Dismally drifting towards deflation as credit creation is a long and distant thing of the past in the European Union, this morning's decision to hold rates unchanged leaves a lot of "whatever it takes" hope left for the press conference. Whether he will ease lending standards, cut haircuts, enable more securitization, push direct lending (there's no demand!), or "promise" open-ended QE - it's all on the table but we suspect it will be more talk and "whatever" he is doing so far is working... stocks are near record highs and bond yields record lows - which must mean Europe is fixed...
While Janet Yellen fell back on the ubiquitous central banker statement that she "would do all that [she] can" it was Dallas Fed's Richard Fisher who raised the most eyebrows yesterday. In a speech in Mexico City, the central banker said he was concerned about "eye-popping levels" of some stock market metrics warning that the Fed must monitor the signs carefully to ensure bubbles were not forming. While other Fed members have paid lip-service to bubbles, Fisher explicitly discussed stocks in the context of the dot-com boom of the late '90s warning of "the ghost of 'irrational exuberance'" and worried about corporate bonds too.
Even though 14 out of the surveyed 54 economists expected a rate cut of some sort, and some were even calling for an outright QE any minute now, this time the majority of academics, or 40 of them, were right and the ECB proceeded with no changes to its various interest rates.
At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.25%, 0.75% and 0.00% respectively. The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 2.30 p.m. CET today.
Maybe Draghi will announce something more actionable at his press conference at 8:30 am but at this point it appears that the ECB's hand are tied even as the continent continues to drift ever more into deflation.
- Spot the inaccuracies: Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation (Reuters)
- Bank of England Extends Record-Low Rates Into a Sixth Year (BBG)
- China's Chaori Solar poised for landmark bond default (Reuters), explained here previously
- EU leaders meet in Brussels to address Ukraine crisis (FT)
- Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say (Reuters)
- China Raises Defense Spending 12.2% for 2014 (WSJ)
- China Stock Index Rises as Developers Jump on Policy Speculation (BBG)
- VTB Cancels New York Forum as U.S. Relations Sour (BBG)
- IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover (FT)
- College Board Redesigns SAT Exam Making Essay Portion Optional (BBG)
While the world is convinced that Putin's Tuesday press conference was an admission of blinking to the west, the reality is anything but that, and hours ago Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum within 10 days on the decision in what Reuters said is a "a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula." To be sure, the Crimea - which has an ethnic Russian majority - affiliation to Moscow as opposed to Kiev is well-known, yet still the sudden acceleration of moves to bring Crimea formally under Moscow's rule came as European Union leaders gathered for an emergency summit to seek ways to pressure Russia to back down and accept mediation. And now all Putin has to do is sit back and say the people have spoken and without spilling a drop of blood has effectively split the country in two parts, with the entire east of Ukraine, where pro-Russian sentiment also runs high - sure to follow Crimea. Just as we said from the very beginning.
Following yesterday's abysmal employment and service data which led to an unchanged close it quite clear that the market has returned to a mode where it ignores all newsflow - at least the bad, which is due to the weather, the good news is due to the recovery - and instead is simply driven by such "fundamental drivers" as the momentum and position of the Yen carry trade. And overnight the USDJPY positively exploded following news that the Japan advisory committee has decided the nation's pension fund, the GPIF, does' t need a domestic bond focus. Implicitly this means that the GPIF will soon be able to purchase stocks like Facebook and Tesla, which is a guaranteed way of generated short-term gains and longer-term total losses for the Japanese pensioners. Of course, when the latter happens, nobody will have been able to foresee it and some scapegoat somewhere will be summarily fired. As for what this means for futures, the drift higher has made SPOOs rise once more and at last check was just below if not at new all time highs on an ongoing barrage of increasingly negative macro news.
Presented with little comment, suffice to add former Washington DC RT correspondent Liz Wahl's comments that "personally she cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the action of Putin..." At least RT was correct when it said yesterday that "Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn't beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air." One wonders if Ms. Wahl's next stop will be MSNBC, FOX or CNN, where the truly unbiased coverage can be found.
The last time a leaked phone call out of Ukraine was released about a month ago ostensibly by the Russian NSA equivalent, one between US assistant sec state Victoria Nuland and the US envoy to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, it was revealed that the real puppet masters behind the Maidan movement, and the true instigators of the Ukraine "revolution" were none other than the "developed" world superpowers, lead by the US. Also revealed were tensions between the US and EU strategies on how to overthrow the current government, culminating with the infamous "Fuck the EU." Needless to say the US, which implicitly confirmed the recording, was angry at Russia and accused it of using dirty tricks. That's ironic, because when it comes to "dirty tricks" what is about to be presented, blows the top off anything Russia may or has done to date.
General Keith Alexander, who has furiously denounced the Snowden revelations, said at a Tuesday cybersecurity panel that unspecified “headway” on what he termed “media leaks” was forthcoming in the next several weeks, possibly to include “media leaks legislation.” Alexander genuinely thinks that intelligence officials know best, and should not be subject to any sort of accountability. You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU to see how dangerous this perspective is. To endorse this notion that “journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues,” is to effectively make illegal one of the most important free speech rights in any democracy. This sort of attitude represents the antithesis of American values.
When Hillary Clinton compared Russia's incursion into Ukraine to the early days of Nazi Germany's expansion, she joined an illustrious band who have compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler since the 2008 Georgia crisis.
Premier Li Keqiang delivered his first government work report at the opening of the National People’s Congress (NPC) meeting last night. The new government promises to speed up reform, manage debt risks, fight pollution, and yet maintain 7.5% economic growth all at the same time but as SocGen'sWei Yao warns, this is going to be nothing if not challenging. Maybe mindful of a potential miss, Yao points out that policymakers seem to give themselves a small degree of flexibility by using new phrases like “a reasonable range for the growth rate” and “the growth target is
flexible”. Mission intractible or mission impossible?
Members of the Ukrainian parliament have had their mobile phones hacked by equipment installed in Russia-controlled Crimea, according to the nation's security services. Reuters reports that "an IP-telephonic attack is under way on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row."
"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get rich more easily by graft than by work, and your laws no longer protect you against them, but protect them against you, you may know that your society is doomed." - Ayn Rand