Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Something strange is going on in China.
Perhaps the most notable feature of the October Treasury International Capital report is that in October foreigners sold a whopping $27.2 billion in US equities, surpassing the dump just after the first Taper Tantrum, when they sold $27.1 billion in June of 2013 when they also sold $40.8 billion in Treasurys. This was the largest selling of US corporate stocks by foreign entities since the August 2007 quant flash crash, when some $40.6 billion in US stocks were sold by offshore accounts. However, what this month's TIC data will surely be best remember for, is that both China and Russia dumped US Treasurys in October, some $14 billion and $10 billion, respecitvely, in the process sending China's total Treasury holdings to just $1,253 billion, the lowest since February 2013 and just $30 billion more than the TSYs held by America's second largest (offshore) creditor, Japan.
And the final punch in the gut on this bloodbathy Friday some from French Fitch which just downgraded France from AA+ to AA: "The weak outlook for the French economy impairs the prospects for fiscal consolidation and stabilising the public debt ratio. The French economy underperformed Fitch's and the government's expectations in 1H14 as it struggled to find any growth momentum, in common with a number of other eurozone countries. Underlying trends remained weak despite the economy growing more strongly than expected in 3Q, when inventories and public spending provided an uplift. Euro depreciation and lower oil prices will provide some boost to growth in 2015. Fitch's near-term GDP growth projections are unchanged from the October review of 0.4% in 2014 and 0.8% in 2015, down from 0.7% and 1.2% previously. Continued high unemployment at 10.5% is also weighing on economic and fiscal prospects."
And just like that, the list of countries who want to repatriate their gold just increased by one more, because after Venezuela, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and rumors of Belgium, we now can add Austria to those nations for whom the "6000 year old barbarous relic bubble" is more than just "tradition."
I love the idea that prosperity can be decreed by a G20 communiqué. World leaders in Brisbane have airily committed themselves to two per cent growth. (Why only two per cent? Why not 20 per cent? Or 200 per cent? Who knew it was so easy?) Meanwhile, in the real world, the divergence between Continental Europe and the rest of the planet accelerates. David Cameron can hardly have failed to notice, as he looked around the G20 table, that his European colleagues are the ones with the worst problems. Britain is in the wrong place.
The look at the drivers of next week, without using the word manipulation or conspiracy, or referring to how stupid or evil some people may or may not be.
"This last 1900 point Dow Jones push upwards - and the Ebola events leading into it - it was so orchestrated and heightened at critical points but the ascent and push straight up in price, and sideways nonreaction after was completely unlike anything I've seen before. After going up for a record-breaking amount of time the last five or so years, in a nonlinear exponential mania type of ascent, there should normally be tremendous volatility that follows... After this year and especially this last 1900 point Dow run up in October, and post non-reaction, that I am 100 percent confident that that one buyer is our own Federal Reserve or other central banks with a goal to "stimulate" our economy by directly buying stock index futures."
The financial system is lurching towards the next round of the Great Crisis that began in 2007.
- "The hate us for our..." Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program (WSJ)
- Ukraine and Russia take center stage as leaders gather for G20 (Reuters)
- Moscow and Kiev trade accusations; U.S. warns Russia against escalation (Reuters)
- Heartland Central Banker Calls Asset Bubbles Top Concern (BBG)
- U.S. Said to Give Banks December Deadline in FX Probe (BBG)
- Series of Failures Enabled White House Breach, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Yen plumbs seven-year trough on likely Japan sales tax delay (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Chase Bankers Said to Lead Moscow Departure (BBG)
If yesterday's markets closed broadly unchanged following all the excitement from the latest "buy the rumor, sell the news" European stress test coupled with a quadruple whammy of macroeconomic misses across the globe, then today's overnight trading session has been far more muted with no major reports, and if the highlight was Kuroda's broken, and erroneous, record then the catalyst that pushed the Nikkei lower by 0.4% was a Bloomberg article this morning mentioning that lower oil prices could mean the BoJ is forced to "tone down or abandon its outlook for inflation." This comes before the Bank of Japan meeting on Friday where the focus will likely be on whether Kuroda says he is fully committed to keeping current monetary policy open ended and whether or not he outlines a target for the BoJ’s asset balance by the end of 2015; some such as Morgan Stanely even believe the BOJ may announce an expansion of its QE program even if most don't, considering the soaring import cost inflation that is ravaging the nation and is pushing Abe's rating dangerously low. Ironically it was the USDJPY levitation after the Japanese session, which launched just as Europe opened, moving the USDJPY from 107.80 to 108.10, that has managed to push equity futures up 0.5% on the usual: nothing.