Europe is becoming quite strange. The World is becoming quite strange. A politician gets up and speaks and says nothing, no one listens to what he said, then he is roundly congratulated for his bold words that were heard by no one and then everyone disagrees with what they think he might have said. The Continent seems to be in a dream-state where the worse it gets; the better it is because the ECB will be drawn in and provide liquidity like the ever-after will provide Redemption. I am not sure America is any better actually. In the United States we admit we are printing money while in Europe they “print and deny” but the outcome is about the same. Economic and fiscal reality is a thing of the past as the world’s Central Banks will provide manna, sustenance and well-being.
The "mañana" approach to fiscal management, that Spain is known for, presented what is generally perceived as overly optimistic growth forecasts for 2013 and lacked details on structural reform resulted in another risk off session. As a result, Spanish stocks continued to underperform (IBEX seen lower by over 5% on the week), with 10y bond yield spread wider by around 12bps as market participants adjusted to higher risk premia. The state is due to sell 2s and 5s next week, which may also have contributed to higher yields. As a reminder, Moody’s review on Spain is set to end today, however there is a chance that the ratings agency may extend the review for another couple of months or wait until the stress test results are published to make an announcement. In other news, according to sources, Greece could return to its European partners for a Spanish-style rescue of its banking sector, as the country is looking to ease the burden via another writedown of its debts or a strong recapitalisation of its banks (no official response as yet). Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest PCE data, as well as the Chicago PMI report for the month of September.
Gold reached highs in euros and Swiss francs yesterday, in London trading it hit EUR 1,379.60/oz compared to EUR 1,375/oz last September. In Swiss Francs gold traded at CHF 1,666/oz. Europeans have been viewing scenes of violence and riots from protestors in Madrid and Athens over the past few days. Barclays Plc. announced yesterday it was opening its own London vault to store gold and other precious metals due to demand from their clients. Investment banks have readjusted price targets upward in the past few days with some calling for gold at $2,000 and higher in the next few months. This signals that the recent rally of the euro against the dollar was largely due to the poor US monetary and fiscal situation and the greenback’s weakness and not due to any great confidence in the single currency per se.
- China accuses Bo Xilai of multiple crimes, expels him from communist party (Reuters), China seals Bo's fate ahead of November 8 leadership congress (Reuters)
- "Dozens of phone calls on days, nights and weekends" - How Bernanke Pulled the Fed His Way - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- Fed won't "enable" irresponsible fiscal policy-Bullard (Reuters)
- PBOC Adviser Says Easing Restrained by Concerns on Homes (Bloomberg)
- Data Point to Euro-Zone Recession (WSJ)
- Fiscal cliff dims business mood (FT)
- FSA to Oversee Libor in Streamlining of Tarnished Rates (Bloomberg)
- Monti Says ECB Conditions, IMF Role Hinder Bond Requests (Bloomberg)
- Japan Heads for GDP Contraction as South Korea Weakens (Bloomberg)
- Moody’s downgrades South Africa (FT)
- Madrid Struggles With Homage to Catalonia (WSJ)
Those confused by yesterday's rapid move higher in stocks, which fizzled by day's end, which was catalyzed by the non-event of the Spanish budget declaration which will prove to be a major disappointment as all such announcement are fated to be, can take solace in the following summary by DB's Jim Reid: "Yesterday's risk rally on the back of the 2013 budget announcement coincided with a trend seen over the last couple of years of rallies into month and quarter ends. We'll probably get a clearer picture of underlying sentiment by early next week with the new quarter starting, especially as it commences with a bang with the Global PMI numbers on Monday." In this vein, tonight's overnight sentiment showing weakness confirms yesterday's move was one which merely used Spain as a buying catalyst without reading anything into it. Because an even cursory read through shows major cracks. Sure enough the sellside readthroughs appeared this morning: "In our view the Spanish 2013 budget is based on a too optimistic GDP growth assumption" from Citi. Once again, the market shot first, and asks questions later, as the weakness in the futures confirms, EURUSD retracing all overnight gains, and Spain now 1.6% lower on this, as well as uncertainty of today's latest non-event - the local bank stress test vers 304.2b - whose results will be announce at noon NY time, and which just may find Bankia (and its Spiderman towel collection) is quite solvent once again.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon famously advised President Hoover to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate” instead of propping each industry up with tax dollars. This liquidation doctrine would “purge the rottenness out of the system” and make certain that “people will work harder” and “live a more moral life.” Contrary to popular belief, Hoover did not take Mellon’s advice and went forth with his own version of the New Deal that gave relief to farmers and supported wage rates in certain industries. These efforts, which were exacerbated under the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, effectively prevented the market from clearing. The boom of the late 1920s that was driven by the Federal Reserve’s monetary inflation was not allowed to bust. Instead of liquidating the debt and allowing the economy to reach a sound footing, both the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations attempted to manage it back to health. The result was the longest period of unemployment ever recorded in American history.
