It is hard to believe that the end of the year is fast approaching. This weekend's list of things to ponder covers a range of issues that caught our attention this week. Will the economy continue to grow, are stocks under owned, what about Fed - rising credit risk (and collapsing credit risk premia) and the question of "when or if to taper?" These are all important questions that all investors must answer as the new year rapidly approaches.
The U.S. Is Sending Americans’ Confidential Info Abroad … For the Same Reason It’s Outsourcing Torture to Foreign GovernmentsSubmitted by George Washington on 11/21/2013 15:40 -0400
Outsourcing the NSA’s Dirty Deeds In An Attempt to Create Plausible Deniability
China Fires Shot Across Petrodollar Bow: Shanghai Futures Exchange May Price Crude Oil Futures In YuanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/21/2013 09:23 -0400
With the US shale revolution set to make America the largest exporter of crude, however briefly, the influence of Saudi oil is rapidly declining. This has been felt most recently in the cold shoulder the US gave Saudi Arabia and Qatar first over the Syrian debacle, and subsequently in its overtures to break the ice with Iran over the stern objections of Israel and the Saudi lobby (for a good example of this the most recent soundbites by Prince bin Talal ). But despite the shifting commodity winds and the superficial political jawboning, the reality is that nothing threatens the US dollar's hegemony in what many claim is the biggest pillar of the currency's reserve status - the petrodollar, which literally makes the USD the only currency in which energy-strapped countries can transact in to purchase energy. This may be changing soon following news that the Shanghai Futures Exchange could price its crude oil futures contract in yuan, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.
The following Top Ten Market Themes, represent the broad list of macro themes from Goldman Sachs' economic outlook that they think will dominate markets in 2014.
- Showtime for the US/DM Recovery
- Forward guidance harder in an above-trend world
- Earn the DM equity risk premium, hedge the risk
- Good carry, bad carry
- The race to the exit kicks off
- Decision time for the ‘high-flyers’
- Still not your older brother’s EM...
- ...but EM differentiation to continue
- Commodity downside risks grow
- Stable China may be good enough
They summarize their positive growth expectations: if and when the period of stability will give way to bigger directional moves largely depends on how re-accelerating growth forces the hands of central banks to move ahead of everybody else. And, in practice, that boils down to the question of whether the Fed will be able to prevent the short end from selling off; i.e. it's all about the Fed.
After the DJIA and S&P briefly crossed the key resistance levels of 16000 and 1800, the upper bound on the markets has been looking increasingly more distant and this morning's lack of an overnight ramp only makes it more so. Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is that with both Yellen and Bernanke on the tape yesterday, the S&P still was unable to close green. This follows on Monday's double POMO day when the S&P once again closed... red. Not helping things was the overnight announcement by the Japanese government pension fund, the GPIF, in which the fund announced it would lower its bond allocation further however the new law to reform the GPIF could be written by spring 2015. This was hardly as exciting as the market had expected, and as a result both the USDJPY and the ES-moving EURJPY find themselves at overnight lows. Will the EURJPY engage in its usual post 8 am ramp - keep a close eye, especially since the usual morning gold and silver slam down just took place.
Pushing the neo-liberal argument further than it wants to go, with interesting results.
When all else fails, and/or when the president is caught in yet another major scandal, there is only one way out: war. As many expected, but as nobody knew what shape the latest provocation would take, overnight at least 23 were killed and dozens hurt after a twin bomb attack shook the Iranian embassy in Beirut. As NBC reports, a local al Qaeda affiliate, the Abdullah Azzam brigades, claimed responsibility for the explosions – the latest sign that Syria’s civil war is spilling over the border into Lebanon. Burning cars, bodies and pools of blood littered the front of the embassy building, in the Hezbollah-dominated south of the city. The Zahraa hospital nearby told AFP that it had received the bodies of five people and was treating at least 35 others for wounds. Lebanese media broadcast harrowing images from the scene of the blast, with charred bodies on a street lined by blazing cars and strewn with the rubble.
