- France's Sarkozy faces corruption probe in blow to comeback hopes (Reuters)
- Ukraine Says Military Offensive Against Rebels Yielding Results (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Investors Show Support for Dimon in Cancer Fight (BBG)
- World’s ATM Moves to Frankfurt as Yellen’s Fed Slows Cash (BBG)
- Argentina Seen Backtracking on Fernandez Vows as Legacy at Risk (BBG)
- Palestinian teen killed in possible revenge attack (Reuters)
- The Bill and Hillary Clinton Money Machine Taps Corporate Cash (WSJ)
- London House Prices Surge the Most Since 1987, Nationwide Says (BBG)
- Last Jew in Afghanistan faces ruin as kebabs fail to sell (Reuters)
“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man.” – Henry Hazlitt, Economics In One Lesson. The great Henry Hazlitt’s wise words came to mind while reading a recent New York Times post by George Mason economist Tyler Cowen who strangely observed that “The world just hasn’t had that much warfare lately, at least not by historical standards,” and “Counterintuitive though it may sound, the greater peacefulness of the world may make the attainment of higher rates of economic growth less urgent and thus less likely.” As Forbes' John Tamny lambasts, "They’re ultimately only words, but Cowen’s about war theoretically boosting animal spirits are pretty disturbing ones..."
BTFATH! That was the motto overnight, when despite a plethora of mixed final manufacturing data across the globe (weaker Japan, Europe; stronger China, UK) the USDJPY carry-trade has been a one-way street up and to the right, and saw its first overnight buying scramble in weeks (as opposed to the US daytime trading session, when the JPY is sold off to push carry-driven stocks higher). Low volumes have only facilitated the now usual buying at the all time highs: The last trading day of 1H14 failed to bring with it any volatility associated with month-end and half-end portfolio rebalancing - yesterday’s S&P 500 volumes were about half that compared to the last trading day of 1H13.
The holiday shortened, and very busy, week includes the following highlights: [on Monday] US Chicago PMI; [on Tuesday] US ISM Manufacturing, Construction Spending, and Vehicle Sales, in addition to a host of PMI Manufacturing in various countries; [on Wednesday] US ADP Employment, Factory Orders; [on Thursday] US Non-farm Payrolls and Unemployment, MP Decisions by ECB and Riksbank, in addition to various Services and Composite PMIs; [on Friday] US holiday, Germany Factory Orders and Sweden IP.
- Facebook Researchers Manipulated News Feeds in 2012 Study (BBG)
- Argentina at Brink of Default as $539 Million Payment Due (BBG)
- Hedge fund correlation risk alarms investors (FT)
- As China Flexes Muscle, Obama Frets Over Rival’s Weakness (BBG)
- As caliphate declared, Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit (Reuters)
- Dubai Caps Worst Month Since 2008 as Real Estate Stocks Tumble (BBG)
- Russian Advisers Ready Iraq to Use New Combat Aircraft (BBG)
- Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ) - so what was GSO?
- Pope says communists are closet Christians (Reuters)
- Thomson Reuters revising FX trading standards (Reuters)
It is the last day of not only the month but also the quarter, not to mention the halfway point of 2014, which means that window dressing by hedge funds will be rampant, as they scramble to catch up some of the ground lost to the S&P 500 so far in 2014. Most likely this means that once again the most shorted names will ramp in everyone's face and the short side of the hedgie book will soar, further pushing hedged P&L into the red, because remember: in a market in which all the risk is borne by the Fed there is no need to hedge.
Let Us Count the Ways ...
China's own Big Apple may be rotting from the core. A new central business district modeled after New York City is going up in Tianjin but the project is in jeopardy. While the growth of China's ghost cities of entirely derelict and unlived-in residential real estate have become anathema; the story of the nation's 'if we build it they will come' commercial real estate bubble has been less exposed but is no less incredible. As Bloomberg reports, China’s project to build a replica Manhattan is taking shape against a backdrop of vacant office towers and unfinished hotels, underscoring the risks to a slowing economy from the nation’s unprecedented investment boom. Stunningly, the development has failed to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 leaving one commercial real estate investor to proclaim, "Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water... There will be no way out - it will be very difficult to find the next buyer."
