Overnight China reported great trade data which saw exports and imports soar by more than 20% each compared to 2012. Of course, when one adjusts for January calendar effects the "rise" was virtually non-existent but that was too much work for the Shanghai Composite algos. A few hours later, the US did the same, reporting even better trade data which saw the trade deficit plunge the most in nearly three years. So far so good: we just have one question - who is lying more. Because unlike all other sole-sourced economic manipulated data which is solely a function of some excel goal seek model and various spreadsheets, bilateral trade has to foot. One country's net exports have to equal its countepart's net imports and vice versa.
Following November's massive trade deficit surge, when the final print of $48.7 billion was far worse than the $41.3 billion expected, it was only (il)logical that the December trade number would reverse this trend to the other extreme, which it did with the December trade balance plunging from a revised $48.6 billion to a tiny $38.5 billion - the lowest deficit since January 2010, and the biggest beat to expectations of $46 billion since February 2009. The deficit was the result of December exports which were $3.9 billion more than the $182.5 billion in November, and imports some $6.2 billion less than November's total $231.1 billion. Broken down by category, the goods deficit decreased $9.4 billion from November to $56.2 billion, and the services surplus increased $0.7 billion from November to $17.7 billion. A key driver of this move was a spike in Petroleum exports which shrunk the Petroleum product trade gap to the smallest it has been since August 2009 as the US imported the least amount of crude oil since February 1997. Whether this is due to rising domestic production, or just the ongoing collapse in end demand (which is to the US economy as electricity is China's traditional "8%" GDP) remains unclear.
Here are eight considerations that will shape the captial markets in the week ahead.
Analysts who’ve only started paying attention to the country in the last decade often seem convinced that China has no real business cycle, or a very mild one, that because its economy is centrally planned, it’s free from the fluctuations in investment that cause booms and recessions in countries that lack the scientific guidance of a Leninist single-party state. This convenient belief, however, is mostly an artifact of the period over which they’ve been observing its economy. The boom of the early 1990’s wasn’t followed by the usual bust. Instead, after a fairly mild slowdown, another boom period began towards the end of the decade, without the usual deep cyclical trough between expansions. However, this anomaly suggests that it is unlikely to be repeated. We’re probably living, now, with a China that’s back to the sort of violent swings in economic activity, and repeated struggles with inflation, that have been characteristic of most of its recent history. To understand why, it’s necessary to understand DeWeaver's explanation of the nature of the cycle itself.
- CAT beats ex-Chinese fraud: $1.91, Exp. $1.70; Warns 2013 could be a "tough year"; sees 2013 EPS in $7.00-$9.00 range, Exp. $8.54, sees Q1 sales well below Q1, 2012
- Yi Warns on Currency Wars as Yuan Close to ‘Equilibrium’ (BBG)
- Monte Paschi seeks new investor as scandal deepens (Reuters)
- Assault Weapons Ban Lacks Democratic Votes to Pass Senate (BBG)
- Toyota Again World's Largest Auto Maker (WSJ)
- Curious why all those Geneva Libor manipulators moved to Singapore? Bank probes find manipulation in Singapore's offshore FX market (Reuters)
- Japan eased safety standards ahead of Boeing 787 rollout (Reuters) - so like Fukushima?
- Goldman is about to be un charge: Osborne cools on changing inflation target (Telegraph)
- Abe Predicts Bump in Revenue as Japan Emerges From Recession (BBG) - actually, "hopes" is the correct verb here
- Toxic Smog in Beijing Fueling Auto Sales for GM, VW (BBG)
- Fed waits for job market to perk up (Reuters) ... any minute now that S&P to BLS trickle down will hit, promise
- BofA shifts derivatives to UK (FT)
Now corporations are begging: we need more inflation!
Here is a weekly over view of the currency market from a technical perspective. The divergence between the performance of the dollar against the euro-bloc, with the exception of sterling, and the other major currencies is noteworthy. In the analysis, I suggest a few opportnities for near-term contrarians. I fully appreciate that some readers eschew technical analysis and regulate it to the same space as numerology and witchcraft. Yet, even still, it is useful to recall Keynes' view that the markets are like a beauty contest and the trick is not to pick who one thinks is the most beautiful, but to pick who others will think most beautiful. Moreover, technicals allow one to quantify how much one is willing to lose in a way that fundamental macro-economic analysis doesn't. It is a tool then for risk management.
