- ‘Cov-lite’ loans soar in dash for yield (FT)
- Cambodian police clash with thousands of garment workers, 23 hurt (Reuters)
- Obama Accepting Sequestration as Deficit Shrinks (BBG)
- Having done nothing to restore confidence in a fragmented market, the SEC turns back to main street fraud (WSJ)
- Europe's austerity-to-growth shift largely semantic (Reuters)
- Germany thwarts EU in China solar fight (FT)
- In EU-China dispute, Beijing warns of trade (FT)
- U.S. Oil Boom Divides OPEC (WSJ)
- Record Cash Sent to Balanced Funds (BBG)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Wrestles With Market Expectations About Pace of QE (WSJ)
- Worse-Than-Cyprus Debt Load Means Caribbean Defaults to Moody’s (BBG)
- States Raise College Budgets After Years of Deep Cuts (WSJ)
- U.K. Banks Cut 189,000 With Employment at Nine-Year Low (BBG)
A week ago, when the brand new Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange suddenly shuttered after being in operation for only two years, urgently settling what little contracts were outstanding, many questions were left unanswered. Such as: how it was possible that the exchange, expected by many to become the new preferred trading venue for Asian precious metals and to steal the CME's crown, could close on such short notice. This mystery deepened further after reports that the exchange barely had seen any volume, with allegedly only a tiny 200 open contracts remaining to be settled upon shuttering. Now, the confusion surrounding the HKMex closure has taken another big step for bizarrokind following news that not only have at least four HKMex senior executive have been arrested having been found to be in possession of false bank docs for nearly half a billion in dollars, but that government itself was forced to "shore up confidence" in CY Leung, Hong Kong's 3rd Chief Executive, whose former top aide was none other Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, founder of the HKMex.
The biggest fear of the Federal Reserve has been the deflationary pressures that have continued to depress the domestic economy. Despite the trillions of dollars of interventions by the Federal Reserve the only real accomplishment has been keeping the economy from slipping back into an outright recession. However, when looking at many of the economic and confidence indicators, there are many that are still at levels normally associated with previous recessionary lows. Despite many claims to the contrary the global economy is far from healed which explains the need for ongoing global central bank interventions. However, even these interventions seem to be having a diminished rate of return in spurring real economic activity despite the inflation of asset prices. The risk, as discussed recently with relation to Japan, is that the Fed is now caught within a "liquidity trap." The Fed cannot effectively withdraw from monetary interventions and raise interest rates to more productive levels without pushing the economy back into a recession. The overriding deflationary drag on the economy is forcing the Federal Reserve to remain ultra-accommodative to support the current level of economic activity. What is interesting is that mainstream economists and analysts keep predicting stronger levels of economic growth while all economic indications are indicating just the opposite.
In all the hoopla over Japan's stock market crash and China's PMI miss last night, the biggest news of the day was largely ignored: copper, and the fact that copper's ubiquitous arbitrage and rehypothecation role in China's economy through the use of Chinese Copper Financing Deals (CCFD) is coming to an end.
- Global shares sink, following 7.3 percent drop in Japan's Nikkei (Reuters)
- When all fails, pull a Kevin Bacon: Japan Economy Chief Warns Against Panic Over Stock Sell-Off (BBG)
- White House Feeds IRS Frenzy by Revising Accounts (BBG)
- In any scandal, lying to Congress is tough to prove (Reuters)
- Debt limit resets at higher level, budget impasse grinds on (Reuters)
- China factory data to test political calculations (FT)
- European Leaders Saying No to Austerity (BBG)
- And yet, nobody wants in anymore: Iceland’s new coalition government suspends EU accession talks (FT)
- Oil Manipulation Inquiry Shows EU’s Hammer After Libor (BBG)
- The Fed Squeezes the Shadow-Banking System (WSJ)
- Diamond Said to Weigh Backing Barclays Alumni in Venture (BBG)
- Spain’s Private Jets Disappearing as Tycoons Cut Flights (BBG)
Once again: The FOMC minutes had nothing to do with overnight's events, especially since both Ben Bernanke and Bill Dudley made it very clear previously that for any tapering to occur (and which is supposedly bullish according to David Tepper, who may finally be done selling to momentum chasers) if ever, the economy would have to be be stronger (which is of course a paradox because it is the Fed's QE that is making the economy weaker). If anything, the minutes reminded us that there is a mutiny in the FOMC with finally someone having the guts to say on the record that Bernanke is blowing a bubble - something never seen before on the official FOMC record. And after all, the Nikkei opened way up, not down. It was only after the realization of what soaring bond yields mean for, wait for it, stocks (despite central planner promises that it is soaring bond yields that are a good thing - turns out, they aren't) that the sell-off really started. That, and of course copper, and the end of the Chinese Copper Financing Deals arrangement that has been China's illicit cross-asset rehypothecation scheme for years (more shortly). So in a nutshell, here is what has transpired so far, courtesy of Bloomberg.
