The Telegraph’s John Ficenec has written an excellent piece warning of a possible market crash in the coming weeks. He identifies eight key “signs things could get a whole lot worse.”
It was a relatively quiet weekend out of China, where FX warfare has taken a back seat to evaluating the full damage from the Tianjin explosion which as we reported on Saturday has prompted the evacuation of a 3 km radius around the blast zone, and instead it was Japan that featured prominently in Sunday's headlines after its Q2 GDP tumbled by 1.6% (a number which would have been far worse had Japan used a correct deflator), and is now halfway to its fifth recession in the past 6 year, underscoring Abenomics complete success in desrtoying Japan's economy just to get a few rich people richer. Of course, economic disintegration is great news for stocks, and courtesy of the latest Yen collapse driven by the bad GDP data which has raised the likelihood of even more Japanese QE, the Nikkei closed 100 points, or 0.5% higher.
Just two days ago we warned of the dramatic disconnect between equity insurance and credit insurance markets - at levels last seen before Bear Stearns collapse. As the Yuan devaluation shuddered EURCNH carry traders and battered European assets, US equity markets stumbled onwards and upwards, impregnable in their fortitude with The Fed at their back no matter what. However, US corporate bond markets were a bloodbath...
The most pivotal importance of China is that it was the world’s latest financial hope. The yuan devaluation shatters that hope once and for all. The global economy looks a lot more bleak for it, even if many people already didn’t believe official growth numbers anymore. Because we’ve reached the end of the line, the game changes. Of course there will be additional attempts at stimulus, but China’s central bank has de facto conceded that its measures have failed. They just hope you won’t notice, and try to bring it on with a positive spin. Central banks are not “beginning” to lose control, they lost control a long time ago. The age of central bank omnipotence has “left and gone away” like Joltin’ Joe. Omnipotence has been replaced by impotence.
China "can't determine" what chemicals were warehoused in an industrial zone that exploded on Wednesday, leading local residents to question whether the air is safe to breathe. Meanwhile, Greenpeace suggests a hard rain risks driving air borne pollutants into the groundwater even as Beijing swears there's no evidece of chemicals in seawater.
After a week of relentless FX volatility, spilling over out of China and into all other countries, and asset products, it was as if the market decided to take a time-out overnight, assisted by the PBOC which after three days of record devaluations finally revalued the Yuan stronger fractionally by 0.05% to 6.3975. And then, as a parting gift perhaps, just as the market was about to close again, the Chinese central bank intervened sending the Onshore Yuan, spiking to a level of 6.3912 as of this writing, notably stronger than the official fixing for the second day in a row. In fact the biggest news out of China overnight is that contrary to expectations, the PBOC once again "added" to its gold holdings, boosting its official gold by 610,000 ounces, or 19 tons, to 1,677 tones.
Certain market realities were starkly exposed this week as a result of the China currency moves, Bloomberg’s Richard Breslow writes. As Keynes is supposed to have said, “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?” Yet markets have been lulled into relying on the belief that this is no longer the case, and even if it is, any change will be stage managed for the comfort of institutional money managers. Gone are the days when you had to guess at the Fed’s policy by interpreting weekly money-market operations. But that can’t be done in any practical sense.
With everyone now focused on what China's daily Yuan fixing will be ever night, there was some confusion why last night the PBOC decided to devalue the CNY by another 1.1% to 6.4010, despite its promise that the devaluation would be a "one-off" event, taking the 3 day devaluation to just about 4.5%. However, subsequently in a press conference, central bank vice-governor Yi Gang said that the PBoC will continue to step in when the market is ‘distorted’, that there is no economic basis for the Yuan to fall continuously and that it will look to keep the exchange rate ‘basically stable’. The Vice-Governor also said that the PBoC will closely monitor cross-border capital flows and that reports suggesting the Central Banks wants to see the currency depreciate 10% are ‘groundless’. Which is ironic considering after just 3 days, the PBOC is already half the way there!
As we hurtle toward the absolutely critical months of September and October, the unraveling of the global financial system is beginning to accelerate.
Asset price inflation, a disease whose source always lies in monetary disorder, is not a new affliction. It was virtually inevitable that the present wild experimentation by the Federal Reserve - joined by the Bank of Japan and ECB - would produce a severe outbreak. And indications from the markets are that the disease is in a late phase, though still short of the final deadly stage characterized by pervasive falls in asset markets, sometimes financial panic, and the onset of recession.
The overnight market has been a repeat of yesterday's action, when following China's repeat 1.6% devaluation of the CNY (which was to be expected since the PBOC made it quite clear the fixing would be based off the market value, a value which continues plunging), the second biggest in history following Monday's 1.9% plunge, traders appeared stunned having believed the PBOC's lies that the devaluation was a one-off and as a result the E-Mini tumbled overnight, and is now 30 points lower from last night's PBOC fixing announcement, trading at around 2058, and far below the "magical" 200-DMA support line, which has now been solidly breached.
Despite claiming yesterday's devaluation was a "one-off", The PBOC has devalued the Yuan Fix dramatically for the 2nd day in a row - now 22 handles weaker than Monday's Fix. Offshore Yuan is trading at 4 year lows against the USD. The carnage from this dramatic shift is just beginning as global equity markets (US futures to China cash) are tumbling, US Treasury bond yields are crashing, gold is up, China credit risk is at 2 year highs, and China implied vol has exploded to 4 year highs. Ironically, China's government mouthpeiece Xinhua explains "China is not waging a currency war; merely fixing a discrepancy."
When China sneezes, the world catches a cold. Alternatively, when China devalues, the rest of the (exporting) world scrambles to not be the last (exporting) nation standing, and to do so next, before everyone else does. We give Russia, Thailand and India (as well as the rest of the EM countries, actually make that all countries, the US included) at least a few days (hours may suffice) before they all realize that in a beggar-thy-neighbor global currency war, where the ZIRP (or NIRP) liquidity trap is already stalking at least half of the entire world, there really is no choice.
For financial asset investors in the U.S. and around the world, the immediate question becomes whether the Fed will now relax its guidance and seeming intention to raise its Fed Funds target. We think the Fed will still raise rates.
US equity markets have given up almost all of yesterday's irrational exuberance ramp gains in a perfect echo of last week's Wednesday/Thursday debacle. Bond yields are plunging - also retracing all of yesterday's losses (with 2Y -5bps since Friday now). Europe is suffering most as EUR strengthens (as it was the most popular carry trade against China), driving USD weakness and sending European stocks lower (DAX is dumping almost 3%). And finally commodities are seeing Crude and copper crushed as PMs bounce...