There was a time when Vietnam was America's staunchest proxy war foe. This is not those times which explains why yesterday the president signed a landmark, controversial and not to mention hypocritical deal with Vietnam in which allows the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel and technology to its former foe, which will then be allowed to further enrich it. Why (because there is always a reason when the US does something so unexpected, and especially when nuclear power is involved)? Simple: as the Hill explains, the US "aims to help guarantee Vietnams' energy independence as China asserts a more prominent role in the region." Of course, the last time the US sought to prevent Vietnam's affiliation with a foreign superpower, the results were quite disastrous. One can only hope this time it's different.
To summarize: in an act of complete disregard for the official diplomatic song and dance, both Israel and the US are now providing military support to Iran, which in turn is providing military support to Syria, which is also getting military support from Russia. And now, just to make things more interesting, the same labyrinth of "military support" is about to be unleashed in the Ukraine, whose western half is just as likely getting arms and military equipment (not to mention funding)from the West under the table, while Russia, whose main Black Sea port is in the Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, is arming the Eastern part of the Ukraine.
What can possibly go wrong?
A dispassionate and analytic of the macro developments for the week ahead.
Renowned behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains why humans are biologically wired to make irrational decisions when money is involved. It's a case of our evolutionary wiring interfering with the decisions we face in a modern world very different from the one our ancestors adapted to. For instance, he explains how one of the easiest phenomena to create in a lab are valuation "bubbles". Our vestigial herding instinct encourages us to imitate the actions of those around us (e.g. bidding for a particular asset), which then strengthens that signal for others (leading to even higher bidding), resulting in behavior not justified by the underlying fundamentals of reality (asset prices destined to crash)... " I do think that we need a new generation of bankers. I think you cannot take the old generation of bankers and rehabilitate them. Recent history is not showing us that this is something we should hope for. But there is a real question of, How do we create a new generation of bankers that are going to think of themselves as the caretakers of society, rather than the rapists?"
- Anti-Euro Party’s Le Pen Gains Supporters, French Poll Shows (BBG)
- Carney Renews BOE Low-Rate Pledge to Fight Slack in Economy (BBG)
- Bank of England hints at 2015 rate rise (Reuters)
- ECB bond-buying intact and ready after court decision-Coeure (Reuters)
- Canada scraps millionaire visa scheme, dumps 46,000 Chinese applications (SCMP)
- Scrap this then? Vancouver facing an influx of 45,000 more rich Chinese (SCMP)
- China's January Exports Power Higher, Up 10.6% (WSJ) ... and nobody believes the number
- Emerging-Market Shakeout Putting Reserves Into Focus (BBG)
- Wall Street's most eligible banker Fleming waits for suitor (Reuters)
- Kazakh Devaluation Shows Currency War Stirring as Ruble Dips (BBG)
The most notable event in this traditionally quiet post-payrolls week is Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins testimony before Congress set for mid-week. In terms of economic data releases, the US retail sales (Exp. 0.05%) is on Thursday and consumer sentiment survey is on Friday (consensus 80.5). We also have IP numbers from Euro Area countries and the US. Most recent external account statistics are released from Japan, China, India and Turkey. It is also interesting to track CPI data in Germany, Spain and India, given the ECB and RBI currently face diverging inflation challenges and may be forced into further action. Finally, we have Q4 GDP data from the Euro Area economies (Friday).
As the State of the Union address highlighted, both the Russia Federation and the United States have leaders that lean toward various degrees of autocratic government to achieve their agendas. President Putin rules with an iron fist and treats the legislative branch as an afterthought to use as needed but otherwise ignores. President Obama declares he will use executive action to get what he wants and quietly uses government agencies to intimidate and stifle his opposition in flagrant abuses of power. Putin has dismantled the Russian free press and imprisoned vocal opponents. The majority of the American press does Obama’s bidding for him while the administration puts movie makers in jail.
