China is preparing to admit that the level of problem Local Government Financing Vehicle debt is double the 10.7 trillion yuan first reported just two years ago, something many suspected but few dared to voice in the open. But not only that: since the likely level of Non-Performing Loans (i.e., bad debt) within the LGFV universe has long been suspected to be in 30% range, a doubling of the official figure will also mean a doubling of the bad debt notional up to a stunning and nosebleeding-inducing $1 trillion, or roughly 15% of China's goal-seeked GDP! We wish the local banks the best of luck as they scramble to find the hundreds of billions in capital to fill what is about to emerge as the biggest non-Lehman solvency hole in financial history (without the benefit of a Federal Reserve bailout that is).
The storm that caused chaos across financial markets since May should not dissipate any time soon. As such, we retain a short bias towards China and an outright short in EM currencies. If world trade remains weak and local inflation keeps on gaining momentum, the currencies of several EM countries (ex-China) may remain under pressure. Such weakness may be exacerbated by tightening liquidity.
At precisely 4 am Eastern two opposite things happened: the German IFO Business Climate for July printed at a better than expected 106.2 vs 105.9 in June and higher than the 106.1 consensus: news which would have been EURUSD positive. And yet the EUR tumbled. Why? Because at the same time the ECB provided an update to the chart that "keeps Mario Draghi up at night" as we reminded readers yesterday - the ECB's all important credit creation update in the form of the M3, which not only missed expectations (of +3%) but declined from 2.9% to 2.3%. But more importantly, ECB lending to private sector shrank for the 14th consecutive month in June, and slid to a new record low 1.6% in June, down from a 1.1% in May.
"In the last week of June, the dollar value represented by ARM applications accounted for 16 percent of mortgage requests, the highest share since July 2008, two months before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, according to Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington." Oops.
- Humans Beating Robots Most Since ’08 as Trends Shift (BBG)
- Easing of Mortgage Curb Weighed (WSJ)
- European Banks Face Capital Gap With Focus on Leverage (BBG)
- Signs Suggest China Warming to Idea of Stimulus (WSJ)
- China Coal-Fired Economy Dying of Thirst as Mines Lack Water (BBG)
- Jeans and shoes show criminal underbelly of China-EU trade (Reuters)
- How U.S. drug sting targeted West African military chiefs (Reuters)
- Japan scrambles jets after China plane flies by southern islands (Reuters)
- Apple Plots Return to Growth After Coping With Aging Lineup (BBG)
- AT&T Falls Shy of Analyst Estimates as Discounts Hurt Margins (BBG)
- SAC insider trading case takes twist (FT)
Sovereign debt is the bonds that are issued by national governments in foreign currencies with the intent to finance a country’s growth. The risk involved is determined by whether that country is a developed or a developing country, whether that country has a stable government or not and the sovereign-credit ratings that are attributed by agencies to that country’s economy.
In the classic fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride, the beautiful maid Buttercup orders the farm boy Westley to perform numerous tasks to test his servitude. No matter the magnitude of the request, Westley simply answers "As you wish" and makes it so. Buttercup eventually comes to view Wesley with similar devotion, and true love is born. Similarly, investors have fallen back in love with the capital markets, whose continual response their increasingly irrational hopes has been "As you wish." It's inconceivable!
- MSM always "ahead" of the curve: Fed’s Messages Raise Volatility in Threat to Profits (BBG)
- Bernanke Plays Down Link Between Jobless Rate, Fed Moves (WSJ)
- Draghi to Carney Face Test Backing Guidance on Rates (BBG)
- House Republicans Vote to Delay Obamcare Mandates (Reuters)
- China media accuses Japan PM of dangerous politics (Reuters)
- China will replace America as the leading superpower, global attitudes survey finds (SCMP)
- Nonqualified mortgages make up as much as $1.5 trillion of the $10 trillion home-loan market (BBG)
- Dell $24.4 Billion Buyout Plan Is a Nail-Biter as Vote Looms (BBG)
- Republicans could see more bruising Senate primaries (Reuters)
- GM delays Chevy Cruze debut by a year (Reuters)
- Peltz needs support for PepsiCo restructuring dealsa (FT)
- Sweaty Wall Streeters Skip Booze for Spin-Class Meetings (BBG)
"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
On the even of Bastille Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, you know it must be bad when the French-company-owned ratings agency Fitch is forced to remove its AAA rating from France. Key drivers include Debt-to-GDP projections rising and substantially weaker economic output and forecasts. Full statement below...
- Summers Said to Show Interest in Fed Chairmanship After Bernanke (BBG)
- Obama Tells Chinese He’s Disappointed Over Snowden Case (BBG)
- Texas Threat to Abortion Clinics Dodged at Flea Markets (BBG)
- A Peek at Trucking Data, and Then the Stock Surged (WSJ)
- China cuts growth target… or does it? (FT) - yes, it does, net of goal seeked Random () of course
- China Official Suggests Tolerance for Lower Growth (WSJ)
- Disney Says Wristband Boosts Sales in Disney World Test (BBG) - next up: implanted RFID chips
- Spain Prepares Cuts in Renewable-Energy Subsidies (WSJ)
- Bernanke Departure With Duke Heralds Cascade of Fed Appointments (BBG)
Gold surged 3.3% or nearly $50 from $1,248/oz to $1,298/oz after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that the U.S. economy continues to need a highly accommodative monetary policy and will do for the “foreseeable future”.
Gold climbed for a fourth day to the highest level in more than two weeks due to safe haven buying after Bernanke also admitted, what many more realistic analysts have been saying for some time, that the 7.6% unemployment rate probably "overstates the health of the labor market."
When every indicator of stress is screaming 'bubble' in the student loan debacle, it would make perfect sense for the government to ignore it and maintain the status quo. As the WSJ reports, the never-ending federal effort to "make college affordable" simply provides the resources to sustain higher prices - especially as an increasing amount of the rising subsidies are pocketed by universities. This policy disaster which results in rising costs, taxpayer losses and over-strapped borrowers is now manifest. So naturally this week Senate liberals will bring to the floor a plan to ensure that the policy continues unchanged (and the CBO-estimated $95 billion losses) - and dismisses a coalition plan that ties student loan rates to 10Y Treasuries, providing some marginal encouragement to students to decide whether their chosen course of study is worth the money.
Gold is little changed near a one-week high, and is marginally higher in dollars as the dollar has retreated from a three-year high, and higher in most currencies. The gold market continues to digest the ramifications of gold borrowing costs surging to the highest since the post-Lehman Brothers scramble for gold bullion. Gold Forward Offered Rates (GOFO) or the cost to borrow gold remains negative and overnight the 1 month GOFO has gone from -0.106% to -0.11167%. Other durations eased marginally. The lack of liquidity in the the interbank London Good Delivery gold market (400 ounce gold bars) has pushed gold forward rates, known as “gofo”, into negative territory, meaning that gold for future delivery is trading at a discount to physical market prices – a rare situation that has occurred only after the Lehman Brothers collapse and near the bottom of the gold market in 1999. The last time forwards were negative was in November 2008, when a scramble for physical gold led a sharp price rally of 46% from $682/oz to over $1,000/oz between October 2008 and February 2009.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,232.75, EUR 957.40 and GBP 822.55 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,249.50, EUR 961.15 and GBP 819.67 per ounce.