Reading the financial press, one gets the impression there are only two sides to the austerity debate: pro-austerity and anti-austerity. In reality, we have three forms of austerity. There is the Keynesian-Krugman-Robert Reich form which promotes more government spending and higher taxes. There is the Angela Merkel form of less government spending and higher taxes, and there is the Austrian form of less spending and lower taxes. Of the three forms of austerity, only the third increases the size of the private sector relative to the public sector, frees up resources for private investment, and has actual evidence of success in boosting growth.
With the value of the rupee plunging to new lows, the current account deficit at an all-time high and inflation running at nearly a ten-percent annual clip, India is in serious economic trouble. Indeed many are beginning to wonder whether the country is edging toward a replay of the events in the summer of 1991. Back then, an acute balance of payments crisis forced New Delhi into the indignity of pawning its gold reserves in order to secure desperately needed international financing. At a small public event the other week, Duvvuri Subbarao, the outgoing head of the central bank conceded that policymakers rarely learn from their mistakes: "...in matters of economics and finance, history repeats itself, not because it is an inherent trait of history, but because we don’t learn from history and let the repeat occur."
The petrodollar regime - that oil is bought and sold globally in U.S. dollars - is easy to understand. It boils down to these two principles: 1. Petroleum is the lifeblood of the global economy; and 2. Any nation that can print its own currency and trade the conjured money for oil has an extraordinary advantage over nations that cannot trade freshly created money for oil. This is why many analysts trace much of America's foreign policy back to defending the petrodollar regime. America's energy boom is creating consequences for the value of the dollar.
The equity futures euphoria carryover from this weekend, buoyed by sentiment that the Syrian war is postponed if not cancelled, carried over into Tuesday morning despite news that Israel had launched a missile test, which looked at from almost any angle was an attempt at provoking a response from its adversaries. Also the Chinese boost driven by a solid beat in the country's two manufacturing PMIs persisted despite a drop in the August Non-manufacturing PMI reported last night. So once again we have returned to a state where good news is good news and bad news can be ignored. This, even with the Taper announcement just two weeks away. Of note also is that overnight Nokia shares surged 40% after Microsoft announced that it is to buy Nokia mobile business. In tandem, other EU based related names such as STM and Ericsson also gained ground, trading up 3% and 4.5% respectively. Nokia shares traded sharply higher today after Microsoft said it will pay €3.79bln to purchase substantially all of Nokia's devices & services business and will also pay €1.65bln to license Nokia's patents. A fitting farewell present from Steve Ballmer perhaps. Once again, keep an eye on Syria as the president begins his congressional consultations to take the escalation to the next level, with or without provocations from Israel.
If you thought August had more than enough events to crush the best laid vacation plans of Wall Streeters and men, you ain't seen nothing yet. Presenting "explosive" September.
Equity futures stormed out of the gate on initial relief that a Syria attack may be avoided, which sent oil and the PM complex flash crashing lower. However, overnight, sentiment shifted that the Syrian escalation is at best delayed and as a result Brent regained all losses, with the precious metals also largely unchanged from Friday's close. Futures on the other hand, were perfectly happy to rise on the transitory Syrian risk moderation reduction, and then continue rising when Syria returned to the forefront, this time prodded higher by PMI exuberance out of China and Europe. How credible such manufacturing data remains to be seen. A surging USDJPY was also rather helpful, with the pair breaching 99.00 stops to the upside shortly after the European PMI data printed. And with the cash US market closed, and electronic equity trade halted at 10:30 Central, it is unlikely that concerns about all those "other" things that will define September, will seep in and it is likely the HFTs will push equities to session highs before reopening for the Tuesday trading.
Much data and events next week. Politics risks trumping economics.
As if the federal government were not already doing enough to kill the U.S. airline industry with restrictive workplace rules, over-regulation, and a monetary policy that supports higher fuel prices, earlier this month anti-trust authorities at the Justice Department blocked the merger between American Airlines and US Air. The truth is that our impoverished citizenry can no longer support the airline industry we once had. That's why American and U.S. Air had to merge in order to stay competitive and profitable. That is the sad truth behind the headlines. Ironically blocking the merger could result in more flight reductions and larger fare increases than what might have been the case had the merger been allowed.
