Bank of Japan
A dispassionate look at what the ECB announced last week and the potential implications
Eurozone recessions, unemployment fiascos, toppling banks, crashing auto sales... didn’t exist, sez the Stoxx 600. But then an ugly thing happened.
Goodbye ZIRP, hello NIRP. Today's decision by the ECB to officially lower the deposit facility rate to negative (as in you pay the bank to hold your deposits) is shocking, but not surprising: we previewed just this outcome precisely two years ago in "Europe's "Monetary Twilight Zone" Neutron Bomb: NIRP." Here is what we wrote in June 2012 about Europe's unprecedented NIRP monetary experiment.
Gold surged 1.6% in euros to €928/oz after the historic ECB announcement to adopt negative interest rates. Cheap money, financial repression and currency debasement are classic recipes for short term financial and economic gains. Throughout history, they have been the easy options for emperors, kings, queens and governments. They are the easy option for the ECB and central banks today.
Borrowing heavily from Albert Edwards "Ice Age" analogy of our new normal, PIMCO's Bill Gross, after explaining why he does not have a cell phone, discusses the "frigidly low" levels of "The New Neutral" in this week's letter. Confirming Ben Bernanke's "not in my lifetime" promise for low rates and a lack of normalization, Gross explains that the "the new neutral" real policy rate will be close to 0% as opposed to 2-3% (just as in Japan) leaving an increasingly small incremental rise in rates as potentially responsible for popping the bubble. Gross concludes, "if 'The New Neutral' rates stay low, it supports current prices of financial assets. They would appear to be less bubbly," clearly defending the valuation of bonds knowing that he can't expose stocks as 'bubbly' without exposing his firm to more outflows.
“I say to all those who bet against Greece and against Europe: you lost and Greece won. You lost and Europe won.” - Jean-Claude Juncker...
[Spoiler Alert: No, it's not over yet]
Dispassionae look at the several events in the week ahead.
Even soothsayers and Abenomics spin doctors expected a downdraft after Japan’s consumption tax was jacked up. But not this.
The Keynesians have failed. Japan has proved it. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world… and the markets catch on.
- Vietnam, China trade accusations after Vietnamese fishing boat sinks (Reuters)
- SEC Set to Spur Exchange Trading (WSJ)
- Bank of Japan quietly eyes stimulus exit (Reuters)
- Japan Risks Low Growth Even as Easing Spurs Inflation (BBG)
- Hello Japan: Bond Market Message to Fed: Your 4% Rate Outlook Is Too High (BBG)
- Malaysia, UK firm release satellite data on missing MH370 flight (Reuters)
- Fighting rages in eastern Ukraine city, dozens dead (Reuters)
- Bad Credit No Problem as Balance-Sheet Bombs Rally 94% (BBG)
- Draghi’s Asset-Backed Drive Rouses Academic Skeptics (BBG)
- For-Profit Colleges Face Test From State, Federal Officials (WSJ)
With the Fed tapering and both China “I don't think the markets are discounting what’s really happening in China,” and Japan’s currencies likely to weaken, the net impact on the U.S. will be deflationary, Kyle Bass warned in a recent presentation. That trend will be accelerated by the improvement in the balance of trade for the U.S., which had its current account deficit shrink due to increased hydrocarbon production. Bass warns, the crucial moment will come when the U.S. reports a sub-6% unemployment rate, meeting the target it has set for normalizing its monetary policy by ending QE and raising rates. He predicted that will come in July. That will be the Fed’s “worst nightmare,” he said. Raising rates would stifle growth and recreate unemployment problems, which would be disastrous politically, according to Bass.
Central banks see their main role now in supporting asset markets, the economy, the banks, and the government. They are positively petrified of potentially derailing anything through tighter policy. They will structurally “under-tighten”. Higher inflation will be the endgame but when that will come is anyone’s guess. Growth will, by itself, not lead to a meaningful response from central bankers. No country has ever become more prosperous by debasing its currency and ripping off its savers. This will end badly...
Another right of perfectly round number supports: while the Shanghai Composite once again dipped below 2000 overnight to as low as 1991 only to close modestly higher, and the Nikkei followed suit, also sliding below the psychological support level of 14,000 to an intraday low of 13,964 only to close just above 14,000 if in the red, it was the USDJPY that has suffered the most technical pain when shortly after 2:30 am eastern time, the USDJPY dropped by nearly 40 pips, hours after the BOJ indicated that not only is it happy with where in the QE process it stands, but hinted there may well be no more QE, and certainly nothing imminent . In the process, the USDJPY fully smashed the 200 DMA, with the next key parallel support being the 200DMA in the EURJPY at 138.08 (which was at 138.34 last). When that too gives way, it is a straight line to double digits in the USDJPY, and the countdown to the end of the Abe regime begins in earnest.
Given that zero economists surveyed expected any further QQE in this May BoJ statement, the market's positive knee-jerk reaction to the "unchanged" nature is odd:
*BOJ RETAINS PLAN FOR 60T-70T YEN ANNUAL RISE IN MONETARY BASE (coz it's working so well)
*BOJ SEES DECLINE IN DEMAND AFTER SALES TAX HIKE (whocouldanode?)
*BOJ SAYS EASING IS HAVING INTENDED IMPACT ON ECONOMY (crushing consumer through increasingly expensive import costs?)
The excitement must be based on them saying that "exports have leveled off more or less" and the economy is "recovering moderately." One can't help but feel like this run-stop pop will be faded very quickly... as hope is pushed to July for moar QQE.
Not much going on tonight, except for the non-coupy martial law announcement in Thailand where the government is said to still be in charge of everything except for martial law decisions taken by the army of course, which in turn is in charge of everything else apparently including the central bank which intervened so extensively in the market, the Baht was barely changed at one point. There was also news of explosions and clashes in Benghazi but as everyone knows, what difference does Libya make at this, or any other, point. Additionally overnight there were reports that the cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk in east Ukraine were being shelled by the Ukraine army but that too barely registered as bullish for the USDJPY (which in now traditional fashion ramped during the US day session then sold off during Asia hours).