Stock Market Strategy: All signs point to a continuation of the current rally. We will continue to use the direction of liquidity and the behavior of the credit markets as our fundamental guides to equity investing.
The primary news story making the rounds today involves the European bank stress test results. I have included the official results and accompanying statement below for your perusal. If you would rather the cliff notes I will summarize: Completely worthless nonevent.
CBES releases results of the EU Stress Test — 7 banks fail test
The exercise includes a sample of 91 European banks, representing 65% of the European market in terms of total assets, in coordination with 20 national supervisory authorities. It has been conducted over a 2 years horizon, until the end of 2011, under severe assumptions. In total, aggregate impairment and trading losses under the adverse scenario and additional sovereign shock would amount to 566bn € over the years 2010-2010. The aggregate Tier 1 ratio, used as a common measure of banks’ resilience to shocks, under the adverse scenario would decrease from 10.3% in 2009 to 9.2% by the end of 2011 (compared to the regulatory minimum of 4% and to the threshold of 6% set up for this exercise). The aggregate results depend partly on the continued reliance on government support for currently 38 institutions in the exercise. The aggregate Tier 1 ratio incorporates approximately 197bn € of government capital support provided until 1 July 2010, which represents 1.2 percentage point of the aggregate Tier 1 ratio. As a result of the adverse scenario after a sovereign shock, 7 banks would see their Tier 1 capital ratios fall below 6%… See release here.
Once again traditional financial news outlets fail to focus on issues that actually move the markets and instead waste time and energy on government sponsored propaganda. The typical word on the street from this story is as follows: ‘Street expected 10-11 banks to fail test and only 7 failed so things are better than expected.’
Enough said about the theater of the absurd a.k.a. European banking stability. Please follow me into the realm of reality as I focus on events that are actually having a tangible impact on the equity markets. Committed RCM blog readers will recall this quote from my July 14th post, “The above chart also suggests a change in trend may be in the offing”. At week’s end, it would appear suggestion has turned into sage advice as the rally that began July 7th makes new highs.
Tangible event number one:
Quantitative Easing round #2 is currently underway. How do we know this you ask? The Fed made no comment in the FOMC minutes release and Ben Bernanke said nothing of note to Congress. So how do we know Q.E.2 has begun? The answer lies in the chart below. As you will see, worldwide liquidity is once again on the upswing. This rise and fall of liquidity has been and should continue to be the single biggest factor determining market direction. Close scrutiny of the graph will reveal the selloff of assets in 2008 was led by liquidity contraction, the rally of 2009 occurred on the heels of liquidity expansion and the first 6 months of 2010 suffered from another reduction of liquidity. However, in the last three weeks worldwide liquidity has expanded progressively, hence a rally in asset prices should not surprise. We can expect further asset gains, equity, commodity or otherwise, as long as this liquidity trend continues….
Tangible event number two:
The credit markets are the first to be effected by the liquidity situation. Our credit guru, Mike Johnson, spotted the positive behavior of the credit markets at the end of June. The liquidity expansion began, credit markets immediately stabilized and true to form equities followed. Another review of MJ’s thinking seems appropriate…
…intraday credit market volatility continues to decline and this indicates that equity volatility is biased to continue to decline. This is clearly a positive for the broader equity indices.
One of the reasons we became bullish at the end of June was because of the improvement in bank CDS spreads, the normalizing of GS’ CDX credit curve, improvements in consumer credit losses, and improving CDX IG spreads. COMPARING THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CREDIT MARKETS TO THE EQUITY MARKETS (SPX) would indicate that SPX has the potential to rise to the 1150-1175 range QUICKLY. The steepening of CDX IG credit curve further indicates that this 1150-1175 range is even more likely to be reached relatively soon.