Just a day after Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, in a televised speech, accused central bank employees of helping local bankers to speculate against the Argentine peso in hopes of forcing the government to devalue the currency, Juan Carlos Fabrega - the head of Argentina's Central Bank - has quit. As WSJ reports, unable to borrow abroad due to a legal dispute with creditors, Mrs. Kirchner has relied on money printing to cover spending deficits at the expense of inflation that is thought to be around 40%; and it appears the sanity of Mr. Fabrega was too much to bear for Kirchner (and Kiciloff - who had reportedly clashed with the Central Banker also). The reaction - not good - the stock index collapsed over 8%, bond yields spiked and the black-market peso dumped to record lows at 15.65 to the USD (drastically worse than the 8.51 official peso rate).
In a striking admission that Mario Draghi's "strategy" about the ECB's Private QE future, aka ABS monetization plan, is nothing short of converting Europe's central bank into a "bad bank" repository for trillions in bad and non-performing debt, the FT yesterday reported that "Mario Draghi is to push the European Central Bank to buy bundles of Greek and Cypriot bank loans with “junk” ratings, in a move that is set to exacerbate tensions between Germany and the bank." It is expected that the former Goldmanite will unveil details of a plan to buy hundreds of billions of euros’ worth of private-sector assets at tomorrow's ECB meeting.
The ECB again cut the interest rates it controls, deeper into negative territory. It says it’s trying to nudge prices higher, but it’s actually feeding the cancer of falling interest.
- U.S., backed by Arabs, launches first strikes on fighters in Syria (Reuters, BBG)
- But not all all back: Turkey Bars Kurds From Entering Syria to Fight Islamic State (BBG)
- Dollar Weakens on Airstrikes; Europe Stocks Drop (BBG)
- Ready for Rate Riot? Emerging Markets Set to Follow Fed (BBG)
- White House fence jumper had ammunition, machete in car, prosecutors say (WaPo)
- El-Erian "would have done things differently" (Reuters)
- Eurozone business growth slows in September, PMI survey finds (BBC)
- Shrinking Bond Desks Taken by Journeymen as Masters Fade (BBG)
- Manufacturing Rebound Relieves Growth Concerns in China (BBG)
- Former Trader Quits Playboy Club to Open Own Restaurant (BBG)
When the most persistent, most aggressive, and most sizeable actions of policymakers are those that discourage saving, promote debt-financed consumption, and encourage the diversion of scarce savings to yield-seeking financial speculation rather than productive investment, the backbone that supports a rising standard of living is broken.
Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
The Fed consistently managed the Fed Funds rates to keep oil prices steady, even when it required mid-teens interest rates and back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982. Since US Fed Funds rates were managed to preserve US creditors’ and oil exporters’ purchasing power in oil terms, the system proved acceptable to most nations. While the Petrodollar arrangement worked well for nearly thirty years, the arrangement began to wobble beginning around 2002-04...
- Thank you market Chief Risk Officer Bernanke/Yellen: Calpers to Exit Hedge Funds, Divest $4 Billion Stake (BBG)
- World stocks hit one-month low, caution ahead of Fed (Reuters)
- U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide (WSJ)
- Time to throw away some more good money: Sears Borrows $400 Million From Lampert’s ESL Investments (BBG)
- Wildfires rage in California drought, hundreds forced to flee (Reuters)
- United Offers $100,000 Buyouts to Flight Attendants (BBG)
- Biggest Banks Said to Overhaul FX Trading After Scandals (BBG)
- You mean you have to pay? Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000 (The Hill)
- RBS Said to Dismiss Most of Team Overseeing Central Europe Debt (BBG) they will be hired by the ECB
It’s not just homeowners who have to worry about rising interest rates, the Federal government might soon get a taste of its own medicine. From the admittedly partisan Republican Senate Committee on the Budget comes this report outlining how federal interest outlays will dovetail with other expenses in the future. "By the end of the budget window in 2024, however, CBO forecasts that interest payments will nearly quadruple to an astonishing $880 billion."
Desperate governments call for desperate measures. Unfortunately for us, citizens often end up paying for the mistakes of their governments. That’s not how it should be but, sometimes, that’s how it is. If and a when a government is no longer able to meet its obligations, capital controls, broad wealth confiscation measures, and other extreme burdens are often considered. Spanish bond yields just fell to their lowest levels in history but does that mean that your money is safe there? Absolutely not. It means that investors are complacent, not that Spain’s political risk has diminished. Portugal is in the same boat. While its borrowing costs continue to fall, its prospects for economic growth and its financial position continue to worsen. If you’ve got assets in Portugal then now would be a good time to contemplate how safe they really are. Unless you like bail-ins, that is.
When one thinks "recovery", some of the images envisioned include a healthy labor market (not one saturated by part-time, low wage jobs), rising earnings (not wages that have stagnated for years and in real terms are at Lehman levels) and a vibrant housing market in which new home buyers enter with confidence, and where mortgage loans are abundant and available to qualified creditors. One certainly does not imagine a housing "market" dominated by Chinese, Russian and Arab monely-laundering oligarchs, where half of all transactions are "all cash", and where, as Fannie Mae just reported, the number of Americans who said "now is a good time to buy a home" plunging to 64% - the lowest print in survey history!
- Off balance sheet vehicles? Check
- Conflicted bank "research" recommending muppets buy stock while soliciting banking fees from same stock? Check
- Hoping to sell debt on to muppets? Check
- Chinese corruption? Check
- State bailout of failed bank? Check
Update: The official and black-market Peso has collapsed further today to new record lows.
It is actually quite sad to watch the continued downfall of Argentina's economy under the inept ministrations of its government. The only good thing that can possibly come from this is that it will set yet another example for others so they may avoid making similar mistakes. Unfortunately the example is being set on the backs of the country's citizens, who are seemingly forced to live from crisis to crisis. Politicians rarely pay the price for their atrocious policies, and we are quite sure Ms. Kirchner and her cronies have feathered their nests in ways the average citizen cannot even dream of (most recently, corruption allegations have caught up with Ms. Kirchner's vice president. Rampant government corruption has long been a hot topic in Argentina under Ms. Kirchner's rule). It is not as though Argentina didn't have great potential. If only politicians would leave its economy alone and stopped inflating the currency into oblivion, the country could easily and quickly regain its former prosperity.
After spending time in Argentina, BofA's Marcos Buscaglia is concerned... The perception of many locals is that the risks of an economic/currency crisis before year-end have increased significantly. This compares to a view they had before of a muddle-through till the 2015 presidential elections. Policy decision-making is ever more concentrated, and the administration has radicalized, but the severe economic downturn will change political incentives in 2015, in BofA's view. With the official peso rate at record lows once again, the black-market Dolar-Blue tumbled to over 14/USD - a record low indicating dramatic devaluation ahead (which of course, sends ARS-denominated stocks surge to record highs).