This is the third day in a row that an attempt to mount an overnight ramp out of the US has fizzled, with first the Nikkei closing down for the second day in a row and snapping a week-long rally, and then the Shanghai Composite following suit with its 5th consecutive drop in a row as the rumblings out of the PBOC on the inflation front get louder and louder, following PBOC governor Zhou's statement that inflation expectations must be stabilized and that great importance must be attached to inflation. Stirring the pot further was SAFE chief Yi Gang who joined the Chinese chorus warning against a currency war, by saying the G20 should avoid competitive currency devaluations. Obviously China is on the edge, and only the US stock market is completely oblivious that the marginal economy may soon force itself to enter outright contraction to offset the G-7 exported hot money keeping China's real estate beyond bubbly. Finally, SocGen released a note last night title "A strong case for easing Korean monetary policy" which confirms that it is only a brief matter of time before the Asian currency war goes thermonuclear. Moving to Europe, it should surprise nobody that the only key data point, Eurozone Industrial Production for January missed badly, printing at -0.4% on expectations of a -0.1% contraction, down from a 0.9% revised print in December as the European recession shows no signs of abating. So while the rest of the world did bad or worse than expected for the third day in a row, it will be up to the POMO and seasonally adjusted retail sales data in the US to offset the ongoing global contraction, and to send the perfectly manipulated Dow Jones to yet another all time high, in direct refutation of logic and every previous market reality ever.
On March 3, we said that Bitcoin is interesting technology, and a useful currency, but it's not money. Yesterday it crashed to $37. What happened??
Yo Liz: Subsidies for the zombie banks total more than $3 annually for every dollar in income reported by the industry...
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
Departing a socialist regime to avoid paying taxes is not just a French thing anymore: Bloomberg reports that one of the most famous hedge fund managers of the late 2000s, if not so much recently, John "Boricua" Paulson "is exploring a move to Puerto Rico, where a new law would eliminate taxes on gains from the $9.5 billion he has invested in his own hedge funds, according to four people who have spoken to him about a possible relocation." In moving to Puerto Rico, Paulson would merely be the latest person to avoid paying any taxes associated with Paulson & Company: virtually every other investor in Paulson's hedge funds also has no taxes to worry about, for a far simpler reason: taxes are generally incurred on profits, not three years in a row of relentless losses.
Just like a week ago, when the futures experienced an unprecedented event when they actually slid overnight (only to recoup all the losses and then some, in the US trading session), so today sentiment appears to be driven by China which over the weekend once more posted its worst economic numbers to start the year since 2009, with purposeful economic weakness telegraphed by the politburo coupled with higher than expected inflation in what is a harbinger to the end of the global reflation, just as it was in 2011. The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.3%, while the Nikkei was in a world of its own, closing up 0.5%, tracking nothing but the USDJPY nowadays. Additionally, while the US stock market took Friday's downgrade of Italy in stride, and in fact Getco's algos used it to catalyze a late day ramp to close the DJIA just around the "psychological" 14,400 (just like Dow 36,000 is apparently psychological), Europe is less sanguine, and so far Italian bonds have been pressured compared to the rest of PIIGS, rising with yields rising to 4.65%, hitting 4.694% earlier. That's ok though: as we reported over the weekend, there is nothing for widening BTP spreads that a few hundred billion in Fed reserve reallocations to European banks can't fix. And with no macro events or news on today's calendar, perhaps the most notable event so far is the lack of the overnight ramp, which we have all grown to love and expect almost as much as the mysterious 3:30 pm intraday clockwork DJIA ramp.
You could even make a case that QE is part of TBTF. Chew on that for a while Shirley.
Consensus suggests India is a basket case while China is recovering. We think both views are incorrect and therein lies opportunities for contrarian investors.
This objective report concisely summarizes important macro events over the past week. It is not geared to push an agenda. Impartiality is necessary to avoid costly psychological traps, which all investors are prone to, such as confirmation, conservatism, and endowment biases.
The same pattern we have seen every day for the past week is back - slow overnight levitation as bad news piles on more bad news. What bad news? First as noted earlier, a collapse in Chinese imports and a surge in exports, which as SocGen explained is a harbinger of economic weakness in the months to follow, leading to yet another negative close for the Shanghai Composite. Then we got the UK January construction data which plunged by 7.9% according to ONS data. Then the Bank of Italy disclosed that small business lending was down 2.8% in January. We also got a negative Austrian Q4 GDP print. We also got Spanish industrial output plunging 5% in January (but "much better" than the downward revised -7.1% collapse in December). Capping the morning session was German Industrial Production which not unexpectedly missed expectations of a 0.4% increase, printing at 0.0%, although somewhat better than the horrifying Factory Orders print would have implied. Finally, the ECB announced that a total of EUR4.2 billion in LTRO 1+2 will be repaid in the coming week by 8 and 27 counterparties, about half of the expected, and throwing a monkey wrench in Draghi's narrative that banks are repaying LTRO because they feel much stronger. Yet none of this matters for two reasons: i) the Japanese Yen is back in its role as a carry funding currency, and was last trading at 95.77, the highest in four years, and with Jen shorts now used to fund USD purchases, the levitation in the stock futures was directly in line with the overnight rout in the Yen; and ii) the buying spree in Spanish bonds, with the 10 Year sliding overnight to just 4.82%, the lowest since 2010.
