All around Asia, PMIs are tumbling... except for China's government-sponsored Manufacturing PMI. This week saw Aussie Services PMI (linked significantly to China) tumbled to 2014 lows, Japan's PMI drop, and China's own Services PMI disappoint and fade to 2-month lows. So where is all this exuberance coming from in China's manufacturing industry (despite a 8-month in a row drop in employment)? We don't know; but the fact that China coal prices just hit a record low hardly supports the smog-choking industry of China being at 7-month highs... Hard data vs soft surveys? You decide.
For all the theoretical explanations about China's profound commodity rehypothecation problems, the one thing that was missing was an empirical case study framing just how substantial the problem is. After all, it is one thing to say banks expect "X millions in losses", but totally different to see the rehypothecation dominoes falling in practice. Today, courtesy of Bloomberg we got just such an example.
Meet Decheng Mining.
Opinions about the U.S. economy boil down to two views: 1) the recovery is now self-sustaining, meaning that the Federal Reserve can taper and end its unprecedented interventions without hurting growth, or 2) the current uptick in auto sales, new jobs, housing sales, etc. is as good as it gets, and the weak recovery unravels from here. The reality is that nothing has been done to address the structural rot at the heart of the U.S. economy. You keep shoving in the same inputs, and you guarantee the same output: another crash of credit bubbles and all the malinvestments enabled by monetary heroin.
Some basic suggestions for those who are seeking shelter from the coming storms of global financial crisis and recession.
Pundits enjoy pointing to NYSE margin debt as an indication of overall system leverage, and how prone to margin calls and liquidations the investor class may be at any given moment. However, in the new normal, in which sophsiticated investors fund themselves via completely different mechanism - mostly involving repo and other shadow banking conduits - margin debt has become a very much irrelevant indicator of overall leverage.
As the probe into alleged fraud at Qingdao continues to escalate (with liquidity needs growing more and more evident as Chinese money-market rates surge), Bloomberg reports that China’s chief auditor discovered 94.4 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) of loans backed by falsified gold transactions, in "the first official confirmation of what many people have suspected for a long time - that gold is widely used in Chinese commodity financing deals." As much as 1,000 tons of gold may have been used in lending and leasing deals in China and Goldman reports that up to $80 billion false-loans may involve gold. As one analyst noted, this was unlikely to have a significant impact on the underlying demand for gold in China and as we have pointed out before, any unwind of the Gold CFDs would lead to buying back of 'paper' gold hedges and implicitly a rise in prices.
Quietly behind the scenes, amid all the chaos of the Qingdao probe's contagion, copper has rallied modestly in the last seven days. That streak ended last night as the warehousing concerns we noted spreading to the entire sector, combined with a collapse in Chinese copper imports (down 17% in May), and yet another default (China Ting holdings said said two borrowers defaulted on entrusted loans). So it seems that not only are the commodities missing, but so is the money...as the slow motion train wreck gathers pace (no matter what PMIs or minis stimulus do to evade the tightening) as China's money-market rates (at 5 month highs) suggest liquidity demand is very high (and desperate).
But, but, but... Janet Yellen didn't say precious metal valuations were within historical norms? Gold and Silver are surging today (and have done since the FOMC press conference all-clear) with the latter having its best day in months and back at 3-month highs... Intriguingly, just as we warned, gold and silver have been on a significant tear since the Qingdao CCFD probe began (as synthetic hedges are unwound - which dominate pricing in PMs) while copper and iron ore and so on have all fallen (as the reality of no real demand leaks into these commodities).
With this unprecedented step, the Fed is sending a very clear message: it may be next year, or next month, or next week, but quite soon you, dear retail bond-fund investor, will be gated and will be unable to pull your money.... So wouldn't you rather just keep said money in the "safety" of stock funds, none of which will ever, ever be gated, pinky swear.... Unless the market crashes one final time of course, at which point the Fed will be on the first flight out to non-extradition countries.
Shanghai Limits Individual Purchases Of Risky Bonds As China Overtakes US As Biggest Corporate BorrowerSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/16/2014 22:24 -0400
With China's shadow banking system's collateral chain's collapsing amid government crackdowns on the ponzi, the 'desperate for liquidity' borrowers have increasingly turned to global capital markets' suckers to fund the next malinvestment. As China's currency becomes more internationalized and yields around the world collapse (thanks to central bank largesse), demand from investors has driven, for the first time ever, the Chinese corporate bond market has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest. As S&P warns, this is raising global credit risk as "as much as 10% of global corporate debt is exposed to the risk of a contraction in China's informal banking sector," or around $4-$5 trillion, "causing overall corporate risk to increase globally," and it's not expected to slow anytime soon. It appears the authorities are starting to recognize the bubble as they plan to 'limit individuals' purchases of risky bonds'.
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Over 1 in 5 homes (with $674 billion of mortgages) in China stand empty... and if you think that urbanization will fix that, as WSJ reports, a 10 percentage point rise in the urbanization rate (already at 54%) would result in only a 2.6% drop in vacancy rates. China has a major over-supply issue thanks to property developers who had rushed into the market to build homes, which have been a popular investment as prices seemed bound to keep rising. But now, as Vanke recently warned, things are changing and "the golden era" of China's property market are over. The vacancy rate of sold residential homes in urban areas reached 22.4% in 2013 and as new home prices are slashed to move product, a 30% drop would leave 11.2% of Chinese homes underwater on their mortgages...
Over a year ago we were the first to bring the topic of China's shadow banking system's problematic rehypothecation issues to the general trading public. In "The Bronze Swan Arrives: Is The End Of Copper Financing China's "Lehman Event"?" we explained how the Chinese commodity financing deals (CCFDs) worked and how they would inevitably be a systemic event for the nation so dependent on the shadow banking system for its credit (and its "growth"). The day has arrived when the Bronze Swan is landing (and it's unlikely to be soft). As we have discussed recently, the probe into 'missing' collateral (or multiple-used collateral) at China's Qingdao warehouse is a major problem... and now Goldman confirms, the Qingdao situation likely to continue ongoing CCFD unwind and has the potential to leave foreign banks with undercollateralized loans and/or losses.
On the heels of growing contagion concerns regarding shadow banking collateral and the "rehypothecation evaporation" and this weekend's 'odd' Chinese trade data (big drop in imports, no doubt impacted by dramatic commodity invoicing swings), the PBOC has fixed the Chinese currency 0.36% in the last 2 days... the biggest strengthening in the currency since October 2012. It is unclear for now exactly what is going on but we suspect the panic button outflows as banks pull credit and unwind CCFDs are forcing China's hand to offset CNY selling pressure... and of course China does it in grand style.