Yesterday the US Senate held hearings on "virtual currencies" (meaning Bitcoin). Meanwhile the "virtual currency" ran up above $800/USD and it was reported it got above $900. It pulled back but as of now, is hovering above $700.
$51, 323, 233, 866, 518. That’s the current global public debt that exists all countries together. Next year it will rise to$54, 020, 847, 580, 179.
Year-over-year inflation in Venezuela accelerated to 35.2% - up from 20.1% YoY in December. Goldman is concerned as the 6.1% MoM (the highest on record) in May means inflation is now endemic and the economy could easily veer from the current stagflation equilibrium into the dangerous and slippery road to hyperinflation. In a sentence that rings all to close to home, they sum up: All in all, we are increasingly concerned with the inflation and monetary dynamics in Venezuela as the classical Sargent and Wallace (1981) “unpleasant monetarist arithmetic” of severe fiscal dominance brought about by growing monetization of fiscal deficits and very weak policy credibility could easily degenerate in a recessionary hyper-inflationary spiral. That must mean it is time to buy the Caracas Stock Index (+72% YTD, +600% since Jan 2012)?
How does it really work under irredeemable paper? It's more complicated than under gold.
Last November, in an act of sheer monetary desperation, the ECB issued an exhaustive, and quite ridiculous, pamphlet titled "Virtual Currency Schemes" in which it mocked and warned about the "ponziness" of such electronic currencies as BitCoin. Why a central bank would stoop so "low" to even acknowledge what no "self-respecting" (sic) PhD-clad economist would even discuss, drunk and slurring, at cocktail parties, remains a mystery to this day. However, that it did so over fears the official artificial currency of the insolvent continent, the EUR, may be becoming even more "ponzi" than the BitCoins the ECB was warning about, was clear to everyone involved who saw right through the cheap propaganda attempt. Feel free to ask any Cypriot if they would now rather have their money in locked up Euros, or in "ponzi" yet freely transferable, unregulated BitCoins. And while precious metals have been subject to price manipulation by the legacy establishment, even if ultimately the actual physical currency equivalent asset, its "value" naively expressed in some paper currency, may be in the possession of the beholder, to date no price suppression or regulation schemes of virtual currencies existed. At least until now: it appears that the ever-benevolent, and always knowing what is "in your best interest" Big Brother has decided to finally take a long, hard look at what is going on in the world of BitCoin... and promptly crush it.
In a sharp turn around from the open, Italian and Spanish 10yr government bond yield spreads over German bunds trade approx. 10bps tighter on the day, this follows several market events this morning that have lifted sentiment. Firstly from a fixed income perspective, both Spain and Greece managed to sell more in their respective t-bill auctions than analysts were expecting and thus has eased concerns ahead of longer dated issuance from Spain this Thursday. In terms of other trigger points for today's risk on tone the December headline reading in the German ZEW survey was positive for the first time since May 2012 coming in at an impressive 6.9 M/M from previous -15.7 with the ZEW economists adding that Germany will not face a recession. Finally, reports overnight have suggested that Italian PM Monti could be wooed by Centrist groups which means that if he wanted too the technocrat PM could stand for elections next year albeit under a different ticket. As such yesterday's concerns over the Italian political scene have abated and the FTSE MIB and the IBEX 35 are out performing the core EU bourses. Looking ahead highlights from the US include trade balance, wholesale inventories and a USD 32bln 3yr note auction, however, volumes and price action may remain light ahead of the key FOMC decision on Wednesday.