Three main forces are at work today: 1) The continued decline in the yen--driven by more evidence of deflation and more jawboning. 2) Poor UK data and weak underlying technicals extend sterling's losses. 3) Stronger German ZEW survey and the repayment fo 137.2 bln euros from 278 banks.
Cannot be resolved by decapitating the yen
- When the cash runs out: Nokia to Omit Dividend for First Time in 143 Years (BBG)
- Passing Debt Bill, GOP Pledges End to Deficits (WSJ)
- Japan logs record trade gap in 2012 as exports struggle (Reuters)
- so naturally... Yen at 100 Per Dollar Endorsed by Japan Government’s Nishimura (BBG)
- Japan rejects currency war fears (FT)
- In Amenas attack brings global jihad home to Algeria (Reuters)
- Investors grow cagey as Italy election nears (Reuters)
- Mafia Victim’s Son Holds Key to Bersani Winning Key Region (BBG)
- Bernanke Seen Pressing On With Stimulus Amid Debate on QE (BBG)
- U.S. to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs (Reuters)
- Red flags revealed in filings of firm linked to Caterpillar fraud (Reuters)
- Apple Sales Gain Slowest Since ’09 as Competition Climbs (BBG)
- Spanish Jobless Rate Hits Record After Rajoy’s First Year (BBG)
- North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test to Derail U.S. Policies (BBG)
While the main topic of conversation overnight was the Apple implosion after earnings (which was mercifully spared inbound calls from repo desk margin clerks who had all gone home by the time the stock hit $460), there was some macro data to muddle up the picture, which, like everything else in this baffle with BS new normal came in "good/bad cop" pairs. In early trading, all eyes were focused on Japan, whose trade and especially exports imploded when the country posted a record trade gap of 6.93 trillion yen ($78.27 billion) in 2012 and the seventh consecutive monthly drop in exports which showed that improved sentiment has yet to translate into hard economic data. Finance ministry data on Thursday showed that exports fell 5.8 percent in the year to December, more than economists' consensus forecast of a 4.2 percent drop. Trade with China was hit particularly hard following the ongoing island fiasco, which means that all the ongoing Yen destruction has largely been for nothing as organic growth markets simply shut off Japan. This ugly news was marginally offset by a tiny beat in the HSBC China manufacturing PMI which came slighly above consensus at 51.9 vs exp. 51.7, the highest print in 24 months, but as with everything else coming out of China one really shouldn't believe this or any other number in a country that will not allow even one corporate default to prevent the credit-driven illusion from popping.
Currency wars have captured the imagination of many. However, the modern history of the foreign exchange market demonstrates that is has always been an arena in which nation-states compete. Typically central banks want the currency's exchange rate to affirm not contradict monetary policy. The synchronized crisis and easier monetary policy makes it appear that nearly ever one wants a weak currency. Yet most officials are on low rungs of the intervention escalation ladder. Moreover, there is no sign of it spilling over to a trade war. Has any one else noticed that Japan's largest trading partner and regional rival China has been quiet, not joining the the chorus of criticism?
Germany and Japan have a long tradition of cooperating, at least when it comes to various iterations of world war, generically in the conventional sense (and where they tend to end up on the less than winning side). Which is why it may come as a surprise to some that earlier today German politician Michael Meister launched what is now the third shot across Japan's bow in what is rapidly escalating as the most dramatic case of global currency warfare between the world's net exporters (at least legacy net exporters: thanks to Japan's recent political snafus, it has now become a net importer as it is rapidly losing the Chinese market which accounts for some 20% of its exports) which started as long ago as 2010 when it was quite clear that currency warfare is what the insolvent world can expect, before it devolves into outright protectionism, and finally regular war as Kyle Bass explained recently. To wit: “What can Japan’s competitors do?” Meister said today in a telephone interview. “Either we’re all smart and do nothing, or we follow suit and create a spiral that hurts us all.”
Well, my fellow Slope-a-Dopes, your selfless Idiotic Savant servant, whom is securely chained to his desk, has spent a significant part of the long weekend, perusing nearly every finance blog on the world wide web for you. Therefore, I can reliably report to the SOH, that the overwhelming consensus out there in the financial blogosphere, which has now reached a nearly universal feverish pitch, is boldly & proudly heralding that a most encouraging new economic dawn is finally upon us. It seems, a pristine permanent plateau of prosperity has been patently perfected.
Biggest loser? China.