Bank of Japan
We summarized yesterday's both better and worse than expected Chinese GDP data as follows: "a substantial deterioration of the economy, one which was to be expected yet one which can be spun as either bullish thanks to the GDP "beat", and negatively if the purpose is to make a case for more PBOC stimulus." Sure enough here are the headlines that "explain" the latest overnight futures surge which has once again brought the S&P into the green on the year - a 40 point Spoo move in hours since yesterday's bottom when the Nikkei "leaked" Japan's economy is on the ropes :
- Stocks Rise on China Stimulus Speculation
Here one should of course add the comment that launched yesterday's rebound, namely the Japanese warning that its economy is about to contract, adding to calls for more BOJ stimulus, and finally this other Bloomberg headline:
- The Strengthening Case for ECB Easing
And there you have it - goodbye "fundamental" case; welcome back "central banks will once again bail everyone out" case. Hopefully today's news are absolutely abysmal to add "US economic contraction fear renew calls for untapering" to the list of headlines that should send the S&P to all time highs by the end of today.
Moments ago the Nikkei strategically leaked a report that the Japanese cabinet office, quite expectedly, will downgrade its economic assessment in its April report. "Expected" because as we reported, discretionary spending following the sales tax hike, has gotten crushed. Also not unexpected, the USDJPY took the news in stride and posted a modestly bounce in the face of today's relentless selling of the pair. Why? Because to algos and many asset managers desperate for more training wheels from central banks (now that everyone has forgotten how to trade based soely on fundamentals), this means more QE from the BOJ right - after all horrible news for everyone is great news for the 1%.
Not so fast.
The main overnight event, which we commented on previously, was China's trade data which was a disaster. March numbers turned out to be well below market consensus with exports falling 6.6% YoY (vs +4.8% expected) and imports falling 11.3% YoY (vs +3.9% expected). The underperformance of imports caused the trade balance to spike to $7.7bn (vs -$23bn in Feb). Pricing on the Greek 5-year syndicated bond is due later today, with the final size of the bond boosted to EUR 3bln from EUR 2.5bln as order books exceed EUR 20bln (equating to a rough bid/cover ratio of over 6) as the final yield is set at 4.75% (well below the 5.3% finance ministry target and well above our "the world is a bunch of idiots managing other people's money" 3% target). Ireland sold EUR 1bln in 10y bonds, marking the third successful return to the bond market since the bailout. Also of note, this morning saw the release of lower than expected French CPI data, underpinning fears of potential deflation in the Eurozone.
It took Virtu's idiot algos some time to process that the lack of BOJ stimulus is not bullish for more BOJ stimulus - something that has been priced in since October and which sent the USDJPY up from 97.000 to 105.000 in a few months, but it finally sank in when BOJ head Kuroda explicitly stated overnight that there is "no need to add stimulus now." That, and the disappointing news from China that the middle kingdom too has no plans for a major stimulus, as we reported last night, were the final straws that forced the USDJPY to lose the tractor-beamed 103.000 "fundamental level", tripping the countless sell stops just below it, and slid 50 pips lower as of this moment to overnight lows at the 102.500 level, in turn dragging US but mostly European equity futures with it, and the Dax was last seen tripping stops below 9400.
The world’s official economic institutions are run by people who believe in monetary fairy tales. The 70 words of wisdom below from IMF head Christine Lagarde are par for the course. She asserts that a new jabberwocky expression called “low-flation” is the main obstacle to higher economic growth in Europe and the DM areas generally and that it can be cured by more central bank money printing.
Chart 1 proves it is crystal clear that every time the US Federal Reserve acts to "save us" from one crisis, it directly sows the seeds for an even bigger crisis in the future.
Inflation has weakened the yen by 6.8% in the past 12 months… and the cost of living in Japan is now at a five year high.
Stocks in Europe failed to hold onto early gains and gradually moved into negative territory, albeit minor, as concerns over money markets in China gathered attention yet again after benchmark rates fell to lowest since May 2012. Nevertheless, basic materials outperformed on the sector breakdown, as energy and metal prices rebounded following yesterday’s weaker than expected Chinese data inspired sell off. At the same time, Bunds remained supported by the cautious sentiment, while EUR/USD came under pressure following comments by ECB's Constancio who said that financial markets misinterpreted us a little, can still cut rates and implement QE or buy assets. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly API report after the closing bell on Wall Street and the US Treasury will kick off this week’s issuance with a sale of USD 30bln in 3y notes.
