The global capital markets are seeing large moves in response not only to the Federal Reserve, though clearly that is a key impetus, but also to developments elsewhere. Here is a dispassionate review.
The overnight economic data dump started in China, where both exports and imports rose more than expected, at 14.7% and 16.8% respectively, on expectations of a 9.2% and 13% rise. The result was a trade surplus of $18.16 billion versus expectations of $16.15 billion. The only problem with the data is that as always, but especially in the past few months, it continued to be completely made up as SocGen analysts, and others, pointed out. The good data continued into the European trading session, where moments ago German Industrial Production rose 1.2% despite expectations of a -0.1% drop, up from 0.6% and the best print since March 2012. The followed yesterday's better than expected factory orders data, which also came at the best level since October. Whether this data too was made up, remains unknown, but it is clear that Germany will do everything it can to telegraph its economic contraction is not accelerating. It also means that any concerns of an imminent ECB rate cut, or a negative deposit rate, are likely overblown for the time being, as reflected in the kneejerk jump in the EURUSD higher.
Following last week's macro fireworks, the coming week will be an absolute snoozer with virtually nothing on the calendar until Thursday's Initial claims, which is the key event of the week, as well as much Fed president jawboning again, including both good and bad cops talking QE4EVA either up or down. And with earnings season basically over, at least coffee consumption will be higher than average.
An overview of this week's drivers.
The resilience of the euro and Australian dollar today, given the heightened rate cut speculation, may be indicative of a reversal of the US dollar's recent fortunes.
A weekly overview of the technical condition of a number of currencies against the US dollar. It is meant to compliment and supplement fundamental analysis. We retain a mostly favorable outlook for the US dollar, though skeptical of the scope for additional significant gains against the Japanese yen.
In the upcoming week the key focus on the data side will be the US February retail sales figures on Wednesday, which should provide clearer evidence on how the tax increases that took place on January 1 have affected the consumer. In Europe, industrial production and inflation data will be the releases to watch. On the policy side, the focus will be on the BoJ appointments in an otherwise relatively quiet week for G7 central banks. Italy’s newly elected lawmakers convene for the first time on Friday 15 March and the expectation remains that President Napolitano will formally invite Mr Bersani to try and form a new government. He may also opt for a technocrat government. Although clearly preferred by markets, winning political backing may prove challenging.
While the G-20 and the G-7 haggle among each other, all (with perhaps the exception of France) desperate to make it seem that Japan's recent currency manipulation is not really manipulation, and that the plunge in the Yen was an indirect, "unexpected" consequence of BOJ monetary policy (when in reality as Richard Koo explained it is merely a ploy to avoid the spotlight falling on each and every other G-7/20 member, all of which are engaged in the same type of currency wars which eventually will all morph into trade wars), Europe's energy powerhouse Norway quietly entered into the war. From Bloomberg: "Norges Bank is ready to cut interest rates further to counter krone gains that interfere with the inflation target, Governor Oeystein Olsen said. “If it gets too strong over time, leading to inflation that’s too low, we will act,” Olsen said yesterday in an interview at his office in Oslo.
Goldman recaps the past tumultuous week, and looks at events in the next 7 days, of which the key feature will be the next "latest and greatest" and most disappointing European summit on Thursday and Friday, where not even Greece is going any longer, and which not even the most resolute Europhiles expect to resolve anything: "The key event of next week is the EU summit. The latest European Economics Analyst details our expectations. In brief we expect to see finalization of the much-anticipated growth compact, involving financing for infrastructure investment and a restatement of the agenda for structural reform. We also expect announcement of a plan for ‘banking union’ in the Euro area, even if, owing to unresolved political differences, details are likely to remain sketchy on key issues—notably on how the implicit cost of providing fiscal backing for the Euro area banking system will be shared across countries."
One month later the purge is over: "Norway’s sovereign wealth fund sold all its Irish and Portuguese government bonds after rejecting the Greek debt swap and warned that Europe faces considerable challenges." Wait, what's that? The Eurozone's political strongarming (think Steve Rattner and GM) was unable to force the world's most powerful sovereign wealth fund into agreeing to what was essentially extortion when bank after bank noted how delighted they are to be bent over and take an 80% writedown on their Greek holdings. Stunning. But at least we now know who will be suing Greece shortly in an attempt to recoup par value of their strong law bonds: grab the popcorn - Norway vs Greece will be quite a spectacle. As for their dump of Irish and Portuguese bonds, no surprise there: fool me once (in perpetuity) shame on me, fool me twice, shame on Dan Loeb... who was buying everything Norway was selling. We wonder who ends up right.
This week brings policy decisions in Taiwan and Thailand. The CBC decision will be very interesting to watch. The December statement at the time was surprisingly hawkish, only to be followed by a large upside surprise in inflation, and the TWD was subsequently allowed to appreciate. Given that the bank continues to view inflation as a major problem, according to quotes from Reuters, it will be very interesting to see how the bank weighs up concerns about hot money inflows vs the need to contain inflation risks. In particular, in the face of imported inflation pressures via higher commodity prices, many central banks may shift towards accepting the need for more currency strength. The week also brings some important central bank commentary. The RBA governor has an opportunity to opine on the recent slew of weak Australian data, as well as developments in the A$. There is quite a bit of commentary from Fed officials on the docket, including from Bernanke, which we will dissect for information on the further direction of policy. More dovish commentary than that of the FOMC last week, would arguably be a surprise and potentially dampen, if not reverse some of the moves of last week.
Earlier today, in the very appropriate context of Greg Smith, we lamented the resent disappearance of everyone's favorite FX strategist, Thomas "9 out of 9" Stolper. Speak of the squid - here he is, this time advising clients they just got Stolpered out on short GBP/NOK with a 2.2% loss in 3 weeks.
While hardly expecting anything quite as dramatic as the default of a Eurozone member, an epic collapse in world trade, or a central banker telling the world that "he has no Plan B as having a Plan B means admitting failure" in the next several days, there are quite a few events in the coming week. Here is Goldman's summary of what to expect in the next 168 hours.