Below are a collection of interesting links and insights from today's news with analysis filtered through the Hedgeye macro lens. This installment discusses a recent record for corporate buybacks, U.S. #GrowthSlowing via Bed Bath & Beyond, BOJ central planning and China's yuan policy and shadow stimulus.
The 2nd-Largest Quarter Of Corp Buybacks Ever
"Companies in the S&P 500 spent $161.4 billion buying back shares in the first quarter of 2016, the second-largest amount on record, supporting stock prices amid the index’s early-year drop," the Wall Street Journal reports. Why are companies buying back shares? Simple. "As Earnings Slow, companies lever up and buy back stock to hit EPS targets that determine executive bonuses," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough writes.
Another U.S. #GrowthSlowing Casualty
"In other news, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) is the latest US #ConsumerSlowing report (post market close)," McCullough wrote. BBBY posted a sales decline and missed earnings estimates as foot traffic slowed and increasing competition from Amazon.com hurt results.
The Lone BOJ Dissenter Rips On Negative Rates
"The additional (positive) effects of quantitative and qualitative easing have been diminishing," Takahide Kiuchi told business leaders at a conference today. "On the other hand, numerous side effects of QQE seem to be increasing steadily," he said. Kiuchi has said before that the BOJ's sustained ultra-low interest rates and the negative rates decision had destabilizing effects on the bond market and hurt the central bank's credibility.
In other Japan-related Central Planning News
Is the BOJ holding back its bond buying firepower for after today's Brexit vote? Maybe. Bloomberg reports:
"Up to now, the Bank of Japan has tended to conduct bond-purchase operations -- known locally as “rinban” -- on the days following a government auction. Not this time. The Finance Ministry had sold about 400 billion yen ($3.8 billion) of Japanese government bonds with tenors of 20, 30 and 40 years on Friday, but come Monday, the central bank wasn’t buying.”
With yields on Japanese government bonds touching record lows last week, perhaps the BOJ is just holding off and letting the market ride for a bit?
China, Yuan & Shadow Stimulus
According to China's state-owned media outlet Xinhua, the People's Bank of China is making strides toward "increas[ing] the investability of the renminbi." A seperate Xinhua article this week explains:
"The central bank has stressed that it will stick to market-oriented reforms and increase the yuan's exchange rate flexibility, according to the commentary 'Understand the yuan's fluctuations.'
'What needs to be avoided is not fluctuations but possible risks caused by them,' said the article, adding that while risks do exist, there is no basis for long-term depreciation of the yuan.
'We should make sound plans to respond to any risks, rather than hesitating over risk concerns,' it read."
Another interesting read on China, check out the FT's piece "China deploys state enterprises to economic stimulus effort." Here's the key takeaway from the chart below. Essentially, China's state-owned entities are doing the government's bidding to stimulate its slowing economy.