the negative effects of falling inflation on company profits become more reflected in earnings.

Looking at the week's key data, the closely watched CPI is seen rising 0.2% in July from a month earlier, which would be the smallest advance since the start of 2021. However, the so-called core measure, which strips out energy and food, probably climbed a concerning 0.5%, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

European stocks tracked US futures higher, with the Euro Stoxx 50 is up 0.5%. IBEX outperforms peers, adding 0.6%, FTSE MIB is flat but underperforms peers. Real estate, tech and financial services are the strongest-performing sectors.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks edged lower as concerns about more aggressive interest-rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and fresh Covid lockdowns on the Chinese resort island of Hainan weighed on sentiment. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.5% before paring, with losses in technology and consumer discretionary shares offsetting gains in materials firms. Hong Kong stocks led declines around the region, even as the government cut the hotel quarantine for inbound travelers to three days from seven. A better-than-expected July jobs report in the US fueled expectations of faster Fed monetary tightening, with investors monitoring this week’s inflation data for further clues. Meanwhile, the lockdowns in China’s Hainan province have stranded tens of thousands of tourists, dealing a blow to its duty-free retail industry.

Asian equities capped their third-straight weekly gain last Friday as the region shrugged off rising geopolitical risks in the Taiwan Strait. Investors also continue to assess the ongoing corporate-earnings season. “We believe markets have discounted a fair bit of the earnings cuts to come, partly driven by the tech inventory de-stocking cycle in the coming months,” said Soo Hai Lim, head of Asia ex-China equities, at Barings. “Improving fundamentals, more attractive valuations and relatively looser monetary conditions in Asia can help deliver relative equity outperformance for the region in the coming months.”

Japanese stocks reversed earlier losses with the Nikkei 225 Index closing at its highest since March 29, as investors assessed a slew of earnings reports from local firms. The Topix Index rose 0.2% to 1,951.41 as of market close Tokyo time, while the Nikkei advanced 0.3% to 28,249.24. Suzuki Motor Corp. was among the top performers on the Nikkei, jumping more than 10% after an earnings beat. Bandai Namco also advanced after its outlook was raised.   Daiichi Sankyo Co. contributed the most to the Topix Index gain, increasing 5.2%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,033 rose and 1,030 fell, while 107 were unchanged. “Today’s Japan stocks are moving over micro factors such as the earnings results,” said Hiroshi Matsumoto, a senior client portfolio manager at Pictet Asset Management. “Some Japanese companies are reporting good results.”

India’s equity index climbed to its highest level in nearly four months, boosted by gains in HDFC Bank and Reliance Industries.   The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.8% to close at 58,853.07 in Mumbai, after falling by as much as 0.2% at the start of the session. The NSE Nifty 50 Index gained 0.7%. Of the 30 members on the Sensex, 20 rose and 10 fell. All but one of 19 sectoral indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. advanced, led by a gauge of capital goods companies. The market is shut on Tuesday for a local holiday.  HDFC Bank advanced to its highest level since April 13 as the Economic Times newspaper reported that the private sector lender raised $300 million in deposits from expat Indians, quoting unnamed people familiar with the matter.  Reliance Industries climbed most in a week as the oil-to-retail conglomerate said it will begin investing across the green-energy value chain. State Bank of India dropped after its quarterly report showed net income below analysts’ estimates.

Bloomberg dollar spot index flat after paring earlier decline. JPY and EUR are the weakest performers in G-10 FX, AUD and NZD outperform.

In rates, Treasuries held gains amassed during European session, led by bigger gains across core European bonds and unwinding a portion of Friday’s jobs-report selloff. US long-end yields richer by ~4bp, flattening 2s10s by ~2bp, 5s30s by less than 1bp; 10-year around 2.79% trails comparable bunds and gilts by 2bp-3bp. Treasuries 2s10s curve inversion deepens to as much as 42.3bps, the lowest since 2000. No US data or Fed speakers are slated for Monday; refunding auctions begin Tuesday, July CPI scheduled for Wednesday.short-end yields underperform bunds by about 4 bps. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund adding ~7bps to 212.8bps after Italy’s outlook was cut to negative by Moody’s on political risk.

In commodities, WTI trades within Friday’s range, falling 0.3% to around $88. Base metals are mixed; LME nickel falls 2.4% while LME lead gains 1.9%. Spot gold is little changed at $1,775/oz. 

In crypto, noted upside for the space amid thin newsflow elsewhere, with Bitcoin surpassing USD 24k at best and thus marginally eclipsing last week's USD 23.9k peak.

