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)
A US government shutdown, slumping vehicle sales, Aussie trade deficit double what was expected (and building approvals tumbled), Asian growth expectations being cut, and Japan's monetray base is up 46.1% YoY (versus 42.0% exp.)... Japanese stocks are down over 400 points from the US day session highs, falling for the 4th day in a row (down 4.8% from the highs last week) as the third arrow confusion reigns taking the Nikkei 225 back to 3 week lows. The Rupiah (Indonesia) and Baht (Thailand) are weakening (bucking the 3-day weakness in the USD) and Indonesian (+10bps), Aussie, and Kiwi bonds are leaking higher in yield. In general, AsiaPac equities are holding modest gains but Singapore and Japan are taking it on the chin... S&P futures -5 from day-session highs.
Two hours prior to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) release, gold was trading below $1,300/oz but started to gradually tick higher prior to surging higher on heavy volume, minutes prior to the release of the FOMC statement.
FX markets, stock, bond and commodity markets did not see similar large moves.
Many well-meaning commentators look back on the era of strong private-sector unions and robust U.S. trade surpluses with longing. The trade surpluses vanished for two reasons: global competition and to protect the dollar as the world's reserve currency. It is impossible for the U.S. to maintain the reserve currency and run trade surpluses. It's Hobson's Choice: if you run trade surpluses, you cannot supply the global economy with the currency flows it needs for trade, reserves, payment of debt denominated in the reserve currency and credit expansion. If you don't possess the reserve currency, you can't print money and have it accepted as payment. In other words, the U.S. must "export" U.S. dollars by running a trade deficit to supply the world with dollars to hold as reserves and to use to pay debt denominated in dollars. Other nations need U.S. dollars in reserve to back their own credit creation.
Over the past year, India has unleashed the most unprecedented series of gold "capital controls" ever seen in a modern nation, shy of confiscation (and even that may be imminent). Today, India added yet another more measure to its list of prohibitions that seek to minimize the size of the gold market available to citizens, yet which will only result in even more interest and demand in the yellow metal. As Reuters reports, India increased its import duty on gold jewellery from 10 percent to 15 percent, setting it higher than the duty on raw gold in a move to protect the domestic jewellery industry. Why is the government doing this? Simple: "To protect the interests of small artisans, the customs duty on articles of jewellery ... is being increased," the ministry said.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is insolvent and has liabilities of over $3.2 trillion and yet has capital of just $60 billion. Therefore, it is leveraged by fifty to one, akin to a highly leveraged hedge fund.
Recent problems in Asia ex-Japan appear solvable. But the time for reform is now if the region's to take the next leap forward in its economic development.
There's a growing view that America's energy boom will result in a higher U.S. dollar in coming years. There are some key holes in the argument though.