India’s recent series of power blackouts, in which 600 million people lost electricity for several days, reminds us of the torrid pace at which populations in the developing world have moved onto the powergrid. Unfortunately, this great transition has been so rapid that infrastructure has mostly been unable to meet demand. India itself has failed to meets its own power capacity addition targets every year since 1951. This has left roughly one quarter of the country’s population without any (legal) access to electricity. That’s 300 million people out of a population of 1.2 billion. Indeed, it is the daily attempt of the underserved to access power that may have led to India’s recent grid crash. But the story of India’s inadequate infrastructure is only one part of the difficult, global transition away from liquid fossil fuels. Over the past decade, the majority of new energy demand has been met not through global oil, but through growth in electrical power. Frankly, this should be no surprise. After all, global production of oil started to flatten more than seven years ago, in 2005. And the developing world, which garners headlines for its increased demand for oil, is running mainly on coal-fired electrical power. There is no question that the non-OECD countries are leading the way as liquid-based transport – automobiles and airlines – have entered longterm decline. Why, therefore, do policy makers in both the developing and developed world continue to invest in automobile infrastructure?
- Caterpillar warns on global uncertainty (FT)
- Only 3 years behind the curve as usual: Moody’s warns on California city defaults (FT)
- Monti Says ‘Tragedy’ If Euro Became a Factor of Disruption (Bloomberg) - the same Monti whose disruptive comments recently enraged Germany?
- China Home Prices Climb in More Cities Prompting Policy Concerns (Bloomberg)
- China's Big Four boost new bank loans in Aug first half (Reuters)
- EU Leaders Plan Shuttle Talks to Bolster Greece (Bloomberg)
- US rule set to slash cars’ fuel use (FT)
- Spain Seeks Commitment From Central Bank on Bond Buys (WSJ)... and preferably completely unconditional
- Finnish Euro Doubts Hide Business Plea to Commit to Currency (Bloomberg)
Gold continued gains on Friday receiving a boost from Angela Merkel’s comments saying she supported ‘Super’ Mario Draghi’s pledge “to do whatever it takes” to save the euro. While this sentiment lifted markets and some investors hope ECB action is sooner rather than later - it is also creates the risk of currency debasement and could lead to further falls in the euro. At the beginning of August, the European Central Bank said that it might buy Spanish bonds if the government first applied for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) support. The ECB has said that specific committees within the bank would design the appropriate mechanisms for the bond purchases in the coming weeks, suggesting a possible green light within a few weeks.
- 'Pussy Riot' band members found guilty (Al Jazeera)
- Merkel Says Germany Backs Draghi’s ECB Aid Conditionality (Bloomberg)
- Now, the reverse psychology: Hilsenrath: Fed 'Hawks' Weigh In Against More Action (WSJ)
- London Firings Seen Surging As Finance Firms Add NY Jobs (Bloomberg)
- Facebook Second-Worst IPO Performer After Share Lock-Up (Bloomberg)
- Kocherlakota Says FOMC Goes Too Far With 2014 Rate Pledge (Bloomberg)
- China Said to Order Action by Banks as Developer Loans Sour (Bloomberg)
- Australian Treasury Dismisses AUD Intervention Calls (Dow Jones)
- Brevan Howard Loses Third Founder As Rokos Said To Leave (Bloomberg)
- Japan eyes end to decades long deflation (Reuters)... for 30 years now
- Ex-Morgan Stanley Executive Gets Nine Months in China Case (Bloomberg)
The World Gold Council released its quarterly report today, Q2 2012 Gold Demand Trends Report and can be read in full on the World Gold Council website here. Accumulation of gold bullion from central banks was the bright spot in demand last quarter, as total demand fell 7% globally, which was driven by a 38% fall in consumer demand from India. Price sensitive Indians have been shunning gold and many have been opting for far cheaper poor man’s gold – silver. Jewellery and investment demand both fell. Jewellery consumption was down 72.3 tonnes at 418.3 tonnes, while investment fell 88.3 tonnes to 302 tonnes. The report shows how while record levels of demand from western markets, China and particularly India have been followed by a decline – the seismic shift that is central banks going from being bet sellers to net buyers has provided a new fundamental pillar of support for the gold market. Physical demand slowed down in western markets and especially in India in recent months but large buyers continue to accumulate - both hedge funds and central banks and this is providing fundamental support to gold above the $1500 to $1,600/oz level. 2Q total central bank gold purchases were double the level reported a year ago as emerging market sovereign nations sought to diversify away from the dollar and euro and heightened economic insecurity. Gold purchases among central banks hit its highest quarterly levels (157.5 metric tons) since the sector became a net buyer of the yellow metal in 2Q 2009.
