Capital Markets

In China; 1 + 1 = 7.7% GDP Growth (And Don't Argue)

With China's shadow-banking system turmoiling and data not at all supportive of the same kind of growth investors are hoping for, some were surprised when China's GDP magically turned out at the 7.7% expectations deemed acceptable by the government. As Xinhua reports, not all is as it seems. China's GDP amounted to 56.9 trillion yuan (9.3 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2013. However, the aggregate of the provincial GDP figures, which were independently calculated and released, was about 2 trillion yuan more than the 56.9-trillion-yuan figure arrived at by the NBS, even though three of the 31 localities that were yet to release the figures were not included. This has aroused suspicion (just as we saw with the PMI data in the past) that some growth-obsessed local officials have cooked the books.

Guest Post: Should Ukraine Be Split In Two?

With Russia offering $10 billion in funds to the troubled nation this morning, and Ukrainian capital markets in disarray over the anti-anti-Europe protests and ongoing riots, Stefan Karlsson offers an alternative take on the "people vs dictator" meme - especially in light of the fact that Yanuckovich is supported by a large part of the population (specifically in the eastern and southern parts of the country).

Sorry Permabulls: 2014 Capex Forecast To Grow At Slowest Pace In Four Years

Nearly two years ago, before the topic of (the great and constantly missing) Capex became a mainstream media mainstay, we said that as long as the Fed was actively engaged in manipulating the capital markets - and this was before the Fed launched its endless QEternity - the bulk of corporate cash would go not into investing for growth, i.e., capital spending and/or hiring, but dividends and (levered) stock buybacks. Nearly $1 trillion in stock buybacks later, and zero growth Capex, we were proven right, much to the chagrin of permabulls who said the capex spending spree is just around the corner again... and again... and. Of course, if this were to happen, it would promptly refute our fundamental thesis that the Fed's presence in the market results in the terminal misallocation of efficient corporate capital. We were not concerned. We are even less concerned now having just read an FT piece forecasting that "capital spending by US companies is expected to grow this year at its slowest pace for four years, in a sign of corporate caution over the outlook for global demand." And like that, dear permabuls, the key pillar beneath all "corporate growth" thesis was yanked. Again. Fear not. There is always 2015. Or 2016. You get it.

It's Quiet Out There... Too Quiet

What are you afraid of, exactly? ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes we all have our phobias and fears, some logical and anchored in reality and others irrational but still powerful; but for the capital markets currently it seems there is no fear. The CBOE VIX Index started the year at 14.2 and has fallen to a close of 12.9 today. That move, Colas adds, has dragged the IVs of everything from U.S. large cap energy stocks to gold to corporate bonds lower in its wake.  Even expectations for Emerging Markets equity volatility are in retreat as we start 2014. But, when near term historical or implied volatility becomes this complacent, it seems appropriate to spend a little more time pondering what might go wrong.  Markets, after all, have the entire “What should go right” side of the trade well understood and reflected in current prices. In that spirit, here is the "Top 10" list of what might take us off the rails of complacency in 2014.

Venezuela Devalues Bolivar By Another 44% For Some, Still 600% Higher Than Black Market Due To 50% Inflation

The reason why today's move is largely meaningless and purely optical, is because there is still an 85% differential between the official rate, and what one can get for a dollar on the black market. Which as the chart below shows is substantially higher, and at last check was 78.38 Bolivars per dollar. Said otherwise, the brand new official exchange rate, which will soon be implemented for everyone, is still 590% higher than the real clearing price of the currency on the black market. Curious why the currency is crashing so fast? Perhaps ask the 50% (and rising) annual inflation in the socialist paradise.

Is Britain's Recovery Too Good To Be True?

There was more good news for the UK economy this morning; the unemployment rate dropped to 7.1% during the three months to December - the biggest ever quarterly increase in employment. This follows the IMF this week raising its (admittedkly terrible track record-based) forecast for the UK economy; it now expects it to grow 2.4% this year which is faster than any other major European economy. Nick Beecroft, Chairman of Saxo Capital Markets UK, is “optimistic” about Britain’s recovery, but has three concerns...

