"We conclude that, under current circumstances, it is only a matter of time until Brazil loses its investment grade status."
As the great EM unwind continues unabated, we’ve noted that in some hard-hit countries, the terrible trio of falling commodity prices, decelerating Chinese demand, and looming Fed hike has been exacerbated by political turmoil. Now, we turn to Malaysia where an already tenuous situation just got worse as PM Najib Razak is now facing calls for a no-confidence vote amid allegations he embezzled some $700 million from the country's development fund.
In the Western world insouciance rules governments as well as peoples, and most likely also everywhere else in the world. It remains to be seen whether Russia and China have any clearer grasp of the reality that confronts them.
Given the carnage unfolding across EM currencies and the myriad headwinds the world's emerging economies face going forward, it should come as no surprise that sentiment has turned decisively negative. Is it time to be a contrarian? BofAML thinks so.
What does China's "surprise" move to devalue the yuan mean for "broken" EM currencies? Nothing good, Morgan Stanley says. In short, the path ahead is riddled with exported deflation and decreased trade competitiveness against a backdrop of declining global growth and trade.
"We are imperial, and we are in decline... People are losing confidence in the Empire."
For anyone who might have missed it, Brazil is in trouble. "Macro imbalances in Brazil are large, the worst in almost a decade. The fiscal deficit at -8.1% of GDP is also at its widest in more than 20 years, with the combined twin deficits now tracking at a disquieting 12.5% of GDP. Brazil stands at a crossroads – both roads involve currency depreciation."
We would like to believe that a period of peace and prosperity lies ahead of us. Unfortunately, the facts do not support this panglossian assertion. If history repeats it is more likely that we see hyperinflation and the sharp devaluation of paper and digital currencies in the coming years, given that no experiment with money printing has ever had a positive outcome.
Things are getting downright scary in emerging markets as a "triple unwind" in credit, Chinese leverage, and loose US monetary policy wreaks havoc across the space. Between a prolonged slump in commodity prices and a structural shift towards weaker global trade, the situation could worsen materially going forward.
Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games. An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.
Would you rather have one “Share” of the S&P 500 at $2,124, or 41 barrels of crude oil, or 1.86 ounces of gold? Yes, they are all worth the same amount at the moment, but the price relationship between the three has shifted over the decades.
As we noted in Part 1, this central bank fueled boom will ultimately be paid for in the form of a prolonged deflationary contraction. On the morning after, of course, it will be asked why the central banks were permitted to engineer this fantastic financial and economic bubble. The short answer is that it was done so that monetary central planners could smooth and optimize the business cycle and save world capitalism from its purported tendency toward instability, underperformance and depressionary collapse. In Part 2, the whole case for this sweeping and unprecedented Keynesian demand management by the monetary authorities was a crock. Accordingly, the days of the Warren Buffet economy are indeed numbered.
During “normal times” – an economic growth phase accompanied or generated by rising systemic leverage – central banks have incentive to promote nominal growth and inflation, which make banking systems profitable and their free-spending political overseers happy. In such times, commercial banks have fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders to constantly increase their market values, which they do by expanding their balance sheets. Now that economies are highly leveraged, extinguishing debt would require banks to reduce the sizes of their loan books, which would shrink their market values. Thus, it seems economic policy makers never have incentive to promote debt extinguishment in the banking system, regardless of economic conditions or prospects.
What do we really know?