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.
“Here we go again”
The newly elected Japanese Prime Minister, Shinz? Abe, has caused quite a stir. The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, which scored a landslide victory in 2012’s election, he’s promised to restart the Japanese economy, whatever it takes. How will he do this? By “bold monetary policy”, what he means—and what he has said—is to end the independence of the Bank of Japan, and have the government dictate monetary policy directly. The perception is, the Bank of Japan will not only print yens and buy government bonds à la Quantitative Easing of old - it is also generally thought that Mr. Abe and the incoming Japanese government fully intend to target the yen against foreign currencies, like Switzerland has been doing with the euro. This perception is what has been driving the Nikkei 225 index higher, and driven the yen lower. But why was this decision triggered?
The question many of us had going into today was whether the no follow-through allowed rule would be implemented yet again by The Gold Cartel for the zillionth time in a row.
Look forward to hope being forced to surge even more to offset for this cut by nearly 50% ot the consensus Q4 GDP estimate of 1.5% prior to today. And while we wait for Bloomberg to compile today's massive downward revision to economic growth, this is how Q4 GDP tracking estimates looked like in the past 6 months before today's downward revision which will take the consensus line to 1% or under.
It was only a month ago when JPM's Michael Feroli humorously predicted that Q4 GDP would be boosted by 0.5% due iPhone 5 sales, a comment which even the most clueless economists saw right through, and which we commented on as follows: "don't laugh: yes, US GDP, not that of China where the iPhone is actually produced, but the US where the consumer merely incurs more record student loans to be able to afford it." Well, in a prime example of goal-seeking data to fit reality, here comes that other quite humorous "economist", Deutsche Bank's Joe LaVorgna (recall that Joe is sadly a loser when pitted against the groundhog), who has come up with a slightly different solution: namely that the iPhone led to a drop in Q4 GDP. Step aside Bush, now everything (both good and bad) is the iPhone's fault.