It would appear, judging by the tumble in JPY crosses (i.e. JPY strength) that the carry-traders of the world are disappointed in the BoJ's lack of exuberance.
- *BOJ RETAINS PLAN FOR 60T-70T YEN ANNUAL RISE IN MONETARY BASE (no change)
But it is the commentary that is truly baffling in its contempt for the truth:
- *BOJ: EXPORTS HAVE LEVELED OFF MORE OR LESS (umm, record trade deficit?)
- *BOJ: PICKUP IN CAPEX HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY EVIDENT (Tankan Capex growth fallen for 2 quarters)
- *BOJ SAYS JAPAN'S ECONOMY IS RECOVERING MODERATELY (GDP growth worst since Abenomics began)
Black is white; water is not wet; and Abenomics will work any day now...
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank supported by organized labor, the answer to generating up to 6 million more jobs is as simple as ending global currency manipulation. But not in the sense of ramping USDJPY or AUDUSD at key market inflection points which mostly benefits such FX-rigging chatrooms as "the Cartel", no: they are thinking more big picture, in the "central bank manipulation sense." The report says that "several foreign countries devalue their currencies to make their products cheaper, making it difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete, the report said." In essence what the group suggests is that the US currency is overvalued relative to the rest of the world, and that by "realigning exchange rates, U.S. trade deficits would be reduced by up to $500 billion per year by 2015. Such a move would increase U.S. gross domestic product by up to $720 billion per year and create up to 5.8 million jobs, the report said." Said otherwise: stop foreign currency manipulation, but allow and encourage the US to keep pushing its own currency even lower.
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Despite our insistence that their was nothing new in the BoJ's loan ceiling hike and lack of QE extension (and Goldman's 'this is already priced in' perspective), it still took the machines that are running USDJPY almost 36 hours to figure it out. USDJPY has retraced the entire 100 pip swing and has broken back below the crucial 102.00 level this morning. Time for some more jawboning about the potential for more QE - even as Kuroda insisted last night to the Diet that the government's tax hikes occur (if for no other reason to ensure this does not escalate into the 'monetization miasma' that they fear the market would believe). Of course, as we approach the US open, we would expect the usual ramp-job to lift stocks.
Now that Ben Bernanke has handed over the keys of the Federal Reserve, there are all sorts of theoretical arguments, pro and con, concerning his bold quantitative easing (QE) programs, in which the Fed massively expanded its balance sheet. Many critics have worried that this will disrupt the proper functioning of credit markets, and threatens to severely debase the US dollar. The defenders of Bernanke have argued that he spared the US (and indeed the world) from a second Great Depression. One of the odd (more farcical) points that people raise in Bernanke’s defense is the case of Japan... We do have historical examples of central banks ruining their economies/currencies through massive expansions of their balance sheets (Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe, etc.). To our knowledge, this has never actually worked anywhere in history...
The key event overnight was the monetary policy announcement by the BOJ in which its kept it QE unchanged while the Board decided by unanimous vote to double the scale of two funding facilities, namely the Stimulating Bank Lending Facility and Growth-Supporting Funding Facility and to extend the application period for these facilities by a year. Both facilities are designed to stimulate the provision of funding to Japanese banks, allowing them to borrow from the BoJ at a fixed rate of 0.1%pa, for a period 4 years now, instead of 1-3 years previous. Some are arguing that by expanding its funding programmes but not changing its asset purchase targets, the BoJ has signalled its intention to ease policy whilst preserving firepower for extra stimulus in coming months when a sales-tax hike is due to kick-in. The result was a surge in both the Nikkei and USDJPY. The problem, and confirmation that once again the market is now a bunch of cluless automatons unable to analyze even one sentence below the headline level, is that as Goldman explained overnight, the "surprise" announcement was already fully factored in.
Get long 'Depends' may be the most befitting headline for tonight's massive macro miss in Japan. For the 3rd quarter in a row, Japanese GDP missed expectations with a meager +1.0% annualized growth (versus a +2.8% expectation), and a tiny 0.3% Q/Q change vs expectations of a 0.7% increase, this is the biggest miss and slowest growth since Abe retook the economic throne after his chronic-diarrhea-prone first attempt to save the nation. No matter how hard they try to spin this, there's no silver lining as consumer and business spending missed expectations notably and the only Tokyo snow fell just last week so long after the quarter was over... and this is before a tax hike that is aimed at showing how fiscally responsible the nation and not simply an insolvent ponzi scheme alive through the good graces of the greater fools of leveraged carry trades.