In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
In UBS' view, 1994 is critical for guiding investing today. The key point about 1994 was not that US bond yields rose during a global recovery. But that the leverage and positioning built up in previous years, on the assumption that yields would remain low, then got stressed. The central issue, they note, is that a long period of lacklustre growth, low rates and easy money induces individual investors, funds, non-financial corporates and banks to reach for yield. In many cases, they gear up to do it. And as Hyman Minsky warned; in this way, stability breeds leverage, and leverage breeds instability. It is much less likely that we see the US enter a ‘high plateau’ of growth as we saw from 1995-98, where the US saw a powerful productivity & credit fuelled boom while the emerging markets deflated. And it makes it more likely that the US stays on a lower trajectory, interspersed with periodic recessionary slowdowns in the years ahead. The point at which the market realises this would likely herald a significant risk-off event.
"By propping up asset markets, the Fed has created an illusion that wealth is being created. The next step, according to Bernanke’s plan, should be for growth to follow. In fact, there is no reason why the rise in prices of financial assets should lead to actual investments or a rise in the median income. So far, it has not. There has been no real increase in the private sector propensity to borrow, and the danger may be that any further public sector borrowing will hasten the decline because of our “permanent asset hypothesis”. This means that, should the Fed lose control of asset prices (is this what is now happening in Japan?), then the game will be up and the downside move in markets may well be terrifying."
Following last night's 'surprising' upward GDP revisions, Japan's trade balance plunged to near-record deficit levels (but that didn't matter) and while China's trade data is questionable at best (and now proven 'false'), Japan is facing a much more considerable worry at home. Abenomics' goal to reduce the value of the JPY to improve competitiveness and spur a renaissance has had a rather nasty side-effect for all the Japanese people who eat, drive, or in any way use energy. The cost of Japan's crude basket has risen 35% in the last six months and is now at its highest for the domestic energy user since 2008 (which sparked the last collapse into deflation). As Bloomberg notes in this brief clip, this surge is not related to demand or the price of oil, but to the devaluation of the Japanese currency and leaves both the refiner crushed on margins and the consumer more cash-strapped.
Currency markets are anticipating the conclusion of the BOJ meeting on Tuesday. No changes are expected to the current policy scheme and asset purchase targets, but it is likely that the committee will introduce measures to try to stem JGB volatility. Based on their recent record, it is unlikely they will succeed. Later in the week, the focal point will shift to the US where the monthly Treasury statement on Wednesday and retail sales data on Thursday will shed more light on how automatic federal spending cuts are affecting the broader economy.
A miss for the trade balance (extending the slide into bigger and bigger deficits), positive 'revisions' to rear-view mirror data on nominal GDP, a world of carry traders looking for a better exit point (or staring at margin calls), and more PR coverage of Abe's third arrow have created the perfect short-squeeze storm in Japanese stocks. While USDJPY managed to creep back above 98 (trading in a relatively modest 100 pip range), and JGBs rapidly recovered from early negative-correlated-to-equity-based losses to trade 1-2bps lower in yield, the broad Japanese equity market - TOPIX - is up almost 5%. This is it's best day since March 2011 and second-best day since Lehman. S&P futures are up a mere 2 points, Treasury futures are unchanged, and Gold is modestly higher. So simply put, Japanese stocks are on their own tonight in a land of Abe(g)nomics as every other asset (risk-on or risk-off) sits idly by.
The uncertainty about when the Fed will begin tapering its programme of asset purchases has increased volatility, both pushing and pulling on global financial markets. “at this juncture, the markets are more concerned about tapering than about weak [US and global] growth,” says MIG Bank’s Chief Economist, Luciano Jannelli.
Technology, technology, and more technology—this is what has driven the American oil and gas boom starting in the Bakken and now being played out in the Gulf of Mexico revival, and new advances are coming online constantly. It’s enough to rival the Saudis, if the Kingdom allows it to happen. Along with this boom come both promise and fear and a fast-paced regulatory environment that still needs to find the proper balance. In an exclusive interview with Oilprice.com, Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy Companies - a key player in Bakken with a penchant for leading the new technology charge—discusses: How Bakken has turned the US into an economic powerhouse; What the next milestone is for Three Forks; What Wall Street thinks of the key Bakken companies; Where the next Bakken could be; What to expect from the next Gulf of Mexico lease auction; What the intriguing new 4D seismic possibilities will unleash; What the linchpin new technology is for explorers; How the US can compete with Saudi Arabia; Why fossil fuel subsidies aren’t subsidies; How natural gas is the bridge to US energy independence; Why fossil fuels shouldn’t foot the bill for renewable energy; Why Keystone XL is important; Why the US WILL become a net natural gas exporter
Following April's surprising drop in crude imports which led to a multi-year low in the March trade balance (revised to -$37.1 billion), the just released April data showed an 8.5% jump in the deficit to $40.3 billion, if modestly better than the expected $41.1 billion. This was driven by a $2.2 billion increase in exports to $185.2 billion offset by a more than double sequential jump in imports by $5.4 billion, to $222.3 billion. More than all of the change was driven by a $3.2 billion increase in the goods deficit, offset by a $0.1 billion surplus in services.The Census Bureau also revised the entire historical data series, the result of which was a drop in the March deficit from $38.8 billion to $37.1 billion. In April 233,215K barrels of oil were imported, well above the 215,734K in March, and the highest since January. Furthermore, since the Q1 cumulative trade deficit has been revised from $126.9 billion to $123.7 billion, expect higher Q1 GDP revisions, offset by even more tapering of Q2 GDP tracking forecasts. And since the data is hardly as horrible as yesterday's ISM, we don't think it will be enough on its own to guarantee the 21 out of 21 Tuesday track record, so we eagerly look forward to today's POMO as the catalyst that seals the deal.