It is time for the centrally-planned markets to "try" for the round number trifecta of 16000, 1800 and 4000 again, although it may be a tad more difficult on a day in which there is no double POMO and just $2.75-$3.50 billion will be injected by the NY Fed into the S&P - perhaps it is Bitcoin that will hit the nice round number of $1000 first? Overnight, the Chinese Plenum news rerun finally was priced in and the SHComp closed red, as did the Nikkei 225 as the Asian euphoria based on communist promises about what may happen by 2020 fades. What's worse, the Chinese 7-day repo rate is up 140bp this morning to 6.63% amid talk of tightening domestic liquidity conditions, and back to levels seen during the June liquidity squeeze. All this is happening as China continues leaking more details and hope of what reform the mercantilist country can achieve, and how much internal consumption the export-driven country can attain: overnight there were also additional reports of interest rate liberalization and that the PBOC are to set up a floating CNY rate. Good luck with that.
- What can possibly go wrong: Tepco Successfully Removes First Nuclear Fuel Rods at Fukushima (BBG)
- Japan's Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money (WSJ)
- U.S. Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits (WSJ)
- Airbus to Boeing Cash In on Desert Outpost Made Field of Dreams (BBG); Dubai Air Show: Boeing leads order books race (BBG)
- Sony sells 1 million PlayStation 4 units in first 24 hours (Reuters)
- Russian Tycoon Prokhorov to Buy Kerimov's Uralkali Stake (WSJ)
- Google Opening Showrooms to Show Off Gadgets for Holidays (BBG)
- Need. Moar. Prop. Trading: Federal Reserve considering a delay to Volcker rule (FT)
- Raghuram Rajan plans ‘dramatic remaking’ of India’s banking system (FT)
- SAC Capital's Steinberg faces insider trading trial (Reuters)
When last week's Iran nuclear talks were blocked by France, it provided a useful glimpse into just who it was that would benefit politically from a continuation of the regional confrontation. But while the French sabotage was an amusing distraction, it revealed a curious shift in middle-east alliances, namely old "enemies" Israel and Saudi Arabia, both feeling shunned by Big Brother, suddenly becoming the best of buddies. It was only a matter of time before this novel alliance moved beyond just paper and tested how far it could go in real life. Said test may come far sooner than expected: according to the Sunday Times, Israel's Mossad and Saudi Arabia are planning an attack against Iran if negotiations and talks don't come to an agreement, and that Saudia Arabia will permit Israel to use their air space for an attack on Iran including full technical support. According to the Sunday Times, the Saudis would assist an Israeli attack by cooperating with the use of drones, rescue helicopters, and tanker planes. "Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” said the paper citing an unnamed official.
Even Threatens the International Space Station
With better US labor market data, the key event in the upcoming week could well be the Yellen nomination hearing in the Senate Banking Committee. Yellen will likely deliver brief prepared remarks followed by questions from members of the committee. Yellen is expected to be relatively circumspect in discussing potential future Federal Reserve policy decisions in the hearings. Nonetheless, the testimony may help clarify her views on monetary policy and the current state of the economy. Yellen has not spoken publicly on either of these topics since the spring of this year. In addition to the nomination hearing, there will be a series of Fed speeches again, including one by Chairman Bernanke.
While most pragmatists knew well in advance that optimism over an Iran nuclear programme deal emerging out of Geneva was very much displaced, few anticipated what the actual reason for the failure would be. Indeed, most had expected that the staunchest opponent to the deal, Israel PM Netanyahu who moments ago appeared on Face the Nation and made his case (saying Iran would have given up "almost nothing") would have used his influence over the US as a key member of the 5+1 group of nations (US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Iran) to block any Iranian detente with the US, even though none other than John Kerry has been urging for the Iranian deal for weeks. So when news hit that it was France who had scuttled a deal with a last minute block, many were surprised.
Ben Bernanke is participating in an IMF panel with Larry Summers, Ken Rogoff, and fromer Bank of Israel chief Stan Fischer... Full speech below...
- Fed Anxiety Rises as QE Raises Risk of Loss With Political Cost (BBG)
- Iran Nuclear Deal Expected as Early as Friday (WSJ)
- Israel rejects mooted interim Iran nuclear deal, Kerry heads to talks (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Banker Backed $200 Million Madoff Loan in 2008 (BBG)
- Unleashing the food nazis - FDA Says Trans Fats Aren't Safe in Food (WSJ)
- Draghi Aggression Shows Pledges Backed by Rate Surprise (BBG)
- S&P Cuts France's Credit Rating by One Notch to Double-A (WSJ)
- S&P criticises France’s high tax rates for stifling growth (FT)
- Payroll Gains in U.S. Probably Cooled Amid Government Shutdown (BBG)