The dollar dropped a lot this week, though most would say gold and silver spiked. Gold owners have 4% more dollars and silver owners have 7.4% more. How much less are those dollars worth?
Peak Stupidity: Argentina Fines Walmart For Violating "Fair Price" Pact, Urges Citizens To Denounce "Evil" RetailersSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/16/2014 20:29 -0500
We take certain liberties with the title: we realize that since one is dealing with human individuals, particularly human individuals stuck in an insolvent, soon to re-default nation, stupidity can never peak per se, as the next day will without doubt bring some peak-er instance of even more profound idiocy. However, at this particular moment, this may be it. What happened is that on Friday, Argentina fined supermarket chains including Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, and Carrefour for "failing to maintain adequate stocks of price-controlled goods." This happened after the country shocked everyone in late January by devaluing the peso by 18 percent, effectively wiping out the purchasing power of its population by the same amount and forcing a mad scramble by the population into retail outlets, such as Wal-Mart, where the people were desperate to convert their increasingly more worthless pieces of paper for tangible goods resulting in a "run on the Wal-Mart" and depleting store shelves of virtually all goods, price-controlled or otherwise.
Overview of the events and data that will be of interest to investors.
Japan Machine Orders Crumble At Fastest Pace In 22 Years As BOJ Board Member Warns More QE May Not Be ComingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/11/2014 19:13 -0500
If you needed another reason to buy stocks, trust in the growth meme, and have your faith in Abenomics confirmed... look away. Japanese Machine orders for December just printed -15.7% in December - the biggest MoM plunge since 1992. This is the biggest miss to expectations since 2006 and what is considerably more problematic for Abe et al. is that YoY expectations of a core machine order rise of 17.4% was hopelessly missed with a small 6.7% gain (and this is data that excludes more volatile orders). While machine orders are completely irrelevant, even if on their own they portend a recession; what would be far more troubling to the Kool aid addicts is if the BOJ were to announce that just like the Fed, it too is tapering its Open-ended QE ambitions. Considering this is precisely what BOJ board member Kiuchi just did, that relentless USDJPY meltup overnight may not be such a slamdunk...
The potential for a golden age of gas comes along with a big “if” regarding environmental and social impact. The International Energy Agency (IEA) - the "global energy authority" - believes that this age of gas can be golden, and that unconventional gas can be produced in an environmentally acceptable way.
Many fear that a decline of between 1,500 to 2,000 points in the Nikkei to raise doubts about 'Abenomics' (i.e., hoary inflationism combined with deficit spending). We are still wondering what Abenomics is supposed to achieve. With a graying population and consequently a shrinking work force, inflationary policies seem especially ill-conceived in Japan. Maintaining the market's calm is predicated on the belief that the inflationary policy pursued by Abe/Kuroda will actually fail. Moreover, Japan's government can simply not afford higher borrowing costs, as 25% of its tax revenue is already going toward merely servicing interest costs on its current outstanding debt. In other words, Japan's government bond market is a glaring example of a Ponzi scheme and only a rising stock market maintains the media's complicitness in this mirage.
The wild volatility continues, with markets set to open well in the negative wiping out all of yesterday's gains and then some, only this time the catalyst is not emerging market crashing and burning (at least not yet even though moments ago the ZAR weakened to a new 5 year low against the USD and the USDTRY is reaching back for the 2.30 level) but European inflation, where the CPI printed at 0.70%, dropping once again from 0.8%, remaining under 1% for the fourth straight month and missing estimates of a pick up to 0.9%. Perhaps only economists are surprised at this reading considering last night Japan reported its highest (energy and food-driven) inflation print in years: so to explain it once again for the cheap seats - Japan is exporting its "deflation monster", Europe is importing it. It also means Mario Draghi is again in a corner and this time will probably have to come up with some emergency tool to boost European inflation or otherwise the ECB will promptly start to lose credibility - is the long awaited unsterilized QE from the ECB finally imminent?
