Japan Economy Minister: "Yen's Excessive Strength Has Been Largely Corrected; Further Weakness Could Be Harmful"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/19/2013 - 15:32
As if sniffing at the threat the ongoing collapse in JGBs, culminated by Toyota pulling a bond issue on soaring yields, which forced even JPM to come out with an ominously titled piece called the "VaR Shock" driven by the epic plunge in the Yen, Japan's economy minister Akira Amari has hit the wires saying "the yen's excessive strength has been largely "corrected," and further weakness could be harmful, Japan's economy minister said Sunday, suggesting the Japanese government may be happy with the currency's current level. Economy minister Akira Amari, responding to a question on how far the yen should weaken, replied that while he couldn't comment himself, "it's being said that the correction of the strong yen is largely completed. If the yen keeps on weakening a lot more, it will have a negative impact on peoples' lives."" Now the question is will those millions in Mrs. Watanabe housewives suddenly stuck in margin calls scramble to take profit, which could send the USDJPY soundly back into double digit territory, or will the momentum machine, facilitated by Getco's relentless scramble to perpetuate momentum ignition and drift, mean Japan has officially lost control of the Yen, and in a world in which only the BOJ's actions matters, will USDJPY 120 be next, together with the even greater "negative impact on people's lives" such a move would have (but not for those buying apartments at the yet to be built 432 Park).
To those who have already submitted their applications to launder their cash buy an apartment or better yet, have already wired the money to purchase any of the still to be built residences at 432 Park, the 84-story giant that is set to become the tallest residential building in the Western hemisphere, congratulations. Although that is technically inappropriate: for full effect we would have to say "congratulations" in the buyers' native tongue, be it Russian, Mandarin, Spanish or Arabic, because it sure won't be English in the ongoing scramble to park trillions in cash away from a global banking system now hell bent on confiscating it, especially away from Europe's insolvent and massively levered banks as shown yesterday, and in the Cyprus template aftermath, the cleanest dirty shirt has once again emerged as midtown Manhattan real estate just as we said would happen last September. However, to call the emerging, full-blown panic scramble to park cash sight unseen, with zero regard for asking price "a bubble", would a slap in the face of all calm, cool and collected bubbles everywhere. Because any time someone is willing to pay $95 million for a non-duplex one-floor apartment, $44.8 million for a 4-bedroom apartment, $10 million for a two-bedroom, or a paltry $3.9 million for a maid's quarters studio (no really), something far more profound is going on beneath the surface than a simple asset bubble.
Last week, Bill Gross did not mince his words when he said that he now "sees bubbles everywhere" and that "when that stops there will be repercussions" but for now Benny and the Inkjets, not to mention his band of merry statist men, who take from the poor and give to the wealthy, are playing the music on Max, and so one must dance and dance and dance. And after one legacy bond king, it was the turn of that other, ascendant one - Jeff Gundlach - to share his perspectives Bernanke's amazing bubble machine. His response, to nobody's surprise: "there is a bubble in central banking. We are drowning in central banking and quantitative easing.... And it's not ending until there are some negative consequences."
Despite the eagerness of Abenomics and the new BOJ head Kuroda to have their cake and eat it too, in this case manifesting in soaring stock prices, plunging Yen, rising GDP and exports, and most importantly, flat or declining bond yields, so far they have succeeded in carrying out three of the four, as it is physically impossible for any central planner to completely overrule the laws of math, economics and physics indefinitely. Volatility aside the recent surge in yields higher is finally starting to take its tool on domestic bond issuers. As Bloomberg reports, already two names have pulled deals from the jittery bond market due to "soaring" borrowing costs. The first is Toyota Industries which as NHK reported, canceled the sale of JPY20 billion debt. Toyota is among Japanese firms that put off selling debt as long-term yields on government debt have risen, increasing borrowing costs, public broadcaster NHK says without citing anyone. Last week JFE Holdings announced it would delay plans to sell bonds due to market volatility. So two names down... and the 10 Year is not even north of 1%... But perhaps, more importantly, what happens to JGB holdings as the benchmark Japanese government bond continues trading with the volatility of a 1999 pennystock, and as more and more VaR stops are hit, forcing even more holders to dump the paper out of purely technical considerations: a topic we touched upon most recently last week, and which courtesy of JPM, which looks back at exactly the same event just 10 years delayed, now has a name: VaR shocks. For those who wish to skip the punchline here it is: A 100bp interest rate shock in the JGB yield curve, would cause a loss of ¥10tr for Japan's banks.
