Japan goes to bed with another absolutely ridiculously volatile session in the books following a 5%, or 637 point move higher in the PenNIKKEIstock Market closing at over 13514, which if taking the futures action going heading to Sunday night into account was nearly 1000 points. With volatility like this who needs a central bank with price stability as its primary mandate. The driver, as usual, was the USDJPY, which moved several hundred pips on delayed reaction from Friday's NFP data as well as on a variety of upward historical revisions to Japanece economic data, but not the trade deficit, which came at the third highest and which continues to elude Abenomics. Fear not: one day soon consumers will just say no to Samsung TVs and buy Sony, or so the thinking goes. erhaps the most interesting news out of Asia was the spreading of FX vol tremors to a new participant India, which is the latest entrant into the currency wars, even if involuntarily, where the Rupee plunged to 58, the lowest ever against the dollar.
A week ago, when the brand new Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange suddenly shuttered after being in operation for only two years, urgently settling what little contracts were outstanding, many questions were left unanswered. Such as: how it was possible that the exchange, expected by many to become the new preferred trading venue for Asian precious metals and to steal the CME's crown, could close on such short notice. This mystery deepened further after reports that the exchange barely had seen any volume, with allegedly only a tiny 200 open contracts remaining to be settled upon shuttering. Now, the confusion surrounding the HKMex closure has taken another big step for bizarrokind following news that not only have at least four HKMex senior executive have been arrested having been found to be in possession of false bank docs for nearly half a billion in dollars, but that government itself was forced to "shore up confidence" in CY Leung, Hong Kong's 3rd Chief Executive, whose former top aide was none other Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, founder of the HKMex.
The great American manufacturing renaissance? Maybe not. But China is losing the low-wage edge.
- The number of bond funds that own stocks has surged to its highest point in at least 18 years (WSJ)
- Clubby London Trading Scene Fostered Libor Rate-Fixing Scandal (WSJ)
- Cheap money bankrolls Wall Street's bet on housing (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan reveals concerns over easing policy (FT)
- iPads and low-end rivals propel higher tablet shipments (Reuters)
- China Cyberspies Outwit U.S. Stealing Military Secrets (BBG)
- Draghi Fuels Bets on Rate Cut With Risk of Limited Impact (BBG)
- China guides renminbi to fresh high against US dollar (FT)
- Japan is preparing to start up a massive nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant (WSJ)
- Apple’s Ive Seen Risking iOS 7 Delay on Software Overhaul (BBG)
- UBS faces calls for break-up at investor meeting (Reuters)
When it comes to true demand for the "unfondleable" barbaric relic, one can look at spot prices (or listen to CNBC, at least when gold is correcting when it is being commented on every 5 minutes; when it has soared by $150 in 10 days, one hardly hears a peep), or one can continue looking at the absolute frenzy in the physical markets, now all over the world, where those who refuse to take their eyes off the ball, or the G-7 printers as the case may be, understand very well how this story ends. They also understand that the recent gold correction has simply been a buying opportunity, and the further the price fell, the more gold was bought until finally mints, refineries, and brokerages have run out of physical in inventory. Bloomberg reports on the ground from India, the world's biggest importer of gold, where gold consumers "thronged jewelry stores across the country for a second week on speculation that bullion may extend a rally after the biggest plunge in three decades." “Demand has been extraordinary in the past 15 days and sales this April have been much better than last year,” Kamal Gupta, chairman of P.P. Jewellers Ltd., said by phone from Delhi. “We waited for sometime to see if prices will fall more but when we saw them moving up again, we decided it’s time,” said Sripal Jain, a 77-year-old silver dealer who came with his younger brother, daughter and daughter-in-law to buy gold necklaces at Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar. “We don’t have any wedding or occasion coming up. The rates fell, so we decided to buy"
Things in the US have gotten so bad, not only are most online dealers backlogged weeks and months in advance for most PMs (as the CEO of Texas Precious Metals explained in detail), but respected bullion vaults are also now on the verge of running out of inventory. As Reuters described, "Michael Kramer, president of Manfra, Tordella & Brookes (MTB), a major U.S. coin dealer in New York, has been inundated by orders from existing and new wholesale and retail customers. "It's panic. This is one of the busiest times in quite a while. People think gold's at the lows and they want to take advantage." It was only a matter of time before the last bastion of paper money, London, also succumbed to the soaring demand for physical, and sure enough moments ago Bloomberg reported that the "Britain’s Royal Mint, established in the 13th century, sold more than three times more gold coins this month than a year earlier as prices declined." Sales are more than 150 percent higher than last month, according to Shane Bissett, director of bullion and commemorative coin at the Royal Mint.
