Asia has badly lagged U.S. and European stock markets this year and over the past 12 months. We explain why it's happened and why it may continue.
"In the early hours of Saturday, the Eurogroup agreed an adjustment programme of up to €10bn for Cyprus, the first under the ESM. Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem referred to the “exceptional nature” of the situation that required “unique measures”. In the special case of Cyprus, this is a upfront one-off “stability levy” of 6.75% on all bank deposits of 100K or less and 9.9% for deposits over 100K, with the aim to raise €5.8bn. A MoU will be finalised shortly. The national approval processes of the euro area member states will then be launched and final agreement should be reached in the second half of April. The IMF is also expected to offer financial support. The package for Cyprus still comes with tough conditionality and the risk is that introducing a new “unique” bank levy measure – despite the many reassurances - could trigger renewed concerns."
The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is clearly sliding toward unavoidable bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are transitioning from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled. We are one crisis away from a police state. All the powers are in place. Someone will flip the switch. Whether a Cyber Attack, escalating Currency War tensions or a 'terrorist' attack by indebted college youth, it is only a matter of time and circumstance... We are one crisis away from a police state. All the powers are in place. Someone will flip the switch. Whether a Cyber Attack, escalating Currency War tensions or a 'terrorist' attack by indebted college youth, it is only a matter of time and circumstance.
As Marc Faber noted, we hardly expect China to report GDP growth rates that do not perfectly fit the goal-seeked solution for utopian society, but under the covers, there appears to be some considerably more ugly real data. One of the hardest to manipulate, manage, or mitigate for a centrally planned economy is Electricity production. The year-over-year drop in China's electricity production is the largest since the slump in Q1 2009; and the seasonal drop (associated with the New Year) is the largest on record at 25.3%! So on one hand China is discussing tightening monetary policy amid inflation anxiety and a potential real estate bubble - thanks to the rest of the world pumping free money - and on the other hand Chinese officials are faced with the reality of a drastically slowing 'real' economy. At the same time, we note that it appears China's export-import data appears overstated. Rock meet hard place.
"Equity prices in the US and Europe have been hovering at multi-year highs. To the extent that this reflects powerful policy easing, equity markets may have lost some of its ability to reflect economic trends in exchange for an important role in the policy fight to support spending." This is a statement from a Bank of America report overnight in which the bailed out bank confirms what has been said here since the launch of QE1 - there is no "market", there is no economic growth discounting mechanism, there is merely a monetary policy vehicle. To those, therefore, who can "forecast" what this vehicle does based on the whims of a few good central planners, we congratulate them. Because, explicitly, there is no actual forecasting involved. The only question is how long does the "career trade", in which everyone must be herded into the same trades or else risk loss of a bonus or job, go on for before mean reversion finally strikes. One thing that is clear is that since news is market positive, irrelevant of whether it is good or bad, virtually everything that has happened overnight, or will happen today, does not matter, and all stock watchers have to look forward to is another low volume grind higher, as has been the case for the past two weeks.
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.
It seems more likely to Morgan Stanley's Gerard Minack that central bankers may win the battle: sustaining recovery in developed economies with extraordinarily loose monetary policy. For a while this would go hand-in-hand with better equity performance. The battle is against a crisis caused by too loose monetary policy, elevated debt and mis-priced risk. Ironically, he notes, central bankers may overcome these problems by running even looser monetary policy, encouraging a new round of levering up, and fresh mis-pricing of risk. However, winning the battle isn't winning the war. If central bankers do win this round, the next downturn could be, in Minack's view, an omnishambles. In short, it seems more likely that central bankers may add another leg to the credit super-cycle. The key question for investors in this scenario is when (and how) this cycle may end, and Minack's hunch is that this cycle is already closer to 2006 than 2003.
Why do I bring all of this up? Because it was China’s stimulus and China’s economy that supposedly lead the world back towards growth again. China is the proverbial canary in the coalmine, the economy that most quickly reveals what’s coming and where we’re all heading…
The markets have begun to wonder whether the Fed (and other central banks) will ever be able to exit from its Quantitative Easing policy. We believe there is only one reasonable exit the Fed can take. Rather than sell its portfolio of bonds or allow them to mature naturally, we believe the Fed’s only practical exit will be to increase the size of all other balance sheets in relation to its own. This “exit” will be part of a larger three-part strategy for resetting the over-leveraged global economy, already underway...
The spectre of stagflation threatens the UK economy due to concerns that sterling weakness will contribute to even higher inflation amid very weak economic growth and the likelihood of a recession – likely a severe one.
Markets are pricing in a jump in inflation as inflation expectations, as measured by the difference between nominal and inflation-linked bond yields, ticked up to near 3.3% yesterday.
Recent poor economic data and the appalling UK fiscal position are rightly leading to concerns of stagflation as was seen in the 1970s. Conditions that make owning gold and silver vitally important to own in order to protect and grow wealth.
There was much chatter by the punditry in the early part of 2013, when the Shanghai Composite appeared relentless in its surge, when it was tracking the S&P virtually tick for tick, hitting a 2013 high in mid-February, and which was "explained" to be the prima facie proof of the Chinese rebound. The reason said chatter has disappeared is that as of last night's close, the SHCOMP is now officially red for the year.
This is the third day in a row that an attempt to mount an overnight ramp out of the US has fizzled, with first the Nikkei closing down for the second day in a row and snapping a week-long rally, and then the Shanghai Composite following suit with its 5th consecutive drop in a row as the rumblings out of the PBOC on the inflation front get louder and louder, following PBOC governor Zhou's statement that inflation expectations must be stabilized and that great importance must be attached to inflation. Stirring the pot further was SAFE chief Yi Gang who joined the Chinese chorus warning against a currency war, by saying the G20 should avoid competitive currency devaluations. Obviously China is on the edge, and only the US stock market is completely oblivious that the marginal economy may soon force itself to enter outright contraction to offset the G-7 exported hot money keeping China's real estate beyond bubbly. Finally, SocGen released a note last night title "A strong case for easing Korean monetary policy" which confirms that it is only a brief matter of time before the Asian currency war goes thermonuclear. Moving to Europe, it should surprise nobody that the only key data point, Eurozone Industrial Production for January missed badly, printing at -0.4% on expectations of a -0.1% contraction, down from a 0.9% revised print in December as the European recession shows no signs of abating. So while the rest of the world did bad or worse than expected for the third day in a row, it will be up to the POMO and seasonally adjusted retail sales data in the US to offset the ongoing global contraction, and to send the perfectly manipulated Dow Jones to yet another all time high, in direct refutation of logic and every previous market reality ever.
The UK government appears to be contemplating changing the BOE's mandate so it can be freer tolerate greater near-term price pressures. The Tory-led government is commented to fiscal consolidation--austerity--the same kind of policies many want to see the US adopt, and needs greater monetary stimulus to avoid a deeper contraction in the UK economy.
If there is one firm that would know what the arrival of a Goldmanite at the head of the BOE means for the GBP, and specifically EURGBP, it would be Goldman. Moments ago Goldman's Tom Stolper just poured more gas into the EURGBP "parity" fire, sending the EUR spiking. That said, the logical Stolper-contrarians in us say this is precisely the time to fade the relentless move higher in the EURGBP: history is on our side about 93% of the time. After all, Goldman's prop flow desk is now selling the pair to its clients. This is even as we said to short the GBP with both hands and feet in late November when Carney's appointment was announced: a move that has resulted in nearly a +1400 pip gain in the GBPUSD short. Oh well, time to take profits.
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)