Financial circles in Hong Kong are buzzing today on the new Goldman Sachs projection that gold may drop below $1,000 an ounce. The central thess: since the US economy is out of the woods, there’s no longer a need for gold as a risk hedge. But as one senior-level manager at a major investment bank noted, "Nobody knows what the f**k is going on..." However, this mentality entirely misses the point of precious metals. When the hopes and dreams of the entire global financial system rest on the lies of politicians, the whims of central bankers, and the mountains of debt they have all accumulated, things could turn on a dime... tomorrow. Gold is an insurance policy. It’s a form of money that you might never need to use. But should that need ever arise, you’ll be so much better off for owning it.
Jitters from Syria still abound, as confirmed by reports from the Israeli army that two shells had hit the Southern Golan region. Despite the reports that the shelling appeared to be errant, WTI remains near session highs as markets remain sensitive ahead of the meeting between US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Geneva over the next two days. Buying of the 10Y is also prevalent and the yield on the benchmark bond was has dropped below 2.90%, or at 2.88% at last check. Today's key economic news in the US session will be the weekly claims report, the Fed buying 10 Year bonds at 11 am followed by the Treasury selling 30 Year bonds at 1 pm (this follows the Fed buying 30 Year bond yesterday: yes ironic).
Despite earlier comments from Obama on Tuesday night, who called for a pause in authorizing military strikes on Syria, which led to another drop in crude prices overnight, the drop has since reversed and both WTI and Brent Crude contracts are trading in the green. Whether this is the result of a note by Goldman analysts who noted that the Brent crude sell-off was overdone and that they see no improvement regarding the conflict in Libya which is constraining oil production, or because Russia is once again throwing hurdles in the international process to force Syrian disarmament, is unknown. The lack of any key catalysts and no USDJPY levitation, led to most global markets unchanged, and futures currently trading sideways. What is not trading sideways is Apple which is down over 2% to just over $480 as all hopes of a China Mobile deal fall apart, coupled with pervasive critical panning of the new iPhones which, aside for the commodity version, is just the old iPhone with an extension that allows the NSA's new fingerprint database to be filled in record time.
Subsistence farming never worked because being self-sufficient was firstly nigh-on impossible and secondly limited as well as being dependent on the climate.
- Obama Shrinking Second-Term Hastened by Syria Opposition (BBG)
- Obama says Russian proposal on Syria a potential 'breakthrough' (Reuters)
- Poll Finds Support Fading for Syria Attack (WSJ)
- France to Introduce Resolution Aimed at Dismantling Syria's Chemical Arsenal (WSJ)
- Apple to Unveil IPhones Seeking End to Year of Struggles (BBG)
- Verizon Plans Largest Debt Sale Ever: Proceeds From Deal, Expected to Raise $20 Billion, Would Fund Venture Buyout (WSJ)
- Shipping Rates Seen at 2010 High on Record Ore to China (BBG)
- Ads coming to Twitter: Twitter makes its largest acquisition, a mobile ad company (FT)
- Houses on fire as fighting erupts in southern Philippines (Reuters)
- Banks Seen at Risk Five Years After Lehman Collapse (BBG)
Concerns about inflation and weakening currencies are leading the Chinese middle classes and wealthy to again use gold jewellery, coins and bars as a hedge and store of value.
Store of wealth buyers in China today were paying a $18 per ounce premium or 1.3% premium over COMEX gold (see table below). In recent weeks they have been willing to pay as much $30 per ounce extra for gold.
The Chinese people are concerned that the same massive inflation that is affecting India, Indonesia, Brazil and other emerging markets may eventually reach China.
"What's more fun than a Barrel of Monkeys? Nothing!" What could be better than assembling a long chain of tangled monkeys, each reliant on those either side of it for purchase, with just the one person holding onto a single monkey's arm at the top end of the chain, responsible for all those monkeys dangling from his fingers. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility; and that lone hand at the top of the chain of monkeys has to be careful - any slight mistake and the monkeys will tumble, and that, we are afraid, is the end of your turn. You don't get to go again because you screwed it up and the monkeys came crashing down. On May 22nd of this year, Ben Bernanke's game of Barrel of Monkeys was in full swing. It had been his turn for several years, and he looked as though he'd be picking up monkeys for a long time to come. The chain of monkeys hanging from his hand was so long that he had no real idea where it ended... indeed, "
If the Fed really thinks that the rest of the world will have to "adjust to us" as it insists on draining global liquidity come what may, it may have a very rude surprise, yet again." One false move and all the monkeys may end up in a heap on the floor.
Who Is Going To Buy The US Debt If This War Causes China, Russia And The Rest Of The World To Turn On Us?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/07/2013 14:51 -0500
Yesterday we implied a difficult question when we illustrated the huge size of US Treasury bond holdings that China and Russia have between them - accounting for 25% of all foreign held debt - implicitly funding US standards of living (along with the Federal Reserve). The difficult question is "Can the U.S. really afford to greatly anger the rest of the world when they are the ones that are paying our bills?" What is going to happen if China, Russia and many other large nations stop buying our debt and start rapidly dumping U.S. debt that they already own? If the United States is not very careful, it is going to pay a tremendous economic price for taking military action in Syria.
