While Marc Faber is adamant that "there’s lots of funny things that are happening in China. And when the whole thing unwinds it will be a disaster," it is his comments with regard Ukraine (and Russia) that are worth paying significant new attention to. As The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report editor notes in this brief Bloomberg TV interview, if you put yourself in Putin's shoes "he did the right thing from his perspective," given Crimea's strategic importance. However, as Faber concludes, "Crimea moving to Russia gives essentially a signal to China that one day they can also move and seize some territory that they perceive belongs to them."
It would appear that the widening of the daily trading bands (we discussed last night) are having a directional effect on USDCNY as the devaluation continues on the back of forced carry-trade unwinds. At 6.19, CNY is its weakest in 11 months (2.5% weaker than its lows in January) and the last 2 months have seen by far the biggest weakening in the currency on record. This 'implied' easing is modestly supporting the stock market and copper for now (though we suspect that is more spillover from risk-on squeezes post-Ukraine). While Goldman and BofA are adamant that widening the bands will not mean a change in trend overall, it seems clear that hot money is outflowing and driving a trend change anyway as corporate bond prices are not rising and home-price appreciation is slowing in the major cities.
A few days ago, copper prices and the Chinese stock market were roiled by speculation that another - the second in a row - Chinese bond default may be imminent, in the shape of Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric (TBE) a maker of electrical equipment and solar panels, whose bonds and stock were suspended from trading a week ago after reporting massive losses. A few days later, TBE "promised" not to default when its next interest payment is due in July (although how the insolvent company can see that far into the future is just a little confusing). And yet the market shrugged and contrary to its recent idiotic euphoria to surge on even the tiniest of non-horrible news, barely saw a rise. Today we may know the reason: overnight Bloomberg reports that second Chinese corporate bond default may be imminent after the collapse and arrest of the largest shareholder of closely held Chinese real estate developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co, which just happens to be saddled with 3.5 billion yuan ($566.6 million) of debt.
Beijing leadership’s quandary is that the struggle to refashion the Chinese economy with further liberal economics comes up against the determined effort of the CCP to maintain its power monopoly
It took only a 60 USDJPY pip overnight ramp to send US equity futures 20 points off the overnight lows in the immediate aftermath of the Crimean referendum, which from a massive risk off event has somehow metamorphosed into a "priced in", even welcome catalyst to buy stocks. The supposed reasoning, and in a world in which Virtu algos determine the price action of the USDJPY from which all else flows based solely on momentum we use the word reasoning "loosely", is that there was little to indicate that the escalation between Russia and Ukraine was set to accelerate further. As we said: an annexation is now seen as risk off, something even Goldman appears unable to comprehend (more on that shortly). In macroeconomic news, European inflation - at least for the Keynesians - turned from bad to worse after the final February inflation print dropped from the flash, and expected, reading of 0.8% to just 0.7% Y/Y, a sequential increase of 0.3% and below the 0.4% expected, confirming that deflationary forces continue to ravage the continent. The only question is how soon until Europe comes up with some brilliant scheme that will help it join Japan in exporting its deflation.
"Property taxes are equitable and efficient, but underutilized in many economies. The average yield of property taxes in 65 economies (for which data are available) in the 2000s was around 1 percent of GDP, but in developing economies it averages only half of that (Bahl and Martínez-Vázquez, 2008). There is considerable scope to exploit this tax more fully, both as a revenue source and as a redistributive instrument, although effective implementation will require a sizable investment in administrative infrastructure, particularly in developing economies (Norregaard, 2013)." - IMF
The whole story about how private equity firms and hedge funds have steamrolled into the residential home market to become this decade’s slumlords is a story we covered long before mainstream media even knew it was happening. We first identified the trend in January of last year in one of my most popular posts of 2013: America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street. Since then, we've done my best to cover the various twists and turns in this fascinating and disturbing saga. With all that in mind, let’s now take a look at the latest article from Bloomberg, which points out that Blackstone’s home purchases have plunged 70% from their peak last year. Perhaps they overestimated the rental cash flow potential of indebted youth living in their parents’ basements?