All traders walking in today, have just one question in their minds: "will today be lucky 21?" or the 21st consecutive Tuesday in which the Dow Jones has closed green.
All else is irrelevant.
Over three months ago in "South Korea Starts Currency War Rumblings; Has Japan In Its Sights" we showed that the one nation with the biggest sensitivity to Japan's currency-destructive and export-promoting Abenomics policy is its close neighbor, South Korea. With nearly 60% of SK's entire GDP deriving from net exports, every percent drop in its trade balance result in a more than 0.5% hit to GDP: more than any nation in the world. And since South Korea and Japan compete for the same export end markets, there would be no bigger loser in a zero trade sum world than Seoul. However now that Abenomics is in its sixth month, and South Korea's max export pain threshold has been reached, the country no longer will stay silent. As the FT reports, "South Korea has warned that G8 leaders need to do more to tackle the “unintended consequences” of Japan’s monetary easing when they gather for a summit later this month amid mounting concerns about the knock-on effects of a weaker yen. In an interview, Hyun Oh-seok, the South Korean finance minister and deputy prime minister, said that international co-ordinated action was needed to mitigate the impact of so-called “Abenomics” on currency markets."
The missing link to Japan's Abenomic recovery is and will be wage inflation: without it, soaring import costs which have more than offset any benefits from a modest rise in exports (and a still negative trade balance), will be for nothing, and if the wealth effect begins slowing or, heaven forbid, reversing, and the USDJPY slides back under 100 dragging the Nikkei down with it and all those hedge funds who scrambled into Japan with hopes of get rich quick dreams exit stage left, all bets are off. The result, ironically, would be an even worse bout of deflation than the country had in the recent past as all Abenomics will have done is pulled demand forward driven by transitory stock market gains, while far stickier import energy costs hammer the consumer's discretionary cash flow. In the meantime, corporations aren't waiting, and in a need to protect their bottom lines are doing to selling prices what they have zero intention of doing to wages and costs: hiking them. So following in the footsteps of many other luxury, and not so luxury, goods makers, Apple was the latest to announce overnight that it is hiking the prices of select iPad and iPod models by 16% and 14% respectively.
Abenomics is riddled with inconsistencies. He wants the world's biggest bond market to sit still while he tells them they are going to lose money year-after-year (if his inflation goals are met). He wants to spark a renaissance by lowering the JPY and creating inflation but he doesn't want real wages to drop. Of course, the CNBC anchor's ironic perspective that the 80% domestic bond holdings of JGBs will 'patriotically sit back and take the loss' is in jest but it suggests something has to give in the nation so troubled. In fact, as Diapason's Sean Corrigan notes, that is not what has been happening, "every time the BoJ is in, the institutional investors are very happy to dump their holdings to them." On the bright side, another CNBC apparatchik offers, this institutional selling will lead to buying other more productive assets to which Corrigan slams "great, so we have yet another mispriced set of capital in the world, that'll help won't it!" The discussion, summarized perfectly in this brief clip, extends from the rate rise implications on bank capital to the effect on the deficit, and from the circular failure of the competitive devaluation argument.
Surging nominal imports and a miss for exports just about sums up perfectly just how the reality of Abenomics is crushing the real economy as the market goes from strength to strength on the hope that recovery is just around the corner. For the 28th month in a row Japan trade deficit has dropped YoY and its 12-month average is now at its worst ever. Energy costs are driving up imports (and adjusted for the devaluation in the JPY, the data is simply horrendous. Of course, there are green shoots - CPI is not deflating as fast as it was... and 'some' inflation expectations are rising (though as we noted here that is simply due to the tax expectations). Contrary to expectations held by some in the bond market, the BOJ did not comment on the sharp fluctuation in JGB yields since April as a result of monetary relaxation - on the basis, we assume, that if they don't mention it, it never happened. The result post a nothing-burger of 'more uncertainty' from the BoJ, the Nikkei keeps screaming higher, JPY rallied then fell back, and JGBs are sliding higher in yield.