"If China were to convert a relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system. It would be a gamble, of course, for China to use part of its reserves to buy enough gold bullion to displace the United States from its position as the world’s largest holder of monetary gold.... If the dollar or any other fiat currency were universally acceptable at all times, central banks would see no need to hold any gold. The fact that they do indicates that such currencies are not a universal substitute... Whereas Simon, following the economist Milton Friedman’s view at that time, argued that gold no longer served any useful monetary purpose, Burns argued that gold was the ultimate crisis backstop to the dollar." - Alan Greenspan
The key question now is “Can the U.S./global economy handle a meaningful downturn in financial asset prices?” The short answer is that it may not have a choice. The Federal Reserve has done what it can to juice the American economy and has the balance sheet to prove it. Central banks, for all their power, do not control long term capital allocation or corporate hiring practices. Fed Funds have been below 2% for six years. If the U.S. economy can’t continue to grow in 2015 as the Federal Reserve inches rates higher, there are clearly larger issues at play. And those private sector problems will need private sector solutions.
Ferguson was for amateurs. For those curious why the Hong Kong protests over the weekend have sent shivers across the world's capital markets, pushed the Hang Seng 2% lower, and impacted both European and US futures, not to mention leading to worries that China may get involved any second and result in another Tiananmen square event, the following clip from HK's Apple Daily, taken by a drone, shows just how massive the demonstrations, which according to some estimates involved just why of 100,000 people, taking place in Hong Kong are.
With the revelations of systemic, widespread corporate criminality of banking institutions in recent years, it is clear that global Bank CEOs are becoming the new Drug Lords.
There may be one great conspiracy dictating the course of the capital market, but if there is not, what is the near-term outlook for the dollar?
This is just too delightfully ironic to pass by.
In a world in which nobody has any faith in the capital markets because over $10 trillion in central bank liquidity has been injected to prop out a fragile house of risk asset cards the one place one should have faith (because let's face it: monetarism is the only religion that matters in today's world) is that money will be printed for the foreseeable future, certainly metaphorically and also quite literally. Alas, things did not quite work out that way for the company which, well, prints money (but sadly is not a central bank) when earlier this morning the shares of De La Rue, the company responsible for printing Bank of England banknotes, plunged a record 30% after it issued a profit warning.
Having cautioned investors this morning of the historical tendency for market reversals on September 22nd after hitting all-time highs, UBS' Art Cashin's warning has been echoed by BofAML's Macneil Curry who notes risk assets are set to correct as negative seasonals dominate the S&P500 this week. This is bullish for Treasuries, Curry adds. "Crazy? Maybe, but forewarned is forearmed," as Cashin concludes.
- Quid pro quo Clarice: Iran seeks give and take on Islamic State militants, nuclear program (Reuters)
- Alibaba’s Banks Said to Boost IPO Size to Record $25 Billion (BBG)
- European Stocks Fall Amid China Concern as Tesco Slides (BBG)
- Tesco Suspends Executives, Probes Error That Triggers New Profit Warning (WSJ)
- Kurds say they have halted Islamic State advance on Syrian town (Reuters)
- Because luck and managing money is genetic: Financial Elite's Offspring Start Their Own Hedge Funds (WSJ)
- Islamic State Onslaught Spurs Mass Exodus of Syrian Kurds (BBG)
- Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity From Fossil Fuels (NYT)
Just one guy's attempt to make sense of what is likely to happen in the coming days.
“We are mindful of the potential for a build-up of excessive risk in financial markets, particularly in an environment of low interest rates and low asset price volatility,” the G-20 officials said in a communique released in Cairns, Australia. “We welcome the stronger economic conditions in some key economies, although growth in the global economy is uneven.”It is unclear just what that statement means: BTFATH, but only on a downtick?
These days, central banks have become so intertwined with the economy and capital markets that every word uttered by just about any senior Federal Reserve official is endlessly scrutinized to gauge what their next step might be. But it wasn’t always like this. There were times when the Fed actively defended the strict independence of monetary policy, as well as the role of free markets in creating prosperity and even preserving civil liberties. And those were the days of William McChesney Martin, Jr.
Russia FinMin Calls For Shift Away From US Treasurys Into BRIC Bonds, Settlement In Non-Dollar CurrenciesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/20/2014 21:43 -0400
it was Russia's finance minister Anton Siluanov who was the designated "bad guy", and as the WSJ reported, Russia is considering diversifying its debt portfolio away from countries that have imposed sanctions on Moscow and into the papers of its BRICS partners. Speaking on the sidelines of an annual investment forum in the Black Sea town of Sochi, Mr. Siluanov said the Finance Ministry wants to diversify its investment basket, and is looking for higher yields without too much risks. He said the ministry will consider buying papers issued by Brazil, India, China and South Africa, which along with Russia are known collectively as the Brics countries. "[We would like to] walk away from investing in papers of the countries that impose sanctions against us," Mr. Siluanov said, adding that the reshuffle would be carried out gradually. He didn't elaborate on when the first purchases of Brics debt may take place.
The Fed’s Dot Plot may look like a precise set of forecasts, with a series of purposeful markings meant to portray certainty and conviction. The math, however, as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, says something else entirely. Based on actual math, it isn’t until 2016 that an increase to Fed Funds becomes a statistical certainty, with a 2.7% mean estimate and a range of 0.75 – 4.7% Fed Funds at a 0.98 standard deviation.
Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
When a former Goldman executive and the prior head of its housing research team comes out with a shocking analysis so contrary to what the same individual would do in his "former life" when he would be extolling the "inevitable" rise of home prices from here to eternity and beyond, and also throw in an open letter to none other than president Obama, predicting at least a 15% crash in home prices in the next three years, a move which would without debt catalyze the next US recession, it is time to pay attention. Meet Joshua Pollard, who in February 2009 took over coverage of US Housing at Goldman Sachs. His point, in short: "House prices are 12% overvalued today. They have already started to decline. Today’s misvaluation matches the excess of 2006-07, just before the Great Recession... 5 of the last 7 US recessions were led by a weakening housing market... I am lamentably confident that home prices will fall by 15% within three years." Or, as some may call it, crash.