On the surface, it may seem innocuous for Germany to move some pallets of gold closer to home. But most economists can't see the bigger implications and frequently miss the forest for the trees. What your friendly government economist doesn't reveal and the mainstream journalist doesn't report (or doesn't understand) is that in the event of a US bankruptcy, euro implosion, or similar financial catastrophe, access to gold would almost certainly be limited. If other countries follow Germany's path or the mistrust between central bankers grows, the next logical step would be to clamp down on gold exports. It would be the beginning of the kind of stringent capital controls Doug Casey and a few others have warned about for years. Think about it: is it really so far-fetched to think politicians wouldn't somehow restrict the movement of gold if their currencies and/or economies were failing? Remember, India keeps tinkering with ideas like this already.
Following yet another quiet overnight session, futures have surprised many walking into work today as the traditional overnight levitation is strangely missing. The reason for that may be the lack of the traditional for 2013 lift in various funding currency pairs, with both the USDJPY and the EURUSD lower. While there was no major macro news, the former may have been dragged lower by various comments from the German BDI industry federation chief who said he is worried about the devaluation race stemming from Japan's central bank policy echoing Merkel's comparable sentiment and revealing that the EURUSD may have topped out, while the latter was pushed lower following today's 7 day ECB MRO, which saw some €124.1 billion allotted at a 0.75% yield. This was largely in line with expectations, with Barclays seeing some €135.4 billion maturing, while BNP had expected modestly more, or some €150 billion. The MRO is the first such operation, with tomorrow's 3 month refinancing operation likely to give a better glimpse of the bank's post-LTRO repayment funding needs. Whether it is this, or the market finally demanding some action out of central banks which, except for the Fed, have been in constant promise mode, or just a random walk, is unknown, but for now the carry funded nominal devaluation of risk may have topped out.
In yet another victory for not bowing to the great-and-good of modern orthodoxy, Iceland has won a court ruling that enables it to repay billions of Euros (in failed bank deposits to the UK and Holland) on its own terms. Icesave collapsed in 2008 and left thousands of depositors, who had chased higher yielding deposits, with losses. The Dutch and British governments demanded prompt payment; Iceland denied, preferring (rationally) to repay what they could from the then-bankrupt entity. As RTE notes, Icelanders in referenda twice voted against repayment schemes drawn up by their government to satisfy the British and Dutch claims, leaving the estate of Landsbanki to pay back the funds, which it has steadily done, instead of the taxpayers of Iceland being force per se to fund this shortfall. The implication being: Bank deposit insurance schemes in the European Economic Area are NOT backed by government liability, neither explicitly nor implicitly - which could well reignite concerns of the much-hoped-for Europe-wide deposit-guarantees.
The 2008 crash resulted from the bursting of the biggest bubble in financial history, a ‘credit super-cycle’ that spanned more than three decades. How did this happen? Some might draw comfort from the observation that bubbles are a long established aberration, arguing that the boom-and-bust cycle of recent years is nothing abnormal. Any such comfort would be misplaced, for two main reasons. First, the excesses of recent years have reached a scale which exceeds anything that has been experienced before. Second, and more disturbing still, the developments which led to the financial crisis of 2008 amounted to a process of sequential bubbles, a process in which the bursting of each bubble was followed by the immediate creation of another. Though the sequential nature of the pre-2008 process marks this as something that really is different, in order to put the 'credit cuper-cycle' in context, we must understand the vast folly of globalization, the undermining of official economic and fiscal data, and the fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamic which really drives the economy.
James Turk: "My guess is that 2013 and 2014 are going to be big up year for the precious metals, but we still have to contend with the central planners and the various government policies, which have been actively trying to keep the gold and silver prices from reaching fair value. The central planners are losing the war. They may win an occasional battle or two, but they’re losing the war, and eventually gold and silver are going to go higher.... I can’t say that trust between central banks is waning, but you have to recognize that there are two categories of central banks: There are central banks that are in the U.S. circle of control and dominance, and then there are central banks outside the circle of U.S. control and dominance. The ones that are outside of the U.S. control and dominance are accumulating physical gold. The ones within the U.S. control tend not to do that, although it’s interesting that Germany, Netherlands, and now Austria, too, are talking about bringing their gold back."
The market gets smoked for 1/4 Trillion in a single name, and we're trading at the highs. Go figure.
For the first time this year, Brussels is awash with the opulent optimists of Europe as the finance ministers meet to decide how much of the EUR500bn ESM funds can be funneled direct to their banks and bypass the greedy governments. However, at the core is an uncomfortable reality that all is not well, one Brussels-based think-tank noted: "It’s really about signaling, the only thing that really has an impact on markets is when the word unlimited is uttered by somebody in charge, so in the end it’s not a question of how high the big number should be." The dilemma is Draghi's 'unlimited' promise, which has now been adopted by the Fed and the BoJ, has been hailed as the "breakthrough in tackling the causes of the euro-zone crises" but has instead unraveled into a combination of "complacency and political resistance" from creditor countries.