Gold looks to have found a base. Citi's FX Technicals retain a view that we can see a “low to high” percentage move in this gold bull market similar to what we saw in the bull market of 1970-1980. They add that if we extract the final leg of that move in December 1979-Jan 1980 which was totally driven by the USSR invasion of Afghanistan - almost doubling the price of Gold over 5 weeks - then we end up with a target of around $3,500 over the next 3 years or so. The charts below are compelling in that respect, but before we look at them we will indulge in some pontification...
Financial Times: "World Is Doomed To An Endless Cycle Of Bubble, Financial Crisis And Currency Collapse"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2013 10:37 -0400
It's funny: nearly five years ago, when we first started, and said that the world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse as long as the Fed is around, most people laughed: after all they had very serious reputations aligned with a broken and terminally disintegrating economic lie. With time some came to agree with our viewpoint, but most of the very serious people continued to laugh. Fast forward to last night when we read, in that very bastion of very serious opinions, the Financial Times, the following sentence: "The world is doomed to an endless cycle of bubble, financial crisis and currency collapse." By the way, the last phrase can be written in a simpler way: hyperinflation. But that's not all: when the FT sounds like the ZH, perhaps it is time to turn off the lights. To wit: "A stable international financial system has eluded the world since the end of the gold standard." Q.E.D.
There is a recurring nightmare that is playing out once again in many of the most leveraged asset-classes in the world's so-called 'markets'. The theme is that of an improving US economy which is pointing a normalization of US monetary policy. Good news, right? It would seem not; as Chris Wood's Greed and Fear notes, that the practical reality is that the emerging world, including Asia, will remain vulnerable to further selling so long as markets are anticipating normalisation of American monetary policy and a related strengthening in the US dollar. However, there is a conundrum, if the world was so sure of the relative strength of the American economy, surely the yen should be selling off more against the dollar. For CLSA the real test is yet to come when the new fiscal year in America begins on 1 October and the revival of US economic growth that is so hoped-for, does not materialize... and given the correlation in the chart below, it is clear that there is only thing that matters - the US 10Y rate.
There has been much discussion as of late about the need for interest rates to rise as they have been historically way too low for too long. However, is that really the case? The average long term interest rate in the U.S. has been 5.49% (median is 4.91%) since 1854. However, that average rate would be much lower if the "spike" in interest rates in the 1960's and 70's were removed which would mean that the current long term interest rate is likely more aligned currently with historical norms. This is particularly the case when compared to the much slower rates of economic growth that currently exists. What we find find most interesting currently are the ongoing discussions about whether or not the U.S. is in a recession. The reality is that such discussions are relatively pointless in the broader context. The "Great Depression" was not just one very long "recessionary" period but rather two recessions that "bookended" a period of relatively strong economic growth.
2013 has not been kind to Hugh Hendry, whose Eclectica Absolute Macro fund has posted an unchanged performance year to date, broadly underperforming (alongside the bulk of the hedge fund community) the market. Below are his most recent macro thoughts, his holdings (few changes most notable of which is the closure of the Yen short), and his take on how Bernanke "infamously marched his troops to the top of the hill only to march them down again, one moment promising tapering, the next, unlimited accommodation."
First Signs of Hyperinflation Have Arrived: US National Debt Can Travel From the Earth to the Sun and Back a Stunning 83 Times!Submitted by smartknowledgeu on 08/26/2013 10:44 -0400
If one were to lay $1 bills side by side, the current US National Debt would reach from the earth to the moon 32,358 TIMES AND BACK and to the sun 93 million miles away 83 times AND BACK.
A quiet week to send off August ahead of a deluge of key data next week and as the fateful Septembr 18 FOMC announcement approaches. Still, quite a few macro events to keep track of.