After initially sending the all important USDJPY carry pair - and thus all risk assets - into rally mode, the initial euphoria over manipulated Chinese trade data (see China Trade Puzzle Revived as Hong Kong Data Diverge), has all but fizzled and at last check the USDJPY was sliding to its LOD, approaching 102 from the wrong side. That, and a statement by the ECB's Coeure that the ECB is "very seriously" considering a negative deposit rate (and that the OMT is ready to be used even though it obviously isn't following the latest brewhaha from the German top court) have so far defined the overnight session, the latter having sent the EUR sliding across all major pairs.
While there are numerous reasons why precious metals prices rise and fall - from supply, demand, manipulation, money-printing, and jawboning - it is abundantly clear that as prices drop, Asian demand has risen rather notably. But what is the reason? Why are Asian 'people' and central bankers - most notably China - buying gold now? We suspect the following chart from SocGen provides considerably color when answering that question historically (and more importantly - going forward).
The most notable event in this traditionally quiet post-payrolls week is Janet Yellen's Humphrey Hawkins testimony before Congress set for mid-week. In terms of economic data releases, the US retail sales (Exp. 0.05%) is on Thursday and consumer sentiment survey is on Friday (consensus 80.5). We also have IP numbers from Euro Area countries and the US. Most recent external account statistics are released from Japan, China, India and Turkey. It is also interesting to track CPI data in Germany, Spain and India, given the ECB and RBI currently face diverging inflation challenges and may be forced into further action. Finally, we have Q4 GDP data from the Euro Area economies (Friday).
The key events this week are have non-farm payrolls (consensus 181K) and unemployment rate (consensus 6.7%). There is also going to be a number of speeches given by Fed policymakers. Production surveys from the US (ISM) and other parts of the world are due Monday. We also get trade balance updates from the English-speaking economies - US, UK, Australia and Canada. Finally, keep track on inflation data from Italy and Turkey: the latter is important to track given current high correlation among 'fragile' EM currencies.
Over the past week we took our fair share of jabs at SocGen EM FX analyst Benoit Anne (the one who said "Governor Basci, You Have Avoided A Domino Crisis In EM"... er, oops?) . They were all in good humor - after all when it comes to sheer contrarian cluelessness nobody, and we mean nobody in the known world, can even reach Tom Stolper's toe nail, whose fades have resulted in over +12,000 pips on these pages alone over the past 5 years. Which is why we follow up the comedy with something more serious: now that the honeymoon is over, Anne has put together a solid compendium on how to trade the EM meltdown, with an emphasis on defensive strategies. Considering the tapering will continue for a long time, and as GaveKal explained yesterday, someone will have to lose (big) before EM normalcy returns, we urge anyone with EM exposure to read this.
"We take profit on our TRY/ZAR trade recommendation which we entered last night at a level of 4.92. At the time of writing, the level is 4.968 resulting in a gain of 1.0% before carry. The short-lived relief rally in the TRY was swiftly interrupted by a shift in market sentiment, with the updated policy implementation failing to deliver the intended improvements in clarity. On the other hand, an unimpressive 50bp hike from SARB on the heels of CBRT’s punchier response fell short of expectations. Overall, the market continues to trade in a panic mode, notwithstanding the monetary policy responses spreading fast across EM, as real policy rates come increasingly under scrutiny." - SocGen
Yesterday, the moment when the Turkish Central Bank intervention was jinxed was clearly marked by SocGen's fawning Benoit Anne, who said "In any case, I definitely feel much better about the TRY, at least on a tactical basis. Hence we just entered a long TRY/ZAR targeting a tactical move to 5.10. The TRY crisis is over." To which we responded: "As for the "TRY crisis being over" let's wait to see what the "popular" response is to this epic rate hike first thing tomorrow when Turkey awakes, shall we, and let's revisit the TRY crisis in 2-3 weeks when the country's housing market crumbles, when the economy grinds to a halt and the political crisis goes from worse to worse-est." We didn't have to wait more than 12 hours. As of this moment, the entire Central Bank move has been faded.
