December 12th, 2012
Turkey’s trade balance may turn on whether President Barack Obama vetoes more stringent sanctions against Iran after the U.S. Senate passed a measure targeting loopholes in gold exports to the Islamic Republic. Turkey’s gold trade with neighbouring Iran has helped shrink its trade deficit over the past year according to Bloomberg. Incredibly, precious metals accounted for about half of the almost $21 billion decline. That’s calmed investor concern over its current-account gap, and helped persuade Fitch Ratings to give Turkey its first investment-grade rating since 1994. The U.S. Senate voted 94-0 on Nov. 30 to approve new sanctions against Iran, closing gaps from previous measures, including trade in precious metals. Obama, who opposes the move on the grounds it may undercut existing efforts to rein in the nation’s nuclear ambitions, signed an executive order in July restricting gold payments to Iranian state institutions. Turkey exported $11.9 billion of gold in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Ankara-based statistics agency’s website. A very large 85% of the shipments went to Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Iran is buying the gold with payments Turkey makes for natural gas it purchases in liras, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan told a parliamentary committee in Ankara on Nov. 23.
- Here come the low margin products: Apple Tests Designs for TV (WSJ)
- Obama and Republicans Trade Offers to Avert Fiscal Crisis (BBG)
- Carney broaches dumping inflation target (FT)
- Bernanke Critics Can’t Fight Bonds Showing No Inflation (BBG)
- Corporate Taxes on Table in Cliff Talks (WSJ)
- US business chiefs back tax rise (FT)
- Greece Confident Bond Buyback Needed for Aid Succeeded (BBG)
- New Faith in Europe's Banks (WSJ)
- European Bank Sees Little Room for Rate Cuts (WSJ)
- North Korea Claims Success in Rocket Launch (WSJ)
Today is probably the first day in a while in which minute-by-minute rumors on the Fiscal Cliff will not be on the frontburner (with yet another late day rumor yesterday of an imminent deal turning out to be a dud, when it was reported that Obama's latest grand compromise was to lower his initial tax hike demand from $1.6 to $1.4 trillion, or still $600 billion more than last summer's negotiated number), with Ben Bernanke and QE4 taking center stage instead. By now it is a foregone conclusion that Ben will proceed with extending Twist as first predicted here, into an unsterilized bond buying operation, in effect confirming that there has been zero improvement in the economy, as another $1 trillion is about to be injected until the end of 2013, and more trillions after that. The good thing is that all pretense that the Fed cares about anything but the market is now gone. The bad thing is that the Fed will continue to take over the capital markets until it and the other central banks are the only traders remaining. The only question is whether the market, now well into massively overbought territory, will fizzle and snap back after Bernanke's news announcement, and will QE4EVA (as we believe QE3+1, aka QEternity-er, should be called) have been fully priced in by the time it was announced?
The US dollar and yen remain soft. The news stream has encouraged the so-called risk-on trade. The Greek debt buyback appears to have gone well enough that it will get dollop of aid. Spain reportedly received 40 bln euros of bank aid. There seems to be a potential compromise banking supervision in Europe. On top of that, of course, the market expects the Federal Reserve to announce an expansion of its quantitative easing later today and keep the door open to further steps if necessary.
The dollar made new eight month highs against the yen, just shy of the JPY83 level. These dollar gains ahead of the FOMC meeting underscores one of our interpretative points that the old drivers of dollar-yen, like interest rate differentials and general risk appetite, have broken down, trumped by Mr Abe and his aggressive monetary and fiscal rhetoric.
Gold and silver are up 9.3% and 19% respectively so far this year – thereby outperforming many asset classes again in 2012.
In time, 2012 may be seen as a year of correction and consolidation for the precious metals after the sharp gains and record nominal highs seen in 2011.
There is a one way conveyor belt taking businesses, jobs and money out of this country.
“Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”--Treasury Secretary Jamie Dimon December 2011
Not the sudden apocalypse that the headline number promised, but of a depression that started in 2005
It seems not every nation's head of central banking believes in the Bernanke Doctrine of moar QE is better QE... Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan said Monday that quantitative easing is not a panacea, and added:
... there is a possibility that the process of deleveraging is disrupted by quantitative easing, leading to sharp increases in asset prices in the first place. Yet, since such increases are not supported by economic fundamentals, any increase in wealth will be seen as transient... (and asset prices might drop sharply and remain volatile). As a result, households are unwilling to increase spending and in the end, the real economy fails to rebound.
Now that is a rattling sabre. While markets for now are seemingly shrugging off this 'fly-by', we suspect the people of Okinawa were more than a little surprised:
NORTH KOREA LAUNCHED ROCKET AT 9:51 AM LOCAL TIME: YONHAP
N. KOREA ROCKET LAUNCHED IN SOUTHERLY DIRECTION,JAPAN GOVT SAYS
N. KOREA ROCKET PASSES OVER JAPAN'S OKINAWA, NHK SAYS
JAPAN GOVT: NO ORDER GIVEN TO SHOOT DOWN N.KOREA ROCKET
N. KOREA ROCKET EXPECTED TO FALL IN SEA EAST OF PHILIPPINES:NHK
What is most surprising is not the rocket launch: it was largely expected and overdue after the humiliation from the last one; it is that Korea has brazenly defied US warnings and the threat of sanctions just to make a rather meaningless political point. The imminent escalation in sanctions and N.Korea's response is what is the true variable here, confirmed by the markets who have not even blinked as a result of the rocket launch.
Last week we noted: "...when taking into account the recent slate of economic weakness, post-election we are likely to see many of the recent job gains revised away as the data aligns itself with overall economic activity...." Since that time jobless claims did indeed rise, and with the release of the November jobs report, we saw the previous two month's gains in employment revised down by a total of 49,000. What is important to remember is that the BLS only publishes revisions to the prior two months even though it has data for months prior. This is why the annual revisions to the employment data can be significant. Furthermore, given the weakness in the employment components of the major economic surveys, as shown by the composite employment index, we should expect to see negative revisions to the 2012 data employment data next year. While it is too early to say that employment has peaked for this current recovery cycle - there is mounting evidence that this may indeed be the case.
There is "no point" earning less in a minimum wage job is how Leanna Broderick - 20-year-old mother of two - justifies the benefits she claims adding that "she is better off on benefits" and would not get a job unless she could continue her luxury lifestyle, which includes designer outfits, holidays abroad, clubbing, lunches out and expensive gifts for her daughters Zelekah, two, and Zakirah, one. The UK's Daily Mail reports that Leanna saved GBP2,500 (~USD4,000) last year while living on GBP15,480 (~USD25,000) which she intends to spend on iPads and gold earrings for her kids - adding that "This way, taxpayers know I'm raising two well-brought-up kids." However, all is not rosy in Leanna's house as she fears next year may not be so lavish because of Government benefits cuts. "I'm not against the cuts, but only if the Government helps me find a job," she said, "In the meantime, I’ll stay on benefits and get as much as I can out of it."
The Fed is set to become considerably more dovish in 2013 and beyond as Evans and Rosengren become voting members. It seems unlikely that any new 'Bernanke' would drastically alter the Fed's path; and so we present the 'Doves' path to prosperity (in nominal terms). As BofAML notes, "More immediately, the doves largely support the idea that policy should be kept easy “for a considerable time” after the recovery is underway. Market participants thus should be cautious not to overreact to better near-term data: the Fed isn’t likely to turn notably more hawkish any time soon."
Minutes before Michigan Governor Snyder signed the 'Right-To-Work' bill into law, Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa appeared on CNN,as seen in the clip below, warning that: "This is just the first round of a battle that's going to divide this state. We're going to have a civil war," as the bill to weaken unions' power is passed.