Following the start of Abenomics in 2012, Japan moved back to the center of attention of global financial markets. After two and a half decades of economic stagnation, hopes were high that Japan would escape its long stagnation and deflation. Plenty of economists around the globe hoped that, in so doing, Japan would show the western world, mainly the Eurozone, the way to do the same and avoid a similar long period of low growth and stagnating incomes. Conversely, the failure of Abe’s plan for Japan’s recovery would not only be a disaster for the country of the rising sun. It would also be very bad news for central bankers and politicians in the west as well. It would prove that Keynesian policies don’t work in a world of too much debt and shrinking populations.
"People should not be worried," explained Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev in a TV address over the weekend, "we have a plan in place if oil prices are $40 per barrel." Kazakhstan, the second largest ex-Soviet oil producer after Russia, explains "there are reserves which could support people, preventing living conditions from worsening." However, if A. Gary Schilling's reality check of $20 oil being possible comes to fruition, as he explains, what matters are marginal costs - the expense of retrieving oil once the holes have been drilled and pipelines laid. That number is more like $10 to $20 a barrel in the Persian Gulf... We wonder who has a plan for that?
Great news: The prices consumers pay dropped 0.3% MoM in November - the biggest deflation since Dec 2008. Of course, The Fed will be in "considerable" panic mode at this data and may choose to crush the hope of so many that rate hikes are coming in mid-2015 as definitive evidence that the US economy is well on the road to recovery. Ex-Food-and-Energy, prices rose 1.7% YoY - slightly missing expectations of +1.8%. Of course, a big driver of this 'transitory' disinflation is a 10.5% YoY drop in Gasoline and 6.6% MoM drop in November. Despite this huge drop, and thge promises of various talking heads, airfares rose 1.36% in November (after also rising 2.39% in October) - so much for the benefits to the consumer.
Who said economics can’t be fun?! How is it not absolutely brilliant that in the face of a collapsing shale oil industry – or at least, for the moment, of its financing model -, and the worst week for the Dow since 2011, the Thomson Reuters/UofMichigan consumer sentiment index shows American consumers are more optimistic than they’ve been in 8 years, and that “more consumers volunteered good news than bad news than in any month since 1984?? 1984! How does one trump that as a contrarian signal? And that I don’t mean to sound funny: that is serious.
Not quite as many fireworks overnight, in another session dominated by central banks. First it was revealed that China had injected CNY400 billion into the banking system to add liquidity as the economy slows, which is ironic because on the other hand China is also seemingly doing everything in its power to crash its nascent stock market bubble mania, following the latest news that China’s CSRC approved 12 IPOs ahead of schedule which is seen as a pre-emptive step to tighten interbank liquidity amid the recent rise in margin trading. Another central bank that was busy overnight was Russia's, which proceeded with its 5th rate hike of the year, pushing the central rate up by 100 bps to 10.50% as expected. Elsewhere, the Bank of England wants to move to a Fed-style decision schedule and start releasing immediate minutes as Governor Mark Carney overhauls the framework set up more than 17 years ago. The Swiss National Bank predicted consumer prices will drop next year and said the risk of deflation has increased as it vowed to defend its cap on the franc. Finally Norway’s central bank cut its main interest rate for the first time in more than two years and signaled it may ease again next year as plunging oil prices threaten growth in western Europe’s biggest crude exporter.
Underneath the Propaganda, the Economy Is In BAD SHAPE …
The simple message: Quantitative Easing has failed to generate inflation. Stated alternatively: QE has not been able to overcome still extant deflationary pressures. Global central banker actions in printing over $13 trillion of new money over the last 6 years have been insufficient to surmount still existing deflationary forces. It tells us the probability of further global deflationary impulses are very real. This has direct implications for any sector of the economy or financial markets whose fundamentals are negatively leveraged to deflationary pressures (think banks, real estate, etc.) Be assured the central bankers are more than fully aware of this.