Frontrunning: January 22

  • Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder  (BBG)
  •  Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete  (BBG)
  • Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
  • IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
  • Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
  • Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
  • Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
  • Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
  • Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)

Italian Bad Loans Hit Record High - Up 23% YoY

With all eyes gloating over Ireland's recent ability to issue debt in the capital markets once again (and now with 10Y trading only 40bps above US Treasuries), Europe's game of distraction continues. However, while spreads (and yields) tumble in all the PIIGS, with Italian yields at almost 7-year lows, it is perhaps surprising to some that Italian bad loan rates are at their highest on record. Having risen at a stunning 23% year-over-year - its fastest in 2 years, Italian gross non-performing loans (EUR149.6 billion) as a proportion of total lending rose to 7.8% in November (up from 6.1% a year earlier). As the Italian Banking Association admits in a statement today, deposits are declining (-1.9% YoY) and bonds sold to clients (-9.4% YoY) as Italy's bank clients with bad loans have more than doubled since 2008.

Guest Post: Why The West Sells Gold And China Buys It

A number of readers have recently suggested there must be collusion between America and China over the transfer of physical gold from Western capital markets. They assume that governments know what they are doing, so there is a bigger game afoot of which we are unaware.

The truth is that China and Western capital markets view gold very differently and with very different philosophies about gold.

Pivotfarm's picture

Working for the Few

Next time you cry over your paycheck or you scrimp and scrape to find the extra few dollars to finish the month, remember that admittedly money doesn’t grow on trees…

The US Is Closed, But Markets Elsewhere Are Open - Full Overnight Summary

Markets have started the week on the back foot, despite a brief rally following a better-than-expected Q4 GDP print in China. Indeed, Asian equities recorded a small pop following the GDP report, but the gains were shortlived as the general negativity on China’s growth trajectory continues to weigh on Asian markets. In terms of the data itself, China’s Q4 GDP (7.7% YoY) was slightly ahead of expectations of 7.6% but it was slower than Q3’s 7.8%. DB’s China economist Jun Ma maintains his view that economic growth will likely accelerate in 2014 on stronger external demand and the benefits from deregulation. The slight slowdown was also evident in China’s December industrial production (9.7% YoY vs 10% previous), fixed asset investment (19.6% YoY vs 19.9% previous) and retail sales (13.6% vs 13.7% previous) data which were all released overnight. Gains in Chinese growth assets were quickly pared and as we type the Shanghai Composite (-0.8%), HSCEI (-1.1%) and AUDUSD (-0.1%) are all trading weaker on the day. On a more positive note, the stocks of mining companies BHP (+0.29%) and Rio Tinto (+0.26%) are trading flat to slightly firmer and LME copper is up 0.1%. Across the region, equities are generally trading lower paced by the Nikkei (-0.5%) and the Hang Seng (-0.7%). Staying in China, the 7 day repo rate is another 50bp higher to a three month high of 9.0% with many investors continuing to focus on the Chinese shadow banking system following the looming restructuring of a $500m trust product that was sold to ICBC’s customers.

What 1,592 Days Of Central Planning Looks Like

Altogether, of the 1881 days starting on November 25, 2008 and continuing through January 19, 2014, the Fed has directly and unambiguously intervened in the markets for a total of 1592 days. It was not been directly involved in the market for a tiny 289 days. In sum: the New Normal is best characterized by a Federal Reserve which has been actively manipulating the equity "market" 85% of the time.

Here It Comes: Obama Considering Executive Order To Raise Minimum Wage

Moments ago The Hill reported that what many thought was absolutely impossible, may in fact become a reality: President Obama is considering issuing an executive order (#394,039,993,837?) to raise the minimum wage for Federal Workers... and in the process - with the help of that other central planner par excellence Bern-ellen - lap all those other Banana republics that everyone so enjoys making fun of.

No Overnight Levitation In Quiet Markets - Full Recap

The positive momentum in equities slowed in Asian trading with losses seen on the Nikkei (-0.4%), and HSCEI , the SCHOMP unchanged and EM indices such as the Nifty (-
0.1%). In Australia, a disappointing December employment report saw a 23k fall in jobs for the month against consensus expectations of rise of 10k. The 10yr Australian government bond has rallied 5bp and the front end is outperforming as a number of investors expect the RBA to continue its easing bias over 2014. AUDUSD has sold off -1.1% to a three year low of 0.881. The ASX200 closed up 1.2% however, boosted by mining-giant Rio Tinto (+2%) who reported better than anticipated Q4 production. Amid recent fears of a Chinese growth deceleration, Rio Tinto reported record levels of production of iron-ore, coal and bauxite. In FX, USDJPY is finding further support in Asia, adding 0.1% to yesterday’s 0.38% gain to trade not too far from the 105 level. Which is also why the S&P futures are trading modestly lower: without a major breakout in the Yen carry, there can't be a sustained ramp in the US stock market which is driven entirely by the value of the Yen, which in turn is a reflection of the expectations of future BOJ easing.