India

China Is Not 1914 Germany

Current events are frequently viewed through the prism of analogies. Words become shorthand for a particular type of situation. “Munich” equals the danger of appeasing bloodthirsty dictators, “Vietnam,” and now “Iraq/Afghanistan” means the folly of getting involved in (or, in the case of Iraq, starting) civil wars in countries whose societies the outsiders neither understand nor can effectively influence. In some cases, acting on these parallels turns out to be wise. The analogy that is currently in vogue in Asia is “1914.”

Here's What Happened The Last Time "Unemployment", "Taxes", & "Inequality" Were So Correlated

While social unrest has been a thing that occurs "over there", the increasing visualization of people taking to the streets in the face of desperate economic situations amid an elite class of politicians, dictators, and tyrants is becoming clearer by the day. As the following chart shows, across 500 billion words in over 5.2 million books, the words "unemployment, "taxes", and "inequality" tend to correlate highly with "war". The 18th century saw these terms the most correlated and as the following chronology suggests, that is not a time to reflect gladly upon...

Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like "Anti-Gold Idiots"

This next paragraph contains what Grant Williams believes is the fundamental principle of investing in gold and silver, which so few people genuinely understand — despite the multitudes of commentators expending countless thousands of words.

"So these anti-gold idiots are just that, idiots, or else they have the memory of a goldfish, because currencies come and currencies go, as sure as night follows day. It is the natural order of things. And as you can see, it's not about trading gold to get rich or getting long gold or buying one by two call spreads or getting fancy, it literally is about protecting yourself in the end. It's not like Williams got rich. He just stayed rich. Everyone else got poor."

Central banks are accumulating gold because it cannot go BANG! like fiat currencies do. Individuals should be doing the same — not being sidetracked by the distractions. It's not about price - if you own gold, it will do all the heavy lifting for you when the time comes.

UBS On Goldilocks Hope And Emerging Market Vulnerabilities

A considerable area of investor concern remains on emerging economies. As UBS' Larry Hatheway notes, the last thing that vulnerable emerging economies need at the moment is worries about a global growth slowdown, if that is indeed what is happening. That’s particularly true given that one of the relative few bright spots in the emerging complex of late was improved PMIs, reflecting some pickup in global manufacturing, exports and trade. While that lift might not help the down-trodden commodity producers within the emerging complex, it is helpful for the more manufacturing-oriented economies of Asia, selected parts of EMEA, or Latin America. But as Hatheway warns below, emerging vulnerability is about much more than just growth.

The One Investment You Want To Avoid At All Costs

4.1%... yield on 5Y state-owned Indian company bond rated near junk...

Central bankers have destroyed money and interest rates to the point that near-bankrupt companies in shaky jurisdictions can borrow money for practically nothing. It’s an utter farce.

FOMC Minutes Show Fed Taper Continuing But Forward Guidance Confusion

With a plethora of Fed speakers playing good cop, bad cop todasy, it is hardly surprising that the FOMC minutes (as adulterated as they are) still show disagreement...

  • *SEVERAL FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAID TEMPORARY FACTORS SPURRED GROWTH
  • *FED TO CHANGE RATE GUIDANCE AS UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS, MINUTES SHOW
  • *SOME FOMC PARTICIPANTS FAVORED `QUALITATIVE GUIDANCE'
  • *SEVERAL PARTICIPANTS FAVORED $10 BILLION QE TAPER PER MEETING

The bottom-line is that the Fed is very confused and while headlines will crow of communication and forward-guidance, it is clear they are winging it now as "qualitative" guidance is the new way forward.

Futures Dragged Down By Stronger Yen

After surging yesterday for no reason whatsoever because as we explained on several occasions, there were no surprises in the Tuesday BOJ statement, and the doubling and extension of its loan facilities was implicit and factored into the doubling of its monetary policy (as goldman explained quite well), both the Nikkei and the USDJPY has been forced to revert, with the latter all important carry funding pair back to 102 and in danger of sliding lower, as a result ES is now below yesterday's lows. Which is why the 102 USDJPY "invisible hand" tractor beam will be all important today especially if the market finally starts paying attention to the proxy civil war that has gripped the Ukraine. Stocks traded lower, albeit in a relatively range-bound range this morning, with the Spanish IBEX-35 underperforming. Banking names remained under pressure, with focus still on yesterday’s reports that Spanish banks' bad loans marked a fresh record, together with comments by ECB's Weidmann, who said that sovereign debt purchases would constrain the central bank via political pressure. Similar view was also echoed by ECB’s Nowotny, who said that government bond buying US Fed-style would be difficult to do under ECB's mandate.

China Demands Japanese Explanation About "That Other Plutonium"

The world has grown tired of the inexorable rise in radiation levels and propaganda-talk sourrounding nuclear issues in Japan from the government in the last few years since Fukushima changed the nation's future. However, there is another source of nuclear materials that is increasingly angering the Chinese. The tensions and rhetoric, from WWI analogs to Nazi comparisons, have risen recently; but this time, the Chinese are asking a legitimate question... "If a country claims that it sticks by the three non-nuclear principles but at same time hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapon-grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why.... After all, Abe and his cabinet have already caused too much trouble to regional peace and stability." Of course, this places "ally" President Obama in an awkward position given his anti-proliferation stance... though we suspect he will have an angle: "if you like your plutonium stockpile, you can keep it."

Bank Runs Spread To Thailand

Thailand's Government Savings Bank (GSB) president admitted that clients withdrew 30bn Baht (around $1bn) in a single-day last week and Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) and Krungthai Bank (KTB), although of a much smaller magnitude, have also seen withdrawal spikes of similar magnitude according to The Bangkok Post. The 'bank run' comes after speculation that cash at the state-run banks are being used by the government (which is in turmoil) to fund farmers (who have not received their 'promised' rice subsidies of over 130 bn Baht). Withdrawal requests are met with banks warning that there were insufficient funds at the time due to many depositors withdrawing cash. One depositor, rather ironically summed it up, "I started to feel concerned that my money may become only paper."

Frontrunning: February 18

  • Carl Icahn wins again: Actavis to Buy Forest Labs for $25 Billion (WSJ)
  • ECB governing council member attacks German court ruling on OMT (FT)
  • China Tackles $1 Trillion Data Gap as Xi Changes Metrics (BBG)
  • FX Traders Facing Extinction as Computers Replace Humans (BBG)
  • BOJ Boost to Loan Programs Signals Room for More Easing (BBG) - actually no it doesn't as it was "factored in"
  • Four killed in Thai clashes; PM to face charges over rice scheme (Reuters)
  • Goodbye unsterilized SMP: Bundesbank Backs Measure to Boost Funds in Banking System  (WSJ)
  • Iranian Hacking to Test NSA Nominee Michael Rogers (WSJ)
  • Ukraine Clashes Leave Dozens Wounded as Putin Resumes Bailout (BBG)

India To "Look Into" Easing Gold Price Controls

Two weeks ago, gold jumped to a then-2014 high, following reports out of India that the head of India's Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi was pushing the government to cut its duty on gold and other restrictions. Today, now that the upward move in gold has finally resumed, it appears that the nation with the world's most draconian gold capital controls, is finally starting to crack under pressure from the people, as well as a surge in gold smuggling via illegal channels to unprecedented levels. Reuters reports that India "will look into relaxing gold imports curbs, but won't let its current account deficit (CAD) balloon, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said on Monday."