- Tainted Libor Guessing Games Face Replacement by Real Trades (Bloomberg) - so circular, self-reported data is "tainted" - but consumer confidence is great for pumping a stock market?
- Japan Sets up $12 Billion Program for Dollar Loans, Increases Growth Fund (Bloomberg)
- China Hints at Halt to Renminbi Rise (FT)
- Spain Pressed to Cut More From Its Budget (FT)
- Bailout can make Greek debt sustainable, but risks remain: EU/IMF (Reuters)
- Banks to Face Tough Reviews, Details of Mortgage Deal Show (NYT)
- U.S. and Europe Move on China Minerals (WSJ)
- Use of Homeless as Internet Hot Spots Backfires on Marketer (NYT)
- Obama administration seeks to pressure China on exports with new trade case (AP)
Global risk markets and US equity futures were drifting lower together (post China trade deficit data) into this morning's confusion in Europe but around 430ET, equities pushed higher, Treasuries rallied rapidly as we approached the US day session open and broadly speaking risk was off (in everything except stocks). Commodities dropped notably with Oil and Silver losing over 1.5% from Friday's close before heading into the US open. The across-the-board weakness in credit and our broad risk asset proxy (CONTEXT) reversed, as if by magic, as the day-session open in the US dawned and led generally by Treasuries, which staged a 4-5bps sell-off from overnight low yields (with 2s10s30s notably rising on 30Y outperformance and 10Y underperformance), we leaked back to unchanged in ES (the e-mini S&P 500 futures contract) having traded in a very narrow range all day on low volumes (across MAR and JUN). VIX made headlines for its low levels but the steepness of the term structure should be a much bigger concern. AUD weakness spurred much of the early risk-off but accelerated stringer into the US close to maintain equities as close to green as possible. A very noisy day given very little news/event risk and the general confusion in European sovereign markets which all leaked wider. Credit and the vol term structure remain notable canaries as it appears EURJPY has become carry trade-of-the-day once again.
- Greek Bailout Payment Set to Be Approved by Euro Ministers After Debt Deal (Bloomberg)
- China Trade Deficit Spurs Concern (WSJ)
- Sarkozy Makes Populist Push For Re-Election (FT)
- ECB Calls for Tougher Rules on Budgets (FT)
- As Fed Officials Prepare to Meet, They Await Clearer Economic Signals (NYT)
- PBOC Zhou: In Theory 'Lots Of Room' For Further RRR Cuts (WSJ)
- Latest Stress Tests Are Expected to Show Progress at Most Banks (NYT)
- Monti Eyes Labor Plan Amid Jobless Youth, Trapped Firemen (Bloomberg)
China Posts Biggest Trade Deficit Since 1989 As Crude Imports Surge: Is China Recycling Export Dollars Solely Into Oil?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/10/2012 14:51 -0500
In addition to all the US election year propaganda and delayed after effects of central banks injecting nearly $3 trillion in liquidity to juice up the US stock market, something far more notable yet underreported has happened in 2012: the world stopped exporting. Observe the following sequence of very recent headlines: "Japan trade deficit hits record", "Australia Records First Trade Deficit in 11 Months on 8% Plunge in Exports", "Brazil Posts First Monthly Trade Deficit in 12 Months " then of course this: "[US] Trade deficit hits 3-year record imbalance", and finally, as of late last night, we get the following stunning headline: "China Has Biggest Trade Shortfall Since 1989 on Europe Turmoil." Here we must apologize, but blaming the highest trade deficit in 23 years for a country that needs a trade surplus to exist, on the Chinese Lunar new year, which accidentally happens every year, is more than a little naive. Because as the charts below indicate, while exports did in fact tumble in a seasonal pattern as they do every February although more than expected, February imports of $146 billion not only did not drop, but posted a 19% increase compared to January, and soared 40% compared to a year prior. Why? Perhaps the second consecutive record high in monthly crude imports has something to do with it. Which in turn when considering the huge selloff of US Treasury paper by China in the last few months, indicates that the world's fastest growing economy no longer has an interest in taking its export dollars and using them to fund purchases of US paper, but is in fact converting US fiat into real, hard goods. Such as crude (for all those curious where the marginal demand is coming from that is). And most likely gold. But we will only learn about the gold hoarding well after the fact, when China is prepared to see the price of the metal soar as it did in 2009.
Moments ago we tweeted that today's surge in the trade deficit will force banks to start cutting GDP forecasts. Sure enough, Goldman as usual, is the first to set the tone, by cutting its ultra real time GDP forecast from 2.0% to 1.8%.