A few short months after Putin cornered the US state department into a disastrous foreign relations dead end with the false flag Syrian escalation which achieved none of the predetermined nat-gas-to-Europe pipeline ambitions, instead alieanting the US from both staunch allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, the Russian president has just managed to inflict yet more pain on US foreign policy this time by infuriating (even more) a core US ally in Europe - Angela Merkel. Just two days after the phone recording of Victoria Nuland emerged in which she not only made it explicitly clear it was the US who was the puppetmaster behind the Ukranian opposition with the traditional CIA tractics as was expected all along, but also explained just how the US freels toward the EU with the now infamous "Fuck the EU" comment, Angela Merkel called the obscene remark "absolutely unacceptable."
The United States’ rapport with the Russian Federation is one of the world’s most important bilateral relationships. Russia maintains a large nuclear arsenal and is a resurgent player in world affairs. Russia has considered Ukraine to be a vassal for the last five hundred years. Russian President Putin has routinely referred to Ukraine as a Russian state rather than a free and independent country. How would the United States react if Moscow was able to exert influence over Mexico and install a pro-Russian government? America needs to take off her rose colored glasses and look at the world with a Machiavellian view. We should decide to intervene in centuries old conflicts only when there are clear American security interests involved. Unfortunately for the idealistic leaders of American foreign policy, Ukraine does not meet this test. The Ukrainian people have shown an ability over the two decades to have a natural ability to take matters into their own hands and are quite capable of deciding this issue among themselves.
Following NY Rep. Michael Grimm's apology yesterday for threatening to break a reporter in half and throw him off a balcony, none other than former NY Rep. Anthony Weiner had some advice for the cantakerous congressman. Wring in the New York Daily News, Weiner began: "First, if you don’t want to talk about a scandal in which you’re embroiled, whatever that scandal may be, maybe it’s best that you don’t do interviews for a while..." but the snark and irony surges from there.
The problem, though, is that once you embrace the Narrative of Central Bank Omnipotence to "explain" recent events, you can't compartmentalize it there. If the pattern of post-crisis Emerging Market growth rates is largely explained by US monetary accommodation or lack thereof ... well, the same must be true for pre-crisis Emerging Market growth rates. The inexorable conclusion is that Emerging Market growth rates are a function of Developed Market central bank liquidity measures and monetary policy, and that all Emerging Markets are, to one degree or another, Greece-like in their creation of unsustainable growth rates on the back of 20 years of The Great Moderation (as Bernanke referred to the decline in macroeconomic volatility from accommodative monetary policy) and the last 4 years of ZIRP. It was Barzini all along!
This week, much of the market focus will remain on the policymakers' responses to the challenges emerging out of the, well, emerging markets. In particular, the response of the Turkish Central bank will be key. This week we also have eight MPC meetings, with the US FOMC on Wednesday standing out. Consensus expects the continuation of the tapering of asset purchases – by another USD10bn, split equally between Treasuries and MBS. Other than that, the announcement should be fairly uneventful. In India GS forecasts an out-of-consensus hike of the repo rate to 8.00% after the central bank published a report on suggested changes to the monetary policy framework. In New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Malaysia and Colombia, consensus expects no change in the monetary policy stance. Among economic data releases, the focus will be on consumer surveys, as well as business surveys (US, Germany and Italy). There are also inflation numbers from the US, Euro Area, Japan and Brazil. Advanced Q4 GDP data prints will come out for the US and the UK. US consumption and production numbers are due at the end of the week.
- Emerging sell-off hits European shares, lifts yen (Reuters) - but not really if you hit refresh since the latest central bank bailout announcement
- Apple’s Holiday Results to Show Whether Growth Is Back (BBG)
- Israel attacked Syrian base in Latakia, Lebanese media reports (Haaretz)
- Abenomics FTW: Japan Posts Record Annual Trade Deficit as Import Bill Soars (BBG)
- When all else fails, Spain's hope lie in a 16th century saint: Saint “might help Spain out of crisis,” says interior minister (El Pais)
- Global Woes Fail to Send Cash Into U.S. Stocks (WSJ)
- IMF's Lagarde sees eurozone inflation "way below target" (Reuters)
- Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states (AP)
- AT&T Gives Up Right to Offer to Buy Vodafone Within 6 Months (BBG)
Overview of forces impacting stocks, bonds and currencies.
- 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)