Central Banks Favour Gold As IMF Warns of “Collapse of Euro” and “Full Blown Panic in Financial Markets”Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/18/2012 07:40 -0400
The Eurozone could break up and trigger a “full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight” and a global economic slump to rival the Great Depression, the IMF warned yesterday. In its World Economic Outlook report, the International Monetary Fund said the collapse of the crisis-torn single currency could not be ruled out. It warned that a disorderly exit of one member country would have untold knock-on effects. "The potential consequences of a disorderly default and exit by a euro area member are unpredictable... If such an event occurs, it is possible that other euro area economies perceived to have similar risk characteristics would come under severe pressure as well, with full-blown panic in financial markets and depositor flight from several banking systems," said the report. "Under these circumstances, a break-up of the euro area could not be ruled out." “This could cause major political shocks that could aggravate economic stress to levels well above those after the Lehman collapse," said the report. The risks outlined by the IMF are real and are being taken seriously by central banks who are becoming more favourable towards diversifying foreign exchange reserves into gold. Central bank reserve managers responsible for trillions of dollars of investments are shunning euro assets and questioning the currency’s haven status because of the region’s sovereign debt crisis, research has found, according to the FT.... Elsewhere, gold demand in India, the world’s biggest importer, may climb as much as 25 percent during a Hindu festival next week, according to Rajesh Exports Ltd., reviving jewelry buying that was curtailed by a nationwide shutdown.
As a Korean-American, many people expected me support Jim Yong Kim's appointment to the World Bank. Here is why I do not.
- First Japan now... Australia Ready to Help IMF (WSJ)
- "Not if, but when" for Spanish bailout, experts believe (Reuters)
- Spain’s Surging Bad Loans Cast New Doubts on Bank Cleanup (Bloomberg)
- Spain weighs financing options (FT)
- Spanish Banks Gorging on Sovereign Bonds Shifts Risk to Taxpayer (Bloomberg)
- Spain and Italy Bank on Banks (WSJ)
- Chesapeake CEO took out $1.1 billion in unreported loans (Reuters)
- China preparing to roll out OTC equity market – regulator (Reuters)
- Angry North Korea threatens retaliation, nuclear test expected (Reuters)
- North Korea Breaks Off Nuclear Accord as Food Aid Halted (Bloomberg)
Gold has moved rather rapidly in the past few minutes and many are scrathcing their heads just why this is happening? The reason is simple: central planning script 101, page 1. As we noted earlier, the RBI did a surprising overnight rate cut from 8.5% to 8.0%, in other words it has just joined the global central planning cartel in attempting to stimulate the economy nominally, even as inflationary packets still abound across the land (see China). Yet what does that mean from a modern monetarist standpoint: why crush gold as an alterantive to the local paper currency of course. Sure enough:
- INDIA ECONOMY SECRETARY: EXPECT TO LOWER GOLD CONSUMPTION IN ECONOMY - DJ
And there you have it: because the last thing India needs is a surge in gold buying now that it too has joined the global reliquification parade. That said, we are curious in what parallel universe will liquidity easing result in less demand for hard assets. Aks the algos who are selling on nothing but headlines.
Matthew Bishop, the US Editor of The Economist, has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal TV about gold and why “people have lost faith in the 20th century religion of government backed fiat money." He says that he has become an agnostic or an atheist with regard to his belief in government-backed money as he fears that governments are in a position whereby they are going to debase currencies such as the “paper dollar and “paper euro” “in a big way.” Gold becomes one of the “alternative religions” in that environment. History shows that a deleveraging downturn takes a long time and can take 7 or 8 years. Inflationary pressures are building and will be seen in the second half of the cycle, according to Bishop. Bishop says he would put some of his money into gold but is prohibited from this due to the investment policies of The Economist. He advocates owning gold as a “portfolio of money” and diversification and advocates having 5% to 10% of one’s money in gold. The Economist magazine has a strong Keynesian bias and has been one of the most anti-gold publications in the world with many simplistic, unbalanced and ill-informed articles. The publication has suggested on many occasions since 2008 that gold is a bubble. Clients of GoldCore have told us that they were prompted to sell their gold bullion as long ago as 2009 after reading such articles in The Economist.
