Dispassionate discussion of the investment climate.
Despite the great shale revolution, US exports posted a $0.4 billion decline to $188.9 billion in October driven by decreases in industrial supplies and materials ($1.3 billion), other goods ($0.2 billion), consumer goods ($0.2 billion), and capital goods ($0.1 billion). This was offset by a $2.7 billion increase in imports to $230.7 billion broken down by increases in industrial supplies and materials ($0.9 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.9 billion); capital goods ($0.8 billion); and consumer goods ($0.6 billion). End result: a September trade balance of $41.8 billion, which was higher than the highest forecast of $41.6 billion among 72 economists queried by Bloomberg, and the highest deficit print in 4 months.
While today's big event is the October Non-farm payrolls print, which consensus has at 120K and unemployment rising from 7.2% to 7.3%, there was a spate of events overnight worth noting, starting with Chinese exports and imports both rising more than expected (5.6% and 7.6% vs expectations of 1.9% and 7.4% respectively), leading to an October trade surplus of $31.1 billion double the $15.2 billion reported in August. This led to a brief jump in Asian regional market which however was promptly faded. Germany also reported a greater trade surplus than expected at €20.4bn vs €15.4 bn expected, which begs the question just where are all these excess exports going to? Perhaps France, whose trade deficit rose from €5.1 billion to €5.8 billion, more than the €4.8 billion expected. Of note also was the French downgrade from AA+ to AA by S&P, citing weak economic prospects, with fiscal constraints throughout 2014. The agency added that the country has limited room to maneuver and sees an inability to significantly cut government spending. The downgrade, however, was largely a buy the EURUSD dip event as rating agencies' opinions fade into irrelevance.
After briefly becoming the strongest currency in the world for 2013, yesterday's stunning inflation report out of the Eurozone has not only left the massively overblown European recovery story in tatters (but... but... those soaring PMIs, oh wait, John Paulson is investing in Greece - the "recovery" is indeed over), has sent the sellside penguins scrambling with the new conviction that the ECB now has no choice but to lower rates once again, either in November or in December. So with everyone confused, we were hoping that that perpetual contrarian bellwether Tom Stolper, who just came out with a report, may have some insight. And sure enough, while the long-term EUR bull admits that "the ECB could move the EUR/USD cross by about 5 big figures by cutting the refi rate by 25bp" and that "it is quite possible that we will see EUR/$ drop further towards 1.33", he concludes that "an ECB rate cut could turn out to be a buying opportunity to go long the EUR." And now we know: because what Stolper tells his few remaining muppets to buy, Goldman is selling: if and when the ECB cuts rates, do what Goldman does, not what is says: sell everything.
This morning, like many other mornings in the last few months, precious metals prices are being pummeled lower in a vertical dumpfest (for no apparent sudden reason other than its opening time). What is ironic about this apparent lack of demand is that around the world, demand is extreme - and is most clearly evident in India, where thanks to government intervention, physical premiums push to new record highs yet do nothing to detract from Indians buying demand (as Reuters reports supplies of the precious metal disappear). Of course, the real reason why gold and silver prices have dropped since 10/28 is that none other than "the world renowned Gartman" went long again...
Higher energy costs in Japan have not turned consumer opinion back in favor of nuclear power.
Why China DOESN'T WANT the Yuan to Become the Reserve Currency
The number one American export is U.S. dollars. It is paper currency that is backed up by absolutely nothing, but the rest of the world has been using it to trade with one another and so there is tremendous global demand for our dollars. The linchpin of this system is the petrodollar. For decades, if you have wanted to buy oil virtually anywhere in the world you have had to do so with U.S. dollars. But if one of the biggest oil exporters on the planet, such as Saudi Arabia, decided to start accepting other currencies as payment for oil, the petrodollar monopoly would disintegrate very rapidly. For years, everyone assumed that nothing like that would happen any time soon, but now Saudi officials are warning of a "major shift" in relations with the United States. In fact, the Saudis are so upset at the Obama administration that "all options" are reportedly "on the table".
