- Bundesbank cuts growth outlook as crisis bites (Reuters)
- Strong quake hits off Japan near Fukushima disaster zone (Reuters)
- Greece to Buy Debt It Already Owns to Reach Target (BBG)
- Draghi’s Go-to ECB Seen Risking Credibility Through Overload (BBG)
- Judge urges Apple and Samsung ‘peace’ (FT) ... Alas only the US government has a Magic Money Tree; others need profit
- Fed Exit Plan May Be Redrawn as Assets Near $3 Trillion (BBG)... make that $5 trillion this time in 2014
- Level Global, SAC Fund Managers Ruled Co-Conspirators (BBG)
- Egypt demonstrators reject Mursi call for dialogue (Reuters)
- Japanese Dealerships in China Retrench in Wake of Dispute (BBG)
- Apparel factory fire reveals big brands' shadowy supply chainsa (Reuters)
- Republican Defectors Weigh Deal on Tax-Rate Increase (BBG)
A consolidative tone threatening to emerging in the foreign exchange market, as prices churn awaiting not only today's press conference following the ECB meeting, but also tomorrow's US employment data and prospects for an expansion of QE3+ at next week's FOMC meeting.
Five major central banks were to meet this week, with only the Reserve Bank of Australia poised to act. They did cut rates, but the accompanying statement did not tip the hand of the next move. The market took advantage of the jobs data's favorable optics to reduce the likelihood of a follow up cut in February to about 50/50.
The details of the employment report were really weaker than it appeared. The 13.9k increase in jobs is misleading as it was driven exclusively by part-time jobs. Full time work actually fell 4.2k, the first decline in four months. The unexpected decline in the unemployment rate to 5.2% from 5.4% in Sept and Oct was a function of a decline in the participation rate. The Australian dollar has traded now (barely) on both sides of yesterday's range. Offers in the $1.05 area continue to slow the Aussie's ascent.
All the government subsidies in the world will not revive the construction industry - only demand from increasing wealth will. The guest commentary below offers a vivid picture of the economic and regulatory factors weighing on homebuilders these days. The author is Wayne Siggard, who builds mansions for the super-rich. A UCLA law graduate, Wayne worked for Bechtel Financing Services and was self-employed as an investment banker doing private placements in oil and gas and alternative energy project financing. When oil hit $10/bbl in 1985, he went into the homebuilding business, turning an avocation into an occupation. His real estate operations, including land development, have primarily been in California and Utah. Wayne lived for several years in Italy and Switzerland and speaks many languages.
Today the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut the its rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 3.0 percent, as panic set in that the resources boom is fading quicker than anticipated. Note that rates have not been this low since the aftermath of the global financial crisis. This strategic move was done in effort to rekindle the demand in some of the country’s weaker sectors in hopes that they would offset the rapid decline in the mining sector.
Yesterday we noted that India was preparing to send its Navy into the South China Sea - defending its mineral rights from China's increasingly vociferous presence. The Philippines also expressed concern. Today, it's Vietnam's turn as Reuters reports the nation is condemning China's "serious violation of sovereignty" as Chinese boats sabotaged Vietnamese State oil and gas company - PetroVietnam's operations (by severing a seismic cable). The actions stem from China's 'belief' that two Vietnamese-owned archipelagos (Spratly and Paracel Islands) are theirs. While China (who oppose unilateral oil and gas development in disputed waters) argued somewhat comically that "Chinese fishing boats were operating normally," the Vietnamese saw it as "blatant violation of Vietnamese waters," and are deploying marine police and a border force to stop foreign vessels. As one analyst noted, "It's going to lead to friction."
- Two weeks ago here: The Latest Greek "Bailout" In A Nutshell: AAA-Rated Euro Countries To Fund Massive Hedge Fund Profits... and now on Bloomberg: "Hedge Funds Win as Europe Will Pay More for Greek Bonds" (BBG)
- Oracle sends shareholders cash as tax uncertainty looms (Reuters)
- GOP Makes Counteroffer In Cliff Talks (WSJ)
- Iran says captures U.S. drone in its airspace (Reuters)
- IMF drops opposition to capital controls (FT)
- Vogue Editor Wintour Said to Be Possible Appointee as U.K. Envoy (BBG)
- Juncker Stepping Down French Finance Minister to Head Euro Group? (Spiegel)
- Australia cuts rates to three-year low (FT)
- Europe’s banking union ambitions under strain (Reuters)
- EU Nations Eye New ECB Bank Supervisor Amid German Doubts (BBG)
- Frankfurt's Ambitions Get Cut Back (WSJ)
- House Republicans Propose $2.2 Trillion Fiscal-Cliff Plan (BBG)
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.