Since 1990, across the four 'major' emerging markets and the advanced economies, UBS estimates a point estimate of a 29% increase in the number of “well-off” households in these economies. This sounds like a new age of affluence. But before we get carried away by the rise of what might be termed the upper middle class, economist Paul Donovan notes that the number of well off households having increasing 29% from 1990 to 2010 needs to be compared against a rise in the global population of 30% over the same period. In other words, the number of “well-off” households has risen broadly in line with demographics. This then begs the question – why has income inequality increased, if the number of "well-off" households is rising proportionate to the increase in overall population? The answer, quite simply, is that in relative terms, the “well-off” are not as “well-off” as they used to be.
- Must be those evil speculators' fault: Oil price inflates as speculators bet on stimulus (Reuters)
- Need moar stimulus: UK Coalition plans housebuilding stimulus (FT)
- Paul Ryan brings fundraising prowess to Romney presidential bid (Reuters)
- Chinese serial killer shot dead after massive manhunt (Reuters)
- Silver Hoard Near Record As Hedge-Fund Bulls Recoil (Bloomberg)
- World powers eye emergency food meeting; action doubted (Reuters)
- Clegg Said to Have Role in Picking King Successor as BOE Chief (Bloomberg)
- Standard Chartered CEO takes charge of Iran probe talks (Reuters)
- Risks must not hide positive China trends (FT)
- BOJ should not rule out any policy options: July minutes (Reuters)
- India Says Growth Sacrifice Needed in Inflation Fight (Bloomberg)
The 15 Rules of Web Disruption
Last week was a scratch in terms of events, if not in terms of multiple expansion, as 2012 forward EPS continued contraction even as the market continued rising and is on the verge of taking out 2012 highs - surely an immediate catalyst for the New QE it is pricing in. This week promises to be just as boring with few events on the global docket as Europe continues to bask in mid-August vacation, and prepare for the September event crunch. Via DB, In Europe, apart from GDP tomorrow we will also get inflation data from the UK, Spain and France as well as the German ZEW survey. Greece will also auction EU3.125bn in 12-week T-bills to help repay a EU3.2bn bond due 20 August held by the ECB. Elsewhere will get Spanish trade balance and euroland inflation data on Thursday, German PPI and the Euroland trade balance on Friday. In the US we will get PPI, retail sales and business inventories tomorrow. On Wednesday we get US CPI, industrial production, NY Fed manufacturing, and the NAHB housing index. Building permits/Housing starts and Philly Fed survey are the highlights for Thursday before the preliminary UofM consumer sentiment survey on Friday.
When we wrote Part I of this paper in June 2009, the total U.S. public debt was just north of $10 trillion. Since then, that figure has increased by more than 50% to almost $16 trillion, thanks largely to unprecedented levels of government intervention. Once the exclusive domain of central bankers and policy makers, acronyms such as QE, LTRO, SMP, TWIST, TARP, TALF have found their way into the mainstream. With the aim of providing stimulus to the economy, central planners of all stripes have both increased spending and reduced taxes in most rich countries. But do these fiscal and monetary measures really increase economic activity or do they have other perverse effects?... The politically favoured option of financial repression and negative real interest rates has important implications. Negative real interest rates are basically a thinly disguised tax on savers and a subsidy to profligate borrowers. By definition, taxes distort incentives and, as discussed earlier, discourage savings.... The current misconception that our economic salvation lies with more stimulus is both treacherous and self-defeating. As long as we continue down this path, the “solution” will continue to be the problem. There is no miracle cure to our current woes and recent proposals by central planners risk worsening the economic outlook for decades to come.
