The downturn in China is “our” downturn. All the recent happy talk, due to unsuitable extrapolation and nothing more, has melted away yet again. In short, the same trend dating back almost four years now is quite expectedly unaltered by whatever any central bank does or does not do. “Stimulus” is just noise against all that, at best; at worst it actively contributes to the instability of the decline.
Chinese Devaluation Extends To 3rd Day - Yuan Hits 4 Year Low, Japan Escalates Currency Race-To-The-Bottom RhetoricSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/12/2015 23:23 -0400
The "one-off" adjustment has now reached its 3rd day as The PBOC has now devalued the Yuan fix by 4.65% back to July 2011 lows.
PBOC tries to reassure: *CHINA PBOC SAYS YUAN REMAINS STRONG CURRENCY IN LONG-TERM
"The question for 2015 is whether Fed actions are going to take away the liquidity punch bowl, and create a problem for the next rally's ability to achieve escape velocity... We saw this principle of diminished liquidity back in 1998-2000, and again in 2007-08..."
It wasn’t until the Americans were free to issue unlimited amounts of ‘dollars’ that these claims lost their soundness in a rambunctious belief in the never-ending global supremacy of US manufacturing. Now the damage is done. The gross misallocations that have plagued the world economy for well over four decades cannot be corrected without a cataclysmic event that will dramatically change living standards as the US realign their manufacturing and service sectors. But it cannot continue indefinitely either. Something will have to give.
The minimum wage is not what is commonly referred, as is being proven again as parts of the US experiment directly with this boundary. In New York, fast food workers have been given a $15 per hour minimum wage which is being celebrated by the same fast food workers who will bear the brunt of the experimentation. Some of them will be happy with the results, but there will be clear losers – the full wrath of redistribution is usually unseen which is why it persists.
Just as Japan thought they could go back to pre-Plaza Accord growth rates by holding on to the old ways in the 1990s, the Chinese will expect the growth miracle to return in 2016 with the “right” policies. It will not. It is all a mirage though. Just as in Japan, the Chinese will not allow the market process to do its magic to get the economy back on a stable footing. Draconian measures to stop the recent stock market rout are a clear testimony of that. In other words, the Chinese economy will resemble that of Japan, and it will do so very soon, if it is not already there. China is heading straight into a zero growth environment, and will be mired there for years to come.
With almost everything turning lower this week under “dollar” pressure, it is imperative to keep in mind the apex asset class. In 2007, it was the ABX indices and various mortgage related structures that signified the how far along everything was; in this cycle it is clearly corporate credit. The disarray starts in the riskiest pieces and then moves inward and eventually, if left unchecked, eroding too much underneath with which to support what was once believed perfectly safe. Once there is no place to hide, the turn really begins.
The action in gold in 2013 was a warning about the “dollar”, a warning that went completely unheeded yet has been largely fulfilled. Again, 2013 provides a guide as to why gold prices may be declining in sharp moves, especially right at the open or in weaker trading hours, and it has very little to do with interest rates apart from fixed income suggesting the same factors about the “dollar.” Whether it is growing unease about the global economic picture or the “sudden” recurrence of financial irregularity almost wherever you wish to gaze, the “dollar” is once more wreaking havoc. This isn’t controversial at all, but somehow economists can miss that gold is global and universal collateral and when the eurodollar system is stressed it becomes activated in that manner.
Having now passed the anniversary of the “rising dollar”, it is interesting to see the related and continued effects on the stock bubble(s). As should be obvious by now, stock buybacks, funded via corporate bonds and loosely categorized C&I loans, are responsible for the post-QE3 nearly uninterrupted rise. Repurchases are forming a separate “liquidity” conduit, indirect leverage if you will, which has already started to fray. Various broader “market” indices have diverged, starting with the Russell 2000 in early 2014 (with the economic slowdown that was supposed to be an anomaly of weather). At the very least it might imply that the central bank paradigm that lasted since the middle of 2012 has greatly eroded or even ended.
When Warren Buffet put $5 billion in Berkshire Hathaway funds into Goldman Sachs the week after Lehman failed, amidst total turmoil and panic, it appeared from the outside a high risk bet. Buffet had long tried to portray himself as a folksy engine of traditional stability, investing only in things he could understand, so jumping into a wholesale run of chained liabilities may have seemed more than slightly out of character. We have no particular issue with Buffet making those investments, only the pretense of intentional mysticism that surrounds them. The reason the criticism of crony-capitalism sticks is because this was not Buffet's first intervention to "save" a famed institution on Wall Street. If Buffet's convention is to stick with "things you know" then he has been right there through the whole of the full-scale wholesale/eurodollar revolution.
Nobody apparently learned much from the whole bubble-bust affair as banks and financial firms are at it again, this time in corporate debt. The artificial suppression of default, in no small part to perceptions of those bank reserves under QE (just like perceptions of balance sheet capacity pre-crisis), has turned junk debt into the vehicle of choice for yet another cycle of “reach for yield.” In the past two bubble cycles, we see how monetary policy creates the conditions for them but also in parallel for their disorderly closure. It isn’t money that the FOMC directs but rather unrealistic, to the extreme, expectations and extrapolations. Once those become encoded in financial equations, the illusion becomes real supply.
What investors will focus on in the week ahead
A look at the psycholgoy of traders as reflected in the price action ahead the new week which promises to be eventful.
Trillions upon trillions in “stimulus” and the FOMC is left, pathetically, fighting for the distinction of “it’s not as bad as it looks.” That would seem to make this the most costly economic age ever conceived, with global implications that are just now starting to be felt as whatever faith was leftover from 2008, wrong or right, wears off all over the world. That is a highly combustible deficiency, since the longer the global economy remains disorientated the more likely it is to experience not just recession but, since this is all still so leveraged (even more poorly this time), something potentially worse.
Stocks may be ignoring the 'dollar' and liquidity more broadly (at least as far as repurchases are concerned) but the continued stress in the eurodollar world has had an accumulating effect in some places. Primarily that has been shown in the once-thriving junk space, including more illiquid “products” like leveraged loans... By and large, there seems to be renewed concerns about liquidity, economy or both.