Central Banks came, stood and delivered… just not much more, although the (nightly) POBC cut (1 YRS by 31 to 6% and deposits by 25bp to 3%) had not really been foreseen. Second Chinese cut in as many month, the last one having been on 07 Jun (as well just ahead of the ECB meeting, then by 25 basis points to 3.25% and 6.31%). The Chinese move was good for a small uptick, rapidly squashed by the European serving.
ECB quarter cut and BoE GBP 50bn additional QE to GBP 375bn both already in the valuation ramp-out of late.
Then came the ECB press conference…
A few days ago we noted that the ECB may well be contemplating the monetary neutron bomb, which would see it lower rates to below zero, ushering in a Negative Interest Rate Policy. Today, Mario Draghi cut such speculation short promising the ECB has not discussed this. Yet one bank which certainly has is the Danish Central Bank, which just lowered its Discount Rate to 0%, joining China, England, the ECB, and, of course, Kenya in easing, but also went one step further and cut its deposit rate to negative 0.2%. Keep a note of this: NIRP is coming to a central bank, and shortly thereafter to a bank deposit branch, near you very soon.
In continuing the quantum physics scramble of the past 48 hours in the aftermath of the potential Higgs Boson discovery which confirms mass exists (and will soon be blamed for America's obesity epidemic) we ask if three of the world's largest central banks eased and futures turned red, did three of the world's largest central banks actually ease? Because if today is any indication, either all the EURUSD-ES algos are being furiously shut down right now to prevent risk from being dragged far lower, or we have reached peak central planner intervention. In other news, the entire EURUSD ramp since last week's summit is now gone, which incidentally is just what Germany always wanted.
The past few years have produced an impression of the Chinese government that it is invincible, and it has miraculous control over the economic machine, that the slowdown is “intentionally” engineered by the government and everything within the economy is still very much under control. Unfortunately, most who use this argument to justify that the slowdown is not a big problem have all invariably forgotten that most economic slowdowns in recent memories started with central banks tightening monetary policy to control inflation and slow down the economy, and most, if not all, of the cases ended with recession that they did not want to get into. Many have also not realized how difficult it would be for China to relate its way out of a debt deflation. So how different China is in this regard is totally beyond our comprehension, and we are forced to suggest that the believers of China cult have gone delusional. As the economic slowdown becomes a reality and a hard landing unavoidable, more of the problems we have identified will surface. The cult will surely die within the next few years at most. The only questions are when it will finally die, and whether it will suffer a violent death or slow death.
The gold exchange standard period, which followed WW2, was a period of unprecedented and unparalleled expansion, productivity growth, technological innovation, and financial stability. The Bank of England’s recent report on the gold standard periods concluded:
"Overall the gold standard appeared to perform reasonably well against its financial stability and allocative efficiency objectives."
The BBC concludes by quoting former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson:
"You can’t force a government to stay on gold, so therefore gold has no credibility."
Do you see the cognitive dissonance here? If we are to believe Lord Lawson, gold has no credibility, because governments have previously proven themselves untrue to their word. Surely the thing that has no credibility is not gold, but government promises? And that is the answer to the BBC’s initial question.
The sensible Sausalitan is back and this time he is taking on the "baffle 'em with bullshit" conclusion of last week's "non-game-changer" EU Summit. After some self-congratulatory chatter on his timely call for markets to ebb from April, Charles Biderman (CEO of TrimTabs) chokes back the spittal as he reflects on what came out of the mouths of European leaders last week: "I cannot see anything new from last week's summit" as he summarizes the findings clearly "The ECB possibly will print more money and save some Spanish and Italian banks". We can't help but agree with Charles when he adds: "Where have I heard that before? Printing Money To Save Banks - wow, how original?". Biderman still believes the Fed will engage in more money-printing but the stock market's current rally is temporary and will falter once again until Bernanke pre-announces his next print-fest. "Money-printing is the only solution left for Central Banks and in reality without fundamental changes in the way Europe and the US is run, the best money-printing can do is keep the dieing alive a bit longer"
Wonder who was pushing Barclays to manipulate its rate? Why none other than the English Fed. From BBG:
- BARCLAYS SAYS BANK OF ENGLAND CALLED ON OCT. 29, 2008 ON LIBOR
- BARCLAYS SAYS DIAMOND MADE NOTE OF CALL
- BARCLAYS SAYS DIAMOND RECEIVED CALL FROM PAUL TUCKER
- BARCLAYS SAYS TUCKER SAID `CERTAIN' BARCLAYS DIDN'T NEED ADVICE
- BARCLAYS SAYS TUCKER SAID DIDN'T ALWAYS NEED TO BE SO HIGH (Supposedly LIBOR)
- BARCLAYS SAYS DEL MISSIER CONCLUDED INSTRUCTION HAD BEEN GIVEN
- BARCLAYS SAYS DEL MISSIER TOLD RATE SETTERS TO LOWER RATES
In other words, a central banks was directly and indirectly involved in manipulating interest rates. Say it isn't so. Fast forward two months when the BOE's Tucker testifies that the Chairsatan made him do it.
After two days of solid gains, European equities continue the upward trend and are seen higher at the North American crossover, with the Basic Materials sector leading the way, followed by financials. The moves in equities follow overnight reports from Chinese press, once again calling for the PBOC to slash their RRR, as well as expectations that this Thursday both the ECB and the BoE will conduct monetary easing, possibly boosting future commodity demand. In the fixed income markets, the European 2s/30s curve continues to see bear-steepening following last night’s announcement from the Dutch Central Bank that has changed Dutch insurers’ Solvency II interest rate curve; modifying the maturities in which the firms must hold assets towards the longer-end. Today also saw official confirmation from the Irish debt agency that they are to return to capital markets with T-bill issuance on July 5th, their first return to the market since 2010. Investor reaction to this news is evident in the shorter-end of the Irish yield curve, where the 2-yr bond yield spread against their German counterpart is firmly indicating the risk of returning to the market; currently wider by around 20bps.
