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Japan Emerges As Biggest Driver Behind Recent Plunge In Yields

Japan Emerges As Biggest Driver Behind Recent Plunge In Yields

As frequent readers will recall, one of the catalysts behind the forceful emergence…

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This article was originally published by Zero Hedge
Japan Emerges As Biggest Driver Behind Recent Plunge In Yields

As frequent readers will recall, one of the catalysts behind the forceful emergence of the reflation trade in the first quarter was the powerful move higher in yields which many interpreted as markets pricing in higher long-term inflation. In reality, we have since learned that this move - which coincided perfectly with the end of Japan's fiscal year on March 31  - was largely, if not exclusively, a byproduct of Japan's giant pension fund, the GPIF, drastically shifting out of treasuries as it slashed its US Treasury exposure by a record amount.

Furthermore, as Morgan Stanley said earlier this month when news of the GPIF's asset reallocation first emerged, "it is important to avoid the trap of forcibly goalseeking a narrative to lower yields, a trap investors dealt with merely four months ago":

Treasury yields rose sharply in March, largely due to selling from Japanese investors, based on their fiscal year-end considerations.

Yet, most investors mistook the rise in yields as validation for a super-hot economy, and the consensus bought into the idea that 10-year yields were headed above 2%. We cautioned investors that yields had overshot relative to the economic reality. Over the coming weeks, economic data in the US couldn’t keep up with unrealistic expectations, and 10-year yields started grinding lower.

In other words, GPIF's decision to dump US Treasuries fooled the world into believing the recovery was accelerating, but now that yields are collapsing again, the asset gatherers and commission-rakers conveniently brush it off as "QE-driven distortion."

Fast forward to today when we may be experiencing a remarkable reversal of events from the first quarter.

As most know, in recent weeks the market has been obsessed with the ongoing plunge in yields with most interpreting this development as spelling the end of any reflationary hopes and signaling perhaps outright deflation. Yet as Morgan Stanley again points out, it could very well be that the recent sharp move lower in yields is again merely the result of country-specific asset reallocation. The country in question? Again Japan.

As Morgan Stanley's rates strategist Matthew Hornbach writes in his latest weekly Global Macro Strategist note, global macro markets continue to grapple with the fallout from rising Covid cases driven by the Delta variant, albeit to different extents. With higher vaccination rates, booster vaccines, and stronger fiscal support, most developed economies have some scope for mitigating the economic damage from the rise in cases. As Fed chair Powell noted earlier this week, he doesn't see "important effects" for the US economy just yet.

Powell, on August 18: I would say it's not yet clear whether the delta strain will have important effects on the economy. We'll have to see about that.

But while Powell may not have changed his view for the economy based on rising Covid cases yet, markets are grappling with the risk case that the rise in the Delta variant will have a negative effect on the economy. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the recent plunge in 10Y nominal yields to 1.15% and the crash in real yields to all time lows.

Of course, there is nothing revolutionary in arguing that the move lower in yields is a direct result of economic slowdown fears arising from the wide spread of the covid Delta variant which has already prompted fresh lockdowns in various countries such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand... but how much is too much? According to Morgan Stanley, "the decline in Treasury yields in the last two months, coincident with a rise of the Delta variant globally, already prices in that downside risk to a sizeable degree."

But a far more actionable observation courtesy of Morgan Stanley's Matthew Horbnach, is that the buying of Treasurys (i.e., reducing yields) is hardly a uniform event. In fact, as shown in the chart below, the decline in yields has been coming exclusively from overnight buyers, particularly from Asian buyers - i.e., Japan, the same Japan which in Q1 was busy dumping Treasurys -  while US investors as well as European investors seem relatively bullish.

As shown in the chart below, yields have declined in August only in the Tokyo session, while rising in London and NY sessions.

Furthermore, as Hornbach notes, the lack of follow-through in Treasury yields after the sharp decline in the University of Michigan consumer sentiment - which curiously saw yields rise despite the most bearish economic signal in the survey's recent history - "is encouraging in that regard."

Paradoxically, this bizarre dump out of Japan may also explain a strange observation in equities: as we noted last week, in the past month the S&P is down 4% in the overnight session and it is up 3.5% from 930am to 4pm. This is a stark reversal of the familiar "overnight futures ramp" which has led to most of the market's gains in the past decade.

