If anyone critical of the US economy is - as the great and almighty economic genius, President Obama recently posited - "peddling fiction," then why is Wall Street peeling away from equity positions like it's the Tour de France?
Relentless selling was the order of the day, especially in financials, until the final hour, as specs stepped in or shorts covered, cutting losses by 1/3 to 1/2.
While fiction writers may not think the stock markets are the modern day equivalents of "Moby Dick," they do have something of a beached whale quality to them. Germany's DAX is already in a bear market, as is China's SSE and Japan's NIKKEI, and the US markets are catching down somewhat quickly, with all three major indices already in correction territory.
With no real catalyst to move stocks higher, the prognosis is for further losses through the first quarter.
Banks were particularly ugly today, with Deutschebank (DB, -8.00%) teetering on the brink of insolvency, and losses suffered by Bank of America (BAC, -5.25%), Goldman Sachs (GS, -4.61%), Citigroup (C, -5.14), Wells-Fargo (WFC, -2.84%), and JP Morgan Chase (JPM, -2.10%).
At issue, as usual with banks, is interest rates, which soared today, pushing the 10-year note to an 18-month low yield of 1.74%). Credit spreads also continued to narrow, forecasting a recession, if not this quarter (and possibly last quarter), then almost surely in Q2.
Underlying the banking sector are questions of general solvency, quality of collateral, and, the size of their respective derivative books. Deutsche has the largest, estimated to be a total exposure of $75 trillion, with the US banks heavily into the game. Derivatives - CDS and other "bad bets" are what nearly took the entire Western economic system down in 2008, and they haven't gone away. Bank balance sheets are larger now and filled with just as much, if not more, toxic derivative soup.
When the financials lead the market down, it's usually not a good sign. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citi are already in bear markets (down more than 20%), while Wells-Fargo and JPM are within one percent of being in the same sinking vote.
Following the underwhelming jobs report Friday, stocks have done nothing but decline and that trend doesn't look to be about to change anytime soon.
The world may be months - if not weeks - away from complete capitulation in stock markets, the precursor to a global depression.
Another telling sign is the rise of gold and silver, two of the top-performing assets (along with bonds) for 2016. Both were up smartly again today and have broken through strong points of resistance.
The day's damage:
S&P 500: 1,853.44, -26.61 (1.42%)
Dow: 16,027.05, -177.92 (1.10%)
NASDAQ: 4,283.75, -79.39 (1.82%)
Crude Oil 30.11 -2.53% Gold 1,191.40 +2.91% EUR/USD 1.1193 +0.30% 10-Yr Bond 1.74 -6.11% Corn 362.00 -1.03% Copper 2.09 -0.52% Silver 15.35 +3.90% Natural Gas 2.13 +3.30% Russell 2000 969.34 -1.65% VIX 26.00 +11.21% BATS 1000 20,045.01 -1.29% GBP/USD 1.4432 -0.47% USD/JPY 115.8500 -0.93%