Are bitcoins better than fiat currencies? Of course. Are they immune from banker manipulation? Possibly but the verdict is still out. Are BTCs sound money? No.
As part of its semi-annual update on "mapping the world's prices", Deutsche Bank has released the following index which we believe may be of interest to some of our more cash-strapped readers. Using a price parity calculation, DB has created the "cheap date" index which consists of i) a standard bouquet of roses, ii) cab rides, iii) pizza, iv) a soft drink, v) two movies tickets and vi) a couple of beers. What the "hit rate" of said basket of products in achieving the desired goal is unclear, but what is clear is that while the disparity between the most expensive (Sydney, Australia) and least expensive (Mumbai, India) place for a cheap date is vast at over 250%, and even a cheap date in Mumbai will set one back some $88.30 (and rising... the price that is).
The week ahead is light on major market moving data releases. From a policy perspective and in light of the recent moves in treasuries, FOMC minutes are likely to be followed by markets. Retail sales in the US are likely to print below consensus both on the headline and on the core metrics. That said, this needs to be seen against the backdrop of first quarter retail consumer spending data surprising to the upside. Producer prices are also likely to come in on the soft side of market expectations. Finally, do not expect large surprises from the U of Michigan consumer confidence.
There is no hope whatsoever of so-called U.S. "energy indepedence" unless three things happen. First, environmental rules have to be wound back to 1970 standards -- in other words, disband the EPA and make civil plaintiffs show actual harm, not just hypothetical harm because someone goofed on a sheaf of mandated paperwork. Second, stop wasting taxpayer money on nonsense like $25 per gallon biofuel. Third and most urgently, stop subsidizing Wall Street. Let the market decide what interest rates make sense, rewarding companies who can find and produce oil, instead of gorging themselves sick on artificially cheap junk bonds that money-losing shale swindlers will never pay off.
- Goldman's Mario Draghi convinced Italy president Napolitano not to resign (Reuters)
- David Stockman Warns of Crash Of Fed-Fueled Bubble Economy (BBG)
- Cyprian archbishop calls on Central Bank's head, Finance Minister to resign (Voice of Russia)
- Cyprus Parliament President Says Country Should Exit Eurozone (Zero Hedge)
- Cyprus seeks to find people behind bank crisis (FT)
- Argentina sticks to its guns over holdout creditor payments (FT)
- 40% of all trading is now done in dark pools and off exchanges (NYT)
- Sequester Impact Remains Elusive (WSJ)
- China’s Home Prices Increase Most in 26 Months, SouFun Says (BBG)
- Beijing, Shanghai Add to Home Curbs as China Acts to Cool Market (BBG)
- Two men die in Shanghai in first human cases of bird flu strain (SCMP)
- Economics will catch up with the euro (FT)
- How much gold is there in the world? (BBC)
- Fannie Mae Regulator Sets No-Doc Modifications for Borrowers (BBG)
Thanks, World Reserve Currency, But No Thanks: Australia And China To Enable Direct Currency ConvertibilitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2013 12:46 -0400
A month ago we pointed out that as a result of Australia's unprecedented reliance on China as a target export market, accounting for nearly 30% of all Australian exports (with the flipside being just as true, as Australia now is the fifth-biggest source of Chinese imports), the two countries may as well be joined at the hip. Over the weekend, Australia appears to have come to the same conclusion, with the Australian reporting that the land down under is set to say goodbye to the world's "reserve currency" in its trade dealings with the world's biggest marginal economic power, China, and will enable the direct convertibility of the Australian dollar into Chinese yuan, without US Dollar intermediation, in the process "slashing costs for thousands of business" and also confirming speculation that China is fully intent on, little by little, chipping away at the dollar's reserve currency status until one day it no longer is.
On the surface, it may seem innocuous for Germany to move some pallets of gold closer to home. The Bundesbank said the purpose of the move was to "build trust and confidence domestically, and the ability to exchange gold for foreign currencies at gold-trading centers abroad within a short space of time." It's just satisfying the worries of the commoners. What your friendly government economist doesn't reveal and the mainstream journalist doesn't report (or doesn't understand) is that in the event of a US bankruptcy, euro implosion, or similar financial catastrophe, access to gold would almost certainly be limited. If other countries follow Germany's path or the mistrust between central bankers grows, the next logical step would be to clamp down on gold exports. It would be the beginning of the kind of stringent capital controls Doug Casey and a few others have warned about for years. Think about it: is it really so far-fetched to think politicians wouldn't somehow restrict the movement of gold if their currencies and/or economies were failing? Remember, India keeps tinkering with ideas like this already. What this means for you and me is that moving gold outside your country – especially if you're a US citizen – could be banned.