The US dollar continues to trade heavily, with the euro and sterling edging to new multi-week highs and the yen consolidating its recent losses. The main consideration appears to be the looming fiscal cliff, weaker data and the prospects for additional QE to be announced next week by the Federal Reserve.
At the same time, tail risks emanating from euro area have diminished, even if the i's aren't dotted and the t's not crossed on Greece's new program, or if the negotiations over bank supervision in Europe at today's EU finance minister meeting, are more protracted.
Although its interests in the continent are broadly similar, India’s engagement with Africa differs significantly from China. Will it prove sustainable? Close ties between India and Africa are not new. Trade has flourished between East Africa and India’s west coast for centuries. New Delhi’s interest in Africa waned in the 1990s, but rapid economic growth and soaring energy requirements, however, forced India at the turn of the new millennium to rethink its neglect of Africa. The domination of oil and natural resources in India’s imports from Africa and of manufactured goods in its exports to the continent has drawn criticism that India is indulging in a “neo-colonial grab” for Africa’s resources. "This is an uninformed view. Africa of today is not the same as during colonial times. When countries exploit the resources of Africa today, the terms are set by the African nations and not by outsiders. The deals are mutually beneficial." India hopes that its capacity building, people-centric approach and efforts to build a sustainable partnership with Africa will keep such allegations at bay.
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.
After this year's presidential campaign, private equity and certainly Bain Capital, will likely be the last entity that those pandering to populist agendas will go to advice over the future of the business cycle in broad terms, and the future of US labor, most certainly including outsourcing, in narrow terms. And Goldman - that staunch defender of the superiority of capital over labor - will hardly be confused as ever taking the role of workers in any discussion. Which is why we read the following interview by Goldman's Hugo Scott-Gall with Bain Capital partners Michael Garstka and Alan Bird on such topics as corporate restructurings and the future of outsourcing with great interest, as it is very much unlikely that any of the conventional media sources would carry it. And while one may have ideological biases in whatever direction, the truth as presented previously, is that US private equity is a massive "behind the scenes" juggernaut, whose portfolio holding companies account for a whopping 8% of US GDP, and is directly and indirectly responsible for tens of millions of currently employed US workers! At the end of the day, it may well be that what private equity firms such as Bain think about the future of US labor prospects is the most important thing that matters for the future of the so very critical US unemployment rate. Which is why we present, for your reading pleasure, the somewhat unorthodox interview below...
Our assessment of macro fundamentals leave us inclined to favor the dollar on a medium term basis. However, we continue (seehereandhere) to recognize that near-term technical considerations favor the major foreign currencies, but the yen.
There was a time when flings (insert personal contextual experience) used to be simple, impromptu, largely trivial things seeking instant gratification. That was until Shell's Floating Liquid Natural Gas facility, or FLiNG, came along: currently being built in the South Korean shipyards (largely unoccupied in the past several years after a surge in dry bulk container ship construction left the industry with a massive inventory glut and little demand for its precision engineering), this behemoth of a ship, measuring nearly half a kilometer in length, and displacing 600,000 tonnes of water, will be the world's largest offshore floating facility when deployed 200 km off the north-west coast of Australia in 2017 to process the recently discovered Prelude and Concerto gas fields. It will also likely revolutionize the field of Liquified Natural Gas extraction.
The greater story behind Mark Carney’s appointment to the Bank of England may be the completion of Goldman Sachs’ multi-tentacled takeover of the European regulatory and central banking system. But let’s take a moment to look at the mess he is leaving behind in Canada, the home of moose, maple syrup, Jean Poutine and now colossal housing bubbles. George Osborne (who as I noted last month wants more big banks in Britain) might have recruited Carney on the basis of his “success” in Canada. But in reality he is just another Greenspan — a bubble-maker and reinflationist happy to pump the banking sector full of loose money and call it “prosperity” before the irrational exuberance runs dry, and the bubble inevitably bursts.