We are all embarked upon a grand new adventure. It just hasn't been announced yet. It will never be officially announced but we will all get to play this brand new game in any event. Originally many had provided the name, "Currency Wars," to our new game but recent comments and subtle indications have invalidated the title. The new title is, "Global Thermonuclear Devaluation." The outward appearance will be a "Currency Wars" game but that is just a distraction. There are other motives afoot here and deviousness and distraction are always part of great political maneuvers. Devaluation by fiat may also lead to Deflation by fiat and then we may well all find ourselves on the Dark Side.
Not a day passes without the financial media denouncing gold as an investment option and hailing the bureaucrats heading the world's monopolist monetary central planning agencies as superheroes. It began prior to gold's recent breakdown, with widely cited bearish reports on gold published by Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, among others. Never mind that most of their arguments were easily unmasked as spurious. It should be no wonder though: gold's rise was the most conspicuous evidence of faith in central banking being slowly but surely undermined. The banking cartel relies on the fiat money system remaining intact; the legal privilege of fractional reserve banking provides it with what is an essentially fraudulent profit center unparalleled by any other in the world (fraudulent in terms of traditional legal principles, but not in terms of the current law of course). As a subtle reminder, in October (before the Nikkei began its 80% rally), a full 76% of the 'big money' fund managers surveyed declared themselves bearish on Japan. Currently, 69% of the managers surveyed in the most recent Barron's poll are bearish on gold.
Amid the sound and fury of yesterday's IRS hearing were a few small tidbits which raise significant questions about who knew what and when within the Obama administration. While getting the answer (the real honest truth) is highly unlikely, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the IRS's watchdog told top Treasury officials around June 2012 (when Republican lawmakers were complaining publicly about alleged IRS targeting of tea-party groups) he was investigating allegations the tax agency had targeted conservative groups, for the first time indicating that Obama administration officials were aware of the explosive matter in the midst of the president's re-election campaign. The revelation nonetheless raised a fresh set of questions about who was aware of the problem within the Obama administration. However, the hearing left numerous other fundamental questions unanswered, including who ordered the targeting and why it continued so long, pointing to a protracted investigation ahead as Rep. Paul Ryan exclaimed, "how can we not conclude that you misled this committee?" As Doug Ross' full timeline below suggests, this is fascism on the part of the IRS and White House...
We feel that now there is a Bermuda Triangle of economics - a space where everything tends to disappear without radar contact, a black hole in which rationality and science is replaced by hope, superstition and nonsense pundits pretending to understand the real drivers of the economy. The Bermuda Triangle in real life runs from Bermuda to Puerto Rico to Miami. The Economic Bermuda Triangle (EBT) one runs from high stock market valuations to high unemployment to low growth/productivity. There is a myth that the sunken Atlantis could be in the middle of this triangle. It has been renamed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to make it suit the black hole's main premise of ensuring there is a fancy name for what is essentially the same economic recipe: print and spend money, then wait and pray for better weather. The EBT is getting harder and harder to justify - if for nothing else because the constant reminders of crisis keep us all defensive and non-committed to investing beyond the next quarter. We all naively think we can exit the "risk-on" trade before anyone else. We are due for a new crisis. We have governments and central banks proactively pursuing bubbles. A long time ago, policymakers entered a one-way street where reversing is, if not illegal, then impossible.
Despite 'crashes' in the market, the demand for physical silver continues to rise. "Buyers are already outpacing sellers by a stunning 50-to-1 ratio. We are seeing the beginning of shortages; but this will only accelerate if Western governments continue with this raid on paper gold and silver."
There have been quite a few bold predictions, since the beginning of the year, that the dollar was set to soar and that the great "bond bull market" was dead. The primary thesis behind these views was that the economy was set to strengthen and inflation would begin to seep its way back into the system. Furthermore, the "Great Rotation" of bonds into stocks, on the back of said economic strength, would push interest rates substantially higher. While we have no doubt that at some point down the road that inflation will become an issue, interest rates will rise and the dollar will strengthen - it just won't be anytime soon. A wave of "disinflation" is currently engulfing the globe. The deflationary pressures that weigh on the consumer and the economy are likely going to keep downward pressure on rates for some time to come as the Fed comes to realize that they have been caught in the same "liquidity trap" that has plagued Japan for a generation. The real concern for investors, and individuals, is the actual economy.