When it comes to sovereign bond issuance out of Europe the market either continues to be blissfully ignorant or is purposefully stupid: a few hours ago Spain sold €3.18 billion in 12 and 18 month bills, which was more than the expected €3 billion, and which, while coming at higher rates than before, set off a futures buying spark. What however has been pointed out over and over is that issuance of Bills that come due (by definition) within the LTRO's 3 year maturity is meaningless: all it does is concentrate and front-load maturity risk. After all what happens if and when the ECB were to ever not roll the LTRO forward? As such, the only true Spanish bond issuance test this week comes on Thursday when the country issues 10 year bonds. Everything else is merely designed to take advantage of a headline driven market. Specifically, Spain issued €2.09 billion in 364-day bills, which priced at an average yield of 2.623% vs 1.418% at auction on March 20, and at a 2.90 Bid to Cover compared to 2.14 previous. The yield on the second tranche, or €1.086 billion in 546-Day bills soared from 1.711% on March 20 to 3.11% as the Spanish curve again flattens, and despite the rise in Bid to Cover from 3.92 to 3.77, the internals were largely meaningless. Once again, when it comes to true paper demand, the only ones that matter are those that mature outside of the LTRO's 3 years. However today this sleight of hand has worked, and the Spanish 10 year is again under 6.00%, if only for a few hours, sending equity futures higher across the board. Elsewhere, proving once again that no other indicator is better at ramping up stocks, is the coincident indicator known as confidence, German Zew for April came in at 40.7 in April, much higher than expectations of 35, on what however we don't know: dropping markets, soaring inflation, or a return to a declining trendline. Even BofA noted that "There seems to be some disconnect between the latest releases of "hard data" (industrial production, orders received) and the investors expectations." Finally, the Royal Bank of India surprisingly cut its rate from 8.5% to 8.0%, as at least one country can not wait for Bernanke to do his sworn duty of CTRL-P'ing. Oh, and Japan, which has 1 qudrillion Yen in debt, promised to give the IMF $60 billion. So when Japan needs a bail out, we now know that Argentina will step up.
Before there was seamless connectivity, before there was one global electronic currency and instantaneous global debt creation, before there was the internet, supply-chain "logistics", World Bank, IMF, and economic hitmen, there were... ships. Because in order to allow modern Ricardian economics to flourish (we would be curious to read some/any scholarly papers probing the failure of Ricardo's theories in a ZIRP regime, unfortunately there are none, as never before has the cost of money been zero essentially until regime end), and before money could be printed with impunity, backed solely by full lack of faith and eroding credit, nations had to actually trade with each other, and money was simply a means to facilitate said trade, which in turn allowed the formation of wealth and subsequent asymmetric power relationships. Needless to say, any nation that imported itself to death would be promptly wiped out by its heretofore friendly neighbors who would simply invade it when the money to buy stuff and to fund armies ran out: sadly TARGET2 was not available during Victorian times. So where are we going with this? Ben Schmidt, a Princeton graduate student, using ship logs has conceived of this tremendous time lapse of every single major known ship route taken by Dutch, Spanish and English vessels during the "age of transition", the period between 1750 and 1850, which set the stage for today's "global economy." The result is a fantastic insight into the early stages of globalization.
All you need to read and some more.
