"The euro crisis is certainly not over yet," is how the Bundesbank's Jens Weidmann begins this intriguingly honest interview, adding that, resolution "will take some time." Perhaps his most telling statement comes early on when he explains that "believing that everything is okay now simply because the situation on the financial markets has eased is an illusion and does not help matters," as imbalances remain unresolved. From French un-competitiveness to Italy's potential about-turn on reforms, the outspoken German then goes on to address a critical point: "There are indeed some who see a solution to the crisis in the shape of higher inflation. I would regard such an approach as potentially incendiary. Once you allow inflation, it becomes very difficult to tame. In the short term, our projections show no excessive increase in prices. However, I would caution against underestimating the medium to long-term risks to stability. There must be no doubt that, when the time is right, we will tighten monetary policy."
The developed world has now become a fully operational Something-for-Nothing society. Once a Something-for-Nothing psychology has been fully implemented the majority of its citizens have become the functional equivalent of LOCUSTS!
Unable and unwilling (they no longer have the skills to make the wages they believe they are entitled to) to produce more than they consume and support themselves they set off the consume those that do to FEED on and SUPPORT themselves. The TAKERS or WEALTH EAT the MAKERS of WEALTH, Cannibalism of the worst sort.
Last November, in an act of sheer monetary desperation, the ECB issued an exhaustive, and quite ridiculous, pamphlet titled "Virtual Currency Schemes" in which it mocked and warned about the "ponziness" of such electronic currencies as BitCoin. Why a central bank would stoop so "low" to even acknowledge what no "self-respecting" (sic) PhD-clad economist would even discuss, drunk and slurring, at cocktail parties, remains a mystery to this day. However, that it did so over fears the official artificial currency of the insolvent continent, the EUR, may be becoming even more "ponzi" than the BitCoins the ECB was warning about, was clear to everyone involved who saw right through the cheap propaganda attempt. Feel free to ask any Cypriot if they would now rather have their money in locked up Euros, or in "ponzi" yet freely transferable, unregulated BitCoins. And while precious metals have been subject to price manipulation by the legacy establishment, even if ultimately the actual physical currency equivalent asset, its "value" naively expressed in some paper currency, may be in the possession of the beholder, to date no price suppression or regulation schemes of virtual currencies existed. At least until now: it appears that the ever-benevolent, and always knowing what is "in your best interest" Big Brother has decided to finally take a long, hard look at what is going on in the world of BitCoin... and promptly crush it.
It may be that a larger correction is in order given that some important global powers are struggling. Money printing by itself isn’t cure-all for what ails us.
Friday not much is happening beyond Cyprus tensions—how fun!
Let’s see what happens.
While Cyprus grabs the headlines, there are stirrings in Spain, New Zealand, and the UK with regard to how depositor funds (and their apparent insurance) is considered in the new normal banking system. As John Aziz notes, essentially, if there is to be any confidence in the banking system, the possibility of depleting liquidity insurance funds to bail out banks needs to be taken off the table completely. The possibility of insured depositor haircuts needs to be taken off the table completely. If banks need bailing out, the money must not come from insured depositors, or funds designed to compensate insured depositors. If banks fail, the losers should be the uninsured creditors.
There are two articles of faith in the central-bank religion: 1) We can keep interest rates near-zero for as long as we deem necessary, and 2) We can suppress inflation at will, too. The question is: can they do both at the same time for as long as they wish? If either interest rates or inflation (and they are correlated) start rising, the central banks' claims of control evaporate. There is an interesting paradox at work here: Since there is an unlimited buyer for low-yield bonds (the central banks), there is no market pressure for higher rates. Why raise yields when you can sell trillions of dollars of low-yield bonds to the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, etc.? By buying the new debt with newly created money, the central banks have marginalized the market's ability to transparently price risk and credit: the bond market has in effect been captured by the central banks, who can counter any reduction in demand with newly created money. But the central banks don't control where all this newly issued money goes. If it goes into the real economy, it triggers inflation; if it goes into assets, it inflates asset bubbles. Inflation and bubbles have consequences.
Many commentators have spent a great deal of ink proclaiming China to be the next great economic power. While it is true China has seen dramatic improvements in its economy over the last 30 years, my view has been and remains that most of the “growth” of the China “miracle” is just a debt-fueled bubble built upon a loose foundation of Government corruption and fraud.
As reported yesterday, Cyprus banks are now expected to reopen next Tuesday. We would boldly go ahead and take the under following overnight news that the ECB has once more escalated its political interventions (remember the lies about "apolitical, independent" Central Banks - good times...), and following a Reuters report yesterday that the ECB is prepared to let Cyprus go, the FT now has doubled down on the propaganda, reporting (in an article with no less than five authors) that the ECB has issued an ultimatum to Cyprus to agree to a bailout by Monday (which is a holiday), or the free liquidity ends. "The European Central Bank raised the stakes in the Cyprus crisis on Thursday, telling Nicosia it had until Monday to agree a bailout with the EU and International Monetary Fund or it would cut off emergency liquidity provision to the country’s banks. The hardline stance from the ECB sets a clear deadline for Cyprus to agree to a plan after its parliament rejected a bailout negotiated at the weekend that would have taxed the deposits of account holders in the country’s banks." Which means yet another weekend of ad hoc choices and spontaneous decisions awaits, only this time with a key non-Euro actor involved in the face of Russia, whose interest just in case there is any confusion, is to see Cyprus crushed, so it can swoop in later and "acquire" the assets on the cheap, or preferably free, while the local population welcome the second coming of the glorious Red Army with open arms, delighted to be free of European slavery. Well played Putin.
