As Bloomberg reports, "China has cut its holdings of U.S. Treasuries this month to raise dollars needed to support the yuan in the wake of a shock devaluation two weeks ago, according to people familiar with the matter. Channels for such transactions include China selling directly, as well as through agents in Belgium and Switzerland, said one of the people, who declined to be identified as the information isn’t public. China has communicated with U.S. authorities about the sales."
Over the years, Socgen's Albert Edwards has repeatedly expressed his skepticism of both the economy and the market (the longest US equity "bull market" since 1945) both propped up by generous central banks injecting liquidity by the tens of trillions (at this point nobody really knows the number now that the 'black box' that is China has entered the global "plunge protection" game) and yet never did he have as "conclusive" a call as he does today. As the following note reveals, when looking at one particular indicator, Edwards is now convinced: 'we are now in a bear market."
While the western mainstream media meme is that "this is all China's fault" - despite the fact that the real break happened after the FOMC Minutes last week - Xinhua reports that China central bank blames wide-spread expectations of a Fed rate hike in September for the global market rout... demanding The Fed "remain patient."
...and it just promises to get worse!
Last week, in the global currency war’s latest escalation, Kazakhstan instituted a free float for the tenge causing the currency to immediately plunge by some 25%. The rationale behind the move was clear enough. What might not be as clear is how recent events in developing economy FX markets stem from a seismic shift we began discussing late last year - namely, the death of the petrodollar system which has served to underwrite decades of dollar dominance and was, until recently, a fixture of the post-war global economic order.
As the great EM unwind continues unabated, we’ve noted that in some hard-hit countries, the terrible trio of falling commodity prices, decelerating Chinese demand, and looming Fed hike has been exacerbated by political turmoil. Now, we turn to Malaysia where an already tenuous situation just got worse as PM Najib Razak is now facing calls for a no-confidence vote amid allegations he embezzled some $700 million from the country's development fund.
Even before the latest shot across the bow in the escalating global currency wars, EM FX was beset by falling commodity prices, stumbling Chinese demand, and a looming Fed hike. And while, as Barclays notes, "estimating the global effects China has via the exchange rate and growth remains a rough exercise," more than a few observers believe the effect may be to spark a Asian Financial Crisis redux. For their part, BofAML has endeavored to compare last week’s move to the 1994 renminbi devaluation, on the way to drawing comparisons between what happened in 1997 and what may unfold in the months ahead.
To keep the credit induced boom going,policy makers have convinced themselves that more credit and more money, provided at ever lower interest rates, are required. Why then, as The FOMC Minutes just showed, do the decision makers at the Fed want to increase rates? If Fed members follow up their words with deeds, they might soon learn that the ghosts they have been calling will indeed appear — and possibly won’t go away. The sooner the artificial boom comes to an end, the sooner the recession-depression sets in, which is the inevitable process of adjusting the economy and allowing an economically sound recovery to begin.
Having covered the issue of “competitive devaluation” and currency-debauchment in considerable depth in recent commentaries, China’s “surprise devaluation” of the renminbi provides a practical, current example to illustrate the economic dynamics at work here.
"Time is now rapidly running out," warns The Telegraph's John Ficenec as the British paper takes a deep dive into the dark realities behind the mainstream media headlines continued faith in central planning. Sounding very "Zero Hedge", Ficenec warns that from China to Brazil, the central banks have lost control and at the same time the global economy is grinding to a halt. It is only a matter of time before stock markets collapse under the weight of their lofty expectations and record valuations.
Previously we reported on Horseman Capital's uncanny ability to generate market-beating returns (outperforming 98% of peers since 2012) despite having a net -50% short position offset by treasury longs. Now, we take a quick detour into one of the prop investment bets used by Horseman's CIO, Russel Clark, namely Hollywood's ability to pull a Dennis Gartman, and make a dramatic appearnace at all the key market inflection points.
The most pivotal importance of China is that it was the world’s latest financial hope. The yuan devaluation shatters that hope once and for all. The global economy looks a lot more bleak for it, even if many people already didn’t believe official growth numbers anymore. Because we’ve reached the end of the line, the game changes. Of course there will be additional attempts at stimulus, but China’s central bank has de facto conceded that its measures have failed. They just hope you won’t notice, and try to bring it on with a positive spin. Central banks are not “beginning” to lose control, they lost control a long time ago. The age of central bank omnipotence has “left and gone away” like Joltin’ Joe. Omnipotence has been replaced by impotence.
When China went the "nuclear" devaluation route earlier this week, everyone knew things were about to get a whole lot worse for an EM currency basket that was already reeling from plunging commodity prices, slumping Chinese demand, and the threat of an imminent Fed hike. With some Asian currencies already falling to levels last seen 17 years ago, some analysts fear that an Asian Financial Crisis 2.0 may be just around the corner. That rather dire prediction may have been validated on Friday when Malaysia’s ringgit registered its largest one-day loss in almost two decades, as stocks plunged and bond yields rose.
All of this raises an interesting question about the future of the US dollar. Because if an economy as large and powerful as China’s has had to concede defeat, does this mean that “King Dollar” will rule forever? No chance.
In some ways the question is not whether the renminbi is competitive or uncompetitive. The problem is that the renminbi is unambiguously less competitive than it was. This comes at a time when the Chinese economy is struggling and the stock market bubble is bursting. To all but the most PollyAnna’ish of observers that means this is the start of a major renminbi devaluation forcing the US to import even more of the world’s unwanted deflation.... Prepare for sub-1% 10y Treasury yields and another financial crisis as policy impotence is soon revealed to all.