One minute we hear that Quantitative Easing is going completely, then it’s going a bit and withdrawing in side-steps and little paces and then it’s going to carry on. Where do we stand?
First it was the conspiracy theory that Li(e)bor traders were manipulating the entire rates market which a year ago became conspiracy fact. Then it was commodities with an emphasis on the energy market (but not gold - gold is never, ever manipulated) with even such luminaries as JPMorgan's Blythe Masters, subsequently implicated. And moments ago, via Bloomberg, to absolutely nobody's surprise, we learn that that final market which so far had not been exposed as the "wild west" of manipulators, the FX market, is part of the conspiracy "fact" too. According to Bloomberg, "employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years."
Here is Part 2 of my article “The Argument of Bitcoins v. Gold Laid to Rest, originally released at my blog, www.theundergroundinvestor.com on April 9, 2013. Yes, money that is real and tangible is really better than money that is just a digital valuation backed by air.
Reuters Releases George Soros Obituary By Mistake: "Enigmatic Financier, Liberal Philanthropist Dies At XX"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/18/2013 17:04 -0500
First CNN, then AP, now Reuters: the entire media is increasingly starting to look like amateur hour. Unless, of course, Soros is like Osama, and had several "reincarnated" body doubles, with the original specimen long gone. Here is our suggestion for another prepared article: "Today after XX centuries of monetizing debt, the Emperor of the Galactic Central Bank, Gaius Maximus Printius Bernankius the DCLXVIth, ended QE in the year of the alien invasion, XXXXX. Bread costs XXXXXXXXXXX."
The odds of winning were slim and none. Avoiding embarrassment was the real objective, but then something happened. Momentum changed and the rag-tag bunch of American college hockey players shocked not only the Soviets and their 1980 Big Red Machine, but the entire sports World. When seemingly faced with the impossible, America always perseveres and finds a way to win. After winning the global economic game for the better part of 100 years, America is once again on the ropes and no one is giving her any hopes at winning, or even surviving for that matter. America’s debt levels are disastrous. It has no money to pay future pensions and healthcare. Economic growth is anemic. Meanwhile, more Americans than at any other time in history reply upon food stamps. And to make matters even more dire, it is only the decision to print trillions of new dollar bills that is holding everything together. Just as America’s rock is about to hit its American bottom, you must ask “Do you believe in miracles”? And, the short answer is – yes.
The US dollar rose to new multi-month highs against several of the major currencies, including the euro, Swiss franc, British pound and the Japanese yen. The BOJ, BOE and ECB meet last week and none changed policy. The Swiss National Bank meets on March 14 and is also unlikely to change policy. The Federal Reserve meets the following week and is widely expected to stay its course. It is not monetary policy then providing the new trading incentives.
Nor can the dollar's gains be attributed to political uncertainty in Europe stemming from the inconclusive Italian elections, as was the case previously. The immediate shock has worn off and Italian stocks and bonds have recovered the lion's share of those initial losses.
It has been yet another quiet overnight session, devoid of the usual EURUSD ramp, and thus ES, at the Europe open (although it is never too late), which has seen the Shangai Composite finally post a meaningful rise up 2.26%, followed by some unremarkable European macro data as Eurozone CPI came as expected at 2.0%, and German unemployment just a tad better, at -3K, with consensus looking for 0K. Italy continues to be the wildcard, with little clarity on just who the now expected grand coalition will consist of. According to Newedge's Jamal Meliani, a base case scenario of Bersani/Berlusconi coalition may see a relief rally, tightening 10Y BTP/bund spread toward 300bps. A coalition would maintain current fiscal agenda and won’t implement any major reforms with fresh elections being called within a year. A Bersani/Grillo coalition is least likely, may slow reforms which would see 10Y BTP/bund spreads widening to 375bps. Of course, everything is speculation now, with Grillo saying no to any coalition, and moments ago a PD official saying against a broad coalition. But at least the market has it all priced in already - for more see Italy gridlock deepens as Europe watches nervously.