So is the recent slide in yields the result of aggressive Japanese hedging and/or outright buying of Treasurys? After GPIF's Q1 stunner, when yields blew out as the pension fund was dumping its Treasury exposure, it certainly is conceivable that Japan's skittish bond managers have once again taken the entire bond market for the proverbial ride. Throw in the fact that Japan would be wrongfooting the entire market for the second time in six months, and the irony of all those rates experts being confounded by one nation's bond flow would be complete.

There's more: even if the move in rates is more than just "Japan", the bond market has now taken its downbeat view of the Delta variant too far. Just yesterday, we reported that according to the CDC, the Delta wave has "likely peaked across the Northeast." This confirms what Morgan Stanley said 10 days ago when it predicted that the Delta wave "will peak in 1-2 weeks." It's now almost two weeks later.

Also two weeks ago JPMorgan's Marko Kolanovic said that Delta cases are about to turn lower, an inflection point which prompted the quant to call for a bottom in yields and cyclicals.

Picking up on this, Hornbach writes that the "second derivative of daily cases in the US is peaking, which is in line with our biotechnology analysts' view that daily Covid case in the US could be peaking in late August/early September." As shown in the next chart, the rise and fall in Treasury yields over the last few months has a degree of inverse relationship with the rate of change of daily Covid cases (2nd derivative of total cases). In other words, "If Covid cases indeed peak, we would expect Treasury yields to rise."

And finally, Hornbach who was broken with Wall Street's dovish trend and expects 10Y yields to hit 1.80% by year end, notes that there may actually be long-term positive effects from the current wave of Covid cases in that it allows the US population to move faster toward herd immunity. This is because (1) more people have been vaccinated after the recent rise in cases, and (2) given the fast spread of the Delta variant in the unvaccinated population, more people gain immunity by developing antibodies after infection.

On that note, it is remarkable that the latest serological testing in New York City shows that 75% of the population has some form of antibody immunity vs. Covid - immunity whether due to vaccination or actually having defeated the virus - and thus the US is getting ever closer to "herd immunity".

Tyler Durden Sun, 08/22/2021 - 20:30


Global Debt Expected to Surpass $300 TRILLION and GDP Growth Slows

Thanks to the all-encompassing “Helicopter Money” that is Modern Monetary Theory, global debt has soared to yet another record-high in
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Thanks to the all-encompassing “Helicopter Money” that is Modern Monetary Theory, global debt has soared to yet another record-high in the second quarter, as governments and consumers piled on the deficits.

According to data published by the Institute of International Finance (IIF), global debt— which accounts for government, bank, corporate, and household debt— hit an outstanding $296 trillion in the second quarter, up by $4.8 trillion since the first three months of the year, and more than $36 trillion since the beginning of the pandemic.

But the debt pile doesn’t stop there! with the unprecedented pace of borrowing, the IIF is now expecting global debt to soar past $300 trillion— which is likely a no-brainer because as per the famous realization by Cady Heron, the limit does not exist! Undoubtedly, thanks to MMT, not only will we surpass $300 trillion, but will also skyrocket past $400 trillion, catapult past $500 trillion, etc., until— well, infinity!

Among the countries reporting the highest levels of debt is China at the top of the list, with debt levels jumping by $3.5 trillion from the first quarter to a total of nearly $92 trillion between April and June. On the other hand, the US surprisingly noted a debt deceleration, with a total of approximately $490 billion— the slowest since the onset of the pandemic.

Also on the bright side, the IIF said that the debt-to-GDP ratio slumped for the first time since the Covid-19 crisis. The institute found that 51 of the 61 countries observed have seen their debt-to-GDP ratio fall in the second quarter, as economic activity has been on a strong rebound since the beginning of the year. This caused overall debt as a share of GDP to decline from a record-high of 362% to around 353% in the second quarter.

But, all good things must eventually come to an end, because according to hot-off-the-press projections published by Fitch Ratings, global GDP is set to grow by only 6% in 2021, down from a previous June forecast of 6.3%. “Supply constraints are limiting the pace of recovery,” the report explained, adding that,a greater share of demand growth is being reflected in price increases and US inflation forecasts have been revised up again.”

As such, Fitch downgraded its 2021 forecast for China from 8.4% to 8.1% growth, and trimmed growth expectations for the US economy from 6.8% to 6.2%. The Eurozone, on the other hand, had its growth forecast for the current year boosted to 5.2%, up from 5% in June.