Bob Janjuah - "Central Banks Are Attempting The Grossest Misallocation And Mispricing Of Capital In The History Of Mankind"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/18/2012 06:45 -0500
"The bottom line is simple: The Fed and the ECB are directing and attempting to orchestrate the grossest misallocation and mispricing of capital in the history of mankind. Their problem is that their actions have enormous unintended and even (eventually) intended consequences which serve to negate their actions in the shorter run, and which could create even bigger problems than we currently face in the near future. Kicking the can is not a viable policy for us now. The private sector knows all this, consciously and/or sub-consciously, which is why I feel these current policy settings are doomed to fail. Having said all that, the one area which for some reason still holds onto hope that Draghi and Bernanke can still perform feats of "magic" is the financial market, which central bankers assume, rely on and are happy to encourage Pavlovian responses. The reality here though is that even financial markets are, collectively, either sensing or assigning a half-life to the "positives" of central bank debasement policies, which to me means that even markets are only suggesting a short-term benefit from the latest policy actions. This is not what Draghi and Bernanke are hoping for, but in order for them to see the half-life outcome averted they know that we need to see major political and structural real economy reforms which somehow make Western workers competitive and hopeful again. The track record of the last four to five years inspires very little confidence that we will see such great necessary reformist strides taken anytime soon."
European equities are seen softer at the North American crossover as continued concerns regarding global demand remain stubborn ahead of tonight’s Chinese GDP release. Adding to the risk-aversion is continued caution surrounding the periphery, evident in the Spanish and Italian bourses underperforming today. A key catalyst for trade today has been the ECB’s daily liquidity update, wherein deposits, unsurprisingly, fell dramatically to EUR 324.9bln following the central bank’s cut to zero-deposit rates. The move by the ECB to boost credit flows and lending has slipped at the first hurdle, as the fall in deposits is matched almost exactly by an uptick in the ECB’s current account. As such, it is evident that the banks are still sitting on their cash reserves, reluctant to lend, as the real economy is yet to see a boost from the zero-deposit rate. As expected, the European banks’ share prices are showing the disappointment, with financials one of the worst performing sectors, and CDS’ on bank bonds seen markedly higher. A brief stint of risk appetite was observed following the release of positive money supply figures from China, particularly the new CNY loans number, however the effect was shortlived, as participants continue to eye the upcoming growth release as the next sign of health, or lack thereof, from the world’s second largest economy.
European equities in both the futures and the cash markets are making significant gains after a mornings’ trade, with financials, particularly in the periphery, leading the way higher following the weekend reports of the Eurogroup confirming aid for the Spanish banking sector. With data remaining light throughout the day, its likely investors will remain focused on the macro-picture, seeing some relief as the Spanish financials look to be recapitalized. At the open, risk sentiment was clear, with EUR/USD opening in the mid-1.2600’s, and peripheral government bond yield spreads against the German bund significantly tighter. In the past few hours, these positions have unwound somewhat, with EUR/USD breaking comfortably back below 1.2600 and the Spanish 10-yr yield spread moving through unchanged and on a widening trend across the last hour or so against its German counterpart, and the yield failing to break below the 6% mark.
Fed and/or ECB intervention is coming: whether it is called LSAP, QE x, Nominal GDP targetting, selling Treasury puts, or what have you. A regime that now exists only by central planning intervention, by definition requires ever more central planning intervention to sustain itself, let alone grow further. Furthermore, the banks not only want QE, they need QE. And since central banks serve other banks, not the people it is only a matter of time. Don't believe us? Read anything written by Bill Gross in the past year. So what to do ahead of QE3? Luckily, SocGen has released a complete cheat sheet of not only the dates of the next steps, but what to buy and what to sell ahead of the announcement. In short - one should buy Mortgage Backed Securities, in order to "simply buy MBS before the Fed" - something Bill Gross knows too well and has been hoarding MBS relentlessly as a result, as reported here. More importantly - one should buy gold. Lots of it as "USD debasement restarts." You didn't think the Fed will allow US corporate earnings - the only thing keeping the market alive - to be crushed with a EURUSD that will soon go under 1.20, now did you? And as for crude going to $250 - yes, it may cause huge headaches for regular folks but for banks it means record bonuses, and as a reminder, the Fed works for the banks, not the people, pardon neo-feudal debt slaves...
