For reasons that will forever remain a mystery to us, mercantilism and protectionism actually hold enormous popular appeal. The best explanation we can come up with for this phenomenon is that the support for such policies is based on a mixture of economic ignorance and relentless propaganda by vested interests over the past, say, four centuries. Still, it is almost comical that people are so vociferously clamoring for policies that can actually cost them a fortune and will definitely lower their standard of living.
Just a few weeks ago, US talk show host Stephen Colbert was asked if he thought that Donald Trump had a chance of becoming President of the United States. Colbert responded sincerely. “Honestly, he could. And that’s not an opinion of Trump. That’s my opinion of our nation.” He’s right. The Land of the Free may very well be ready for something completely different. And Trump certainly seems able to deliver.
There is an economic and financial trainwreck rumbling through the world economy. Namely, the Great China Ponzi. In all of economic history there has never been anything like it. It is only a matter of time before it ends in a spectacular collapse, leaving the global financial bubble of the last two decades in shambles. The resulting deflationary spiral will suck the global economy into its vortex. And Wall Street will go down for the count because this time the Fed will be utterly powerless to reverse the tide.
Heading into the China session, offshore Yuan signaled a 1% devaluation was on the cards. Of course, all media eyes were focused on the disaster in Tianjin but after 3 days of what was supposed to a 'one-off' adjustment, The PBOC has in fact surprised with a modestly stronger fix at 6.3975 from yesterday's 6.4010 Fix. That leaves the CNY Fix devaluation to a 4.60% loss in 4 day. Of course, its a bit hypocritical of Americans or Europeans to regard the Chinese as mean and nasty and currency warriors because they're letting their currency adjust against a constantly-devaluing dollar and euro. The US has been devaluing the dollar for years, but that's a-ok for Western commentators, apparently. It appears - judging by the opening devaluation and closing intervention - that China is as set on crushing the herd of one-way carry traders as any export-enhancing currency debasement.
Although the headline number suggests that credit demand in China was robust in July, the "expansion" was entirely attributable to Beijing's mammoth equity plunge protection effort. As for the real economy, well, the picture isn't pretty.
We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history. Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. China is the biggest domino about to fall, and from a great height as well, threatening to flatten everything in its path on the way down. This is the beginning of a New World Disorder…
Will the Japanese “monetary perpetuum mobile” ever get questioned by financial markets?
We have argued that it is a perilous myth that central bankers these days control a general price level. They instead incentivize massive financial flows into securities markets and fashionable sectors. Over time, ramifications and consequences reach the profound. For one, excess liquidity promotes over/mal-investment. It’s only the scope and nature that remain in question. If major Bubble flows inundate new technology investment, the resulting surge in the supply of high-margin products engenders disinflationary pressures elsewhere. Policy responses to perceived heightened “deflation” risks then only work to exacerbate Bubbles, mounting imbalances and structural fragilities. This was a critical facet of “Roaring Twenties” analysis that was lost in time.
Back in the 1960s, Alan Greenspan wrote a well-known essay that to this day is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the present-day monetary and economic system (which is a kind of “fascism lite” type of statism, masquerading as capitalism) and especially the almost visceral hate etatistes harbor toward gold. Greenspan’s essay is entitled “Gold and Economic Freedom”, and as the title already suggests, the two are intimately connected.
The IMF failures in Greece bring back vivid memories of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98... As the Indonesian episode should teach us, the IMF’s management can be very political and often neither trustworthy nor competent. Greece offers yet another chapter.
"How would US Treasury bulls in the private sector react if they knew in advance that the second largest owner of Treasuries, the PBOC, was a forced seller of Treasuries. Such compelled selling would be obvious before US markets opened each morning as downward pressure on the RMB exchange rate in Asia forced the PBOC to liquidate foreign currency assets to defend the fixed exchange rate. Would even Treasury bulls stand in the way of such a large and predictable liquidation? If they didn’t then the second phase of The Great Reset would come to pass and the decline of EM external deficits would force tighter monetary policy in both EM and DM."
Grant: "I am very bullish indeed". ”Recent fall in prices “terrifically vexing but a wonderful opportunity”; the reasons for owning gold have not gone away.
Last week was a complete dead zone for US macro, however with the peak of Q2 earnings season there was more than enough commotion for everyone. This week US macro starts to pick up again, with Durable Goods on Monday, followed by Case Shiller, Q2 GDP, the Chicago PMI, various consumer confidence indices, and of course, the July FOMC meeting on Wednesday.
It all started in China, where as we noted previously, the Shanghai Composite plunged by 8.5% in closing hour, suffering its biggest one day drop since February 2007 and the second biggest in history. The Hang Seng, while spared the worst of the drubbing, was also down 3.1%. There were numerous theories about the risk off catalyst, including fears the PPT was gradually being withdrawn, a decline in industrial profits, as well as an influx in IPOs which drained liquidity from the market. At the same time, Nikkei 225 (-0.95%) and ASX 200 (-0.16%) traded in negative territory underpinned by softness in commodity prices.