It’s not just distressed debt or the energy sector. I was chatting with a friend/colleague in NYC who is connected with the high yield market. To begin with, the economic devastation to Texas from the collapsing price of oil is just beginning. Word to him from a big Texas bank is that the massive asset write-downs – i.e. energy and real estate loans – are just starting. Up until now the banks and financial firms have been able to hold off marking to market in hopes of a recovery in the price of oil. But distressed offerings in oil, gas and real estate assets are starting to hit the market and it’s going to force the issue. This is going to get ugly.
This is economic fall-out that will spread to the entire country.
Next we turned to the high yield market and he remarked that the junk market is collapsing. And it’s not just oil bonds – it’s gas, technology, healthcare, industrial, retail – everything. The few recent deals that got done soaked up all the cash available and now big outflows are starting again. There’s no liquidity and bids that show up within a reasonable context of the quoted bid/ask market get tattoo’d. It’s impossible to move any kind of stuff – i.e. big investors, mutual funds, pension funds are stuck.
Here’s two graphs that illustrate just how far off the rails the stock market has gone:
This graph from The King Report illustrates the current differential between junk bonds and the SPX vs. the differential in August. Recall that in August the S&P 500 plunged 11.2% in six trading sessions
The second graph compares the returns to the HYG I-shares high yield ETF and the S&P 500. As you can see the, divergence between the S&P 500 and the high yield bond market has reached an absurd level. The high yield market, in the absence of extreme intervention, typically will lead the stock market directionally. This is especially true on the downside because high yield investors typically are “privy” to bank credit information – trust me, this is true, as our high yield desk was next to the bank debt trading desk and we were very friendly with each other – and can see when corporate numbers are deteriorating well in advance of equity analysts and investors. As you can see from this graph the divergence between high yield debt and the S&P 500 has never been greater.
We can draw two conclusions from the information conveyed in the two graphs above: 1) the Fed is terrified of letting the stock market move lower and, for now at least, has a solid iron floor beneath the stock market; 2) the credit condition of corporate America has been deteriorating since early 2013, punctuated by 3 quarters in a row of declining earnings for the S&P 500. Revenues have been flat to down on average for a couple years.
This is not going to end well for anyone. I would suggest that this is one of the specific reasons that the U.S. Government is ramping up its military aggression, rampant domestic fear-mongering and extreme propaganda. We can’t even enjoy a college or NFL football game anymore without the shameless promotion of the military constantly thrown in our face.
History tells us – and it is very clear on this matter – when all else fails, collapsing empires start a war. This war started slowly burning when Bush II attacked Iraq and now it’s escalating into a global conflict. This will not end well…Happy Thanksgiving.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. – HL Menken