WGC stresses that when looking at the effects of variables like money supply and inflation on the gold price, it is important to look at the global economy, and not concentrate only on what is happening in the US. After the start of the financial crisis in 2007, many governments and central banks in the world implemented monetary and fiscal policies to help their economies, but these policies have led to a large increase in the global money supply.
More and more Asian nations — led by China and Russia — have ditched the dollar for bilateral trade (out of fear of dollar instability). Tension rises between the United States and Asia over Syria and Iran. The Asian nations throw more and more abrasive rhetoric around — including war rhetoric. And on the other hand, both Obama and Romney — as well as Hillary Clinton — seem dead-set on ramping up the tense rhetoric. Romney seems extremely keen to brand China a currency manipulator. In truth, both sides have a mutual interest in sitting down and engaging in a frank discussion, and then coming out with a serious long-term plan of co-operation on trade and fiscal issues where both sides accept compromises — perhaps Asia could agree to reinvest some of its dollar hoard in the United States to create American jobs and rebuild American infrastructure in exchange for a long-term American deficit-reduction and technology-sharing agreement? So the future, I think, will more likely involve both sides jumping off the cliff into the uncertain seas of trade war, currency war, default-by-debasement, tariffs, proxy war and regional and global political and economic instability.
"Europe looks as bad as we thought it would, but our US economic outlook was too optimistic" is how JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest describes the recent environment (adding that US equities have stayed relatively stable thanks to resilient corporate profits and a ton of liquidity). However, with negative pre-announcements mounting (and corporate cash piles startiong to burn a little), we suspect the unusual disconnect between profits and economics will end soon enough. As the following two charts show, when US economic data has been generally sub-par (as exemplified by the plunge in Citigroup's economic surprise indicator), US equities have deteriorated notably in the past. For now, it appears there is a 15-20% disconnect in the S&P' 500's performance relative to the real economy's performance - and the current 'hope' gap looks extremely similar to last summer's before reality set in.
Last week the biggest point of contention in the testimony of Bob Diamond before the House of Commons Treasury Committee was who told him what, and when, with a special circle in hell saved for the BOE's Paul Tucker, who was alleged to have explicitly ordered Barclays to lower its fixing (which as was shown last week had a pretty dramatic impact on the bank's self-reported LIBOR rate). In a few short moments, Tucker himself will be in the hot chair, where an emphasis will be on the emails he sent to Bob Diamond which we presented previously, and whether he acted alone in "nudging" the bank to represent itself as strong than it otherwise would. Watch the full webcast of Tucker's testimony after the jump.
The politics of the EU summit appear quite tense, and as JPMorgan's CIO Michael Cembalest notes, you have to wonder if this is how monetary unions are made or broken: by strong-arming the Chancellor of the country primarily expected to fund the Euro’s survival. In order to better comprehend the shenanigans, Michael provides an aerial view of the summit and how these maneuvers played out. The next move is Germany’s.
Fed Forces Primary Dealers To Buy Ever More Short-Dated Paper As Corporate Bond Holdings Drop To Decade LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/09/2012 - 10:53
Earlier today, Bloomberg came out with an article titled "Dealers Declining Bernanke Twist Invitation" in which the authors make the claim that "Wall Street banks are increasingly choosing to hoard their U.S. bonds rather than sell them to the Federal Reserve as speculation grows that a slowing economy and global financial turmoil will only make them more dear." As the argument, Bloomberg points out ever lower Bids To Cover in the near-daily sterilized POMOs that the Fed conducts as part of Twist, which actually is a meaningful if very volatile argument and which may be far more impacted by how much money the New York Fed is letting banks skim off the margin in daily POMOs as ZH has discussed previously. More impotantly, BBG notes the record holdings of Treasury bonds by Primary Dealers (something we too did a month ago). It even goes on to quote 'serious people' - "People are not willing to sell Treasuries" said Thanos Bardas, a managing director in Chicago at Neuberger Berman LLC, which oversees about $89 billion in fixed-income assets, in a June 28 telephone interview. "The data in the U.S. doesn’t look as good. The labor market has lost momentum. There will be more upside left in Treasuries despite the low levels of rates." All this would be correct if it wasn't for one small detail: the distribution of UST holdings within the Dealer inventory. As we have repeatedly shown, once one looks at just what Dealers hold, the story flips diametrically. In fact, according to the most recent Primary Dealer data released by the FBRNY (as of June 27), of the $106 billion in Dealer Treasury holdings, a whopping 78% are in the 3 Years and under category, in other words precisely what the Fed is selling to the Dealers per Twist!
