CONCLUSION: We continue to flag what we view as heightened risk for a JGB market rout; for now, however, the coast remains clear.


POSITION: Short the Japanese yen (FXY).


In the wee hours of the morning (US time) the international ratings agency Fitch downgraded Japan’s long-term local-currency sovereign debt rating one notch to A+; additionally, the agency reduced the country’s long-term foreign currency debt rating two notches to the same level. This action is critical in nature because we are now one step (i.e. a downgrade from another “Big 3” agency: S&P = AA- w/ NEG outlook and Moody’s = Aa3 w/ STABLE outlook) closer to triggering a ~$78B capital shortfall across the Japanese financial system.




One catalyst we see in accelerating the time frame of additional downgrades is that Japanese bureaucrats may wait until scheduled Upper House elections in the summer of 2013 to hold elections in the Lower House, per Azuma Koshiishi, secretary-general of the DPJ. Unless the LDP has backed off of their demand to dissolve the Diet prior to negotiating on the VAT hike, there will be no progress made on this front for over one full year – a major catalyst for further downgrades of Japanese sovereign debt further per commentary out of both of the remaining agencies.


The most recent downgrade (today) had a fair impact on the currency market, with the USD/JPY cross jumping from ¥79.58 to as high as ¥79.77 within minutes following the downgrade.




Looking to the Japanese sovereign debt market – which has been a key focus of ours this year as it relates to potentially being the next domino in the context of our Sovereign Debt Dichotomy theme – prices are not confirming Fitch’s worry that “[t]he country’s fiscal consolidation plan looks leisurely relative even to other fiscally-challenged high-income countries, and implementation is subject to political risk.”


Two, ten and thirty-year nominal JGB yields have trended down in recent months to ~7, ~9 and ~2 year lows, respectively. From a market demand perspective, a couple of recent developments highlight the [arguably] well-deserved complacency within that market in that the BOJ failed to receive enough offers from financial institutions for its recent Asset Purchase Program open market operation (only ¥480.5B of a ¥600B target); this is in addition to failing to meet a ¥310B target (¥174.7B offered) for its Rinban operation (purchases of JGBs w/ a maturity < 1yr). For now, Japanese financial institutions can’t get their hands on enough JGBs!




Given the impressive demand conditions, it’s no surprise to see that L/T-S/T nominal JGB yield spreads have compressed meaningfully over that same duration. Part of this is due to the risk that the BOJ decides on implementing further easing measures in its monetary policy meeting, which is currently underway (results published tomorrow). Increasing the [bond] duration of their purchases and potentially acquiring foreign assets are two policy initiatives we think they may pursue if they do decide to incrementally ease at the current juncture.




For context, we’re of the view that the Cabinet Office’s recently upgraded 2012 economic outlook and the central bank’s increasingly hawkish fiscal 2012-13 inflation guidance limits the need for them to pursue further easing measures in the near term; a chart of medium term breakeven inflation expectations in Japan confirm our view. On the flip side, the threat of rolling blackouts this summer ranging from 7-20% of peak consumption (depending on region) could force downward pressure on the Japanese economy over the intermediate term and force the central bank to react preemptively to maintain Japanese Real GDP growth, which, after four consecutive quarters of YoY contraction, accelerated to +2.7% YoY in 1Q12.




Jumping back to JGB risk, Japanese sovereign credit default swaps of the 5yr and 10yr tenors have backed up a fair amount in recent weeks, widening +18bps and +31bps, respectively, from their YTD lows. As the table below highlights, however, the widening seen in Japanese swaps recently has dramatically lagged the region, lending credence to our view that Japanese sovereign debt risk on this metric is merely accelerating as a function of global financial market contagion borne largely out of Europe. The same can be said regarding the recent widening of Japanese bank CDS as well, though perhaps to a lesser degree, given their outsized exposure to JGB risk (25% of total assets).








All told, we continue to flag what we view as heightened risk for a JGB market rout – particularly from current prices. That said, however, our call has not and will not invoke the consensus storytelling that simply focuses on highlighting the unsustainable nature of Japanese fiscal imbalances; rather we will continue to stay finely in tune with any/all catalysts that we find material enough to potentially shift sentiment within this market. For now, the coast remains clear and we remain bearish on the JPY vs. the USD from a long-term TAIL perspective – of course trading it with a bearish bias over the intermediate term, given its preponderance to appreciate in the context of our TREND-duration fundamental Global Macro view.


Darius Dale

Senior Analyst





Did the US Economy Just “Collapse”? "Worst Personal Spending Since 2009"?

This is a brief note written by Hedgeye U.S. Macro analyst Christian Drake on 4/28 dispelling media reporting that “US GDP collapses to 0.7%, the lowest number in three years with the worst personal spending since 2009.”

read more

7 Tweets Summing Up What You Need to Know About Today's GDP Report

"There's a tremendous opportunity to educate people in our profession on how GDP is stated and projected," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote today. Here's everything you need to know about today's GDP report.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Crash Test Bear

In the past six months, U.S. stock indices are up between +12% and +18%.

read more

GOLD: A Deep Dive on What’s Next with a Top Commodities Strategist

“If you saved in gold over the past 20 to 25 years rather than any currency anywhere in the world, gold has outperformed all these currencies,” says Stefan Wieler, Vice President of Goldmoney in this edition of Real Conversations.

read more

Exact Sciences Up +24% This Week... What's Next? | $EXAS

We remain long Exact Sciences in the Hedgeye Healthcare Position Monitor.

read more

Inside the Atlanta Fed's Flawed GDP Tracker

"The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNowcast model, while useful at amalgamating investor consensus on one singular GDP estimate for any given quarter, is certainly not the end-all-be-all of forecasting U.S. GDP," writes Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Acrophobia

"Most people who are making a ton of money right now are focused on growth companies seeing accelerations," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote in today's Early Look. "That’s what happens in Quad 1."

read more

People's Bank of China Spins China’s Bad-Loan Data

PBoC Deputy Governor Yi says China's non-performing loan problem has “pretty much stabilized." "Yi is spinning. China’s bad-debt problem remains serious," write Benn Steil and Emma Smith, Council on Foreign Relations.

read more

UnderArmour: 'I Am Much More Bearish Than I Was 3 Hours Ago'

“The consumer has a short memory.” Yes, Plank actually said this," writes Hedgeye Retail analyst Brian McGough. "Last time I heard such arrogance was Ron Johnson."

read more

Buffalo Wild Wings: Complacency & Lack of Leadership (by Howard Penney)

"Buffalo Wild Wings has been plagued by complacency and a continued lack of adequate leadership," writes Hedgeye Restaurants analyst Howard Penney.

read more

Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands Earnings

"The quarter actually beat lowered expectations. Overall, the mass segment performed well although base mass lagging is a concern," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands.

read more

An Update on Defense Spending by Lt. Gen Emo Gardner

"Congress' FY17 omnibus appropriation will fully fund the Pentagon's original budget request plus $15B of its $30B supplemental request," writes Hedgeye Potomac Defense Policy analyst Lt. Gen Emerson "Emo" Gardner USMC Ret.

read more