Those curious if the Indian Rupee cratered once again in overnight trading will be disappointed: following the previously reported intervention by the RBI in which it would provide US dollars only to crude companies, the currency rose strongly at the open only to fade and trade rangebound before closing in the mid 67 range. In other words, much more will be needed by the central bank to stabilize the currency, the markets and the economy. The main overnight story, however, remains the Syrian conflict and market reactions to it. Stocks traded higher in Europe early today, with credit spreads tightening as market participants scaled back expectations of an imminent strike on Syria after US Defense Secretary Hagel said that the US will act on Syria only with international collaboration. Of note, the G-20 is set to take place next week where Syria is widely expected to be the hot topic for discussion among global world leaders. But while futures ramped in early trade following a spike in the USDJPY over 98, they have since retraced most of their upside, and crude is back to nearly unchanged.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that US forces are "ready to go" if the administration decides to strike against alleged Syrian chemical weapon use. As Bloomberg notes in the infographic below, US Navy guided missile destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea are within range of Syrian targets.. and the ships have a combined inventory of more than 200 cruise missiles. On the other side, the Syrian Air Defense system is very robust, and as Stratfor notes, with an estimated 54,000 personnel, Syria's air defense network is twice the size of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's air force. Here is the Syrian theater of operations...
Punishing a moral obscenity flaccidly, with token military action, would constitute a diplomatic mistake of the first order. That's Negotiations Theory 101. Once you commit yourself publicly to some action, you have to keep that commitment or risk becoming a laughing-stock. Failing to follow through disheartens your constituents and allies. And what adversary, present or future, will take you seriously the next time you want to coerce or deter? That's a reputation no political leadership should want. Savvy diplomats and elected leaders are very sparing with absolute rhetoric. Not just the enemy but allies, friends, and bystanders around the world - not to mention ordinary citizens - measure their deeds by their words. No one wants to be known as the leader who fought for justice halfheartedly. Take it from Truman and Bush.
"Banging the close," is hardly a new 'event' but the ubiquity with which it is occurring around 4pm GMT (when major FX market benchmarks known as 'WM/Reuters rates' are set) is prompting authorities to investigate potential abuse of these benchmarks by the major banks. From Libor to ISDAFix and from base-and-precious metals to energy markets, adding the largest markets in the world - foreign exchange - to the banks' pernicious manipulations does not seem like a stretch. Critically, benchmark providers base daily valuations of indexes spanning different currencies on the 4 p.m. WM/Reuters rates (which in turn drives derivative settlements and triggers). Stunningly, the same pattern - a sudden surge minutes before 4pm in London on the last trading day of the month, followed by a quick reversal - occurred 31% of the time across 14 FX pairs over 2 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For the most frequently traded pairs, such as EURUSD, it happened about half the time! U.S. regulators have sanctioned firms for banging the close in other markets; we await the results of the current probe...
How do markets (US equities, Gold, Crude Oil, and the USD) react around US military conflicts...? Citi shows what happened before-and-after the Gulf War, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya... and why Syria is arguably more complex than these previous conflicts...
Presenting The Numerous, Undisputed And Very Clear Signs That India's Currency Was Set For An Epic CrashSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 - 20:45
Citizens of India have been watching, in stunned amazement, as over the past month the local currency has lost an unprecedented 15% of its value, with a record plunge taking place just last night. And, as so often happens, the population habituated to a government "acting in its best interests" is asking itself - how could we have possibly known this was coming. The answer, as usually happens, was staring everyone right in the face. As Grant Williams shows in his latest "Things That Make You Go Hmm", the warnings came loud and clear, and were very explicit in the form of not one, not two, not ten, but many more sequentially imposed and escalating forms of capital controls by the Indian central bank that sought to prevent the conversion of paper into hard currency. Gold.
The current external environment and consequence of past policies are limiting options for EM nations (most specifically Indonesia and India). Citi believes the best they can do now is to smooth the (inevitable) macro adjustment (weaker FX, higher risk premiums, slower growth) through improved policy credibility (to curb volatility and overshooting) and find offsets to portfolio flows to ease the pressure. The 4 choices of various rocks and hard places do not hold much hope for anything but further FX devaluation. As Citi's Matt King points out, what goes up (in terms of Emerging Market central bank FX reserves) risks coming back down with a thud... and in case you were wondering why India, Turkey, and Indonesia were the most-hammered...
