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“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” – Hunter Thompson
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It’s another quiet morning in the markets today as futures are little changed with a positive bias. Crude oil and yields are also higher, although overnight economic data out of China and Europe generally came up short of expectations, and mortgage applications in the US declined 1.4% versus the prior week. Bitcoin is also modestly lower on the morning, but given the SEC’s actions towards the industry this week, one might have thought the sector would be under even more pressure.
With every advancement, the negative side effects tend to get a disproportionate amount of attention even when the societal benefits of the breakthrough dwarf the costs. The bank runs this spring were a perfect example. How many times did we hear that a consumer’s ability to transfer large sums of capital with nothing more than a couple of taps on their smartphone was a threat to the banking system?
The list of benefits these same commentators fail to mention is long and includes the ability to effortlessly move funds around the world with just a couple of taps and how it has radically improved economic efficiency. Besides the benefits, if banks simply offered even something resembling a competitive deposit rate and didn’t load up on long-duration assets when interest rates were near zero, they never would have run into these problems in the first place. And anyway, is a business model built on a foundation of making it difficult for customers to take their business elsewhere really one we all want to get behind? If that’s the case, why wasn’t anyone defending America Online back in the early 2000s when the company made it nearly impossible for customers to cancel their accounts?
The only reason for bringing this up now is that back on this day in 1962 Switzerland opened its first drive-through bank. After seeing that, we wondered if, even with the added convenience, there were similar cries from the Luddite community railing against the fact that customers could now just drive up to the bank and withdraw funds…all while the car was still running. Talk about a bank run!
Regarding banks, we noticed yesterday that the S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) closed above its 50-day moving average for the third day in a row which hasn’t happened since late February/early March, before the onset of the regional banking crisis. Who knows if the worst is over, but if it is, it would have been one hell of a quick ‘crisis’.
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