The Financial Times published an interesting article on Wednesday by a Tokyo-based analyst with Arcus Research, Peter Tasker, entitled of 'Cash out of gold and send kids to college'. The article is interesting as it is an articulate synopsis of those who are either negative on and or bearish on gold. It clearly shows the continuing failure to understand the importance of gold as a diversification and as financial insurance. Tasker incorrectly states that gold is "just another financial asset, as vulnerable to the shifts of investor sentiment as an emerging market." He conveniently ignores over 2,000 years of history showing how gold is a store of value. He also ignores recent academic research showing gold to be a hedging instrument and a safe haven asset. Another fact unacknowledged is how gold has clearly been a store of value since the current financial and economic crisis began in 2007. Since then gold has protected people from depreciating financial assets (such as equities and noncore bonds) and from depreciating fiat currencies such as the dollar, the pound and more recently the euro.
- Gu Kailai Trial Has Ended, verdict imminent (WSJ)
- Greek unemployment rises to 23.1 pct in May, new record (Reuters)
- Greece’s Power Generator Tests Euro Fitness Amid Blackout Threat (Bloomberg)
- Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Results May Ease Wind-Down Push (Bloomberg)
- Monti takes off gloves in euro zone fight (Reuters)
- U.S. Fed extends comment period for Basel III (Reuters)
- HP in $8bn writedown on services arm (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- News Corp in $2.8bn writedown (FT) - must be good for +10% in the stock
- Japan to Pass Sales Tax Bill After Noda Avoids Election Push (Bloomberg)
- China May Set New Property Controls This Month, Securities Says (Bloomberg)
The silver market was affected by “devious efforts” to move the price of the precious metal, according to Bart Chilton, a member of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as reported by Bloomberg. “I continue to believe, consistent with my previous statements and information from the public, that there have been devious efforts related to moving the price of silver,” Chilton said by e-mail today in response to questions from Bloomberg. “There have also been silver and gold market anomalies outside of the silver investigate window that have raised, and continue to raise, market concerns.” The enforcement division of the Washington-based agency, the main U.S. overseer of derivatives markets, began pursuing allegations of manipulation in the silver market in September 2008. Investigators have analyzed more than 100,000 documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses, the CFTC said in a November 2011 statement. Chilton said last month the investigation may be completed as early as September.
After last week's event-a-palooza, where the headlines, the spin, the erroneous HFT trading, and the propaganda (Draghi is too cold; Draghi is too hot; Draghi is just right) just refused to stop, we finally enter the summer proper where all of Europe is on vacation, as is congress. Add on top of this a very light macro event week and an earnings season which has seen the bulk of companies already report, and we expect the volume in the coming 5 days to be among the lowest recorded in 2012, and thus in the past decade. Which of course means that the cannibalization among the market makers will continue as more and more firms succumb to "trading anomalies."
It was fun (not really) while it lasted, but America's habitual gamblers have finally grown tired of the theta sucking monsters known as uberlevered ETFs. End result: Direxion is announcing it is closing nine 3X levered ETFs. The casualties are: Direxion Daily Agribusiness Bull 3X Shares (COWL), Direxion Daily Agribusiness Bear 3X Shares (COWS), Direxion Daily Basic Materials Bear 3X Shares (MATS), Direxion Daily BRIC Bull 3X Shares (BRIL), Direxion Daily BRIC Bear 3X Shares (BRIS), Direxion Daily Healthcare Bear 3X Shares (SICK), Direxion Daily India Bear 3X Shares (INDZ), Direxion Daily Latin America Bear 3X Shares (LHB) and Direxion Daily Retail Bear 3X Shares (RETS).