Despite the widely held belief that 2015 will be the year in which a patient Fed finally begins to normalize rate policy, we believe the Fed has no possibility of withdrawing the stimulus to which it has addicted us. QE4 was always much more probable than anyone in government or on Wall Street cares to admit. A recession and a financial panic caused by sub $60 oil will significantly quicken the timetable by which the Fed cranks up the presses. When it does, oil could once again increase in price, along with all the other things we need on a daily basis. That should finally dispel any remaining illusions that the Fed could successfully land the metaphorical plane. More QE may minimize the damage in the short-term, but we believe it will keep us trapped in our current cocoon of endless stimulus, where we will slowly suffocate to death.
Following the start of Abenomics in 2012, Japan moved back to the center of attention of global financial markets. After two and a half decades of economic stagnation, hopes were high that Japan would escape its long stagnation and deflation. Plenty of economists around the globe hoped that, in so doing, Japan would show the western world, mainly the Eurozone, the way to do the same and avoid a similar long period of low growth and stagnating incomes. Conversely, the failure of Abe’s plan for Japan’s recovery would not only be a disaster for the country of the rising sun. It would also be very bad news for central bankers and politicians in the west as well. It would prove that Keynesian policies don’t work in a world of too much debt and shrinking populations.
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
Once again oil is not even the biggest story today. It’s plenty big enough by itself to bring down large swaths of the economy, but in the background there’s an even bigger tale a-waiting. Not entirely unconnected, but by no means the exact same story either. It’s like them tsunami waves as they come rolling in. It’s exactly like that. That is, in the wake of the oil tsunami, which is a long way away from having finished washing down our shores, there’s the demise of emerging markets. And we're not talking Putin, he’ll be fine, as he showed again yesterday in his big press-op. It’s the other, smaller, emerging countries that will blow up in spectacular fashion, and then spread their mayhem around. And make no mistake: to be a contender for bigger story than oil going into 2015, you have to be major league large. This one is.
"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.
"There is no automatic adjustment of current account deficits and surpluses, they can get totally out of hand. There are effects from big countries to little ones, like Switzerland. The system is dangerously unanchored. It is every man for himself. And we do not know what the long-term consequences of this will be. And if countries get in serious trouble, think of the Russians at the moment, there is nobody at the center of the system who has the responsibility of providing liquidity to people who desperately need it. If we have a number of small countries or one big country which run into trouble, the resources of the International Monetary Fund to deal with this are very limited. The idea that all countries act in their own individual interest, that you just let the exchange rate float and the whole system will be fine: This all is a dangerous illusion."
- Icahn, Paulson Suffer Large Losses as Energy-Related Bets Sour (WSJ)
- Oil Investors Keep Betting Wrong on When Market Will Bottom (BBG)
- U.S. to sell final $1.25 billion shares of Ally Financial from bailout (Reuters)
- Ally Financial Gets Subpoena Related to Subprime Automotive Finance (WSJ)
- Russia's parliament rushes through bill boosting banking capital (Reuters)
- How a Memo Cost Big Banks $37 Billion (WSJ)
- ECB considers making weaker euro zone states bear more quantitative easing risk (Reuters)
- How the U.S. Could Retaliate Against North Korea (BBG)
Swiss Central Bank Plunges Into NIRP, Sends Deposit Rates Negative, Scrambles Against Safe-Haven Capital FlightSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/18/2014 09:43 -0500
Everyone thought that any major monetary policy surprises and/or capital controls today would come from Putin during his annual press conference. Boy were they wrong: just after 2 am Eastern, none other than the Swiss National Bank joined the ranks of the ECB in scrambling to stem the wave of capital flight, not to mention the cost of money, when it announced it too would start charging customers for the privilege of holding cash in its banks, when it revealed a negative, -0.25% interest rate on sight deposits: a step which according to the SNB was critical in maintaining the 1.20 EURCHF floor.
Most commentators remain in a state of denial about the enormity of the price fall underway. Some, failing to understand the powerful forces now unleashed, even believe prices may quickly recover. Our view is that oil prices are likely to continue falling to $50/bbl and probably lower in H1 2015, in the absence of OPEC cutbacks or other supply disruption. Critically, China’s slowdown under President Xi’s New Normal economic policy means its demand growth will be a fraction of that seen in the past. This will create a demand shock equivalent to the supply shock seen in 1973 during the Arab oil boycott. Today's ageing Boomers mean that demand is weakening at a time when the world faces an energy supply glut. This will effectively reverse the 1973 position and lead to the arrival of a deflationary mindset.... Prices have so far fallen $40/bbl from $105/bbl since we first argued in mid-August that a Great Unwinding was now underway. And there have been no production cutbacks around the world in response, or sudden jumps in demand. So prices may well need to fall the same amount again.
"Anything that becomes a mania -- it ends badly," warns one bond manager, reflecting on the $550 billion of new bonds and loans issued by energy producers since 2010, "and this is a mania." As Bloomberg quite eloquently notes, the danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt - as HY energy spreads near 1000bps - all thanks to the mal-investment boom sparked by artificially low rates manufactured by The Fed. "It's been super cheap," notes one credit analyst. That is over!! As oil & gas companies are “virtually shut out of the market" and will have to "rely on a combination of asset sales" and their credit lines. Welcome to the boom-induced bust...
Back in September, when the results of the first much-trumpeted TLTRO were announced, everyone said it was a clear disappointment, when European banks expressed just €82.6 billion in ECB credit demand, far below the €100-€300 billion range expected and well below the €400 billion across the two 2014 TLTROs hinted by Mario Draghi. Today, we got the second TLTRO-3 result which too, was a flop, if not quite the disaster the first one was, when the ECB announced that just €129.84 billion was allotted in today's TLTRO result, spread among 306 counterparties, or 51 more than the bidder who signed up for the first TLTRO, resulting in an aggregate take up for both auctions of only €212 billion, which also happens to be €55 billion, or 21%, below the consensus expectations observed in a Goldman poll back in September 9, €40 billion below the Bloomberg median consensus estimate of €170 billion for the second TLTRO, and half the total cap of €400 billion.
Underneath the Propaganda, the Economy Is In BAD SHAPE …
The simple message: Quantitative Easing has failed to generate inflation. Stated alternatively: QE has not been able to overcome still extant deflationary pressures. Global central banker actions in printing over $13 trillion of new money over the last 6 years have been insufficient to surmount still existing deflationary forces. It tells us the probability of further global deflationary impulses are very real. This has direct implications for any sector of the economy or financial markets whose fundamentals are negatively leveraged to deflationary pressures (think banks, real estate, etc.) Be assured the central bankers are more than fully aware of this.
"...What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another. These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves."