We have no doubt that everyone is tired of bad news, but we are compelled to review the facts: Europe is currently experiencing severe bank runs, budgets in virtually every western country on the planet are out of control, the banking system is running excessive leverage and risk, the costs of servicing the ever-increasing amounts of government debt are rising rapidly, and the economies of Europe, Asia and the United States are slowing down or are in full contraction. There's no sugar coating it and we have to stop listening to politicians and central planners who continue to downplay, obfuscate and flat out lie about the current economic reality. Stop listening to them.
For those with doubts after a nine-month correction in gold (and especially over the last few days), Brent Johnson of Santiago Capital reminds us that 'nothing has changed'. Starting from the three propositions that: 1) Money is extremely misunderstood; 2) 'Fiat' money is a poor store of value; and 3) Gold is an excellent store of value, Johnson provides, in a little under 10 minutes, a succinct summary of all the reasons to remain long the shiny yellow stuff. As it reverts to being 'the most marketable commodity' once again, with the 'good-as-gold' USD continuing to lose its purchasing power over time, Johnson provides some thoughts on the periods of deflation and how gold plays into that end-game: "If gold were not a good store of value, why do all the central banks of the world store it and hold on to it - even when crises abound?"
The XLE closed yesterday at 63 - only a buck above the June 1 lows. For the year, XLE is now down a whopping 8 bucks. And of course oil, which started the year at 103 and peaked at 110, has dropped to 78. Jefferies' David Zervos offers some critical insight into the energy sector bloodbath in the last few months, which of course begs the question - what in the world is going on? Shouldn't all this accomodative policy by the Fed, ECB, SNB, BoE and BOJ be sending commodities to the moon? The answer, he believes, is straightforward - central banks are NOT being accomodative enough. These downward trends in the energy and commodity complex should be a warning sign to anyone with a "price stability" mandate. For now we should look at this energy cliff as an early warning sign for stress in the system. And as such we should expect the usual central bank backstopping to come out in force if this trend picks up material steam! Its the same old story, reflation or bust - and Zervos is still betting the central bankers deliver the former!
Gold may have its worst week in 2012 as it is currently down 3.5% for the week in dollar terms and nearly 3% in euro and pound terms. However, gold is still higher so far in June and the fundamentals suggest we have bottomed or are very close to a market bottom prior to a summer rally.
However, further short term weakness is possible as speculators go to cash and support is at $1,540/oz (see chart above).
Over the last few weeks markets have recovered from the significant stresses that were building towards the end of May (until yesterday's slow realization). The recovery has been in no small part due to expectations of intervention and that fresh rounds of QE and their equivalents will soon be implemented around the developed world. Deutsche Bank believes that markets are now addicted to stimulus and can’t function properly without it. There is little evidence yet to suggest that markets in this post crisis world have the ability to prosper in a period without heavy intervention, though empirically asset prices benefit from liquidity but that the environment remains fragile enough for them to struggle to maintain their levels when the liquidity stops. Critically, they agree with us that the structural problems the West faces mean that QE and its equivalents and refinements will likely need to be around for several years to come to ensure that the financial system and its economies don’t relapse into a depressionary tail-spin. There is no evidence that we are currently close to being able to wean ourselves off our liquidity addiction. The hope would be that with further injections we can prevent the worst case scenario but the base case remains for the stress and intervention cycle repeating itself as far as the eye can see. Central banks still have much to do.
Even though it was one of the first to call for a coordinated market crash (remember XO going over 1000 bps?) last month before a coordinated policy response can come into play, today Citi's Mohammed Apabhai has doubled down on yesterday's market moving Goldman call, once again making it quite clear that only a collapse can bring the much needed policy "salvation." The bogey? 12% down according to Citi, before the "liquidity put" comes in play and 1285 could "indicate liquidity support." In other words: in order to go up, first the market must go down.
Despite already being engaged in drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and still occupying Afghanistan, the U.S. is being duped into yet another war based on shaky evidence and at the behest of deep-pocketed special interests. This is coming even while a secretive cyber war already being waged to damage Iran’s nuclear capability. According to the Pentagon, “computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war.” Not only that, but the draconian sanctions thus far placed on Iran are doing enormous harm to the citizens who hardly have a say in what their government does. The Belgium-based SWIFT payment system that facilitates most international payments has already denied service to many Iranian banks. With the imposing of an oil embargo from the European Union just around the corner (July 1st) that will all but make it impossible for oil tankers to be insured by Lloyd’s of London, an actual naval blockade is being floated by U.S. lawmakers. Much like the Antebellum South and Japan, Iran too is being pushed into a corner.... Then and now, wealthy special interests are a driving force behind American imperialism. Lies will be spun till they are seen as facts. When the truth comes out, the irreparable damage will already be done. Like anything the state lays its filthy hands on, war is a racket. The beneficiaries of the ruling class’s gleeful foray into mass murder are few in number. The masses, still brainwashed into feverish nationalism, end up paying the costs with their pilfered income, eroded liberty, and, ultimately, their own lives.
"Unlike other financial instruments, gold doesn't produce interest. But given its symbolic presence and usefulness as a safe haven in times of crisis, the BOK needs to buy more. We may do so this year," he said.
Two days ago we noted with muted disgust that Europe has legislated to scrap the use of rating agencies, who were everyone's best friend during the up-phase in the global ponzi, but now that deleveraging is accelerating and ratings downgrades are coming, are like the drunk guest who refuses to leave the insolvent party at 4 am. Sure enough, the time has come to enact rules to kick them out. But wait, there is much more. Moments ago Reuters reported that the European Central Bank is discussing a medium-term plan (as in indefinite) to scrap rating rules on euro zone sovereign bonds and instead set their value when used as collateral in lending operations on its own internal assessment, central bank sources said. You read that right: the ECB itself will decide what the collateral value is of pieces of paper it accepts, in exchange for other pieces of paper with the faces of famous dead people on one side (even if technically the whole operation takes place electronically). And to think that for some odd reason allowing drug addicts to write their own prescriptions is illegal. Apparently all is fair in love and breaking all rules of sinking monetary systems.
Despite what her officials say publicly, austerity has limited support within the ECB itself, because it is run at the top by neoclassical economists. Instead, the real constraint is Germany, whose citizens’ savings are on the line and which faces the prospect of its third currency collapse in a century. So this is where the lines are drawn up: spendthrifts desperate for more money, a conflicted central bank, and Germany. Angela Merkel has made considerable progress in pushing the German electorate in a direction that is completely against its instincts by playing the political card marked “there is no alternative.” With her considerable political skills, she may be able to push her people some more, but it is becoming increasingly difficult, because everyone in Germany can see that committing real savings to bailing out the spendthrifts only wipes out the savings. These are not euros simply conjured out of thin air, because the Bundesbank cannot print them and probably wouldn’t do so anyway. But the pressure is mounting on her, and she is being squeezed by governments such as the British and the Americans, who are now panicking over the consequences of failure. This is why both countries went public last week, with David Cameron even visiting Merkel in person. It is a sure indication that major governments outside the Eurozone are beginning to expect the worst, and that unless Germany gives way, it will happen quickly.
Gold dipped today despite Wall Street hopes that the US Fed will embark on more QE. As we have said for some time QE3, or a new term for electronic and paper money creation, is a certainty and this will lead to inflation hedging and safe haven demand for gold.
Recently, there has been an intense debate in Europe on the TARGET2 system (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System 2), which is the joint gross clearing system of the eurozone the interpretation of this system and its balances has provoked divergent opinions. Some economists, most prominently Hans-Werner Sinn, have argued that TARGET2 amounts to a bailout system. Others have vehemently denied that. Philipp Bagus adresses the question of whether this 'mysterious' system, that we have been so vociferously discussing, simply amounts to an undercover bailout system for unsustainable living standards in the periphery? Concluding by comparing TARGET2, Eurobonds, and the ESM, he notes that all three 'devices' serve as a bailout system and form a tranfer union but governments prefer to hide the losses on taxpayers as long as possible and prefer the ECB to aliment deficits in the meantime.
After a volatile morning’s trade, European equities are making gains. Having progressed through the session, markets saw a distinct period of volatility wherein peripheral 10-yr government bond yield spreads tightened markedly with their German counterpart, with the Spanish 10-yr yield making a test, but stopping short of a break below the 7.00% handle. The moves came in the wake of a relatively smooth Spanish T-Bill auction, which saw decent bid/cover ratios albeit with markedly higher yields on their 12- and 18-month lines. A modest relief rally was also observed when markets received confirmation that a recent ruling from the top German court regarding information on the ESM’s configuration does not bar the fund from coming into action and taking effect. In terms of data, markets have shrugged off a particularly poor ZEW survey from Germany, however a substantial weakening was observed in GBP following the release of the first deflationary May reading of CPI since records began. The pullback in cost-push inflation has given markets further reason to believe the BoE may conduct additional QE, as the price-level pressures have eased across the past two months.
While every long-only manager and jobbing stockbroker is hard at work twisting the simple logic of 'but, but Central Banks will print and save the world' into a much more appetizing 'US decoupling, cleanest-shirt, ignore Europe, earnings, profits, money-on-the-sidelines' euphemism, we note that the following three charts from UBS suggest that things are not quite as rosy as one might believe - whether or not Ben speaks monetarily this week. Between consensus growth expectations rolling over, the analyst upgrade/downgrade ratio turning negative once again, and recent changes in US growth remain positively ecstatic relative to global/regional changes; it would appear hope is a powerful (and hallucinatory) drug (as is QE kool-aid).
"Private Debt Doesn't Matter" Because "Banks Can't Create Money Out of Thin Air"