What Denmark has just done is "back-door QE", because as some forget, there are two ways to push the price of an asset higher (thus pushing its yield lower in the case of a bond): increase demand, which is what conventional QE does when central banks buy bonds, or reduce supply. Which is what Denmark just did by completely cutting off all Treasury issuance "until further notice". As a result, paradoxically, increasingly more speculators are betting that the "Trade of 2015" could be doing precisely the opposite of what the Danish central bank is hoping will happen: i.e., shorting the EURDKK (or going long the DKKEUR) in hopes that when the Danish peg finally does break, it too will result in long Swiss France-type profits.
Just as AAPL stock hits record highs and single-handedly rescues Q4 earnings from the doldrums, it appears President Obama is bringing his own brand of 'middle-class-economics' Robin-Hood-iness to crush the 'wealth generating' machine that has served America's 1% so well for so long. As AP reports, The White House plans a six-year half a trillion dollar public works program financed with a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas. Under current law, profits only face federal taxes if they are returned, or repatriated, to the US; but Obama's new deal would set a tax on accumulated foreign profits at 14% and due immediately as part of a broader administration plan to overhaul corporate taxes. Of course, with Republicans 'in charge', it is unlikely to pass as Paul Ryan blasted, "the president is trying exploit envy economics again," adding, "top-down redistribution doesn't work."
With the European Central Bank in QE mode, stocks should be catching a bid. Instead, they seem to be following commodities – down. But who knows? The situation is so crazy that only a disabled person could understand it. Why do we say that? Because a report released last week told us that one out of every three people on Social Security’s disability program is a mental defective. In Washington, DC, the rate of nuttiness among the disabled is even higher – 42%. No surprise there. Who better to understand what is going on in the financial world than a crazy person? Fortunately, America’s zombies are going crazy in ever-greater numbers.
Chinese Corruption Probe Pivots To Bankers As Manufacturing Contracts At Fastest Pace Since August 2012Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/01/2015 - 12:29
With all eyes on China as the great Eastern hope for putting a floor under crude oil prices, last night's dismally disappointing Manufacturing PMI print looks set to remove that last pillar of 'demand' - artificial or not. Having fallen 6 months in a row and printing 49.8, missing expectations of 50.2 (3rd of last 4 months) and down from the prior 50.1, this is the first official contractionary signal for Chinese manufacturing since September 2012. With Industrial Enterprises in China seeing profits collapse at 8% YoY along with the slowest GDP growth (7.3% of magic unicorns and credit expansion) since Q1 2009, the PMI components' broad-based weakness show significant signs of a cyclical slowdown. What is perhaps most worrisome though is that with cries for more RRR cuts or government-sponsored largesse, the banking system has, it appears, become the new focus of the nation's corruption probes as the President of China Minsheng Bank was taken away by the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
If Yanis and Alexis want to get anywhere, they’ll need to take on Wall Street and its international, American, French, German, TBTF banks, primary dealers. And if there’s one thing those guys don’t like, it’s democracy. It’s going to be a bloody battle. And it hasn’t even started yet. But kudos to all Greeks for starting it. It has to be done. And I don’t see how the euro could possibly survive it.
Swiss National Bank Scraps Hard Franc Ceiling, Replaces With Soft Ceiling Instead Local Press ReportsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/01/2015 - 10:59
Three weeks ago, what the SNB really did was be the first developed central bank to admit defeat in the global currency wars, realizing that contrary to "popular" Magic Money Tree opinion, it does not have an infinite balance sheet. And now the time has come to pay the price for delaying reality by over three years. To many this was a welcome move as it means after several years of horrendous monetary policies, Switzerland has finally regained some monetary sense, and while the near-term economic (and stock market) pain may be acute, the long-term will be thankful. And then, earlier today, we read that the SNB didn't learn its lesson after all, and instead of a hard EURCHF 1.20 floor, it is now unofficially targeting an exchange rate of 1.05-1.10 per Euro, aka a "soft", kinda/sorta Swiss Franc cap, according to Schweiz am Sonntag.