For those who are in a hurry today, the bottom line is that Japan is in serious trouble right now and is a top candidate to be the next black swan. Here are the elements of difficulty that concern me the most, each one serving to reduce Japan's economic and financial stability:
- The total shutdown of all 54 nuclear plants, leading to an energy insufficiency
- Japan's trade deficit in negative territory for the first time in decades, driven largely by energy imports
- A budget deficit that is now 56% larger than revenues (!!)
- Total debt standing at a whopping 235% of GDP
- A recession shrinking Japan's economy at an annual rate of 2.3%
- Renewed efforts underway to debase the yen
As I wrote a shortly after the earthquake in March 2011, Japan is facing an economic meltdown. If it is not careful, it may well face a currency meltdown, too. These things take time to play out, but now almost exactly a year after the devastating earthquake of 2011, the difficulties for Japan are mounting -- as expected.
While all eyes are on Europe and its Greek farce, Japan is advancing at an inexorable pace...
- Germany FinMin: More Talks Needed On 2nd Greece Bailout Plan (MarketNews)
- You stand up to the bankers, you win - Icelandic Anger Bringing Record Debt Relief in Best Crisis Recovery Story (Bloomberg)
- Iranian ships reach Syria, China warns of civil war (Reuters)
- Men's suit bubble pops? Zegna CEO Says China Sales Slowing (WSJ)
- German presidency row shakes Merkel's coalition (Reuters)
- Greece must default if it wants democracy (FT)
- Decision day for second Greek bailout despite financing gaps (Reuters)
- So true fair value is a 30% discount to "market" price? Board of Wynn Resorts Forcibly Buys Out Founder (WSJ)
- Spain Sinks Deeper Into Periphery on Debt Rise (Bloomberg)
- Walmart raises stake in China e-commerce group (FT)
- Iron Lady Merkel Bucks German Street on Greek Aid (Bloomberg)
The week ahead is fairly light on big ticket data releases, but what is released will provide more evidence of the strength of global activity. The most important of these will be the flash PMIs for China and the Euro area and the German IFO reading . There is no consensus expectation for the China print, however the Euro area indices are both expected to rise slightly, as is the German IFO. In terms of cyclical hard data, Taiwan export orders and IP for Singapore and Taiwan, Euro area industrial orders and trade data from Japan and Thailand will be notable. Admittedly the data from Asia is likely to be complicated by Chinese New Year which fell in the third week of January, and presumably this is why the consensus expects such a sharp drop in Taiwan IP, however the data are still worth watching for indications of the strength in global activity. Generally, consensus expectations for these prints are not particularly encouraging and any 'beats' would be a positive surprise. It goes without saying that ongoing negotiations towards signing off on Greece's second package will also remain on the radar screen. As we write, Reuters has posted suggestions that the debt swap will be open by March 8 and complete by March 11.
Now that the bipolar market has once again resynced general risk appetite with the EURUSD (high Euro -> high ES and vice versa), everything in the macro front aside from European developments, is noise (and the occasional reminder by data adjusting authorities in the US that the country can in fact decouple with the entity responsible for half the world's trade. This will hardly come as a surprise to anyone. In fact, the conventional wisdom as shown by Goldman's latest client poll has European sovereign crisis worries far in the lead of all macro risks. Behind it are Iran and nuclear tensions, China hard-landing, the US recovery/presidential election and the Japanese trade deficit/record debt/JGB issues. Which for all intents and purposes means that the next big "surprise" to the market will be none of the above. What are some of the factor not listed as big macro risks? According to David Kostin 'Risks that clients did not mention include late March US Supreme Court review of health care reform (implications for 12% of S&P 500); mid-year deadline to implement Dodd-Frank financial reform (14% of market); and the French Presidential election on April 22nd where polls show incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy trails opposition candidate Francois Hollande." Oddly enough, one very crucial item missing is once again surging inflation courtesy of trillions in stealthy central banks reliquification, sending crude to the highest since May 2011, and the most expensive gas price in January on record.
Earlier, you heard it from Jeff Gundlach, whom one can not accuse (at least not yet) of sleeping on his laurels and/or being a broken watch, who told his listeners to "reduce risk right now" especially in the frenzied momo stocks. Now, it is David Rosenberg's turn who tries to refute the presiding transitory dogma that 'things are ok" and that a Greek default will be contained (no, it won't be, and if nobody remembers what happened in 2008, here is a reminder of everything one needs to know ahead of the "controlled", whatever that is, Greek default). Alas, it will be to no avail, as one of the dominant features of the lemming herd is that it will gladly believe the grandest of delusions well past the ledge. On the other hand, they don't call it the pain trade for nothing.
Just when Japan can least afford it....