As noted earlier, futures this morning are higher despite a plethora of economic misses (and despite 57% of March US data missing as per DB), simply on regurgitated headlines of an "expanded" European €7/800 billion bailout fund. There is one problem with this: the headlines are all wrong, as none apparently have taken the time to do the math. Which, courtesy of think tank OpenEurope, is as follows: "The real amount of cash that is still available to back stop struggling states, should it come to that, is only around €500bn." Of course, that would hardly be headline inspiring: recall that that is simply the full size of the ESM as is. But even that number will hardly ever be attained, and the ECB will have to step in long before Europe needs anything close to a full drawdown: "The problem here is that if it’s too big and terrible to ever be used, it’s likely that it won’t ever be used. Even jittery markets will be able to figure out that a large fund which would damage French and German credit ratings if ever extended will never be fully tapped. So clearly some circular logic at play. And let's not forget that it’s still far too small to save Italy and Spain should if worse come to worse." Circular logic? Check. Another check kiting scheme? Check. Spain and Italy still out in the cold? Check. Conclusion -> buy EURUSD, and thus the ES, which has now recoupled with every uptick in the pair, but not downtick.
Gold has been trading in a tight box around $1,660/oz today, as eurozone finance ministers meet in Copenhagen to discuss the scale of the permanent “bailout fund” set for July. Gold has been stuck in range of roughly $1,630/oz to $1,700/oz in recent weeks as risk appetite has returned after the latest European debt “solution” which saw the battered can kicked down the shortening road once again. Nothing has been solved with regard to the European debt crisis, and debt crises in Japan, the UK and the US now loom. The misguided panacea of heaping debt upon debt and shifting debt onto government balance sheets, debt monetisation and currency debasement is leading to continuing currency devaluations internationally. Despite this or maybe because of this - risk appetite returned with a vengeance as evidenced in equities internationally rising to multi-month and multi-year highs and the slight weakness in gold in March. So far in 2012, gold has performed well and is set to end the first quarter in 2012 with gains in all major currencies. Gold is 6.3% higher in US dollars, 3.2% higher in euros, 3.1% higher in pounds, 2.25% higher in Swiss francs and 12% higher in Japanese yen which fell sharply in the quarter.
Much of the fiscal and monetary insanity that has come out of the EU over the last two years can be summated by one of my central global theses: politics determine Europe's policies, not economics. And Europe now appears to be shifting towards a more leftist/ anti-austerity measure political environment. If this shift is cemented in the coming Greek, French, and Irish elections/ referendums, then things could get ugly in the Eurozone VERY quickly.
Nothing has changed. You are counting the commitments of people who need the money. It is like getting a loan from the bank and trying to make them more comfortable by telling them, not only will we co-sign our own loan, but we will give them a guarantee that we will pay it back. These are the same people who constantly try to overwhelm current problems with huge headlines and promises of a better future. They don’t have the money, and never will. They also promised speculators in Greece would lose their shirts. We need to see the details, but be prepared to be underwhelmed.
Having been heralded around the world for solving Europe's crisis, ECB head Mario Draghi confidently states (as does every other central banker in the world) that "should the inflation outlook worsen, we would immediately take preventive steps". However, a recent analysis by Tornell and Westermann at VOX suggests the ECB has hit its limit with regard to its anti-inflationary fighting measures. The ECB appears to have lost control over standard measures of tightening: short-term interest rates (since short-term lending to banks has dropped to practically zero), increase in minimum reserve requirements (practically impossible withouit crushing the banks that they have propped up due to the sharp asymmetries - the recent cut from 2% to 1% minimum reserves saw a remarkable EUR104bn drop), and finally asset sales (the quantity of 'sensitive' or encumbered assets on the ECB's books has reached such a scale - due to LTRO, SMP, and ELA programs - leaving the 'sellable' non-sensitive assets at a level below excess deposits for the first time in ECB history). As the authors note, while this does not immediately produce an inflation flare, the lack of maneuvering space will induce an inflationary bias to ECB monetary policy as Draghi will find it increasingly expensive at the margin to hit the anti-inflationary brakes. "This bias puts the Eurozone at risk of de-anchoring long-run inflationary expectations. The danger is not inflation today, but the de-anchoring of expectations about future inflation." As we have noted many times before, the ECB (and for that matter most central banks in the world) need Goldilocks.
