Minutes after last week's Swiss National Bank shocker, jokingly we mused: "Will be ironic if Soros was long EURCHF." As it turns out, we were almost correct, and according to the WSJ, Soros Fund Management, which manages more than $25 billion for investor George Soros, was betting against the Swiss franc in the fall before it removed those bearish positions. Why did the Soros so conveniently take off a bet which, with leverage, could have resulted in massive losses for his hedge fund? The WSJ says he did so after "viewing the risk as too high relative to potential gains, said people close to the matter." Well as long as "people close" think Soros did not have input directly from the Swiss central bank, or perhaps the occasional hint from Kashya Hildebrand, then one can't help but marvel at the octogenarian's impeccable timing.
Central bank policy is creating liquidity. Wrong --- the growth in broad money is slowing across the world.
Central bank policy is allowing a frictionless de-gearing. Wrong --- debt to GDP levels of almost every country in the world are rising.
Central bank policy is creating inflation. Wrong --- inflation in most jurisdictions is now back to, or below, the levels recorded in late 2009.
Central bank policy is fixing key exchange rates and securing growth. Wrong --- in numerous jurisdictions this exchange rate intervention is slowing the growth in liquidity and thus the growth in the economy.
Central bank policy is keeping real interest rates low and stimulating demand. Wrong --- the decline in inflation from peak levels in 2011 means that real rates of interest are rising.
Central bank policy is driving up asset prices and creating a positive wealth impact which is bolstering consumption. Wrong --- savings rates have not declined materially.
Central bank policy is creating greater financial stability. Wrong --- whatever positives impact central banks are having on bank capital etc they have failed to prevent the biggest emerging market debt boom in history.
- Saudi Arabia’s New King Probably Will Not Change Current Oil Policy (BBG)
- Saudi King’s Death Clouds Already Tense Relationship With U.S. (WSJ)
- Oil Pares Gains as New Saudi King Says Policies Stable (BBG)
- Kuroda Says BOJ to Mull Fresh Options in Case of More Easing (BBG)
- U.S. pulls more staff from Yemen embassy amid deepening crisis (Reuters)
- Putin Said to Shrink Inner Circle as Hawks Beat Billionaires (BBG)
- A Few Savvy Investors Had Swiss Central Bank Figured Out (WSJ)
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.
"There will first be a pernicious excitement, and next a fatal collapse." -- Walter Bagehot, Lombard Street (1844)
Different elements are rapidly changing within the global monetary complex...
- ECB to decide on bond-buying plan to revive euro zone (Reuters)
- Draghi Is Pushing Boundaries of Euro Region with QE Program (BBG)
- Investors Wonder Whether ECB Will Do Enough (WSJ)
- Treasuries Drop With Bunds Before ECB; U.S. Futures Rise (BBG)
- European shares hit seven-year high (Reuters)
- At least eight civilians killed in shelling of Ukrainian trolleybus (Reuters), both sides blame each other
- OPEC Will Blink First in Battle With Shale Drillers, Poll Shows (BBG)
- China Injects $8 Billion Into Banking System (WSJ)
- New York says Barclays not cooperating in 'dark pool' probe (Reuters)
Everyone who lost money on the SNB’s decision to reverse course on their three and a half year policy to cap the exchange rate between the CHF and the Euro made a category error. Simply put, the rules always change as the Golden Age of the Central Banker begins to fade. The SNB decision was a wake-up call, whether or not you were directly impacted, to re-examine portfolios and investment behavior for category errors. We all have them. It’s only human. The question, as always, is whether we’re prepared to do anything about it.
As we further showed, the bulk of foreign demand for New York's most expensive properties, originated in China, Russia and various other oligarch-controlled nations, where the impetus to launder illegally obtained hot money meant an impulse to buy US real estate sight unseen and virtually at any price. And all of it, of course, all cash. No mortgages. That onslaught of foreign oligarch demand is ending, and with it so is the bubble that luxurious New York real estate found itself in on the back of some $12 trillion in central bank liquidity created out of thin air in the past 6 years. Business Week cites Manhattan real estate agent Lisa Gustin who listed a four-bedroom Tribeca loft for $7.45 million in October, expecting a quick sale. Instead, she cut the price this month by $550,000. “I thought for sure a foreign buyer would come in"... They didn't.
