And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
With proxy wars mounting and "isolated" Russia ratifying The BRICS Bank this week, we are sure Washington is preparing to double-down on 'costs' (to Europeans) as Reuters reports, Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missiles (ironically after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was dropped under Western pressure in 2010). While the United States and Israel lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, the head of Russian state defense conglomerate, Sergei Chemezov, says, "as far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet."
Despite endless proclamations that the world has 'escaped' the financial crisis, the data (and actions) simply do not back that up. The constant propagandizing of either a) US is economically strong and will drive the world's growth engine (factually incorrect), or b) the rest of the world is about to revert to higher growth seems entirely anathema to the fact that in 2015, we have seen a wave of monetary easing - most recently today by Israel. That makes it 20 central banks that have cut rates (or eased policy) in the last few weeks - covering over 50% of the world's population.
Last week it was 19 central banks (including the ECB which accounts for 19 nations) which had cut rates in 2015, mostly in "surprise", unexpected easing decisions. Moments ago the number became 20 when the Israel central bank just cut its interest rate by 0.15% to 0.1%, the lowest on record, a move which once again caught the market by surprise as only 3 of 23 analysts had predicted it.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
** Greek Bank Runs Accelerate as Possible ‘Grexit’ Looms ** Fatigue with Greek Crisis Breeding Massive Complacency ** Ukraine a Significant Setback for NATO ** India Demand To Rise To 35 - 40 Tonnes This Month ** Gold Oversold - Fundamental and Technical Position Good
With historically low long-term interest rates, the opportunity cost of holding gold and silver are close to zero or even negative, in other words you would “lose” money if you buy bonds (the benchmark) instead of gold and silver. When people realize that their money is not “safe” with the banks they will start withdrawing cash from their accounts and buy physical gold and silver instead. Depending on circumstances this could possibly bring down the (fractional) banking system. Why keep money in an account that gives you a negative return? Swiss banks are already witnessing stronger than normal interest for physical gold.
Not that it was really a conspiracy 'theory' but with General Wesley Clark (ret.) now openly admitting "ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies... to fight to the death against Hezbollah" it appears the 'angel investors' cat is out of the bag. Adding that "they recruited the zealots and religious fundamentalists" Clark says 'we' create "Frankenstein." He is careful not to name names, but we ask (rhetorically of course), which of our (oil-bearing) allies has the biggest bone to pick with Hezbollah (apart from Israel of course)?