We thank Sean Corrigan of Diapason Securities for bringing our attention to the MIT Billion Price real time inflation Index (first reported here) who points out that based on the ongoing surge in prices, which have increased by 1.25% in the last 45 days (December 31, 2010: 101.085, February 14, 2011: 102.353), a simple annualization indicates a 10.6% increase in prices in 2011! With all undue respect to the Chairsatan (and other "disinflationists") it is time to bring Volcker out of the freezer once again. Look for the 30 Year to pass 5% in a few weeks. Oh yes, M2 surged to all new time highs again.
A lot going on today, beginning with the CPI and claims, followed by the Philly Fed, the index of leading indicators, and mortgage delinquencies, and testimony on implementation of Dodd-Frank and the FY 2012 budget at mid-morning, a few regional Fed presidents from noon into the early afternoon(Lockhart, Evans, Fisher, and Hoenig..not listed separately below), and winding up with the Fed’s latest balance sheet information this afternoon…And, most importantly as always, the Fed will buy 10 Years (05/15/2018 – 02/15/2021) in the amount of $6-8 billion between 10:15 and 11:00 am. Keep an eye on 912828PX2.
Q: If money supply is increasing, why aren't we seeing price inflation? A: We are.
Markets positive this morning. Treasuries experienced a bullish move yesterday as economic numbers managed to disappoint lofty expectations. Advance retail sales released yesterday showed a weaker than expected increase at 0.3% v 0.5%E. Today will see the release of housing starts, PPI, and industrial production. An increase in the latter would represent a third straight month of growth.
Inasmuch as one can trust any data coming from centrally-planned governments, following last night below consensus CPI reading, China continues to telegraph that monetary growth is once again under control (at least for the time being): in January commercial banks extended CNY 1.04 trillion in Loans, up from CNY 480.7 billion in December, which however was well below the consensus of CNY 1.2 trillion. Outstanding CNY loans grew by 18.5% yoy in January, down from 19.9% yoy in December (market consensus: 18.7% yoy). Additionally, the just as "credible" Chinese M2 printed at 17.2% growth yoy, down from 19.7% in December (19.% consensus). The M/M seasonally adjusted annual growth fell to 1.5%, down from 14.5% in December.
Just in case someone was confused about the relationship between liquidity, currency devaluation and nominal (not real) asset prices, the St. Louis Fed was kind enough to email us their weekly M2 level. And after last week's surprising drop, M2 once again rose, this time by a whopping $40 billion. Oh and before someone says that M3 is still declining, it isn't. Or rather the much more important monetary aggregate, that including all shadow banking liabilities is now increasing as we indicated during the last Z.1 spread. In one month, when the next Flow of Funds report is released we are confident we will confirm that in Q4 shadow banking increased by at least half a few hundred billion on an annualized basis. In other words the central bank reliquification is now on in full force, both in America and in every other place that has central banks. Which also explains why central banking hawks are now virtually extinct (cf: Axel Weber).
Guest Post: China, Inflation & Gold: China Created Paper Money And Paper Money Then Created InflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/09/2011 22:02 -0500
Today, almost 1,000 years after paper money first appeared and 350 years after China banned its use, China’s is again issuing excessive amounts of paper money; and, once again, paper money’s initial prosperity is about to give way to inflation and economic chaos in the celestial kingdom. Southern Weekly, a Chinese language publication, recently noted: China has not only been the country that prints money at the fastest rate but also been the country with the largest money supply in the world in the past decade. China’s M2, a broad measure of money supply, was up 19.46% at the end of November from a year earlier...This compares with 3.3% and 2.5% of annual M2 growth in the US and Japan respectively over the same period…China's money supply, M2-to-GDP ratio over the past decade is the highest in the world. The nation with the longest history of excessive money printing and consequent inflation has clearly forgotten its past. The past, however, has not forgotten China.
