So the second and third largest economies in the world are in collapse with stock market crashes. What are the odds the world will pull through this?
For the second consecutive day futures have drifted lower following a drubbing in the Nikkei which was down nearly 3% to just above 14K (time to start talking about the failure of Abenomics again despite National CPI posting the first positive print of 0.2% in forever and rising at the fastest pace in 5 years) and the Shanghai Composite which dropped to just above 2000 once again, after PBOC governor Zhou saying that China has big economic downward pressure and further reiterated prudent monetary policy will be pursued. This is despite Hilsenrath's latest puff piece which pushed the market into the green in yesterday's last hour of trading and despite initial optimism which saw stocks open higher following forecast-beating EU earnings gradually easing and heading into the North American open stocks are now little changed. It may be up to the WSJ mouhtpiece to provide today's 3pm catalyst to BTFATH, or else it will be up to the circular and HFT-early released UMichigan confidence index to surge/plunge in order to push stocks on any red flashing news is good news.
Global conditions in early 1928 were oddly similar to today (Benjamin Strong puzzling over a strange brew of rising stock prices, uneven economic recovery, suspect banking practices and unusual strains in Europe’s monetary system), but skewed in a direction that would cause our current policymakers to apply even stronger stimulus than we’ve seen in 2013. The analogy suggests to us that today’s Fed is threatening mistakes that aren’t unlike those of the 1920s Fed. But what about the stock market? Unfortunately, a few market characteristics fit the late 1920s timeline pretty well... There can be little doubt that today’s Fed-fueled asset price rallies merely bring future price appreciation forward to the present. Asset prices eventually return to fundamental values, and as they do the Fed’s cherished wealth effects work in reverse. This is another risk that should be considered when you decide whether to take Bernanke’s bait and “reach for yield” in stocks and other risky assets.
Dispassionate review of some of next weeks important developments.
Before the current turmoil began, Ben Bernanke's hope was that rising asset prices would lead to a "wealth effect" that would encourage the American consumer to start spending again, and thus help the American economy finally leave the "Great Recession" behind. However, the empirical data does not support this notion and equally the economy isn't booming sufficiently to make the reverse case that the economy drives the stock market. So what is causing the markets to boom right now? Steve Keen notes that during the period from 1890 to 1950, there was no sustained divergence between stock prices and CPI, and that almost all of the growth of share prices relative to consumer prices appeared to have occurred since 1980; and then, boom! - what must certainly be the biggest bubble in stock prices in human history took off - and it went hyper-exponential in 1995. So are stocks in a bubble? Yes - and they have been in it since 1982. It has grown so big that - without a long term perspective - it isn't even visible to us. It has almost burst on two occasions - in 2000 and 2008 - but even these declines, as precipitous as they felt at the time, reached apogees that exceeded the previous perigees in1929 and 1968.
Since 1694 and the ensuing three centuries’ of Bank of England history, the base rate has never been this low (see chart). Draghi, emulated his fellow Goldman Sachs banker, Carney and kept rates at 0.5%. Ultra loose monetary policies involving record low base rates have been in place in the UK since March 2009, a lengthy 4½ years. In the Eurozone 0.5% record low rates have been seen since May this year.
- Fashionable 'Risk Parity' Funds Hit Hard (WSJ)
- No 1997 Asian Crisis Return as China Trembles (BBG)
- Greece Faces Collapse of Second Key Privatization (FT)
- China Bad-Loan Alarm Sounded by Record Bank Spread Jump (BBG)
- Iranian official signals no scaling back in nuclear activity (Reuters)
- Asmussen Says Any QE Discussions at ECB Not Policy Relevant (BBG)
- Flat Japanese consumer prices aid Kuroda (FT)
- Vietnam Devalues Dong for First Time Since ’11 to Boost Reserves (BBG)
- World Bank Sees ‘Vulnerable’ Food System on Climate Change (BBG)
- Fed big-hitters seek to quash QE fears (FT)
- EU Leaders Set to Slow Support for Ailing Banks (BBG)
Overnight newsflow (which nowadays has zero impact on markets which only care what Ben Bernanke had for dinner) started in Japan where factory orders were reported to have risen the most since December 2011, retail sales climbed, the unemployment rate rose modestly, consumer prices stayed flat compared to a year ago, however real spending plunged -1.6% significantly below the market consensus forecast for +1.3% yoy, marking the first yoy decline in five months. This suggests that households are cutting utility costs more so than the level of increase in prices. By contrast, real spending on clothing and footwear grew sharply by 6.9% yoy (+0.6% in April) marking positive growth for a fourth consecutive month. Simply said, the Japanese reflation continues to be limited by the lack of wage growth even as utility and energy prices are exploding and limiting the potential for core inflation across the board.
Demand isn’t there at the moment in the economy. Production isn’t being utilized. Any monetary policy will only be temporarily of benefit to the market and keep them happy (as it has done for six months).
- As Goldman's money-printing tentacle Carney arrives, everyone else leaves: Tucker to Leave BOE (WSJ)
- So much for pent up demand: Refinancings Plunge as Bond Yields Rise (WSJ)
- Singapore Censures 20 Banks for Attempts to Rig Benchmark Rates (BBG)
- Behind the Big Profits: A Research Tax Break (WSJ)
- While working for spies, Snowden was secretly prolific online (Reuters)
- Turkey to Await Ruling on Park as Erdogan Meets Protesters (BBG)
- Iran votes for new president, Khamenei slams U.S. doubts (Reuters)
- NSA revelations, modified wheat cast a pall on U.S. trade talks with Europe (WaPo)
- Euro zone inflation subdued as employment keeps falling (Reuters)
A dispassionate review of a slew of Chinese economic data. Why the capital inflows are not a result of Qe as much as Chinese investors gaming their own system. Why the lower inflation is not evidence of Japan exporting deflation, as some have claimed. Why the decline in imports may be related to prices and foreign demand, more than Chinese demand itself.
The uncertainty about when the Fed will begin tapering its programme of asset purchases has increased volatility, both pushing and pulling on global financial markets. “at this juncture, the markets are more concerned about tapering than about weak [US and global] growth,” says MIG Bank’s Chief Economist, Luciano Jannelli.
Year-over-year inflation in Venezuela accelerated to 35.2% - up from 20.1% YoY in December. Goldman is concerned as the 6.1% MoM (the highest on record) in May means inflation is now endemic and the economy could easily veer from the current stagflation equilibrium into the dangerous and slippery road to hyperinflation. In a sentence that rings all to close to home, they sum up: All in all, we are increasingly concerned with the inflation and monetary dynamics in Venezuela as the classical Sargent and Wallace (1981) “unpleasant monetarist arithmetic” of severe fiscal dominance brought about by growing monetization of fiscal deficits and very weak policy credibility could easily degenerate in a recessionary hyper-inflationary spiral. That must mean it is time to buy the Caracas Stock Index (+72% YTD, +600% since Jan 2012)?
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his hodgepodge of old ideas and new contradictions.
In almost every asset class, volatility has made a phoenix-like return in the last few days/weeks and while equity markets tumbled Friday into month-end, the bigger context is still up, up, and away (and down and down for bonds). From disinflationary signals to emerging market outflows and from fixed income market developments to margin, leverage, and valuations, here is the 'you are here' map for the month ahead.