We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Inflation is a political phenomenon because monetary aggregates are not determined by market forces but are planned by central banks in agreement with governments. Inflation is a tax affecting all real incomes. Inflation is a precondition of extreme deflation: depression. Should in fact the overall debt collapse, there would be an extreme deflation or depression because the money aggregate would contract dramatically. In fact the money equivalent to the defaulted debt would literally vanish. It is for this reason that central banks monetize new debt at a lower interest rates, raising its value. All the financial bubbles and the mass of derivatives are just the consequence of debt monetization. How will this all end? In history, debt monetization has always produced hyperinflation. In Western countries, despite the exponential debt a runaway inflation has not yet occurred. Monetary policy has only inflated the financial sector, starving the private one, which is showing a bias towards a deflationary depression. Unfortunately governments and banks will go for more inflation. As history teaches, besides money the freedom of citizens can also be the victim.
The market continues to track the same pattern it performed going into the failed debt ceiling talks of July 2011. As you’ll recall, then as is the case now, US politicians failed to reach a credible solution to the US’s debt problems. What followed was a credit rating downgrade and a market collapse.
Increasingly it is appearing that all those things formerly considered "fixed", are not. Latest case in point, Egypt where despite the general population's very finite attention span having been fully exhausted on all things Cairo-related back in the spring of 2011, the locals counterrevolutionary natives are once more getting restless and absent some miracle, the days of the US puppet appointed "democrat"-cum-self appointed dictator Mursi are numbered.
As of September 30, the household balance sheet had total assets of $78.2 trillion, of which just $24.6 trillion was in the form of tangible assets (Real Estate, Durable Goods and other), or under one third of total. The balance, or $53.6 trillion, comprising of deposits, corporates, mutual funds, pension funds and other assets, was all in one way or another tied into the stock market and the viability of the financial sector. One can see why with over two thirds of total household assets embedded in the stock market Bernanke will never allow stocks to go down, even if that means monetizing every last one of them (after he is done with all fixed income of course). On the liability side, total debt remained flat with Home Mortgages declining by $0.1 trillion, primarily as a result of discharges, offset by $0.1 trillion increase in Consumer debt. Net result: household net worth at September 30, 2012 for the world's wealthiest nation was $64.8 trillion, or back to where it was in Q4 2006. Somewhere, someone's mouth is watering profusely at the mere though of applying a uniform tax on all household assets...
Forget the perfectly anticipated Greek (selective) default. This is the real deal. The FT just released a blockbuster that Europe's most important and significant bank, Deutsche Bank, hid $12 billion in losses during the financial crisis, helping the bank avoid a government bail-out, according to three former bank employees who filed complaints to US regulators. US regulators, whose chief of enforcement currently was none other than the General Counsel of Deutsche Bank at the time!
To think it took a really ugly economic number, such as the Services PMI reported last night, to stir the Chinese stock market out of a hypnotic drift lower, and push it up by 2.7%. Why? Because in the New Normal bad economic news means hope that central banks get involved, and as we have explained the ongoing SHCOMP collapse is purely a function of the PBOC remaining on the sidelines. Last night, rumors (very unfounded and very incorrect) that the central bank would intervene put a stop to the drop. Sadly, as the PBOC has no intention of ending its ultra-short term reverse-repo driven market support strategy, the bounce will be very short lived. However, that coupled with more jawboning out of the BOJ that it would act, if it has to (whether under Abe or Noda), sent the JPY even weaker, and futures ramping on tiny overnight volume which wiped out all the previous day's losses.
I recently received the following question from a friend of mine and wanted to share my thoughts with my market pals, and throw this out for feedback. I would be particularly interested in hearing from my derivatives friends who are much more technically informed than I am on the subject.
“I was looking at something today that I thought you would probably have some comment on: have you noticed how wide the out months on the VIX are versus the one or two month? How are you interpreting this?”
From my viewpoint this has been a key debate/driver in the equity derivatives world for a good while now (I started having this discussion in early 2011 with some market pals and the situation has only grown more extreme since then).
Europe may be fixed for the next week or two (until someone once again figures out that by manipulating the market, the ECB is merely making it easier for peripheral governments to do nothing to fix their unprecedented intra-Eurozone imbalances, as has been the case all along with the only strategy Europe has deployed to date namely kicking the can), but that doesn't mean all event and newsflow ends. Here is what to expect out of the insolvent continent as it attempts to put a very volatile (and violent) 2012 to bed with just one more month. Of particular note: €123 billion in Euro coupon payments in the month of December, which serves as a timely reminder that in 2013 European banks better be ready to buy up the record gross and net issuance of their sovereigns with gusto, or else Europe may promptly become "unfixed" all over again.
Many people, and erroneously, think that all of the purchasing by the Fed will go to both markets in equal amounts but this is not the case. More money for the stock markets would have to come from asset reallocations by money management firms, insurance companies, pension funds and the like and this is not going to happen anytime soon given the 2008/2009 experience. Consequently the greatest flows generated by the Fed’s recent and forward actions will affect the bond markets much more than the equity markets. Between the MBS purchases and the next upcoming stimulus push, the Fed would account for 90% of all new debt issuance and leading to a demand imbalance between $400 billion to almost $2 Trillion depending upon the actual Fed announcements. The Fed currently holds about 18% of the U.S. GDP on its books and it could bulge to 23-28% a few years out. This all works, by the way, only because all of the world’s central banks are working in concert so that there is no imbalance and money cannot be invested off-world. Yields will not make sense empirically because of the actions of the Fed but it will make no difference, because their intentions and goals are vastly different from investors.
