A Roundup of Opinions
Ex-Soros Advisor Sells "Almost All" Japan Holdings, Shorts Bonds; Sees Market Crash, Default And HyperinflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/14/2013 20:24 -0500
Former Soros' Japan advisor Fujimaki takes center stage: “The volatility in the JGB market as well as the fact that there is large selling represent fear among investors,” Fujimaki said. “They are early signs of a larger selloff and we should continue to monitor the moves in the long-term bonds.” Fujimaki said he recently bought put options for Japanese government bonds of various maturities, without elaborating. He continues to hold real estate in Japan and options granting the right to sell the yen against the greenback expiring in less than five years. He also holds assets in U.S. dollars and currencies of other developed nations. "Japan’s finance is sinking into the ocean,” Fujimaki said. “There’s no escape from a market crash in the future when you have such enormous debt.” “By expanding the monetary base to 270 trillion yen, the BOJ is making a huge bet which I think it will ultimately lose,” Fujimaki said in an interview in Tokyo on April 11. “Kuroda’s QE announcement is declaring double suicide with the government. The BOJ will have to share the country’s fate and default together. Shirakawa did more than enough and he had good reasons to not do any more,” said Fujimaki. “There will be tremendous side effects from monetary stimulus. QE doesn’t work and has no exit... Things may look rosy for now as stocks rise, but should we see hyper-inflation, JGBs will see a huge selloff, leading to a stock market crash,” said Fujimaki, adding that he sold “almost all” of his Japanese stock holdings some time ago.
One more domino in the dollar reserve supremacy regime falls. Following the announcement two weeks ago that "Australia And China will Enable Direct Currency Convertibility", which in turn was the culmination of two years of Yuan internationalization efforts as summarized by the following: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says", "India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees", and "The USD Trap Is Closing: Dollar Exclusion Zone Crosses The Pacific As Brazil Signs China Currency Swap", China has now launched yet another feeler to see what the apetite toward its currency is, this time in the heart of the Eurozone: Paris. According to China Daily, as reported by Reuters, "France intends to set up a currency swap line with China to make Paris a major offshore yuan trading hub in Europe, competing against London." As a reminder the BOE and the PBOC announced a currency swap line back in February, in effect linking up the CNY to the GBP. Now it is the EUR's turn.
Bitcoin has been all the rage lately. The stuff, or lack thereof, runs on peer-to-peer technology, is fully decentralized, has no patents, and is open source. Currently, there are almost 11 million bitcoin units in existence and the maximum amount of bitcoin units that will ever be created by the logic of its design are 21 million. While bitcoins are designed so that they cannot be hyperinflated in name, they certainly can be hyperinflated in substance. There is no doubt that bitcoin is a spontaneous answer to the monetary instability that we see all around us today. On one side of the pond people are worried about the glorified currency peg known as the Euro and on the other about the amount of damage that Bernanke is willing to inflict upon the world’s reserve currency. However, let us not become so enamored of an innovative stateless solution that we forget Austrian economics and hitch libertarianism’s wagon to something heading for a crash.
In more than a dozen states, legislators are pushing for a movement back to a world where gold is considered money. As Bloomberg reports, lawmakers in Arizona are poised to follow Utah, which authorized bullion for currency in 2011. Similar bills are advancing in Kansas, South Carolina and other states to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender. "The legislation is about signaling discontent with monetary policy and about what Ben Bernanke is doing," which seems confirmed by the recent shift in Texas to bring its gold back from the New York bank warehouse. The new measures would give "people the option of using money that won’t lose any purchasing power to inflation," one supporter of the bill explained, with another adding, "there is a fear that the government, or Bernanke in particular and the Federal Reserve, is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the dollar." The U.S. Constitution bars states from coining money and also forbids them from making anything except gold and silver coin tender for paying debts. Advocates say that opens the door for the states to allow bullion as legal tender.
It is hard to make sense of the markets these days. For instance, gold showed no support while the geopolitical situation in Asia deteriorated, Japan embarked in the mother of all monetization programs, and a member nation of what is supposed to be a monetary union was imposed controls on the movement of capital. Or take the case of the Euro, which jumped from $1.2750 to $1.2950 on the day of one of the most confusing and embarrassing press conferences the president of its central bank ever gave. However, in a faraway land, where there is no shadow banking, leverage or even capital markets, economic fundamentals still hold, which can help us, inhabitants of the developed world, visualize a dynamics lost in the shelves of our collective memory. The land we are referring to is Argentina, but not Argentina of 2001. Today, we want to write about Argentina of 2013, and no, we will not discuss their legal battles with Mr. Singer.