It's a quiet start to the week in econ data with nothing scheduled on the economic slate and no Fed speakers either; refunding auctions begin Tuesday, July CPI scheduled for Wednesday.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,157.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 438.13
  • MXAP down 0.1% to 160.53
  • MXAPJ down 0.4% to 524.35
  • Nikkei up 0.3% to 28,249.24
  • Topix up 0.2% to 1,951.41
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 20,045.77
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.3% to 3,236.93
  • Sensex up 0.8% to 58,862.37
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,020.62
  • Kospi little changed at 2,493.10
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.89%
  • Euro little changed at $1.0187
  • Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,773.21
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.11% to 106.50

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • China Extends Military Exercises Near Taiwan With New Drill
  • Ships Resume Taiwan Routes Even as China Continues to Drill
  • Oil Endures Choppy Start to Week With Demand Concern to the Fore
  • Senate Passes Democrats’ Landmark Tax, Climate, Drugs Bill
  • Yen Shorts Crumble as 2022’s Hottest FX Trade Comes to an End
  • ‘Most Vulnerable’ Emerging Markets Now Face Euro Recession Risk
  • Jack Dorsey Tweets ‘End the CCP’ After China Covid Report
  • Carlyle CEO Resigns in Sudden Reversal of Generational Shift
  • SoftBank Reports Record $23.4 Billion Loss as Holdings Fall
  • India Seeks To Oust China Firms From Sub-$150 Phone Market
  • Five States Risk Undoing Legitimacy of 2024 Election
  • CVS Health Is Mulling a Bid for Signify Health, WSJ Reports
  • Winners and Losers in Democrats’ Signature Tax and Energy Bill
  • NYC Mayor Greets New Bus of Migrants Sent by Texas Governor
  • Daly Says Fed Is ‘Far From Done Yet’ on Bringing Inflation Down
  • Buffett’s Berkshire Pounces on Market Slump to Scoop Up Equities
  • Bitcoin Believers Are Back to Watching Stocks After Crypto Crash

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pacific stocks traded mixed with price action choppy as participants reflected on the encouraging Chinese trade data and post-NFP hawkish pricing of Fed rate hike expectations, with sentiment also clouded by geopolitical risks related to China’s military drills near Taiwan and renewed shelling of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. ASX 200 traded indecisively around the 7,000 level as weakness in the consumer-related sectors was offset by a strong mining industry, with OZ Minerals the biggest gainer after it rejected an indicative proposal from BHP. Nikkei 225 pared opening losses although the upside was capped amid the ongoing deluge of earnings including SoftBank which is scheduled to announce its results later today and with a cabinet reshuffle set for later this week. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were varied with the mainland indecisive as mostly stronger than expected Chinese trade data, including a record surplus in July, was counterbalanced by COVID woes after Sanya in the Hainan province was placed on lockdown which has trapped tens of thousands of tourists.

Top Asian News

  • Chinese authorities locked down the southern coastal city of Sanya during the weekend after a highly infectious Omicron strain was detected in the Hainan province, according to FT.
  • China’s aviation regulator shortened the suspension time for inbound flights on routes found to have COVID-19 cases in which flights on a route with an identified COVID case will be suspended for a week if 4% of passengers test positive and will be suspended for two weeks if 8% of passengers test positive, according to Reuters.
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced that the hotel quarantine will be reduced to 3 days from 7, with arrivals to be subject to a 3 + 4 format in which the 4 days will be home monitoring.
  • Japanese PM Kishida said he will reshuffle the cabinet in the week ahead to address issues including COVID-19, inflation and Taiwan affairs, according to Reuters.

European bourses are firmer across the board after shrugging off mixed APAC trade, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.8%. Similar directional performance in US futures, though magnitudes are more contained amid limited newsflow with little scheduled ahead, ES +0.3%. Sectors are firmer with no overall theme emerging though Tech, Real Estate and Utilities are among the best performers.

Top European News

  • UK Tory party leadership frontrunner Truss is under pressure to promise more to poor households facing a cost of living crisis this autumn after she expressed her preference to reduce taxes over ‘handouts’, according to FT.
  • UK government plan to cut as many as 91k civil servant jobs over 3 years will require deep cuts to public services and cost at least GBP 1bln in redundancy payments, according to a Whitehall review cited by FT.
  • UK government is to conduct a review of the foreign takeover of the National Grid’s gas transmission business amid increased concerns regarding energy security, according to FT.
  • Italy’s centrist Azione party is to abandon the centre-left alliance with the Democratic Party just days after agreeing to an alliance to join forces in an effort to prevent a right-wing landslide, according to Bloomberg.
  • Moody’s has cut its outlook on Italy to Negative from Stable, affirms BAA3 rating; risks to credit profile have been accumulating more recently due to the economic impact of Russia/Ukraine and domestic politics. Under baseline scenario, Italian debt to continue declining in 2022.

