Bank of Japan
The Austrian central bank keeps most of its 280 metric tons of gold reserves in the United Kingdom, Vice Governor Wolfgang Duchatczek was quoted as saying in the finance committee of the country’s parliament today, according to Bloomberg. Answering lawmakers’ questions, Duchatczek said 80%, or 224.4 metric tons of the metal was stored in the U.K., 17% or 48.7 metric tons in Austria and 3% in Switzerland, according to a summary of a closed-door committee meeting provided by the parliament. The reserve has been unchanged since 2007, Duchatczek was quoted as saying. The central bank has earned 300 million euros ($385 million) over the last ten years by lending the gold, he said.
No, really. The LDP, as most know by now, will take over at the December 16th elections as the next party in charge of Japan, at least until the early elections 3-6 months later, when power will shift once more, as the great Keynesian basket case experiment proves ungovernable yet again. But in the meantime, there will be much humor, such as this...
Another day, another melt up overnight wiping out all the post-Moody's weakness, this time coming courtesy of Europe, where following the French downgrade, the EURUSD filled its entire gap down and then some in the span of minutes following the European open, when it moved from 1.2775 to 1.2820 as if on command. And with the ES inextricably linked to the most active and levered pair in the world, it is is no surprise to see futures unchanged. It appears that the primary catalyst in the centrally planned market has become the opening of said "market" itself, as all other news flow is now largely irrelevant: after all the central planners have it all under control.
With Thanksgiving this Thursday, trading desks will be empty on Wednesday afternoon and remain so until next Monday. So even though it is a holiday shortened week, here are the main things to expect in the next 5 days: Bank of Japan meeting, the European Council meeting and the Eurogroup meeting. Key data releases include European and Chinese Flash PMIs.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the just announced Hostess liquidation, one that will be largely debated and discussed in the media, or maybe not at all, is the curious cast of characters and the peculiar history of this particular bankruptcy. Some may not be aware that the company's Chapter 11 (or colloquially known as 22) bankruptcy filing this January, which today became a Chapter 7 liquidation, was the second one in the company's recent history, with Hostess, previously Interstate Bakeries, emerging from its previous protracted multi-year bankruptcy in 2009. What is curious is that its emergence had all the drama of a anti-Mitt Romney PAC funded thriller, with a PE firm, in this case Ripplewood holdings, injecting $130 million in order to obtain equity control of Hostess as it was emerging last time. There were also more hedge funds, investment banks, strategic buyers, politicians involved in this particular story than one can shake a deep fried numismatic value Twinkie at. More importantly, however, as America has been habituated following the last season of the reality TV show known as the presidential election, if Private Equity then "bad." Only this time there is a twist: because it wasn't really PE that was the pure evil in the Obama long-term campaign, it was associating PE with Republicans, and thus: with jobs outsourcing. And here comes the Hostess twist: because Tim Collins of Ripplewood, was a prominent Democrat, a position which allowed him to get involved in the first bankruptcy process in the first place, due to his proximity with the Teamsters' long-term heartthrob Dick Gephardt (whose consulting group just happens to also be an equity owner of Hostess). In other words, the traditional republican-cum-PE scapegoating strategy here will be a tough one to pull off since the narrative collapses when considering that it was a Democrat who rescued the firm, only to see it implode in a trainwreck that has resulted in the liquidation of a legendary brand, and 18,500 layoffs.
Silver remains the most under appreciated and under reported on asset in the world despite continuing positive fundamentals.
The Telegraph published an unusually bullish article on silver yesterday which suggests that silver might rise by over five times in the next few years.
Emma Wall interviews fund manager Ian Williams who says that "silver is about to enter a sustained bull market that will take the price from the current level of $32 an ounce to $165 an ounce and we expect this price to be hit at the end of October 2015."
As the government and Bank of Japan constantly survey the marketplace for speculation while intervening en masse with ever-decreasing levels of effectiveness, we thought the following charts would highlight the impact of the relative strength of the JPY. Of course, in the past, at least the trade surplus (thanks to these legacy companies) used to provide incremental capital into the country but now even that is gone. As Credit Suisse notes, "the TWI of the JPY has appreciated by more than 40% post crisis – even more than the CHF! But it is the relative strength versus the KRW that is really hurting Japanese firms. The Won plummeted sharply post crisis and has recovered nowhere near pre-crisis levels. Some of this shift in relative competitiveness may be reflected in the market cap of Samsung versus that of major Japanese tech firms. Samsung is more than three times the size of Japan’s top technology firms."
The overnight session has so far been marked with one after another economic debacle out of Asia. First Japan announced that its Q3 GDP fell an annualized 3.5% in Q3, more than the 3.4% expected, the worst decline since last year's earthquake. The drivers were sliding exports and a collapse in consumer spending. The announcement brought on a barrage of platitudes by various Japanese officials who are shocked, shocked, that 32 years of Keynesian miracles have resulted in this horrifying outcome. Of course, everyone knows 33 years is the charm for Keynesian miracles. So much for the boosts from Japan's QE 8 aad QE 9: bring on QE 10. The pundits appear surprised now that Japan is back in a solid recession, which to us is quite surprising as well - does this mean that Japan ever exited the depression? Then China came out with an announcement that its credit growth plunged in October with Chinese banks extended CNY 505bn new yuan loans in October, down from CNY 623bn in September and less than the CNY 590 expected. The trifecta of bad news was rounded off by India, whose Industrial Production joined the rest of the world in global recession, when it dropped 0.4% in September on expectations of a 2.8% rise, even as Consumer prices rose 9.75% Y/Y - the global stagflation wave has arrived... For all those wondering why futures have managed to eek out a modest overnight ramp.
