We hear, read and listen day in and day out that it’s the Dollar that’s dead, that’s it’s the USA that will be knocked off the top of the roost and come hurtling to the ground with its neck being throttled by 1.364 billion Chinese hoards.
With emerging markets in panic mode, investors are bound to be reminded of the enduring observation, first made by a 19th century British businessman named John Mills, that: “Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal in hopelessly unproductive works.” With that in mind, investors seem happy to link the ongoing emerging market sell-off to either a) China’s large capital misallocation triggered by the 2008-11 credit boom or b) the Federal Reserve’s promise to start tapering last May, followed up now by the real thing. But could there perhaps be another explanation?
China’s GDP will almost certainly soon surpass America’s in absolute terms. The end of the unipolar era will create new dangers that the world mustn’t overlook. China’s relative rise and the United States’ relative decline carries significant risks, for the rest of the world probably more so than for Americans. Odds are, the world will be worse off if China and especially others reach parity with the U.S. in the coming years. This isn’t to say America is necessarily as benign a hegemon as some in the U.S. claim it to be. Regardless of your opinion on U.S. global leadership over the last two decades, however, there is good reason to fear its relative decline compared with China and other emerging nations. To begin with, hegemonic transition periods have historically been the most destabilizing eras in history.
With China increasingly in the news involving some new diplomatic or geopolitical escalation, a new territorial claim, the launch of a brand new aircraft carrier, or just general chatter of military tensions surrounding the aspirational reserve currency superpower, it is time for yet another update of the complete "military and security developments involving the people’s republic of China", courtesy of the annual report to Congress discussing precisely this issue.
Curious which are all the various import trade routes which China uses to satisfy its relentless thirst for oil? Here they are...
The Forex market is dead and dying, in parallel with the US economy; which is fitting, considering the US is still the world reserve currency.
Significant harbingers that have changed the Forex market forever:
On December 24, we posted an update on Germany's gold repatriation process: a year after the Bundesbank announced its stunning decision, driven by Zero Hedge revelations, to repatriate 674 tons of gold from the New York Fed and the French Central Bank, it had managed to transfer a paltry 37 tons. This amount represents just 5% of the stated target, and was well below the 84 tons that the Bundesbank would need to transport each year to collect the 674 tons ratably over the 8 year interval between 2013 and 2020. The release of these numbers promptly angered Germans, and led to the rise of numerous allegations that the reason why the transfer is taking so long is that the gold simply is not in the possession of the offshore custodians, having been leased, or worse, sold without any formal or informal announcement. However, what will certainly not help mute "conspiracy theorists" is today's update from today's edition of Die Welt, in which we learn that only a tiny 5 tons of gold were sent from the NY Fed. The rest came from Paris.
Shanghai Daily: "China may soon announce an increase in its official gold reserve from 1,054 tons to 2,710 tons, Jeffrey Nichols, managing director of American Precious Metals Advisors, said. The People’s Bank of China has not reported any increase in official gold holdings since 2009, when the central bank said the official reserve was at 1,054 tons, which accounted for only about 1 percent of its multi-trillion foreign exchange reserves. The PBOC has been “surreptitiously” adding to its official gold reserves. It has bought a total of 654 tons in 2009 through 2011, another 388 tons in 2012, and more than 622 tons last year, mostly from domestic mine production and secondary supplies, Nichols said in a commentary posted on NicholsOnGold.com yesterday. Central bank purchases comprise the smallest fraction of global gold demand — less than 10 percent. “If China announces an increase in gold reserves, there would be an immediate drag-up force in the gold market,” Albert Cheng, managing director of the industrial association World Gold Council for the Far East, told Shanghai Daily. China is the biggest gold consumer and producer in the world."
Stocks may be masquerading as a big bounce today, driven by a VIX slam which has gotten the algos to ramp the S&P higher and of course a perfectly innocuous gold slam which as usual took out the entire bid stack, but the real money is furiously going elsewhere, such as today's 4 Week auction. Two things were notable: first - the rate was a solid 0.000%. This is not that surprising: after all under ZIRP, and as long as the Fed has control and the USD is the reserve currency, ultra-short term maturities are cash equivalent, which is why investors don't mind getting zero return in exchange for 1 month maturities. However, what was far more notable is that the Bid to Cover in today's auction just soared to 6.36x, highest than last week's 5.66x, and the highest since December of 2011, when the scramble into short-term paper was a function of year end window dressing (made since unncessary courtesy of the Fed's Reverse Repo facility). So while algos are levitating stocks higher based on simple carry currency/VIX correlations, why the sudden real money scramble for the safety of near-term paper?
Somehow, like it or not, the world turns. Today's hegemon becomes tomorrow's also-ran. Today's reserve currency becomes tomorrow's wallpaper. Today's cock o' the walk becomes tomorrow's dinner. Hey, we didn't create this system. We don't even especially like it. But that's just the way it is. Whether you already have made a fortune, or are trying to build one, you need to be very careful about what currency... or currencies... your wealth in denominated in. From an economic point of view, the system (established by Richard Nixon in 1971) is loopy. The Chinese pretend they have good customers. Americans pretend they have good credit. And everyone pretends to get richer … based on promises to settle up sometime in the future. Instead of edging toward a reckoning, all major governments seem to want to make the situation worse.
As we enter 2014 mainstream economists relying on inaccurate statistics, many of which are not even relevant to a true understanding of our economic condition, seem convinced that the crises of recent years are now laid to rest. If we objectively assess the state of the labour markets in most welfare-driven economies the truth conforms to a continuing slump; and if we take a realistic view of price increases, including capital assets, price inflation may even be in double figures. The corruption of price inflation statistics in turn makes a mockery of GDP numbers, which realistically adjusted for price inflation are contracting. This gloomy conclusion should come as no surprise to thoughtful souls in any era. These conditions are the logical outcome of the corruption of currencies and the effect of unsound money... and two conclusions for 2014...
From this point on I start demonstrating to those who can't see the benefits of smart digital money over dumb fiat currencies. Now, you can short bitcoin and hedge against volaitlity using same tools the big boys use for USD/EUR/CNY, etc.
The Future of Money: The Dumb Dollar vs Smart, Programmable Currencies!
The fifth anniversary of Zero Hedge is just around the corner, and so, for the fifth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined objectively by the number of page views. Those eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to our top articles of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. For everyone else, without further ado, these are the articles that readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days...
For the second time in a week, the market is running (not walking) away from the USD. Despite all the equity market exuberance over the taper, the USD is now unchanged from the FOMC decision and in relative free-fall for the world's reserve currency - on a scale we saw during last Friday's craziness... Treasuries are modestly bid this morning, equities are flat and precious metals are lower (thogh gold is recovering as the USD sinks)...