Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's tempting to slap some old-time Beach Boys on the iPod these days, because Macro Man seems to be spending most of his time surfing the waves of a "risk on/risk off" market. The waves seem to be bigger and more frequent than those on America's south Atlantic coast, if not quite matching up to Hawaii's North Shore yet.
Exhibit A comes from China, which shrugged off its yesterday's 1% rally in the SPX and its own tepid bounce earlier in the day to close down 4.3%, below the 2800 level cited locally as the average entry price for domestic funds. True to the surfin' motif, however, H shares (which remain open 75 minutes later than Shanghai) put in a reasonable bounce into the close.
What's somewhat amusing is that some of the most vociferous proponents of the China bull story (both in terms of local returns and its impact on the world) seem happy to dismiss the 20% pullback with a cavalier wave of the hand. Perhaps this is appropriate...but then again, perhaps not. Macro Man was amused to see that Goldman now forecasts a RRR hike and 3 rate rises next year, but expects this to have no impact on the Chiona bull story.
Hmmm....a market that is floating on a sea of liquidity will receive a policy tightening, and this won't have an impact? OK. What is interesting is that retail interest in Chinese equities seems to be on the wane; the pace of new brokerage account openings has decelerated quite a bit from its late July peak.
Coincidentally or not, that late July peak coincided with the top in Chinese stocks. More ominously, it came quick on the heels of the dreaded "sky dog" eclipse. Macro Man pooh-poohed the ol' extra-terrestrial pooch at the time, but it seems as if he was mistaken in doing so.
Elsewhere, the Bank of England surprised markets (or at least Macro Man) by revealing that it had voted 6-3 to hike QE this month, with Merve the Swerve in the minority. What was shocking was not that there was a split decision (Macro Man expected this, given that he didn't think the Bank would extend QE at all), but that the decision was split in favour of doing more, rather than less, QE.
Zowie! Merve reminds Macro Man of a religious convert, such is his zeal for Gilt-buying these days.
There was no mention in the minutes of taking deposit rates negative or anything like that, rumours of which had fueled a sharp rally in Sep short sterling. Unlike every other front contract out there, Sep sterling is trading 10 bps through the current LIBOR fix...which itself is only 25 bps through the policy rate.
Obviously, LIBOR fixes have been coming down and could well continue to do so...but the same holds true in the US, for example, as well. And with only a 25bp basis to policy, risks must surely arise that the pace of LIBOR reductions slows if not stops...leaving that front contract looking vulnerable, surely?
Just another wave to surf...