Several months ago we pointed out something not fully grasped by the broader public: the Chinese corporate debt bubble is the largest of any developed and developing country, and at 151% of GDP (and rising rapidly) is the biggest in the world. What is better known is that corporate debt is just one part of the total debt picture, which also includes consumer loans, government debt and other "shadow debt" credit in the case of China. So how does China's true debt picture as a percentage of debt look? As the chart below from Goldman shows, in 2013 the total credit outstanding in China is expected to rise to a whopping 240% of GDP, and continue rising from there at an ever faster pace.
These are certainly days of miracle and wonder. Well, of absurd and extraordinary financial experimentation, at any rate. Last week, for example, saw the Bank of Japan abandon any last pretense of restraint and topple headfirst into a gigantic pile of monetary cocaine. It would be difficult to overstate the drama of this monetary stimulus (although we favour the word debauchery). Yet as the Japanese monetary authorities declare a holy war against deflation, it would only be fair to draw attention to the colossal opportunity being presented as the antidote to monetary intemperance, namely gold and gold miners. There is a clear mismatch between the prices of gold and silver mining shares and spot prices of gold and silver. But as to why the miners are trading so poorly relative to the physical is unclear to us.
The rattling of sabres grows louder as missile launchers are turned to the sky and launch-pads moved across North and South Korea. It appears the previous missile test-launch did not go so well...
The troubles in Cyprus have set off a new examination of the health of the eurozone, with a particular focus on which country might be next in line for a bailout and the extent to which shareholders and depositors will take losses when banks fail (bail-ins). As UK think-tank, OpenEurope notes, much of the attention has settled on two countries. Portugal, which has been propelled back into the headlines, with the country’s constitutional court recently ruling against some of the government’s EU-mandated budget cuts. Secondly, Slovenia, which is facing a massive banking crisis, in turn providing another potential testing ground for the eurozone’s vaguely defined ‘bail-in’ plans. OpenEurope provides a quick run-down of the key points to watch in each country.
A new twist in the neverending battle between Icahn and Ackman over the true value of Herbalife emerged moments ago when while reading from the criminal complaint filed against the charged former KPMG auditor Scott London, CNBC's Jane Wells cited an email from London to his "client" that "Herbalife was going to go private." Supposedly this means that Icahn is not just sitting there and twiddling his thumbs waiting for Ackman to be crushed under the weight of JCPenney, but that he, or someone else, is preparing an imminent LBO, if at least the data KPMG had until its resignation as HLF's auditor is credible. Why, however, an auditor would know what an equity investor's plans for the company are, remains unclear.
The money printing of the Federal Reserve with no anchor to gold has allowed the welfare state to grow to immense proportions. It has allowed politicians to buy votes by spending taxpayer dollars on multi-million dollar Keynesian zero return albatrosses. It has allowed politicians to enslave black people on a welfare plantation of entitlements. Bernanke and his cronies reward mal-investment through their policies. They reward bad behavior (borrowing & spending), while punishing good behavior (saving and investing). West Philly is a testament to failed economic policies, government waste, lack of personal responsibility, corrupt politicians, excessive union costs, and the delusional belief that government can create economic growth. The 30 Blocks of Squalor is descending further into squalor and it will accelerate as Bernanke’s policies further destroy what remains of capitalism in this country.
Following much anticipation that today's 30 Year would go off like gangbusters, and with the When Issued ripping to 2.990% at 1 PM, the final result was essentially a dud, with the high yield pricing at 2.998%, leading to a rather substantial tail of 0.8 bps. The internals were rather poor as well, with the Bid to Cover coming in well below the 12 TTM average of 2.62 at 2.49, the Directs taking down 19.2%, Dealers left with their usual average of 49.3%, but with Indirects, which is precisely where the Japanese bid would have materialized, ending with just 31.4% of the take down, well below the 42% in March, below the TTM of 35.4% and the lowest since October's 26.5%. So what gives? And was the surge in the USDJPY ahead of the auction unwarranted? It would appear so. But where are the Japanese FI outflows going then? Simple - it seems that at least one group of buyers has ignored Pimco and BlackRock's advice, and instead has allocated all their "rotating" cash into high yielding Italian and Spanish bonds to capitalize on the EURJPY carry trade. What can possibly go wrong? We will let Mr. Jon Corzine explain that to Mrs. Watanabe...