Something very dramatic happened overnight when, in a little noticed statement, Gazprom's CFO Andrey Kruglov uttered the magic words:
- GAZPROM READY TO SETTLE CHINA CONTRACTS IN YUAN OR RUBLES: CFO
In other words just as the US may or may not be preparing to export crude - a step which would weaken the dollar's reserve status as traditional US oil trading partners will need to find other import customers who pay in non-USD currencies - the world's two other superpowers are preparing to respond.
As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.
Following yesterday's S&P surge on the worst hard economic data (not some fluffy survey conducted by a conflicted firm whose parent just IPOed and is thus in desperate need to perpetuate the market euphoria) in five years, there is little one can comment on how "markets" react to news. Good news, bad news... whatever - as long as it is flashing red, the HFT algos will send momentum higher. The only hope of some normalization is that following the latest revelation of just how rigged the market is due to various HFT firms, something will finally change. Alas, as we have said since the flash crash, there won't be any real attempts at fixing the broken market structure until the next, and far more vicious flash crash - one from which not even the NY Fed-Citadel PPT JV will be able to recover. For now, keep an eye on the USDJPY - as has been the case lately, the overnight USDJPY trading team has taken it lower ahead of the traditional US day session rebound which also pushes the S&P higher with it. For now the surge is missing but it won't be for longer - expect the traditional USDJPY ramp just before or as US stocks open for trading.
Quietly behind the scenes, amid all the chaos of the Qingdao probe's contagion, copper has rallied modestly in the last seven days. That streak ended last night as the warehousing concerns we noted spreading to the entire sector, combined with a collapse in Chinese copper imports (down 17% in May), and yet another default (China Ting holdings said said two borrowers defaulted on entrusted loans). So it seems that not only are the commodities missing, but so is the money...as the slow motion train wreck gathers pace (no matter what PMIs or minis stimulus do to evade the tightening) as China's money-market rates (at 5 month highs) suggest liquidity demand is very high (and desperate).
- The Kerry Konfusion Kontinues: Kerry urges Kurds to save Iraq from collapse (Reuters)
- Abe Unveils Japan’s New Growth Strategy (WSJ)
- Because the recovery: Avon to Cut 600 Jobs as CEO McCoy Seeks to Trim Expenses (BBG)
- Iraqi Parties Pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Step Down (WSJ)
- Ukraine Rebels Call Cease-Fire to Match Government Truce (BBG)
- IRS accused of obstruction over lost emails in Tea Party affair (Reuters)
- IRS chief scorched as 'liar' (WND)
- Big Investors Missed Stock Rally (WSJ)
- U.K. Jury Finds Coulson Guilty of Conspiracy to Intercept Phone Voice-Mail Messages (WSJ)
- HSBC to halve countries served by private bank, sells assets (Reuters)
- Bond Market Has $900 Billion Mom-and-Pop Problem When Rates Rise (BBG)
"The banks still haven't looked under the hood," warns one executive as the probe at Qingdao port (centering around the duplication of warehouse certificates in order to use a metal cargo multiple times to raise financing) begins to spread to the entire Chinese warehousing sector. As Reuters reports, even if banks or their customers have insurance for the metal, some warehouse sources said they might struggle to get paid if fraud is uncovered or their agents are implicated. Though many global firms are involved in the warehouse industry in China, there has been outsourcing to local firms to cut overheads and avoid dealing with complex local regulations. That appears to have back-fired. One thing looks certain, however, banks involved in commodity financing in China are set to charge higher fees: "The cost is certainly going to go up, whether it's going to be from local banks or international."
This week brings PMIs (US and Euro area ‘flash’) and inflation (US PCE, CPI in Germany, Spain, and Japan). Among other releases, next week in DMs includes [on Monday] PMIs in US (June P), Euro Area Composite (expect 52.8, a touch below previous) and Japan; [on Tuesday] US home prices (FHFA and S&P/Case Shiller) and Consumer Confidence (expect 83.5, same as consensus), Germany IFO; [on Wednesday] US Durable Goods Orders (expect -0.50%, at touch below consensus) and real GDP 1Q anniversary. 3rd (expect -2.0%) and Personal Consumption 1Q (expect 2.0%), and confidence indicators in Germany, France and Italy; [on Thursday] US PCE price index (expect 0.20%), Personal Income and Spending, and GS Analyst Index; and [on Friday] Reuters/U. Michigan Confidence (expect slight improvement to 82, same as consensus), GDP 1Q in France and UK (expect 0.8% and 0.9% yoy, respectively), and CPI in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.