Bank of Japan
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... In a veritable deluge of data from Japan tonight, there is - simply put - no silver lining. First, Japan's jobless rate unexpectedly jumped to 3.8% - its highest since Nov 2013 (despite the highest job-to-applicant ratio in 22 years). Then, household spending re-collapsed 5.9% for the 4th month in a row (showingh no sign of post-tax-hike-recovery). Industrial Production was up next and dramatically missed expectations with a mere 0.2% rebound after last month's plunge (-0.9% YoY - worst in 13 months), quickly followed by a 0.5% drop in Japanes retail trade MoM (missing hope for a 0.3% gain). That's good news, right? Means moar QQE, right? Wrong! Japanese CPI came hot at 3.4% YoY with energy costs and electronic goods 'hyperinflating' at 8.8% and 9.1% respectively. As Goldman's chief Japan economist warns, "the BOJ doesn’t have another bazooka," adding that "The window for reform may already have been half closed." We're gonna need another arrow, Abe!
"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy... The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...
Last week’s Jackson Hole meeting helped to highlight a simple reality: unlike other parts of the world, the eurozone remains mired in a deflationary bust six years after the 2008 financial crisis. The only official solutions to this bust seem to be a) to print more money and b) to expand government debt. Nothing Mr Draghi said in his Jackson Hole speech changed this reality.
At this stage, the path of least resistance is for the eurozone, and especially France, to continue disappointing economically, for the euro to weaken, and for Europe to remain a source of, rather than a destination for, international capital.
While today's key events were supposed to be the Jackson speeches first by Janet Yellen at 10:00am Eastern and then by Mario Draghi at 2:30 pm, Ukraine quickly managed to steal the spotlight yet again when moments after the first Russian humanitarian aid convoys entered Ukraine allegedly without permission, Kiev first accused Russia of staging a direct invasion, even if moments later it changed its tune and said it had allowed the convoy in to "avoid provocations." In other words, your daily dose of Ukraine disinformation, which initially managed to push futures down some 0.3% before futs regained virtually all losses on the subsequent clarifications. Expect much more conflicting, confusing and very provocative headlines out of Kiev as the local government and the CIA try to get their story straight.
At this point, one has to wonder, just what is the point of all the Central Banks’ activities? The QE efforts in the US and Japan (two of the biggest in history) haven’t really generated jobs or GDP growth… so just what ARE they doing?
Non-ideologically laden overview of the key issues shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
Futures Continue Levitation On More "Deescalation" Hopes Despite UK Warning Russia Of "Serious Consequences"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/15/2014 07:05 -0400
There were headlines for everyone this morning, but especially for fans of what is increasingly known as Russia's "Schrodinger Invasion" of East Ukraine: one which may or may not be happening depending on i) one's point of view and ii) how one is observing it.
While the mainstream media has become used to the daily buying of bonds by The Fed, mention that they are buying 'stocks' and suddenly one is labeled a conspiracy theory wonk - despite 1) the fact that they are, and 2) they have admitted that equity wealth creation is a policy tool. However, ignoring the almost daily vertical ramps in US stocks and volatility from a seemingly bottomless pit of margin; the Bank of Japan has been buying stocks (directly through ETFs) for years... and as the Nikkei began to turn down in early August, the WSJ reports the BoJ undertook the longest and largest consecutive buying streak since it started purchasing ETFs in December 2010.
This represents a tectonic shift in the financial markets. It does not mean that Central Banks will never engage in QE again. But it does show that they are increasingly aware that QE is no longer the “be all, end all” for monetary policy.
Japan’s QE was large enough that no one, not even the most stark raving mad Keynesian on the planet, could argue that it wasn’t big enough. Which is why the results are extremely disconcerting for Central Bankers at large.
- EU to weigh extensive sanctions on Russia (FT)
- U.S. lifts flight ban to Israel (Reuters)
- Russia says will cooperate with MH17 probe led by Netherlands (Reuters)
- Norway faces ‘concrete and credible’ terrorist threat (FT)
- Don’t Tell Anybody About This Story on HFT Power Jump Trading (BBG)
- But... but... PMI: Unilever Sales Growth Misses Estimates on Asian Slowdown (BBG)
- World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Reviews $8 Billion Russian Stake (BBG)
- Qualcomm latest US tech company to reverse in China (FT)
- Hamptons Home Sales Rise as Buyers Find More Inventory (BBG)
No one knows how this will play out. We all know on some level that it will not end well, but exactly how and when it will all backfire remains to be seen. We’ve already had two epic Crises in the last 15 years. By the look of things, we’re heading for a third one in the not to distant future.
Japan’s GDP may have declined in April and May, implying an overall collapse for Q2 not seen since 2009. Bloomberg's Nowcast estimate suggests that the hope-strewn pre-tax-hike pile up of a +6.7% annualized GDP growth in Q1 will come crashing back to earth as consensus GDP for Q2 is -4.85% and even bigger based on Bloomberg's models. As Bloomberg's Tom Orlik warns, this could take markets by surprise. The good news is that Abe's 3rd arrow has yet to reach escape velocity (any day now); below we highlight the entire package and how it will save the world...
Exactly 50 years ago last month the US Supreme Court ruled on the now famous case of Jacobellis v. Ohio. At stake was whether a French movie with graphic sexual content could be outlawed by the state via its obscenity laws. The court ruled that it could not because the film wasn’t hardcore pornography. How could they tell? In an explanation that has now turned into one of the most famous quotes in court history, Justice Potter Stewart explained that although he could not define exactly what hardcore porn was, “I know it when I see it” Like porn, asset bubbles are also hard to define, but given our economic history, and especially our recent economic history, we know it when we see it, and now we see it everywhere. We all see it. Apparently the only people that don’t see the bubbles are the people creating them.
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.