Bank of Japan
Although the probability of any one of the predictions coming true is low, they are deduced strategically by Saxo Bank analysts based on a feasible - if unlikely - series of market and political events. As Saxo's chief economist notes, "This isn't meant to be a pessimistic outlook. This is about critical events that could lead to change - hopefully for the better. After all, looking back through history, all changes, good or bad, are made after moments of crisis after a comprehensive failure of the old way of doing things. As things are now, global wealth and income distribution remain hugely lopsided which also has to mean that significant change is more likely than ever due to unsustainable imbalances. 2014 could and should be the year in which a mandate for change not only becomes necessary, but is also implemented."
After having followed a zero interest rate policy strategy and facing a further deteriorating economy in an environment of falling prices (deflation), the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced the introduction of QE on 19 March 2001 and kept it in place until 9 March 2006. The BoJ chose for a very orderly and gradual unwinding of its government securities portfolio, by continuing its regular purchases of these securities (i.e a taper and not sale). The market rejoiced at the normalization for a week or 2... before dropping 24% in the following 2 months. Of course, that was a "policy mistake"; the Fed knows this time is different.
Of the 8 "most important ever" FOMC decisions in 2013, this one is undisputedly, and without doubt, the 8th. As Jim Reid summarizes, what everyone wonders is whether today’s decision by the FOMC will have a bearing on a few last-minute Xmas presents around global financial markets. No taper and markets probably breathe a sigh of relief and the feel-good factor might turn that handheld game machine into a full-blown PS4 by Xmas day. However a taper now might just take the edge off the festivities and leave a few presents on the shelves. Given that the S&P 500 has pretty much flat-lined since early-mid November in spite of better data one would have to say that some risk of tapering has been priced in but perhaps not all of it. Alternatively if they don’t taper one would expect markets to see a pretty decent relief rally over the rest of the year. So will it be Santa or Scrooge from the Fed tonight at 2pm EST?
Key events in the week ahead with implications for early 2014.
2013 was a stellar year for stocks, but how will the markets evolve in 2014? Here is our sneak preview...
Two phrases sum up the 'new normal' farce that is the world's equity markets in 2013... "Don't fight the Fed (or BoJ, or PBoC, or BoE)" and "Climbing the wall of worry"... one wonders, of course, what happens to 'climber' once the central bank's 'belay' is taken away (but that's just silly talk because it's all priced in, right?)...
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- In Yemen, al Qaeda gains sympathy amid U.S. drone strikes (Reuters)
- Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission (AP)
- In China, Western Companies Cut Jobs as Growth Ebbs (WSJ)
- U.S. lays out steps to smooth Obamacare coverage for January (Reuters)
- Las Vegas Sands Said to Drop $35 Billion Spanish Casino Proposal (BBG)
- Twitter Reverts Changes To Blocking Functionality After Strong Negative User Feedback (TechCrunch)
To help readers get a sense of perspective how the US and Japan compare when matched to China, below we present a chart showing the fixed monthly "money" creation by the Fed and the BOJ compared to the most comprehensive money supply aggregate available in China - the Total Social Financing - for the month of November. The chart speaks for itself.
While the perma bears may find comfort in the dollar's decline, its weakness has not been very broad, but really limited to the euro, sterling and currencies that move in their orbit. Still further dollar declines look likely near-term.
"Just be long. Pretty much anything. So here’s how I understand things now that I am no longer the last bear standing. You should buy equities if you believe many European banks and their sovereign paymasters are insolvent. You should buy shares if you put a higher probability than your peers on the odds of a European democracy rejecting the euro over the course of the next few years. You should be long risk assets if you believe China will have lowered its growth rate from 7% to nearer 5% over the course of the next two years. You should be long US equities if you are worried about the failure of Washington to address its fiscal deficits. And you should buy Japanese assets if you fear that Abenomics will fail to restore the fortunes of Japan (which it probably won’t). Hey this is easy… And then it crashed"
- Hugh Hendry
Overview of the week's economic and poltiical calendar in the context of the investment climate.
Printing yourself out of trouble and to wealth works. For the elite. Even in Japan. But how are workers and consumers faring? And by implication the real economy?
The early effects of the reform program have triggered a surge in the Japanese stock market, accelerated by the anticipation of growth revival. So far, so good for the markets and traders. But how will Abenomics accommodate public debt of over 200% GDP, and will Abe’s radical policies inspire a long-term economic recovery in Japan? Saxo Capital Markets’ new infographic explores the efficacy of Japan's prime minister's dangerous experiment to stimulate economic growth.
When Abenomics was unveiled in Japan upon the re-election of Shinzo Abe as prime minister in late 2012, it is safe to say that, having been mired in a 20-year deflationary spiral and with debt totaling 240% of GDP, Japan was nearing an endgame of sorts. Realizing just how late in the game he found himself, Abe promised to change all this, but in order to do so he needed to pursue a high-risk strategy with a low probability of success. The press (ever hungry for a new, catchy portmanteau word) dubbed it "Abenomics." Grant Williams, in his latest excellent letter prefers to call it "Avenomics": the economics of the hopeless. Bringing Kyle Bass' thesis up to date, Williams concludes, "say a prayer for Shinzo Abe, folks. For Avenomics to score, he's gonna need a miracle."