Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old "had a great reputation" at work, came from an "illustrious family," and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted, "he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised. I can not understand." Most believe that the suicide is not related to his work at the bank, but a former colleague had noticed that on his Facebook recently changed its job title to "former." Chris leaves behind a son - who had recently been cleared of cancer.
Well the day has finally arrived that after two years of promises, jawboning and hope - the European Central Bank finally announced they will take the plunge into the Quantitative Easing (QE) pool. Whether or not the ECB's QE program has the desired effect or not will not be realized for a while. However, this week's reading list is a variety of opinions and initial takes on the "ABC's of the ECB's QE."
With the leads in at least six polls (of between 4% and 10%), Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has come out swining for the anti-EU vote this morning:
- *TSIPRAS SAYS ONLY SYRIZA CAN END GREECE'S CATASTROPHIC COURSE
- *TSIPRAS SAYS WON'T HONOR COMMITMENTS MADE BY PREVIOUS GOVT
- *TSIPRAS SAYS WILL NEGOTIATE WITH EUROPEAN PEERS NOT WITH MERKEL
For now Greek assets remain bid on the glorious awesomeness of Draghi but we suspect - though The ECB gave themn room to negotiate and Djisselblom mentioned the possibility of 'working' with Greece - that if things go as the polls suggest Monday could see more bloodletting in EURUSD (and bank runs in Greece).
As reported earlier, several hours ago Saudi Arabia announced that its 91-year-old King Abdullah had passed away, in the process setting off what may be a fascinating, and problematic, Saudi succession fight which impacts everything from oil, to markets to geopolitics, especially in the aftermath of the dramatic political coup in neighboring Yemen. As a reminder, it is Saudi Arabia whose insistence on not cutting oil production with the intent of hobbling the US shale industry has led to the splinter of OPEC, and to a Brent price south of $50. Which is why today's event and its implications will be analyzed under a microscope by everyone: from politicians to energy traders. Here, courtesy of Ecstrat's Emad Mostaque, is an initial take at succession, the likely impact on oil, then the Saudi market & currency and finally regional politics.
Since its inception in 2008, easy monetary policy has created very few positive effects for the real economy — and has created considerable (and in some cases unforeseen) negative effects as well. The BIS warns of financial bubbles. While economic policymakers should take a closer look at Japan, China, and yes, the United States, when debating the limits of monetary stimulus and the dangerous nature of financial bubbles; sadly, the discussion is happening too late to be anything more than an intellectual exercise.
SocGen Explains That Since The ECB's QE Will Fail, It Will Need To Be Increased To €3 Trillion, Include StocksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/22/2015 15:27 -0500
"The potential amount of QE needed is €2-3 trillion! Hence for inflation to reach close to a 2.0% threshold medium term, the potential amount of asset purchases needed is €2-3tn, not a mere €1tn. Should the ECB target such an expansion of its balance sheet, it would have to ease some conditions on its bond purchases (liquidity rule, quality...) or contemplate other asset classes- equity stocks, Real Estate Investment Trust-(REIT), Exchange-traded fund (ETF)...- as the BoJ, previously."
As we further showed, the bulk of foreign demand for New York's most expensive properties, originated in China, Russia and various other oligarch-controlled nations, where the impetus to launder illegally obtained hot money meant an impulse to buy US real estate sight unseen and virtually at any price. And all of it, of course, all cash. No mortgages. That onslaught of foreign oligarch demand is ending, and with it so is the bubble that luxurious New York real estate found itself in on the back of some $12 trillion in central bank liquidity created out of thin air in the past 6 years. Business Week cites Manhattan real estate agent Lisa Gustin who listed a four-bedroom Tribeca loft for $7.45 million in October, expecting a quick sale. Instead, she cut the price this month by $550,000. “I thought for sure a foreign buyer would come in"... They didn't.
People have been asking me why we spend so much time in New Zealand, so here you go...
Major central banks claim to be independent, but they are totally under the control of politicians. Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s all well and good in principle until the economy spins out of control – at zero-bound growth and rates central banks and politicians becomes one in a survival mode where rules are broken and bent to fit an agenda of buying more time. What comes now is a new reality...
- Obama to focus on middle class in State of Union address (Reuters) - all 4 of them?
- European Stocks Buoyed by ECB Hopes (WSJ)
- China's 2014 economic growth misses target, hits 24-year low (Reuters)
- Federer on Swiss Franc Shock: "Does It Mean I've Got to Win Now?" (BBG)
- First-time buyers help Christie’s reach record sales (FT)
- So it was the NSA? U.S. Spies Tapped North Korean Computers Prior to Sony Hack (BBG)
- Why Chinese Developer Kaisa's Default Risk Has Money Managers Spooked (BBG)
- Morgan Stanley Misses Estimates on Drop in Bond-Trading Revenue (BBG)
As we noted last week, the Swiss National Bank's decision to un-peg from the Euro (thus strengthening the CHF dramatically) will have very significant repercussions - not the least of which is for Hungarian and Polish Swiss-Franc-denominated mortgage-holders. The 20% surge in Swiss Franc translates directly into a comparable jump in the zloty value of loan principles and and monthly payments for about 575,000 Polish families owing a total $35 billion in mortgages denominated in the Swiss currency which has prompted calls for Poland's government to bail them out. Never mind the FX risk, the low-rates were all anyone cared about and now yet another 'risk-free' trade has exploded, Deputy PM Piechocinski says, if the franc "remains above the 4 zloty level, the government may provide support" to debtors but Poland's Central Bank is not supportive of the bailout.
"My belief is that the big surprise this year is that investor confidence in central banks collapses. And when that happens — I can’t short central banks, although I’d really like to, and the only way to short them is to go long gold, silver and platinum... that’s the only way. That’s something I will do."
An astute reader recently posed an insightful question: we all know who benefits from asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate--owners of assets, banks, the government (all those luscious capital gains and rising property taxes), pension funds, brokers and so on. But who benefits from the inevitable collapse of these asset bubbles? If asset bubbles end badly for virtually every participant, then why does the system go to extremes to inflate them? This is an excellent question, as it goes right to the heart of our dysfunctional Status Quo.
Market Wrap: Chinese Stocks Crash As Financials Suffer Record Drop; Commodities Resume Decline; US ClosedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/19/2015 07:12 -0500
Following last week's Swiss stock market massacre as a result of a central bank shocker, and last night's crack down by Chinese authorities, it almost appears as if the global powers are doing what they can to orchestrated a smooth, painless (as much as possible) bubble deflation. If so, what Draghi reveals in a few days may truly come as a surprise to all those- pretty much everyone - who anticipate a €500 billion QE announcement on Thursday.
What a way to start the year. The crash in oil prices is no small matter. The previous down sweep in energy prices occurred in the midst of the financial crash 0f 2008 and Great Recession. Oil prices soon reversed afterwards and climbed back to dizzying heights, even as world economic and financial recovery remained fragile. However, as Abe Gulkowitz explains in his usual 'all-the-charts-that-are-fit-to-print' letter, this time it would be foolish to bet solely on such a similarly quick snapback..."The various repercussions will be extensive..."