Early last month, we noted the irony inherent in the fact that Saudi Arabia, whose effort to bankrupt the US shale space has been complicated by the Fed's ZIRP, was set to opportunistically tap the debt market in an effort to offset a painful petrodollar reserve burn. As Bloomberg reports, Qatar is now doing the same, "raising money from local banks as the slump in oil prices buffets the finances of the Middle East’s largest oil and gas exporters."
News That Matters
While the markets had a brief, if historic, limit-down hiccup earlier this week, even if Black Monday is now long forgotten and stocks are mostly in the green for the week following another epic round of central bank intervention, yesterday the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials announced something far more troubling: Pennsylvania schools are starting the year "minus $1 billion" in funds.
- Virginia TV journalists killed by suspect with 'powder keg' of anger (Reuters)
- Policeman shot to death and three women stabbed, one fatally, in Louisiana (Reuters)
- China Intervened Today to Shore Up Stocks Ahead of Military Parade (Reuters)
- Margin Calls Bite Investors, Banks (WSJ)
- "Computer glitch" is preventing dozens of mutual funds, ETFs from promptly pricing their securities (WSJ)
- Oil prices rise more than 4 percent as equities rally (Reuters)
- Oil Industry Needs Half a Trillion Dollars to Endure Price Slump (BBG)
Last week, in the global currency war’s latest escalation, Kazakhstan instituted a free float for the tenge causing the currency to immediately plunge by some 25%. The rationale behind the move was clear enough. What might not be as clear is how recent events in developing economy FX markets stem from a seismic shift we began discussing late last year - namely, the death of the petrodollar system which has served to underwrite decades of dollar dominance and was, until recently, a fixture of the post-war global economic order.
Dazed And Confused: Futures Tumble Below 200 DMA, Oil Near $40, Soaring Treasurys Signal Deflationary DelugeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/20/2015 07:00 -0400
It is unclear what precipitated it (some blamed China concerns, fears of rate hikes, commodity weakness, technical picture deterioration although it's all just goalseeking guesswork) but overnight S&P futures followed yesterday's unexpected slide following what were explicitly dovish Fed minutes, and took another sharp leg lower down by almost 20 points, set to open below the 200 DMA again, as the dazed and confused investing world reacts to what both the Treasury and Oil market signal is a deflationary deluge. Indeed, oil is about to trade under $40 while the 10Y Treasury was last seen trading at 2.07%. Incidentally, the last time oil was here in March of 2009, the Fed was about to unleash QE 1. This time, so called experts are debating if the Fed will hike rates in one month or three.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record we'd like to say a bit more about economists' tendency to get their monetary history wrong; in particular, the common myths about the gold standard. If there's one monetary history topic that tends to get handled especially sloppily by monetary economists, not to mention other sorts, this is it. Sure, the gold standard was hardly perfect, and gold bugs themselves sometimes make silly claims about their favorite former monetary standard. But these things don't excuse the errors many economists commit in their eagerness to find fault with that "barbarous relic." The point, in other words, isn't to make a pitch for gold. It's to make a pitch for something - anything - that's better than our present, lousy money.
To keep the credit induced boom going,policy makers have convinced themselves that more credit and more money, provided at ever lower interest rates, are required. Why then, as The FOMC Minutes just showed, do the decision makers at the Fed want to increase rates? If Fed members follow up their words with deeds, they might soon learn that the ghosts they have been calling will indeed appear — and possibly won’t go away. The sooner the artificial boom comes to an end, the sooner the recession-depression sets in, which is the inevitable process of adjusting the economy and allowing an economically sound recovery to begin.
With oil prices pushing cycle lows and Shale firms as loaded with debt as they have ever been, the spike in energy sector credit risk should come as no surprise as the hopes of the last few months are destroyed. At 1076bps, credit risk for the energy sector has never been higher. As UBS recently warned, more defaults are looming and, as we discussed this week, private equity is waiting to pick up the heavily discounted pieces.
The Fed has basically borrowed from the future to improve today. The intention of Fed policy over the past 30 years has been to self-correct business cycles into a ‘steadier state’ by easing interest rates into weakness and hiking them into strength. Unfortunately, there is political-asymmetry between easing and hiking which has resulted in the stair-stepping of official interest rates down to the zero lower bound. Monetary policy has reached the practical limits of what it can do. Thus, the multi-decade credit era is coming to an end... Bad companies should be allowed to fail. Creative destruction is beneficial in the long run.
"These savings exceed the costs of the crisis - even if Greece were to default on its entire debt. [That is] even if Greece doesn't pay back a single cent, the public purse has benefited financially from the crisis."
- Grim China data keeps stimulus hopes alive (Reuters)
- Berkshire Hathaway to Buy Precision Castparts for About $37 Billion (BBG)
- Greece, lenders in final push to seal new bailout (Reuters)
- Quantitative Easing With Chinese Characteristics Takes Shape (BBG)
- Greece nears €86bn accord with creditors (FT)
- Oil Futures Signal Weak Prices Could Last Years (WSJ)
- Drop in long-term investment hinders eurozone recovery (FT)
- Two shot in Ferguson amid standoff between police, protesters (Reuters)
After a lukewarm start by the Chinese "market", which had dropped for the past 6 out of 7 days despite ever escalating measures by Beijing to manipulate stocks higher, finally the Shanghai Composite reacted favorably to Chinese micromanagement of stock prices and closed 3.7% higher as Chinese regulators stepped up their latest measures by adjusting rules on short-selling in order to reduce trading frequency and price volatility, resulting in several large brokerages suspending short sell operations. At this pace only buy orders will soon be legal which just may send the farce of what was once a "market" limit up.
We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history. Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. China is the biggest domino about to fall, and from a great height as well, threatening to flatten everything in its path on the way down. This is the beginning of a New World Disorder…
- Deadline Draws Near for Puerto Rico (WSJ)
- U.S. to defend Syrian rebels with airpower, including from Assad (Reuters)
- Alpha Natural Resources to Seek Chapter 11 (WSJ)
- Iran’s Rouhani Says Nuclear Deal ‘More Than What Was Imagined’ (BBG)
- Cables Show Hillary Clinton's State Department Deeply Involved in Trans-Pacific Partnership (IBTimes)
- Win or Lose, U.S. Stocks Get Biggest Earnings Bang Since ’12 (BBG)
- Weaker China factories argue for more policy support as stocks swoon (Reuters)