Swiss Central Bank Plunges Into NIRP, Sends Deposit Rates Negative, Scrambles Against Safe-Haven Capital FlightSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/18/2014 - 09:43
Everyone thought that any major monetary policy surprises and/or capital controls today would come from Putin during his annual press conference. Boy were they wrong: just after 2 am Eastern, none other than the Swiss National Bank joined the ranks of the ECB in scrambling to stem the wave of capital flight, not to mention the cost of money, when it announced it too would start charging customers for the privilege of holding cash in its banks, when it revealed a negative, -0.25% interest rate on sight deposits: a step which according to the SNB was critical in maintaining the 1.20 EURCHF floor.
Putting it in a bigger picture context, CAT's global sales have now declined for a record 24 consecutive months, thanks to the "Great Recovery." By comparison the number of months of consecutive declines during the great financial crisis? 19, which means that for CAT, the Great Recovery is now 25% worse than the Great Recession. And counting.
To say that gold is in a bear market is to misunderstand both gold and markets. Gold isn’t an investment that goes up and down. It is money in the most basic store-of-value sense. Most of the time it just sits there, and when its price changes in local currency terms that says more about the local currency than about gold. But when currencies collapse, gold shines.
Having started at noon Moscow time (4am Eastern), Putin's annual Q&A run for a massive three and a half hours, during which the Russian leader took numerous questions from the public and as expected, reiterated the key "rally around the flag" talking points that have permeated Russian rhetoric over the past few weeks as the economic situation in Russia deteriorated. As Bloomberg notes, the conference was attended by hundreds of reporters and carried live on television around the world, the event took on heightened importance this year as the president sought to reassure a Russian public unnerved by the ruble’s plummet. While he did acknowledge the difficult economic reality, Putin sought to reassure his countrymen that the current weakness "would last no longer than two years." Putin promptly pivoted against the west and accused the U.S. and European Union of trying to undermine his country and blaming external factors for the sharp plunge in the ruble, notably the drop in oil saying that “the economy will naturally adapt to the new conditions of low oil prices.”
We are sure this data is entirely dependable but when continuing jobless claims spike over 6% last week and collapse almost 6% this week - and the labor department says there is nothing unusual - we hold our hands up and laugh. Continuing claims printed 2.37mm (beating expectations) and initial claims dropped 6k to 289k (beating expectations). But the most critical aspect of today's report is the one-week-delayed details on which states saw a rise in initial claims - Pennsylvania: 12,302 and Texas 9,107 - both major Shale states. Has the job-culling, cost-cutting started?
- Swiss National Bank Starts Negative Interest Rate of 0.25% to Stave Off Inflows (BBG)
- Putin Strikes Uncompromising Stance Over Crisis Gripping Russia (BBG)
- Sony cancels North Korea movie in apparent win for Pyongyang hackers (Reuters)
- U.S. Said Set to Blame North Korea for Sony Cyber Attack (BBG)
- China’s Short-Term Borrowing Costs Surge as Demand for Money Grows (WSJ)
- Russia Currency Market Bends But Doesn’t Break (BBG)
- Jeb Bush Puts Pressure on Chris Christie for 2016 (WSJ)
- From joy to outrage, Florida's Cuban-Americans greet new U.S. policy (Reuters)
- Russians Quit London Luxury Homes as Only Super-Rich Stay (BBG)
After drifting unchanged for much of the overnight session, US futures exploded higher shortly after the previously noted SNB's NIRP announcement, which took place at 2 am eastern, which made it explicit that yet another banks will herd the bouncing dead cats right into new all time stock market highs, and following the European open, were carried even higher as the global "risk-on" momentum ignition algos woke up, spiking all recently depressed assets higher, including energy as Brent rose almost 3% despite Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi once again saying "it is difficult if not impossible" for OPEC and his kingdom to reduce output.
Earlier this evening China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange's (SAFE) Wang Yungui noted "the impact of the Russian Ruble depreciation was unclear yet, and, as Bloomberg reported, "SAFE is closely watching Ruble's depreciation and encouraging companies to hedge Ruble risks." His comments also echoed the ongoing FX reform agenda aimed at increasing Yuan flexibility which The South China Morning Post then hinted in a story entitled "Russia may seek China help to deal with crisis," which which noted that Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the ruble continues to plunge, that was signed in October. Furthermore, two bankers close to the PBOC reportedly said the swap-line was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze. Is 'isolated' Russia about to be bailed out by the world's largest economy China?
This is it, folks; this is the endgame right in front of our faces. The year of 2014 is the new 2007, with all the negative potential but 100 times more explosive going into 2015. Our nation has wallowed in slowly degrading financial conditions for years, hidden by fake economic statistics and manipulated stock prices. All of it has been a prelude to a much more frenetic and shocking event. We expect a hailstorm of geopolitical crises over the next year to provide cover for the shift away from the dollar. Ultimately, the death of the dollar will be hailed in the mainstream as a “good and necessary thing.” They will call it “karma.” They will call it “progress.” They will even call it “decentralization” and a success for the free market. But it will not feel like a positive development for the American public, who will suffer greatly as the dollar crumbles.
"Russia is at a critical juncture and given the sanctions placed upon them and the rapid decline in oil prices, they may be forced to dip into their gold reserves, if it happens it will push gold lower." That is what, according to some people Bloomberg has quoted, is in the cards...
For those wondering how Russia managed to contain the rout in its currency today, when it dropped from highs of USDRUB 80 yesterday to about 60, and leading to the biggest stock market surge in decades, the answer will be revealed tomorrow at noon Moscow Time, when Putin's annual address press conference will take place. As the rumor goes, both the central bank, the finance ministry and the Prime Minister, did everything in their power to stabilize the Ruble ahead of Putin's appearance, both through direct sales of dollars as well as with the already noted 7 measures to stabilize the financial system. And this year, perhaps more than ever, Putin's role will be simple: restore confidence. As Bloomberg reports, citing Mashla Lipman a political analyst in Moscow, "This is a moment of truth. It’s no longer possible to go on in the same fashion. The economy is tumbling. The time has come for a definitive choice. Doing nothing won’t solve the problem."