There's never been coordinated global money printing of the scale of today and it's likely to end badly. Here's how you can protect your investment portoflios from what's to come.
There's never been coordinated global money printing of the scale of today. It will end badly and investors need to prepare accordingly.
The big driver of market declines Friday was led by the Non-Farm Payrolls report. The jobs data was a dreadful miss which leads to the major “disconnect” we’ve been seeing between stock prices and overall economic data which we posted just last week. This is the nagging and confounding reality of the QE and ZIRP grand experiment for many investors.
Thoughts on the BOJ, ECB and US jobs.
As the fast-money flabber-mouths stare admiringly at the rise in nominal prices of Japanese (and the rest of the world ex-China) stock prices amid soaring sales of wheelbarrows following Kuroda's 'shock-and-awe' last night, it is Kyle Bass who brings these surrealists back to earth with some cold-hard-facting. Out of the gate Bass explains the massive significance of what the Japanese are embarking on, "they are essentially doubling the monetary base by the end of 2104." It is a "Giant Experiment," he warns, but when you are backed into a corner and your debts are north of 20 times your government tax revenue, "you're already insolvent." Simply put, Bass says they have to do something and they have to something big because they are "about to implode under the weight of their debt." For a sense of the scale of the BoJ's 'experimentation', Bass sums it up perfectly (and concerningly), "the BoJ is monetizing at a rate around 75% of the Fed on an economy that is one-third the size of the US!"
With all three major non-Fed central banks on the tape today, all economic data will be merely "noise" as the market digests what the central-planners' intentions are. The BOJ came and went, and following its substantial balance sheet expansion announcement, which many called "shocking and awing" the USDJPY has pushed higher by 2.5 big figures, although not reaching the 96 levels seen prior to Kuroda's actual announcement. In fact, from this point on there is likely downside as Japan's biggest export competitor, South Korea, has no choice but to join the race to debase which in turn will be JPY-positive. The Bank of England is next, which as expected did nothing moments ago, and will keep doing nothing until Carney joins officially this summer. In some 45 minutes, the ECB headlines will hit the tape where Draghi may bur more likely may not lower deposit rates, and instead will focus on recent deterioration in the economy. None of this will be surprising, and the EUR continues to trade sufficiently weak in line with sub-200DMA levels seen in the past few weeks. What we look forward to the most will be Draghi once again discussing the legal term-sheet details of the ECB's OMT program. His answer will be amusing as there still is no answer, and the OMT is for all intents and purposes the biggest straw man ever conceived by a central bank.
Earlier this morning the BoJ introduced a comprehensive change to its monetary policy framework. The asset purchasing program will be merged with the outright JGB purchase program (rinban), and JGB purchases will be expanded to include all maturities, including 40-year bonds. The pace of JGB purchases by the BoJ will be accelerated to ¥7trn per month from just under ¥4trn currently (on a gross basis), and purchases of ETFs and J-REITs will also be increased. The main operating target for money market operations was changed to a monetary base control (a quantitative index) from the uncollateralized overnight call rate.
As Citi's Todd Elmer notes, today's BoJ outcome looks far closer to 'shock and awe' than disappointment. It appears the BoJ's actions may speak as loud as their words for now - JPY is weakening and the Nikkei is rallying after Kuroda's last shot at a first impression appeared to beat expectations (covering for disappointing macro data - despite six months of jawboning and a 20% devaluation). Expectations, though tough to extract given the range of possible actions, appeared centered on extending maturities of bond purchases, increasing the size (median expectations of around JPY5.2tn per month or 50% higher than in Q1), bringing forward the open-ended nature of the program, and increasing scope to foreign bonds and REITs. In his effort to do "whatever it takes", the BoJ is upping asset purchases, extending the maturity of purchases and merging its asset purchase program; increasing the size to JPY7tn and buy securities out to 40 years. Though no mention of foreign bond-buying was made, and increase in ETFs and REITs is included. They have given themselves a two-year window to achieve the 2% inflation goal - paging Kyle Bass - and ironically, as the news broke Tokyo was hit by a significant earthquake.
