Our biggest concern here on the cusp of 2013 is the current odd combination of extreme complacency about the risks presented by extend-and-pretend macro policy making and rapidly accelerating social tensions that could threaten political and eventually financial market stability. Before everyone labels us ‘doomers’ and pessimists, let us point out that, economically, we already have wartime financial conditions: the debt burden and fiscal deficits of the western world are at levels not seen since the end of World War II. We may not be fighting in the trenches, but we may soon be fighting in the streets. To continue with the current extend-and-pretend policies is to continue to disenfranchise wide swaths of our population - particularly the young - those who will be taking care of us as we are entering our doddering old age. We would not blame them if they felt a bit less than generous. The macro economy has no ammunition left for improving sentiment. We are all reduced to praying for a better day tomorrow, as we realise that the current macro policies are like pushing on a string because there is no true price discovery in the market anymore. We have all been reduced to a bunch of central bank watchers, only ever looking for the next liquidity fix, like some kind of horde of heroin addicts. We have a pro forma capitalism with de facto market totalitarianism. Can we have our free markets back please?
- Obama Concessions Signal Potential Bipartisan Budget Deal (BBG)
- Cerberus to sell gunmaker after massacre (CNN)
- With New Offers, Fiscal-Cliff Talks Narrow (WSJ)
- Judge rejects Apple injunction bid vs. Samsung (Reuters)
- U.S. policy gridlock holding back economy? Maybe not (Reuters)
- President fears for Italy’s credibility (FT)
- Struggles Mount for Greeks as Economy Faces Winter (WSJ)
- Abe leans on BoJ in post-election meeting (FT)
- Bank of Japan to mull 2 percent inflation target as Abe turns up heat (Reuters)
- EU exit is ‘imaginable’, says Cameron (FT)
- Mortgage Risk Under Fire in Nordics as Bubbles Fought (BBG)
- Sweden cuts interest rates to 1% (FT)
- External risks impede China recovery, more easing seen (Reuters)
Why The Founding Fathers, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama Were All AGAINST Gun Control
Just as Byron Wien publishes his ten surprises for the upcoming year, Morgan Stanley has created a heady list of seventeen macro surprises across all countries they cover that depict plausible possible outcomes that would represent a meaningful surprise to the prevailing consensus. From the "return of inflation" to 'Brixit' and from the "BoJ buying Euro-are bonds" to a "US housing recovery stall out" - these seventeen succinctly written paragraphs provide much food for thought as we enter 2013.
Having just undergone the Presidential election and the democratic right of every citizen to vote and have their voice heard, we thought it interesting that of the world's major nations, the US citizen is in fact the second worst represented when it comes to government. The Chinese citizen, empirically at least, has a fractionally greater weight in their politician's actions. Only in India does each politician represent more of the nation's citizens. How long before we hear the chants of "Over-Taxed And Under-Represented"?
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip visited the Bank of England’s gold vault and wonders like most people how the things got so bad. Back in 2008, when the monarch visited the London School of Economics she described the credit crunch as ‘awful.’ . Fast forward to 2012, the heart of Europe’s 4 year-old debt crisis while the Queen of England hears a financial expert compare the debt crisis to a flu epidemic or an earthquake, as hard to predict. This comparison is truly patronizing and an insult to the Queen’s intelligence. Although I am not English have some respect for your elders, especially your Queen, Britons! Pensioners in England can recall hard times during the World War when items like sugar were a luxury. In this new era of credit you have people complaining if they can’t borrow to have their new BMW financed to match their Cotswold’s country house or Spanish holiday home. The Queen was informed that since financial risk has been managed better (need we mention Libor?) than it was in the past, people became complacent. She smiled and said, ‘But people had got a bit...lax, had they?’ Her Royal Highness also suggested that the Financial Services Authority may not have been hard-line enough in its policing. She said: ‘The Financial Services – what do they call themselves, the regulators – Authority, which was really quite new … it didn’t have any teeth.’ It’s rather ironic that the tour showed the gold vault since a good portion of the UK gold reserves were sold off from 1999-2002, when gold prices were at their lowest in 20 years.
