Japan's Nikkei 225 equity index is now within one day's new normal range of nominally crossing above the US Dow Jones Industrial Average for the first time since April 2010. The convergence of the two indices coincides with the rapid convergence of the two countries' trade-weighted currencies that dislocated last in March 2009 (suggesting that indeed Abe has achieved his initial goal of devaluing back to the USD). The move off the November lows in the Japanese equity market is stupendous - as the chart below shows, it is a perfect exponential arc (linear on a log scale chart); leaving only the question - which index hits 40,000 first as they continue to devalue themselves to economic nirvana (or valhalla).
"Gold has become much more affordable in recent days as the price has collapsed. Such a collapse is unpleasant, but not cause for concern," advises Dylan Grice. "Gold remains durable," as a source of protection from loss of confidence in the system, and, he adds "a correction was overdue. Now, the gold market has become healthier." Critically, Grice warns during this interview with Finanz und Wirtschaft, "gold will not protect against a crash in the financial markets, it showed 2008," since if many investors simultaneously urgently need cash, they sell everything they have, including gold. However, Europe is a time-bomb, China's credit bubble is ow where the US was before the financial crisis, and while inflation may not be an imminent threat (and likely shuffled more gold holders out leaving "a more stable investor base,") Grice concludes, "Gold endures. If confidence in the currency is lost, or in the bond market; Gold is a safe haven." There are good reasons to own gold. And to buy gold, there is now a reason more than a week ago: It's 30% cheaper.
Confused by the day to day happenings in the land of the rising sun, and liquidity tsunami? Don't be, instead read the following series of papers by former SocGen strategist Dylan Grice who predicted everything that is currently happening nearly three years ago. The titles of the enclsed five pieces are self-explanatory especially in light of recent events: "A global fiasco is brewing in Japan", "More on Japan’s brewing fiasco, and some musings on recent pushback", "Fooled by anecdotes: Japan’s coming inflation, JGB toxicity and what to do", "Nikkei 63,000,000? A cheap way to buy Japanese inflation risk" and finally "Buy Japan, and prepare to buy with both hands." Oh, and spoiler alert, Grice doesn't see a Hollywood ending to what is about to happen in Japan.
In news that is hardly welcome to Chancellor Merkel and her September reelection hopes, German Focus magazine revealed that a substantial 26% of all Germans would back a party that wants to quit the euro. Even more disturbing is that a whopping 40% of all Germans in the prime 40-49 age group are tired of supporting a failed monetary regime and will just say "nein" to the European globalist experiment at preserving the status quo if just given the opportunity. The Italian virus is spreading: the question is which "clown" will show up on the cover of the Economist in six short months, when at least one person will appear on the political scene to take advantage of the populist protest at endless German-backed bail outs, and what as Dylan Grice so eloquently explained earlier, is merely a reaction to central banker central planning manifesting itself in ongoing social breakdown.
With their crackpot monetary ideas, central banks have been robbing Peter to pay Paul without knowing which one was which. And a problem here is this thing behavioral psychologists call self-attribution bias. It describes how when good things happen to people they think it’s because of something they did, but when bad things happen to them they think it’s because of something someone else did.... When we look around we can’t help feeling something similar is happening. The 99% blame the 1%; the 1% blame the 47%. In the aftermath of the Eurozone’s own credit bubbles, the Germans blame the Greeks. The Greeks round on the foreigners. The Catalans blame the Castilians. And as 25% of the Italian electorate vote for a professional comedian whose party slogan “vaff a” means roughly “f**k off ”, the Germans are repatriating their gold from New York and Paris. Meanwhile in China, that centrally planned mother of all credit inflations, popular anger is being directed at Japan, and this is before its own credit bubble chapter has fully played out. (The rising risk of war is something we are increasingly worried about…) Of course, everyone blames the bankers (“those to whom the system brings windfalls… become ‘profiteers’ who are the object of the hatred”).
As the chart below shows, in some 200 years of history, when expressed as a ratio of total sovereign debt to tax revenues, the empirical data as compiled by Reinhart and Rogoff ranges from 2x to 16x. This is shown by the blue bars in the chart below. So where are we in this cycle as the debt clock counts down? As the red bars show, we are in a very uncomfortable place, with Japan now at the highest such ratio in history, well above the highest recorded which always ended up in default, while the US, whose such ratio is over 600%, is above the long-term average of about 520% public debt/revenue. The problem is that every current and subsequent attempt to reflate merely pushes both of these higher, until one day the marginal growth creation of every dollar in new debt becomes negative. How much higher can consolidated global debt go before global GDP is not only no longer growing, but every incremental dollar in debt has a negative impact on GDP, as was the case for the US in the fourth quarter? Keep an eye on global economic growth: if and when the world enters outright recession: the most feared outcome by all central bankers who realize they are out of weapons and their only recourse is much more of the same, that may be cue to quietly leave town.
Dylan Grice may no longer work at SocGen, and, as we reported previously, has finally put his mouth where his money is and opted to replace his desk at a government subsidized, undercapitalized French megabank with a hedge fund invested 60% in precious metals, but his wisdom remains. And while we are confident that we have covered all of his prior reports over the years, we now provide one handy, 244-page compendium covering the bulk of Grice's work over the past 4 years. Covering the financial gamut: from Valuation, to the Euro Crisis, to Japan, to Asia, to Gold and commodities, all the way to the Philosophically arcane, we are confident that the attached presentation will provide countless hours of reading pleasure for all.