FX

  • The USD index has pulled back further from Friday’s post-NFP 106.93 before seeing a bounce at its 10 DMA (106.25).
  • Non-Dollar G10s are gaining momentum against peers, and vs the Buck; AUD holds the top spot.
  • EUR/USD and GBP/USD trimmed earlier upside to trade back under 1.0200 and 1.2100.
  • The Yen is the current G10 laggard amid broader risk and as the FOMC-BOJ pricing once again widens.

Fixed Income

  • Core debt modestly firmer, experiencing some respite from Friday's post-NFP pressure amid pronounced Fed repricing and yield upside.
  • Albeit, in the context of recent session the circa. 70 tick upside in Bunds is limited.
  • BTPs pressured as Moody's cuts their outlook for Italy while further political developments seemingly strengthen the chances of the right.

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent front-month futures saw upside momentum fade alongside a Dollar-rebound off lows.
  • Spot gold is trading sideways around USD 1,775/oz amid a lack of drivers.
  • Overnight, Chinese base metal futures opened firmer with added impetus from the Chinese trade data, whilst LME contracts trade somewhat mixed.
  • Tesla (TSLA) has reportedly signed a contract worth circa. USD 5bln to purchase battery materials from nickel processing companies in Indonesia, via Reuters citing CNBC Indonesia.
  • Russian oil product exports from Black Sea port of Tuapse planned at 1.443mln in Aug (vs 1.388mln in July), according to traders cited by Reuters.
  • China is poised to begin another round of tax inspections on independent refiners, according to Reuters sources. Inspections are to last months, commencing later this month.

US Event Calendar

  • Nothing major scheduled

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

August has been fascinating so far with US recession talk pushed back with a string of better than expected data last week. The US economy simply cannot be deemed to be in a recession in a month when +528k jobs have just been added as payrolls showed on Friday.

This still feels to me like a classic (albeit compressed), old fashioned boom bust cycle. The Fed has been aggressively behind the curve with monetary policy amazingly loose versus history. The Fed have tightened a bit but monetary policy operates with a lag and monetary policy was and is still very loose. Remember we’ve only been hiking since March and real Fed Funds are still c.-7%. I still think recession by around the middle of 2023 is a slam dunk and that risk assets will go well below their June 2022 lows when we’re in it but I'm still not convinced the official recession happens over the next few months. As a related aside, the 2s10s yield curve first inverted at the end of March. A recession always eventually follows this in the US but the shortest gap between that and a recession is c.9 months over the last 70 years of data covering 10 recessions. The fact that the yield curve is getting more inverted just cements the likely recessionary signal from the yield curve but it always takes time. Ultimately I think a recession will be a lagged response to the necessary tighter policy put in place since March and the hikes still to come.

If payrolls was a bit of a shock, next up will be US CPI on Wednesday which we will review below. Staying with US inflation we will also see PPI on Thursday and the inflation expectations in the University of Michigan consumer survey on Friday. Staying with prices China (CPI, PPI) and Japan (PPI) get in on the act on Wednesday too. A monthly dump of UK data including GDP will be out Friday and will attract attention after the BoE’s forecast of a 5 quarter upcoming recession last week. Elsewhere US earnings are 85% complete so the newsflow will slow down on this front. The full day by day week ahead is at the end but we’ll focus most attention on US CPI here today.

Our economists expect the headline YoY rate to finally dip after energy prices have fallen of late. They are looking for 8.8% (from 9.1%) with consensus a tenth lower. Core however is expected to increase two tenths to 6.1% YoY. If we see such an outcome it’ll be interesting if the market cheers what could be the start of a decline from the peak in the headline rate or remains concerned that core continues to edge up. Core should be more important to the Fed but the market has been known to take the dovish interpretation to events of late, payrolls notwithstanding.

On US PPI on Thursday, most of our economist’s attention will be on the healthcare component as this feeds directly into core PCE, the Fed preferred measure. So far the wedge between core CPI and PCE has been biased in CPI’s favour (i.e. higher) as CPI has a big bias to rents vs healthcare for PCE. Last month healthcare surged after 4 soft months. Our economists have detailed why they think it will continue to be strong in this note (Link here).