Russia and South Africa, which together control about 80% of the world’s reserves of platinum group metals, plan to create a trading bloc similar to OPEC to control the flow of exports according to Bloomberg. “Our goal is to coordinate our actions accordingly to expand the markets for realization of these metals,” Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy said yesterday in an interview at a summit of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in Durban. “The price depends on the structure of the market, and we will form the structure of the market.” South Africa mines about 70 percent of the world’s platinum, while Russia leads in palladium, a platinum group metal used in autocatalysts, with about 40% of output, according to a 2012 report by Johnson Matthey Plc. Palladium rose 0.8% yesterday to $763.50 after Donskoy’s comments, reversing declines to reach the highest level since March 18. Platinum, used to make jewelry and autocatalysts, has risen 2.3% this year because of increased demand from the auto industry and after supply disruptions at mines. The price jumped yesterday in the hour after Donskoy’s comments, narrowing yesterday’s decline. South African Mines Minister Susan Shabangu confirmed that the two countries aimed to counter oversupply of platinum, and said possible measures could include taxes and incentives. “We’re not really controlling the market,” she said in an interview in Durban. “We want to contribute without creating a cartel, but we want to influence the markets.”
While the news flow is dominated by Cyprus, it will be important to not lose sight of the developments in Italy, where we will watch the steps taken towards forming a government. The key release this week is likely to be US consumer confidence. Keep a watchful eye on the health of the consumer in the US after the tax rises in January. So far, household optimism and demand has held up better than expected. The IP data from Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Japan will provide a useful gauge on activity in the region and what it reflects about global activity, however Chinese New Year effects will need to be accounted for in the process.
And how pessimistic he has become not only about Europe but China.
With Argentina printing pesos to finance itself, the growth of pesos in the economy has rose 38% in the past year, leading analysts to predict that the currency will depreciate 12.9% through year-end, the highest of currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Banco Ciudad is the only bank left that trades in gold after Fernandez banned the purchase of certified 99.99% pure gold for savings in July. The bank sells it at 99.96% purity, according to Carlos Leiza, who oversees the lender’s gold trading. There is a 35% gap in the prices to buy and sell physical gold at Banco Ciudad, while there’s no premium to sell the country’s benchmark 2017 dollar bond in the local market, according to the Buenos Aires-based Open Electronic Market, known as MAE. Gold sold by Banco Ciudad also isn’t recognized internationally, making it more difficult to determine its value, he said. The cost of 100 grams of gold in Argentina as of last week was 36,646 pesos. In New York, the same amount based on the benchmark troy ounce (31 grams) sold for about $5,126. The bank multiplies that price by 0.95 to account for the lower quality of the gold to get a dollar price of $4,870. “Historically, gold has been seen as a store of value, so as long as options for doing that in Argentina are limited, people are going to keep buying it,” Banco Ciudad’s Leiza told Bloomberg.
We are currently in an environment where policy makers are intent on devaluing their currencies in an effort to create growth. Real rates continue to stay negative in most of the developed world. Every marginal dollar of debt that is created is producing lower and lower amounts of growth. In a world overwhelmed by mountains of debt and economic growth which is sub-par at best, precious metals and real assets can act as insurance against the stupidity of policy makers. The evidence pointing towards the suppression of the gold price is becoming increasingly apparent. Don’t be the last person to figure this out! The current sell-off in gold should be viewed not with extreme trepidation but as an unbelievable opportunity to buy the metal at an artificially low value.
- Cyprus parliament ready to veto deposit tax (Reuters)
- Power still out at damaged nuclear plant in Japan (AP)
- CS' Dougan Calls Bankers Out-Earning Investors Unsustainable (BBG)
- Citi in $730 Million Pact on Debt Suits (WSJ)
- Bernanke Tightens Hold on Fed Message Against Hawks (BBG)
- India Central Bank Cuts Lending Rate (WSJ)
- ECB role in bailout comes under scrutiny (FT)
- Putin Buddy Gets $7 Billion of Deals for Sochi Olympics (BBG)
- BlackRock to Cut About 300 Jobs in Fink’s Reorganization (BBG)
- Trade, economy top agenda as China's Xi meets U.S.'s Lew (Reuters)
- Late Winter Storm Threatens Heavy Snow for Northern New England (BBG)
- China Foreign Investment Rebounds as Confidence Returns (BBG)
- Republicans differ on flexibility on taxes with Obama (Reuters)
General market update and developments in Cyprus.
- Cypriot Bank Levy Is ‘Ominous’ for Bondholders, Barclays Says (BBG)
- Euro, Stocks Drops; Gold, German Bonds Rally on Cyprus (BBG)
- Total chaos:Cyprus tries to rework divisive bank tax (Reuters)
- More total chaos: Cyprus Prepares New Deposit-Tax Proposal (WSJ)
- Euro Slides Most in 14 Months on Cyprus Turmoil; Yen Strengthens (BBG)
- Osborne to admit fresh blow to debt target (FT)
- Even the Finns are giving up: Finnish Government May Relinquish Deficit Target to Boost Growth (BBG)
- Moody’s Sees Defaults as PBOC Warns on Local Risks (BBG)
- Australia Faces ‘Massive Hit’ to Government Revenue, Swan Says (BBG)
- Inside a Warier Fed, Watch the New Guy (Hilsenrath)
- Obama to Tap Perez for Labor Secretary (WSJ) - and with that the "minorities" quota is full
- Finally, this should be good: BuzzFeed to Launch Business Section (WSJ)