It is no secret that one of Zero Hedge's favorite mainstream strategists over the years was SocGen's Dylan Grice, which perhaps in itself was a logical warning sign that his career in the mainstream was doomed to a premature end. Sure enough, several months ago, Grice, whose guiding motto has been sound money uber alles as he dutifully exposed - as much as he could - crack after crack in the facade of the status quo, announced he was leaving SocGen, and was headed for greener pastures, literally, in this case Zurich-based fund Edelweiss, run by Anthony Deden. And while lateral moves in the financial industry are nothing new, we were quite impressed to learn that unlike most other "capital preservation" managers, Dylan Grice's new home has a rather stunning allocation of AUM to precious metals. How stunning? Decide for yourselves.
“Something bad happened in November…and it wasn’t merely Hurricane Sandy”, the NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg is quoted as saying - see chart below and link. Even scarier than the decline in the headline measure was the 37% slump to an all-time low in those firms who believe economic conditions will improve over the next six months. That 37% drop is twice the previous record 18% decline, which occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Lehman’s collapse (see chart below). For those who might immediately retort that this is a sentiment indicator that should be used as a contrary indicator - you are wrong. It is a good leading or at worst coincident indicator. I would say this datum is more than consistent with the recession that Lakshman Achuthan of the ECRI has been warning of, wouldn't you?
It must be pointed out that gold is certainly no longer the bargain it was at the lows over a decade ago (at which time Warren Buffett undoubtedly hated it just as much as today). This is by no means akin to saying that there is no longer a bull market in force though. What seems however extremely unlikely to us is that the long term bull market is anywhere near to being over. After all, the people in charge of fiscal and monetary policy all over the globe are applying their 'tried and true' recipe to the perceived economic ills of the world in ever bigger gobs of 'more of the same'. Until that changes – and we feel pretty sure that the only thing that can usher in profound change on that score is a crisis of such proportions that the ability of said authorities to keep things under control by employing this recipe is simply overwhelmed – there is no reason not to hold gold in order to insure oneself against their depredations.
"All good things come to an end, sadly. So it is with my time here alongside Albert, Andy and the rest of the gang at SG. I’m signing off, checking out, moving on to pastures new. It’s been a wonderful time. But after three years of trying to sound clever it’s time for me to do something altogether more difficult, and actually be clever. So early next year, I will join a small but outstanding investment practice. Naturally, I hope it will be a great success."
Sometimes you just have to laugh; or else committing harakiri comes dangerously close to mind. Japan's increasingly terrifying fiscal situation combined with a central bank that is rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world (though all the other central banks are merely mimicking its actions) is becoming so self-referential (with its almost total domestic ownership of government debt), so short-termist (with its dramatically high short-term funding requirements constantly rolling), and demographically challenged (with its elderly almost entirely reliant upon government transfer payments) that it is hard to comprehend how much longer this farce can carry on. We have previously discussed Japan's WTF charts, but the following collection from Deutsche Bank's Torsten Slok must be seen to be believed. For now - the problem in a nutshell is government-debt per working-age person in Japan will be $140,000 in 2016 - almost triple the rest of the G7.
Even though we have presented comparable scenarios looking at the coverage of the US money base in gold terms previously, aka "gold coverage" ratio, including once from Dylan Grice, and once from David Rosenberg, now that we have drifted into a new, previously unchartered and very much open-ended liquidity tsunami, it is time to revisit the topic. Luckily, Guggenheim's Scott Minerd has done just that. Not only that, but he presents three distinct gold pricing scenario, attempting to forecast a low, medium and high price range for the yellow metal. To wit: "The U.S. gold coverage ratio, which measures the amount of gold on deposit at the Federal Reserve against the total money supply, is currently at an all-time low of 17%. This ratio tends to move dramatically and falls during periods of disinflation or relative price stability. The historical average for the gold coverage ratio is roughly 40%, meaning that the current price of gold would have to more than double to reach the average. The gold coverage ratio has risen above 100% twice during the twentieth century. Were this to happen today, the value of an ounce of gold would exceed $12,000.”
At its most fundamental level, SocGen's Dylan Grice notes that economic activity is no more than an exchange between strangers. It depends, therefore, on a degree of trust between strangers. Since money is the agent of exchange, it is the agent of trust. Debasing money therefore debases trust. Grice emphasizes that history is replete with Great Disorders in which social cohesion has been undermined by currency debasements. The multi-decade credit inflation can now be seen to have had similarly corrosive effects. Yet central banks continue down the same route. The writing is on the wall. Further debasement of money will cause further debasement of society. Dylan, like us, fears a Great Disorder.
Sayonara internal funding. In what we suspect will become a major issue (and warned in April of last year), Bloomberg reports that Japan’s public pension fund, the world’s largest, said it has been selling domestic government bonds as the number of people eligible for retirement payments increases. "Payouts are getting bigger than insurance revenue, so we need to sell Japanese government bonds to raise cash." It would appear the Ponzi has reached it's Tipping Point. Japan’s population is aging, and baby boomers born in the wake of World War II are beginning to reach 65 and eligible for pensions. That’s putting GPIF under pressure to sell JGBs so it can cover the increase in payouts. The fund needs to raise about 8.87 trillion yen this fiscal year. GPIF is historically one of the biggest buyers of Japanese debt and held 71.9 trillion yen, or 63 percent of its assets, in domestic bonds as of March.