While moustachioed managers, contrary to the far better insight of their superiors, and mainstream spivs are trying to talk down Germany's somewhat stunning shift in thinking - i.e. to repatriate its gold - as nothing but political pandering (or cost-saving); it seems, just as we predicted, the rest of the world are seeing this crack-in-the-confidence-armor the same way we have suggested. As we noted here, the first party to defect from the prisoner's dilemma of all the bulk of global gold being held by the Fed, defects best (then the second, or even the third perhaps) and sure enough, via RTL, we see the Dutch CDA party has requested that Holland's gold supply be repatriated. Who next?
Euro area industrial production decreased in November, for the third month running, and reached its lowest since April 2010. Pictet notes that, in terms of country, the industrial production figures were mixed with 8 out of 12 countries experiencing negative m-o-m growth. It is worth noting that all periphery countries recorded a sharp monthly decrease and while recent 'surveys' have confirmed a stabilization (albeit in negative territory), this week's data (as shown in the following 4 charts) suggests that current optimism may be challenged. The bottom line - despite hope of an improvement in activity in Q1 2013, the overall picture remains very gloomy, especially for the periphery countries. Without external help (ECB unorthodox measures, fiscal federalism, etc.) these countries are likely to remain entrenched in recession.
How effective have the sanctions been in moderating Iran’s behavior up to now? Current indications are not much, despite the damage inflicted on the country’s economy. On 9 January Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran should establish more processing industries in the oil and gas sectors to reduce dependency on exports of crude oil and that the budget plan for the next Iranian year of 1392 (to start on 21 March) envisaged less dependence on crude oil revenues as the government intends to replace crude oil exports with oil derivatives to allow the nation’s economy to participate in the oil sector’s lucrative downstream industry.... A regime that has weathered more than three decades of tumult in its efforts to construct an Islamic society seems unlikely in an energy-starved world to ameliorate its behavior solely to please the dictates of Washington, Brussels, the UN and Canberra. And oh, on 14 September 2012 the United States exempted Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Japan from complying with the sanctions for another 180 days, a list that was expanded on 8 December to include China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Taiwan.
Even if you’re white, insured, educated, or in upper-income groups and live a healthy lifestyle, you’re still getting the short end of the stick
Equity markets recovered from a lower open following press reports overnight by eKathimerini that the country’s main banks are considering requesting additional funds for their recapitalization and edged higher throughout the session after sources at Hellenic Financial Stability Fund said that there no indications that Greek banks need more recap funds. In addition to that, Xinhua reported that chance of China RRR cut is increasing for January, citing industry insiders for RRR cut forecast. This follows on from the reports in ChinaDaily last week, which suggested that a small interest rate cut at the right time could substantially decrease financing costs and improve expectations for profitability, citing researchers from the China Development Bank, the State Information Center and the Shanghai Securities News who have worked together to forecast key economic indicators and policies in 2013. The risk sentiment was also supported by well subscribed debt auctions from the Netherlands, Austria, Greece and Belgium. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads are tighter by around 5bps in 10s. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the latest NFIB, IBD/TIPP and Consumer Credit reports. The Fed is due to conduct Treasury op targeting Oct'18-Dec'19 (USD 3.00-3.75bln) and the US Treasury is also set to auction USD 32bln in 3y notes.
Several hours ago, Syrian president delivered his first public speech in months, addressing the internal military conflict that has gripped his country, and whose key excerpts can be found here. In it he called for a "full national mobilisation" to fight against rebels he described as al Qaeda terrorists. "We meet today and suffering is overwhelming Syrian land. There is no place for joy while security and stability are absent on the streets of our country," Assad said in a speech at the opera house in central Damascus. "The nation is for all and we all must protect it." Assad once again blamed the west for provoking and "facilitating" the rebellion, which even the NYT admits is being orchestrated by Al Qaeda, which naturally begs the question: just what is Al Qaeda to the US and to its intelligence agencies - foe or ally? But while providing fodder for the pundits, the speech was largely irrelevant. What does merit attention is the follow up to the story from two weeks ago the Russia sent two squadrons of ship to Syria in mid-December. It appears they have arrived, and just in time to offset the positioning of NATO Patriot missiles along the Turkish-Syria border.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
Trailing the US, as not much else to do. EGBs firming up, but mostly because they‘re supposed to do so, as Equities end a little softer, because they have to, as well. Credit likewise. So no Risk highs under the Xmas three… All because of the US. Blue.
"Blue Christmas" (Bunds 1,38% -4; Spain 5,23% +1; Stoxx 2644 -0,6%; EUR 1,318 -40)