Market Wrap: Futures Lower After BOJ Disappoints, ECB's Nowotny Warns "Not To Get Overexcited"; China SoarsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2015 07:55 -0400
Three days after Chinese stocks suffered their biggest plunge in 7 years, the bubble euphoria is back and laying ruin to the banks' best laid plans that this selloff will finally be the start of an RRR-cut, after China's habitual gamblers promptly forget the market crash that happened just 48 hours ago and once again went all-in, sending the Shanghai Composite soaring most since October 9, 2009. It wasn't just China that appears confused: so is the BOJ whose minutes disappointed markets which had been expecting at least a little additional monetary goosing from the Japanese central bank involving at least a cut of the rate on overnight excess reserves, sending both the USDJPY and US equity futures lower. Finally, in the easter egg department, with the much-anticipated ECB announcement just 24 hours away, none other than the ECB's Ewald Nowotny threw a glass of cold water in the faces of algos everywhere when he said that tomorrow's meeting will be interesting but one "shouldn’t get overexcited about it."
- Obama to focus on middle class in State of Union address (Reuters) - all 4 of them?
- European Stocks Buoyed by ECB Hopes (WSJ)
- China's 2014 economic growth misses target, hits 24-year low (Reuters)
- Federer on Swiss Franc Shock: "Does It Mean I've Got to Win Now?" (BBG)
- First-time buyers help Christie’s reach record sales (FT)
- So it was the NSA? U.S. Spies Tapped North Korean Computers Prior to Sony Hack (BBG)
- Why Chinese Developer Kaisa's Default Risk Has Money Managers Spooked (BBG)
- Morgan Stanley Misses Estimates on Drop in Bond-Trading Revenue (BBG)
Hours after the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast yet again (which for the permabullish IMF is now a quarterly tradition as we will shortly show), now expecting 3.5% and 3.7% growth in 2015 and 2016, both 0.3% lower than the previous estimate (but... but... low oil is unambiguously good for the economy) and both of which will be revised lower in coming quarters, and hours after China announced that its entirely made up 2014 GDP number (which was available not 3 weeks after the end of the quarter and year) dropped below the mandatory target of 7.5% to the lowest in 24 years, it only makes sense that stock markets around the globe are solidly green if not on expectations of another year of slowing global economies, which stopped mattering some time in 2009, but on ever rising expectations that the ECB's QE will be the one that will save everyone. Well, maybe not everyone: really only the 1% which as we reported yesterday will soon own more wealth than everyone else combined and who are about to get even richer than to Draghi.
As we noted last week, the Swiss National Bank's decision to un-peg from the Euro (thus strengthening the CHF dramatically) will have very significant repercussions - not the least of which is for Hungarian and Polish Swiss-Franc-denominated mortgage-holders. The 20% surge in Swiss Franc translates directly into a comparable jump in the zloty value of loan principles and and monthly payments for about 575,000 Polish families owing a total $35 billion in mortgages denominated in the Swiss currency which has prompted calls for Poland's government to bail them out. Never mind the FX risk, the low-rates were all anyone cared about and now yet another 'risk-free' trade has exploded, Deputy PM Piechocinski says, if the franc "remains above the 4 zloty level, the government may provide support" to debtors but Poland's Central Bank is not supportive of the bailout.
Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the dollar has lost over 97 percent of its purchasing power, the US economy has been subjected to a series of painful Federal Reserve-created recessions and depressions, and government has grown to dangerous levels thanks to the Fed’s policy of monetizing the debt. Yet the Federal Reserve still operates under a congressionally-created shroud of secrecy. No wonder almost 75 percent of the American public supports legislation to audit the Federal Reserve.