A preview of the key events in the coming week (which will see more Central Banks jumping on the loose bandwagon and ease, because well, that is the only ammo the academic econ Ph.D's who run the world have left) courtesy of Goldman Sachs whose Jan Hatzius is once again calling for GDP targetting, as he did back in 2011, just so Bill Dudley can at least let him have his $750 million MBS LSAP. But more on that tomorrow.
Japan's core machinery orders were expected to post a modest -2.6% drop. Instead they had a worse collapse than anything seen in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, plunging by a stunning 14.8% . And the kick in the groin cherry on top was the current account surplus plunged by 62.6%: consensus forecast: -14.5%. The Japanese economy has once again ground to a halt, only this time it has no earthquake or nuclear explosion to blame. This time it is the entire world's fault, where demand has collapsed proportionately. As a reminder the BOJ expanded its QE yet again on April 27. Must be time for another QE because this time will certainly be different after more than 30 years of failures. It is time for those brilliant central planners Ph.D's to do engage in more of the same insanity that Einstein warned about decades ago. And incidentally this is not a joke: on Thursday the BOJ is expected to ease yet again. As a reminder, the BOJ already buys ETFs, Corporate Bonds, and REITs. What's left: gold?
It should come as no surprise to anyone that major commercial banks manipulate Libor submissions for their own benefit. As Jefferies David Zervos writes this weekend, money-center commercial banks did not want the “truth” of market prices to determine their loan rates. Rather, they wanted an oligopolistically controlled subjective survey rate to be the basis for their lending businesses. When there are only 16 players – a “gentlemen’s agreement” is relatively easy to formulate. That is the way business has been transacted in the broader OTC lending markets for nearly 30 years. The most bizarre thing to come out of the Barclays scandal, Zervos goes on to say, is the attack on the Bank of England and Paul Tucker. Is it really a scandal that central bank officials tried to affect interest rates? Absolutely NOT! That’s what they do for a living. Central bankers try to influence rates directly and indirectly EVERY day. That is their job. Congresses and Parliaments have given central banks monopoly power in the printing of money and the management of interest rate policy. These same law makers did not endow 16 commercial banks with oligopoly power to collude on the rate setting process in their privately created, over the counter, publicly backstopped marketplaces.
Big Banks Are Rotten to the Core
A generation of market participants has grown up knowing only the era of central bankers and the 'Great Moderation' of (most of) the last two decades elevated their status significantly. While central bankers are generally very well aware of the limits of their own power, financial markets seem inclined to overstress the direct scope of monetary policy in the real world.
If markets fall, investors need only to run to central bankers, and Ben Bernanke and his ilk will put on a sticking plaster and offer a liquidity lollipop to the investment community for being such brave little soldiers in the face of adversity
Monetary policy impacts the real economy because it is transmitted to the real economy through the money transmission mechanism. This has become particularly important in the current environment, where, as UBS' Paul Donovan notes, some aspects of that transmission mechanism have become damaged in some economies. Simplifying the monetary transmission mechanism into four very broad categories: the cost of capital; the willingness to lend; the willingness to save; and the foreign exchange rate; UBS finds strains in each that negate some or all of a central bank's stimulus efforts. In the current climate, it may well be that the state of the monetary transmission mechanism is even more important than monetary policy decisions themselves. Some monetary policy makers may be at the limits of their influence.
"It's impossible to have a political solution to a balance sheet problem" says Paul Brodsky, bond market expert and co-founder of QB Asset Management. The world has simply gotten itself into too much debt. There are creditors that expect to be paid, and debtors that are having an increasingly difficult time making their coupon payments. No amount of political or policy intervention is going to change that reality. (Unless a global "debt jubilee" transpires, which Paul thinks is unlikely). Looking at the global monetary base, Paul sees it dwarfed by the staggering amount of debts that need to be repaid or serviced. The reckless use of leverage has resulted in a chasm between total credit and the money that can service it. So how will this debt overhang be resolved?
Central bank money printing -- and lots of it -- thinks Paul.
With global PMI rolling over again, dimming unemployment growth, and slowing EM Asia impacting global production, it is no wonder than BofAML's economics team sees a dearth of 'feelgood' factors in the market. In fact, as they note, further rate cuts in the euro area and China along with around $500bn of NEW QE in this quarter are priced into the market with any hope for risk assets to rally more consistently, investors will need to see not just willing-and-able central bankers but an abatement of the sovereign crisis in Europe and improvement in global data - neither of which they expect anytime soon. Easier monetary policy can only cushion the blow from higher uncertainty in the US and Europe. Effective policy breakthroughs would thus have to come from compromises in the European Council or in US cross-party politics. Investors have yet to zero in on the real impacts of rising economic uncertainty in the US. As Ethan Harris and Michael Hanson have argued, it is unlikely that the cliff is fully priced into the markets and US political dysfunction will share the spotlight with the European crisis over the next few months. And as last time, the joint act will likely undercut investor confidence.
Your one stop summary of all the notable bullish and bearish events in the past week.
