It was a busy session for Chinese "data" (more on the laughable validity of Chinese economic releases shortly), after China released January export and import data, which rose 25% and 28.8% from a year ago respectively. Futures were delighted by the data, until someone pointed out that January 2013 had some five more working days than 2012 due to the calendar shift of the Chinese new year, and that adjusted for this effect exports were a far more modest 12.5% while imports rose only 3.4%. Credit growth in January also rose to a record, with aggregate financing of 2.54 trillion, including new local-currency loans of 1.07 trillion, exceeding forecasts, as China dumped gobs of money into the economy, while somehow quite mystrriously inflation came right on top of the expected 2.0%. The Yen soared overnight following comments from Taro Aso who said that the Yen had depreciated too fast. Heading to Europe, the biggest news so far was the latest ECB LTRO repayment which saw some 21 banks repay €4.992 billion, less than the estimated €7.0 billion. Finally, trading today will be slower than usual as Nemo is finally found in the shape of some 12 inches of snow blanketing the Northeast.
While Moody's slipped over 20% when the DoJ announced its cajillion dollar lawsuit against S&P for knowing the crisis was coming but not telling anyone, it later bounced back over 10% as investors believed the non-US-downgrading rating agency (that happened to be owned by Buffett) was too-big-to-jail. After-hours today, Reuters is reporting that the Justice Department and multiple states are discussing also suing Moody's Corp for defrauding investors, according to people familiar with the matter, but any such move will likely wait until a similar lawsuit against rival Standard and Poor's is tested in the courts. The stock is trading down 3% after-hours as sources (not authorized to speak publicly) added "don't think Moody's is off the hook." We can't help but think about the pending sequester-delaying deficit spike as perhaps, to appear impartial, the DoJ will keep the threat of a lawsuit against Moody's alive... during the entire period when the US may and should be downgraded.
In a surprise announcement, BoJ Governor Shirakawa announced that he will step down on 3/19 (a month ahead of schedule) and while Barclays notes that there had been talk at one point that Mr Shirakawa might step down in a bid to protect the BoJ’s independence in response to Mr Abe’s threats to revise the BoJ Act; the decision, however, appears to have been motivated by policy considerations (the desire to have the governor and deputies start together). At a time when Japan’s stockmarkets are celebrating JPY weakness, Mr Shirakawa’s move provided yet more bounce as the new BoJ leader is expected to be even more dovish. Abe's push for a new governor, however, is meeting resistance from his own cabinet and financial bureaucrats, who fear extreme measures from the central bank may trigger a damaging rise in bond yields. The tussle, which Reuters notes, is testing Abe's resolve, but lies between a slightly less dovish bureaucrat in Toshiro Muto (favored by the opposition) and a banker, Haruhiko Kuroda, who is a front-runner in Abe's camp. With Draghi's comments today, we suspect Abe will err on the side of uber-dovish to fight the currency wars alongside him.
Many of the banks, now predicting gold’s bull market will end in 2013, never predicted gold’s bull market in the first place. Most were bearish on gold in the early to mid years of the bull market and most only became bullish quite recently.
Many of these banks' primary focus is short term profit, often trading profits, and therefore they do not understand the long term, passive diversification benefits of gold in a portfolio or as financial insurance.
While the collapse in China-Japan foreign relations (and subsequently, and much more importantly, trade) over a handful of islands in the East China Sea and strategically located near potentially vast maritime oil and gas reserves is by now well-known to everyone, what may come as a surprise is that while Japan is engaged in one mini cold war over disputed rocks with China, none other than Russia tested the waters overnight so to speak, with a fighter jet flyover above yet another set of disputed islands, the Kuriles located in the far north of Japan. From Reuters: "Two Russian fighter jets briefly entered Japan's air space near disputed islands and the northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, prompting Japan to scramble combat fighters and lodge a protest, Japan's Foreign Ministry said." In other words, Russia is making it very clear that as Japan loses more credibility in the foreign affairs arena, China will not be the only one to gain from Japan's loss, and that Russia has every intention of claiming what it too believes rightfully belongs to Putin. Which begs the question: how far is Japan's far more nationalistic current government willing to go to alienate yet another key trading partner, and was this the plane by the China-Russia axis all along?
- Bersani's lead over Berlusconi continues to erode, now just 3.6 Pts, or inside error margin, in Tecne Poll
- Spain gears up for U.S. debt investor meetings (Reuters)
- PBOC Set for Record Weekly Liquidity Injection (WSJ)
- RBS Trader Helped UBS’s Hayes With Libor Bribes, Regulators Say (BBG)
- ECB, Ireland reach bank debt deal (Reuters)
- AMR-US Airways Near Merger Agreement (WSJ)
- Monte Paschi says no more derivatives losses (Reuters) ... remember this
- Harvard’s Gopinath Helps France Beat Euro Straitjacket (BBG) - by sliding into recession?
- Obama Relents on Secret Drone Memo (WSJ)
- Brennan to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaks (Reuters)
- Wall Street Success With Germans Boomerangs (BBG)
- Khamenei rebuffs U.S. offer of direct talks (Reuters)
- Boeing Preps Redesign to Get 787 Flying (WSJ)
Sacre Bleu! France Collapses Right as Spain, Italy and Greece Become Embroiled in Corruption ScandalsSubmitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 02/06/2013 21:14 -0400
Thus, we find that Europe’s primary political market props (EU leaders including ECB head Mario Draghi) are coming unraveled at the precise time that EU banks are showing warning signs and the most important EU economies are heading sharply south.
