European Central Bank
Recently we joked that it is unclear just where Venezuela will find all the paper banknotes it needs for all its new currency. And, as if on cue, the WSJ answered. As it turns out we were not the only ones wondering how the devastated "socialist paradise" gets its exponentially collapsing paper currency, which in just the past month has lost 17% of its value. The answer: 36 Boeing 747s.
After yesterday's torrid, chaotic moves in the market, where an initial drop in stocks was quickly pared and led to a surge into the close after a weaker dollar on the heels of even more disappointing US data and Bill Dudley's "serious consequences" speech sent oil soaring and put the "Fed Relent" scenario squarely back on the table, overnight we have seen more global equity strength on the back of a weaker dollar, even if said weakness hurt Kuroda's post-NIRP world and the Nikkei erased virtually all losses since last Friday's surprising negative rate announcement. Oil and metals also rose piggybacking on the continued dollar weakness as the word's most crowded trade was suddenly shaken out.
This is what it looks like when a Central Bank loses control.
There will be two key themes for investors seeking to shake off the abysmal "as goes January" blues: buybacks, which are set to return in February, and central banks, which are poised to do absolutely nothing to calm investor nerves in the next 4 weeks.
Haruhiko Kuroda admitted QE cannot generate GDP growth. Even more astounding, his actions are supporting his words.
"When one of the world’s key economic inputs, oil prices, can rally 30% but still be down on the month, then investors may have a valid reason to be scared."
It didn't take much to fizzle Friday's Japan NIRP-driven euphoria, when first ugly Chinese manufacturing (and service) PMI data reminded the world just what the bull in the China shop is leading to a 1.8% Shanghai drop on the first day of February. Then it was about oil once more when Goldman itself said not to expect any crude production cuts in the near future. Finally throw in some very cautious words by the sellside what Japan's act of NIRP desperation means, and it becomes clear why stocks on both sides of the pond are down, why crude is not far behind, and why gold continues to rise.
The time for more insanity has come... It is the Keynesian mantra: the fact that the policies recommended by Keynesians and monetarists, i.e., deficit spending and money printing, routinely fail to bring about the desired results is not seen as proof that they simply don’t work. It is regarded as evidence that there hasn’t been enough spending and printing yet.
Between Japan and Europe, over 20% of the world’s GDP is being managed by a Central Bank with NIRP.
With Citi's chief economist proclaiming "only helicopter money can save the world now," and the Bank of England pre-empting paradropping money concerns, it appears that Australia's largest investment bank's forecast that money-drops were 12-18 months away was too conservative. While The Finns consider a "basic monthly income" for the entire population, Swiss residents are to vote on a countrywide referendum about a radical plan to pay every single adult a guaranteed income of around $2500 per month, with authorities insisting that people will still want to find a job.
Well that did not last long. After initial exuberance over The BoJ's wishy-washy decision to adopt a 3-tiered rate policy including NIRP, markets have realized that without further asset purchases (which were maintained at the current pace), there is no ammo to lift stocks. An almost 200 point surge in Dow futures has been erased and Nikkei 225 has dropped 1000 points from its post BOJ highs... as 10Y JGB yields hit record lows at 11bps and 20Y JGB yields drop to 82bps - the lowest since 2003
With The Fed definitely off the table, China promising nothing but daily liquidity drips, and Europe unable to do anything but jawbone, the world's bullish equity market investors are anxiously trawling for a central bank to save the world. Tonight's BoJ meeting could well be it - though judging by their past epic failures - it will be anything but successful as QE23 looms in Japan. “The need for a Kuroda bazooka is increasing,” said Yuji Shimanaka, an economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo. “This is decision time for Kuroda” as additional stimulus can stop the trend of yen gains and falling stocks.
As the great and the good gathered in Davos to ponder the next big thing, the pummeling of global equity markets brought key assumptions into question. Yet, their collective heads stayed buried in the snow with regard to the big ideas from years past, namely, the three grand economic experiments launched by the U.S., Japan and China following the Global Financial Crisis. By clinging to unrealistic growth expectations, the economic establishment has effectively bet everything on the success of these grand experiments, and the risk of losing that bet is rising inexorably.
"The Fed’s monetary policy of extraordinarily low interest rates helped create the asset bubbles in stock and commodity prices that are now bursting. In retrospect, the Fed’s rate hike last month will likely be viewed as monetary malpractice. None of this is likely to forestall turmoil in credit markets. Investors are wise to be worried..."