What is it with us? Don’t we want to understand? Japan announced on Monday that its economy is in hopeless trouble and back in recession (as if it was ever out). And what do we see? ‘Experts’ and reporters clamoring for more stimulus. But if Japan has shown us anything over the past years, and you’re free to pick any number between 2 and 20 years, it’s that the QE-based kind of stimulus doesn’t work. Not for the real economy, that is.
Despite the apparent economic and profit news improvements recently, JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest notes there are a few instances where people are still flipping out. It’s worth reviewing them, he suggests, as they're indicative of risks and opportunities in financial markets heading into 2015, and of the continued presence of central banks affecting asset prices.
While we no longer live in a world in which debt matters - because central banks will just monetize it in their ongoing and no longer covert effort to reflate the final bubble - and thus debt ratings are an irrelevant anachronism from a bygone era, we can't help but recall a certain statement by S&P from September of last year, in which the rating agency reminded everyone just why Japan has to proceed with both its first sales tax hike from 5% to 8%, (which, together with weather, has now been blamed on Japan's shocking quadruple-dip recession), but also the follow up from 8% to 10%, which as we now know, has been delayed indefinitely, and which was supposed to prefund welfare spending for Japan's demographic disaster which with every passing day gets closer and closer.
"Just when did Central Bankers become world media superstars and when do we get to put them back in their box?" Strutting the world stage, flitting from press conference to rubber chicken dinner, dispensing what passes for wisdom and prognosis as if the court astrologers have toppled the mighty Nebuchadnezzar and now rule in his place. Whatever happened to discreetly overseeing the balance of payments and facelessly staunching the worst panics only when absolutely necessary? This is clearly Japan’s last stand and there is no real exit strategy except to explicitly default on its debt. But an economic collapse and a sovereign debt default on the world’s third largest economy will contain massive economic ramifications on a global scale.
One bank is already set to benefit from the ABS program no matter what its actual outcome and impact on the European economy: the same bank that spawned none other than ECB's head... Mario Draghi. According to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs Group says it’s adding staff to its European asset-backed securities business as the bank prepares for a resurgence in the $305 billion market that shrank more than 40 percent over the past four years.
“Unconventional measures might entail the purchase of a variety of assets, one of which is sovereign bonds,” the ECB president said in Brussels yesterday in answer to a question during his quarterly testimony to lawmakers at the European Parliament. Draghi and the uber doves appear determined to ignore the failure of QE in both the U.S. and Japan.
- Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Calls Snap Election (WSJ) - as repeatedly priced in...
- Flash Boys Raising Volatility in Wild New Treasury Market (BBG)
- Not Greece again: Greek Bailout Review Stalls as Troika Demands Final Steps (BBG)
- Iran uses China bank to transfer funds to Quds-linked companies (Reuters)
- Porn Mags With Free Madrid Theater Tickets in Tax Protest (BBG)
- Hong Kong, China stocks ease on profit-taking after stock connect launch (Reuters) - Hang Seng down 500 points in past 2 days
- Halliburton Mega-Deal Sealed by CEOs Over Coke and Coffee (BBG)
- Wall Street to Reap $316 Million From Day of Mega Deals (BBG)
- Mass murderer Charles Manson gets marriage license, state says (Reuters)
After weeks of relentless flashing red headline barrage whose only purpose was to force snap algo buying of the USDJPY pair time after time after time, Japan is once again out of FX algo danging carrots after moments ago Abe confirmed what everyone had known already: he called a snap election to seek a mandate for his decision to delay by 18 months a further sales-tax increase that had been planned for next year; he also said he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Nov. 21 in preparation for an election in December, without specifying a date. Cited by the WSJ, Abe said "To ensure the success of Abenomics, I’ve concluded that it shouldn’t be carried out next October and instead be postponed by 18 months,” the prime minister told a nationally televised news conference, stressing that the additional tax burden would risk putting the economy back into deflation. “I will seek the people’s judgment over our economic policy."
Something is dreadfully wrong in America.
Since Ben Bernanke reminded the world of the existence of government printing-presses, echoed Milton Friedman's "helicopter drop" solution to fighting deflation, and decried Japan for not being as insane as it could be... it has only been a matter of time before some global central bank decided that the dropping of cash onto the populace was the key to economic recovery. Having blown their wad on QQE (and been left with a triple-dip recession), it appears Japan has reached that limit. As Japan's News47 reports, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed his cabinet to develop economic measures such as handing out 'gift certificates' to the poor to "support personal consumption directly."
The Dow and S&P have shrugged off any belief that yet another Japanese recession will impact the invincible American economy... but Small Caps, Nasdaq, and Trannies are a little more concerned. However, if everything is so awesome in the US, then why are credit and equity market professionals buying protection hand over fist?
David Cameron warned last night that the global economy risked another crash and said in an article that 'red warning lights' were 'flashing on the dashboard of the global economy' and the eurozone was 'teetering on the brink' of another recession.
A stunner this morning by ECB board member Yves Mersch who said earlier today that the ECB balance-sheet expansion is "neither an end in itself nor a fetish." As quoted by Bloomberg, the ECB member said that "the effect on rates that comes along with it is at best a collateral benefit." Nothing new here: we have discussed why unlike Japan and the US, the biggest gating factor for Europe is the presence of freely-available, unencumbered collateral that could, at least in theory, be purchased by the ECB. Which brings us to the Mersch punchline: "Theoretically the ECB could purchase other assets such as gold, shares, ETFs to fulfill its promise of adopting further unconventional measures to counter a longer period of low inflation."
- Scuttled deals worth $580 billion put hedge funds on back foot (Reuters)
- Mounting Pressure on OPEC Spurs More Wagers on Oil Rally (BBG)
- It's not just US real estate: Chinese Students at U.S. Universities Jump 75% in Three Years (BBG)
- Frankfurt Open for Yuan Clearing as Liquidity Rises (BBG)
- Obama defends healthcare law after adviser criticism (Reuters)
- Michael Hasenstab Bets Big in Controversial Places (WSJ)
- Facebook seeks foothold in your office (FT)
- Russia Seen as Greatest Threat in Poll as Oil Erodes Putin Power (BBG)
- Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity (WSJ)