Across the Atlantic, this week's UK GDP print is expected to be -0.2% QoQ, the first quarterly contraction since Q1 of 2021. The June figure is expected to contract by -1.2% MoM. Elsewhere earnings season is winding down after 423 S&P 500 and 403 Stoxx 600 companies have now reported. Our equity strategists have reviewed global earnings so far here, noting that while beats are roughly at the historical average in the US, they're exceeding it elsewhere. Yet, bar energy stocks, consensus estimates for Q3 have been declining across regions. Looking at the line up for this week, notable reporters include Disney (Wednesday), Porsche (today), Deutsche Telekom, RWE, Orsted and Siemens (Thursday).

Asian equity markets are mostly on the softer side as we start the week. As I type, the Hang Seng (-0.73%) is lagging despite Hong Kong’s move to cut mandatory hotel quarantine from seven days to three. Additionally, the Kospi (-0.10%) is also trading lower in early trade whilst Chinese stocks are mixed with the Shanghai Composite (+0.19%) higher and the CSI (-0.33%) lower. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+0.25%) is holding on to its gains this morning.

Moving ahead, US stock futures point to a slightly negative opening with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.16%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.11%) dipping in overnight trading.

Early morning data showed that Japan recorded its first current account deficit (-132.4 billion yen) in five months in June (v/s -706.2 billion yen expected) and reversing a +128.4 billion yen surplus in the preceding month as surging imports eclipsed exports.

Over the weekend, data revealed that China’s export growth unexpectedly picked up (+18.0% y/y) in July, the fastest pace this year, against a +17.9% increase in June and beating market expectations of a +14.1% gain, thereby offering an encouraging boost to the economy as its struggles to recover from a Covid-induced slump.

In overnight news, the US Senate approved a $739 billion climate and healthcare spending package ahead of crucial midterm elections in November. When signed into law, the bill, formally known as the Inflation Reduction Act, would allocate $369bn for climate action - the largest investment in US history. At the same time, it would increase corporate taxes and lower healthcare costs as part of the package.

Reviewing last week now and it was a pretty volatile start to August on the back of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the better than expected ISM prints, hawkish Fed speak, and finally the monster payrolls report on Friday which finally got the message through that the narrative of a dovish Fed pivot the week before was exceptionally premature.

Quickly recapping Friday’s data, nonfarm payrolls came in at +528k – more than double the final estimate of +260k with a further boost from the upwardly revised June reading of +398k (vs +372k previously). It was also the highest reading since February’s +714k. The July payrolls gains also ensured that the US has now recovered the 22m of job losses in the aftermath of covid outbreak. Other indicators reinforced the risks to inflation - unemployment was down to 3.5% (3.6% previously) and average hourly earnings surprised to the upside at 0.5% or 5.2% YoY (vs consensus of 0.3% and 4.9%, respectively). Slight softness came from a -0.1ppt drop in the participation rate (62.1% vs 62.2% estimates) but this was mostly in the young and not the prime-age cohort which makes it less worrying. Upward beats in employment indices also came from ISM indices earlier in the week, with headline gauges for both beating economists’ estimates as well.

The payrolls beat led to the US 2yr and 10yr jumping by +18.3bps and +13.9bps on Friday bringing the total weekly yield gains to +34.1bps and +17.8bps, respectively. These gyrations also inverted the 2s10s further, with the slope touching a low of around -43bps intraday, before finishing the day at -40.3bps, a -4.0bps move, -16bps on the week and to the most inverted since 2000.

Fed futures now price in +69bps at the September meeting, so a roughly 76% probability of another +75bps hike in September (up from Thursday’s +59bps, 36%). There’s still along way to go before the next FOMC though with another set of payrolls and two CPI prints before the next meeting.

For the S&P 500 it was a week with a few ups and downs (including -1% immediately after payrolls) but ultimately the market rose +0.36% (Friday -0.16%). Higher yields on Friday also drove divergences between benchmarks, with the Nasdaq (-0.50%) struggling a bit but still +2.50% on the week amid decent earnings results. For small caps, though, better economic data than feared overpowered the effect of rates, sending the Russell 2000 up by +0.81% on Friday and +1.94% on the week.

Oil moved higher after payrolls (WTI +0.53% and Brent +0.85%), but were still down a significant -9.74% and -13.72% on the week.

In Europe, sovereign bonds were also hammered after the payrolls report although the steady march higher started early in the morning and continued until the end of the session. Unlike in the US, however, the curves mainly steepened, with 10yr bund yields +15.2bps (+21bps on the week) edging ahead of the 2yr ones +13.5bps (+19bps on week).

