The dismaying reality: the only purpose of central bank monetary policy is to keep the bloated, corrupt, inefficient and self-liquidating vested interests of the state-cartel crony capitalism from having to suffer the consequences of real reforms. Japan ably serves as Exhibit #1 of this core dynamic.
Heading into the North American open, the bulk of the morning’s price action has been provided by news that Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that he reached an agreement with Russia's Putin on a "permanent cease fire" in Eastern Ukraine's Donbass region. This saw an immediate spike higher in European equities with the DAX future rallying and breaking above its 100DMA seen at 9644.50, thus extending earlier gains that stemmed from the strong performance in Asia-Pacific equities, while the e-mini S&P once again printed a fresh record high. However, these moves staged a partial reversal amid comments from Russia’s Putin that he denied that such an agreement had been reached as Russia is not a party to the Ukraine conflict. In stock specific news, Russian exposed Raiffeisen Bank outperforms Europe (+7%) in reaction to the geopolitical developments, while Hugo Boss have underperformed throughout the session following a share placement which came in at the lower end (-5.3%).
“Everyone in the country was in shock. People’s net worth had devalued more than 53% overnight.”
Looking back, it was so obvious. But most people ignored the warning signs following the government's reassurances that all would be well... It’s human nature to want to believe that everything is going to be OK. Are we so different today?
Moments ago, in an example of "very serious phrasing", none other than the bank that does god's work on earth (especially when it means providing off balance sheet financing for the bank of the Holy Spirit), just reported that the reason why China will hit its growth target is because of, drumroll, its fudged GDP. Only Goldman is far more serious when it says all of this, with the result being just too hilarious for words: to wit: "In the coming months, China’s National Bureau of Statistics is to make adjustments to the methodology used to calculate GDP. These adjustments are likely to boost real GDP growth by 0.1-0.2pp, thereby making it easier for the government to reach its goal of “around 7.5%” GDP growth in 2014."
When it comes to keeping track of China's economy, one can listen, and ignore, the official goalseeked and made-up-on-the-fly data released by the government, or one can simply observe the price dynamics of the all-important Chinese commodities sector (because with fixed investment accounting for well over 50% of GDP, the marginal price of the commodities that are used in capital investment tell us all we need to know about the true state of the Chinese economy). It is here where we find that contrary to the recent performance of the Shanghai Composite, which has been trading exclusively on the coattails of the most recent unofficial QE by the PBOC, commodity prices in China are actually crashing across the board, which in turn suggest that the real GDP is most likely anywhere between 20% and 60%, if not more, below the "official" 7.5% GDP print.
"Herein lies our dilemma with bonds. We've been a member of the lower yields for longer camp for a number of years now due to our near-term growth and inflation outlook and our belief that financial repression is rife. However we also think that debt restructuring or inflation will eventually be the only way of successfully reducing debt burdens for many countries with the latter route the most likely. As such whilst bonds are a near-term safe haven they are also likely to be very poor real investments longer term. Timing the big switch in view on this will be one of the defining investment moments of the next few years. Let's hope we're lucky."
"We the undersigned are longtime veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5. You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian "invasion" of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the "intelligence" seems to be of the same dubious, politically "fixed" kind used 12 years ago to "justify" the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicions of charges made by the US State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine."
Just when we thought centrally-planned markets could no longer surprise us, here comes last night's superspike in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 100 pips higher in the past few trading days and moments ago crossed 105.000. The reason for the surprise is that while there was no economic news that would justify such a move: certainly not an improving Japanese economy, nor, for that matter, a new and improved collapse, what the move was attributed to was news that Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who has been advocating for the GPIF to reduce allocation to domestic bonds, may be appointed the Health Minister when Abe announces his new cabinet tomorrow: a reshuffle driven by the fact that the failure of Abenomics is starting to anger Japan's voters. In other words, the GPIF continues to be the "forward guidance" gift that keeps on giving, even if the vast majority of its capital reallocation into equities has already long since taken place. As a result of the USDJPY surge, driven by a rumor of a minister appointment, the Nikkei is up+1.2%, which in turned has pushed both Europe and Asia to overnight highs and US equity futures to fresh record highs, with the S&P500 cash now just 40 points away, or about 4-8 trading sessions away from Goldman's revised 2014 year end closing target.
And for tonight's menu of disastrous Japanese economic data, we have (drum roll please)... Auto sales. Overall auto sales fell 9.1% YoY to 333,471 - the lowest in 3 years. Minicars dropped a stunning 15.1% YoY according to the Japanese auto dealers association. The response - rather obvious by now - to this terrible news... a 35 pip vertial ramp in USDJPY which can mean only one thing - the Nikkei 225 rallied 150 points... On a side note, following disappointing PMIs, China fixed the Yuan at 4-month lows.
Capitalism gets into deep trouble when the price of financial assets becomes completely disconnected from economic reality and common sense. What ensues is rampant speculation in which financial gamblers careen from one hot money play to the next, leaving the financial system distorted and unstable - a proverbial train wreck waiting to happen. That’s where we are now.
While many will claim otherwise, often those who are awakening just want the system to be ‘fixed’ so they can go back to sleep.
- Putin Suggests Statehood for Southeast Ukraine as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Ukraine accuses Russia of 'open aggression' as rebels advance (Reuters)
- Ruble Hits New Record Low Against Dollar (WSJ)
- Further Russia Sanctions Seen `Almost Inevitable' (BBG)
- Europe holds nerve as Russia-Ukraine warnings ratchet up (Reuters)
- China manufacturing slowdown ripples through region (Reuters)
- Brazil enters recession in election blow to Rousseff (Reuters)
- Disruptive Hong Kong protests loom after China rules out democracy (Reuters)
- Coal Miners See Signs of Recovery as Prices Stabilize (WSJ)
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
If Japan’s results and programs hold any true difference, it is only that they are further down the same road than the rest of us. As Japanification continues in the US and Europe, we are gaining good observations about what lays ahead until the political will to use that same textbook time and time again is exhausted, or, more likely, removed.
This seems to be the biggest question in financial markets for me right now because the math just doesn`t add up any way you slice it.