The past 10 days have seen the Japanese Yen strengthen 3% against the USD - its largest such move in two years - with today's rally prompting a rather painful 'crash' in the Nikkei 225 at the open and envoking the anger of Abe:
- *ABE SAYS CURRENCY CORRECTION HELPING EXPORTERS COMPETITIVENESS (except that there is no evidence of this in any macro data at all)
- *ABE SAYS IT'S POSSIBLE BOJ WILL FAIL TO REACH INFLATION TARGET (like for the last two decades)
- *ABE SAYS ECONOMY SUBJECT TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES (unpossible)
- *ABE SAYS BOJ MUST EXPLAIN IF IT FAILS TO REACH INFLATION TARGET (not my fault!)
It seems that perhaps the wise investing public is waking up to the fact that words do not speak louder than actions, that macro fundamentals are bad and getting worse, and that 36,000 target for the Nikkei may be a stretch goal here.
Since the 1990s, priced in Real GDP the Dow Jones Industrial Average (as well as the S&P500) has been far above their 20th-century norm. There is an unsurprising coincidence - as stock prices (and corporate profits) have soared above their historical norm, wage growth has been very stagnant. The economy has come to be tilted toward bankers, financiers, insurance brokers and away from wage-earners, manufacturers and artisans. Does that mean that as Hassett and Glassman projected in Dow 36,000, stock prices have climbed to a new plateau? Well, while it is impossible to say exactly what prices will do in future (nominal, or otherwise) the “new plateau” has been very much supported by the Federal Reserve, first by lowering rates and keeping them low. Some might take that as a sign that stocks aren’t going to get much cheaper, because the Fed won’t let them get much cheaper; but gravity is against the Fed. Will it be third-time unlucky for the Fed, hell-bent on wealth-effecting and financialising the US economy to prosperity?
Forget Cyprus. A much bigger story in the coming weeks and months will be in Japan, where one of the greatest economic experiments in the modern era is about to begin.
Democratic governments in low-growth economies sometimes rely on their central banks to support fiscal policy so as to avoid asking voters to share more of the burden. BNP Paribas' Ryutaro Kono notes that it is the pathology of modern democracies to foist our bills onto future generations and one could argue that the prolongation of our zero-rate regimes and quantitative easing are facilitating this. When this societal weakness is combined with today’s financialized economies, we get a pronounced inclination toward monetization, which could lead to very serious problems. While Governor Shirakawa has described the BoJ as the “frontrunner” in venturing into unknown territory with policies like zero rates and quantitative easing, Kono warns that Japan could also become the frontrunner of outright monetization. This could intensify the dilemma of having to choose between price stability or financial-system stability when inflation actually starts to pick up.
With their crackpot monetary ideas, central banks have been robbing Peter to pay Paul without knowing which one was which. And a problem here is this thing behavioral psychologists call self-attribution bias. It describes how when good things happen to people they think it’s because of something they did, but when bad things happen to them they think it’s because of something someone else did.... When we look around we can’t help feeling something similar is happening. The 99% blame the 1%; the 1% blame the 47%. In the aftermath of the Eurozone’s own credit bubbles, the Germans blame the Greeks. The Greeks round on the foreigners. The Catalans blame the Castilians. And as 25% of the Italian electorate vote for a professional comedian whose party slogan “vaff a” means roughly “f**k off ”, the Germans are repatriating their gold from New York and Paris. Meanwhile in China, that centrally planned mother of all credit inflations, popular anger is being directed at Japan, and this is before its own credit bubble chapter has fully played out. (The rising risk of war is something we are increasingly worried about…) Of course, everyone blames the bankers (“those to whom the system brings windfalls… become ‘profiteers’ who are the object of the hatred”).
Over the weekend, FT noted that China’s central bank reported that companies and individuals sold RMB 684 billion ($109 billion) worth of foreign exchange and bought an equivalent amount of Chinese currency in January, a record for a single month. On the chart below, please point out the Chinese "hot-money" inflationary ticking time bomb (hint: highlighted).
This is the second of three articles on the suppression of gold. In the first article we showed that, under mainstream economic theory, the suppression of the gold market is not a conspiracy theory, but a logical necessity, a logical outcome. This second article will show how that suppression takes place, and potentially how to protect ourselves from that manipulation.