As most know by now, over the past month or so, pressure on the currencies of EM deficit countries has intensified again. Goldman's EM research group, however, remains negative on EM FX, bonds, and even stocks suggesting using any strength, like this week's exuberance to add protection or cover any remaining longs. Central banks in most of these countries have become more active in attempting to stem pressure in the last two weeks. But with a Fed decision on ‘tapering’ looming, investors have also become more cautious and are now focused on the parallels with prior crisis periods. In what follows, Goldman provides some concise answers to the questions on the EM landscape that we encounter most often, confirming their longer-held bearish bias.
“Will we help Syria? We will,” the Russian leader said recalling that Russia had already been helping Syria through arms supplies and economic and humanitarian cooperation, including provision of humanitarian aid. In reply to the question what other country in the world may theoretically be subjected to aggression similar to that Syria is facing, Putin said, “I do not want to think that any other country will be subjected to any external aggression.” A military action against Syria will have a highly deplorable impact on international security at large, Putin emphasized. He said he was surprised to see that ever more participants in the summit, including the leader of India, Brazil, the South African Republic, and Indonesia were speaking vehemently against a possible military operation in Syria. Putin cited the words of the South African President, Jacob Zuma, who said many countries were feeling unprotected against such actions undertaken by stronger countries.
The highlight of today's economic releases will be the 8:30 am non-farm payroll data, expected to print at 180K jobs, up from July's 162K, and result in an unchanged 7.4% unemployment rate. The "most important jobs number ever " is neither, because even if it comes as a wild outlier to the good or bad side, the Fed is unlikely to change its tapering intentions this late in the game. Still, it will provide fireworks in a very jittery market and if the number is far stronger than expected, expect the 10 Year to finally blow out from below the 3% range which it breached briefly overnight, and never look back, at least not until there is an August 2011 wholesale risk revulsion episode and stocks tumble. Speaking of jittery, overnight the WSJ reports that if picked as Bernanke's replscament, Larry Summers' faces an uphill battle to get the votes of three key democrats on the Senate Banking Committee (Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren). It would be only fitting that the dysfunctional Democratic dominated senate now lashes out against the president, and in the process scuttles the market's only hope of maintaining its Fed-derived gains over the past five years... And there is, of course, Syria which is becoming increasingly problematic for Obama whose support in Congress is looking ever shakier. Will he go it alone in the case of a no vote?
What perhaps Minsky couldn’t conceive of was the point at which debt, deficits and interest rates would go to such extremes that the creation of credit itself, which was and remains the heart of capitalism, would be threatened. No longer might the seventh inning stretch lead to a Coke, some “Cracker Jacks” and the resumption of the old ballgame. Instead, zero-bound interest rates and debt/GDP ratios in a majority of capitalistic economies would begin to threaten, not heal, the nature of finance and investment in the real economy. Investors, leery of not only overleveraged investment banks such as Lehman Brothers, but overextended countries such as Greece, Cyprus and a host of Euroland lookalikes would derisk as opposed to rerisk as per the Minsky model. As well, with interest rates close to the zero bound, investors in intermediate and long term bonds would become dependent on Big Bank to do their bidding. When that QE buying power became jeopardized via tapering and the eventual ninth inning conclusion of asset purchases, then the process of maturity extension and the terming out of historically modeled corporate lending was prematurely threatened.
When last week the revised Q2 GDP print was announced, which beat expectations solidly driven entirely by a surge in net exports, we said that "with China on the rocks and tightening, the Emerging Markets in free fall, and Europe still a net exporter (so not benefiting the US), anyone hoping this trade led-recovery will be sustainable, will be disappointed." Sure enough, the first trade data update for the third quarter as of July, confirmed just this, as the trade deficit widenedfrom a revised $34.5 billion deficit, to a substantially larger monthly deficit, amounting to $39.1 billion. This was $500MM more than consensus expected, or $38.6 billion, and it means that as we predicted, the downward revisions to Q3 tracking estimates are about to start rolling in, trimming ~0.1%-0.2% from US GDP for this current quarter. Specifically, imports for the month rose from $225.1 billion to $228.6 billion while exports fell from $190.5 billion to $189.5 billion. But perhaps most notable is that in July, the US trade deficit with China and the EU rose to a record of $30.1 billion (from $26.6bn last month) and $13.9 billion (from $7.1bn) respectively.
In a sense the markets are experiencing a "Vietnam Moment" where we all believed what we were told and we all accepted the official headlines until the day came when we found out we had been flimflammed and you know the results of that fiasco. We believe that the markets are quite close to a shift in psychology where people and institutions alike no longer blindly accept the stories as told.
With the value of the rupee plunging to new lows, the current account deficit at an all-time high and inflation running at nearly a ten-percent annual clip, India is in serious economic trouble. Indeed many are beginning to wonder whether the country is edging toward a replay of the events in the summer of 1991. Back then, an acute balance of payments crisis forced New Delhi into the indignity of pawning its gold reserves in order to secure desperately needed international financing. At a small public event the other week, Duvvuri Subbarao, the outgoing head of the central bank conceded that policymakers rarely learn from their mistakes: "...in matters of economics and finance, history repeats itself, not because it is an inherent trait of history, but because we don’t learn from history and let the repeat occur."