To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.
It was not all smiles and jokes as Mario Draghi's European QE officially launched in Europe, with Greece leaving the proverbial turd in the monetary punch bowl.
Why are negative interest rates now making an appearance? They are a natural consequence of the rampant money creation undertaken by central banks in response to the global financial crisis as there is a lot more newly-created money floating around the financial system than there are safe places to put it. With the increasingly globalized world of international finance a bank run or financial panic anywhere can easily become a bank run or financial panic everywhere, it might be a good time to give your mattress a bit of extra padding.
Do derivatives confuse you? Do you hate bond math? We feel the same way! So we simplified your life with headache free QE math. Compounded rates, equivalent rates, production functions: who needs old math?
With all eyes squarely on the ECB as Mario Draghi prepares to flood the EMU fixed income market with €1.1 trillion in new liquidity starting Monday, Soc Gen’s Albert Edwards reminds us that “another type of QE” is drying up thanks largely to the relative strength of the US dollar. "The bottom line is that in a world of over-inflated asset values, the strength of the dollar is resulting is a rapid tightening of global liquidity as emerging economies (and indeed the Swiss) stop printing money to buy the US dollar. This should be seen for what it is — a clear tightening of global liquidity. Investors ignore this at their peril."
We need to look at the concept of a reserve currency differently, because it is important. We need to look at it as a privilege and a responsibility and not as a weapon we can use against the rest of the world. If we abolish, or even lessen, legal tender laws and allow the process of price discovery to reveal the best sound money, if we allow our US dollar to become the best money it can - a truly sound money - then the chances of our personal and collective prosperity are greatly enhanced. We all have the same interest. We all want to have the highest standard of living for ourselves and our families. A sound money reserve currency offers us the best chance of achieving our shared goal; therefore, we should rally around every effort to make it so.
“It is only a matter of time,” says Nick Gartside, chief investment officer for fixed income at J.P. Morgan Asset management. The ECB is about to drive borrowing costs below zero for every government in the EMU and in the process lock in guaranteed losses for both itself and PSPP participating NCBs.
For six years, the world has operated under a complete delusion that Central Banks somehow fixed the 2008 Crisis.
The question stands: how much longer will the Fed allow the ECB to export its recession to the US on the back of the soaring dollar, and how much longer will the market be deluded that "decoupling" is still possible despite a dramatic bout of weakness in recent US data. Look for the answer in today's BLS report, which - if the Fed is getting secound thoughts about its rate hike strategy in just 3 months - has to print well below 200,000 to send a very important message to the market about just how much weaker the US economy is than generally perceived. For now, however, the ECB is getting its way, and the question of just how much European QE is priced in, remains open, with peripheral bond yields dropping to new all time lows for yet another day, while the EURUSD has plunged to fresh 11 year lows, sliding below 1.094, and making every US corporation with European operations scream in terror. Looking at markets, US equities are just barely in the red, coiled to move either way when the seasonally-adjusted jobs data hits.
Once upon a time businesses borrowed long term money - if they borrowed at all - in order to fund plant, equipment and other long-lived productive assets. Today American businesses are borrowing like never before - to fund financial engineering maneuvers such as stock buybacks, M&A and LBOs, not the acquisition of productive assets that can actually fuel future output and productivity.
Let’s see. The Eccles Building has grown its balance sheet by 9X since the turn of the century, but real net investment in the business sector has plunged by 33%!
84% of JPMorgan’s 10-year long-term mutual fund AUM is ranked in the top two quartiles, while 70% and 81% of JPM US equity mutual funds have outperformed their benchmark on a 1- and 3-year timeframe, respectively according to an investor presentation. In last year’s presentation, the bank cited Morningstar and Lipper (who know a thing or two about calculating mutual fund returns) as sources. The only problem is that it later turned out that Morningstar and Lipper had no idea how JPM calculated the returns.
Should a tail event such a deflationary spiral or Grexit occur, limits on ECB asset purchases will put Mario Draghi at a disadvantage as other central banks race to the bottom. JP Morgan says this will force the ECB to cut interest rates for cash deposits to minus 3% while the dollar will appreciate by 20%, reaching parity with euro in 2015.
You wouldn't know it if you looked at the price of oil, but arguably the world's largest economy just unloaded a kitchen sink of fears, warnings, and downgrades on its economy; the most notable being:
*CHINA SETS 2015 GDP GROWTH TARGET AT ABOUT 7% (from 7.5% in 2014)
In a report to be delivered to the government tonight, Premier Li Keqiang warned China may face more economic difficulties in 2015 vs 2014 and downward economic pressure is still growing (despite Western 'analysts' proclaiming China fixed). The currency is weakening on the news and AsiaPac stocks are lower and as Chinese stocks open lower (despite hints at more easing), millions of newly minted "can't lose" Chinese investors begin to worry.
Pensioners are under attack. With yields depressed across asset classes, public pension funds in the U.S. are diving into risky investments in order to justify clinging to unrealistic investment rate assumptions. In Europe, low rates are causing corporations to adopt lower discount rates to determine the present value of their pension liabilities, dramatically increasing EU pension deficits. While in Greece, the government is robbing the public purse to make good on its commitments to the IMF.