Amid 'turmoiling' stock markets on Friday, CNBC's Simon Hobbs summed up the status quo's thinking on the new Greek leadership when he noted, somewhat angrily and shocked, "The Greeks are not even trying to reassure the markets," seeming to have entirely forgotten (and who can blame him in this new normal the world has been force-fed for 6 years) that political leaders are elected for the good of the people (by the people) not for the markets. Yesterday saw the clearest example yet of Europe's anger that the Greeks may choose their own path as opposed to following the EU's non-sovereign leadership's demands when the most uncomfortable moment ever caught on tape - the moment when Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem (he of the "template" foot in mouth disease) stood up at the end of the EU-Greece press conference, awkwardly shook hands with Greece's new finance minister, and whispered..."you have just killed the Troika," to which Varoufakis responded... "wow!"
"In the minds of the statists, "Government Works Better" and 'things' work at the surface; but at the core, it's a disaster... The Americans that look to the government to 'save' them - and even gleefully thank the government for helping bail them out - fail to realize that it was the government that f##ked them in the first place..."
In China last year, just over 115 boys were born for every 100 girls, and since sonogram technology was introduced to China in the 1980s - allowing families to determine a baby’s gender during the first few months of pregnancy - the gender imbalance in the world's largest economy has grown colossal. However, as Beijing News recently explained, there may be a solution for China's 34 million woman shortfall... Ukrainian women, as "their economy is depressed but beautiful women are running rampant." While Foreign Policy notes that the best destinations for Chinese men to find spouses are Japan and South Korea, there appears to be plenty of fish in the sea, at least outside China. Oh the wonders of Ricardian comparative advantage - Ukraine needs an export business (and produces - from what we have heard - attractive women) and China needs to import 'women' (to fill its massive shortfall). Global economic growth problems, solved...
A lot of ultra-rich people are quietly preparing to “bug out” when the time comes. They are buying survival properties, they are buying farms in far away countries and they are buying deep underground bunkers. In fact, a prominent insider at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland says that “very powerful people are telling us they’re scared." So what do they know?
What happens if one expands the Eurozone NIRP universe to include the debt of other countries including Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and so on? Conveniently, JPM has done the analysis and finds that a mindblowing $3.6 trillion of government debt traded with a negative yield as recently as last week. This represents 16% of the JPM Global Government Bond Index, or in other words nearly a fifth of all global government debt is now trading with a negative yield, meaning investors pay sovereigns, using other people's money of course, for the privilege of buying their issuance!
The 'souring' of the mother's milk of stock markets continues. Management guidance and commentary implies 3-5pp impact due to 'king dollar' FX headwinds as an astounding 87% of companies guided below consensus expectations for next quarter. Bottom-up consensus 2015 EPS estimates were cut by 4% during January, and, as Goldman Sachs warns, 4Q EPS is tracking 7% below the consensus estimate at the start of reporting season. Finally, and perhaps most worrisome, granular bottom-up consensus is below top-down 'strategist' consensus for the first time since 2009... as the gap between Forward P/E valuations and long-term growth is as wide as it has ever been.
Quietly, and with essentially no coverage from the mainstream media, an obscure resolution (No. 41) was introduced in the US House of Representatives this week. The entire point of the resolution (The Federal Government should not bail out State and local government employee pension plans or other plans that provide post-employment benefits to State and local government retirees) is to say that the federal government is broke. It can’t pay its own bills, and therefore is shouldn’t be responsible to pay anyone else’s either. This Resolution is a pretty scary dose of honesty.
Yesterday we commented on the outsized macro impact that one company already excerts on the world, when we reported that in the fourth quarter, a whopping 60% of retail sales growth was due to the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, and the surge of Chinese tourists who tok advantage of Hong Kong's lower prices and earlier release. So how about the micro level? For the answer we present the chart below. Behold: the AAPL effect, which demonstrates that what until AAPL's release was shaping up to be a flat Q4 earnings season for the S&P 500, has since transformed into Q4 EPS growth of 2.1%, and made Apple the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. All this, thanks to just one company!