Friday also saw yields sell-off further in the UK, with the 2yr yield (+11.1bps) slightly less extreme than the 10yr (+16.0bps). But in part thanks to the BoE, the UK’s front end gained +25.5bps on the week relative to +28bps on the 10yr. The periphery was quiet last week with 10yr Italian spreads declining -6.5bps on Friday and -13.6bps on the week. The market has been more relaxed after the far-right populists (riding high in the polls) suggested they won't abandon EU budget rules if they win the elections.

Finally, European stocks dipped as the STOXX 600 closed -0.76% on Friday, and -0.59% for the week. Financials (+0.16%) and energy (+0.54%) were the sole outperformers sector-wise on Friday after the robust payrolls.

Tyler Durden Mon, 08/08/2022 - 08:03

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Spread & Containment

Plunging pound and crumbling confidence: How the new UK government stumbled into a political and financial crisis of its own making

Liz Truss took over as prime minister with an ambitious plan to cut taxes by the most since 1972 – investors balked after it wasn’t clear how she would…

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The hard hats likely came in handy recently for Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng. Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP

The new British government is off to a very rocky start – after stumbling through an economic and financial crisis of its own making.

Just a few weeks into its term on Sept. 23, 2022, Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government released a so-called mini-budget that proposed £161 billion – about US$184 billion at today’s rate – in new spending and the biggest tax cuts in half a century, with the benefits mainly going to Britain’s top earners. The aim was to jump-start growth in an economy on the verge of recession, but the government didn’t indicate how it would pay for it – or provide evidence that the spending and tax cuts would actually work.

Financial markets reacted badly, prompting interest rates to soar and the pound to plunge to the lowest level against the dollar since 1985. The Bank of England was forced to gobble up government bonds to avoid a financial crisis.

After days of defending the plan, the government did a U-turn of sorts on Oct. 3 by scrapping the most controversial component of the budget – elimination of its top 45% tax rate on high earners. This calmed markets, leading to a rally in the pound and government bonds.

As a finance professor who tracks markets closely, I believe at the heart of this mini-crisis over the mini-budget was a lack of confidence – and now a lack of credibility.

A looming recession

Truss’ government inherited a troubled economy.

Growth has been sluggish, with the latest quarterly figure at 0.2%. The Bank of England predicts the U.K. will soon enter a recession that could last until 2024. The latest data on U.K. manufacturing shows the sector is contracting.

Consumer confidence is at its lowest level ever as soaring inflation – currently at an annualized pace of 9.9% – drives up the cost of living, especially for food and fuel. At the same time, real, inflation-adjusted wages are falling by a record amount, or around 3%.

It’s important to note that many countries in the world, including the U.S. and in mainland Europe, are experiencing the same problems of low growth and high inflation. But rumblings in the background in the U.K. are also other weaknesses.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the U.K. has suffered from lower productivity compared with other major economies. Business investment plateaued after Brexit in 2016 – when a slim majority of voters chose to leave the European Union – and remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels. And the U.K. also consistently runs a balance of payments deficit, which means the country imports a lot more goods and services than it exports, with a trade deficit of over 5% of gross domestic product.

In other words, investors were already predisposed to view the long-term trajectory of the U.K. economy and the British pound in a negative light.

An ambitious agenda

Truss, who became prime minister on Sept. 6, 2022, also didn’t have a strong start politically.

The government of Boris Johnson lost the confidence of his party and the electorate after a series of scandals, including accusations he mishandled sexual abuse allegations and revelations about parties being held in government offices while the country was in lockdown.

Truss was not the preferred candidate of lawmakers in her own Conservative Party, who had the task of submitting two choices for the wider party membership to vote on. The rest of the party – dues-paying members of the general public – chose Truss. The lack of support from Conservative members of Parliament meant she wasn’t in a position of strength coming into the job.

Nonetheless, the new cabinet had an ambitious agenda of cutting taxes and deregulating energy and business.

Some of the decisions, laid out in the mini-budget, were expected, such as subsidies limiting higher energy prices, reversing an increase in social security taxes and a planned increase in the corporate tax rate.