Have you wondered what really drives consumer confidence? The answer is simple. Jobs. If consumers are to be confident about their future, they need to feel secure in the present and future employment. The chart shows (gold bar) the confidence gap, which is the difference between the present situation index and the future expectations index. The red and blue lines are the number of individuals surveyed who feel that jobs are currently hard to get or plentiful. When confidence is high, so are the number of people who feel that jobs are plentiful. This is generally because they are currently employed and feel like they could get another job if they wanted one. The opposite is true today. This gap between jobs being hard to get and plentiful has closed slightly in the last couple of years; however, we are a long way from getting back to levels that are more normally associated with recoveries.
All you need to read and some more.
As we head into the US open, European cash equities are seen in positive territory with strong performance observed earlier in the session from the FTSE MIB. This follows reports from the Italian press regarding commentary from the Chinese President Hu Jintao who promised to encourage Chinese industry to look towards Italy with confidence, in a conversation with the Italian PM Monti on the sidelines of the nuclear safety summit in Seoul. Markets have also been reacting to an article from Der Spiegel, citing economists who have warned that the German central bank could be facing hidden liabilities of up to EUR 500bln should there be a break up in the Eurozone. This has prompted some risk-averse flows into the Bund which has seen fluctuating trade so far in the session but remains in positive territory as North America comes to market. In individual equities news, following overnight reports from Abu Dhabi concerning buying a stake in RBS, company shares were seen up 6%. Source comments from earlier in the session regarding the sale speculated that the stake could be up to a third of RBS. Looking ahead in the session, the market awaits US Consumer Confidence data due at 1500BST.
Gold Nears $1,700/oz After Bernanke QE Hints, OECD $1.3 Trillion Eurozone ‘Firewall’ And Despite Indian Gold StrikeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/27/2012 06:43 -0500
Gold is targeting $1,700/oz after yesterday’s Bernanke QE hints and today’s urging by the OECD to boost the Eurozone ‘firewall’ by another $1.3 trillion. Gold is consolidating on yesterday’s gains today above the 200 day moving average (simple) at $1,687/oz after yesterday’s biggest daily gain since January. The gains came after Ben Bernanke warned of the risks to the fragile US economic recovery and signalled the Fed would keep interest rates low and further debase the dollar – boosting gold’s inflation hedging appeal. Gold is also likely being supported by the OECD’s warning that the debt crisis is far from over. The OECD said today that the euro zone's public debt crisis is not over despite calmer financial markets this year and warned that Europe's banks remain weak, fiscal targets are far from assured and debt levels are still rising. The OECD said that the eurozone needs to boost crisis ‘firewalls’ to at least $1.3 trillion. Gold likes the ‘trillion’ word and talk of ‘trillions’ and will be supported by the risk of the creation of trillions of more euros, pounds and dollars in the coming months. Indian jewellers are on strike to protest against a government levy on gold and the strike is entering its 11th day in most parts of India. It has brought gold imports to a near standstill from the world's biggest buyer of bullion in the peak wedding season. The Indian government for the second time in 2012 doubled the import tax on gold coins and bars to 4% along with an excise duty of 0.3 percent on unbranded jewellery.
- 6.0+ Magnitude quake strikes near Tokyo (USGS)
- Ireland Faces Legal Challenge on Bank Bailout (Reuters)
- Bernanke says U.S. needs faster growth (Reuters)
- Spain Promises Austere Budget Despite Poll Blow (Reuters)
- Orban Punished by Investors as Hungary Retreats From IMF Talks (Bloomberg)
- Obama vows to pursue further nuclear cuts with Russia (Reuters)
- Japan's Azumi Wants Tax Issue Decided Tuesday (WSJ)
- Australia Losing Competitive Edge, Says Dow Chemicals CEO (Australian)
- OECD Urges ‘Ambitious’ Eurozone Reform (FT)
- Yields Less Than Italy’s Signal Indonesia Exiting Junk (Bloomberg)
When the world's central bankers speechified in DC, ironies abounded. But off to the side, Turkey had just floated a plan to grab its people’s gold.