In the US, retail sales are expected to continue to slow in the headline, while retail sales ex autos, building materials, and gas should turn positive in April according to Wall Street analysts. Goldman remains below consensus for Thursday's Philadelphia Fed survey, forecasting a slight improvement on the previous month. The firm also expects the flash reading for Euro area Q1 GDP to come in slightly below consensus, consistent with a shallow contraction. We forecast German GDP will turn positive in Q1 after Q4 2012's negative reading. In Japan, GS sees Q1 GDP at 2.8% qoq ann., slightly above consensus, with stronger consumer spending the main driver. Among the central bank meetings this week, Russia, Chile, and Indonesia are expected to remain on hold, in line with consensus.
The main story overnight is without doubt the dramatic plunge in the Yen, which following the breach and trigger of USDJPY 100 stops has been a straight diagonal line to the upper right (or lower for the Yen across all currency crosses) and at last check was approaching 101.50, in turn sending the USD higher in virtually all jurisdictions. However it is not so much the Yen weakness that was surprising - a nation hell bent on doubling its monetary base in two years will do that - but the accelerating response in neighboring countries all of which are seeing Japan as the biggest economic threat suddenly and all are scrambling to respond. Sure enough, midway through the evening session, Sri Lanka cut its reverse repo and repurchase rate to 9% and 7% respectively, promptly followed by Vietnam cutting its own refinancing rate from 8% to 7%, then moving to Thailand where the finance chief Kittiratt called for a rate cut exceeding 25 bps, and more jawboning from South Korea suggesting even more rate cuts from the export-driven country are set to come as it loses trade competitiveness to Japan. Asian financial crisis 2.0 any minute now?
An overview of this week's drivers.
- Euro-Area Unemployment Increases to Record 12.1% Amid Recession (BBG)
- Fed faces calls for radical reform (FT) - Has Jamie Dimon approved of this message? No? Carry on then
- CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law (BBG)
- Ex-UBS Executive Convicted of Paid Sex With Underage Girl (BBG)
- Six months after Sandy, New York fuel supply chain still vulnerable (Reuters)
- Older, richer shoppers lead Japan’s surge in consumer spending (FT)
- Sharp euro zone inflation fall, joblessness point to ECB rate cut (G&M)
- Gold Rush From Dubai to Turkey Saps Supply as Premiums Jump (BBG)
- Japan Industrial Output, Retail Sales Disappoint (MW)
- Gunmen surround Libyan justice ministry (Reuters)
- Insider-Trading Probe Trains Lens on Boards (WSJ)
- Best Buy exits Europe (WSJ)
- Banker Roommates Follow Zuckerberg Not Blankfein With IvyConnect (BBG)
The week ahead will be driven by the heavy end-of-month data schedule. In addition to the usual key releases like ISM and payrolls and ECB meeting, this week we also get an FOMC meeting - though it will hardly see much more than a nod to the weaker activity data of late. For the ECB meeting a full refi but not a deposit rate cut are priced now. Outside the FOMC and the ECB meeting there will be focus on the RBI meeting in India, with a 25bp cut priced in response to lower inflation numbers recently.
- Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics (NYT)
- Differences with centre-right delay Italy's Letta (Reuters)
- Italy's Letta moves forward to shape government (Reuters)
- China’s leaders warn on financial risks (FT)
- Norway oil fund makes big move from bonds to stocks (FT) - worked wonders for the Bank of Israel
- Smuggling milk is the new smuggling heroin in HK: Milk Smugglers Top Heroin Courier Arrests in Hong Kong (BBG)
- RenTec's mean reversion models fail on BOJ lunacy: Yen Bets Don't Add Up for a Fund Giant (WSJ)
- From 'Fabulous Fab' to Grad Student (WSJ)
- BOJ in credibility test as divisions emerge over inflation target (Reuters)
- Boston Bombing Suspect Moved from hospital to prison (WSJ)
- Provopoulos Says ECB May Never Need to Use Bond-Buying Program (BBG) which is good because, legally, it doesn't exist
A big picture look at the drivers of the global capital markets.
The overtly inflationary policy stance of the FOMC is especially significant when you consider that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is no longer in control of monetary policy.
Synthetic securities based on putrid shipping loans
In August 2011, while undergoing cancer treatments that ultimately failed him, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez began withdrawing 160 tons of gold from U.S., European and Canadian banks. “It’s coming to the place it never should have left. ... The vaults of the central bank of Venezuela, not the bank of London or the bank of the United States. It’s our gold,” he said on national television as crowds cheered armored trucks carrying an initial bullion shipment to the central bank. The Caracas hoard would today be valued at around $9 billion, were it not for the fact that Venezuela has been selling it — about $550 million worth in the first eight months of 2012, according to the IMF. Did further sales follow over the past six months, with proceeds partly paying for the public largesse that helped fuel Chávez’s victorious up-from-the-sickbed presidential run? Thus, there is something less than $8.5 billion in untraceable gold bullion stashed in an extremely politicized city that’s simmering with grudges and dreams. Physical gold is modestly short of priceless to a criminal. What mala gente or dissident generals wouldn’t want some of Chávez’s rich legacy?
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) technology - from LNG seaborne tankers and LNG trains to floating LNG facilities have quickly gone from concept to commercialization, opening up new possibilities in new frontiers and rendering the remote - well, much less remote. Analysts say FLNG terminals will become a major growth market within the next couple of years, as they offer more flexibility than stationary terminals. Liquefaction of natural gas is the process of super-cooling natural gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 162 degrees Celsius) at which point it becomes much safer and easier to transport. After its been shipped to its destination, regasification plants at importing or receiving terminals return the fuel to a gaseous state. A lot of money is being dumped into LNG technology right now. It’s a major bet on the LNG market, but here’s why it’s solid...
On the first workday of a new month, global PMI manufacturing surveys are released around the world. That gives us an early read on the state of manufacturing. As the nearby table from BofAML shows, out of the 22 countries that have reported so far, the message is not good. A reading above 50 reflects expansion while below 50 indicates contraction. In this regard, there were 12 countries in negative territory and 10 in positive. Europe remains a disaster with the divide between core and periphery now starting to be matched by the divide (which we recently discussed) between France and Germany. The UK's plunge from expansion to contraction (just beating Italy's weakness) was its largest drop in 8 months (seemingly once again confirming that you can't print real economic growth) as Holland and Norway also fell notably. While still theoretically in expansion, China also slid raising concerns over the global growth meme that we see highlighted in stock prices this morning.
- Wal-Mart's Sales Problem—And America's (WSJ)
- Investors fret that Italy may undermine ECB backstop (Reuters)
- Monti Government Mulls Delaying Monte Paschi Bailout (BBG)
- Norway Faces Liquidity Shock in Record Redemption (BBG)
- ECB's Praet Says Accommodative Policy Could Lose Effectiveness (BBG)
- EU Chiefs Tell Italy There’s No Alternative to Austerity (BBG)
- New Spate of Acrimony in congress As Cuts Loom (WSJ)
- BOE's Tucker hints at radical growth moves (FT)
- Kuroda Seen Getting DPJ Vote for BOJ, Iwata May Be Opposed (BBG)
- Russian Banks Look to Yuan Bond Market (WSJ)
- Dagong warns about rising debt (China Daily)
- Italy Election Impasse Negative for Credit Rating, Moody’s Says (BBG)
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.
As debate about currency wars heats up, there's been little talk about which currencies will prove safe havens. We think the Singapore dollar tops the list.