Following yesterday's G-7 announcement which sent the USDJPY soaring, and its embarrassing "misinterpretation" clarification which undid the entire spike, by an anonymous source in the US who said the statement was in fact meant to state that the Yen was dropping too fast and was to discourage "currency wars", it was only a matter of time before another G-7 country stepped into the fray to provide a mis-misinterpretation of the original G-7 announcement. That someone was the BoE's outgoing head Mervyn King who at 5:30 am eastern delivered his inflation reporting which he said that "it’s very important to allow exchange rates to move," adding that "when countries take measures to use monetary stimulus to support growth in their economy, then there will be exchange rate consequences, and they should be allowed to flow through." Finally, King added that the BOE will look through CPI and relentless UK inflation to support the recovery, implicitly even if it means incurring more inflation.
Concerns about the devaluations and the growing risk of a severe bout of inflation have led to calls for a return to fixed exchange rates and a gold standard. Bloomberg’s Trish Regan and Adam Johnson interviewed TCW Group’s Komal Sri-Kumar and Bank of New York Mellon's Michael Woolfolk about the risks from currency wars on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart." Trish Regan asks whether there is a danger that “we have massive inflation worldwide for years to come?” The answer is yes and both agree that inflation is a real risk as is a loss of credibility by central banks.
In what has been a quiet start to week dominated by the G-20 meeting whose only purpose is to put Japan and its upstart currency destruction in its place, many are expecting a formal G-7 statement on currencies and what is and isn't allowed in currency warfare according to the "New Normal" non-Geneva convention. Because while there may not have been much overnight news, both the EURUSD and USDJPY just waited for Europe to open, to surge right out of the gates, and while the former has been somewhat subdued in the aftermath of the ECB's surprising entry into currency wars last week, it was the latter that was helped by statements from Haruhiko Kuroda (not to be confused with a Yankee's pitcher) who many believe will be the next head of the BOJ, who said that additional BOJ easing can be justified for 2013. He didn't add if that would happen only if he is elected. Expect much more volatility in various FX pairs as the topic of global thermonuclear currency war dominates the airwaves in the coming days.
- Rate-Rig Spotlight Falls on 'Rain Man' (WSJ)
- Blizzard Cancels U.S. Flights, Threatens Snow in New York (BBG)
- Monti says he did not know of bank probes (FT)
- Japan's Aso: yen has weakened more than intended (Reuters)
- Japan Pledges Foreign-Policy Response to Territorial Incursions (BBG)
- Paratroops mutiny in Bamako in blow to Mali security efforts (Reuters)
- China, Japan engage in new invective over disputed isles (Reuters)
- Asteroid to Traverse Earth’s Satellite Zone, NASA Says (BBG)
- EU leaders haggle over budget tightening (FT)
- China Trade Tops Forecasts in Holiday-Distorted Month (Bloomberg)
- Buffett’s Son Says He’s Prepared Whole Life for Berkshire Role (BBG)
Platinum prices have already risen by more than 12% so far in 2013, following the same advance for all of 2012. Platinum supplies have fallen to a 13-year low as mines in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer, close and the platinum industry is in crisis due to industrial unrest, geological constraints and sharply rising costs. Global production will drop 2.7% to 5.68 million ounces, the least since 2000, according to Barclays Plc, which raised its 2013 shortage estimate sixfold last month after Johannesburg-based Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) said it plans to idle shafts. Anglo American Plc’s platinum unit, the largest producer, last month proposed the halt of four mine shafts that would cut about 7% of global production. At the same time, demand from carmakers, the biggest consumer of the metal, will increase 0.5 percent in 2013, Barclays says. Perhaps, most importantly investors are buying platinum at the fastest pace in three years and yet holdings of platinum remain very, very small. Global production of the metal will fall as South African output drops 3.4% to a 12-year low of 4.11 million ounces, Barclays estimates.
Gold climbed $5.70 or 0.34% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,673.50/oz. Silver inched up to $31.86 in Asia, then it fell back to $31.38, and then rose to a high of $31.91, but eased off in afternoon trade and finished with a loss of 0.35%.
Gold rose to a new record nominal high on the TOCOM at 0.156 million yen per ounce. The resignation of Bank of Japan Governor, Shirakawa on March 19 is pressuring the yen as is increased tensions in the Pacific between China and Japan - Japan accused China of targeting a Japanese naval vessel and helicopter.
Back in December, as always happens every year for the past 3, a margin call driven liquidation wave pushed the price of the gold to multi-month lows, providing merely yet another lowball buying opportunity (for which let's all thank John Paulson, again). One buyer who certainly would love to thank whichever marginal seller was liquidating their gold, is none other than China, which as was reported a few hours ago, imported an all time record 114.4 tons of gold in the month of December, or more than all the gold held by the Greek central bank (assuming it hasn't been confiscated by ze Germans or the ECB, or deposited in G-Pap or Venizelos' private HSBC safe in Geneva yet: a very aggressive assumption).
