India

Frontrunning: January 24

  • Emerging market sell-off raises specter of contagion (Reuters)
  • China Bank Regulator Said to Issue Alert on Coal Mine Loans (BBG)
  • Argentina to Ease FX Controls After Peso Devaluation (BBG)
  • Pimco's Gross problem: who can succeed the 'Bond King'? (Reuters)
  • Ukraine protesters seize building, put up more barricades (Reuters)
  • Mideast Turmoil Dominates Gathering of Business Elite (WSJ)
  • Central Banks Withdraw Dollar Funding (WSJ) - oh really?
  • Samsung warns of weak earnings growth this quarter (FT)
  • Three explosions rock Cairo, killing 5 (USA Today)

Two Powder Kegs Ready to Blow: China & India

The conventional view of China and India sports not one but two pair of rose-colored glasses: Chindia (even the portmanteau word is chirpy) is the world's engine of growth, and this rapid economic growth is chipping away at structural political and social problems. Nice, especially from a distance. But on the ground, China and India (not Chindia--there is no such entity) are both powder kegs awaiting a spark for the same reason: systemic corruption in every nook and cranny of both nations. The conventional rose-colored view is that corruption will inevitably decline with modernization and economic growth. This is simply wrong on multiple levels...

Here It Comes - More Leading Economists Call For Capital Controls

As the saying goes, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’ The phrase is bandied about so frequently, it’s generally accepted truth. But I have to tell you that I fundamentally disagree with the premise. Desperate times, in fact, call for a complete reset in the way people think. Desperate times call for the most intelligent, effective, least destructive measures. But these sayings aren’t as catchy. This old adage has become a crutch – a way for policymakers to rationalize the idiotic measures they’ve put in place...

Bob Janjuah: "Tick Tock, Not Yet Bear O’Clock"

"What will drive this "strength"? More of the same I suspect – any weakness in earnings will be ignored (virtually all of last year's equity market gains were NOT earnings or revenue growth driven, but were rather virtually all multiple expansion driven), any bad economic data will be ignored – the weather provides a great cover,  and instead markets will I think see (one last?) reason to cheer the Fed and/or the BOJ and/or the ECB and/or the PBoC.... The only real "success" of these current policies is to create significant investment distortions and misallocations of capital, at the expense of the broad real economy, leading to excessive speculation and financial engineering. If I am right about the final outcome over 2014 and into 2015, the non-systemic three-year bear market of early 2000 to early 2003 may well be a better "template". Of course the S&P lost virtually the same amount peak-to-trough in both bear markets, and in real (as opposed to nominal) terms actually lost more in the 2000/03 sell-off than in the 2007/09 crash." -Bob Janjuah

Market Turmoiling As 104 USDJPY Support Cracks

News that India may be folding on its capital controls had sent gold and silver surging this morning but following this morning's collapse in emergency claims benefits in the US (expected, but still shocking), precious metals are extending gains, Treasury yields are tumbling, and the USD is well offered. US and German stocks are also cracking lower (with chatter of a flash-crash in Germany's DAX). The more likely driver of all this weakness is that Nomura (or some large Japanese BoJ proxy) lost the 104 USDJPY anchor...

Gold Surges On Speculation India May Ease Import Restrictions; China Reports Gold Reserves Unchanged

Over the past year India's attempt to impose price controls on gold imports has only achieved one thing: forced citizens to find ever newer and more creative means of smuggling gold. It has gotten so bad Indians are now smuggling the yellow metal through Pakistan, on airplanes, and has now even surpassed the illegal drug trade. Which perhaps is why the biggest news in the commodity space overnight was the appeal by India's Congress party chief, Sonia Gandhi - widow to Rajiv - to the government asking for a cut in the record import duty on gold and for other restrictions to be eased, television channel CNBC Awaaz said citing sources that it did not identify. Reuters adds that "the coalition government, led by Congress, is considering easing restrictions, which include a 10 percent import duty and a rule that says 20 percent of all imports must leave the country as exports, government sources told Reuters earlier this month. India used to be the world's biggest buyer of bullion until the government introduced the curbs in order to contain a record current account deficit."