Information for this briefing was found via the IIF and Fitch Ratings. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

The post Global Debt Expected to Surpass $300 TRILLION and GDP Growth Slows appeared first on the deep dive.

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“Team Transitory” Suffers Blow As Used Car Prices Resume Surge

"Team Transitory" Suffers Blow As Used Car Prices Resume Surge

In the past month, a feud has broken out between the so-called "team transitory",…

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"Team Transitory" Suffers Blow As Used Car Prices Resume Surge

In the past month, a feud has broken out between the so-called "team transitory", comprising mostly of pro-Fed, pro-Biden commentators, who urge the public to ignore the "transitory" hyperinflation that by now is painfully obvious to everyone (see today's UMich report for the gruesome details), and not to blame either the Fed or the administration for the collapse in the dollar's purchasing power. Then there are the realists who see a much more ominous trend in deglobalization - you know, the same trend that allowed inflation to decline along with interest rates since the early 1980s - and warn that even when the currently supply chain logjam ends some time in 2022, inflation will still be far higher than in the past few decades.

The latest CPI print was viewed as a victory for "team transitory" because some of the prices that had spiked during the pandemic eased, led by used cars, whose prices this year soared amid supply chain disruptions and a rebounding economy has been a major contributor to the jump in U.S. inflation.

This was enough for TT to declare victory and proclaim that it's all downhill from there.

There is just one problem: real-time data is now showing that used car prices are once again on the rise after the summer slippage, confirming what we said moments after the CPI report was published this week.

The Manheim U.S. Used Vehicle Value Index, a measure of wholesale used cars, increased 3.6% in the first 15 days of September compared with the same period last month, and is again back near all time highs. That's the first month-over-month rise in the index since May; in total the index has risen by more than 50% since the COVID lows in early 2020. 

The index jumped 24.9% from the same period a year ago through the middle of the month, indicating that not only has the drop in used car prices ended but that higher prices are coming, and with them more humiliation for team transitory, as the spike in the Mannheim index assures a sharp jump in the CPI print either next month or in November.

"The latest trends in the key indicators suggest wholesale used vehicle values will likely see further gains in the days ahead,” according to the Manheim report.

"Wholesale used vehicle prices rose rather significantly in the first half of September compared to the first half of August," Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Cox Automotive, told Bloomberg"Dealers appear to be stocking up on used vehicles, which have seen supply stabilize somewhat, to have something to sell because new vehicle inventory remains low."

Elevated used car prices have primarily been due to snarled supply chains and a shortage of materials (such as semiconductors) for new car production, which pushed dealer inventories to all time lows...

... and forced consumers to buy on the secondary market.

“The main pressure continues to come from new car supply shortages. With the increase of delta variant, many manufacturers have significantly cut their production,” said Brian Benstock, general manager and vice president of Paragon Honda and Acura, a dealership in Woodside, Queens, in New York City. “A story about used cars cannot leave out the story about new cars.”

Incidentally new car prices are now also surging, and will likely continue to rise as carmakers have said production of new vehicles this fall will continue to be constrained by a chip shortage and the spread of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia. IHS Markit slashed its vehicle production forecast for this year by 6.2%, or 5.02 million vehicles, the biggest decrease to the outlook since the chip shortage emerged. In the latest sign of fallout, on Thursday, General Motors said Thursday it is cutting production at six North American assembly plants.

Finally, even ignoring used car prices, a more ominous increase is emerging in such core inflation as shelter costs and Owner Equivalent Rent.  Commenting on whether core inflation slowed or sped up in August, Bank of America economists said that the traditional measure of core CPI inflation rose just 0.1% mom in August, below the consensus (0.3%), BofA said the following:

  • The weakness was due to a bigger than expected reversal of the reopening spikes in a number of components.
  • Stripping the most volatile components of the CPI leaves a modest upward trend in “true” core inflation.

As BofA concludes, when it asks rhetorically "Is it time to break out the champagne" for team transitory, the bank responds "We don’t think so."

