Russian municipal bond risk is surging once again (at 6-week highs) heading towards crisis-levels as Bloomberg reports numerous regions (including Chukotka - across from Alaska, Belgorod -near Ukraine, and three North Caucus republics) are prompting concerns as debt-to-revenue levels top 100% (144% in the case of Chukotka). The clock is ticking for President Vladimir Putin to defuse a situation he set off in 2012 with decrees to raise social spending. That contributed to a doubling in the debt load of Russia’s more than 80 regions to 2.4 trillion rubles ($42 billion) in the past five years and it all rolls within the next two to three years.
So having acquired substantial quantities of gold for itself and having also ensured it is widely held by its public, the Chinese government is arguably in a more compelling position to encourage a gold revaluation as a means of stabilising her economy in a credit crisis than America was eighty years ago. It will be China's only option, and if the government doesn't go for it, China's middle classes certainly will. This simple fact could override all the geostrategic considerations upon which China-watchers have tended to focus. A gold revaluation would be presented to the world as bound up with China's domestic economic problems, instead of an act aimed at undermining the dollar's reserve status: a solution that is less confrontational than outright disagreement with Western central banks over gold's role in the international monetary order.
The WSJ has released yet another gold hit piece calling it a "pet rock' and gold bugs "subjects of a laboratory experiment on the psychology of cognitive dissonance" just one day after the PBOC reveals it has added the biggest amount of gold in history in order to "ensure security." But the biggest irony is that none other than Citigroup made a far bolder case that it is not the ownership of gold but of stocks that is the ultimate act of faith: "investors remain united in their faith in the central banks – if not for their ability to create growth, then at least in their ability to push up asset prices. And yet the limits of that faith are increasingly on display." So who is right?
The divergence theme is not longer being eclipsed by the Greek drama and the Chinese stock market slide. See how this week's developments fit into the bigger picture.
Would you rather have one “Share” of the S&P 500 at $2,124, or 41 barrels of crude oil, or 1.86 ounces of gold? Yes, they are all worth the same amount at the moment, but the price relationship between the three has shifted over the decades.
An "esoteric point" about China's GDP data has suddenly become a very big deal as the world looks to China for economic leadership amid a global deflationary supply glut, lackluster demand, and depressed trade.
"There’s been a colossal misjudgment of future demand. That long boom made it especially difficult for people to expect anything otherwise. Many bought the big story about urbanization, instead of thinking how things could go bad."
"Mr. Varoufakis, who kept reminding everyone that he is a professor of game theory, believed that the European leaders would prefer to make concessions now rather than manage the disruption of a Greek default. He must not be familiar with the Tyler Durden school of negotiation: the first rule of using game theory is you do not talk about using game theory. What’s more obvious is that Syriza didn’t understand what the game is."
This weekend's events in Europe have clarified who is really running the show across the 'union'. Hans-Werner Sinn, Chairman of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, vehemnt euroskeptic, and head of the so-called 'five wise men' advising the German government and specifically Angela Merkel, confirmed his call from 2012 for a "temporary grexit from the euro." The right wing economist previously explained "Greece and Portugal have to become 30-40% less expensive to be competitive again. This is being attempted through excessive austerity measures within the euro zone, but it won't work. It will drive these countries to the brink of civil war before it succeeds. Temporary exits would very quickly stabilize these countries, create new jobs and free the population from the yoke of the euro." Anyone positioning for more centrist union-supporting rhetoric, hope is no longer a strategy as the hardest conservatives are now in charge.
Next week's key events and data, if we can look beyond Greece and China.
Non-bombastic look at the price action and speculative positioning, with the hope of anticipating next week's developments.
We previously questioned whether western sanctions imposed on Russia were being regularly breached by E.U. and Asian companies, noting that sanctions only work if all countries unite behind them. Now, only one year after being imposed, the sanctions are eroding as it seems that government and business policies are pulling in opposite directions. A U.S. State Dept. representative may have let the truth slip out recently when he noted, "if you tell us you’re going [to break a sanction], we’ll probably order you not to, but if you go and don’t tell us, we’ll probably do nothing."
ECB’S RIMSEVICS SAYS INTRODUCTION OF ANOTHER CURRENCY IN GREECE IS MOST REALISTIC SCENARIO, MAY BE ONE LESS EURO ZONE MEMBER IN FUTURE
Today's "final" Eurogroup meeting is yet another "last" chance for Greece to stay in the Euro according to Greek headlines. The meeeting begins in minutes, at 12:30pm CET/7:30am Eastern so expect the usual torrent of "Greek deal" headlines which send the S&P surging followed by prompt denials which the S&P algo soundly ignore. By now the game is quite familiar to everyone.