As we warned previously, the devaluation, or breaking of the Saudi Riyal peg to the dollar, could be the black swan event for crude oil and the recent weakness in SAR forwards - while not as violent as Nigeria's Naira - certainly signals a renewed market fear that breaking the peg is imminent. It appears Saudi officials are none too pleased with the free markets speculating on this devaluation and as Bloomberg reports, banks in Saudi Arabia are coming under fresh pressure over products that allow speculators to bet against the kingdom’s currency peg, according to people with knowledge of the matter, which were supposedly banned in January.
The single biggest event overnight was the PBOC's devaluation of the Yuan to the lowest since March 2011, setting the fixing at 6.5693, the highest in over 5 years and in direct response to a stronger dollar, which however if one looks at the DXY remains well below the recent highs in the 100 range, suggesting for China this is only just beggining. However, the fact that there was not more volatility in onshore and offshore overnight FX also comforted the market that at the same time as its was devaluing the PBOC was also intervening in the FX market, thus providing some assurance it would not allow runaway "risk off" sentiment prevail, nor would it promote another blitz round of capital outflows, leading to another gradual levitation in overnight risk.
And why investors should pay attention to Saudi Arabia
The latest shocking example of just how intertwined central banks have become in all capital markets, comes courtesy of the Bank of Japan which days ahead of a move which may see it double its ETF purchases from the current run rate of JPY3.3 trillion to JPY7 trillion or more (if Goldman is correct), is revealed to be a top 10 holder in about 90% of all Japanese stocks. Crazier still, if as Goldman predicts the BOJ doubles its purchases of ETFs, the central bank could become the No. 1 shareholder in about 40 of the Nikkei 225’s companies by the end of 2017,
The FX market is about to blow up in the Fed's face, and there's nothing they can do about it. What central banks fear most are markets that are not tightly controlled by central banks. The world's central banks are about to sit down to a banquet of consequences arising from seven long years of relentless manipulation.
“Your urgent assistance is greatly appreciated! My Governor would like to draw from your good experience."
"One interpretation of the recent moves by the major central banks is that they represent a coordinated attempt to ease global financial conditions while avoiding upward pressure on the US dollar," Goldman writes. Yellen, the bank says, was more than happy to participate - this time. But as the US economy hits full employment, the Fed's calculus will change. Then come the hikes. Or so says the Squid.
Economic warfare doesn’t always go according to plan. It appears the Saudis have overplayed their hand... big time.
When a currency peg breaks, it unleashes shock waves of uncertainty and repricing that hit the global financial system like a tsunami.
"Speculators (like hunters) sense wounded prey, and already bets are being laid on a riyal devaluation. Although it is possible Saudi Arabia can afford to maintain its oil regime and U.S. dollar peg, this will come will escalating costs, financial and political, and one suspects the Saudi citizenry is not big on sacrifices."
What will bring down the Chinese and Saudi pegs, along with a long list of other pegs, is, how appropriately, the very same markets they’ve been relying on to NOT function. The bets against Hong Kong’s ability to maintain its USD peg have already started, and China is next, along with the House of Saud (the latter two just take more fire-power). Which of course is exactly why they speak their soothing ‘confident’ words. Words that are today interpreted as the very sign of weakness they’re meant to circumvent.
If you were wondering how much US debt Saudi Arabia holds, you're out of luck because as it turns out, that's a state secret protected by a decades old "unusual Treasury blackout." “It’s mind-boggling they haven’t undone it. The Treasury didn’t want to offend OPEC [but] it’s hard to justify this special treatment at this point.”
One thing policy makers should have learned after watching Greece unravel last summer is that capital controls almost always backfire. Once the market (not to mention the populace) senses panic, it's all downhill from there and make no mistake, there's blood in the water here.
"The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or euros. The sooner the better."
European shares tumbled, wiping out gains from a two-day rally, Asian stocks slid and the cost of insuring corporate debt rose as investor concern over global growth prospects resurfaced. U.S. equity-index futures pared gains of as much as 0.9 percent. Government bonds rose, with yields falling to records in Japan and China amid anxiety over the world economy. U.S. crude prices stabilized after dropping below $30 a barrel on Tuesday to touch the lowest since 2003 as Iran moved closer to boosting exports.