“If some fund manager in Texas is saying that your currency is dramatically overvalued, you shouldn’t care on a $10 trillion economy with $34 trillion in your banks. I have, call it a billion - it’s so small it should be irrelevant and yet somehow it’s really relevant.”
It certainly does feel like groundhog day today because while last week's near record oil surge is long forgotten, and one can debate the impact the result of last night's Iowa primary which saw Trump disappoint to an ascendant Ted Cruz while Hillary and Bernie were practically tied, one thing is certain: today's continued decline in crude, which has seen Brent and WTI both tumble by over 3% has once again pushed global stocks and US equity futures lower, offsetting the euphoria from last night's earnings beat by Google which made Alphabet the largest company in the world by market cap.
Thanks to BoJ's global "float all boats" NIRP-tard-ness, Chinese stocks avoided the headline of "worst month in 21 years" by rallying above the crucial 2,667 level (for SHCOMP). However, January's 23% pluinge is the worst month since October 2008 and is officially the worst start to a year in the history of Chinese stocks.
In the most blatant and open admission of direct manipulation, China's Vice President Li told a room full of Davosian elites that China is willing to keep intervening in the stock market to make sure that a few speculators don’t benefit at the expense of regular investors. Following last night's largest liquidty injection in over 3 years (and subsequent plunge in Chinese stocks), it appears the Chinese economic/market "bucket" has more holes than the intervention 'hose pipe' can handle.
Last night's Chinese data deluge can only be classified with one word: bad. So if bad news was again bad news as many claim, both commodities (read oil), and US equity futures should be tumbling right now... but just the opposite is happening and in fact both Brent and WTI have already jumped over $30 this morning. This happens even as the IEA said this morning that global oil markets could “drown in oversupply,” And yet this morning both commodities, global stocks and futures soaring? Simple: the following Bloomberg headline summarizes it: "Brent Rallies More Than $1 as China GDP Spurs Stimulus Bets," and where Brent goes, so goes risk, and the S&P.
While prices in China's Tier 1 cities are soaring, let's put the country's vacant housing problem in context: China has some 13 million homes vacant - enough to house the families of several small countries . Actually, it's worse: Zhu Min, deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, recently admitted that China’s real estate bubble now manifests itself in 10. 7 billion square feet (1 billion square meters) of unused housing! Min added that many housing stock go unused, and the market may see a significant price correction in the future, wiping out vast household wealth.
Xiao Gang, chairman of China's securities regulator, has offered to resign amid ongoing turmoil in the country's equity markets - turmoil which he says stems from "inexperienced investors, an imperfect trading system and inappropriate supervision mechanisms."
It is the “Core of the Core” that now concerns us the most. That is where Federal Reserve (and global central bank) policies have left their greatest mark. It is at the “Core of the Core” where momentous misperceptions and market mispricing have become deeply entrenched. It’s the “Core of the Core” that has attracted enormous amounts of “money” over recent years. It’s also here where I believe leverage has quietly been used most aggressively. Over recent years it became one massive Crowded Trade. Now the sophisticated players must contemplate beating the unsuspecting public to the exits.
It's been a roller coaster year for China's legions of semi-literate day traders who have seen the heights of feast and the depths of famine with Chinese equities over the past 12 months. Now, in the wake of more volatility, many Chinese retail investors are throwing in the towel.
As WSJ reports, a banker from Industrial & Commercial Bank of China "said the number of people wanting to change yuan for dollars has increased significantly during the past three weeks—a period during which the Chinese currency has declined about 2%." Over the weekend for instance, "ICBC received an urgent notification from China’s central bank warning of a dollar shortage."
While Chinese New Year seasonals are undoubtedly one factor in last night's "surprisingly good" Chinese trade data, the following chart shows the level of "bullshit factor" was extreme by anyone's measure. Three years ago we first brought China's 'fake' trade data and abundant discrepancies to the public's attention and despite an apparent crackdown by regulators, the gaping difference between imports from Hong Kong and exports to Hong Kong is downright embarrassing for China's SAFE as it is clear that capital outflows are being disguised as exports with "over-invoicing" back in play.
Having apparently taken the day off from selling US Treasuries and buying Offshore Yuan (following yesterday's "murderous" short-squeeze"), completing a 40 handle round trip in the "stable" currency year-to-date, PBOC decided to hold Yuan flat for the 4th day but make a statement that they would "give policy support to exports" - in other words devalue more. The unintended consequence of their decision to withdraw liquidity and crush shorts in offshore Yuan is more problematic as it has reportedly left Chinese banks short of dollars at their ATMs (and are delaying withdrawals). Meanwhile, another of China's favorite outlets for capital outflows - Bitcoin - just got stomped.
With China now "murdering" Yuan shorts, markets are content that the Chinese debacle seems to be contained if only for a while, and so the attention of both traders and algos alike has focused on oil, which earlier in the session dragged global equities lower as it dropped by 3%, just shy of the $30 level, a new 11 year low, before staging another dramatic rebound in minutes, wiping out all losses in the aftermath of what appears to have been a deadly suicide bomber terrorist explosion on a square the middle of Istanbul's historic district.
A jump in the overnight cost for borrowing yuan in Hong Kong is "reflecting further PBOC efforts to stamp out speculation," according to Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank Group. Hong Kong-based Every told Bloomberg in an interview, following a massive spike in overnight borrowing rates for Offshore Yuan that "a 66% rate is murderous for others being swept up in this who are not speculating." PBOC advisor Han earlier warned that short selling the yuan "will not succeed," adding that "it is pure imagination that the Chinese yuan will act like a wild horse without any rein." But as Every notes, the unintended consequences could be a problem, "imagine you needed access to CNH for other purposes for a few days," concluding ominously that "in other EM crises we see that central banks usually win a round like this, but lose in the end."