- Obama, Boehner hold "frank" meeting amid "fiscal cliff" frustration (Reuters)
- Rice Ends Bid Amid Criticism (WSJ)
- EU summit delays crucial decisions (FT)
- EU moves to cap bank bonuses at 2 times annual salary (CBC)
- Europe Wins a Battle, but Not Yet the War (WSJ)
- Banks Spurn Europe Bond Rush Amid Central Bank Loan Largesse (BBG)
- German-French Sparring Over Euro Caps 2012 Crisis Fight (BBG)
- Fed begins stress tests on bank liquidity (FT)
- Draghi’s rallying cry for new EU powers (FT)
- EU Seeks Plan to Handle Failing Banks Amid Cost Concerns (BBG)
- Berlusconi says Monti has strong EU backing (FT)
- Abe Set for Japan Victory Faces 7-Month Window to Keep Hold (BBG)
- Japan's Abe would try to keep China ties calm-lawmakers (Reuters)
With gold and silver down this morning - following a mysterious vertical plunge last night (once again) - we thought ConvergEx's Nick Colas' timely discussion of gold was worthwhile. As he notes, Gold is the ultimate personality test for investors. Some hate it, excoriating its adherents for their lack of faith in human ingenuity – gold has been valuable since before humans could write. And some swear by the yellow metal, in the belief that it is the last vestige of rationality in a world of financial assets manipulated by central banks and opaque trading venues. What gets lost in the wash is that gold is a commodity and can be analyzed as such. On that basis, here is the 'Top 10' list of real-world fundamentals for gold.
Ever get the feeling that the entire global economy is one big experiment conducted by several former Keynesian economists from MIT with a bent for central planning, who sit down in conspiratorial dark rooms in tiny Swiss cities and bet it all on green until they double down so much nobody even pays attention to the game? No? You should. Jon Hilsenrath, of all people, explains why.
Turkey’s trade balance may turn on whether President Barack Obama vetoes more stringent sanctions against Iran after the U.S. Senate passed a measure targeting loopholes in gold exports to the Islamic Republic. Turkey’s gold trade with neighbouring Iran has helped shrink its trade deficit over the past year according to Bloomberg. Incredibly, precious metals accounted for about half of the almost $21 billion decline. That’s calmed investor concern over its current-account gap, and helped persuade Fitch Ratings to give Turkey its first investment-grade rating since 1994. The U.S. Senate voted 94-0 on Nov. 30 to approve new sanctions against Iran, closing gaps from previous measures, including trade in precious metals. Obama, who opposes the move on the grounds it may undercut existing efforts to rein in the nation’s nuclear ambitions, signed an executive order in July restricting gold payments to Iranian state institutions. Turkey exported $11.9 billion of gold in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Ankara-based statistics agency’s website. A very large 85% of the shipments went to Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Iran is buying the gold with payments Turkey makes for natural gas it purchases in liras, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan told a parliamentary committee in Ankara on Nov. 23.
The upcoming week is comparatively less loaded with policy events, though the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations in the US remain one of the key developments to follow. Important is also the FOMC meeting on Wednesday, where Goldman and everyone else now expect the Fed to increase their monthly asset purchase target under the QE3 program to $85bn per month, up from $45bn per month; this will keep the pace of asset purchases constant after the Operation Twist expires at the end of December, as Zero Hedge predicted the day QE3 was announced. There are is a handful of other central bank meetings in emerging economies (Russia, Indonesia, South-Korea, Philippines, Chile) although consensus expects no change to the base-rate in most cases. On the data front industrial production numbers for October will be released around the world including in the Euro-area, US and China. We also get the US retail sales number and December flash PMIs for the Euro-area and China.
Your comprehensive yet concise, one-stop summary of all the bullish and bearish events of the past week.
Just yesterday, Goldman Sachs suggested its clients should sell their gold (to them?) as the precious metal cycle had turned. It seems Morgan Stanley disagrees; the firm's preferred fundamental metal exposure for 20913 is Gold. Expecting Silver to outperform also (given its 'cheaper' store of value), MS believes nothing has changed on the fundamental thesis for owning gold as the adoption of QE 3 (and 4...) and the ECB's commitments (and BoJ) remain the most important factors for a continuation of weakness in the TWI trend for the US Dollar. They also add that low nominal and negative real interest rates, ongoing geopolitical risk in the Middle East and continued mine supply issues are also supportive. From India and ETF demand to central bank buying and USD weakness - MS seems to be buying what GS is selling (or is less about muppet-mauling).
Yesterday we noted that India was preparing to send its Navy into the South China Sea - defending its mineral rights from China's increasingly vociferous presence. The Philippines also expressed concern. Today, it's Vietnam's turn as Reuters reports the nation is condemning China's "serious violation of sovereignty" as Chinese boats sabotaged Vietnamese State oil and gas company - PetroVietnam's operations (by severing a seismic cable). The actions stem from China's 'belief' that two Vietnamese-owned archipelagos (Spratly and Paracel Islands) are theirs. While China (who oppose unilateral oil and gas development in disputed waters) argued somewhat comically that "Chinese fishing boats were operating normally," the Vietnamese saw it as "blatant violation of Vietnamese waters," and are deploying marine police and a border force to stop foreign vessels. As one analyst noted, "It's going to lead to friction."