November 28th, 2012
Have you ever wondered what the typical Chinese gold investor thinks about our Western ideas of gold? We read month after month about demand hitting record after record in their country – how do they view our buying habits? Since 2007, China's demand for gold has risen 27% per year. Its share of global demand doubled in the same time frame, from 10% to 21%. And this occurred while prices were rising. Americans are buying precious metals, no doubt. But let's put the differences into perspective.
The schizophrenia in US equity markets (and by correlation all risk markets) is nowhere better highlighted than the last 24 hours of 2% swings in the S&P 500 on nothing more than boiler-plate comments from DC. However, as BofAML's Ethan Harris notes, "the year-end fiscal challenges in the US are more like an 'obstacle course' than a 'cliff' - politicians must navigate about 10 major policy decisions before year-end." We continue to expect a messy multistage deal on the cliff - with some wishy-washy partial deal late December and more complete resolution (as it will be called) late Spring. We agree with BoFAML's view that until then, we suggest that investors fade the likely “press fakes” of an imminent deal, and brace for downside volatility. It seems to us that the negotiations remains stuck at square one.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report. Many believe the BRICS countries are interested in creating these institutions because they are increasingly dissatisfied by Western dominated institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
This morning, Goldman announced their 10 Themes for the year. The succinct summation of them (which we will discuss later in more depth) is that: there'll be some volatility on the way but in the end it will all be unicorns and faeries (our translation). In line with these global forecasts, everyone's favorite contrarian FX strategist updated his short- and long-term FX projections. So presented with little comment are Tom Stolper's guide to stop-hunting and fading the crowd. High conviction ideas such as AUD weakness, JPY stability, and a 1.40 EURUSD stood out to us.
Politics and economics, or the better term, political economics, for the most part rules our lives: the political activity of the nation as a collective of economic groups and super- wealthy individuals, whatever the defining orthodoxy turns out to be. As the United States enters the final days in the much-hoped resolution of its “fiscal cliff,” there are a number of prominent individuals from both present and past – politicians, economists and business leaders – who regale us with their two-cent worth of admonition and advice. For the most part, that’s what the value is really worth. Meantime, here is the American citizenry reverting to their pre-recession days, with the highest confidence level in four and a half years, starting to spend beyond their capacity to produce thanks to that misplaced confidence, the resurgence of home equity loans, and the promise of governing politicians that things are on the mend... when they really are not, and the job market continues to decay for jobs with a living wage.
A glimpse at stock prices, sovereign bond prices, and credit spreads and you could be forgiven for believing that (a la Juncker) Europe has turned the corner. The dismal reality is that one by one, market-based signals have been decoupled from reality by repression or plain old jawboning and squeezing. The picture of real fundamentals is considerably worse as these three charts from Bloomberg Briefs show. The Good (financial conditions index at multi-year highs) is merely a reflection of the ECB's transfer of risk and support (and is obviously hindered by the acknowledged failure of transmission mechanisms; which leads to the bad - both consumer and business confidence has decoupled (in a bad way) from markets. All this market-based hope is predicated on eventual joint-and-several-ness and an ECB backstop that seems more promise than premise; the ugly is that Germany (cash-money for the rest of the Euro-slaves) has seen six months in a row of manufacturing orders plunge and nine of the last eleven. Markets aside, fundamental realities suggest yet another hope-based rally due to be faded.
While we are very far gone at the moment as a society, never forget there are millions of people out there fighting for what is right and we will succeed in ushering in a new and more positive era for life on earth. These 11 minutes are well worth your time.
Read this to mean: We're gonna take some lumpy losses.
Equity indices bounced off re-coupled gold performance after Boehner's 'nothing' led into European close pump which was supported by Obama's 'nothing' then pumped for one last stop-run over recent highs thanks to another 'nothing' from WSJ's Hilsenrath. Remarkable! A 2% rise off the day's lows moved us well above the recent Reid-top. Risk assets in general were far less exuberant as stocks really stepped up the decoupling after around 1300ET. AAPL ended red, bumped up against its closing VWAP and sold off every time; VIX traded from 17% highs to 15.5% at the close; and HYG plunged into the close to end the day unchanged (on huge volume). Today appeared very much a catch-up day for stocks to a number of asset-classes that were not sold hard yesterday - the recoupling is complete now.
Five years ago, every American would have considered a trillion-dollar budget deficit a national tragedy. If you believe the CNBC parrot show, NOT having a trillion-dollar deficit is now a sure sign of the Apocalypse. I speak of course of the cleverly dubbed “Fiscal Cliff,” which panicked CNBC apologists are required to mention no less than 5,000 times a day. Creating the illusion of economic growth is easy if you can print money. It’s a prank you can play on an entire country. Cut the value of the currency in half and the economy’s size will appear to double. If it doesn’t, you’re in recession (whether you know it or not). Cavemen probably understood this concept better than America’s best economic minds.
In the pre-market this morning, Gold had outperformed the S&P 500 by over 200bps for the month. By the close today (month-end settlement T-3) - given how synchronized gold and stocks have become - Gold and the S&P 500 will be perfectly unchanged for the month. Whether this morning's plunge in Gold (and rip in stocks) was the unwind of a major hedged position (or vice versa) is unclear - but the coincident reaction around the election suggests today's Gold move (and stock move) had a lot to do with each other - no matter how much they are blamed on cliff schizophrenia...
"A great civilization is not conquered from without, until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars." A number of sources list this as a quote, but it is a synthesis of the Epilogue "Why Rome Fell". It is valid then as well as now. America as we know it won't collapse, but Americans have been unusually successful in dealing with "bureaucratic despotism". They will be successful again. Bankruptcy of another experiment in bureaucratic despotism will prompt a refreshing turn to reform of bullying politics. What we have now is an 'Ineptocracy'.
Americans Have Less Access to Justice than Botswanans … And Are More Abused By Police than KazakhstanisSubmitted by George Washington on 11/28/2012 15:57 -0400
U.S. Scores Towards the Bottom of All North American and Western European Nations
Pathway to depression.