But others, notably a plan to abolish the 45% tax rate on incomes over £150,000, were not anticipated by markets. Since there were no explicit spending cuts cited, funding for the £161 billion package was expected to come from selling more debt. There was also the threat that this would be paid for, in part, by lower welfare payments at a time when poorer Britons are suffering from the soaring cost of living. The fear of welfare cuts is putting more pressure on the Truss government.

a man in a brown stocking hat inspects souvenirs near a bunch of UK flags and other trinkets
The cost of living crisis in the U.K. has everyone looking for deals where they can. AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

A collapse in confidence

Even as the new U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng was presenting the mini-budget on Sept. 23, the British pound was already getting hammered. It sank from $1.13 the day before the proposal to as low as $1.03 in intraday trading on Sept. 26. Yields on 10-year government bonds, known as gilts, jumped from about 3.5% to 4.5% – the highest level since 2008 – in the same period.

The jump in rates prompted mortgage lenders to suspend deals with new customers, eventually offering them again at significantly higher borrowing costs. There were fears that this would lead to a crash in the housing market.

In addition, the drop in gilt prices led to a crisis in pension funds, putting them at risk of insolvency.

Many members of Truss’ party voiced opposition to the high levels of borrowing likely necessary to finance the tax cuts and spending and said they would vote against the package.

The International Monetary Fund, which bailed out the U.K. in 1976, even offered its figurative two cents on the tax cuts, urging the government to “reevaluate” the plan. The comments further spooked investors.

To prevent a broader crisis in financial markets, the Bank of England stepped in and pledged to purchase up to £65 billion in government bonds.

Besides causing investors to lose faith, the crisis also severely dented the public’s confidence in the U.K. government. The latest polls showed the opposition Labour Party enjoying a 24-point lead, on average, over the Conservatives.

So the government likely had little choice but to reverse course and drop the most controversial part of the plan, the abolition of the 45% tax rate. The pound recovered its losses. The recovery in gilts was more modest, with bonds still trading at elevated levels.

Putting this all together, less than a month into the job, Truss has lost confidence – and credibility – with international investors, voters and her own party. And all this over a “mini-budget” – the full budget isn’t due until November 2022. It suggests the U.K.‘s troubles are far from over, a view echoed by credit rating agencies.

David McMillan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Economics

Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to…

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Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. US and global equities are already back in a bear market, and the scale of the crisis that awaits has not even been fully priced in yet.

For a year now, I have argued that the increase in inflation would be persistent, that its causes include not only bad policies but also negative supply shocks, and that central banks’ attempt to fight it would cause a hard economic landing. When the recession comes, I warned, it will be severe and protracted, with widespread financial distress and debt crises. Notwithstanding their hawkish talk, central bankers, caught in a debt trap, may still wimp out and settle for above-target inflation. Any portfolio of risky equities and less risky fixed-income bonds will lose money on the bonds, owing to higher inflation and inflation expectations.

How do these predictions stack up? First, Team Transitory clearly lost to Team Persistent in the inflation debate. On top of excessively loose monetary, fiscal, and credit policies, negative supply shocks caused price growth to surge. COVID-19 lockdowns led to supply bottlenecks, including for labor. China’s “zero-COVID” policy created even more problems for global supply chains. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through energy and other commodity markets. And the broader sanctions regime – not least the weaponization of the US dollar and other currencies – has further balkanized the global economy, with “friend-shoring” and trade and immigration restrictions accelerating the trend toward deglobalization.

Everyone now recognizes that these persistent negative supply shocks have contributed to inflation, and the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the US Federal Reserve have begun to acknowledge that a soft landing will be exceedingly difficult to pull off. Fed Chair Jerome Powell now speaks of a “softish landing” with at least “some pain.” Meanwhile, a hard-landing scenario is becoming the consensus among market analysts, economists, and investors.

It is much harder to achieve a soft landing under conditions of stagflationary negative supply shocks than it is when the economy is overheating because of excessive demand. Since World War II, there has never been a case where the Fed achieved a soft landing with inflation above 5% (it is currently above 8%) and unemployment below 5% (it is currently 3.7%). And if a hard landing is the baseline for the United States, it is even more likely in Europe, owing to the Russian energy shock, China’s slowdown, and the ECB falling even further behind the curve relative to the Fed.

Are we already in a recession? Not yet, but the US did report negative growth in the first half of the year, and most forward-looking indicators of economic activity in advanced economies point to a sharp slowdown that will grow even worse with monetary-policy tightening. A hard landing by year’s end should be regarded as the baseline scenario.

While many other analysts now agree, they seem to think that the coming recession will be short and shallow, whereas I have cautioned against such relative optimism, stressing the risk of a severe and protracted stagflationary debt crisis. And now, the latest distress in financial markets – including bond and credit markets – has reinforced my view that central banks’ efforts to bring inflation back down to target will cause both an economic and a financial crash.

