We now know that Russia has invaded Ukraine and President Biden really threw the booklet at Putin in a speech today. Rather than removing Russia from the SWIFT banking system which would have really hurt Russia’s trade with Europe, he gave a surprisingly cogent speech about the US and NATO agreeing to do … not much. He did warn us that energy prices would rise (which he helped do when he took office) and told energy companies not to gauge consumers.
The reaction in Russia? Their stock market tanked over 30% (not because of Biden’s speech, but because of negative costs of war).
Russia’s 10-year sovereign yield rose to 15.23%.
The Russian Ruble crashed and burned.
UK natural gas prices rose 51% today.
And while 17 Euro nations have negative 2 year sovereign yields, Russia has 2-year sovereign yield of 28.65% which is nothing compared to Ukraine’s 75% 2-year yield (in US Dollars).
The SWIFT system, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, facilitates financial transactions and money transfers for banks located around the world. The system is overseen by the National Bank of Belgium and enables transactions between more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries around the world. Removing Russia from the SWIFT system would really hurt Russian trade with Europe. I assume that Europe is scared of soaring energy costs, so probably doesn’t want Russia removed from SWIFT.
It has been almost 14 years since The Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke unleashed zero interest rate policies (ZIRP) and quantitative easing (QE) in late 2008. And Fed monetary stimulypto is still running strong after almost 14 year of monetary mismanagement and asset bubble stimulation.
The Federal Reserve under Bernanke and Yellen raised their target rate exactly once under President Obama before the election of Donald Trump. After Trump was elected, The Fed raised their target rate 8 times, lowered it 5 times. There have been no rate hikes under Biden.
There seemingly never-ending Fed monetary stimulus has resulted in the top 1% seeing their share of total net worth soar relative to the share of net worth of the bottom 50%. But note that starting in 2014 just as The Fed was engaged in QE 3. But the real divergence occurred after The Federal government heaped trillions in fiscal stimulus on top of the skyrocketing monetary stimulus.
In terms of income inequality (as measured by the GINI coefficient), it just keeps getting worse and worse.
Let’s see if The Fed actually delivers by reducing their monetary stimulypto.
It’s taken nine years and the Bank of Japan supersizing its balance sheet to the $5 trillion mark, but Asia’s second-biggest economy finally has some inflation.
Officials in Tokyo are realizing the hard way, though, that it’s best to be careful what you wish for as bond yields spike.
Granted, the gains in consumer prices Japan is reporting are negligible compared to those in the U.S. and China. And inflation is still a good distance from the BOJ’s 2% target. Still, the 0.5% rise in consumer prices in January year-on-year is already unnerving the bond market. It followed a 0.8% jump in December and marks the fifth straight month of increases.
The worry is that Japan’s inflationis the “bad” kind. Haruhiko Kuroda was hired as BOJ governor in March 2013 to end deflation. Kuroda unleashed tidal waves of liquidity. That drove the yen down 30%, generated record corporate profits and sent Nikkei 225 Average stocks to 31-year highs.
Despite a staggering balance sheet with a -0.10 bps policy rate, Japan has only 0.5% inflation.
And Japan’s yield curve is negative at 3 year tenor and less.
How is it that Japan has virtually no inflation with negative rates but the USA has 7.5% inflation with a 0.25% target rate? Could it be the USA undertook massive fiscal spending related to COVID and reduced energy sources in an effort to go “green” that led to 7.5% inflation??
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said he supports raising interest rates by a full percentage point by the start of July — including the first half-point hike since 2000— in response to the hottest inflation in four decades.
“I’d like to see 100 basis points in the bag by July 1,” Bullard, a voter on monetary policy this year, said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday. “I was already more hawkish but I have pulled up dramatically what I think the committee should do.”
Bullard’s plan involves spreading the increases over three meetings, shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet starting in the second quarter, and then deciding on the path of rates in the second half based on updated data. He said he was undecided on whether the March meeting should begin with 50 basis points, and would defer to Fed Chair Jerome Powell in leading the discussion. Powell, at a press conference in January, didn’t rule out the idea of such a move.
Bullard’s comments, along with the war drums along The Potomac about a Russian invasion of The Ukraine, are causing the 2-year Treasury yield to rise faster than the 10-year yield.
Resulting in a crashing 10Y-2Y curve.
The GINI measure of income inequality is at an all-time high as the purchasing power of the US Dollar is at an all-time low. Way to go, Federal Reserve and Congress!
What will The Fed decide at their emergency, closed-door meeting today? Nice transparency, Powell!
Once upon a time, European PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) saw incredible spikes in their sovereign yields related to Greek credit default contagion. But the European Central Bank (ECB), World Bank (WB), International Money Fund (IMF) rose to the rescue.
But here we go again! Thanks to rising inflation, the ECB is threatening to remove the massive monetary stimulus. Sound familiar??
Here are the Eurozone 10-year sovereign yields as of this morning. Greece is up a whopping 27.4 basis points, Italy is up 11.7 BPS, Portugal is up 9.3 BPS and Spain is up 9.2 BPS. The core of the Eurozone, France and Germany, are up 4.3 and 3.0 BPS, respectively.
Germany has REAL 10Y Bunds yields of -4.7%.
Like the USA, the Eurozone Taylor Rule is much higher than the ECB’s Main Refinancing rate of 0%..
Here is ECB’s Christine Lagarde saying “What, me worry??”
(Bloomberg) — European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde is no longer ruling out an interest-rate hike this year, a pivot toward the tightening stance of global peers that officials privately see materializing with a shift in policy guidance as soon as next month.
Investors brought forward bets on ECB action as the monetary chief delivered surprisingly hawkish comments citing unexpected record inflation data, contrasting with an earlier statement on Thursday that kept intact its formal view that price increases will ease.
She spoke after policy makers agreed that it’s sensible no longer to exclude a rate move in 2022, and that bond buying could end in the third quarter, according to officials familiar with their thinking who asked not to be identified because such discussions are confidential. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.
The result of Lagarde’s jaw boning?
US mortgage rates are rising in anticipation of the US following Largarde’s lead. Powell and the Gang continue to lag.
US new home sales spiked in December by 11.9% from November, but were down 14% year-over-year.
But the median price of new home sales (YoY) declined to 3.4%.
The Midwest saw a surge in new home sales (+56%).
The MBA’s mortgage applications index shows declining purchase applications (-1.83%) and declining refinancing applications (-12.60%) as mortgage rates increased from 3.64% to 3.72% for the week of 01/21.
Now, mortgage purchase applications rose for the week of 01/21 if we used non-seasonally adjusted data.
The stock market has never started a year falling as quickly as it is now.
The S&P 500 has dropped 11% — heading into correction territory — in the first 16 trading days of 2022 in its worst-ever start to a year, according to Bloomberg data that goes back over nine decades.
The downturn comes as traders brace for the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and a surge in U.S. Treasury yields weighs on the outlook for stocks. A host of technical signals also suggest that more volatility may be coming up ahead.
“The Fed pulled the punchbowl, liquidity has evaporated, and the S&P and NDX broke below their 200dma for the first time since the Covid outbreak,” said Rich Ross, technical strategist at Evercore ISI.
A bear market down to the 3,800 level is likely for the S&P 500, Ross said, given “the dramatic erosion of the technical backdrop, in conjunction with the highest inflation, tightest policy, and most uncertain political and geopolitical condition in years” — not to mention its historic rally since 2020.
The Shiller CAPE ratio is extremely high …. not surprising how much air The Fed pumped into the market tires.