Judging by the reaction from SocGen and JPY crosses (and thus global equity markets), the Turkish Central Bank's decision - to tighten aka ubertaper -has solved all the tapering, tantruming, turmoiling problems in markets. TRY obviously dumped on the news (now at 2.18 -2100 from highs). JPY crosses instantly exploded higher, automatically lifting US (Dow +60) and Japanese (NKY +110) stock futures markets before they closed. Gold fell very modestly ($1). JPY continued to weaken and when markets re-opened, gold dropped a little more but no sustained pressure; Dow is now +110 from pre-Turkey, NKY +175pts; S&P futures are up 10points on the news as stops are run to 1800 but the EEM ETF rallied around 1% (only).
SocGen's Exuberant Response To The Turkish Action: "Governor Basci, You Have Avoided A Domino Crisis In EM"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/28/2014 17:49 -0500
"Governor Basci, you have avoided a domino crisis in EM.... I definitely feel much better about the TRY, at least on a tactical basis. The TRY crisis is over." - SocGen
"US profits are growing, companies have underinvested and have no choice but to spend more on CapEx, and corporations have much less debt than they did during the crisis thanks to a massive cash build up."
These are the generic go to explanations by soundbity talking heads for why the US recovery is gaining traction with US corporations, if not so much Joe Sixpack, and why companies are still cheap. There is one problem: they are all wrong. As SocGen's Andrew Lapthorne shows conclusively, "US profits are not growing, companies are over not underinvesting (they may in fact have overinvested), and corporates are carrying more (not less) net debt than they were in 2009. It would appear that many believe the opposite to be true, yet corporate report and accounts data seems to say otherwise.""
Corporations Have Record Cash: They Also Have Record-er Debt, As Net Leverage Soars 15% Above Its 2008 PeakSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/16/2014 15:42 -0500
There is a reason why activism was the best performing hedge fund "strategy" of 2013: as we wrote and predicted back in November 2012 in "Where The Levered Corporate "Cash On The Sidelines" Is Truly Going", US corporations - susceptible to soothing and not so soothing (ahem Icahn) suggestions by major shareholders - would lever to the hilt with cheap debt and use it all not for CapEx and growth, but for short-term shareholder gratification such as buybacks and dividends. A year later we found just how accurate this prediction would be when as we reported ten days ago US corporations invested a whopping half a trillion in buying back their stock, incidentally at all time high prices. Putting aside the stupidity of this action for corporate IRRs, if not for activist hedge fund P&Ls, another finding has emerged, one that was also predicted back in 2012. Because in addition to still soaring mountains of cash, corporations have quietly amassed even greater mountains... of debt. In fact, as SocGen reveals, net debt, or total debt less cash, has risen to a new all time high, and is now 15% higher than it was at its prior peak just before the financial crisis!
After last week's economic fireworks, this one will be far more quiet with earnings dominating investors' attention: US financials reporting this week include JPM and Wells Fargo tomorrow, BofA on Wednesday, GS and Citi on Thursday, BoNY and MS on Friday. Industrial bellwethers Intel (Thurs) and General Electric (Fri) are also on this week’s earnings docket. On the macro front, this coming week we have two MPC meetings - both in LatAm. For Brazil consensus expects a 25bps hike in the policy rate. For Chile consensus forecasts monetary policy to remain on hold. Among the data releases, one should point out inflation numbers from the US (CPI and PPI), Eurozone, the UK and India. We also have three important US producer and consumer surveys - Empire Manufacturing, Philadelphia Fed (consensus +8.5), and U. of Michigan (consensus 83.5). Among external trade and capital flow stats, we would emphasize US TIC data, as well as current account balances from Japan and Turkey. Finally, the accumulation of FX reserves in China is interesting to track as it provides an indication of CNY appreciation pressure.
Moments ago shots were fired when a (French) bank broke the unspoken Omerta code among sellside bankers: it downgraded another bank in a time when the S&P is just shy its all time highs (downgrading banks when the market is tumbling is usually a-ok). The note came from SocGen's Andrew Lim, whse thesis is rather simple: "Valuation too expensive in light of regulatory and revenue challenges."
Today the ECB just announced the latest set of undead monetary statistics for November. To nobody's surprise, even though M3 posted the tiniest of possible annual increases, rising from 1.4% to 1.5% (3% below the ECB's 4.5% reference value which it considers consistent with its price stability mandate), loan creation to the private sector declined once again, this time dumping to -2.3% from a revised -2.2%. As the WSJ reports what we have said for the past year, "The deepening decline increases pressure on the central bank to embark on further measures to stimulate lending, analysts said."