Just like a century ago when waning British power invited a power struggle among rising nations, waning US power is creating conflict with Russia, China, etc. A century ago, they settled it on the battlefield. The great war brought brutal mass killings, bombings, heavy artillery, gassing, etc. And it changed warfare forever. This time around, the way we conduct war is different. Similarly, leaders are miscalculating, thinking that they can scare their opponents with warships and fighter jets. But modern warfare isn’t fought with boots on the ground. In 2014, cyberwar and economic war looms. And this type of war is something that will affect literally every person who is plugged in to the global financial system.
Russia is mounting a major publicity campaign in Europe for its proposed South Stream gas pipeline in an apparent effort to reassure its EU customers that they can rely on Russian gas for the indefinite future.
- Fighting erupts in Ukraine as crash investigators arrive (Reuters)
- Russian Billionaires in ‘Horror’ as Putin Risks Isolation (BBG)
- Israel kills militants entering from Gaza, death toll tops 500 (Reuters)
- The other Gaza: In violent weekend, at least 40 people shot in Chicago (Reuters)
- Barclays Dark Pool Drew Early Alarms (WSJ)
- Finance Industry Bonus Hit in Poll as Revenue Disappoints (BBG)
- Severstal to Sell North American Units (WSJ)
- Yum, McDonald's apologize as new China food scandal brews (Reuters)
- Yellen Wage Gauges Blurred by Boomer-Millennial Workforce Shift (BBG)
- Ukraine Offers to Hand Over Malaysia Airlines Probe to Dutch (WSJ)
Furious money printing by the world’s major central banks is not generating real growth and prosperity - but professional economists never seem to get the word.
A dispassionate look at the issues and events shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
Just imagine how high stocks would be if more jets were shot down in Ukraine, more ground operations were unleashed in Gaza, more sanctions were placed on global growth, more European and US macro data disappointed, more job cuts at major firms, and more European banks declared bankruptcy. Today's farcical Friday surge (with the Nasdaq up 2% from its overnight lows and 30 point rip in the S&P) appears 100% based on the squeezing of "most shorted" stocks (best day in over a month) and the ramping of AUDJPY. Credit markets ignored the idiocy; Treasury markets ignored it; The USD went nowhere (after EUR dumped on Italy downgrade then recovered). Gold, Silver, and Copper all closed down 2-3% on the week (given back yesterday's gains) as Oil surged 2.2%. VIX dropped over 2 vols to close with a 12-handle (but disconnected notably from stocks at the close). It's not all ponies and unicorns though - Biotechs are down 5% from Yellen's comments and the Russell 2000 closed red for the 2nd week in a row (and still -1% year-to-date). Best Dow Friday in 5 months (up 11 in a row).
The Euro is tumbling as Italy slashes economic growth expectations:
*BANK OF ITALY SEES ITALY GDP UP 0.2% THIS YR, 1.3% IN 2015
*BANK OF ITALY SEES DOWNSIDE RISKS FOR ITALY GROWTH EST. THIS YR
The Bank of Italy expected 0.7% growth for 2014 in January and this shift lowers the estimate below consensus. Of course, there's no need to wqory about a triple-dip recession as Italy raised its 2015 estimate from 1.0% to 1.3% - hockey sticks are back...
What’s so amusing about this week’s article from the New York Times titled, At Dinner Tables, Restless President Finds Intellectual Escape, is that the author appears to be quite sympathetic to Obama. She seems to want to portray the President as a real statesman; one who is so far above politics and the pedestrian task of being Commander in Chief that he finds it necessary to flee his responsibilities in order to find intellectual escape while dining extravagantly with “elites” in Europe. In contrast, he merely comes across as the arrogant, disconnected, oligarch coddler he is.
The problem for the ECB, of course, is that Espirito Santo and Erste are not isolated incidents, any more than Laiki and Fortis and Anglo Irish and WestLB and BMPS and... should we go on? ...were isolated incidents. "...with apologies to Lewis Carroll, here’s the choice facing our modern-day Alice (Mario Draghi) – does (s)he sing a lullaby that keeps the Red King (investors) sleeping for a few more years, albeit at the cost of drinking a terrible potion that will turn her into a hideous giant... or does she let the Red King wake up, shattering the dream and risking the existence of everything, herself included, but preserving the story of her beautiful face and form?" If we were betting men (and we are), we’d wager on Draghi drinking the potion and keeping the dream alive, no matter how complicit it makes him in preserving a very ugly and very politically-driven status quo. But there’s a non-trivial chance that it’s just too much to swallow...
To much trumpeting the IMF have kindly agreed to help out desperate and war torn Ukraine. How wonderful they are we are all meant to think, but the truth couldn’t be more opposite. but in reality the IMF has a very different purpose from that which is stated. If you look at the history of the IMF’s intervention in countries around the world you will see a trail of disaster and looting that repeats time and time again wherever they go.
The world sits their looking on at China’s economy wondering how they can do it and that we can’t. But, there’s a price to pay for being economically sound and for having a growth rate that is much better than the Western world, even if there are some that say that the figures have been stir-fried in a wok.
This clown parade of clueless opinions (did we mention Goldman had BES at a buy until this morning?), stretched all the way to the very top with Bank of Portugal itself issuing the following pearl:
- BANK OF PORTUGAL SAYS BES DEPOSITORS CAN STAY CALM
Uhhh, what else would the Portugal central bank say? Panic and withdraw your deposits from a bank whose exposures to insolvent entities have been largely unknown until today (and even now).
This week was interesting to say the least and it is ending with a bang. We are covering a number of brief subjects this week. I hope you enjoy them.
Broad European stocks are down over 4% in the last few days but that hides the carnage among the most exuberantly excited names on the way up. Portugal, Spain, and Italy have been battered in the last few days (despite everyone explaining how Portugal is so small, contained etc..). Portuguese bond spreads spiked 25bps today as the central-bank-inspired coupling of sovereign-health and banking-system stability drag each other down (Spain and Italy jumped 9bps higher in risk). European bank stocks have cratered and are now negative year-to-date.
But... but... the VIX said everything is ok, and European rates were the lowest they have been in centuries... How can something possibly go wrong?
It just did.