"This is the final abomination" is how David Stockman begins his epic rant on the Federal Reserve and crony capitalism in this clip. The "undiluted lunacy" of their actions prompted him to address the Fed's decision to "print ourselves to death" by saying "this has gone too far, it's street-fighting time" as he decides, instead of the erudite philosophical view of how capitalism is being destroyed by statist philosophies of one type or another, to launch into a full-strength tirade about The Fed. For starters, "The Fed is being run by the single most-dangerous man ever to hold high office in the history of the United States, "as he opines that Bernanke is more dangerous than Geithner, Greenspan, Summers, Hank Paulson all put together. Must watch...
The financial crisis of 2008 shook politicians, bankers, regulators, commentators and ordinary citizens out of the complacency created by the 25-year "great moderation". Yet, for all the rhetoric around a new financial order, and all the improvements made, many of the old risks remain (and some are far larger). The following 'story' suggests a scenario based on an 'avoidable history' and while future crises are not avoidable, being a victim of the next one is.
"John Banks was woken by his phone at 3am on Sunday 26th April 2015. John worked for Garland Brothers, a formerly British bank that had relocated its headquarters to Singapore in late 2011 as a result of..."
It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent any time reading Zero Hedge (here, here, and here very recently) but now yet another one of our 'crazy fringe blog' non-consensus ideas - the fact that China is cornered by inflation concerns and unable to ease aggressively - has now been confirmed by none other than the Bank of China and Bank of Korea themselves. As the WSJ reports, "The rise in global liquidity could lead to rapid capital inflows into emerging markets including South Korea and China and push up global raw-material prices." The latest round of easing by the U.S. will increase inflationary pressures for emerging-market economies, Mr. Chen said. "This contributes to a monetary-policy dilemma for Chinese authorities", he added. While markets have looked for signs of more forceful action by China's leaders to rekindle growth, some officials attribute the government's caution to fears of reigniting inflation. This confirms previous comments by the PBoC that "A domestic policy may be optimal for the U.S. alone. However at the same time it is not necessarily optimal for the world," he said at the time. "There is a conflict between the U.S. dollar's domestic role and its international settlement role."
Here's everything worth knowing about the euro-system in one huge infographic.
We, like Morgan Stanley's Greg Peters, are skeptical of the Fed's apparent belief that wealth effects can support a struggling recovery. Recent gains are small versus the wealth lost in recent years. More importantly, wealth only matters when it lowers saving. It seems that weak income growth through the recovery has depressed saving – stopped saving rising to fully reflect wealth destruction – which implies wealth increases now will not trigger a typical growth-boosting drop in saving. With poor fundamentals seemingly trumping central bank policy - as macro data and bellwether stock warnings highlight the downside risks of complacency. But, the housing recovery, we hear you cry? Not this time - given weak income growth; and as far as feeling wealthy, the 'right' savings rate to achieve that dream remains well beyond most in anything but the absolute riskiest assets - and implicitly lowers consumption.
While most "developed world" people have heard of Hong Kong and Macau, far fewer have heard of China's province of Guangdong, which is somewhat surprising. With over 100 million people, a GDP of nearly $1 trillion - the biggest of all Chinese provinces, this South China Sea adjacent territory is perhaps China's most important economic dynamo. One of the key cities of Guangdong is Dongguan, which as the map below shows is a stone's throw from Hong Kong, has a population of nearly 10 million, and has long been considered Guangdong's boomtown and one of China's richest cities. One notable feature about Dongguan is that it is home to the New South China Mall, which is the world's largest. It also happens to be mostly empty ever since it opened in 2005. Which perhaps is a good segue into this story. Because while for the most part the city of Dongguan has been a story of prosperity, a wrinkle has appeared. According to the South China Morning Post, which cites researchers at Sun Yat-sen University, this city is now on the brink of bankruptcy.
The recent release of the final estimate of Q2 GDP, and the September's Durable Goods Report, confirmed that indeed the economy was far weaker than the headline releases, and media spin, suggested. While the media quickly glossed over the surface of the report there were very important underlying variables that tell us much about the economy ahead. The problem is that there is little historical precedent in the U.S. as to whether maintaining ultra-low interest rate policies, and inducing liquidity, during a balance sheet deleveraging cycle, actually leads to an economic recovery. This is particularly troublesome when looking at a large portion of the population rapidly heading towards retirement whom will become net drawers versus net contributors to the economic system. The important point for investors, who have a limited amount of time to plan and save for retirement, is that "hope" and "getting back to even" are not successful investment strategies.
In a little under seven minutes, the world of CNBC provided something for everyone in this epic confuse-a-rama between Rick Santelli, Steve Liesman, and Brian Sullivan. The president's jab at 'trickle-down' economics (with an eye to Bernanke's recent asset-wealth-inflation efforts) was the premise for the discussion but it went to an 11 on the Spinal Tap amplifier of self-deception and circular logic. The question is initially well-posed and subsequently addressed by Santelli who describes the broken pipeline from the Fed to the bank's reserves that is not allowing trickle-down of Bernanke's largesse. Liesman argues that the lowering of rates helps borrowers (all the middle-class apparently) as they pay lower costs on their debt (seemingly ignoring the fact that Santelli just said the 'flow ain't happening' - and the fact that retail-to-wholesale mortgage spreads are at record highs). This is then followed by Sullivan with his insightful quip that the inflationary by-product of Bernanke is higher costs of food/energy which buffers the benefits of lower interest costs... and that is where Liesman goes into full-propaganda mode...