As we have been reporting (and forecasting for the past several years), the Eurasian anti-US Dollar axis is rapidly taking shape, with recent events catalyzed and certainly accelerated by US foreign policy in Ukraine, which has merely succeeded in pushing Russia that much closer, and faster, to China. The latest proof of this came overnight when the FT reported that Russian companies are preparing to switch contracts to renminbi and other Asian currencies amid fears that western sanctions may freeze them out of the US dollar market, according to two top bankers. Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now," ... "It looks like this is not just a blip, this is a trend,” said Mr Teplukhin of Deutsche Bank.
- Attorneys Known for Large Civil Settlements Line Up to Sue GM Over Company's Handling of Defective Ignition Switches (WSJ)
- Pakistani Taliban attack airport in Karachi, 27 dead (Reuters)
- U.S. Official: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Has Declined to Speak to His Family (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Talks Resume in Brussels to Avoid Cut-off This Week (BBG)
- China's Central Bank Flexes Muscle (WSJ)
- China says Vietnam, Philippines' mingling on disputed isle a 'farce' (Reuters)
- World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes (BBG)
- Kraft Raises Prices on Maxwell House, Yuban U.S. Coffee Products (BBG)
- United Continental: One Sick Bird (WSJ)
Following Obama and Putin's "caught on tape" meeting Vine'd by the French President, we can't help but wonder if the Russian leaders comments were something akin to "this is not over yet." With "De-Dollarization" efforts already broadly under discussion, ITAR-TASS reports that Gazprom had signed additional agreements for clients to switch from dollars to euros and renminbi, "nine of ten consumer had agreed to switch."
Just as the cyber-spat is off the headlines for a day... and no one from Treasury has discussed the need for the Renminbi to strengthen... The White House drops another well-timed China shot, calling on Chinese authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the military assault on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. Diplomatically, this could be a little awkward as China forbids public acknowledgment of the anniversary in the state-run media and censors the Internet to wipe away both direct and indirect references to the crackdown.
Treasuries continue to do nothing wrong. Bullish views on bonds over the past several months have been met with stern opposition; however, several are now beginning to question their defiance. With such in mind, it is worth reviewing once again some possible explanations behind the bid. There are many reasons to expect their strong performance to continue (particularly over the next week).
The complete implosion in volume and vol, not to mention bond yields continues, and appears to have spilled over into events newsflow where overnight virtually nothing happened, or at least such is the algos' complete disregard for any real time headlines that as bond yields dropped to fresh record lows in many countries and the US 10Y sliding to a 2.3% handle, confused US equity futures have recouped almost all their losses from yesterday despite a USDJPY carry trade which has once again dropped to the 101.5 level, and are set for new record highs. Perhaps they are just waiting for today's downward revision in Q1 GDP to a negative print before blasting off on their way to Jeremy Grantham's 2,200 bubble peak after which Bernanke's Frankenstein market will finally, mercifully die.
With the Fed tapering and both China “I don't think the markets are discounting what’s really happening in China,” and Japan’s currencies likely to weaken, the net impact on the U.S. will be deflationary, Kyle Bass warned in a recent presentation. That trend will be accelerated by the improvement in the balance of trade for the U.S., which had its current account deficit shrink due to increased hydrocarbon production. Bass warns, the crucial moment will come when the U.S. reports a sub-6% unemployment rate, meeting the target it has set for normalizing its monetary policy by ending QE and raising rates. He predicted that will come in July. That will be the Fed’s “worst nightmare,” he said. Raising rates would stifle growth and recreate unemployment problems, which would be disastrous politically, according to Bass.
With de-dollarization escalating and Chinese officials now openly calling for "a new and more efficient system," specifically on which is not dominated by the US and the dollar, it appears the day of a rebalancing is approaching more rapidly than most would like to believe. On the heels of the vice president of China's central bank commenting that "renminbi will become the reserve currency" we thought it time to look at the long-run history of the Chinese currency and its rapidly rising internalization efforts.
There was some trepidation yesterday when after the first day of Putin's visit to China the two countries did not announce the completion of the long-awaited "holy grail" gas dead, and fears that it may get scuttled over price negotiations. It wasn't: moments ago Russia's Gazprom and China's CNPC announced, that after a decade of negotiations, the two nations signed a 30 year gas contract amounting to around $400 billion. And with the west doing all it can to alienate Russia and to force it into China's embrace, this is merely the beginning of what will be a far closer commercial (and political) relationship between China and Russia.
Recent developments indicate that North Korea is very quietly beginning to expand its commercial interests. Some of this is due to internal change, but it would seem that much larger geopolitical forces are at work.
Slowly - but surely - the USD's hegemony is being chipped away whether by foreign policy faux pas, crossed red-lines, or economic fragility. However, on Day 1 of Vladimir Putin's trip to China it is clear that the two nations are as close as ever. VTB - among Russia's largest banks - has signed a deal with Bank of China to pay each other in domestic currencies, bypassing the need for US Dollars for "investment banking, inter-bank lending, trade finance and capital-markets transactions." Kirill Dmitriyev the head of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund notes, "together it’ll be possible to discuss investment in various projects much more efficiently and clearly," as Russia's pivot to Asia continues to gather steam.
- More than 20 dead, doctor says, as anti-China riots spread in Vietnam (Reuters)
- Russia's Gazprom plans Singapore stock exchange listing (Reuters)
- Inside Europe’s Plan Z (FT)
- Ukraine slides deeper toward war as Russia warns to vote (BBG)
- Fast-Food Protests Spread Overseas (NYT)
- BOJ Beat, Officials Could Upgrade Outlook for Capex (WSJ)
- Euro-Zone Economy Shows Weaker-Than -Expected Expansion (WSJ)
- Yahoo to YouTube Ads Spreading Viruses Rile Lawmakers (BBG)
- New York Times Ousts Jill Abramson as Executive Editor, Names Dean Baquet (BBG)
- NYT Publisher Said to Always Have Clashed With Abramson (BBG)
- Google gets take-down requests after European court ruling - source (Reuters)
Is there anything fundamental to explain why the equity indices of the "Fragile Five" countries, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, India and Turkey, have regained their recent highs? According to GaveKal the answer is a resounding no: "As investors, we like equity rallies to be propelled by fundamental factors, like earnings re-ratings or growth surprises. But there is little behind this rally to suggest any sustainable economic healing." So what is pushing this particular subset of risk higher? Why the global liquidity tsunami of course.
And what's in it for you...
With everyone and their mom confused at how bonds can rally when stocks (the ultimate arbiter of truthiness) are also positive, we have seen Deutsche confused (temporary technicals), Bloomberg confirm the shortage, and BofA blame the weather (for a lack of bond selling). Today, we have two more thoughtful and comprehensive perspectives from Gavekal's Louis-Vincent Gave (on why yields are so low) and Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann (on why they' stay that way).