Monday, 24 August 2015
Price is news and all news leads to China.
Price is news. And with it is the retrofitting of all news to the price. Has anyone found any news that doesn't base itself on price? What is the news other than price over the last week? Chinese PMI Down, US retail sales disappoint. Is that really worth $5trillion of global wealth wipe-outs? Note here that once again the S.I. unit for stockmarket falls is $s of market cap lost, whereas gains are mere points or at best %s up, if commented on at all.
It would be a fascinating experiment to be able to deprive analysts of past prices (using a 'Men in Black' memory erase flashbulb device perhaps) and see how they get on. Hard enough with stocks, but nigh impossible in FX, Gold or oil where the theory of infinite equilibriums appears to hold true.
If I were to lay the comatose market patient on the table for diagnosis or confirmation of death, I would see a body riddled with price gun shot wounds but I would be looking for the real cause of the problem. That tiny pierce mark between the toes that could signal poisoned injection, the cherry pink in the cheeks pointing to carbon monoxide poisoning or the high radiation count of polonium 210.
Because though the cause of the falls is apparently blindingly obvious, I am afraid that this market doctor doesn’t buy it. Well not all of it. Yes, the riddling gun shots from the assembled uzis of the market drive buy shooting are not to be ignored as a contributing factor, but those are a consequence of the cause not the cause of another cause.
A year ago I posted a master plan of how this could all pan out painting a picture of one last hyperbolic spike in leveraged risk with equities going ‘taxi driver’ long. The end game being one more huge collapse in everything that will be the test of the CB mettle and leave them resorting to real money printing rather than this QE smoke and mirrors type. Or ‘Corbynomics’ as we will now call it, named after a potential UK opposition party leader.
This morning I have been deluged with evidence as to why this market collapse is the big one. It is different, the world has changed and the expected collapse is here at last. But the reasons being offered are old wounds and depend on who you ask, as whatever reason that person ever had for being bearish is now encapsulated in a ‘See? I told you the markets would fall because of x’. Yet nothing has actually changed over the past couple of weeks to justify most of those reasons. The reasons have been there for the last 3 years so don’t come running to me now saying told you so for explaining the last 3 weeks price falls.
Yes I think we know where I am going. All clues to the current diagnosis point to asphyxiation and asphyxiation demands that airways are cleared. And there,wedged down the right bronchus, is a lump of Char Siu. No matter what your tin foil beanie reason for the current market collapse it all actually rests on a market belief that the Chinese State has lost control of its economy and that economy is about to collapse and take the rest of the restive world with it.
But the anatomy of the markets is really not weak enough to see this choking kill it.
- The banks are in a better shape than they were.
- US rates effects on EM debt should have been unwound from a month ago as Expectations of a September rate rise fade
- The call that equities have run up from 2009 lows by history breaking lengths of time ignores that that measure is being made from history breaking lows. Just take your base back to 2007 and stock markets are not at all overpriced. 8 years of no growth in the FTSE value is almost historically low.
Most importantly, the market has not been through a hyperbolic euphoria. A 'taxi driver high', where everyone is long equities and risk. This chart of macro and CTA exposure to US equities as we go into a fall is not conducive to it being a major event. They were short into it. Markets need to be long to be properly wrong and they weren't.
I have also had debates with colleagues and friends into the psychology of today's traders and risk takers. Their argument is that the current generation have been brought up in a world where prices only go up and so are geared that way. I disagree. I still feel that the current generation have been programmed by disasters and are always over-positioned for fat tail events. They all want to be the next Taleb. There may be stability in the crowd but there is no glory. I drag Twitter and social media in general to the witness box. Want to make me a price on the ratio of 'buy it, everything is good' to "sell it, it will all go wrong' posts? I don't know for sure but I can have a good guess.
There is chronic disease out there but chronic diseases are not swift killers and this market doctor is pronouncing that after a Heimlich manoeuvre to expel the Chinese concern the rest of the markets will recover.
This is a misdiagnosis of the 'big one' and rumours of the market's death are exaggerated. But if you do think its the big one then you should be selling US treasuries as Asian reserves have to be unwound. If you don't think it's the big one then you ought to be selling US treasuries for a risk rebound.