Gold is 3.35% higher and silver 4.53% higher this week in US dollars in the aftermath of Obama's re-election. Gold in euros looks set to break out above €1,400/oz and is 4.1% higher and in sterling gold has risen 3.7% so far this week. Silver is 5.25% higher in euros and 4.8% higher in pounds. Gold and silver are set for higher weekly closes in all fiat currencies which may negate the recent bearish short term technical picture and set the precious metals up for the traditional yearend rally. The data clearly shows that November is gold's strongest month and one of silver's strongest months. December, January and February are also strong months - prior to a period of weakness is often seen in March.
Perhaps those sage English philosophers 'The Vapors' were on to something 32 years ago when they asked if we were "Turning Japanese" for it seems the following charts from Nomura certainly suggest the US bond market is heading in that direction. From demographics to monetary policy; from investor allocations to flows; and from bond bubbles and volatility to long-term interest-rate paths, it seems we share a lot more than a love for sushi and pachinko with our neigbours across the ocean as we seem to be chasing after many Japanese models (of asset allocation and macro-economics).
With Greece and Spain (and arguably Portugal and a few others) stuck in dramatic debt-deflation spirals, the political need for maintaining these nations in the euro far outweigh the economic 'benefits'. As UBS notes, looking at the euro area today, one cannot help but notice the parallels to Japan of the early 1990s. Europe today, as with Japan a generation ago, is an aging society with structural rigidities, pockets of corporate excellence, but wide swathes of inefficiency; but the two most striking similarities (and not in a good way) lie in the banking system (bloated from over-leveraging, under-capitalization, and bad loans); and fiscal policy (which is inherently pro-cyclical - as the politics of monetary union preclude national level stimulus - leaving ineffective monetary transmission channels unable to help fiscal failure). As UBS concludes, the current euro's similarities to Japan are key impediments to growth - and as such we should expect sclerotic economic activity for a five-year period.
Equity markets in Europe traded higher today, supported by solid corporate earnings, further monetary policy easing from Japan, as well as what can only be described as “less bad” GDP report from Spain. Also, commodity complex benefited from upward revision to China’s GDP estimate by analysts at Bank of America (Q4 GDP estimate now stands at 7.8% vs. Prev. view of 7.5%). Decent demand for the latest debt issuance saw IT/GE 10s tighten by c.5bps, with SP/GE 10s also seen tighter by 3bps.
Almost exactly a month ago, the BOJ surprised most analysts with an unexpected increase in its asset purchase agreement by JPY10 trillion bringing the total to JPY80 trillion. There was one small problem though: the entire impact of the additional easing fizzled in under half a day, or 9 hours to be precise. This was, as Art Cashin summarized the following day, Japan's failed QE 8. It is now a month later, and with nothing changed in the global race to debase status quo, the time has come for the BOJ to attempt QE 9. Or that's the case at least according to the toothless Japanese government, which has formally demanded that Shirakawa do a nine-peat of what has been a flawed policy response for over 30 years now, this time with another JPY 20 trillion, or double the last month's intervention. Because according to Japanese Senkei, it is now Japan's turn to pull a Chuck Schumer and demand even mor-er eternity-er QE out of monetary authority of the endlessly deflating country. In reverting to the Moore's law of failed monetarism, we expect that a QE 9 out of Japan will have the same halflife as QE 8, if indeed the program size is double the last. At which point it will again fizzle.
While the entire 'developed' world is now openly engaged in destroying the balance sheet of its assorted central banks - the sole means to devalue local currencies, a liability, by accepting ever more toxic 'assets' as currency collateral - thereby pursuing strategies which until now were strictly relegated to the banana republic playbook, there are some countries who see what is coming over the horizon, and refuse to join the printing frenzy. One such place is China, for whom, as we have repeatedly shown the threat of a fast onset of inflation is far greater (3x more bank deposits as a % of GDP than in the US, means a soaring capital market as a result of inflation will benefit far less while a deposit exodus will cause hyperinflationary havoc in minutes) than any other developed world country. And with the inability to hide "non-core" CPI as a result of food and energy being such a greater portion of overall inflationary bean counting than in the US, it means that despite the demands of Tim Geithner for immediate more easing by China, the PBOC is now stuck waiting to import everyone else's inflation: this includes the Fed, ECB, BOE, BOJ, Korea, Australia and all other bank engaged in adding liquidity, while its own hands are quite tied. Because recall that it was only last year that the NYT said that: "Inflation in China Poses Big Threat to Global Trade." Now we are told that lack of inflation poses the same threat, when in reality what they mean is that with the world tapped out, one more source of marginal liquidity is needed. Judging by overnight comments from the PBOC's head Zhou Xiaochuan that liquidity, suddenly so very needed to keep the game of musical chairs going, is not going to come from China just as we have warned for months on end.
While stating the somewhat obvious - that the Fed's actions will cause 'pain' when they (try to) stop QE - when it comes from a high-ranking officer of the establishment elite (as opposed to a tin-foil-hat-wearing, BLS-exposing, HFT-undermining, fringe blog) such as Goldman Sachs' President Gary Cohn, perhaps more mainstream will begin to question the one-way path we are on. Cohn's interview on Bloomberg TV ranged from his reading habits (Greg Smith's tell-all) to the world's central bank printfest and how "we will have to go through the pains of stopping QE" and from his views of the election status quo to the global economic malaise, he does so well on the reality front - until he shovels undying praise on Mario Draghi's back for his "spectacular job" - though admits he has not solved Europe's real problems.