The Fukushima farce continues: a month after a rat (no really) caused the cooling system at the exploded Japanese nuclear power plant to fail, history repeats itself, leading to the second cooling failure in a month. As the NYT reported, "Workers at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant who were installing wire nets Friday to keep rats away from a vital cooling system instead tripped that system, causing it to fail for the second time in weeks. Cooling was restored by late evening on Friday, and there was no imminent danger to the 566 nuclear fuel rods stored in the pool, according to the company. It would have taken at least two weeks for the pool to have risen above the safe level of 149 degrees Fahrenheit, Tepco said." Of course, TEPCO would certainly tell the truth to all those it lied to for weeks in March 2011, the same TEPCO where a rat is the weakest link in its meltdown avoidance planning. This time however, TEPCO, credibility and professionalism once again in tatters, was forced to reveal a little more, namely that "radioactive water may have leaked into the ground from a storage tank at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the latest of a series of troubles at the facility."
The overtly inflationary policy stance of the FOMC is especially significant when you consider that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is no longer in control of monetary policy.
"All this money printing, massive debt, and reckless deficit spending – and we have 2% inflation? I'm beginning to believe that either the deflationists are right, or the Fed's interventions are working." While a low CPI may be puzzling in the midst of massive, global currency abuse, there are three realities about inflation that convince us it's not only coming, but will catch an unsuspecting citizenry off guard. Let's take a look at why we're convinced inflation will be one of the next big catalysts for the gold price...
Which means that if (and we are not saying it will) a Cyprus-style fiasco were to occur in the US, and those $9.3 trillion in total deposits seek to obtain
"physical representation" in the form of actual currency (i.e., a systemic bank run), just as all those lining up in front of Cypriot ATMs are desperate to do each and every day when they have a €300 limit on physical cash withdrawals, there will be a roughly 88% haircut for every single dollar that US savers believe is "safe" in the bank.
No, it wasn't Ben Bernanke or Alan Greenspan, it wasn't Jean-Claude Trichet or his successor Mario Draghi, nor was it Mervyn King, Carney, Shirakawa, or Hildebrand. The answer, as shocking as it may sound, was...
One would think that certain truths are obvious by now. It should be obvious, for example, that there are consequences to living beyond your means. It should be obvious that there are consequences to a long history of spending unsustainably and accumulating mountains of debt. And it should be obvious that there are consequences to dealing with such problems by spending more and accumulating even more debt. It should be obvious. But it’s not. Hyperinflation always starts with a surge in asset prices. And as I see stock markets at new highs, property prices posting big increases, and bond yields of the greatest debtor nations in the world hover at just over ZERO, a sane person ought to consider these important lessons from history.
To anyone paying attention, reality is now painfully obvious. These bankrupt, insolvent governments have just about run out of fingers to plug the dikes. And history shows that, once this happens, governments fall back on a very limited playbook...
In other words, the ECB’s balance sheet, which backs up the entire EU banking system it essentially a work of fiction. Unless the ECB officials feel like admitting something is an asset or liability, it doesn’t exist.
Up until just a week or so ago, the euro, the market seems to be telling us, has been saved, and peripheral Europe is widely seen as being out of the woods. Thanks to the ECB - who are willing to pump as much liquidity into the markets as it needs - it seems rising debt levels, greater political fragmentation, and a worsening economy somehow don't really matter and it is impolitic to sound pessimistic. But is peripheral Europe really suffering primarily from a liquidity crisis? It would help me feel a lot better if I could find even one case in history of a sovereign solvency crisis in which the authorities didn’t assure us for years that we were facing not a solvency crisis, but merely a short-term problem with liquidity. A sovereign solvency crisis always begins with many years of assurances from policymakers in both the creditor and the debtor nations that the problem can be resolved with time, confidence, and a just few more debt rollovers. The key point is that bankers are not stupid. They just could not formally acknowledge reality until they had built up sufficient capital through many years of high earnings – thanks in no small part to the help provided by the Fed in the form of distorted yield curves and free money – to recognize the losses without becoming insolvent.