Bank of Japan
A specter is haunting the world, the specter of two percent inflationism. Whether pronounced by the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank, or from the Bank of Japan, many monetary central planners have declared their determination to impose a certain minimum of rising prices on their societies and economies. One of the oldest of economic fallacies continues to dominate and guide the thinking of monetary policy makers: that printing money is the magic elixir for the creating of sustainable prosperity. Once the inflationary monetary expansion ends or is slowed down, it is discovered that the artificially created supply and demand patterns and relative price and wage structure are inconsistent with non-inflationary market conditions. Governments and their monetary central planners, therefore, are the cause and not the solution to the instabilities and hardships of inflations and recessions.
Yesterday's epic market surge, the biggest Dow surge since December 2011 on the back of the most violent short squeeze in three years, highlighted just why being caught wrong side in an illiquid market can be terminal to one's asset management career (especially if on margin), and thus why hedge funds are so leery of dipping more than their toe in especially on the short side, resulting in a 6th consecutive year of underperformance relative to the confidence-boosting policy tool that is the S&P. And with today's session the last Friday before Christmas week, compounded by a quadruple witching option expiration, expect even less liquidity and even more violent moves as a few E-mini oddlots take out the entire stack on either the bid or ask side. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which, now that equities have decided to ignore both HY and energy prices, is the only driver for risk left: this means the usual pre-US open upward momentum ignition rigging will be rife to set a positive tone ahead of today's session.
The rank economic cheerleading in the guise of “news” printed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the rest of the financial press never ceases to amaze. But on the heels of Congress’ pathetic capitulation to Wall Street over the weekend you have to wonder if even the robo-writers who compose the headlines are on the take. How could anyone in the right mind label this weekend’s CRomnibus abomination “A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress”? Apparently, that unaccountable plaudit was bestowed upon Washington by the WSJ solely because it avoided another government shutdown.
- Sydney Siege Sparks Muslim Call for Calm Amid Backlash Fear (BBG)
- Oil Spilling Over Into Central Bank Policy as Fed Enters Fray (BBG)
- Biggest LBO of 2014: BC Partners to acquire PetSmart for $8.7 billion (Reuters)
- Tremble algos: the SEC has hired... "QUANTS" (WSJ)
- When the bubble just isn't bubbly enough: There’s $1.7 Trillion Locked Out of China’s Stock Rally (BBG)
- Oil price slide roils emerging markets, yen rises (Reuters) - may want to hit F5 on that
- Libya Imposes Force Majeure on 2 Oil Ports After Clashes (BBG) ... and will resume production in days
- Amid Crisis, Pimco Steadies Itself (WSJ)
The simple message: Quantitative Easing has failed to generate inflation. Stated alternatively: QE has not been able to overcome still extant deflationary pressures. Global central banker actions in printing over $13 trillion of new money over the last 6 years have been insufficient to surmount still existing deflationary forces. It tells us the probability of further global deflationary impulses are very real. This has direct implications for any sector of the economy or financial markets whose fundamentals are negatively leveraged to deflationary pressures (think banks, real estate, etc.) Be assured the central bankers are more than fully aware of this.
If there's one absolute truism we hear again and again, it's that central banks are desperately trying to create inflation. Perversely, their easy-money policies actually generation the exact opposite: deflation. Financial and risk bubbles don't pop in a vacuum--all the phantom collateral constructed with mal-invested free money for financiers will also implode.
"My Helicopters Are Ready. You Will All Be Trillionaires." Must see chart of gold in German marks from 1918 to 1923. The Fed - "Silently robbing your purchasing power since 1913 ... "
Last week, Zero Hedge first showed a chart so simple, even a Krugman could get it: at this point (and really ever since USDJPY 110 and higher), any incremental Yen devaluation is destructive for the Japanese economy, leading to an unprecedented surge in defaults. And here is Japan Times confirming what we said, with a report that "Corporate bankruptcies linked to the yen’s slide hit a new record in November, highlighting the strains on small and midsize companies as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe campaigns for re-election on his deflation-busting economic strategy."
Stocks are down... EU bonds are down... EURUSD is up, and Draghi is not providing his usual promises. Cue The Bank of Japan proxies buying USDJPY to ignite some momentum in risk assets... USDJPY just broke above 120 (for the first time since July 2007)... ran all the stops then tumbled back down...
"The stock market just keeps zooming up. A low equity allocation must be hurting you now... For all purposes, this is a hideously expensive market. I don’t care if it’s a bubble or not. It’s too expensive, and I don’t need to own it. That is the problem. This is the first central bank sponsored near-bubble. There is just nowhere to hide... but... to think that central banks will always be there to bail out equity investors is incredibly dangerous."
Is this weakened system able to absorb a spike in one-directional volume? Will it step up and keep order? Or will it back off and allow volatility to roar?
Can there be a currency war without victims? Why hasn't any official accused Japan of a currency war?
It seemed almost too obvious. The European Central Bank was imposing negative interest rates and devising new quantitative easing schemes to combat the growing threat of deflation; the SNB was buying foreign currencies in "unlimited quantities" to cap the value of the Franc; the Bank of Japan was madly printing Yen in a desperate frenzy to finally stir up domestic demand; and then the Bank of China responded with its own rate cuts. All this, while the Federal Reserve was quietly ending its quantitative easing policies and even hinting at forthcoming (2015) rate hikes. The long dollar trade, and all it's various expressions, soon became one of the most crowded trades of 2014.
1. Heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals and containing debt
2. Economic growth policy uncertainties and challenges in ending deflation
3. Erosion of policy effectiveness and credibility could undermine debt affordability