As we first warned in March, and as became abundantly clear over the weekend Beijing had no choice but to join the global currency wars, as the yuan's dollar peg will ultimately prove to be too painful going forward. And sure enough this evening the PBOC weakens the Yuan fix by the most on record.
When China's tinderbox economy implodes, who will be left to bid up the world's surplus commodities and real estate?
After 30 years of torrid expansion, perhaps the single most consequential factor in China’s economy is how much of it is a “black box”: a system with visible inputs and outputs whose internal workings are opaque. China’s recorded history stretches back thousands of years, but in terms of applicable financial and economic parallels to the current economy, there is no precedent. China’s leadership is truly in uncharted waters. This in itself heightens the risk of miscalculation and basing policies on faulty premises.
Will there be a financial collapse in the United States before the end of 2015? An increasing number of respected financial experts are now warning that we are right on the verge of another great economic crisis.
The Fed’s zero interest rate policy has provided a subsidy to investors for the past 7 years. The lure of easy profits from cheap money was wildly attractive and readily accepted by investors. The Fed “put” gave investors great confidence that they could outperform their exceptionally low cost of capital. These implicit promises by central banks encouraged trillions of dollars into ‘carry trades’ and various forms of market speculation. Complacent investors maintain these trades, despite the Fed’s warning of a looming reduction in the subsidy, and despite a balance sheet expected to shrink in 2016. It has been a risk-chasing ‘game of chicken’ that is coming to an end. Changing conditions have skewed risk/reward to the downside. This is particularly true because financial assets prices are exceptionally expensive...There are warning signs and visible market stresses beyond those mentioned yesterday.
For years now China has been heralded as an economic miracle that will drive the global economy towards growth and eventually eclipse the US as THE superpower in the world.
We have lived through a credit hyper-expansion for the record books, with an unprecedented generation of excess claims to underlying real wealth. In doing so we have created the largest financial departure from reality in human history. Bubbles are not new – humanity has experienced them periodically going all the way back to antiquity – but the novel aspect of this one, apart from its scale, is its occurrence at a point when we have reached or are reaching so many limits on a global scale. The retrenchment we are about to experience as this bubble bursts is also set to be unprecedented, given that the scale of a bust is predictably proportionate to the scale of the excesses during the boom that precedes it. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. China is the biggest domino about to fall, and from a great height as well, threatening to flatten everything in its path on the way down. This is the beginning of a New World Disorder…
The Fed would have needed to hike rates by 800 bps in the wake of the dot-com collapse in order to prevent the housing bubble. That would have purged the system and gradually, the FOMC could have eased by around 300 bps over the next four years. That policy course would have prevented the speculative bubble that brought capital markets the world over to their knees in 2008. And why didn’t the Fed do this? Because "such a large increase in interest rates would have depressed output more than the Great Recession did." In other words, thanks to Alan Greenspan, the US economy cannot function under a normalized monetary policy regime.
To get a sense of the complete devastation in the world of commodities, consider the curious case of Australia's Isaac Plans coking coal mine, which was valued at $630 million in 2011. It sold on Thursday for $1. it gets worse: based on data from Citi Research, 90% of all M&A that miners did since 2007 has been written off. The commodity bubble has officially burst - feel free to thank China.
Just the tip of the iceberg?
The Chinese stock market crash has hit the world’s largest auto-market hard. For now, China is a dream turned sour for the Michigan-based Ford and General Motors and Germany’s Volkswagen. The risks are enormous and will become greater with time.
On the heels of a veritable bloodbath in Chinese equities overnight which saw the SHCOMP slide a harrowing 8.5%, the entire world is now beginning to take a hard look at the notion that dramatic bouts of selling pressure are aggravated and perhaps triggered by an unwind in the multiple backdoor margin lending channels that allowed investors to skirt official restrictions on leverage and helped to drive the market’s world-beating rally. Here is the complete guide to China's CNY4 trillion shadow margin edifice.
Late last month, we suggested that the pressure on Chinese equities - which at that point had only begun to build - was at least partially attributable to an unwind in the country’s CNY1 trillion backdoor margin lending edifice. Precisely measuring the amount of shadow financing that helped drive Chinese stocks to nosebleed levels is virtually impossible, as is determining how much of that leverage has been unwound and how much remains or has been restored, but BofAML is out with a valiant attempt to not only identify each shadow lending channel, but to quantify just how much leverage may be built into the Chinese market. The figures will shock you.
The ongoing downshift in property construction will continue to undercut China's demand for commodities, raw materials and machinery, weigh on property as well as mining and industrial investment, and be a drag for overall GDP growth in 2016. The most direct and important channel through which this impact spreads is trade linkages, given China's role as the top exporter and second largest importer in the world.
There has been so much attention on Greece in recent weeks, but the truth is that Greece represents only a very tiny fraction of an unprecedented global debt bomb which threatens to explode at any moment. The only “solution” under our current system is to kick the can down the road for as long as we can until this colossal debt pyramid finally collapses in upon itself.