And now for a quick blast from the past: on November 26, moments after Mark Carney was announced as the Bank of England's next "shocking" head (confirming our prediction that just this would happen), we made a very simple prediction, one which ran contrary to the conventional wisdom of the day, that Carney would pursue a sensible policy of preserving the strength of the British pound, namely the following:
It took Goldman's Mario Draghi about 3 hours to launch an epic EUR destruction campaign. Anyone going long the GBP here needs therapy
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 26, 2012
Sure enough, after rising very modestly in the days after Carney's coronation, cable has since imploded and moment ago touched on a new seven month low. Those who have been long the GBPUSD throughout the ensuing 700 pip plunge, can invoice Goldman Sachs with their therapy bills.
An overivew of the price action in the foreign exchange market and what it might mean in the week ahead.
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) bloc has begun planning its own development bank and a new bailout fund which would be created by pooling together an estimated $240 billion in foreign exchange reserves, according to diplomatic sources. To get a sense of how significant the proposed fund would be, the fund would be larger than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 150 countries, according to Russia and India Report. Many believe the BRICS countries are interested in creating these institutions because they are increasingly dissatisfied by Western dominated institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Yesterday we posted the official statement of Bundesbank executive board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele, which in turn was a response to a recent surge in concerns about the safety and sanctity of German sovereign gold, held mostly abroad (if a major part of it held in London had been secretly repatriated), and demands by the general public - i.e., those who actually own the gold - for either an audit, or full repatriation, or both. There are, however, some problems with the official Bundesbank statement: the statistics cited in it, as well as the various explanations, are wrong, incorrect or misleading. Below we present some of the "facts" stated by Herr Thiele, and what the truth is.
"We do not have the slightest doubt that our holdings in New York and Paris are also made up of the purest fine gold. We have at our disposal fully documented lists of the bars, and our partner central banks send us every year confirmation not only of the bars’ existence but also of their quality.... We had nothing but the best of experiences with our partners in New York, London and Paris. There was never any doubt about the security of Germany’s gold. In future, we wish to continue to keep gold at international gold trading centres so that, when push comes to shove, we can have it available as a reserve asset as soon as possible. Gold stored in your home safe is not immediately available as collateral in case you need foreign currency....for years, our gold has been stored by the highly esteemed central banks of the United States, Great Britain and France without provoking any complaints whatsoever – not by just any fly-by-night operators. Part of the debate in Germany has veered somewhat towards the absurd."
In a post entitled 'Mugabenomics: Inflation in UK Higher than in Zimbabwe,' Guido Fawkes points out how the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable once warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics.” This was prior to coming to power and a swift u-turn which would make even the most slippery politician proud. Remember when Vince Cable warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics”? Vince flip-flopped on that even before he joined the coalition. Guido Fawkes then reminds its readers about the time when George Osborne said “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.” Alas as the blog rightly warns, "In government Osborne has overseen the printing of more money than any other Chancellor in British history. A quarter of the national debt – all this government’s overspending – has been bought by the Bank of England via QE." “So it is not a shock that inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is now lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012).” Those who have been warning about this monetary madness for some years are gradually being proved right
With tomorrow's CDS roll (when indices change composition and on-the-run maturities are extended) and Friday's major equity option expiration and S&P index reweightings, it would appear, as UBS' Art Cashin notes, that the action of the last few days (and even last week) will be largely driven by the creation of complex strategies to "milk out every ounce of profit that might be available in such huge [technical] shifts." Combine this technical factor with the Autumnal Equinox, of W.D.Gann infamy, and the stage is set for fireworks as we approach Friday.
Will the Fed then just keep printing forever and ever? As an aside, financial markets are already trained to adjust their expectations regarding central bank policy according to their perceptions about economic conditions. There is a feedback loop between central bank policy and market behavior. This can easily be seen in the behavior of the US stock market: recent evidence of economic conditions worsening at a fairly fast pace has not led to a big decline in stock prices, as people already speculate on the next 'QE' type bailout. This strategy is of course self-defeating, as it is politically difficult for the Fed to justify more money printing while the stock market remains at a lofty level. Of course the stock market's level is officially not part of the Fed's mandate, but the central bank clearly keeps a close eye on market conditions. Besides, the 'success' of 'QE2' according to Ben Bernanke was inter alia proved by a big rally in stocks. But what does printing money do? And how does the self-defeating idea of perpetual QE fit with the Credit Cycle relative to Government Directed Inflation (or inability to direct inflation where they want it in the case of the ECB and BoE)?