If you don’t collapse the system, the system will collapse you.
We already reported earlier that the only bid in the overnight session, aside from that of central banks of course, was courtesy of hopes that Russia would victoriously step in and gloriously deja vu bail out Cyprus from the clutches of a despotic (for lack of a better word) Germany. This happened moments before Russia explicitly denied any agreement between Russia and Cyprus was reached. So, in the aftermath of a brief glimpse of reality courtesy of FedEx which slashed its economic outlook across the board leading some to expect an outright decline in full year S&P earnings, what is a foundering insolvent status quo regime to do? Why regurgitate the same old already refuted rumor of course. Sure enough: "Kathimerini Cyprus reported that an agreement has been reached in principle for Russian investors to buy Cyprus Popular Bank (Laiki) in a deal that would reduce Cyprus' funding needs by 4 billion euros." Unsourced, unfounded, idiotic (because why would Russia buy a bank which will be promptly rendered insolvent by the deposit bank run that follows moments after it finally reopens). That was enough, however, to send the EURUSD soaring, and for us to comment on this as follows: "Here we go again with the European rumors ramping EUR, denied 20 minutes later." 10 minutes later, just as we predicted, all has been denied: CYPRUS GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN DENIES REPORTS OF DEAL TO SELL CYPRUS POPULAR BANK CPBC.CY TO RUSSIAN INVESTORS.
We are currently in an environment where policy makers are intent on devaluing their currencies in an effort to create growth. Real rates continue to stay negative in most of the developed world. Every marginal dollar of debt that is created is producing lower and lower amounts of growth. In a world overwhelmed by mountains of debt and economic growth which is sub-par at best, precious metals and real assets can act as insurance against the stupidity of policy makers. The evidence pointing towards the suppression of the gold price is becoming increasingly apparent. Don’t be the last person to figure this out! The current sell-off in gold should be viewed not with extreme trepidation but as an unbelievable opportunity to buy the metal at an artificially low value.
The Cypriot parliament tonight voted against a bill to introduce a tax on bank deposits, in return for a €10bn bailout offered to the country by Germany and other eurozone governments. Not a single Cypriot MP voted for the deal. The vote leaves Cyprus’ place in the eurozone hanging in the balance and threatens the escalation of the crisis to a new level, though the most likely outcome is that the Cypriot parliament votes a second time, on a revised deal. The governing party (DISY) abstained (with one member absent), while the junior coalition partner (DIKO) voted against – this signifies the huge political divisions at work in Cyprus. Even if a bailout deal is eventually approved the government’s position continues to look untenable. As we have noted before, this has the potential to be a very serious twist in the eurozone crisis. Previously, Germany and the eurozone have stressed that Cyprus has no alternatives to the deposit levy. Now, all eurozone partners are forced back into difficult negotiations. Both sides have some serious decisions to make. Below we outline the potential scenarios...
Prior to yesterday, if you were trying to handicap how the unelected leaders of the Eurozone were going to react to a tough situation, you only had to refer to the quote "When it becomes serious, you have to lie" from Mr. Junker to understand their mindset. But so long as someone at the ECB was willing to flood the world with free EURs (with significant backup provided the US Federal Reserve) the market closed its eyes, held its breath and took the leap of faith that all was well. However, post the Cyprus decision, the curtain has been pulled back and wizard revealed with all his faults and warts. It would be hard to over-emphasize how significant the Cyprus situation is. The damage done here is not related to the size of the haircut - currently discussed between 3 and 13% - but rather that the legal language which each and every investor on the planet must rely on in order to maintain confidence in the system has been subordinated to the needs of the powerful elite.
Until this weekend's Cyprus black swan, the biggest red flag facing the market was the threat of persistent Chinese inflation, manifesting itself in very sticky and upward rising home (and many other) prices. In fact, quite recently the new Chinese leadership encouraged "bold" and aggressive steps to tame real estate inflation and instituting fresh curbs on house appreciation "speculation", which is a natural byproduct in a nation that has an underdeveloped and untrusted capital market - unlike in the US where the S&P absorbs all the Fed's reserves (with no money multiplier impact) keeping inflation elsewhere largely tame. It is this inflation that has kept the PBOC not only on the global "reflation" sidelines, but forced it to withdraw liquidity with several record repos in the days following the Chinese new year. It is also the downstream effects of this inflation that has pushed the Chinese stock market red for the year. So just how much of an issue is the soaring Chinese real estate market as global liquidity makes its way to triplexes in Shanghai? The chart below explains it all.