The ECB again cut the interest rates it controls, deeper into negative territory. It says it’s trying to nudge prices higher, but it’s actually feeding the cancer of falling interest.
Markets are very active in the early Asian trading session (following the G-20-'s warnings over excess risk-taking). Precious metal liquidations continue with silver bearing the brunt (back below pre-Lehman levels) and gold down modestly. Stocks from China to US are all down notably too. The USD is weakening as EUR strengthens on the back of ECB comments about the possibility of no more stimulus and chatter that the PBOC may be selling USDs. Treasury yields are down (having retraced all FOMC losses). Iron Ore futures in Singapore just hit a record low below $80.
So much for any Scottish referendum vote "surprise": the people came, they voted, and they decided to stay in the 307-year-old union by a far wider margin, some 55% to 45%, than most polls had forecast, even as 3.6 million votes, a record 85% turnout, expressed their opinion. The gloating began shortly thereafter, first and foremost by David Cameron who said "There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people." Queen Elizabeth II, who is at her Scottish castle in Balmoral, is expected to make a rare comment on Friday. But while a No vote was where the smart betting money was ahead of the vote anyway, and is thus hardly a surprise, the most curious thing overnight was the complete roundtrip of cable, which was bought on the rumor and then sold off on the news, roundtripping by nearly 200 pips.
Ever wonder why for the US, it is all about reflating the stock market bubble in order to boost the "wealth effect", if only for a small portion of the population? Or, for that matter, why in China where the Shanghai Composite has gone absolutely nowhere since the Lehman crash (and certainly isn't up some 200% unlike the liquidity-supercharged S&P 500), it is all about preserving the sanctity of the housing bubble? Then the following chart should make it all clear.
When earlier today, the Fed released its latest Z.1 (Flow of Funds report) for the second quarter, there were no surprises: thanks to the relentless liquidity injections by global central banks (charted here) resulting in record stock market levels, total household net worth rose once more, increasing by $1.4 trillion in the quarter (up from a downward revised $1.2 trillion in the previous quarter) to a new record high $81.5 trillion. This was the result of a $95.4 trillion in total assets, offset by $13.9 trillion in liabilities, mostly mortgage debt of $9.4 trillion, as well as some $3.2 trillion in consumer credit, which may or may not account entirely for the student debt bubble.
The fact Yellen believes in this stuff is telling. You won’t hear the Fed talk about incomes or jobs because the Fed has no clue how to create either. But asset prices are easy to boost… just spent $3 trillion and you’ll get a roaring stock market.
Given that all the leading candidates for Global Hegemon are hastening down paths of self-destruction, perhaps there will be no global hegemon dominating the 21st century.
While the rest of the world is focused on what any given "developed" (or Chinese) central bank will do to continue the relentless liquidity-driven rally to new record highs, China has bigger problems as it continues to scramble in its attempts to figure out how to halt the slow motion housing crash that has now firmly gripped the nation. So firmly, that according to overnight data from the National Bureau of Statistics, monthly house prices dropped in some 68 of 70 tracked cities, the most in over three years, since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data.
Eritrea - a tiny, mostly unheard-of country in East Africa - taxes its citizens who live abroad. Nearly every other country in the world bases its tax system on residency rather than citizenship. This practice has been condemned as “extortion” and a "repressive" measure by an 'authoritarian' government by the media. In Resolution 2023, the UN Security Council condemned Eritrea for "using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals." You may be thinking, "What's the controversy? Eritrea is getting criticized, and rightly so.” But there's another country that does the same...
When a former Goldman executive and the prior head of its housing research team comes out with a shocking analysis so contrary to what the same individual would do in his "former life" when he would be extolling the "inevitable" rise of home prices from here to eternity and beyond, and also throw in an open letter to none other than president Obama, predicting at least a 15% crash in home prices in the next three years, a move which would without debt catalyze the next US recession, it is time to pay attention. Meet Joshua Pollard, who in February 2009 took over coverage of US Housing at Goldman Sachs. His point, in short: "House prices are 12% overvalued today. They have already started to decline. Today’s misvaluation matches the excess of 2006-07, just before the Great Recession... 5 of the last 7 US recessions were led by a weakening housing market... I am lamentably confident that home prices will fall by 15% within three years." Or, as some may call it, crash.
The Fed consistently managed the Fed Funds rates to keep oil prices steady, even when it required mid-teens interest rates and back-to-back recessions in 1980-1982. Since US Fed Funds rates were managed to preserve US creditors’ and oil exporters’ purchasing power in oil terms, the system proved acceptable to most nations. While the Petrodollar arrangement worked well for nearly thirty years, the arrangement began to wobble beginning around 2002-04...
In our era of omnipotent central banks worshipped by the Status Quo, we have a goddess of financial transitions--Janus Yellen, the two-faced chair/deity of the Federal Reserve - to usher in the Great Transition from risk-on to risk-off.
Veteran investor Marc Faber, author of The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report, reiterated the need for gold in a diversified portfolio when interviewed on CNBC. "Now, I want to be diversified, I want to own some gold, I want to own some shares, I own the most in Asia, and some in Europe because I think in Europe there’s still better value than in the US, and I own some bonds and cash and real estate."
UPDATE: It appears the exodus is beginning - China FDI -14% YoY (vs +0.8% exp.)
As China's shift to a consumer economy progresses based on the urbanization of its agrarian 'poor' population, an odd thing is happening at the other end of the demographic wealth spectrum. As WSJ reports, nearly half of wealthy Chinese are planning to move to another country within the next five years, according to a new Barclays survey. The top reasons 47% of these individuals - with net worths over $1.5 billion - cite for fleeing China include educational and employment opportunities, economic security, and climate. Ironically, none mentioned 'running away from potential prosecution for graft'.
Japan's broad TOPIX index is lower this evening after the holiday weekend - following a six-day rise - led by Real Estate, Mining, and Banking sectors as traders suggest "the mood is to hold back ahead of the Fed meeting." China's dismal data and comments about no imminent rate cut have done nothing to tamp down enthusiasm for Shanghai Composite stocks as the Chinese government "unveiled guidelines to support the development of the stock market, pledging to make blue chips bigger and stronger and more actively traded," though HKSE is delayed for now due to Typhoon warnings. MSCI Asia-Pac is down at the open for the 9th day in a row - the longest losing streak since 2002.