A worldwide phenomenon – just as the slowdown is cascading around the globe.
There is a saying that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Today, the San Fran Fed's John Williams, and by proxy the Federal Reserve in general, spoke out, and once again removed all doubt that they have no idea how modern money and inflation interact. In a speech titled, appropriately enough, "Monetary Policy, Money, and Inflation", essentially made the case that this time is different and that no matter how much printing the Fed engages in, there will be no inflation. To wit: "In a world where the Fed pays interest on bank reserves, traditional theories that tell of a mechanical link between reserves, money supply, and, ultimately, inflation are no longer valid. Over the past four years, the Federal Reserve has more than tripled the monetary base, a key determinant of money supply. Some commentators have sounded an alarm that this massive expansion of the monetary base will inexorably lead to high inflation, à la Friedman.Despite these dire predictions, inflation in the United States has been the dog that didn’t bark." He then proceeds to add some pretty (if completely irrelevant) charts of the money multipliers which as we all know have plummeted and concludes by saying "Recent developments make a compelling case that traditional textbook views of the connections between monetary policy, money, and inflation are outdated and need to be revised." And actually, he is correct: the way most people approach monetary policy is 100% wrong. The problem is that the Fed is the biggest culprit, and while others merely conceive of gibberish in the form of three letter economic theories, which usually has the words Modern, or Revised (and why note Super or Turbo), to make them sound more credible, they ultimately harm nobody. The Fed's power to impair, however, is endless, and as such it bears analyzing just how and why the Fed is absolutely wrong.
Replacing old impaired debt with new impaired debt does not generate growth. Borrowing more money will not reverse financial death spirals. Sorry, Bucko--Europe is still in a financial death spiral. Friday's "fix" changed nothing except the names of entities holding impaired debt. We can lay out the death spiral dynamics thusly:
Some time ago we said that in a world in which virtually every risk and liquidity benchmark is manipulated by either private banks (thank your Liebor) or central banks, if one needs to know the true state of events in Europe, the only real remaining, unmanipulated benchmark remain Swiss nominal bond yields. And at -23.5 bps for the 2 Year it is telling us that nothing is fixed. As usual. Also judging by the SNB's new head Jordan statements which just hit the tape, in which he says that he would not rule out capital controls or negative rates if the crisis worsens, the SNB gets it. Or does it? Jordan also said that the SNB is ready to defend the FX market with unlimited market purchases if necessary. However, as the note below from JPM shows, the SNB may simply be faking it, hoping it too can get away with simple jawboning, instead of actually putting its money where its mouth is. As it turns out the SNB has indeed been intervening in huge size in the month of May to keep the EURCHF peg. The previously undisclosed news is that it has also been sterilizing its purchases. As JPM further notes: "This is highly significant and undermines the credibility of the SNB’s claim that it is willing to do whatever it takes to hold EUR/CHF 1.20. For the floor to be credible the SNB needs to surrender control over the Swiss monetary based, i.e. it has to be willing to deliver both unlimited and unsterilised FX intervention. The intervention in May was certainly unlimited; it most definitely was not unsterilised." How long until the FX vigilantes decide to test just how far the SNB is truly willing to go in defending the peg? And what happens when Swiss nominal yields hit record negative numbers once again?
Despite the July 4th mid-week holiday, the coming week will be packed with major economic updates. Goldman Sachs summarizes what to look for in the next 5 days.
I’ll be the first to admit the incredible aggravation I feel whenever liberty is trampled upon by the state’s obedient minions. Everywhere you look, government has its gun cocked back and ready to fire at any deviation from its violently imposed rules of order. A four year old can’t even open a lemonade stand without first bowing down and receiving a permit from bureaucrats obsessed with micromanaging private life. The state’s stranglehold on freedom is as horrendous as it is disheartening. The worst part is that the trend shows no signs of slowing down, let alone reversing. Politicians are always developing some harebrained scheme to mold society in such a way to circumvent the individual in favor of total dictation. If it isn’t politicians, then it’s an army of unelected bureaucrats acting as mini-dictators.
Markets are true democracies. The allocation of resources, capital and labour is achieved through the mechanism of spending, and so based on spending preferences. As money flows through the economy the popular grows and the unpopular shrinks. Producers receive a signal to produce more or less based on spending preferences. Markets distribute power according to demand and productivity; the more you earn, the more power you accumulate to allocate resources, capital and labour. As the power to allocate resources (i.e. money) is widely desired, markets encourage the development of skills, talents and ideas. Planned economies have a track record of failure, in my view because they do not have this democratic dimension. The state may claim to be “scientific”, but as Hayek conclusively illustrated, the lack of any real feedback mechanism has always led planned economies into hideous misallocations of resources, the most egregious example being the collectivisation of agriculture in both Maoist China and Soviet Russia that led to mass starvation and millions of deaths. The market’s resource allocation system is a complex, multi-dimensional process that blends together the skills, knowledge, and ideas of society, and for which there is no substitute. Socialism might claim to represent the wider interests of society, but in adopting a system based on economic planning, the wider interests and desires of society and the democratic market process are ignored. This complex process begins with the designation of money, which is why the choice of the monetary medium is critical. Like all democracies, markets can be corrupted.