- Cyprus targets big depositors in bank plan (FT)
- Merkel Vents Anger at Cyprus Over Bailout Plan as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Russia rebuffs Cyprus, EU awaits bailout "Plan B" (Reuters)
- Russia Rejects Cyprus Bid for Financial Rescue as Deadline Looms (BBG)
- Cyprus unveils shake-up as the clock ticks (FT)
- Remember Italy? Italy’s stalemate unnerves investors (FT)
- Credit Suisse CEO pay jump to fuel banker bonus debate (Reuters)
- Kuroda Rebuts Reflation Naysayers as BOJ Action Looms (BBG)
- Fund Manager Says 'Whale' Trade Was a Bet (WSJ)
- House averts government shutdown, backs Ryan budget (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Homes Face 20% Price Drop as Banks Raise Rates (BBG)
If the last three days were spared an overnight ramp in US futures, today this has not been the case as the new carry pairs of choice, the USDJPY and EURJPY, have seen constant gradual levitation overnight, pushing the correlated US OTC markets higher and setting the stage for the tenth consecutive, and perfectly artificial, Dow Jones increase. It is notable just how broken the old direct EURUSD-ES correlation is in times when correlation desks can offset selling pressure by shorting Yen and obtain local funding. That said, even the USDJPY appears to have stalled out in the low/mid 96 range - it is unclear what the catalyst pushing the Yen much lower will be, as virtually all rhetorical ammunition used by the BOJ and its affiliates, has by now been well and truly used up, and the daily talkdown sessions are merely a regurgitation of previous talking points.
Some have attributed the resurrection of the financial markets (or more appropriately the banks) from the March 2009 lows to the IASB/FASB changes to factual to fantasy accounting. The Telegraph reports today that from PIRC's and the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee that while banker bonuses continue to rise (for now), 'hidden' losses among UK banks could total GBP60 Billion (USD 90 Billion). HSBC topped the list with GBP10.4 Billion in bad debts that have yet to be written off and while the 'accounting' bodies are suggesting they will address criticism of this farce, as one analyst notes, they "can still make unprofitable lending appear profitable." Regulators expect to hear plans from lenders on how they intend to fill these holes before the end of the month to coincide either with the FPC’s meeting on March 19 or a statement scheduled for March 27. While outright recaps are unlikely, banks are expected to restructure and set out plans to raise their capital levels over the next couple of years. More fantasy...
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
When it comes to estimates of China's growth rate, we could go with the local politburo propaganda which even China itself has admitted is goalseeked worthless drivel fit "only for reference", or we could listen to a megacap CEO, who actually is on the ground and whose business model depends on accurately predicting the underlying economic reality of the world's biggest nation. We chose the latter, in which case we now know that China's 2012 GDP growth was only 3-4%, half the reported 7.8%.
Gold edged up and Tokyo gold hit a record multiyear high after the Bank of Japan announced a bold, some would say reckless, $117 billion ‘stimulus’ program as expected. The BOJ’ package included doubling its inflation target to 2% and making an open-ended commitment to asset purchases from next year.
This open ended policy surprised some that expected a small rise in the BOJ's $1.1 trillion asset-buying and lending program.
On Wednesday, there is a scheduled vote in the U.S. Congress proposed by Republicans on the U.S. borrowing limit.
That China openly manipulates its economic data, especially around key political phase shifts, such as one communist regime taking over for another, is no secret. That China is also the marginal economic power (creating trillions in new loans and deposits each year) in a stagflating world, and as such must be represented by the media as growing at key inflection points (such as Q4 when Europe officially entered a double dip recession, and the US will report its first sub 1% GDP in years) as mysteriously reporting growth even without open monetary stimulus (something we have said the PBOC will not engage in due to fears of importing US, European and now Japanese inflation) is critical for preserving hope and faith in the future of the stock market, is also very well known. Which is why recent market optimism driven by "hope" from Alcoa that China is recovering and will avoid yet another hard landing, and Chinese reports of a surge in Exports last week, are very much suspect. But no longer is it just the blogosphere that is openly taking Chinese data to task - as Bloomberg reports, even the major banks: Goldman, UBS and ANZ - are now openly questioning the validity and credibility of the goalseek function resulting from C:\China\central_planning\economic_model.xls.
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
- Fed Seen Pumping Up Assets to $4 Trillion in New Buying (BBG)
- China New Loans Trail Forecasts in Sign of Slower Growth (BBG)
- U.S. "fiscal cliff" talks picking up pace (Reuters)
- Insider-Trading Probe Widens (WSJ)
- U.K.'s Top Banker Sees Currency Risk (Hilsenrath)
- Three Arrested in Libor Probe (WSJ)
- Nine hurt as gunmen fire at Cairo protesters (Reuters)
- Egyptian President Gives Army Police Powers Ahead of Vote (BBG)
- Pax Americana ‘winding down’, says US report (FT)
- Japan Polls Show LDP, Ally Set for Big Majority (DJ)
- HSBC to pay record $1.9 billion U.S. fine in money laundering case (Reuters)