Nearly a month ago, the first expose on a previously secret money-losing derivative at Italy's Banca dei Monte Paschi emerged and nobody took notice. A few days later a second derivative emerged, and the market finally paid attention sending the stock plunging and political spirits in Italy stirring due to the repeatedly bailed out bank's close ties to the leading Italian Democratic Party. Then a third and a fourth derivative emerged. This, of course was just after Italy's Finance Minister Grilli assured everyone that Monte Paschi is "solid", that oversight of the bank was "continuous and thorough", that "aid was not to help an insolvent bank" and most hilariously, that "the Italian banking system is unique for no bailouts" (except for all the bailouts as Rajoy might add). It was also after various assurances that the first two derivatives were all there was, that Mario Draghi did not know about any of this, until it was revealed he knew years ago, and that no other banks would be impaired. Well, while we still don't know how deep the derivative rot has spread in Italy, but it is guaranteed it does not stop at BMPS, we have now learned of yet another derivative, this time with JPM, that the bank had lied even more, and also that the previously loss estimates for Monte Paschi were, naturally, optimistic and that the final loss may be up to (or over) €1 billion.
In yet another day marked by simply unbearable propaganda, about an hour ago an EU official pulled a Lanny Breuer and was quoted as saying that "things are going well" in Greece. Oh are they? Then perhaps the same official can explain why a clip of a scuffle breaking out at a free food handout in Greece, where one man was "trampled and injured", and where a "Reuters photographer was hit on the head with cauliflower heads" has been the most watched item on Greek TV in the past day?
Platinum prices have already risen by more than 12% so far in 2013, following the same advance for all of 2012. Platinum supplies have fallen to a 13-year low as mines in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer, close and the platinum industry is in crisis due to industrial unrest, geological constraints and sharply rising costs. Global production will drop 2.7% to 5.68 million ounces, the least since 2000, according to Barclays Plc, which raised its 2013 shortage estimate sixfold last month after Johannesburg-based Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) said it plans to idle shafts. Anglo American Plc’s platinum unit, the largest producer, last month proposed the halt of four mine shafts that would cut about 7% of global production. At the same time, demand from carmakers, the biggest consumer of the metal, will increase 0.5 percent in 2013, Barclays says. Perhaps, most importantly investors are buying platinum at the fastest pace in three years and yet holdings of platinum remain very, very small. Global production of the metal will fall as South African output drops 3.4% to a 12-year low of 4.11 million ounces, Barclays estimates.
- Tunisian opposition politician shot dead, protests erupt (Reuters)
- China says extremely concerned after latest North Korea threats (Reuters)
- Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs (AP)
- Debt Rise Colors Budget Talks (WSJ)
- Obama proposes short-term budget fix, Republicans swiftly object (Reuters)
- S&P Analyst Joked of Bringing Down the House Before Crash (BBG)
- Dell’s Bigger Challenge Ahead in Turnaround After Buyout (BBG)
- Some of the Mark Carney Gloss Is Coming Off (WSJ)
- Japan Official Says BOJ Tools Sufficient as Shake-Up Looms (BBG)
- S&P Lawsuit Undermined by SEC Rules That Impede Competition (BBG)
- Heavy Clashes Erupt in Syrian Capital (WSJ)
As was reported on Monday, among the numerous files hacked and leaked in the past week by the Hacker group Anonymous was a database of some 4606 regional bankers together with copious amounts of confidential information, which according to Anonymous' twitter account was sourced at the very Federal Reserve, which in turn would imply that the Fed itself had been hacked.
Gold climbed $5.70 or 0.34% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,673.50/oz. Silver inched up to $31.86 in Asia, then it fell back to $31.38, and then rose to a high of $31.91, but eased off in afternoon trade and finished with a loss of 0.35%.
Gold rose to a new record nominal high on the TOCOM at 0.156 million yen per ounce. The resignation of Bank of Japan Governor, Shirakawa on March 19 is pressuring the yen as is increased tensions in the Pacific between China and Japan - Japan accused China of targeting a Japanese naval vessel and helicopter.
- Obama to meet with Goldman's Blankfein, other CEOs Tuesday (Reuters)
- Chinese Firms Shrug at Rising Debt (WSJ)
- McGraw-Hill, S&P Sued by U.S. Over Mortgage-Bond Ratings (BBG)... but not Moody's or Fitch
- Dime a Dozen: Dollar Stores Pinched by Rapid Expansion (WSJ)
- Dell Board Said to Vote Monday Night on $24 Billion LBO (BBG)
- BOJ Governor Shirakawa to step down on March 19 (Reuters)
- Alberta may offer more to smooth way for Keystone (Reuters)
- Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App (BBG)
- Barclays takes another $1.6 billion hit for mis-selling (Reuters)
- Apple App Advantage Eroded as Google Narrows IPhone Lead (BBG)
- Texas School-Finance System Unconstitutional, Judge Rules (BBG)
- World Risks ‘Perfect Storm’ on Capital Flows, Carstens Says (BBG)
Now that Europe is clearly unfixed once more, it is time to shift attention back to broke Greece where as we showed yesterday things are certainly back to the "new normal" with 24 hour strikes again on the daily agenda. And just to keep it real, Greek police reported that the new Greek Finance Minister received a care package with just two contents earlier today: a bullet and a death threat.