When it comes to assets, there are two kinds: hard, tangible assets such as real estate, equipment and durable goods, and then there are financial assets, or "things" that only have an actual worth in the context of a capital market and a smoothly functioning financial system allowing for value-for-value exchanges and mark-to-market: among these are corporate equities, mutual and pension fund shares and reserves, credit instruments and equity in non-corporate businesses. We bring this up because today, as it does every quarter, the Fed released its Z.1, Flow of Funds report, which shows total US household assets and liabilities. Not surprisingly, with the ongoing surge in the stock market courtesy of the Fed's open-ended QE ticking time bomb, and the second housing bubble courtesy of the banking subsidy known as foreclosure stuffing, in the quarter ended December 31, 2012, at least according to the Fed, the US household's total net worth rose by another $1.2 trillion, taking it to $66.1 trillion. However, one thing was particularly notable in this latest update, and as implied by the above paragraphs, is that as of Q4, 2012, total US household financial assets hit an all time high of $54.4 trillion, well over the previous peak of $52.8 trillion in Q3 2007, and nearly $1 trillion higher compared to the past quarter. In other words, as of Q4 2012, the US household's net worth has never been more reliant on the stock market, which by implication means: Ben Bernanke and his centrally printing colleagues around the world.
Though much has been written about the popping of the housing bubble in the U.S. and Ireland, remarkably little has been written about the many housing bubbles that remain unpopped. As a rule, speculative bubbles pop and revert to their pre-bubble levels, so we can anticipate the eventual popping of all remaining housing bubbles. Given the dearth of investment options open to households in China seeking to invest their prodigious savings, it is unsurprising that China's housing bubble continues expanding. Every proponent of housing during bubbles confidently proclaims that "this time it's different," and a decade later the dazed survivors shift through the financial rubble, wondering what went wrong with "guaranteed" fundamentals, trends, valuations, collateral and wealth.
- French unemployment rises again to highest since 1999 (Reuters)
- BoJ rejects call for monetary easing (FT)
- North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike against US (Guardian)
- Firms Race to Raise Cash (WSJ)
- Time Warner Will Split From Magazine Unit in Third Spinoff (BBG) - slideshows, kittens, "all you need to knows" coming to Time
- U.S. economy, world's engine, remains in "neutral": Fed's Fisher (Reuters)
- BOE Keeps QE on Hold as Officials Weigh More Radical Measures (BBG)
- Jobs start to go as US sequestration cuts in (FT)
- BofA Times an Options Trade Well (WSJ)
- Congress Budget Cuts Damage U.S. Economy Without Aiding Outlook (BBG)
- Dell’s Crafted LBO Pitch Gets Messy as Investors Circle (BBG)
- Dell says Icahn opposes go-private deal (Reuters)
- Portugal Rating Outlook Raised to Stable by S&P on Budget Plan (BBG)
- China’s Richer-Than-Romney Lawmakers Reveal Reform Challenge (BBG)
China Threatens Currency War Retaliation, Warns Japan Against Using China As "Garbage Bin" In Race To DebaseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2013 07:02 -0400
About a year ago we warned that in a world devoid of bond vigilantes, long emasculated by the Fed's relentless attempt to bring inflation back or go bust trying, the only forces left willing to stand up to Bernanke are the Brent Vigilantes TM, who succeed in crushing every recent reflation attempt whenever Brent reaches $130 or above (and US gas at the pump rises above $3.80) yet which are rather leery and susceptible to the CME's surprise margin-hike counterattacks, and of course China, the same China which every other lemming said last summer would scramble to join the global reflation except for us, as we made it very clear that all hopes of an RRR or interest rate cut are unfounded. Because all the inflation that China (did not) need would be exported to it courtesy of Bernanke and Company's deliberate and now open-ended printing. For a long time China kept its mouth shut, however, when Japan also joined in this pathological central bank pumping, China may have just had enough. As the WSJ reports,"The president of China's giant sovereign-wealth fund warned Japan against using its neighbors as a "garbage bin" by deliberately devaluing the yen, joining growing international griping about a potential currency war."
The people of Spain are prisoners of an economic adjustment that looks like something dreamed up by Torquemada. A lot of the recent compensation decline had to do with public sector workers (who export nothing) and not private sector ones. Is this a sustainable way to regain competitiveness? Torquemada the Inquisitor would be impressed with the pain that Spain is inflicting on itself. The bad news for Spanish labor markets isn’t over: most measures of Spanish competitiveness show that only half the gap has been closed vs Germany. I don’t see how this can be sustained indefinitely, even with the rally in Spanish sovereign and bank spreads, and with looser fiscal policy sanctioned by the EU. Without a true fiscal transfer union in Europe, caveat emptor in its Periphery, unless prices for stocks, bank loans and real estate are sufficiently cheap.