A high level overview of the drivers of the capital markets.
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One more domino in the dollar reserve supremacy regime falls. Following the announcement two weeks ago that "Australia And China will Enable Direct Currency Convertibility", which in turn was the culmination of two years of Yuan internationalization efforts as summarized by the following: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says", "India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees", and "The USD Trap Is Closing: Dollar Exclusion Zone Crosses The Pacific As Brazil Signs China Currency Swap", China has now launched yet another feeler to see what the apetite toward its currency is, this time in the heart of the Eurozone: Paris. According to China Daily, as reported by Reuters, "France intends to set up a currency swap line with China to make Paris a major offshore yuan trading hub in Europe, competing against London." As a reminder the BOE and the PBOC announced a currency swap line back in February, in effect linking up the CNY to the GBP. Now it is the EUR's turn.
The Treasury Department planted a "dirty bomb" at the Bank of Japan, and tossed a grenade at the Swiss National Bank.
Friday saw panic selling in gold as the metal broke $1,500 in a free-fall move. Is this a sign of “risk on” or something more sinister? Perhaps Cyprus is a major seller or there’s a large margin call somewhere. Some even assert some countries with debt problems are selling gold to raise capital to finance their country’s needs.
Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...
Here is a short quiz for you. Ready?
- What’s the current situation with Lindsay Lohan’s rehab?
- Who won the latest “Dancing With the Stars”?
- Name five celebrities with “baby bumps.”
- Explain how the Cypriot banking crisis could impact the European economy.
If you answered the first three questions but are clueless on the fourth, you’re in good company. Estimates are that up to half the population in America is ignorant about the situation in Cyprus. Oh sure, they hear snippets on the evening news, but since it’s far away and happening to other people, they don’t worry about it. There are many people who just can’t “see” anything wrong with our country. People continue to cling to the notion that our leaders are working for us, not for themselves. So people sit on their butts watching “American Idol” or reading about celebrity baby bumps. Can the U.S. economy crash? Nah. It can’t happen here.
Though Australia’s national balance sheet is comparatively quite strong, the government has been running at a net deficit for years... and they’re under intense pressure to balance the budget. The good news is that Australia now has a goodly number of investor-friendly immigration programs designed to bring productive foreigners into the country, similar to the trend we’re seeing across Europe. On the flip side, though, the Australian government has just announced new rules which penalize citizens who have responsibly set aside savings for their own retirement. If the Australian government can unilaterally change the rules and start double-taxing retirement accounts, so can the US. And the trillions of dollars in retirement savings in the Land of the Free is far too irresistible for them to ignore.
As part of its semi-annual update on "mapping the world's prices", Deutsche Bank has released the following index which we believe may be of interest to some of our more cash-strapped readers. Using a price parity calculation, DB has created the "cheap date" index which consists of i) a standard bouquet of roses, ii) cab rides, iii) pizza, iv) a soft drink, v) two movies tickets and vi) a couple of beers. What the "hit rate" of said basket of products in achieving the desired goal is unclear, but what is clear is that while the disparity between the most expensive (Sydney, Australia) and least expensive (Mumbai, India) place for a cheap date is vast at over 250%, and even a cheap date in Mumbai will set one back some $88.30 (and rising... the price that is).
The week ahead is light on major market moving data releases. From a policy perspective and in light of the recent moves in treasuries, FOMC minutes are likely to be followed by markets. Retail sales in the US are likely to print below consensus both on the headline and on the core metrics. That said, this needs to be seen against the backdrop of first quarter retail consumer spending data surprising to the upside. Producer prices are also likely to come in on the soft side of market expectations. Finally, do not expect large surprises from the U of Michigan consumer confidence.
- Finally the MSM catches up to reality: Workers Stuck in Disability Stunt Economic Recovery (WSJ)
- China opens Aussie dollar direct trading (FT)
- National Bank and Eurobank Fall as Merger Halted (BBG)
- Why Making Europe German Won’t Fix the Crisis - The Bulgarian case study (BBG)
- Nikkei hits new highs as yen slides (FT)
- Housing Prices Are on a Tear, Thanks to the Fed (WSJ)
- Why is Moody's exempt from justice, or the "Big Question in U.S. vs. S&P" (WSJ)
- Central banks move into riskier assets (FT)
- N. Korea May Conduct Joint Missile-Nuclear Tests, South Says (BBG)
- North Korea Pulls Workers From Factories It Runs With South (NYT)
- Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles (Reuters)
- IPO Bankers Become Frogs in Hot Water Amid China Market Halt (BBG)
- Portugal Seeks New Cuts to Stay on Course (WSJ)
The downside technical correction in the dollar that we have been anticipating appears to have begun against most of the major currencies. The drift lower against the yen over the past month has ended, and although we are skpetical of the impact of the stimulative monetary and fiscal policies in Japan, technically it is difficult to resist the momentum for additional yen weakness.
The big driver of market declines Friday was led by the Non-Farm Payrolls report. The jobs data was a dreadful miss which leads to the major “disconnect” we’ve been seeing between stock prices and overall economic data which we posted just last week. This is the nagging and confounding reality of the QE and ZIRP grand experiment for many investors.
- George Soros: 'What Japan is doing is actually quite dangerous because" (BBG)
- North Korea lacks means for nuclear strike on U.S., experts say (Reuters)
- Yellen latest to hint about slowing of QE3 (FT)
- Hollande approval rating hits new low (FT)
- Hollande Dismisses Reshuffle as Crisis Hits Popularity (BBG)
- Japan Upper house approves full 5 year term for BOJ gov. Kuroda (BBG)
- US: Plan to Cap Tax Breaks Is Gaining Steam (WSJ)
- BOE Says Investors May Be Taking ‘Too Rosy’ a View of Stress (BBG)
- Kiwis Say ‘Ni Hao’ as China Ties Trump Australia Sales (BBG)
- Obama Avoids Trading Threats With North Korea’s Kim (BBG)