Yesterday afternoon, following the rout in the US stock market, we made a spurious preview of the true main event: "So selloff in JGBs tonight?" We had no idea how right we would be because the second Japan opened, its bond futures market was halted on a circuit breaker as the 10 Year bond plunged to their lowest level since early 2012, hitting 1% and leading to massive Mark to Market losses for Japanese banks, as we also warned would happen. That was just the beginning, and suddenly the realization crept in that the plunging yen at this point is not only negative for banks, but for the entire stock market, leading to what until that point was a solid up session for the Nikkei to the first rumblings of a ris-off. Shortly thereafter we got the distraction of the Chinese Mfg PMI which dropped into contraction territory for the first time since late 2012, and which set the mood decidedly risk-offish, although the real catalyst may have been a report on copper from Goldman's Roger Yan (which we will cover in depth shortly) and whose implications may be stunning and devastating and may have just popped the Chinese credit bubble (oh, btw, short copper). And then all hell broke loose, with the Nikkei first rising solidly and then something snapping loud and clear, and sending the index crashing a massive 1,143 an intraday swing of 9% high to low, leading to an over 200 pips move lower in the USDJPY, and leading to a global risk off across the world.
"The economy is amazing right now - employment is recovering, innovation is going and housing is reviving. What's not to love?" This was a statement we heard in the media to justify the recent rise in the stock market. However, back in the real world, what is clear from the two composite indexes is that the broad economy, and by extension underlying employment, has clearly peaked and has began to weaken. This is well within the context of historical trends and time frames. While the mainstream analysts and economists continue to have optimistic views for a resurgence in economic activity by years end the current data trends, both globally and domestically, suggest otherwise.
Unless there's a shock to the system when people start seeking safety, there's not much upside momentum for gold.
Another event-free day in which the only major economic data point was the release of UK CPI, which joined the rest of the world in telegraphing price deflation, despite bubbles in the real estate and stock markets, printing 2.0% Y/Y on expectations of a 2.3% increase, the lowest since November 2009 and giving Mark Carney carte blanche to print as soon as he arrives on deck. In an amusing twist of European deja-vuness, last night Japan's economy minister who made waves over the weekend when he said that the Yen has dropped low enough to where people's lives may be getting complicated (i.e., inflation), refuted everything he said as having been lost in translation, and the result was a prompt move higher in the USDJPY, quickly filling the entire Sunday night gap. That said, and as has been made very clear in recent years, data is irrelevant, and the only thing that matters, at least so far in 2013, is whether it is Tuesday: the day that has seen 18 out of 18 consecutive rises in the DJIA so far in 2013, and whether there is a POMO scheduled. We are happy to answer yes to both, so sit back, and wait for the no-volume levitation to wash over ever. The US docket is empty except for Dudley and Bullard speaking, but more importantly, the fate of Jamie Dimon may be determined today when the vote on the Chairman/CEO title is due, while Tim Cook will testify in D.C. on the company's tax strategy and overseas profits.
The pattern is obvious. The dollar is going up. The question is why. In one word, the answer is arbitrage.
A quiet day unfolding with just Chicago Fed permadove on the wires today at 1pm, following some early pre-Japan market fireworks in the USDJPY and the silver complex, where a cascade of USDJPY margin calls, sent silver to its lowest in years as someone got carted out feet first following a forced liquidation. This however did not stop the Friday ramp higher in the USDJPY from sending the Nikkei225, in a delayed response, to a level surpassing the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the first time in years. Quiet, however, may be just how the traders at 72 Cummings Point Road like it just in case they can hear the paddy wagons approach, following news that things between the government and SAC Capital are turning from bad to worse and that Stevie Cohen, responsible for up to 10-15% of daily NYSE volume, may be testifying before a grand jury soon. The news itself sent S&P futures briefly lower when it hit last night, showing just how influential the CT hedge fund is for overall market liquidity in a world in which the bulk of market "volume" is algos collecting liquidity rebates and churning liquid stocks back and forth to one another.
We are all embarked upon a grand new adventure. It just hasn't been announced yet. It will never be officially announced but we will all get to play this brand new game in any event. Originally many had provided the name, "Currency Wars," to our new game but recent comments and subtle indications have invalidated the title. The new title is, "Global Thermonuclear Devaluation." The outward appearance will be a "Currency Wars" game but that is just a distraction. There are other motives afoot here and deviousness and distraction are always part of great political maneuvers. Devaluation by fiat may also lead to Deflation by fiat and then we may well all find ourselves on the Dark Side.
Not a day passes without the financial media denouncing gold as an investment option and hailing the bureaucrats heading the world's monopolist monetary central planning agencies as superheroes. It began prior to gold's recent breakdown, with widely cited bearish reports on gold published by Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, among others. Never mind that most of their arguments were easily unmasked as spurious. It should be no wonder though: gold's rise was the most conspicuous evidence of faith in central banking being slowly but surely undermined. The banking cartel relies on the fiat money system remaining intact; the legal privilege of fractional reserve banking provides it with what is an essentially fraudulent profit center unparalleled by any other in the world (fraudulent in terms of traditional legal principles, but not in terms of the current law of course). As a subtle reminder, in October (before the Nikkei began its 80% rally), a full 76% of the 'big money' fund managers surveyed declared themselves bearish on Japan. Currently, 69% of the managers surveyed in the most recent Barron's poll are bearish on gold.