Following last week's last two day panic buying driven not by data (since in the US it has been delayed until late October and November, and elsewhere in the world it is just getting worse) but by the catalyst that the US isn't going to default (yes, that's all that is needed to push the S&P to all time highs) and just hopes that the tapering - that horrifying prospect of the Fed reducing its monthly monetization by $15 billion from $85 to $70 billion in line with the decline in the US deficit - will be delayed until March or June 2014 because, you see, the Fed isn't sure how the economy is doing, it makes no sense to even comment on the market. Squeezes, momentum ignitions, rumors about what Messers Bernanke and Yellen had for breakfast, Goldman's 2015 S&P forecast of 2100: that's the lunacy that passes for market moving factors. News, and reality, have long since been put in the dust. Just keep an eye on flashing read headlines, and try to buy (remember: anyone caught selling by the NSA is guaranteed a lifetime of annual IRS audits) ahead of the algos. That's what Bernanke's centrally-planned "market" has devolved to.
Every month we say it, and every month it just keeps getting worse: RIP Abenomics... until next month, when it will be RIP-er. Overnight Japan posted its latest, September, trade numbers which were absolutely abysmal, as the trade deficit rose to a fresh record high of 932 billion yen ($9.5 billion), the 15th consecutive monthly shortfall. The deficit for April-September rose to nearly 5 trillion yen ($51 billion), also a record for the first half of the fiscal year. The reason: as we warned in January when we predicted that the surging import costs of energy and food as a result of the plunging yen will far outweigh any incremental benefits for exports, is that, well, surging cost of energy and food far outweighed any incremental benefits for exports courtesy of the ongoing Yen devaluation. But at least Japan's 0.1%, like the 0.1% in the US and Europe, have their wealth effect. The rest can just go on a diet. And walk getting there since they can't afford gas.
You have to laugh really... We presume the rally in Japanese stocks and weakness in the JPY reflects an assumption that this dismal miss for both imports and exports - leaving Japan's adjusted trade deficit the worst in Bloomberg's 20 year history - means moar Abenomics. Of course, the headlines will be all about Abe's 'any minute now' comments or Kuroda's 'just one more quarter' hope (as he speaks later today) but the reality is that things are not getting better in the radioactive nation as this marks the 30th consecutive trade deficit... but, like Venezuela, when has that even been reason not to buy stocks... S&P futures are up 2.5 points (below Friday's highs still for now), gold has given back its earlier gains and is unchanged, and Treasury Futures are down a tick.
Gold imports have virtually dried up in India. Battling a high trade deficit, the country has set the import duty on the precious metal at a record 10%.
For all expectations of a big jump in US futures overnight on the largely priced in Janet Yellen nomination announcement which is due at 3 pm today, the move so far has been very much contained, as expected, with a modest 90 minute halflife, as the markets' prevailing concern continues to be whether the debt ceiling negotiation will be concluded by the October 17 deadline or if it would stretch further forcing the government to prioritize payments. There is however some hope with Bloomberg reporting that some possible paths out of the debt impasse are starting to emerge with less than a week before U.S. borrowing authority lapses after Obama said he could accept a short-term debt-limit increase without policy conditions that set the terms for future talks. Whether this materializes or just leads to more empty posturing and televized press conferences is unclear, although as Politico reports, the stakes for republicans are getting increasingly nebulous with some saying they are "losing" the fight, while the core GDP constituency is actually liking the government shutdown.
Argues that despite the growth the of the state in response to the crisis, what characterizes the current investment climate is the weakness of the state. This asssessment is not limited to the US, where the federal government remains partially closed.
- U.S. Government Shut Down With No Quick Resolution Seen (BBG)
- 12 House Republicans now say they’d back a ‘clean’ CR (WaPo)
- Republicans’ 2014 Senate Edge Muddied by Shutdown Message (BBG)
- Obama Shortens Asia Trip Due to Government Shutdown (WSJ)
- Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley (BBG)
- Foreign Firms Tap U.S. Gas Bonanza (WSJ)
- Behind Standoff, a Broken Process in Need of a Broker (WSJ)
- Japan Awaits Abe’s Third Arrow as Companies Urged to Invest (BBG)
- Microsoft investors push for chairman Gates to step down (Reuters)