I have also long argued that central banks, regardless of their tough talk, will feel immense pressure to reverse their tightening once the scenario of a hard economic landing and a financial crash materializes. Early signs of wimping out are already discernible in the United Kingdom. Faced with the market reaction to the new government’s reckless fiscal stimulus, the BOE has launched an emergency quantitative-easing (QE) program to buy up government bonds (the yields on which have spiked).

Monetary policy is increasingly subject to fiscal capture. Recall that a similar turnaround occurred in the first quarter of 2019, when the Fed stopped its quantitative-tightening (QT) program and started pursuing a mix of backdoor QE and policy-rate cuts – after previously signaling continued rate hikes and QT – at the first sign of mild financial pressures and a growth slowdown. Central banks will talk tough; but there is good reason to doubt their willingness to do “whatever it takes” to return inflation to its target rate in a world of excessive debt with risks of an economic and financial crash.

Moreover, there are early signs that the Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. In addition to the disruptions mentioned above, these shocks could include societal aging in many key economies (a problem made worse by immigration restrictions); Sino-American decoupling; a “geopolitical depression” and breakdown of multilateralism; new variants of COVID-19 and new outbreaks, such as monkeypox; the increasingly damaging consequences of climate change; cyberwarfare; and fiscal policies to boost wages and workers’ power.

Where does that leave the traditional 60/40 portfolio? I previously argued that the negative correlation between bond and equity prices would break down as inflation rises, and indeed it has. Between January and June of this year, US (and global) equity indices fell by over 20% while long-term bond yields rose from 1.5% to 3.5%, leading to massive losses on both equities and bonds (positive price correlation).

Moreover, bond yields fell during the market rally between July and mid-August (which I correctly predicted would be a dead-cat bounce), thus maintaining the positive price correlation; and since mid-August, equities have continued their sharp fall while bond yields have gone much higher. As higher inflation has led to tighter monetary policy, a balanced bear market for both equities and bonds has emerged.

But US and global equities have not yet fully priced in even a mild and short hard landing. Equities will fall by about 30% in a mild recession, and by 40% or more in the severe stagflationary debt crisis that I have predicted for the global economy. Signs of strain in debt markets are mounting: sovereign spreads and long-term bond rates are rising, and high-yield spreads are increasing sharply; leveraged-loan and collateralized-loan-obligation markets are shutting down; highly indebted firms, shadow banks, households, governments, and countries are entering debt distress.

The crisis is here.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/04/2022 - 17:25

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A Policy Mistake In The Making

A Policy Mistake In The Making

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

“Market Instability” Causes BOE To Reverse QT….

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A Policy Mistake In The Making

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

“Market Instability” Causes BOE To Reverse QT. Is The Fed Next?

“Market instability” remains the most significant risk to central banks globally. Despite their desire to combat surging inflation, market instability is a greater risk to global economies due to the massive amounts of leverage. We previously discussed the importance of controlling instability. To wit:

Interestingly, the Fed is dependent on both market participants and consumers, believing in this idea. With the entirety of the financial ecosystem now more heavily levered than ever due to the Fed’s profligate measures of suppressing interest rates and flooding the system with excessive levels of liquidity, the “instability of stability” is now the most significant risk.

The ‘stability/instability paradox’ assumes that all players are rational, and such rationality implies avoidance of complete destruction. In other words, all players will act rationally, and no one will push ‘the big red button.’”

So far, the Fed remains fortunate with a low volatility decline in markets. In other words, “market stability” continues to afford the Federal Reserve the operating room needed for the most aggressive rate hiking campaign since the late 70s. Market volatility and credit spreads remain “well contained” despite drastically higher interest rates and an ongoing stock market decline.

However, stable markets can become unstable rapidly when something breaks due to rising rates or volatility. The Bank of England (BOE) is an excellent example of what happens when things go awry. The BOE was forced to start buying bonds to solve a potential crisis with U.K. pension funds. The pension funds receive margin with yields fall and post additional collateral when yields rise. However, when yields spike, as they have recently, the pension funds are hit with “margin calls,” which have the potential to cause market instability. Due to leverage built up through the entire financial system, market instability can spread like a virus through global markets. Such was last seen with the Lehman Crisis in 2008.

Is the BOE’s actions an isolated event? Maybe not. According to Charles Gasparino, the Fed could be next.

The Market Instability Risk

The Federal Reserve is deeply committed to its aggressive campaign to quell surging inflation. As Jerome Powell stated at this year’s Jackson Hole Summit:

Restoring price stability will take some time and requires using our tools forcefully to bring demand and supply into better balance. Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth. Moreover, there will very likely be some softening of labor market conditions. While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses. These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation. But a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain.”

