Bank of Japan
Now that Ben Bernanke has handed over the keys of the Federal Reserve, there are all sorts of theoretical arguments, pro and con, concerning his bold quantitative easing (QE) programs, in which the Fed massively expanded its balance sheet. Many critics have worried that this will disrupt the proper functioning of credit markets, and threatens to severely debase the US dollar. The defenders of Bernanke have argued that he spared the US (and indeed the world) from a second Great Depression. One of the odd (more farcical) points that people raise in Bernanke’s defense is the case of Japan... We do have historical examples of central banks ruining their economies/currencies through massive expansions of their balance sheets (Weimar Germany, Zimbabwe, etc.). To our knowledge, this has never actually worked anywhere in history...
The key event overnight was the monetary policy announcement by the BOJ in which its kept it QE unchanged while the Board decided by unanimous vote to double the scale of two funding facilities, namely the Stimulating Bank Lending Facility and Growth-Supporting Funding Facility and to extend the application period for these facilities by a year. Both facilities are designed to stimulate the provision of funding to Japanese banks, allowing them to borrow from the BoJ at a fixed rate of 0.1%pa, for a period 4 years now, instead of 1-3 years previous. Some are arguing that by expanding its funding programmes but not changing its asset purchase targets, the BoJ has signalled its intention to ease policy whilst preserving firepower for extra stimulus in coming months when a sales-tax hike is due to kick-in. The result was a surge in both the Nikkei and USDJPY. The problem, and confirmation that once again the market is now a bunch of cluless automatons unable to analyze even one sentence below the headline level, is that as Goldman explained overnight, the "surprise" announcement was already fully factored in.
Get long 'Depends' may be the most befitting headline for tonight's massive macro miss in Japan. For the 3rd quarter in a row, Japanese GDP missed expectations with a meager +1.0% annualized growth (versus a +2.8% expectation), and a tiny 0.3% Q/Q change vs expectations of a 0.7% increase, this is the biggest miss and slowest growth since Abe retook the economic throne after his chronic-diarrhea-prone first attempt to save the nation. No matter how hard they try to spin this, there's no silver lining as consumer and business spending missed expectations notably and the only Tokyo snow fell just last week so long after the quarter was over... and this is before a tax hike that is aimed at showing how fiscally responsible the nation and not simply an insolvent ponzi scheme alive through the good graces of the greater fools of leveraged carry trades.
Japan Machine Orders Crumble At Fastest Pace In 22 Years As BOJ Board Member Warns More QE May Not Be ComingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/11/2014 20:13 -0400
If you needed another reason to buy stocks, trust in the growth meme, and have your faith in Abenomics confirmed... look away. Japanese Machine orders for December just printed -15.7% in December - the biggest MoM plunge since 1992. This is the biggest miss to expectations since 2006 and what is considerably more problematic for Abe et al. is that YoY expectations of a core machine order rise of 17.4% was hopelessly missed with a small 6.7% gain (and this is data that excludes more volatile orders). While machine orders are completely irrelevant, even if on their own they portend a recession; what would be far more troubling to the Kool aid addicts is if the BOJ were to announce that just like the Fed, it too is tapering its Open-ended QE ambitions. Considering this is precisely what BOJ board member Kiuchi just did, that relentless USDJPY meltup overnight may not be such a slamdunk...
Kudos to the Bank of Japan. Its heroic campaign to water down the yen has borne fruit.
Nine Event Risks for the week ahead: identified, discussed and assessed.
Things in the country whose central bank assets have climbed to ¥229 trillion, or 48 percent of the nation’s nominal gross domestic product, are about to get very interesting: on one hand, it will have no choice but to slow down monetization under its existing QE program. On the other, pernicious inflation is spreading doubts the BOJ will be able to boost QE in the near-future. What is a country stuck in a vortex between deflation and runaway inflation to do? "It may be too late to prevent long-term rates doing something crazy” should the BOJ hold off on tapering before inflation reaches the target, said Richard Koo, the chief economist in Tokyo at Nomura.
The bubble of private debt that we have seen inflate in China since the Lehman crisis is unlike anything that the world has ever seen. Never before has so much private debt been accumulated in such a short period of time. All of this debt has helped fuel tremendous economic growth in China, but now a whole bunch of Chinese companies are realizing that they have gotten in way, way over their heads. In fact, it is being projected that Chinese companies will pay out the equivalent of approximately a trillion dollars in interest payments this year alone. That is more than twice the amount that the U.S. government will pay in interest in 2014. So will a default event in China on January 31st be the next "Lehman Brothers moment" or will it be something else? In the end, it doesn't really matter. The truth is that what has been going on in the global financial system is completely and totally unsustainable, and it is inevitable that it is all going to come horribly crashing down at some point during the next few years. It is just a matter of time.
