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).
Bank of America, whose stubborn, and quite abysmal "short Treasurys" call, has been one of the worst sellside trade recos in recent history and cost investors countless losses, has an update. Only instead of doing a mea culpa and finally admitting it was wrong, the bailed out bank has decided to provide humor instead. Namely it too has joined the ranks of countless others providing an "explanation" (or in its case, an "excuse") for the relentless bond bid. The punchline: "cold weather."
Last week, USDNCY began to accelerate lower and break across the "real pain" threshold that we have been discussing for many of the world's so-called "hedgers" who have been riding the one-way strengthening trend of the CNY for years and piled in with leveraged trades on what had been a one-way bet. The collapse this week, to levels not seen since pre-BoJ QQE and pre-Fed QE3 appeared to trigger an avalanche of unwinds or hedges of the exposures we have been worrying about. As the chart below shows, billions of dollars of upside calls on USDCNY were purchased on Friday with serious size out to 6.65 strikes (levels not seen since 2009) by the end of 2014.
With 23 foreign central banks diversifying from US Dollars to Renminbi and the PBOC actively aiding numerous major financial hubs around the world with bilateral currency swap agreements, it seems yet another nail in the coffin of US dollar hegemony just got hit...
*PBOC AIMS TO SET UP GLOBAL PAYMENT SYSTEM FOR YUAN: SEC. NEWS
*PBOC TO MAKE GOLD, OIL FUTURES YUAN DENOMINATED: SEC. NEWS
Nothing lasts forever, no matter how much you believe...
The PBOC's willingness to a) enter the global currency war (beggar thy neighbor), and b) 'allow' the Yuan to weaken and thus crush carry traders and leveraged 'hedgers' is about to get serious. The total size of the carry trades and hedges is hard to estimate but Deutsche believes it is around $500bn and as Morgan Stanley notes the ongoing weakness means things can get ugly fast as USDCNY crosses the crucial 6.25 level where losses from hedge products begin to surge. This is a critical level as it pre-dates Fed QE3 and BoJ QQE levels and these are pure levered derivative MtM losses - not a "well they will just rotate to US equities" loss - which means major tightening on credit conditions...