Less than a decade after a housing/derivatives bubble nearly wiped out the global financial system, a new and much bigger commodities/derivatives bubble is threatening to finish the job. So... the central banks will panic. Again. Countries that retain some control over their monetary systems will see their interest rates fall to zero and beyond, while those that don’t will be thrown into some kind of new age hyperinflationary depression. Not 2008 all over again; this is something much stranger.
Deflation is back on the front burner and it's going to destroy all of the careful central planning and related market manipulation of the past 6 years. Clear signs from the periphery indicate that a destructive deflationary pulse has been unleashed. After years of suppression, the forces of reality are threatening to overwhelm our managed global ""markets"'. And it's about damn time.
The dollar's pause may be short-lived. Divergence still the key driver.
Last week, we asked "Is Australia the next Greece?" It appears, judging bu the collapse in the Aussie Dollar, that some - if not all - are starting to believe it's possible after last night's 15-month low in China Manufacturing PMI. As UBS previously noted, China's real GDP growth cycles have become an increasingly important driver of Australia's nominal GDP growth this last decade. With iron ore and coal prices plumbing new record lows, a Chinese (real) economy firing on perhaps 1 cyclinder, and equity investors reeling from China's collapse; perhaps the situation facing Australia is more like Greece than many want to admit.
In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow, where Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller and China National Petroleum Corp Vice President Wang Dongjin signed a gas export deal which paves the way for 30 bcm/y to China via a new "Western Route." Now, slumping Chinese demand (a pervasive problem at the heart of the global commodities downturn), threatens to undercut the agreement.
After yesterday's latest drop in stocks driven by "old economy" companies such as CAT, which sent the Dow Jones back to red for the year and the S&P fractionally unchanged, today has been a glaring example of the "new" vs "old" economy contrast, with futures propped up thanks to strong tech company earnings after the close, chief among which Amazon, which gained $40 billion in after hours trading and has now surpassed Walmart as the largest US retailer. As a result Brent crude is little changed near 2-wk low after disappointing Chinese manufacturing data fueled demand concerns, adding to bearish sentiment in an oversupplied mkt. WTI up ~26c, trimming losses after yday falling to lowest since March 31 to close in bear mkt. Both Brent and WTI are set for 4th consecutive week of declines; this is the longest losing streak for Brent since Jan., for WTI since March.
There has been a lot of chatter in recent days about the plunge in commodity prices - capped off by this week’s slide of the Bloomberg commodity index to levels not seen since 2002. That epochal development is captured in the chart below, but most of the media gumming about the rapidly accelerating “commodity crunch” misses the essential point. To wit, the central banks of the world have shot their wad. The Bloomberg Commodity index is a slow motion screen shot depicting the massive intrusion of worldwide central bankers into the global economic and financial system. Their unprecedented spree of money printing took the aggregate global central bank balance sheet from $3 trillion to $22 trillion over the last 15 years. The consequence was a deep and systematic falsification of financial prices on a planet-wide scale.
The manipulative smash on the gold price on Sunday night has once again led to a surge of buying of gold coins and bars across the globe. Both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report on how bullion dealers are seeing a spike in demand for gold coins and bars in India and China and indeed Europe, Australia and the U.S.
While we know now that Greece is irrelevant, and China is irrelevant (fdrom what we are told by talking heads), it appears the commodity carnage of the last few months is relevant for at least one nation. Having already warned about Australia, it appears New Zealand has got nervous:
*NEW ZEALAND CUTS KEY INTEREST RATE TO 3.00% FROM 3.25%, FURTHER EASING LIKELY AT SOME POINT
The Central bank blames softening economic outlook driven by commodity price pressures. Kiwi interestingly popped on the news to 0.66 before fading back a little, despite RBNZ noting a further NZD drop is necessary.
How hard do you work compared to the rest of the world?
Clearly, Russia puts great strategic importance on its gold reserves. Both President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev have been photographed on numerous occasions holding gold bars and coins as a display of economic stability and strength. Since early 2007 Russia has sold gold only twice, in 2012, in small amounts.
While this week has been, and continues to be, devoid of macro updates, yesterday's flurry of mostly disappointing earnings releases both before and after the open, including some of the biggest DJIA companies as well as the current and previously biggest and most important companies in the world, AAPL and MSFT, both of which came crashing down following earnings and forecasts that were well short of market expectations, came as a jolt to a market that was artificially priced by central bank liquidity and HFT momo algos beyond perfection. Add to that yesterday's downward revision to historical industrial production which confirmed the US economy is a step away from recession, as well as last night's Crude API inventory build which is once again pressuring WTI lower and on the verge of a 49 handle, and perhaps the biggest question is why are futures not much lower.
While the rest of the world attempts to convince themselves that a Chinese stock market bubble and bust is at worst irrelevant, CapitalEconomics notes, evidence that the labor market is coming off the boil arguably matters more to China’s economy. Chinese stocks futures are down 2% in today's pre-open after yesterday's whipsaw action as 'exit plans' for the stabilization were discussed (dumping stocks) and then denied (surging stocks) shows just how fragile (and quickly and entirely addicted to China's new 'measures' investors have become); but as BofAML warned earlier, selling pressure will likely remain relentless. Now that the spell is broken, we expect that many holders may want to sell to the forced buyers in the market.
Australian consumers are more worried about the medium term outlook than at the peak of the financial crisis, and rightfully so. As The Telegraph reports, by the end of the first quarter this year, Australia’s net foreign debt had climbed to a record $955bn, equal to an already unsustainable 60pc of gross domestic product, and is set to rise as RBA's bet that depreciation in the value of the country’s currency would help to offset the decline in its overbearing mining industry hasn’t happened to the extent they would have wished. Furthermore, as UBS explains, China's real GDP growth cycles have become an increasingly important driver of Australia's nominal GDP growth this last decade. With iron ore and coal prices plumbing new record lows, a Chinese (real) economy firing on perhaps 1 cyclinder, and equity investors reeling from China's collapse; perhaps the situation facing Australia is more like Greece than many want to admit, as Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman and matriarch of Perth’s Hancock mining dynasty stunned her workers this week: accept a 10% pay cut or face redundancies.
The divergence theme is not longer being eclipsed by the Greek drama and the Chinese stock market slide. See how this week's developments fit into the bigger picture.