Quiet session so far, with a notable move higher in the last block of trading in China pushing the SHCOMP for its first gain in 6 days, and off post-2008 lows. What precipitated the buying is irrelevant, although we got a good glimpse into the state of the Chinese economy thanks to Australia prior where the RBA cut rates by 25 bps to a historic low 3.00% (a move that sent the AUD higher), a level last seen during the financial crisis, and confirming that not all is well for the Chinese derivative economy despite loud promises from the Chinese politburo that growth is back. Bypassing the bullish propaganda were Renault Nissan's Chinese car sales for November which fell by 29.8% Y/Y. Some "recovery" there too. In Europe, the status quo continues, with chatter out of Germany's Merkel who begins her 2013 election campaign today, that Germany wants a strong Eurozone (it doesn't), and a strong Euro (it doesn't), but that nobody can predict when the Eurozone crisis will end (not even Hollande or Monti who did just that yesterday?). Otherwise sentiment there is still driven by the formal Spanish re-request of aid (and imminent receipt of €39.5bn in bank recap funds) from the EU by mid-December. As a reminder Spain did this originally in June but the algos were so confused yesterday they thought this was an official sovereign bail out request sending risk soaring only to tumble later (only in the New Normal is admission of sovereign insolvency a "good thing"). Nonetheless, despite the massive overvaluation of European markets (more on that later), the EURUSD continues to the upward momentum (in the process further curbing German exports and assuring the German recession), and was last seen trading up to 1.3075, about 30 pips higher.
Those curious why Goldman Sachs felt compelled to undertake a quiet an unexpected by most (if not us) peaceful coup of the Bank of England, it is because the oldest central bank still has among its ranks people such as Andy Haldane, who in a world populated by deranged textbook economists who don't understand that it is the central bank policies' fault the world will be forever mired in substandard growth and soaring unemployment, is a lone voice of reason (recall BOE's Andy Haldane Channels Zero Hedge, Reveals The Liquidity Mirage And The Collateral Crunch). And since the BOE has no choice but to join all its peers in a global race to the bottom (largely futile in a world in which currencies exist in a closed loop, and in which if everyone devalues, nobody devalues as even Bill Gross figured out yesterday), it is prudent to listen to Haldane's warnings while he is still in the employ of Her Majesty the Queen. Such as his latest one, in which he says that the scale of the loss of income and output as a result of the crisis started by the banks was as damaging as a "world war."
We find ourselves more amazed than ever at the ability of those in power to lie, misinform and obfuscate the truth, while millions of Americans willfully choose to be ignorant of the truth and yearn to be misled. It’s a match made in heaven. Acknowledging the truth of our society’s descent from a country of hard working, self-reliant, charitable, civic minded citizens into the abyss of entitled, dependent, greedy, materialistic consumers is unacceptable to the slave owners and the slaves. We can’t handle the truth because that would require critical thought, hard choices, sacrifice, and dealing with the reality of an unsustainable economic and societal model. It’s much easier to believe the big lies that allow us to sleep at night. The concept of lying to the masses and using propaganda techniques to manipulate and form public opinion really took hold in the 1920s and have been perfected by the powerful ruling elite that control the reins of finance, government and mass media. How many Americans are awake enough to handle the truth? Abraham Lincoln once said that he believed in the people and that if you told them the truth and gave them the cold hard facts they would meet any crisis. That may have been true in 1860, but not today.
Back in June, the Danish Central Bank set a New Normal precedent by being the first bank to impose NIRP, after it lowered its deposit rates to a negative 0.20% for everyone, in other words anyone wishing to keep cash with the bank would have to pay 20 bps for the privilege. NIRP just moved south to Switzerland, only this time not with a central bank decree: after all the SNB is already engaged in capital controls via the 1.20 EURCHF peg. After all it would seem unsportmanlike if the central bank would admit it needs more currency warfare to halt the influx of CHF into its system, as it would also imply that not only is the Eurozone not fixed, but the exodus of EUR-denominated accounts is relentless, and only the BIS is the marginal buyer of the currency. Instead, Swiss megabank, Credit Suisse, whose assets are orders of magnitude greater than Swiss GDP, in what will be a precedent copied by all other Swiss banks, just imposed negative credit rates on cash clearing balances after December 10 as per the message sent to clients below. In other words, "your CHF-denominated cash is no longer welcome at Credit Suisse, please convert it into that joke of a currency EUR post haste, K thx bye."
In a world that already makes little sense to most, Credit Suisse just pushed the envelope a little further. The bank has just announced that going forward it will be charging for firms to hold a CHF cash balance - i.e. the bank, given the already-negative Swiss government bond yields, has moved to its own NIRP for its clients. The need to do this suggests an overwhelming desire for short-term safety that flies in the face of the seeming level of complacency that exists in the European bond (and stock markets). As we have warned before, it seems that the currency wars that appear to have escalated have now started the 'capital control' wars as CS (and implicitly the SNB) adds this negative interest rate 'charge' to its already pegged currency in the vain hope that of managing the unmanageable flow of safe-haven-seeking cash.
- *CREDIT SUISSE INFORMS BANK CLIENTS OF NEGATIVE RATES ON CHF FROM DEC. 10
- *CREDIT SUISSE INFORMS CLIENTS IN SWIFT NOTICE, CONFIRMED BY BNK
The US dollar's recent losses are being extended at the start of the new week. The announcement of the details of the Greek bond buy-back scheme has triggered a sharp rally in peripheral bond yields, while the euro area Nov manufacturing PMI is reported at 8-month highs, even if still below the 50 boom./bust level at 46.2. The euro has completely recouped the knee-jerk losses scored in thin activity just before the weekend when Moody's announced a cut in the ratings for the EFSF, which follows its recent downgrade of France.