- Obama to meet with Goldman's Blankfein, other CEOs Tuesday (Reuters)
- Chinese Firms Shrug at Rising Debt (WSJ)
- McGraw-Hill, S&P Sued by U.S. Over Mortgage-Bond Ratings (BBG)... but not Moody's or Fitch
- Dime a Dozen: Dollar Stores Pinched by Rapid Expansion (WSJ)
- Dell Board Said to Vote Monday Night on $24 Billion LBO (BBG)
- BOJ Governor Shirakawa to step down on March 19 (Reuters)
- Alberta may offer more to smooth way for Keystone (Reuters)
- Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App (BBG)
- Barclays takes another $1.6 billion hit for mis-selling (Reuters)
- Apple App Advantage Eroded as Google Narrows IPhone Lead (BBG)
- Texas School-Finance System Unconstitutional, Judge Rules (BBG)
- World Risks ‘Perfect Storm’ on Capital Flows, Carstens Says (BBG)
- Risky Student Debt Is Starting to Sour (WSJ)
- Political scandal in Spain as PP secret accounts revealed (El Pais)
- New York Times claims Chinese hackers hijacked its systems (NYT)
- Spain's Rajoy, ruling party deny secret payment scheme (Reuters)
- Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions (Reuters)
- BlackBerry 10’s Debut Fizzles as U.S. Buyers Left Waiting (BBG)
- Costs drag Deutsche Bank to €2.2bn loss (FT)
- And the gaming of RWA continues - Deutsche Bank Beats Capital Goal as Jain Shrugs Off Loss (BBG)
- More fun out of London - Barclays, RBS May Pay Billions Over Improper Derivatives Sales (BBG)
- Hagel to face grilling by Senate panel on Mideast, budget (Reuters)
A billion folks in the west would be quietly applauding....
While the overnight session has been relatively quiet, the overarching theme has been a simple one: currency warfare, as more of the world wakes up to what the BOJ is doing and doesn't like it. The latest entrants in global warfare: Taiwan, whose central bank overnight said it would step in the FX market if needed, then Thailand, whose currency was weakened on market adjustment according to Prasarn, and of course South Korea, where the BOK said that global currency war spreads protectionism. Last but not least was China which brought out the big guns after the PBOC deputy governor Yi Gang "warned on currency wars." To wit: "Quantitative easing for developed economies is generating some uncertainties in financial markets in terms of capital flows,” Yi, who is also head of China’s foreign-exchange regulator, told reporters. “Competitive devaluation is one aspect of it. If everyone is doing super QE, which currency will depreciate?” “A currency war, a series of tit-for-tat competitive devaluations, would trigger trade protection measures that would damage global trade and therefore growth globally,” said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in Hong Kong, who previously worked for the World Bank. “That would not be good for any country with a stake in the global economy.” Which brings us to the fundamental question - if everyone eases, has anyone eased? And is there such a thing as a free lunch when central banks simply finance global deficits while eating their soaring stock market cake too? The answer, of course, is no, but we will cross that bridge soon enough.
- When the cash runs out: Nokia to Omit Dividend for First Time in 143 Years (BBG)
- Passing Debt Bill, GOP Pledges End to Deficits (WSJ)
- Japan logs record trade gap in 2012 as exports struggle (Reuters)
- so naturally... Yen at 100 Per Dollar Endorsed by Japan Government’s Nishimura (BBG)
- Japan rejects currency war fears (FT)
- In Amenas attack brings global jihad home to Algeria (Reuters)
- Investors grow cagey as Italy election nears (Reuters)
- Mafia Victim’s Son Holds Key to Bersani Winning Key Region (BBG)
- Bernanke Seen Pressing On With Stimulus Amid Debate on QE (BBG)
- U.S. to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs (Reuters)
- Red flags revealed in filings of firm linked to Caterpillar fraud (Reuters)
- Apple Sales Gain Slowest Since ’09 as Competition Climbs (BBG)
- Spanish Jobless Rate Hits Record After Rajoy’s First Year (BBG)
- North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test to Derail U.S. Policies (BBG)
While the main topic of conversation overnight was the Apple implosion after earnings (which was mercifully spared inbound calls from repo desk margin clerks who had all gone home by the time the stock hit $460), there was some macro data to muddle up the picture, which, like everything else in this baffle with BS new normal came in "good/bad cop" pairs. In early trading, all eyes were focused on Japan, whose trade and especially exports imploded when the country posted a record trade gap of 6.93 trillion yen ($78.27 billion) in 2012 and the seventh consecutive monthly drop in exports which showed that improved sentiment has yet to translate into hard economic data. Finance ministry data on Thursday showed that exports fell 5.8 percent in the year to December, more than economists' consensus forecast of a 4.2 percent drop. Trade with China was hit particularly hard following the ongoing island fiasco, which means that all the ongoing Yen destruction has largely been for nothing as organic growth markets simply shut off Japan. This ugly news was marginally offset by a tiny beat in the HSBC China manufacturing PMI which came slighly above consensus at 51.9 vs exp. 51.7, the highest print in 24 months, but as with everything else coming out of China one really shouldn't believe this or any other number in a country that will not allow even one corporate default to prevent the credit-driven illusion from popping.
Things are so corrupt in China, that as soon as the new Government stated it would crack down on corruption, a fire sale of luxury properties began as corrupt officials sought to dump their illegal holdings.
With the BoJ and the Japanese government set to announce the now much-anticipated (and oft-repeated rumor) 2% inflation target in a joint (yet, rest reassured completely independent) statement, we have seen JPY swing from a 0.4% weakening to a 0.6% strengthening (sell the news?) and back to middle of the day's range by the time Europe closed. Cable (GBPUSD) has quite a day, dropping almost 100 pips top to bottom before bouncing back a little. This is 5 month lows for GBP as the triple-dip response of Mark Carney's new deal starts to get discounted. The USD ended practically unchanged despite all this as European sovereigns leaked wider, CHF strengthened modestly (2Y Swiss positive) and US equity futures did a small stop-run helped by the JPY crosses. It seems the zero-sum game in global FX competitive devaluation, as Steve Englander notes, has a long way to go, for if the UK and Japan, among others, are determined to crowd in growth by boosting exports, their currencies will have to fall a lot more than is now priced in.