The sole driver of risk in the past 3 years has been nothing but continued pumping of liquidity into markets by central banks: aka the Global Central Bank Put. How does this look visually? The below summary charts showing global balance sheet expansions should blow everyone's minds.
The terrible trinity of a China harder-than-soft landing, a European depression/crisis, and now a US slowdown are all tied together in a burdensome bow by Punk Economics' David McWilliams in his latest must-watch macro clip. While people apparently still worship at the alter of retail, the Irishman notes that they are missing these three oncoming trucks. From the Politburo paniccing as "since dropping its Maoist fundamentals, the only legitimacy it has is growth" with "prosperity (not equality) for all" the latest slogan as he rhetorically asks "what's the Chinese for 'it's the economy stupid" as he notes that despite two rate cuts in a month, the problem is too much capacity (so building more simply makes things worse) - pushing commodities down. He rotates to the US where Obama's election-critical recovery is fading away noting the current impotence of the Fed to fix things in the real world. As the much-hyped recovery evaporates in the US, the euphoria of the latest EU Summit has vanished and McWilliams dives into the details of the desperate to-and-from between Germany and its neighbors (adding that France is economically all mouth and no trousers) "either Germany pays for everyone or the Euro falls apart" as he explains the dilemma facing massive refinancing needs of Italy and Spain with little to no growth and illiquidity - with German savings the ultimate arbiter (though poltically impossible given Merkel's election next year). "Even if the Germans paid for everything right now... it still wouldn't solve the core competiveness problem" leaving the world indeed stuck between a German rock and a global hard place. Eight minutes well spent for a succinct world view - and its not encouraging.
The French were willing to 'slash' retirement ages by a few days as the Greeks tied property tax payments to electricity supply in an effort to raise revenues but it seems the much-talked about austerity that is such a great hardship for Europe's non-German/Fins/Dutch is missing in action. Today we hear of the progress in Italy as la Republica explains the incredible provocation of the under-secretary of the economy Gianfranco Polillo that: "We are in a country where you work an average of nine months each year, and I think that now we must think that these nine months of work are too short," suggesting - shock, horror - that "if we gave up one week of vacation, we would have an immediate impact on GDP of around 1%". First of all - adding 1% from an additional week seems a 'stretch' but nevertheless as Wirtschaftsfacts notes that these comments only "reinforce the prejudices in the northern countries of the euro zone, that many employees are in the southerners lazy and workshy." So the next time we hear Monto proclaiming the need for Zee Germans to step up or the ECB to monetize, it is clear now what exactly he is protecting - his all-year tan!
When that canned remarks by Fed Doves is all that is left as a hope-based upside "risk catalyst", as was just defined by Citi's Steven Englander, things are really sad for those who have to justify their excess testosterone by trading every uptick (Econ Ph.D. dissertation on the topic most certainly in progress).
With a few hours until BoE's Paul Tucker takes the stand, the venerable institution has finally acquiesced to the Freedom of Information Act request from British MP John Mann and released all copies of emails and transcripts of telephone conversations between Tucker and Bob Diamond between 10/1/08 and 11/30/08. The emails make for some fascinating reading when one considers the sources of the conversation. The thrust of the discussion is Tucker's concern at UK Libor rates being considerably higher than US - especially as US rates were dropping; Tucker's 'shock' at the cost of funding for Barclays' government-guaranteed debt; and finally the explanation/admission for why the BoE's liquidity hosepipe was not fixing the solvency problem in British banks - a lack of eligible collateral. Smoking gun maybe; nail in the coffin of independent Central Banks for sure; hangings in the streets - we are not so sure.
