- Goldman to Fidelity Call for Calm After Global Stock Wipeout (BBG)
- Turnabout on Global Outlook Darkens Investor Mood (Hilsenrath)
- EU Said to Weigh Extending Greek Loans to 50 Years (BBG)
- Second Storm Hitting Northeast Halts Planes, Schools (BBG)
- Small Banks Face TARP Hit (WSJ)
- As Sony prepares PCs exit, pressure mounts for reboot on TVs (Reuters)
- IBM Uses Dutch Tax Haven to Boost Profits as Sales Slide (BBG)
- ECB faces dilemma with inflation drop (FT)
- London Subway Strike Snarls Traffic as Union Opposes Cuts (BBG)
How many times in the last few days have we been told that Turkey - or Ukraine or Venezuela or Argentina - are too small to matter? How many comparisons of Emerging Market GDP to world GDP to instill confidence that a little crisis there can't possible mean problems here. Putting aside this entirely disingenuous perspective, historical examples such as LTCM, and ignoring the massive leverage in the system, there is a simple reason why Emerging Markets matter. As Reuters reports, European banks have loaned in excess of $3 trillion to emerging markets, more than four times US lenders - especially when average NPLs for historical EM shocks is over 40%.
In the aftermath of yesterday's Developed Market rout, it may come as a surprise how - relatively - quiet the EM bourses were. Because while the now ongoing Argentina reserve depletion continues (the country has $28 billion left - a drain of over $2 billion in two weeks, the Turkish political instability is still there, and everyone from Hungary to South Africa to India are lamenting the Fed's taper, for the most part traders were ignoring developments out of the emerging world. This may change today when just over an hour ago, Russia announced it would cancel a bond auction for the second consecutive week after an emerging-market rout sent yields on January 2028 bonds to record highs. The reason cite: market conditions.
It is still all about the Yen carry which overnight tumbled to the lowest level since November, dragging the Nikkei down by 4.8% which halted its plunge at just overf 14,000, only to stage a modest rebound and carry US equity futures with it, even if it hasn't helped the Dax much which moments ago dropped to session lows and broke its 100 DMA, where carmakers are being especially punished following a downgrade by HSBC of the entire sector. Also overnight the Hang Seng entered an official correction phase (following on from the Nikkei 225 doing the same yesterday) amid global growth concerns and has filtered through to European trade with equities mostly red across the board. Markets have shrugged off news that ECB's Draghi is seeking German support in the bond sterilization debate, something which we forecast would happen a few weeks ago when we pointed out the relentless pace of SMP sterilization failures, with analysts playing down the news as the move would only add a nominal amount of almost EUR 180bln to the Euro-Area financial system. Elsewhere, disappointing earnings from KPN (-4.3%) and ARM holdings (-2.5%) are assisting the downward momentum for their respective sectors.
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?
Back in December 2013, as we do after every periodic bout of irrational exuberance by Goldman's chief economist Jan Hatzius et al (who can forget our post from December 2010 "Goldman Jumps Shark, Goes Bullish, Hikes Outlook" in which Hatzius hiked his 2011 GDP forecast from 1.9% to 2.7% only to end the year at 1.8%, and we won't even comment on the longer-term forecasts) designed merely to provide a context for Goldman's equity flow and prop-trading axes, we said it was only a matter of time before Goldman (and the rest of the Goldman-following sellside econo-penguins) is forced to once again trim its economic forecasts. Overnight, two months after our prediction, the FDIC-backed hedge fund did just that, after Goldman's Hatzius announced that "we have taken down our GDP estimates to 2½% in Q1 and 3% in Q2, from 2.7% [ZH: actually 3.0% as of Thursday] and 3½% previously."
Why would the central bank of Nigeria decide to sell dollars and buy Yuan? At first glance it might not seem the most interesting or pressing question for you to consider. But we think it is one of those little loose threads that if pulled upon carefully begins to unravel the hints and traces of a much larger story.
2014? Well now, THIS could be the year that true price discovery begins in the gold market. If that turns out to be the case, it will be driven by a scramble to perfect ownership of physical gold; and to do that you will be forced to pay a lot more than $1247/oz.
Another volatile day ended with the Dow is down around 5% in January - the worst start to a year since 2009 (and 2nd worst since 1990) and the worst month since May 2012 (a 3-sigma miss of the average +1.5% per month gain since 2009's lows). Japan, Brazil, and Russia suffered greatly on the month as gold miners, Egypt?, and US Biotech did well. There is a huge 380bps spread between the performance of the Industrials and the Transports YTD. Gold had its best month in the last 5; Treasuries rallied with 10Y yields dropping their most since May 2012; USD rallied the most in 8 months with JPY's biggest rally (and Nikkei's biggest loss) since April 2012.
That didn't take long. Moments ago the world's largest retailer (sorry AMZN) WoeMart (sic) just confirmed what everyone who is not an economist knows - the US consumer is barely alive. The reasons: cut in foodstamps, and of course, the weather: "“Despite a holiday season that delivered positive comps, two factors contributed to lower comp sales performance for the 14-week period for Walmart U.S. First, the sales impact from the reduction in SNAP (the U.S. government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits that went into effect Nov. 1 is greater than we expected. And, second, eight named winter storms resulted in store closures that impacted traffic throughout the quarter."
Hinting that the worst is yet to come, was none other than India's Central Bank governor Raghuram Rajan himself, who yesterday in an interview in Mumbai with Bloomberg TV India, said that "international monetary cooperation has broken down." Of course, when the Fed was monetizing $85 billion each and every month and stocks could only go up, nobody had a complaint about any cooperation, be it monetary or international. However, a 4% drop in the S&P from its all time high... and everyone begins to panic.
The problem is twofold. First, current accounts are a zero sum game, so future improvements in emerging market trade balances have to come at someone else’s expense. Second, we have had, over the past year, only modest growth in global trade; so if EM balances are to improve markedly, somebody’s will have to deteriorate. When the 1994-95 “tequila crisis” struck, the US current account deficit widened to allow for Mexico to adjust. The same thing happened in 1997 with the Asian crisis, in 2001 when Argentina blew, and in 2003 when SARS crippled Asia. In 1998, oil prices took the brunt of the adjustment as Russia hit the skids. In 2009-10, it was China’s turn to step up to the plate, with a stimulus-spurred import binge that meaningfully reduced its current account surplus. Which brings us to today and the question of who will adjust their growth lower (through a deterioration in their trade balances) to make some room for Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia...? There are really five candidates...
The IMF's woeful forecasting record, chronicled extensively before, has just taken yet another hit, following the latest flip flop on emerging markets. Try to spot the common theme of these assessments by the IMF.
The problem, though, is that once you embrace the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence to "explain" recent events, you can't compartmentalize it there. If the pattern of post-crisis Emerging Market growth rates is largely explained by US monetary accommodation or lack thereof ... well, the same must be true for pre-crisis Emerging Market growth rates. The inexorable conclusion is that Emerging Market growth rates are a function of Developed Market central bank liquidity measures and monetary policy, and that all Emerging Markets are, to one degree or another, Greece-like in their creation of unsustainable growth rates on the back of 20 years of The Great Moderation (as Bernanke referred to the decline in macroeconomic volatility from accommodative monetary policy) and the last 4 years of ZIRP. It was Barzini all along!
Don’t you just hate the smuggish guys that sit behind desks and that say ‘I told you so’? There’s probably only one thing you hate more and that’s the racers that are running to predict the end of the world. Doom and gloom.