- J.P. Morgan Knew of Risks: Warning Flags Raised Two Years Ago About CIO (WSJ)
- Cyprus Poised to Seek Bailout within Days (FT)
- U.S. Exempts India, South Korea From Iran Oil Sanctions (Bloomberg) - so those countries who need Iran crude?
- Barroso Pushes EU Banking Union (FT)
- Hollande Set for Poll Victory (FT)
- Fed Says U.S. Wealth Fell 38.8% in 2007-2010 on Housing (Bloomberg)
- Fed Officials Amplify Concerns over Europe (Reuters)
- Fed's Lockhart Says Lower Yields Bolster Case for No New Action (Bloomberg)
The past week was dominated by the Eurogroup statement over the weekend that Spain will seek financial support for its banks. According to the statement, Spain intends to make a formal request soon, with financial assistance expected to be around EUR100 bn and to come from the EFSF or ESM. Aid will be channeled through the FROB, and will increase the debt burden of the Spanish sovereign. There will be no macro or fiscal conditionality as in the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but only on bank sector restructuring. That said, there will be monitoring of the deficit and structural reforms as part of this bailout, though no conditionality, and the IMF is also invited to monitor progress under the program. Separately, the week also saw lots of commentary out of the Fed, including from Chairman Bernanke and Vice Chair Yellen. Looking to the week ahead, the key question for us is where to harvest excessive risk premia, bearing in mind that the Greek elections are around the corner.. In terms of policy talk and data, for the former Fed chatter ends on Tuesday when the blackout period begins ahead of the FOMC on June 19/20. For the latter, US retail sales and industrial production will be important to watch as we head into the FOMC next week.
All you need to read and some more.
You can’t watch the mainstream media propaganda channels for more than ten minutes without a talking head breathlessly announcing that gas prices have dropped for the 24th day in a row and are now back to $3.55 a gallon. Wall Street oil analysts, who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to tell us why prices rose or fell after the fact, are paraded on CNBC to proclaim the huge consumer windfall from the drop in price. This is just another episode of a never ending reality show, designed to keep the average American sedated so they’ll continue to spend money they don’t have buying crap they don’t need. The brainless twits that pass for journalists in the corporate mainstream media never give the viewer or reader any historical context to judge the true impact of the price increase or decrease. The government agencies promoting the storyline of those in power extrapolate the current trend and ignore the basic facts of supply, demand, price and peak oil. The EIA is now predicting further drops in prices. Two months ago they predicted steadily rising prices through the summer. What would we do without these government drones guiding us?
Global gold demand continues to surprise to the upside – especially sizeable demand from the Middle East and China. Confirmation of continuing huge demand in China came yesterday with data showing that Hong Kong shipped 101,768 kilograms of gold to mainland China in April, up 62% on the month - marking the second-highest monthly exports ever. While demand from India continues it has fallen from the record levels recently but demand from other Asian countries is robust with reports of demand in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. A new and potentially significant source of demand is that of demand from Iran. Iran imported a massive $1.2 billion worth of precious metals from Turkey in April alone. Turkish exports of gold, precious metals, pearls and coins to Iran rose to $1.2 billion in April from a tiny $7,500 a year earlier, according to figures released by the state statistics institute in Ankara yesterday. This is a massive increase in demand and suggests that there may be official involvement in the imports from the Central Bank of Iran.
All you need to read and some more.
A month ago we were delighted to counterpoint Charlie Munger's prior remarks about the level of "civilization" of a given consumer based on their sentiment vis-a-vis gold, by demonstrating that Chinese purchases of gold from Hong Kong rose to a record. To wit: "Imports from Hong Kong were 135,529 kilograms (135.53 metric tons) between January and March, from 19,729 kilograms in the year-earlier period, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong government. Shipments in March rose 59 percent from February, yesterday's data showed." We have just gotten the April update, and, lo and behold, the country which is now the biggest buyer of gold, having surpassed India, just set a new record: "Gold imports by mainland China from Hong Kong climbed 65 percent to a record in April, advancing for a third straight month as investors sought a hedge against financial-market turmoil and an economic slowdown. Shipments totaled 103,644.5 kilograms (103.6 metric tons) in the month from 62,913 kilograms in March, according to export data from the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong government today. In the first four months, imports were 239,174 kilograms from 27,114 kilograms a year earlier, according to Bloomberg calculations. China doesn’t publish such figures." In other words: in the first four months of 2012 Chinese purchases have increased by an unprecedented 782% over 2011.