The game has been lost, but central bankers are still on the field, wandering around in disbelief that their unspeakable powers to issue money and credit have failed. You can print all the money you want, but it will never boost wages to keep up with prices.
Now that China is on the same boat as the rest of the world, and its stock market is a direct reflection of hopes for constant liquidity injections by the central banks, nothing could be better for stocks than bad news, which is precisely what it got. After the biggest crash in the Shanghai Composite in 5 years, what China got just the bad economic update it needed, when it reported a PPI of PPI (-2.7%, Exp. -2.4%), the 33rd consecutive decline and a CPI (1.4%, Exp. 1.6%), lowest since November 2009, when the big banks’ RRR rate stood at 15.5% vs. current 20%. And so hope of yet more PBOC interventions to halt China's deflation promptly reversed SHCOMP losses of over 4% on the session (at which point it was just shy of correction territory from recent highs hit just this week), and stocks surged to close up almost 3%, erasing half of yesterday's losses. This spike came despite reports Chinese regulators may limit brokerages' interbank borrowing.
A story has been echoing around the financial news for a few weeks: the Chinese economy is now larger than the economy in the US. Not so fast...
You can’t force people to spend, not if you’re a government, not if you’re a central bank. And if you try regardless, chances are you wind up scaring people into even less spending. That’s the perfect picture of Japan right there. There’s no such thing as central bank omnipotence, and this is where that shows maybe more than anywhere else. And if you can’t force people to spend, you can’t create growth either, so that myth is thrown out with the same bathwater in one fell swoop. Some may say and think deflation is a good thing, but I say deflation kills economies and societies. Deflation is not about lower prices, it’s about lower spending. Which will down the line lead to lower prices, but then the damage has already been done, it’s just that nobody noticed, because everyone thinks inflation and deflation are about prices, and therefore looks exclusively at prices.
What was truly notable in Weidmann's statement is his open jab at the stupidity of Keynesian economics itself. To wit from Bloomberg: ECB Governing Council member Jens Weidmann says at event in Berlin that consumer prices in euro area “are strongly influenced by the energy prices, which are at the moment experiencing a positive supply shock.” The punchline: "There’s a stimulant effect coming from the energy prices - it’s like a mini stimulus package." But wait a minute, isn't deflation under Keynesian voodoonomics, the biggest bogeyman imaginable? It turns out deflation is only bad when it impacts... the S&P 500.
In the case of a "yes" vote, gold prices are likely to surge. Analysts do not believe a yes vote is possible. However, analysts have got the mood of the people wrong in many referendums both in Switzerland and throughout Europe in recent years.
Oil Slumps To 4 Year Low Ahead Of OPEC, Eurozone Yields New Record Lows: Summary Of Overnight EventsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/27/2014 07:46 -0400
While the US takes the day off after another near-record low volume surge to a new all time high in the S&P500, a level which is now just 125 points away from Goldman's year end target for 2016, the rest of the world will be patiently awaiting to see if oil's next step, as a result of today's OPEC meeting will be to $60 or to $100. For now at least the answer is the former (see more here from the WSJ), with Brent recently touching a fresh 4 year low in the mid-$75s, as WTI doesn't fare much better and was down 2% at last check to $72.20 after touching a low of $71.89. It appears the prepared remarks by the OPEC president to the 166th conference have not eased fears that despite all the rhetoric OPEC will be unable to get all sides on the same story, even though the speech notes "ample supply, moderate demand and warns that "if falling price trend continues, “long-term sustainability of capacity expansion plans and investment projects may be put at risk."
The topic of ‘currency war’ has been bantered about in financial circles since at least the term was first used by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega in September 2010. Recently, the currency war has escalated, and a ‘sanctions war’ against Russia has broken out. History suggests that financial assets are highly unlikely to preserve investors’ real purchasing power in this inhospitable international environment, due in part to the associated currency crises, which will catalyse at least a partial international remonetisation of gold. Vladimir Putin, under pressure from economic sanctions, may calculate that now is the time to play his ‘gold card’.