As reported earlier, several hours ago Saudi Arabia announced that its 91-year-old King Abdullah had passed away, in the process setting off what may be a fascinating, and problematic, Saudi succession fight which impacts everything from oil, to markets to geopolitics, especially in the aftermath of the dramatic political coup in neighboring Yemen. As a reminder, it is Saudi Arabia whose insistence on not cutting oil production with the intent of hobbling the US shale industry has led to the splinter of OPEC, and to a Brent price south of $50. Which is why today's event and its implications will be analyzed under a microscope by everyone: from politicians to energy traders. Here, courtesy of Ecstrat's Emad Mostaque, is an initial take at succession, the likely impact on oil, then the Saudi market & currency and finally regional politics.
There is virtually nothing which is on the level in today’s financial markets. According to the Fed’s PR firm, Hilsenramp & Blackstone, one quarter of the $7 trillion in bonds issued by euro zone government are trading at negative yields. And this drastic financial repression prevails across the yield curve, not just on the short end. Yes, the juxtaposition is entirely reasonable that a state drifting toward insolvency and/or ruinous taxation should be able to borrow 10-year money at 0.70%. That is, when the fix is in, the central bank printing press is open to buy, the apparatchiks are terrified and one of history’s greatest monetary charlatans is in charge - the speculators have nothing to do but harvest their haul. So now begins the greatest heist since Bernanke bailed out Wall Street in September 2008.
More than six years after the last recession, deflation remains an imminent threat. The continued hope is that the next round of interventions will be the one that finally sparks the inflationary pressures needed to jump start the engine of economic recovery. Unfortunately, that has yet to be the case, and the rate of diminishing returns from each program continue to increase. The collapse in commodity prices, interest rates and the surge in dollar are all clear signs that money is seeking "safety" over "risk." Maybe you should be asking yourself what it is that they know that you don't? The answer could be extremely important.
"Whatever it takes" appears to have 'worked' to crash the currency of the Eurozone... but - unlike the Keynesian 'exports-are-awesome' textbook plan of competitive currency devaluationists (just ask Japan) - economic growth expectations continue to collapse... Perhaps it's time to say "make it stop" before all central bank credibility is entirely destroyed...
What is going on in Europe? Nothing short of the biggest multiple expansion episode in history. As SocGen calculated two days ago "the reported P/E multiple on Eurozone equities has risen from 11.5x to 18.7x today – a multiple expansion of over 60% in 30 months – and now stands at a premium to both the rest of Europe and RoW." And now, with today's latest surge in the Eurostoxx, the multiple has hit what may well be a record 19x, pushing the expansion well into the 60% range over the past two and a half years, making Europe the most expensive market on a PE-multiple basis in the entire world.
If speeches like the State of The Union this week, and the reactions to it, make anything clear, it’s that the PR guys won the fight against critical thinking. All you need to do is get people to believe whatever it is you got for sale. And 99.9% of people are easily fooled. That’s how you define democracy in 2015: how many people can you fool? Which is the most convincing sleight of hand?
- ECB to decide on bond-buying plan to revive euro zone (Reuters)
- Draghi Is Pushing Boundaries of Euro Region with QE Program (BBG)
- Investors Wonder Whether ECB Will Do Enough (WSJ)
- Treasuries Drop With Bunds Before ECB; U.S. Futures Rise (BBG)
- European shares hit seven-year high (Reuters)
- At least eight civilians killed in shelling of Ukrainian trolleybus (Reuters), both sides blame each other
- OPEC Will Blink First in Battle With Shale Drillers, Poll Shows (BBG)
- China Injects $8 Billion Into Banking System (WSJ)
- New York says Barclays not cooperating in 'dark pool' probe (Reuters)
Curency wars are zero-sum. Interest rate race is not.
Greece's bailout program is not working. After receiving hundreds of billions of Euros in new loans to stave off a sovereign default, Greeks are on the verge of electing a new government that may throw Eurozone politics into turmoil. How things will play out in Greece and abroad is anybody’s guess. But it is important to consider the factors which have contributed to the current state of affairs.
Who will ultimately benefit from the action? Will it be the people of Europe or only the mega-rich? For whom, we have continuously pointed out QE has greatly benefitted and as Alan Greenspan recently pointed out – QE has been a “terrific success.” The intensification of currency debasement and currency wars shows the increasing importance of owning physical gold coins and bars.
Major central banks claim to be independent, but they are totally under the control of politicians. Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s all well and good in principle until the economy spins out of control – at zero-bound growth and rates central banks and politicians becomes one in a survival mode where rules are broken and bent to fit an agenda of buying more time. What comes now is a new reality...
The problem, and the source of hope for Eurozone equity investors, is that Eurozone corporate profits have not matched this strong equity price performance. Headline EPS and DPS growth have not advanced since 2012. In fact, aggregate earnings and dividends as measured by MSCI are down by 7% and 5% respectively, whilst the equity index is up 50%." We'll repeat that again: in the past 2 and a half years, Eurozone earnings are down 7%! So where did this upside come from? "This strength in share prices but not in profits has meant the reported P/E multiple on Eurozone equities has risen from 11.5x to 18.7x today – a multiple expansion of over 60% in 30 months – and now stands at a premium to both the rest of Europe and RoW."
The Fed's own favorite mouthpiece Jon Hilsenrath (for more see "On The New York Fed's Editorial Influence Over The WSJ"), just released a piece in which he claims, or rather his sources tell him, that the Fed is "on track to start raising short-term interest rates later this year, even though long-term rates are going in the other direction amid new investor worries about weak global growth, falling oil prices and slowing consumer price inflation." In other words, just like the ECB in 2011, the Fed which has hinted previously that it will hike rates just so it has "dry powder" to ease once the US economy falls into recession, will accelerate a full-blown recession in the US when it does - if indeed Hilsenrath's source is correct and not merely trying to push the USDJPY higher (for reference, see Reuters "exclusive" report on the Samsung takeover of Blackberry, denied by both parties within hours - hike some time this summer.
The Bundesbank, Germany’s powerful central bank, announced very publicly this morning the further repatriation of some of it’s gold being held in foreign locations – namely in Paris and New York with the Bank of France and the Federal Reserve.
Market Wrap: Chinese Stocks Crash As Financials Suffer Record Drop; Commodities Resume Decline; US ClosedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/19/2015 07:12 -0500
Following last week's Swiss stock market massacre as a result of a central bank shocker, and last night's crack down by Chinese authorities, it almost appears as if the global powers are doing what they can to orchestrated a smooth, painless (as much as possible) bubble deflation. If so, what Draghi reveals in a few days may truly come as a surprise to all those- pretty much everyone - who anticipate a €500 billion QE announcement on Thursday.