The US dollar firmed at the end of last week. Does this mean the bull market has resumed after the consolidatig its gains in February?
And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.
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"For me the shorting opportunity looks as great as it was in 07/09, if only because people are still looking at what is hap-pening and believe that each event is an individual, isolated event. Whether it’s the oil price fall or the Swiss franc move, they’re seen as exceptions. ... we used all our monetary firepower to avoid the first downturn in 2007-09, so we are really at a dangerous point to try to counter the effects of a slowing China, falling commodities and EM incomes, and the ultimate First World effects. This down cycle is likely to be remembered in a hundred years . Sadly this down cycle will cause a great deal of damage, precisely because it will happen despite the efforts of the central banks to thwart it."
Last week it was 19 central banks (including the ECB which accounts for 19 nations) which had cut rates in 2015, mostly in "surprise", unexpected easing decisions. Moments ago the number became 20 when the Israel central bank just cut its interest rate by 0.15% to 0.1%, the lowest on record, a move which once again caught the market by surprise as only 3 of 23 analysts had predicted it.
- Tsipras Tamed as Economists Declare Greece Loses Austerity Fight (BBG)
- Greece readies reform plans to first sign of leftist unrest (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Congress Amid Direst Threat to Fed Since Dodd-Frank (BBG)
- The war must go on: Kiev says cannot withdraw heavy weapons as attacks persist (Reuters)
- Ukraine fears spread of war after blast in eastern city (Reuters)
- Denmark Dismisses Report It Could Consider Capital Controls (BBG)
- Deadline Nears on Homeland Security Funding Impasse (WSJ)
- Gross Fund Hurt by Oil’s Plunge Amid Bets on Energy Bonds (BBG)
With the world's oldest central bank - Sweden's Riksbank - taking the plunge into negative rates, there have been 19 'eases' by central banks this year, Morgan Stanley warns of "ghosts of the 1930s." With competitive 'easing' stoking fears of international currency wars, The Telegraph notes however that looser monetary policy is not the order of the day everywhere in the world, and herein lies potential danger for the world economy.
Straight-forward discussion of the international climate.
Technical outlook in the week ahead for the dollar, 10-year yields, oil and S&P 500.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
If you thought the utter insanity of the new-normal's central-planner-driven "bad news is great news" inflate-a-thon was reserved for The Fed, think again... This week Australia has had the dubious honour of seeing a huge 'surprise' surge in its unemployment rate to a 13-year high at 6.4% (from 6.1%) - which was largely ignored by the cognoscenti as anomalous data, but really just shows the utter farce that seasonal adjustments have become on government data. Tonight something else happened... the Australian stock market has soared 11% in the last 2 weeks to its highest sincee May 2008. Welcome to the farcical world of modern finance...
So far it has been an overnight session which clearly forgot to take its lithium, with futures first tumbling after CNBC's "leak" that a Greek deal had been reached was refuted, only to surge subsequently on both the Riskbank's foray into NIRP and QE which crushed the Swedish currency and sent its stocks to recorder highs, and more importantly, on the latest ceasefire out of Minsk which has pushed Russian and European assets substantially higher. While only the most naive believe that any palpable end to Ukraine hostilities will emerge as a result of today's delay, expect for Greek headlines to return with a vengeance as today it is Tsipras' turn to speak at a summit of the 28 European Union leaders set to begin momentarily.
With Russia allegedly moving its military presence deeper into NATO territory in Europe (with a Cyrpiot base), Bloomberg reports that in response to the regions' growing strategic importance, the US plans to open naval base in Australia (risking further "inflamed tensions" with China) in the midst of a “pivot-to-Asia” that will see 60% of its naval forces deployed in the region by 2020. The latest move, Admiral Greenert confirms, "we’re doing a study together with the Australia Defence Force to see what might be feasible for naval cooperation in and around Australia, which might include basing ships," as the Indian Ocean and South China Seas are becoming "geostrategic hot spots."
- Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal (Reuters)
- Germany rejects Greek claim for World War Two reparations (Reuters)
- Greece to Seek $11.3 Billion in Financing to Avoid Funding Crunch (BBG)
- Lazard Sees $113 Billion Greek Debt Cut as ‘Reasonable’ (BBG)
- U.S. Navy Considers Setting Up Ship Base in Australia (BBG)
- Dalio’s Bridgewater Fund Said to Rise 8.3% in January (BBG)
- As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role (WSJ)
- EU money funds cut exposure to bank debt (FT)
- China Inflation Drops to Five-Year Low in January (WSJ)
- Oil-Price Rebound Predicted (WSJ)
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.