Beginning by disavowing Mario Gabelli of any belief that rising stock prices help 'most' people, Marc Faber discusses his increasingly imminent fears of the markets in this recent Barron's interview. Quoting Hussman as a caveat, "The problem with bubbles is that they force one to decide whether to look like an idiot before the peak, or an idiot after the peak. There's no calling the top," Faber warns there are a lot of questions about the quality of earnings but "statistics show that company insiders are selling their shares like crazy." His first recommendation - short the Russell 2000, buy 10-year US Treasuries ("there will be no magnificent US recovery"), and miners and adds "own physical gold because the old system will implode. Those who own paper assets are doomed."
The big story last week was the rapid devaluation of the official Argentine Peso (abbreviated, perfectly enough, ARS) exchange rate, which tumbled by 17% overnight from USDARS 6.8 to over 8.0, when the government decided to liberalize the exchange regime and "ease" capital controls, allowing citizens to purchase dollars in hopes of stabilizing the currency and halting the ongoing outflow of reserves. Other downstream effects aside - and there will be many - the most immediate outcome for the economy will be a surge in inflation, which is already overheating at 25% in 2013 based on analyst estimates even if the "official number" is half of this, and set to get even higher. What worse, however, is that only some 20% of the population will be able to take advantage of the "relaxed" capital controls, because only Argentines who earn at least 7,200 pesos ($901) per month will be allowed to buy dollars, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich told reporters today. And since only 20% of Argentines earned 7,000 pesos or more as of 3Q 2013, according to the National Statistics and Census Institute, it means that 80% of the population will get all the "benefits" of inflation with zero benefits from dollar purchase price protection.
Dedicated readers of The Wall Street Journal have recently been offered many dire warnings about a clear and present danger that is stalking the global economy. They are not referring to a possible looming stock or real estate bubble. Nor are they talking about other usual suspects such as global warming, peak oil, the Arab Spring, sovereign defaults, the breakup of the euro, Miley Cyrus, a nuclear Iran, or Obamacare. Instead they are warning about the horror that could result from falling prices, otherwise known as deflation. Get the kids into the basement Mom... they just marked down Cheerios!
Things in the country whose central bank assets have climbed to ¥229 trillion, or 48 percent of the nation’s nominal gross domestic product, are about to get very interesting: on one hand, it will have no choice but to slow down monetization under its existing QE program. On the other, pernicious inflation is spreading doubts the BOJ will be able to boost QE in the near-future. What is a country stuck in a vortex between deflation and runaway inflation to do? "It may be too late to prevent long-term rates doing something crazy” should the BOJ hold off on tapering before inflation reaches the target, said Richard Koo, the chief economist in Tokyo at Nomura.
Venezuela's (freely elected) President Nicolas Maduro (amid toilet-paper and food shortages nation-wide) pointed out this in a State of the Nation address - which Bloomberg's Peter Jeffrey notes was unnecessary as everyone who lives in Venezuela knows the State of the Nation and it is Excruciating - "I'm a socialist, and I know what I'm doing." As Jeffrey ascorbically notes in this wonderful Op-ed, the Venezuelan treasury is now free to issue notes bearing the motto E Non Sequitur Gloria, or "Out of that which makes no sense shall we stitch the fabric of our glorious destiny."
People often ask today: if the Fed has created so much new money, why hasn’t it produced more inflation?
The Greek economy initially slipped into a deflationary trend in March 2013 and for the 10th month in a row in December, Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes that EU-harmonized consumer prices dropped 1.8%. This is the longest deflationary streak since 1968 (largest in record according to Bloomberg data) as the Greek economy remains 21.3% smaller than it was in the third quarter of 2007. Of course, this doesn't matter to the dash-for-trash-grabbing fast-money muppets who have driven Greek stocks up 19% in the last 9 days to their highest in almost 3 years; because, as is the only important fact, Stournaras says recovery is coming any minute...
Is it all about expectations about tapering, again?