70% of graduates had at least some debt according to the latest poll from Fidelity Investments but as the Wall Street Journal reports the average student-loan debt for a borrower who received a bachelor's degree in 2013 is $30,000 - an all-time record. With $986 billion of outstanding student loan debt (up 50% from Q1 2009) and unemployment rates running at or near all-time highs for the 16-24 year old cohort in this nation, it is little surprise that delinquencies are surging. The unemployment rate among graduates is 7.1% (which is considerably worse than it looks given that many are stuck in low-paid jobs) but it is those who don't complete college that face the greatest burden - the median annual income of a non-completer was $25,000 (compared to $33,900 for a degree holder), less than the average student loan debt. As the WSJ notes though, the 2013 class is unlikely to hold the 'most indebted class ever' title for long as 2014 enrollments and tuition costs look set to continue the 20 year trend...
The mistake Abe is making is to think the same trick that worked for the US will work for them. The problem, as Shirakawa no doubt realizes, is that the two country’s situations are not at all analogous, because the yen isn’t really a reserve currency in the same way the dollar is. There is no population of natural sovereign buyers who will be forced to print their own currency to mop up excess yen, as there is for the dollar. No sovereign is going to want to dramatically increase the allocations of their country’s reserves to the yen, not when it’s in the middle of being deliberately devalued, or really ever. Russia and China and Saudi Arabia don’t need any more yen, they have plenty. Oil isn’t priced in yen. Japan isn’t the world’s largest economy, or even its second largest. World trade isn’t conducted in yen. The emerging economies will just let it collapse. There is no natural sovereign sink for yen to drain into, as there is for the dollar, no group of buyers of last resort with bottomless pockets and no choice but to buy.
Now that the Federal Reserve has hired every single pennystock trader and momentum-chasing algo in the world (or at least is enjoying Citadel's helping hand in regards to the latter) it is time for the Fed's human resources department to branch out and fill those really important gaping holes.
Great job opportunity! Penetration Tester: rfer.us/FRS5ERsd.
— Federal Reserve Jobs (@FedReserveJobs) May 18, 2013
It was less than a month ago that the new Italian government of the pseudotechnocrat Letta, of Bilderberg 2012 and Aspen Institute fame, was voted in by a majority of the PD and the PDL parties (the latter agreeing so Berlusconi would get an extension of his much needed political immunity from assorted prison sentences). It may not last too long. As Reuters reports, it took just 20 days for Letta's approval rating to plunge by 25%, dropping from 43% at the start of the month to 34%, according to an SWG institute poll. It would appear the Italian people (unlike their Japanese peers who at least according to government-controlled media data could not be happier with PM Abe, supposedly because of the bubblelicious 50% rise in the Nikkei225 year to date, even though under 20% are actually invested in the stock market making one wonder just how credible polling, and all other data in Japan actually is) don't have Mrs. Watanabe's childish fascination wth soaring stock bubbles, sexy bonds, mini skirts and 2% inflation bras, and instead demand real economic results. Which also means the protests are back.
While it does have all the impromptu genuineness of a made for C-Span soap opera, the following exchange between Rep. Mile Kelly (PA) and the IRS' commissioner Miller was the highlight of yesterday's grilling of the IRS by the House Ways and Means committee, because rehearsed or not, it does capture the prevalent sentiment the US public harbors not only toward its tax collectors, but the government in general. "The IRS can do almost anything they want to anybody they want any time they want. This is very chilling for the American people.... This is a Pandora's box that has been opened.... This is a huge blow to the faith and trust the American people have in their government. Is there any limit to the scope of where you folks can go? Is there there any question that you should have asked: how much money do you have in your wallet, who do you get emails from, whose sign do you put up in your front yard: this ia tax question? The fact that you all can do just about anything you want to anybody: you can put anybody out of business any time you want.... I think the American people have seen what's going on right now in the their government. This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all Americans."