No-one knows for sure how big a problem China's economy will eventually face due to the massive credit and money supply growth that has occurred in recent years and no-one know when exactly it will happen either. There have been many dire predictions over the years, but so far none have come true. And yet, it is clear that there is a looming problem of considerable magnitude that won't simply go away painlessly. The greatest credit excesses have been built up after 2008, which suggests that there can be no comfort in the knowledge that 'nothing has happened yet'. Given China's importance to the global economy, it seems impossible for this not to have grave consequences for the rest of the world, in spite of China's peculiar attributes in terms of government control over the economy and the closed capital account.
A few short months after Putin cornered the US state department into a disastrous foreign relations dead end with the false flag Syrian escalation which achieved none of the predetermined nat-gas-to-Europe pipeline ambitions, instead alieanting the US from both staunch allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Russian president has just managed to inflict yet more pain on US foreign policy this time by infuriating (even more) a core US ally in Europe - Angela Merkel. Just two days after the phone recording of Victoria Nuland emerged in which she not only made it explicitly clear it was the US who was the puppetmaster behind the Ukranian opposition with the traditional CIA tractics as was expected all along, but also explained just how the US freels toward the EU with the now infamous "Fuck the EU" comment, Angela Merkel called the obscene remark "absolutely unacceptable."
The problem for the state is that its success in imposing exorbitant fees and taxes will simply drive low-income people scratching out a minimal living in the gray market to other networks that do not even have a corporate structure to tax. To wit: "The more you tighten your grip, the more systems will slip through your fingers." Phantom economies tend to give rise to gray and black markets in proportion to the deviance of the phantom economy from reality.
How long can economic growth continue in a finite world? In simplest terms, our problem is that we as a people are no longer getting richer. The reason we are getting poorer is because hidden parts of our economy are now absorbing more and more resources, leaving fewer resources to produce the goods and services we are used to buying. The promised collapse, from 1972's The Limits of Growth, is practically right around the corner, beginning in the next year or two. In fact, many aspects of the collapse appear already to be taking place, such as the 2008-2009 Great Recession and the collapse of the economies of smaller countries such as Greece and Spain. How could collapse be so close, with virtually no warning to the population?
Inflation is hot property today, hyperinflation is even hotter!
It’s now clear that the spate of positive economic data coming out of Europe prior to the German Federal Election in September 2013 was just political gaming to get Angela Merkel back into office.
With reporters stunned by Sochi's unreadiness and athletes now quitting individual events on the lack of preparedness of the snow, the Winter Olympics in Russia is off to a less than stellar start. The last time Russia hosted the Olympics – the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow - the Soviet Union was a superpower, stagnant but stable. Not so today, notes Nina Khruschcheva; Putin’s Russia is weak, tawdry, and corrupt – and underserving as an Olympic host. The atmosphere surrounding the Sochi Games reflects many of Russia’s worst traits. In the immortal words of former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, describing the country’s economic transition of the 1990’s: “We hoped for the best, but things turned out as usual.”
It's snowing in New York so the market must be down. Just kidding - everyone know the only thing that matters for the state of global risk is the level of USDJPY and it is this that nearly caused a bump in the night after pushing the Nikkei as low as 13,995, before the Japanese PPT intervened and rammed the carry trade higher, and thus the Japanese index higher by 1.23% before the close of Japan trading. However, since then the USDJPY has failed to levitate as it usually does overnight and at last check was fluctuating within dangerous territory of 101.000, below which there be tigers. The earlier report of European retail sales tumbling by 1.6% on expectations of a modest 0.6% drop from a downward revised 0.9% only confirmed that the last traces of last year's illusionary European recovery have long gone. Then again, it's all the cold weather's fault. In Europe, not in the US that is.
As if we didn’t know it already! The Western world is the ultimate destination for corruption, pulling a swift one and swiping the valuables from the inside pocket of the guy’s pants standing in front of you as he keeps his beady eye on the economy.
While Greece may be the most corrupt nation in Europe, there appears another problematic issue for finance minister Yannis Stournaras when he discusses the way forward with his Swiss counterpart this week. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah reports, Greece's difficulties with tax evasion are the worst in Europe. Accprding to a study from Johannes Kepler University, the size of the Greek shadow economy is a stunning 24% of GDP. One can only wonder what lesson this unintended consequence has for a US (or French) President besotted with extraction - especially as 74% cite "taxes are too high" as a reason for 'informal labor'.
Europe has an odd definition of recovery: we already knew that in Greece "recovery" means record high unemployment, an entire generation unable to find work, the return of neo-nazism, no ink with which to print tax forms, and even instances where people infect themselves with HIV to get medical benefits. That, and of course, soaring suicides. Now it is Spain's turn. While the Iberian nation is furiously scrambling to catch up to Greece in terms of sheer economic collapse, even if the government has changed the definition of GDP so many times, somehow Spain dares to look people in the eye and claim its GDP is growing with 26% total, and 54% youth unemployment, one statistic Spain can't change is that the suicide rate has soared and is now the highest in eight years.
Following today's crash in the US Manufacturing ISM, we now have the following snapshot of global manufacturing: only three countries are currently in contraction (sub 50 PMI) mode: Australia, Russia and France. Look for many more to join them if today's US print is a harbinger of things to come to the global manufacturing space.
The event horizon of bad faith is the exact point where the credulous folk of this modern age, from high to low, discover that their central banks only pretend to be regulating agencies, that they ride a juggernaut of which nobody is really in control. The illusion of control has been the governing myth since the Lehman moment in 2008. We needed desperately to believe that the authorities had our backs. They don’t even have their own fronts. Is the money world at that threshold right now?
With the Greeks facing up to their third (or 4th or 5th, who's counting anymoe anyway) bailout, proclaiming growth is just around the corner, that the crisis is behind them, and that slavery will solve European youth unemployment; we thought it both ironic and sad that, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, the European Commission today publishes its first anti-corruption report and finds Greece has the most corrupt public sector, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Alarms are going off in assorted plunge protecting offices, now that the USDJPY has breached the 102.000 "fundamental" support level, below which the Yen can comfortably soar to sub 100.000 in perfectly even 100 pip increments. The first trading day of February has brought another weaker session across Asia though some equity indices such as the KOSPI (-1.1%) are in catch-up mode given they were shut towards the back-end of last week. Over the weekend, the Chinese government published its latest official manufacturing PMI which showed a 0.5pt drop to 50.5, a six-month low, and consistent with consensus estimates. DB’s Jun Ma believes there was some element of seasonality affecting this month’s result including the fact that Chinese New Year started at the end of January (vs February last year), anti-pollution measures in the lead up to CNY and efforts to control government consumption around the holiday period. The official service PMI was released overnight (53.4) which printed at the lowest level since at least 2011. The uninspiring Chinese data has not helped market sentiment this morning, with the Nikkei plunging -2% and ASX200 once again under pressure. S&P500 futures have fluctuated around the unchanged line this morning although if support below the USDJPY fail solidly, then watch out below. Markets in Mainland China and Hong Kong remain closed for Lunar New Year.