What a difference a month makes. About 4 weeks ago the European crisis was "over" - French President Sarkozy exclaimed that: “Today, the problem is solved!” Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister, and current IMF head following the framing of DSK, added that “Economic spring is in the air!”... Fast forward to today when following the inevitable end of the transitory favorable effects of the LTRO (remember: flow not stock, a/k/a the shark can not stop moving forward), the collapse of the Spanish stock market, the now daily halting of Italian financial stocks, the inevitable announcement that shorting of financials in Europe is again forbidden, and finally the record spike in Spanish CDS, Europe is broken all over again. Which brings us again the Sarkozy and Lagarde. The Frenchman who is about to lose the presidential race to socialist competitor Hollande (an event which will have major ramifications for Europe as UBS' George Magnus patiently explained two months ago), no longer sees anything as solved, and instead is openly begging for the ECB to inject more, more, more money into the system to pretend that "problems are solved" for a few more months. Incidentally, so is Lagarde, for whom in an odd change of seasons, economic spring is about to be followed by a depressionary winter. The problem is both will end up empty handed, as the well may just have run dry.
Curious what the investing world will focus on next week? Here is a recap courtesy of Goldman Sachs, though for those who want the punchline now, just fast forward to Thursday when get Spain and French bond auctions. In the meantime just ignore all the intraday trading halts of Intesa, UniCredit And Banco Popolare. The rest is just the supporting cast.
A peaceful and stable Pakistan is integral to western efforts to pacify Afghanistan, but Islamabad’s obsessions with its giant eastern neighbor may render such issues moot.
Since partition in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought four armed conflicts, in 1947, 1965, 1971 (which led to the establishment of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan) and the 1999 Kargil clash. With the exception of the 1971 conflict, which involved rising tensions in East Pakistan, the others have all involved issues arising from control of Kashmir. But now a rising new element of discord threatens to precipitate a new armed clash between southern Asia’s two nuclear powers – water.
"In the last three plus years, central banks have had little choice but to do the unsustainable in order to sustain the unsustainable until others do the sustainable to restore sustainability!" is how PIMCO's El-Erian introduces the game-theoretic catastrophe that is potentially occurring around us. In a lecture to the St.Louis Fed, the moustachioed maestro of monetary munificence states "let me say right here that the analysis will suggest that central banks can no longer – indeed, should no longer – carry the bulk of the policy burden" and "it is a recognition of the declining effectiveness of central banks’ tools in countering deleveraging forces amid impediments to growth that dominate the outlook. It is also about the growing risk of collateral damage and unintended circumstances." It appears that we have reached the legitimate point of – and the need for – much greater debate on whether the benefits of such unusual central bank activism sufficiently justify the costs and risks. This is not an issue of central banks’ desire to do good in a world facing an “unusually uncertain” outlook. Rather, it relates to questions about diminishing returns and the eroding potency of the current policy stances. The question is will investors remain "numb and sedated…. by the money sloshing around the system?" or will "the welfare of millions in the United States, if not billions of people around the world, will have suffered greatly if central banks end up in the unpleasant position of having to clean up after a parade of advanced nations that headed straight into a global recession and a disorderly debt deflation." Of course, it is a rhetorical question.
Bankruptcies, jobs, and the hoped-for deus ex machina....
Further confirmation of gold’s continuing but gradual renaissance as a safe haven asset was given by the IMF yesterday who warned that a “growing shortage of safe assets” poses a threat to “global financial stability.” The IMF identified $74.4 trillion of potentially safe assets today, including gold, investment grade government and corporate debt, and covered bonds. Sovereign debt crises are reducing the number of governments that investors trust to issue "risk-free" bonds just as new financial regulations are increasing demand for safe securities from banks. Importantly, the IMF’s latest Global Financial Stability Report’s introduction finds that "In the future there will be rising demand for safe assets, but fewer of them will be available, increasing the price for safety in global markets.” “Both the lack of political will to reshape fiscal policies at times of rising concern over debt sustainability and an overly rapid reduction of fiscal deficits limit governments’ capacity to produce assets with low credit risk.” The IMF has warned regarding illiquidity in “safe haven” markets. Gold remains one of the most liquid markets in the world and the illiquidity in bond markets would see increased safe haven demand for gold. The IMF is warning regarding deteriorating public finances. As many governments see themselves being downgraded - safe haven bonds may become less safe.