Dodge City, Kansas is a lovely place. The home to 26,101 people regularly enjoy old west casinos, old west rodeos and old west movies. Like we say – it is a lovely place. Yet years ago when it was still cool to be a cowboy, cowboys of all types were getting’ out of Dodge. And who could blame them - bullets flew around town on a regular basis. As we look across the globe today, Dodge City’s are popping up all over the place across America, Europe and Asia. However, within the World of financial markets, government sponsored economic policies are desperately trying to keep everyone in the 2012 financial version of Dodge. Today’s question of the century is which market is the equivalent of Dodge? One thing is for sure, financial bullets are flying fast and furious these days forcing every sane investor to keep their head down. For all other investors, be a good cowboy and be sure to have an exit plan – you never know when you’ll need it.
Gold’s London PM fix today was USD 1606.00, EUR 1292.763, and GBP 1041.775 per ounce.
Gold lost 0.17% or $2.70 in New York yesterday and closed at $1,562.10/oz. Gold initially traded sideways in Asia then dipped and began to recover at the open in European trading prior to further slight weakness saw it touch $1,550/oz.
Gene Arensberg of the Got Gold Report says that the COT data “suggests that dips for gold and silver should be exceedingly well bid just ahead. Indeed, the structure of the COT is about as bullish as we have seen it for silver futures.” The supply demand fundamentals remain very sound with gold demand expected to exceed supply again this year, according to the World Gold Council who have said that gold has bottomed or close to bottoming. Gold will extend annual gains for a 12th year as bullion is “near” a bottom and demand will keep exceeding mine output, according to the World Gold Council. Mine production will grow 3% this year from last year’s 2,800 metric tons, while demand may be unchanged or slightly lower from a record 4,400 tons, said Marcus Grubb, managing director of the WGC in an Bloomberg interview in Tokyo. Mine supplies will remain in a deficit “for a foreseeable future,” Grubb said. Bullion is “near to the bottom at current prices, indicating gold will move back up again,” he said. Recycling has risen to make up for the gap between demand and mine output, he said. “Some of the drivers of the increase in demand are structured, central banks for example, the rise of Chinese demand and the wealth increase in Asia, including India and China as well as smaller economies,” he said. Central banks have increased gold purchases on concern about the dollar, the euro and the sovereign debts, Grubb said. The banks’ net purchases last year were the most since 1964. In 2010, they turned to a net buyer for the first time in 15 years.
We know the U.S. is a big and liquid (though not really very transparent) market. We know that the rest of the world — led by Europe’s myriad issues, and China’s bursting housing bubble — is teetering on the edge of a precipice, and without a miracle will fall (perhaps sooner, rather than later). But we also know that America is inextricably interconnected to this mess. If Europe (or China or both) disintegrates, triggering (another) global default cascade, America will be stung by its European banking exposures, its exposures to global energy markets and global trade flows. Simply, there cannot be financial decoupling, not in this hyper-connected, hyper-leveraged world.
All of this suggests a global crash or proto-crash will be followed by a huge global money printing operation, probably spearheaded by the Fed. Don’t let the Europeans fool anyone, either — Germany will not let the Euro crumble for fear of money printing. When push comes to shove they will print and fiscally consolidate to save their pet project (though perhaps demanding gold as collateral, and perhaps kicking out some delinquents). China will spew trillions of stimulus money into more and deeper malinvestment (why have ten ghost cities when you can have fifty? Good news for aggregate demand!).