Dispassionate big picture overview.
Market consensus is that deflation remains the greatest threat to the global economy. But that's ignoring signs of impending inflation, particularly in the US.
Update: in direct flashback from the summer of 2011 when the ECB leaked news only to retract it within minutes, this just happened: CONSTANCIO: DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT 1 TLN-EURO QE MODEL REPORT
When in desperate need to crush your currency (being bought hand over fist by the Chinese), so urgently need to boost German exports, since you are unable to actually do QE as per your charter, what do you do if you are Mario Draghi? Well, you leak, leak, leak that you are contemplating QE, and then you leak some more. Such as today.
- ECB HAS MODELED BOND PURCHASES UP TO 1 TLN EUROS, FAZ SAYS
- ECB TESTS SHOW INFLATION COULD BE BOOSTED 0.2% TO 0.8%: FAZ
Like US inflation soared on the $1 trillion QEternity? Can't wait. In other news, expect zero reaction from gold on this latest news that another $1.4 trillion in fiat is about to flood the market. If only inbetween Mario Draghi's jaw bones.
Today’s nonfarm payrolls release is expected to show a "spring" renaissance of labor market activity that was weighed on by "adverse weather" during the winter months (Exp. 200K, range low 150K - high 275K, Prev. 175K). Markets have been fairly lackluster overnight ahead of non-farm payrolls with volumes generally on the low side. The USD and USTs are fairly steady and there are some subdued moves the Nikkei (-0.1%) and HSCEI (+0.1%). S&P500 futures are up modestly, just over 0.1%, courtesy of the traditional overnight, low volume levitation. In China, the banking regulator is reported to have issued a guideline in March to commercial banks, requiring them to better manage outstanding non-performing loans this year. Peripheral EU bonds continued to benefit from dovish ECB threats at the expense of core EU paper, with Bunds under pressure since the open, while stocks in Europe advanced on prospect of more easing (Eurostoxx 50 +0.14%). And in a confirmation how broken centrally-planned markets are, Italian 2 Year bonds high a record low yield, while Spanish 5 Year bonds yield dropped below US for the first time since 2007... or the last time the credit risk was priced to perfection.
Being that markets are unrigged and all, at least according to every single proponent of HFT that is, futures have done their overnight levitation as they have every day for the past month driven by the one staple - the Yen carry trade - even if in recent days the broader market slump during the actual daytrading session mostly impacted biotechs yesterday. And since any news is good news, we don't expect today's main event, the ECB's rate announcement and Draghi press conference, both of which are expected to announce nothing new despite Europe's outright inflationary collapse which most recently dropped to 0.5%, the lowest since 2009.
Saxo Bank's CEO Lars Seier Christensen has made it abundantly clear in the past that the EUR is a monumentally bad idea; he notes, the huge European bureaucracy and especially the political elite that feed off the EU will do all they can to prevent the EUR’s fall, at least until it becomes inevitable. This will be either due to pressure from voters (even if they are very rarely consulted in this post-democratic political structure) or from the markets, which eventually must reassume their role that has been perverted beyond recognition during the crisis: the true role of allocating capital and pricing money and assets rationally. But, Christensen explains, if we are stuck with this "Currency of Mass Destruction", shouldn’t we at least try to make some money from it?
Among the key overnight events was the February Euro area unemployment report, which was unchanged at 11.9%, lower than the 12% median estimate; in Italy it rose to a record 13% while in Germany the locally defined jobless rate for March stayed at the lowest in at least two decades Euro zone PMI held at 53 in February, unchanged from January and matching median estimate in a Bloomberg survey HSBC/Markit’s China PMI fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5 in February; a separate PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, was at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month NATO foreign ministers meet today to discuss their next steps after Putin began withdrawing forces stationed on Ukraine’s border Gazprom raised prices for Ukraine 44% after a discount deal expired, heaping financial pressure on the government in Kiev as it negotiates international bailouts.
Japanese real estate stocks were broadly speaking the worst global equity performers in the first quarter of 2014 along with broad weakness in Russia and China (note US consumer discretionary was the 25th worst equity index in the world). At the other end of the spectrum, the quarter belonged to everything Middle-Eastern with Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, and Qatar all soaring (along with - somewhat remarkably) Greece, Portugal, and Italy...
In 2009, two Japanese individuals were arrested trying to smuggle $134 billion in US bonds into Switzerland from Italy. In 2012, Italian authorities seized $6 trillion in allegedly fake US bonds from safe-deposit boxes in Zurich (which were purportedly to be used to buy plutonium from Nigerian sources). And now, in 2014, The BBC reports, Italian police have arrested two men who were allegedly trying to deposit trillions of euros in fake bonds in the Vatican bank.
U.S. stocks are like a duck, floating on a quiet pond – calm above the surface, but lots of furious churning invisible to the naked eye. The S&P 500 looks like it will end the first quarter within a hair of the 1848 level where it started the year, but that doesn’t mean everything else is all stasis and light. Today we offer up a quick ‘Top 10’ list of surprises from the last 90 days. Gold, for example, is back from the grave, up 7.3%. So is an imperial Russia, with the biggest land grab since the building of the Berlin Wall. Mutual fund flows are ahead of exchange traded funds by a factor of 5:1. And most of those ETF inflows are into bond funds, not the “Great Rotation” we all expected into stocks. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yields all of 2.67%, and bonds have bested U.S. stocks consistently in 2014. First quarter 2014 may not have been a long trip, but it certainly has been strange.
You know it's bad when... Italy's new prime minister Matteo Renzi has decided that around 1,500 non-essential government official cars will be sold off (via eBay). As La Repubblica reports, the cars (among them dozens of BMWs, Alfa Romeos, Lancias, nine Maseratis and a couple of Jaguars) have come to be a symbol of wasteful government spending. Renzi noted, via Twitter, "Why should an under-secretary have an official car? The undersecretary should go by foot."
This week just happens to be the 160th anniversary of Britain and France’s declaration of war on Russia in what would eventually become known as the Crimean War. Part 1. At the time, Russia was a rising power. Other nations in the region– particularly France and the Ottoman Empire, were in obvious decline. All of this should sound familiar. As Mark Twain said, history might not necessarily repeat, but it certainly rhymes. By dropping Russia from the G-8, they’re proving beyond a doubt that the G8 has no power... and practically shoving Russia into bed with China. This is a classic example of how formerly great powers accelerate their own decline. And Mr. Obama and his colleagues seem to be following this playbook to a T.
With Scotland moving ever closer, Crimea having chosen their own path, and Venice overwhelmingly voting for secession from Italy, the Spanish government has put its foot down on the Catalonia's planned independence referendum. As Time reports, In a Tuesday ruling, Spanish judges found Catalonia’s planned independence referendum to be unconstitutional. Of course, just as in Crimea, this is being ignored by the Catalan government - a region seen as the powerhouse of the Italian economy - who exclaimed "this will have no effect on the process."
Yesterday we reported that in an attempt to unclog Europe's broken credit and monetary piping, European regulators are preparing to get their hands dirty by easing rules on, and unleashing, an asset class once labelled toxic sludge, i.e., all the worst of the worst debt that was the reason why Europe is in a 6 year-old depression, and hope and pray it somehow fixes itself. Today, the ECB reported the latest data on European credit creation in the private sector. Or rather lack thereof. Because at -2.2%, this was essentially an all time low private sector loan "growth" (rather, credit destruction). Which means Europe will have to throw all the toxic sludge it can find in its desperation to reignite yet another credit bubble, something Bernanke's cronies appear to have done far more admirably.