The latest foreclosure news out of RealtyTrac is out, and provides the latest proof that if there is a housing recovery somewhere, it sure isn't in the US, where the dislocations in the supply/demand for real estate are so profound that one in five homes in the foreclosure process has been vacated by the distressed homeowner. To wit: "As of the first quarter of 2014, a total of 152,033 U.S. properties in the foreclosure process (excluding bank-owned properties) had been vacated by the distressed homeowner, representing 21 percent of all properties in the foreclosure process." This means that neither the distressed homeowner or the foreclosing lender taking responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of the home, leading to a veritable army of Vacant Dead housing units that are spreading like zombies across the nation in the most improbable housing "recovery" of all time.
Simply ending the corporate lives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the Johnson-Crapo proposal envisions is not sufficient
Does anything about 2014 remind you of 2008? The long lists of visible stress in the global financial system and the almost laughably hollow assurances that there are no bubbles, everything is under control, etc. etc. etc. certainly remind me of the late-2007-early 2008 period when the subprime mortgage meltdown was already visible and officialdom from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan on down were mounting the bully pulpit at every opportunity to declare that there was no bubble in housing and the system was easily able to handle little things like defaulting mortgages. The party, once again, is clearly ending and raises the question: "If asset bubbles no longer boost full-time employment or incomes across the board, what is the broad-based, “social good” justification for inflating them?"
It’s safe to say that America — especially the American media and Wall Street firms — has fallen in love with real estate again. But, this time around it’s not ‘all of America’ like the last time; when the most exotic mortgage loans known to mankind turned every ma and pa end-user homeowner into a raging speculator. One has to look no further than the generationally low level of purchase loan applications — with rates at generational lows — to realize something isn’t ‘normal’ about this housing market. Rather, controlling this housing market over the past three years has been a small, unorthodox slice of the population that “invests” in real estate using tractor-trailer trucks full of cash-money slopping around the financial system put into play specifically for this purpose. Over the past few years so much cash-money has been deployed into the housing sector by unorthodox parties, that in many regions ma and pa end-user hasn’t stood a chance to buy. Especially, if they need a mortgage loan, which of course presents numerous risks to the seller vs the all-cash buyer.... We could be back in a house-price bubble right now and not even realize it. And also because everybody is looking at the wrong thing…house prices. Sound confusing? It’s not, really.
- China worries chill markets, copper slumps (Reuters)
- Peak dot com dot two idiocy: Candy Crush Saga maker King seeks $7.56 bln valuation from IPO (BBG)
- Obama Meeting With Yatsenyuk Raises Stakes in Ukraine (BBG)
- Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of GM recall (Reuters)
- Pimco Cuts Government Debt on Outlook for Fed Buying (BBG)
- Missing Malaysian Jetliner Confuses World That’s Online 24/7 (BBG)
- Mortgage Giants Face Endgame (WSJ)
- Russia Calls U.S. Aid to Ukraine Illegal Amid Standoff (BBG)
- U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss (Reuters)
- Ousted Libyan PM flees country after tanker escapes rebel-held port (Reuters)
- Senate-CIA Dispute Erupts Into a Public Brawl (WSJ)
In setting the price of money, we have given central bankers the power to effectively set the price of... everything. Make no mistake, this is a form of price controls; and one day (probably soon), future historians are going to look back and wonder how so many people could be bamboozled. We have somehow been conned into believing that the path to prosperity is for the grand wizards of the financial system to conjure paper currency out of thin air. Yet this notion of 'money backed by nothing' is an absurd fantasy that has failed every single time it has ever been tried before in history. We bring this up because the following chart highlights the Fed's margin of safety before confidence wanes...
- Malaysia Says Stolen Passport User Had No Links to Terror Groups (BBG)
- Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast (Reuters)
- Freescale loss in Malaysia tragedy leads to travel policy questions (Reuters)
- Top German body calls for QE blitz to avert deflation trap in Europe (Telegraph)
- Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash (BBG)
- Putin Dismisses U.S. Proposal on Ukraine (WSJ)
- Lenovo says China strike an IBM matter, but it won't cut wages (Reuters)
- Congress to Investigate GM Recall (WSJ)
- New hedge funds face life or death battle for funding (FT)
- Muni Bond Costs Hit Investors in Wallet (WSJ)
- BOJ keeps stimulus in place, cuts view on exports in warning sign (Reuters)
- ECB Homes In on Risky Assets as Inspectors Fan Out Across Europe (BBG)
- Snowden: "The Constitution was violated" (Reuters)
The world is a strange place. The banks have no money. Or rather, they have no money that they want to lend anyone out there in the real world. So, in their place, it’s the governments that have decided since the financial crash to become the lenders to the economies.