The QE trade is unwinding in dramatic fashion as the market slowly realizes that QE is not in any way inflationary. As I mentioned last week the smart money markets (fixed income and FX) were foreshadowing this as early as last week. The air pocket created by Ben Bernanke created an incredible trading opportunity for investors who weren’t blinded by confidence in the Federal Reserve. Just two weeks ago I said:
“Would add (to shorts) into any move over 1200. Would LOVE to see 1220”
My position is that the market is misinterpreting the economic impact of QE in the long-term. My market position has always been that we could rally to these levels and that at these levels the market has become overly optimistic. If I am wrong I will lose some money and move on. It’s part of the business.
Like clockwork the market touched 1220, bounced and sold-off. The carnage across markets is broad. The only things rallying are volatility, USD and US treasuries. In essence, the leveraged QE inflation trade is collapsing. You can thank Ben Bernanke for this. When you create distortions in the market you get volatility, uncertainty and ultimately a collapse in prices. Keeping market prices “higher than they otherwise would be” is not a recipe for economic growth.
The most worrisome development is dissension inside the EMU. Austria is now threatening to withhold their contribution to the Greek bailout unless Greece can prove that they have fulfilled their requirements for aid:
“The cost of insuring against default by Greece and the premium investors demand to hold the country’ bonds rather than lower-risk German Bunds jumped on Tuesday after Austria said Athens had not met aid commitments.
Five-year credit default swaps were 100 bps wider on the day at 950 bps, according to monitor Markit, while the 10-year yield spread between Greek and German government bonds was 15 bps wider at 923 bps.
Greece has not fulfilled commitments for its European Union-backed aid package, Austrian finance minister Josef Proell said on Tuesday, adding that Vienna had not yet submitted its contribution for December.”
That’s not the only concern in the markets. Municipal bonds in the US continue to crash as a market that was priced for perfection now begins to price in some risk. Commodity markets are being crushed under the pressure of failing QE and tighter monetary policy in China. And ultimately U.S. stocks have finally succumbed to reality.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.