In a market which was left for dead with virtually no hope of a CTRL-Peus Ex Machina, and which otherwise would have tumbled to close at the lows, we realized that something was missing. In fact we noted it less than an hour ago:
Need a Hilsenrath rooomer
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) July 6, 2012
Sure enough, moments ago, with minutes left in the trading day and week, here comes the Fed's favorite leaking scribe, advising the market that not all is lost, and that Pavlovian dogs can, and in fact should continue to salivate at ever poster of a half naked toner cartrdige.
- Beggars can't be choosers after all: Greece Drops Demand to Ease Bailout Terms (FT)
- It took journalists 4 years to get that under ZIRP all banks have to be hedge funds: US Banks Taking Risks in Search of Yield (FT)
- Made-In-London Scandals Risk City Reputation As Money Center (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Approval Rises to Highest Since 2009 After EU Summit (Bloomberg)
- Judge orders JPMorgan to explain withholding emails (Reuters)
- U.S. hiring seen stuck in low gear in June (Reuters)
- Germans Urged to Block Merkel on Integration (WSJ)
- Crony Capitalism Rules: Countrywide used VIP program to sway Congress (Reuters)
- Barclays’ US Deal Rewrites Libor Process (FT)
- Cyprus Juggles EU and Russian Support (FT)
- Delay Seen (Again) For New Rules on Accounting (WSJ)
- Lagarde Says IMF to Cut Growth Outlook as Global Economy Weakens (Bloomberg)
If you are reading this, you are probably a member of what the sociologists would term middle class (albeit at the upper end). This is precisely the segment of society which is poised to come off worst from what is coming. Here is a very disturbing idea. As this crisis develops, if you are an equity portfolio manager and you want to outperform the market, you are going to have to position your portfolio so that it benefits most from your own wealth destruction and that of your family, friends and colleagues. Almost everybody is going to lose and there aren’t many places to hide. This is deeply unpleasant but you can blame the central planners. I’ve written about my own investing, e.g. gold and silver, equities in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, etc. In this Thunder Road Report (below) and going forward, I will discuss this middle class theme and highlight positions I have in individual stocks, etc. The only good thing that can come out of this is a rise in awareness. It’s just awful.
The global central bank market propping continues with the ECB following in the footsteps of the BOE and PBOC, and cutting its benchmark rate by 25 bps to 0.75%, and the deposit rate to 0%. EURUSD slides. In other news, today the BOE, PBOC and now ECB have all eased.... and ES is up a whopping 0.2%. Houston: we have a problem.
Bank Of England Hikes QE By £50 Billion As Expected, As China Cuts Benchmark Rate In Surprising MoveSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/05/2012 07:06 -0400
While everyone was expecting the BOE to return back to QEasing with a £50 Billion increase in its asset purchase program(me), to a total of £375 billion, which is what just happened, the bigger news came 1 second before the BOE announcement, with China declaring it has cut benchmark interest rates as once again the fate of the whole world is in the hands of small groups of academics, promising each other bottles of Bollinger if they can only get the S&P500 over 1,400. In other words, once again small groups of people around the world sat down and conspired (perfectly legally) to manipulate global interest rates. No hearings are scheduled.
Negative interest rates continue to penalise pensioners and savers in European countries and this will lead to further diversification into gold. Financial markets are already starting to wonder about the solidity of last week's summit measures to tackle the euro zone crisis and soon they may question whether even looser monetary policies will help prevent recessions and sovereign defaults. With Independence Day today (Happy July 4th to all our American followers, clients and friends), the ECB decision tomorrow and NFP on Friday, trading should be quite today but as we know illiquid markets can lead to outsized market moves. We tend to try and avoid predictions in GoldCore as the future is largely unknowable and there are so many variables that drive market action that it is nigh impossible to predict the future price of any asset class. However, our opinion has long been that over the long term all fiat currencies will depreciate and devalue against the finite currency that is gold. For this reason we have long held that gold would reach its inflation adjusted high of $2,400/oz and silver its inflation adjusted high at $140/oz and the equivalent in euros, pounds and other fiat currencies. Gold at just over $1,600/oz today remains 33% below its record nominal high in 1980. Silver at just over $28/oz today remains 80% below its record nominal high in 1980. However, we have tended to focus on the important diversification, store of value and safe haven benefits of owning physical gold (and silver) bullion.
The past few years have produced an impression of the Chinese government that it is invincible, and it has miraculous control over the economic machine, that the slowdown is “intentionally” engineered by the government and everything within the economy is still very much under control. Unfortunately, most who use this argument to justify that the slowdown is not a big problem have all invariably forgotten that most economic slowdowns in recent memories started with central banks tightening monetary policy to control inflation and slow down the economy, and most, if not all, of the cases ended with recession that they did not want to get into. Many have also not realized how difficult it would be for China to relate its way out of a debt deflation. So how different China is in this regard is totally beyond our comprehension, and we are forced to suggest that the believers of China cult have gone delusional. As the economic slowdown becomes a reality and a hard landing unavoidable, more of the problems we have identified will surface. The cult will surely die within the next few years at most. The only questions are when it will finally die, and whether it will suffer a violent death or slow death.