While the Federal Reserve is willing to cause “some pain” to achieve victory, they hope to do so without evoking a recession. Such may be a challenge for two primary reasons:

  1. The Fed remains focused on lagging economic data, such as employment, which are highly subject to future revisions, and;

  2. Changes to monetary policy do not show up in the economy until roughly 9-12 months in the future.

The problem with the Fed’s use of economic data to guide monetary policy decisions was the subject of a St. Louis Federal Reserve research note. To wit:

“In the two quarters leading up to the average recession, all measures were still experiencing varying degrees of positive growth. Meanwhile, immediately following the onset of the average recession, all six indicators declined, which ultimately persisted for the entirety of the recession.”

Such brings us to the second most critical point.

Changes to monetary policy have a 9-12 month lag before showing up in the economy. Therefore, as the Fed is hiking rates based on lagging economic data, the risk of a “policy mistake” becomes heightened. By the time the economic data deteriorates, the preceding rate hikes have yet to impact the economy, which eventually deepens the recession.

As shown, the annual rate of change of the Fed Funds rate is now the most aggressive increase in history. However, every previous rate hiking campaign has led to a recession, bear markets, or economic event.

However, the Federal Reserve does not operate in an economic vacuum. Other factors also contribute to the tightening of monetary policy and the impact on economic growth. When those other factors such as higher interest rates, falling asset prices, or a surging dollar coincide with the Fed’s policy campaign, the risk of “market instability” increases.

A Policy Mistake In The Making

The current bout of inflation is vastly different than that seen in the late 70s.

Milton Friedman once stated corporations don’t cause inflation; governments create inflation by printing money. There was no better example of this than the massive Government interventions in 2020 and 2021 that sent subsequent rounds of checks to households (creating demand) when an economic shutdown constrained supply due to the pandemic.

The following economic illustration shows such taught in every “Econ 101” class. Unsurprisingly, inflation is the consequence if supply is restricted and demand increases by providing “stimulus” checks.

The problem for the Fed is the influence of lagging economic data on its decisions. In contrast, forward estimates for inflation are already falling quickly as economic demand falters due to collapsing liquidity.

Historically, the “best cure for high prices is high prices.” In other words, inflation would resolve itself as high costs curtail consumption. However, the Fed is not operating in a vacuum. While the Fed is hiking interest rates to slow economic activity, interest rates and the dollar have also increased dramatically in recent months. Those increases apply further downward economic pressures by increasing costs domestically and globally. Not surprisingly, sharp annual increases in the dollar are coincident with market instability and economic fallout.

Furthermore, the surge in the dollar accompanied the sharpest increase in interest rates in history. Sharp increases in interest rates, particularly in a heavily indebted economy, are problematic as debt servicing requirements and borrowing costs surge. Interest rates alone can destabilize an economy, but when combined with a surging dollar and inflation, the risks of market instability increase markedly.

The Fed Will Blink

After more than 12 years of the most unprecedented monetary policy program in U.S. history, the Federal Reserve has put itself into a poor situation. They risk an inflation spiral if they don’t hike rates to quell inflation. If the Fed hikes rates to kill inflation, the risk of a recession and market instability increases.

As noted at the outset, the behavioral biases of individuals remain the most serious risk facing the Fed. For now, investors have not “hit the big red button,” which gives the Fed breathing room to lift rates. However, the BOE discovered that market instability surfaces quickly when “something breaks.”

When will the Fed find the limits of its monetary interventions? We don’t know, but we suspect they have already passed the point of no return, and history is an excellent guide to the adverse outcomes.

  • In the early ’70s, it was the “Nifty Fifty” stocks,

  • Then Mexican and Argentine bonds a few years after that

  • “Portfolio Insurance” was the “thing” in the mid -80’s

  • Dot.com anything was an excellent investment in 1999

  • Real estate has been a boom/bust cycle roughly every other decade, but 2007 was a doozy.

  • Today, it’s real estate, FAANNGT, debt, credit, private equity, SPACs, IPOs, “Meme” stocks…or rather…” everything.”

The Federal Reserve continues to state its intentions to hike rates and reduce its balance sheet at the fastest pace in history, as inflation is the enemy it must defeat. However, while high inflation is detrimental to economic growth, market instability is far more insidious. Such is why the Federal Reserve rushed to bail out banks in 2008.

Unfortunately, we doubt the Fed has the stomach for “market instability.” As such, we doubt they will hike rates as much as the market currently expects.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/04/2022 - 16:20

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