Back in January, an article by Reuters' head financial blogger on the topic of the Greek bond restructuring, which effectively said that Greeks have all the leverage, prompted us to pen Subordination 101 (one of the year's most read posts on Zero Hedge), in which we patiently explained why his proposed blanket generalization was completely wrong, and why litigation arbitrage in covenant heavy UK-law bonds would be precisely the way to go into the Greek restructuring. 4 months later, those who listened to us made a 135% annualized return by getting taken out in Greek UK-law bonds at par, whereas those who listened to Reuters made, well nothing. What is amusing, is that such examples of pseudo-contrarian sophistry for the sake of making a statement, any statement, or better known in the media world as generating "page views", no matter how ungrounded in financial fact, especially from recent Loeb award winners, is nothing new. To wit, we go back to May 29, 2008 where courtesy of the same author, in collaboration with another self-proclaimed Twitter pundit, we read "Defending Libor" in which the now Reutersian and his shoulder-chipped UK-based academic sidekick decide that, no Carrick Mollenkamp and Mark Whitehouse's then stunning and quite incendiary discoveries on Liebor are actually quite irrelevant, and are, to use the parlance of our times, a tempest in a teapot. His conclusion: "What the WSJ has done is come up with a marginally interesting intellectual conundrum: why is there a disconnect between CDS premia, on the one hand, and Libor spreads, on the other? But the way that the WSJ is reporting its findings they seem to think they’re uncovering a major scandal. They’re not." Actually, in retrospect, they are.
All of the time wasted on firewalls and great deceptions worked in the short term but the height of a fence does nothing to help a horse or a nation which is sick inside them. Europe has vastly overspent and tried their best to whitewash the financials of the countries and the European banks and now, and each quarter out for some time; we are going to see a worsening financial landscape for the European nations and their banks. This will not be Armageddon or the end of the world but it is going to be quite painful and have a decided impact on the United States and perhaps the scaring may be deep. In Europe that have mouthed so much nonsense for such a long period of time that they have come to believe in what they have manufactured. This is not uncommon historically but the depth and breadth of it is without comparison. Germany says one thing to placate France and Italy believes the drivel that is touted by the Netherlands and now Greece wants the ECB to forgive their $238 billion in Greek debts on the basis of a united Europe, which would bankrupt the ECB, and then it becomes clear that someone has to pay for all of this and countries start banging on the doors of the asylum to get out. Listen carefully; the banging has begun and will grow loader and more raucous during the balance of the year.
Last week it was the Fairness Distributor In Chief threatening China with WTO action over its unfair duties on US car imports. Before that it was Europe trying to protect its crumbling trade at all costs with its primary trade partner. Now, it is China's turn to retort to the world's beggars, and all those who just happen to ravenously import its iWares with the reckless abandon of a gadget junkie. FT reports: "Beijing has threatened swift retaliation against a range of European Union industries if Brussels presses ahead with an investigation into government subsidies granted to two Chinese telecoms equipment companies. The Chinese threat was delivered at a meeting with EU trade officials in Beijing late last month that was arranged at the behest of Chen Deming, China’s commerce minister, to try to defuse a brewing trade dispute that is straining commercial relations between the two sides. Instead, it collapsed into acrimony, with the Chinese warning their EU visitors that they would respond to any investigation of Huawei and ZTE Corp by probing subsidies granted to European agriculture, automotive, renewable energy and telecoms companies. “Put it this way: it’s not like they went for a beer after and watched football,” one person briefed on the meeting said." None of this is new: recall China Lays Out Conditions Under Which It Will Bail Out Europe; Does Not Want To Be Seen As "Source Of Dumb Money" in which Li Daokui "added that Beijing might also ask European leaders to refrain from criticising China’s currency policy, a frequent source of tension with trade partners." Looks like we can scrap those "China bails out Europe" (ignore the fact that the Chinese economy itself is imploding for a second) rumor in perpetuity.
European equities have been grinding lower throughout the European morning, with basic materials seen underperforming following the release of a multi-month low Chinese CPI figure, coming in at 2.2%, below the expected 2.3% reading. The focus in Europe remains on the Mediterranean periphery, as weekend reports from Spanish press suggest that the heavily weighted Valencia region may be pressed into default unless it receives assistance from the central government. The sentiment is reflected in the Spanish debt market today, with the long-end of the curve showing record high yields, and the 10-yr bond yield remaining elevated above the 7% mark. News from an EU council draft, showing that Spain is to be given extra time to meet its deficit targets did bring the borrowing costs off their session highs, but they do remain stubbornly high at the North American crossover. The gap between the core European nations and their flagging partners continues to widen, as Germany sell 6-month bills at a record low of -0.0344%. As such, the 10-yr government bond yield spread between the Mediterranean and Germany is seen markedly wider on the day.