While most of the country is obsessing over Miley Cyrus, the Obama administration is preparing a military attack against Syria which has the potential of starting World War 3. In fact, it is being reported that cruise missile strikes could begin "as early as Thursday". The Obama administration is pledging that the strikes will be "limited", but what happens when the Syrians fight back? What happens if they sink a U.S. naval vessel or they have agents start hitting targets inside the United States? Then we would have a full-blown war on our hands. Could this be the beginning of a chain of events that could eventually lead to a massive global conflict with Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other? Of course it will not happen immediately, but we fear that what is happening now is setting the stage for some really bad things... Let us hope that cooler heads prevail before things spin totally out of control.
Nigeria, Africa's top oil-producing nation, has a problem - too much money in its sovereign wealth fund and no idea what to do with it. Have no fear though, for as Reuters reports, Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Credit Suisse have kindly responded (to emails from long-lost cousins?) and will be allowed to managed 20% of Nigeria's $1 billion fund (which is meant to cushion against oil price shocks - good timing?) This should come as no surprise to Zero Hedge readers as we have been discussing Africa as the only place left in the world capable of incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth). There are consequences (the boom-bust cycle) to this politically-motivated capital inflow; but for now the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) states (in a reassuring manner) that the banks will invest "the fund's assets conservatively, with capital preservation in nominal terms being of primary importance," which 'nominally' fits with UBS managing their Treasury exposure and GS and CS their corporate debt exposures.
BREAKING: Obama: US has 'concluded' that Syrian government carried out chemical weapons attack.
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 28, 2013
The letter below was sent a short while ago by House Speaker John Boehner to the president, voicing the Republican's displeasure with the Commander In chief, and criticizing the level of consultation about a potential military strike as well as demanding a clear explanation of any mission in advance of its start. Sadly, since not even Obama is quite clear why his Wall Street-based advisors demand that the US rush head first into this deficit-boosting campaign (and whose primary purpose as we have been explaining for a month is to make the Untaper possible), we doubt Boehner will get a response. Separately, as the WSJ reports, 114 House lawmakers— 97 Republicans and only 17 Democrats— have signed a letter calling on Mr. Obama to seek congressional authorization before embarking on military action in Syria. We suspect that 17 would have been substantially greater if the president engaging in unauthorized war had a last name beginning with "Buh" and ending in "Oosh."
Earlier we showed one indicator of the US investor's (should they exist anymore) loss of interest in the Federal-Reserve-sponsored equity market - i.e. CNBC ratings at 20-year lows. In the interest of being more fair-and-balanced we present anther perspective... US equity trading volume in August of 2013 is the lowest on average in 16 years... and all-time highs, middle-east war, taper, weak macro, housing un-recovery, German elections, Asian FX crisis will do little to improve that risk-appetite for the retiring boomer army.
"Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is acting as underwriter of the offering. We and the Selling Stockholders have entered into an underwriting agreement with the underwriter. Subject to the terms and conditions of the underwriting agreement, the Selling Stockholders have agreed to sell to the underwriter, and the underwriter has agreed to purchase 39,075,771 shares of common stock at a price of $12.60 per share, which will result in $492,354,715 of aggregate proceeds to the Selling Stockholders before expenses. The underwriter is committed to purchase all the common shares offered by the Selling Stockholders if it purchases any shares."
Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
- Interview with Charlie Savage, December 20, 2007
With crude prices at multi-year highs and India promising to save its oil companies it is perhaps not entirely surprising that all the attention in this opposite world pushed the Energy sector (most notably the biggest names) to lead the market higher on low volumes today. Sadly, Chevron and Exxon accounted for 40 of the Dow's 48 point gain and the S&P energy sector gained an impressive 1.8% as the rest sat around close to unchanged (and Staples lower). Treasuries began selling off from the Asian open last night with the belly 6-7bps higher in yield on the day (-3-5bps on the week)... But 330RAMP was missing as all indices gave back considerable gains into the close with Trannies red (and S&P at its 100DMA again).