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/19/2021 - 11:00
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Actually, It All Makes Sense

Actually, It All Makes Sense

Back in June, we explained that the reason behind the market’s shocking response to the Fed’s hawkish policy…

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Actually, It All Makes Sense

Back in June, we explained that the reason behind the market's shocking response to the Fed's hawkish policy announcement when yields plunged instead of spiking higher, had little to do with what the Fed would actually do (as every Fed action is now in direct response to the market, which the FOMC is compelled to prop up no matter the cost) and everything to do with the market's read of r-star, and we quoted DB's head of FX strategy George Saravelos who said that everything that is going on "boils down to a very pessimistic market view on r*" or in other words, the same argument we made 6 years ago when we predicted - correctly - that the Fed's hiking cycle would end in tears (as it did first in November 2018 when the Fed capitulated on its hiking strategy after stocks plunged, and then again in Sept 2019 when the Repo crisis forced the Fed to resume QE).

The bottom line, for those who missed our lengthy take on this complex topic is that the equilibrium growth rate in the US, or r* (or r-star), was far far lower than where most economists thought it was. In fact, as the sensitivity table below which we first constructed in 2015 showed, the equilibrium US growth rate was right around 0%. This means that each and every attempt by the Fed to tighten financial condition will end in disaster, the only question is how long it would take before this happens.

Today, we won't recap the profound implications from Powell's huge policy error which we laid out previously (we suggest readers familiarize themselves with our recent work on the topic published in "Powell Just Made A Huge Error: What The Market's Shocking Response Means For The Fed's Endgame"), but we will touch on a recent blog by Deutsche Bank's Saravelos - who unlike most of his peers on Wal Street, has a clear and correct read on what is currently going on in the market - and to help clients comprehend what's actually going on, he has penned a simple framework to understand current market behavior. As Saravelos puts it, "there is no “puzzle” in the way global bond markets are behaving and it is entirely possible for yields to fall as inflation pressures rise."

As Saravelos explains, the starting point is that over the last six months the global economy has been experiencing a negative supply shock due to COVID. This can be most clearly seen in the incredibly sharp run-up in inflation surprises against the equally incredible sharp run-down in growth surprises.

In simple Econ 101 terms, we are  experiencing a leftward shift in the global economy’s supply curve. A negative supply shock (permanent or not) does two things: it lowers growth and increases inflation.

This is exactly what markets have been doing: inflation expectations are close to the year’s highs, but real rates (the closest market equivalent to a measure of real growth) are at the year’s lows.

The moves in the two variables are therefore entirely consistent with the incoming data.

Now what is most notable is that real yields have dropped more than inflation expectations have risen. The combined effect has been to lower nominal yields.

As Saravelos puts it, "there is nothing surprising about this, because there is nothing automatic about which effect dominates" and it ultimately depends on consumer sensitivity to rising prices, or in wonkish terms the slope of the demand curve: the greater the demand destruction from price rises, the bigger the negative effect on growth relative to inflation pushing yields down and vice versa. So, what the market is effectively doing, is pricing in substantial demand destruction from the supply shock.

Is this the correct thing to be pricing? Perhaps it is, we have been highlighting this unfolding demand destruction since May, and consumer confidence in the US is collapsing.

What about central bank reaction functions? There is an automatic belief in the market that higher inflation should mean more hawkish central banks. But as the DB strategist notes, "this belief rests on 30 years of demand shock management, where inflation has always and everywhere been positively correlated to growth." And as an interesting aside, according to Saravelos, Larry Summers was right about inflation risks this year but wrong about the cause: lower supply has dominated over stronger demand. A supply shock similar to the one we are currently experiencing means the central bank response is not obvious, and as a result "raising rates will only make the growth shock worse." By implication, tapering - which is tightening no matter what you read to the contrary - will similarly be a policy mistake and compound the economic slowdown, leading to an even more powerful easing reaction in the coming quarters.

Which brings us to central banks' characterization of the current inflation shock as transitory; as DB explains, it is another way of saying that they currently prefer to accommodate rather than respond to the supply shock. In terms of capital markets, ss long as the Fed looks through the shock, risk appetite will likely stay resilient, the dollar weak and volatility low. However, the moment the Fed does respond, all bets are off.

Bottom line, current market pricing is fully in line with a supply side shock with very strong demand destruction effects. A low r*, as we have been arguing since 2015 and again since June, is likely to prevail post-COVID only flattens consumer demand curves further. Saravelos concludes that "he continues to believe that it is the behavior of the consumer, including the desired level of precautionary savings as well as the response to the unfolding supply shock that is the most important macro variable for the market this year and beyond." As such, the latest UMich survey which showed that Americans are panicking over soaring inflation, and whose buying intentions have plunged to the lowest levels on record...

... is extremely alarming.




Tyler Durden Sat, 09/18/2021 - 17:00
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