Another day, another currency hits a record low against the US Dollar. The Turkish Lira has collapsed in recent weeks since Erdogan rampaged against the 'independence' of the Central Bank and extended losses today after the economy minister said the government should discuss changing central bank regulations. Nihat Zeybekci said the Central Bank of Turkey’s independence should be conditional on the body taking “national interest” into account. Turkey continues to dump gold at record rates (money laundering to Iran via Switzerland?) and social unrest is on the rise (despite new laws to clamp down on protests) as the US consulate faces bomb threats.
According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday. Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.
When the German/Eurogroup decision came to throw either their own biggest banks, or the grandmas of a co-member nation of the currency union under the bus, they didn't even hesitate since they have control over the perfect vehicle for such tasks: the ECB (an allegedly neutral institution that in reality peddles political influence in a way that guarantees the poorer countries will always wind up footing the bill). For those of you who don’t want to wake up one day to find their own grandmas crushed under the same bus the Greek yiayia’s are under as we speak, it would be beneficial to ponder how perverse this all is, not just the isolated events but the entire underlying system that produces them. Banks are more important than people, certainly grandmas.
Back in December, Socgen spread a rumor that Russia has begun selling its gold. Subsequent IMF data showed that not only was this not correct, Russia in fact added to its gold holdings. But there was one thing it was selling: some $22 billion in US Treasurys, a record 20% of its total holdings, bringing its US paper inventory to just $86 billion in December - the lowest since June 2008.
Albert Edwards' On The Next Shoe To Drop: The Realization That Core Inflation In The US And Europe Are The SameSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/08/2015 20:14 -0500
"The next shoe to drop will be the realisation that the US recovery is stalling and outright deflation is as big a threat there as it is in the eurozone. Indeed my former esteemed colleagues Marchel Alexandrovich and David Owen pointed out to me that if US core CPI is measured in a similar way to the eurozone (i.e. ex shelter), then US core CPI inflation is already pari passu with the eurozone ? despite the former having enjoyed a much stronger economy!"
Following his outburst at the "independence" of the Turkish Central Bank earlier this week (which crashed the Lira), President Erdogan has opened his mouth again this morning...
*ERDOGAN: TURKEY NEEDS NEW CONSTITUTION AND PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM, and
*ERDOGAN SAYS PEOPLE SHOULD RESEARCH NEW YORK TIMES OWNERS
So the blame for his nation's weakness is an independent central bank and the NY Times... The Lira just passed 2.47 to the USDollar - a record low.
"The honeymoon is over," warned SocGen overnight as "the trade of the year" turned into carnage after, essentially, a big policy error on the part of the central bank in the context of serious political pressures. Just today President Erdogan explained to whoever would listen that "interest rates are the cause of inflation," and "some are trying to hold Turkey back with interest rates," adding that "you can't decide interest rates based on inflation." However, his conclusion was what really sent the Turkish Lira spiralling... "unfortunately, this is the result of an independent central bank."
What are the other "highest conviction trades", i.e., most crowded trades, for the hedge fund community? SocGen has the answer.
Rather than be a problem, Syriza may well be a solution, if it plays its cards right, but that still leaves politicians and investors denominating Tsipras et al as a problem, if not a menace. The world’s major banks got rich off the back of the Greek population at large, and when their wagers got so absurd they collapsed, the banks saw to it that their losses were transferred to European -and American – taxpayers. And those taxpayers are now told to vent their anger at 'those cheating, lazy Greeks'. The Troika, the EU, the IMF, and the banks whose sock puppets they have chosen to be, are a predatory force that has come a long way towards wiping Greece off the map. And that’s what Syriza has set out to remediate. And for that, they deserve, and probably will need, our unmitigated support.
Well the day has finally arrived that after two years of promises, jawboning and hope - the European Central Bank finally announced they will take the plunge into the Quantitative Easing (QE) pool. Whether or not the ECB's QE program has the desired effect or not will not be realized for a while. However, this week's reading list is a variety of opinions and initial takes on the "ABC's of the ECB's QE."
What is going on in Europe? Nothing short of the biggest multiple expansion episode in history. As SocGen calculated two days ago "the reported P/E multiple on Eurozone equities has risen from 11.5x to 18.7x today – a multiple expansion of over 60% in 30 months – and now stands at a premium to both the rest of Europe and RoW." And now, with today's latest surge in the Eurostoxx, the multiple has hit what may well be a record 19x, pushing the expansion well into the 60% range over the past two and a half years, making Europe the most expensive market on a PE-multiple basis in the entire world.
SocGen Explains That Since The ECB's QE Will Fail, It Will Need To Be Increased To €3 Trillion, Include StocksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/22/2015 15:27 -0500
"The potential amount of QE needed is €2-3 trillion! Hence for inflation to reach close to a 2.0% threshold medium term, the potential amount of asset purchases needed is €2-3tn, not a mere €1tn. Should the ECB target such an expansion of its balance sheet, it would have to ease some conditions on its bond purchases (liquidity rule, quality...) or contemplate other asset classes- equity stocks, Real Estate Investment Trust-(REIT), Exchange-traded fund (ETF)...- as the BoJ, previously."
The "Deflationary Vortex": Global Dollar Economy Suffers Biggest Plunge Since Lehman, Down $4 TrillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/20/2015 16:28 -0500
One of the macroeconomic observations that has gotten absolutely no mention in recent months is the curious fact that while global economic growth has not imploded in recent quarters, it is because GDP has been represented, as is customary, in local currency terms. Of course, this comes as a time when local currencies (at least those which are not the USD) have been plunging against the greenback on the back of the expectations that the Fed will hike rates some time in the summer or later in 2015. Which also means that in "dollar economy" terms, i.e., converted in USD, things are not nearly as good. In fact, as the chart below shows, the global dollar economy is not only shrinking fast, but it is doing so at the fastest pace since the Lehman collapse, having lost a whopping $4 trillion, or a whopping 5% drop, in just the last 6 months!
The problem, and the source of hope for Eurozone equity investors, is that Eurozone corporate profits have not matched this strong equity price performance. Headline EPS and DPS growth have not advanced since 2012. In fact, aggregate earnings and dividends as measured by MSCI are down by 7% and 5% respectively, whilst the equity index is up 50%." We'll repeat that again: in the past 2 and a half years, Eurozone earnings are down 7%! So where did this upside come from? "This strength in share prices but not in profits has meant the reported P/E multiple on Eurozone equities has risen from 11.5x to 18.7x today – a multiple expansion of over 60% in 30 months – and now stands at a premium to both the rest of Europe and RoW."
Quality stocks along with everything else are expensive. Increasing risk while valuations in the equity market are so elevated seems dangerous, so the obvious answer is to hide in cash. Given valuation dispersion is so tight, avoiding risk will be pivotal in 2015. To that end, avoiding or even shorting companies with a high degree of earnings manipulation seems sensible. This style was a particular strong performer in Europe and Japan last year. We expect to see similar effects emerging in US stocks this year. Simply put, the lack of quality income stocks to invest in is often a precursor to a market downturn.