There are definite limits to what QE can do. Now that even Bill Dudley and other Fed officials admit that the Fed doesn’t understand QE, it’s only a matter of time before the market begins to crumble.
Markets have started the week on the back foot, despite a brief rally following a better-than-expected Q4 GDP print in China. Indeed, Asian equities recorded a small pop following the GDP report, but the gains were shortlived as the general negativity on China’s growth trajectory continues to weigh on Asian markets. In terms of the data itself, China’s Q4 GDP (7.7% YoY) was slightly ahead of expectations of 7.6% but it was slower than Q3’s 7.8%. DB’s China economist Jun Ma maintains his view that economic growth will likely accelerate in 2014 on stronger external demand and the benefits from deregulation. The slight slowdown was also evident in China’s December industrial production (9.7% YoY vs 10% previous), fixed asset investment (19.6% YoY vs 19.9% previous) and retail sales (13.6% vs 13.7% previous) data which were all released overnight. Gains in Chinese growth assets were quickly pared and as we type the Shanghai Composite (-0.8%), HSCEI (-1.1%) and AUDUSD (-0.1%) are all trading weaker on the day. On a more positive note, the stocks of mining companies BHP (+0.29%) and Rio Tinto (+0.26%) are trading flat to slightly firmer and LME copper is up 0.1%. Across the region, equities are generally trading lower paced by the Nikkei (-0.5%) and the Hang Seng (-0.7%). Staying in China, the 7 day repo rate is another 50bp higher to a three month high of 9.0% with many investors continuing to focus on the Chinese shadow banking system following the looming restructuring of a $500m trust product that was sold to ICBC’s customers.
Weak results from Intel, American Express and Capital One, not to mention Goldman and Citi? No problem: there's is overnight USDJPY levitation for that, which has pushed S&P futures firmly into the green after early overnight weakness: because while the components of the market may have such trivial indicators as multiples and earnings, the USDJPY to which the Emini is tethered has unlimited upside. And now that the market is back into "good news is good, bad news is better" mode, today's avalanche of macro data which includes December housing starts and building permits, industrial production, UofMichigan consumer confidence and JOLTs job openings, not to mention the up to $3 billion POMO, should make sure the week closes off in style: after all can't have the tapped out consumer enter the weekend looking at a red number on their E-trade account: they might just not spend as much (money they don't have).
Earlier today we showed that even the big banks are officially throwing in the towel on the "artificial market" when Deutsche's Jim Reid summarized the complete insanity of Bernanke's (because it still is his) centrally-planned new normal as follows. "So far this year markets have gone down on good data, gone up on good data, gone down on concerns over weaker data and also gone up on weaker data." Now we can add yet another item to the list of explanations that will send futures higher: a plunge in Australian job numbers. Moments ago, Australia reported that in December employment fell by a jarring 22,600 jobs on expectations of a 10,000 gain, driven by a 31,600 plunge in full-time jobs offset by an increase in 9,000 part-time jobs (do they have Obamacare in Australia too?).
If one listens to Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius these days, it is all roses for the global economy in 2014... much like it was for Goldman at the end of 2010, a case of optimism which went stupendously wrong. Goldman's Dominic Wilson admits as much in a brand new note in which he says, "Our economic and market views for 2014 are quite upbeat." However, unlike the blind faith Goldman had in a recovery that was promptly dashed, this time it is hedging, and as a result has just released the following not titled "Where we worry: Risks to our outlook", where Wilson notes: "After significant equity gains in 2013 and with more of a consensus that US growth will improve, it is important to think about the risks to that view. There are two main ways in which our market outlook could be wrong. The first is that our economic forecasts could be wrong. The second is that our economic forecasts could be right but our view of the market implications of those forecasts could be wrong. We highlight five key risks on each front here." In short: these are the ten things that keep Goldman up at night: the following five economic risks, and five market view risks.
The “Ig Nobel Prize” is parody of the Noble Prize that is awarded every year for the most trivial scientific achievement. For example, the 2007 recipient for the ‘Ig Nobel Peace Prize’ went to the United States Air Force Wright Lab in Ohio, for proposing the development of a ‘gay bomb’ that could be dropped in hostile territory and make enemy troops sexually attracted to each other. Make love, not war? So when we opened my email yesterday and saw the subject line: “Central Bank Governor of the Year”, we immediately presumed it was a similar satire. It wasn’t...
The world has depended on Chinese and American stimulus for years, and, as Caixin's Andy Xie notes, one implication of their tightening is a slowing global economy in 2014.