One day, a fruit and vegetable seller was arrested in Tunisia, sparking social unrest, and a few weeks later the government of Egypt was set to topple. Such is the nature of complex, chaotic, and unpredictable systems. The stresses build for years and years, and nothing really seems to be happening, but then everything suddenly changes. Egypt is therefore emblematic of what we might expect in any complex system in which pressures are building, such as the US Treasury market. Can events in complex systems ever be predicted? No...and yes. No, because the precise timing and details can never be predicted. Yes, because we can be certain that anything that is unsustainable will someday cease to continue and things that are horribly imbalanced will someday topple. We can also be certain that the change, when it comes, will be rather sudden and abrupt, rather than gentle and linear. That is, we can easily predict that a complex system will shift, and that it will probably do so rapidly, but not exactly when or by how much.
For evacuations or ... something else?
Love them or hate them, only the most self-deluded can claim that the NIA, and its predictions, have been incorrect so far in this monetary 'printing' cycle. Sure they may have an agenda, and yes, Gen Ben may one day pull his money (if he is willing to see the S&P plunge to 666 and well below, so not really), which would kill all commodities, and certainly gold, in their tracks, but focusing solely on their message will have spared many massive real (not nominal) losses as surging commodity prices dwarf the modest pick up in stocks. Today's note from the NIA, while unpleasant, looks at the disastrous long-term consequences of the Chairman's monetary policy, and concludes rightfully so, that absent a diametric shift, which after today's press meeting may well require a revolution as the creature appears to be well on its way to QE3, 4 and so on, what is happening in Egypt is a preview of what will happen in the US in a few short year. Furthermore, the NIA's prediction that rice is up, up and away is in line with what Zero Hedge has been claiming since October (link). Also as a reminder, and as David Tepper just confirmed today, the realization that Rubber is the third and last R-bubble is starting to percolate...
Over the past several weeks there had been rumors that the reason for the precipitous drop in gold was primarily driven by a hedge fund liquidating its futures positions. This has now been confirmed: "Yeah, that was just me liquidating my spread position," Mr. Daniel Shak, [of SHK Asset Management] 51 years old, said in an interview. "I had a significant, fully margined position. The dollar amount of the gold liquidation was very small, it was just a lot of contracts." Of course in the extremely jittery gold market, the kind of persistent marginal gross selling of contracts was all that was needed to spook weak hands into a consistent dump of the precious metal, which as we pointed out was beyond overdone. Judging by this morning's jump in the PM complex, SHK's liquidation is now not only over but about to promptly reverse as daytrading momos realize they were duped by one single guy. Look for gold to resume its upward advance as investors realize that the gold dump was nothing more than an ongoing futures position liquidation.
Desperation kitchen sink anyone? The M2, which up until now was merely diagonal, is about to go parabolic. In the week ending 1/17/2011, Seasonally Adjusted M2 surged by $46.6 billion, the biggest weekly increase in the broadest tracked monetary aggregate (ever since the cost-cutting associated with discontinuing the M3) since 2008. One look at the chart below indicates precisely what is fueling the endless market ramp. Furthermore, for those who realize there is a 93% correlation between M2 and gold, we would certainly recommend putting on the M2/Gold convergence trade on.
Numbers may be rigged or "smoothed out", but can't fool the regular Chinese Joe's and smart money. I believe if China stays on its current "prudent course", the real consumer inflation could hit double digit by early next year.
China's economy appears to have reached a critical threshold of complexity and obscurity that renders it uncontrollable. Recent reports of surging bank loans, real estate speculation, industrial growth and inflation triggered a sharp decline in the Shanghai stock index yesterday. A recent comparison of food prices in Boston and Beijing found that China is now more expensive than the US. Though the first link states that the average urban wage in China is about $3,000 a year, my sources in China report that a college-educated worker makes about $6,000 a year--about one-eighth the average U.S. income of $49,777. A mid-level manager might make $12,000 a year--an excellent salary in China. Food eats up (sorry) about 40% of the average household budget in China, roughly in line with the percentage U.S. households devote to housing/mortgages. As I have noted here before, it's not the absolute percentage rise in essentials such as food and energy that matters, it's the relative impact on lower-income households that matters. A 10% rise in food prices in a household that spends 10% on food (a typical upper-middle class U.S. household) results in a "statistical noise" 1% increase in the family budget. In a family budget with 40% devoted to food, a 10% increase in food meaningfully crimps household spending. A doubling of food prices would be catastrophic.
As usual, one chart is worth a thousand words, and a couple hundred billion in real, incremental dollars.