Frontrunning: January 22

  • Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder  (BBG)
  •  Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete  (BBG)
  • Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
  • IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
  • Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
  • Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
  • Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
  • Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
  • Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)

India & Japan Strengthening Ties

It is useful to remember that way back in 2006 U.S. President George Bush and Shinzo Abe, then in his first term as Japanese prime minister, each in their own way achieved far-reaching changes in their respective ties with India. While George Bush helped end the nuclear apartheid against India, Abe unambiguously declared (in 2007) that “a strong India is in the best interest of Japan and a strong Japan is in the best interest of India.” Since then, after the initial euphoria, India-U.S. ties have plummeted perhaps to their lowest level in the past two decades, not least because of the recent Khobragade affair. The relationship between India and Japan, on the other hand, has found new momentum in the past couple of years. It is no surprise to find that Shinzo Abe is at the helm in Tokyo again.

Peace Talks In Chaos As Greeks Refuse To Refuel Syrian Flight

The Syrian peace talks - much heralded by investors and politicians worldwide as a brave step towards a better future - are on the ropes this morning. Following the UN acquiescence to the US demand that they rescind Iran's invite to the so-called Geneva II conference,and yet another suicide bombing in Lebanon, this morning's incredible SNAFU is thanks to the Greeks:

  • GREECE REFUSES TO REFUEL SYRIAN GENEVA TEAM AIRCRAFT: SYRIA TV
  • SYRIAN AIRCRAFT DELAY CANCELS MEETING WITH UN’S BAN: STATE TV

The peace accord set to begin tomorrow will be delayed and are in further jeopardy as CNN reports further evidence of Syrian President al-Assad systematically killing and torturng around 11,000 people.

Pakistan Enforces 30-Day Ban On Gold Imports To Stall "Steep Increase" In Smuggling To India

As we have discussed numerous times, India's ban and tariffs on gold imports (supposedly to protect their current account balance) is having numerous unintended consequences. From flights full of gold-laden passengers entering the country,  to trying to roll-back centuries of tradition surrounding Indian weddings, the capital control efforts are back-firing as the smuggling epidemic spreads. The foolishness of this 'control' is also spreading as Pakistan has noticed the surge in smuggling, concerned at a steep increase in import duties on gold in a "neighboring country," and has imposed a 30-day ban on gold imports to curb the 'trade'.

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Death to Forex

The Forex market is dead and dying, in parallel with the US economy; which is fitting, considering the US is still the world reserve currency.  

Significant harbingers that have changed the Forex market forever:

"China Expected To Announce It Has More Than Doubled Its Gold Reserves", Shanghai Daily

Shanghai Daily: "China may soon announce an increase in its official gold reserve from 1,054 tons to 2,710 tons, Jeffrey Nichols, managing director of American Precious Metals Advisors, said. The People’s Bank of China has not reported any increase in official gold holdings since 2009, when the central bank said the official reserve was at 1,054 tons, which accounted for only about 1 percent of its multi-trillion foreign exchange reserves. The PBOC has been “surreptitiously” adding to its official gold reserves. It has bought a total of 654 tons in 2009 through 2011, another 388 tons in 2012, and more than 622 tons last year, mostly from domestic mine production and secondary supplies, Nichols said in a commentary posted on NicholsOnGold.com yesterday. Central bank purchases comprise the smallest fraction of global gold demand — less than 10 percent. “If China announces an increase in gold reserves, there would be an immediate drag-up force in the gold market,” Albert Cheng, managing director of the industrial association World Gold Council for the Far East, told Shanghai Daily. China is the biggest gold consumer and producer in the world."

The Russia That Putin Does Not Want The West To See - The HIV "Scourge"

As Vladimir Putin proudly shows off his holiday vacation spot - Sochi - to the world and proclaims it clean, safe, and accepting of homosexuals ("just don't tell the kids"); there is a considerably darker side to Russia that he would very much like the outside world not to know about. As Bloomberg reports, hidden from the outside world and abetted by policies that critics say promote infections rather than curbing them, the HIV scourge plaguing Russia is one that even the poorest countries have begun to subdue. With an estimated 2.4 million users of injected drugs and 1.3 million of Putin's countrymen with the life-threatening virus that causes AIDS; among the top 20 global economies, only India, with a population almost nine times bigger than Russia’s 143 million, has more people living with HIV.