Bank of Japan
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.
just to make sure that the abysmal Q1 GDP which has now spilled over into Q2 and will likely see the US economy growing in the mid-2% range, has a sufficiently broad "excuse" in the third quarter of the year, here comes - in the middle of July - the polar vortex 2.0. As WaPo reports, "However you choose to refer to the looming weather pattern, unseasonably chilly air is headed for parts of the northern and northeastern U.S at the height of summer early next week."
It is no secret that unlike other banks who, while directly intervening in the bond market only manipulate equity prices in relative secrecy (usually via HFT-transacting intermediaries such as Citadel), the Bank of Japan has historically had no problem with buying equities outright, traditionally in the form of REITs and equity-tracking ETFs. Which explains why overnight it was revealed that in order to boost the stock market, pardon, economy, the Bank of Japan is preparing to purchase exchange-traded funds based on the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 as an "option to boost the impact of unprecedented easing," according to people familiar with BOJ discussions.
Weak GDP growth with major currency devaluation? This is called stagflation. And it’s causing the Bank of Japan some doubt.
With almost metronomic regularity, Japan will gush forth a headline proclaiming the ever-closer time when all the nation's retirees savings will be greatly rotated to the stock market and away from the nation's largest bond market in the world. This week was no exception; however, as Nikkei Asian Review reports, it appears the "all-talk" has turned to action...The Government Pension Investment Fund and other public pensions sold about 1.8 trillion yen ($17.4 billion) more in Japanese government bonds than they bought in the first three months of the year, fueling speculation that the GPIF may be rebalancing its portfolio sooner than expected. It seems rotating away from government bonds (which the GPIF has been worried about since 2011) into junk bonds and junk stocks is a far better use of 'wealth' - we can only imagine the GPIF risk models just got switch to '11'. As we explained last year, Japan's Plan B is not only not a panacea, but it is a House of Bonds Cards that would not survive an even modest gust of wind, and an even more modest contemplation into its true internal dynamics. We would urge Messrs Abe and Kuroda to come up with a fall back plan to the fall back plan before it, once again, becomes too late.
An overview of the price action in the FX market and a look at US 10-year yields. No ride on an ideological hobbie horse or axe to grind. Just trying to make sense of the price aciton
While we noted last week the death of the Japanese bond market as government intervention has killed the largest bond market in the world; it is now becoming increasingly clear that the dearth of trading volumes is not only spreading to equity markets but also to all major global markets as investors rotate to derivatives in order to find any liquidity. Central planners removal of increasing amounts of assets from the capital markets (bonds and now we find out stocks), thus reducing collateral availability, leaves traders lamenting "liquidity is becoming a serious issue." While there are 'trade-less' sessions now in Japanese bonds, the lack of liquidity is becoming a growing problem in US Treasuries (where the Fed owns 1/3rd of the market) and Europe where as JPMorgan warns, "some of this liquidity may be more superficial than really deep." The instability this lack of liquidity creates is extremely worrisome and likely another reason the Fed wants to Taper asap as DoubleLine warns, this is "the sort of thing that rears its ugly head when it is least welcome -- when it’s the greatest problem."
Idiot central-planner and economist "justifications" for always being wrong aside, the reality is that El Nino is on its way even if the slowdown in the economy will be due to every other factor except the weather (start with the Fed) which just so happens is a "recurring" event. So upcoming GDP collapse (that nobody could have foreseen earlier, nobody, certainly not the Fed) notwithstanding, here is what one should really expect as a result of the unique weather formation which whose temperature and precipitation impacts across the United States occur during the cold half of the year, from October through March.
Straightforward dispassionate overview of the investment climate
Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.
With another day of little otherwise completely irrelevant macro news (because following last night's abysmal Australian jobs data one would think the AUD would be weaker; one would be wrong), market participants - all 3 of them - and algos (which have finally uncovered where Iraq is on google maps) are finally turning their attention to the latest conflict in Iraq (because they obviously no longer care about the martial law in Thailand or the civil war in Ukraine), where the Al Qaeda spin off ISIS overnight seized at least 310K B/D in refinery capacity in northern Iraq according to the Police, and what is more concerning, is now less than a 100 kilometers away from Baghdad. Will ISIS dare to venture further south? Keep an eye on crude for the answer.