First it was Europe that was mired in its coldest deflationary winter ever, then America promptly caught on. It was only a matter of time when cheap energy prices claimed its next victim - Britain. Unlike the Eurozone whose February CPI change settled at -0.3%, the UK saw no change in its price index from a year ago, missing estimates of a 0.1% rise and down from January's 0.3% change. The core figure (excluding food and energy) missed expectations of 1.3%, coming in at 1.2% from January's 1.4%. The market collectively expects deflation to officially strike in March. This comes on the heels of the BoE's Governor Mark Carney's comments about inflation dropping below zero in the next couple of months. Earlier in March, the Bank of England's MPC voted to keep interest rates at a record low of 0.5%, but foresaw a rate hike somewhere in 2016. The BoE is expected to trail the Fed in terms of monetary policy.
Oil prices are at a major inflection point. They either turn higher or break multi-year support levels and cause more pain to oil producers.
Nearly 2 months ago, we put out a note describing how we speculated on the upside of crude oil prices. We then subsequently implored if prices had indeed bottomed, and we made a case for both sides of the trade. Regular readers that follow our trades that we make public, will know that from the period spanning 1/27 till today, we have had 5 trades on oil. The results of these trades can be found in our most recent commentary dated 3/10.
In this note, we will share with readers a few takeaways we have gained, as well as what we expect going forward.
What makes this move shocking is that just last month the SNB committed themselves to preventing their currency appreciating beyond 1.20 to the Euro and vowed they would enforce the policy with "the utmost determination". The risk for the global financial system is that if the SNB can make such a dramatic u-turn could other central banks follow at some point. We're not so concerned here as their situation is arguably a lot different to the ECB. The ECB might actually look at the wider market moves yesterday and be scared to disappoint.
What a way to start 2015. The first deflation in the EU since 2009, record low yields on German sovereign debt, global energy prices keep tanking, US equities down for 5 consecutive days, and the news (or not) keeps flowing. For the record, major equity indices have started 2015 with the worst performance since the financial crisis of 2008. Whatever remnant of the 2014 "Santa Rally" turned out to be a ghost in a shell, and has now spooked global market participants.
The past week has been all about ratcheting up the "Grexit" rhetoric across the markets. Readers should be no stranger to the situation in Greece and the entire periphery of the Euro Union, which we touched upon in our last update preceding the New Year. The risk has indeed never been greater as it seems Germany has openly voiced that it won't be blackmailed by a Greek plunger. Remember, Greece is bounded by €240bn to the Troika under the various bailout packages extended to her.
The S&P 500 index closed at a record high of 2083 at Friday's close, capping what has been an ebullient Christmas week where equities have historically enjoyed outsized returns relative to volatility. Indeed, the S&P 500 was joined by the Russell 2000 index of stocks and the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 stocks) to close Friday at their respective record highs.
Trading volumes have been thin across the board, perhaps not so in China where people apparently are told not to celebrate the festivities of Christmas, as markets there remained opened for the entire week. Apart from American markets, the Shanghai Composite surged to a record high this past week. Reason? Mainstream media has been blaring more stimuli from the PBoC. If indeed true, that the PBoC is indeed gearing up for more stimulus come 2015, it would indeed be trying to balance a very tricky scale. Readers will recall that earlier in December, the PBoC reigned in on shadow banking by tightening collateral rules; and now wants to prop up asset prices by introducing more stimulus via other conduits? Seems like some central bankers over there are a little confused on what they actually wish to achieve with their Schrödinger policies.
The overnight night unsecured deposit rate on BYR has exploded north of 30% as the national bank has made it too expensive to lend BYR even amongst banks. As we learned from the bank's press release, it wants to halt sales of BYR by as much as possible though pseudo and conventional capital controls. The interest on commercial and retail deposits at local banks has also spiked to encourage individuals and businesses to leave their currency in their banks. Apparently enough, we know this is not working one bit and the run on banks continues and will probably extend all the way to Christmas Eve before there is any easing of tensions.
Indeed, just a few hours after AFP broke this news, the overnight interbank BYR deposit rate has surged past 50% as the fire intensifies.