Take all you know about the formation of equity prices... and throw it out of the window, at least according to the following paper out of (fittingly Austrian) Erste Group, which applies Austrian theory to stock "valuation", by looking at a world in which the only determining factor for "fair value" is credit money creation. Indeed, the 2011 market, in which cross-asset correlations broke all records, and in which fundamentals were cremated once and for all, showed that the only thing that matters is who prints first, and more importantly, who frontruns said printing (it also means that most hedge fund analysts will soon be redundant). Here is Erste with a slightly less jaded view: "We come to the conclusion that it makes sense for equity investors to track monetary and, especially, debt developments closely. We believe that the changing dynamics of monetary as well as debt aggregates are often a good leading indicator for equity markets. Historic data shows that accelerating money and credit growth drives equity prices, while decelerating growth in the money and credit supply generally puts pressure on equity prices...Financial history shows that equity markets are ‘addicted’ to new money and credit creation. To keep rallies going, the equity markets need ever more fuel (faster rate of change in the money and credit supply). As soon as the rate of change is negative (decelerating money and credit supply) markets tend to become sluggish and lose momentum, even though in absolute terms the money and credit supply is still rising." And while this is not telling Zero Hedge regulars something they didn't know already, with the fiscal pathway of creating new money blocked in a (mock) austere world, the only other way to generate M1-X is by printing. Summary - much more currency debasement and devaluation ahead, only this time with a $100 base in WTI. Which most certainly means that very soon the world will need to find an extended source of cheap energy (read oil). And everyone knows what that will be...
SocGen has released its much anticipated Multi Asset Portfolio Scenario/Strategy guide titled simply enough "Patience: bad news will become good news" where, as the insightful can guess, the French bank makes the simple case that the worse things get, the stronger the response by global central banks will be. Here is the key quote for those worried that : "A major liquidity crisis should not occur this time, as we think we are on the eve of major QE in the UK, US and (a bit) later on in the EZ." We don't disagree and if there is anything that can send BAC higher it will be the announcement of QE3. Of course, BAC will first drop to a $2-3 handle so question is who has the balance sheet to hold on to the falling knife. The next question is "How big will QE3 be"? Well, according to SocGen, the Fed will preannounce it in the January 2012 FOMC statement, the monetization will last from March 2012 until the end of the year, and will buy a total of $600 billion. We believe the actual LSAP total (not to be confused with the "sterilized" QE3 known as Operation Twist) will be well greater, probably in the $1.5 trillion range as the Fed will finally say "enough" to piecemeal solutions. As to what to do, besides going long some financial stock and hoping it is not the one that is allowed to fail, SocGen has some simple advice: "Buy gold ahead of QE3 as money creation has a strong impact on prices" - in other words just as we suggested yesterday courtesy of the Don Coxe correlation chart. Why gold and not BAC? Because, "Gold is highly sensitive to US QE, as every dollar of QE goes into M0, triggering the debasement of the USD. Gold = $ 8500/Oz: to catch up with the increase in the monetary base since 1920 (as it did in the early 80s). Gold = $1900/Oz: to close the gap with the monetary base increase since July 2007(QE1+QE2)." So go long a bank that may well go bankrupt and return nothing before it at best doubles, or go long a real asset, which will always have value and may quadruple in short notice? The answer seems simple to us...
It is still not too late to submit one's thoughts of what the US downgrade means for various asset classes and for the economy, and world, in general. Here is one of the few worth reading, courtesy of QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky and Lee Quaintance. Their conclusion: "the downgrade is effectively a currency downgrade, which seems very reasonable, overdue and, in real terms, insufficient. We would argue that in real terms, US Treasury obligations are non investment-grade. We think Treasury obligations today and always will be money-good, but principal and interest will be repaid with bad money."
Steve Keen has long been one of the most accurate economic prognosticators. This, and the fact that he does not conform to the prevalent mold of economic thinking, has made him, and his blog Debt Watch, one of Zero Hedge's must reads. Today, as part of Chris Martenson's recently launched "Straight Talk" series, Keen answers a variety of questions on the economy, and demonstrates why at the end of the day it is "all about the debt" and why deleveraging is the primary force that the Fed has to battle, and the only important outcome for the future of capital markets is whether the Fed's response will be too much (hyperinflation), or too little (deflationary crunch).
The past few weeks I have been talking about the SP500 forming a top similar to the January top we saw earlier this year. Well the charts below show exactly what I have been waiting for to unfold and I think the time has come for the market to take a healthy breather before continuing this strong bull market which could last another 12 -24 months before really topping out.