The 'most shorted' names in the Russell 3000 are up a remarkable 1.4% today compared to 0.45% in the index itself. The short-squeeze off the NFP gap-down lows is impressive indeed. From the open last Friday, the 'most short' names are up 6.6% against the index up only 3.5% as the dash for trash continues in the face of increasingly dismal data. The last 2 times that the 'most short' index was this squeezed relative to the index was late-December (before the equity dip) and mid-Fed (before the equity dip). Just as we warned here and here, the inexorable flow of easy money means the dash-for-trash (as remarkably ridiculous as it seems - though as now know nothing is allowed to fail ever again) has been the winning trade; though as we note below, there is a limit to the 'squeezability' and we appear to be there in the short term.
Manipulation and carefully crafted distortion erode trust, not just in the individuals employed to repeat the lies but in the institutions that issue them. The ruthless pursuit of self-interest is now the norm; truth is a terribly risky disruptor that must be hidden, masked or countered with plausible lies. There can be no trust if there is no truth. How can we trust people who lie to us constantly, who issue one self-serving justification after another for their own parasitic predation? We cannot. The premium in America has shifted from truth to self-serving distortion, and from trust to manipulation. This spiritual and moral rot will end gloriously, have no doubt, for the stock market's permanent ascendancy dissolves all other narratives.
The Japanese government bond market has been cataclysmicly volatile in the last few days since the BoJ shifted from words to action - with an average daily range 8-times normal. But, as a rather famous rates desk trader recently noted, if there is a real "Japan Panic" trade, it will make itself evident at 1pm ET today. His reasoning is impeccable. The BoJ has embarked on a program where it will be buying 'more' long-maturity bonds than the government issues (at around $80bn equivalent per month, ad infinitum, in a nation, that we pointed out here, has a GDP that is 40% of the US.) This surge in liquidity, which as is well known across the G-7 is completely fungible (within and across all bank balance sheets), has to leak somewhere, and the 30Y US Treasury bond is now the highest-yielding 'safe asset'. However, the Fed is monetizing vast amounts of US Treasuries indirectly and so the only way for a large Japanese investor to buy enough to make a difference is at the auctions. And so, if the 30Y auction today prints with a large "negative tail" - inside of the WI - then it would go a long way to confirm the "Japan Panic" trade is on.
In what may be the most appropriate chart to summarize not only the entire US "recovery", the "all time high stock market" and the daily newsflow, we present the number of jobs for those in the motion picture and sound recording industries, i.e, those who "make stuff up." It just hit a record high. And with "circus" jobs at all time highs, we can only assume jobs for makers of bread, if the BLS actually broke it out, would be off the charts as well. We will just leave it at that.
While budgets are thrown around that tax wealth in every way possible and transfer payments are ever-increasing, it seems the post-election euphoria among the poor in the USA has worn off just as rapidly as it did in 2008. Bernanke's irrational exuberance has pushed the 'comfort' of the 'rich' (earning over $100k) to its highest since October 2010 while the comfort of the 'poor' (those earning under $15k per year) has slumped back to the lowest comfort in three months. We need moar wealth transfer.
If weak PC sales throughout 2012 were blamed on expectations for Windows 8, now it is the turn to blame weak PC sales on Windows 8 "lukewarm reception" disappointment. Just never the economy, and the fact that there just is no actual end demand. "Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," is how IDC describes the utter collapse in PC Shipments in Q1 2013. Against a forecast -7.7%, the worldwide shipment of PCs collapsed -13.9% to a mere 76.3 million units. This is the fourth consecutive quarter of declines and is the worst quarter since records began in 1994. Interestingly, Europe did not do as bad as expected (though the consumer was worse) but the US and AsiaPac (Ex Japan) both plunged more than expected. Lenovo has almost closed the gap to HP as the world's leading supplier after HP's shipments fell a stunning 23% in Q1. HP opened -7.5% and MSFT -4.3%.