If one was to believe the picture that most Western media outlets are painting, Ukraine has been lost to Russia. Though the country fought valiantly to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union in Vilnius, Lithuania last month, President Viktor Yanukovych suspended negotiations with the EU at the last possible moment, betraying Ukrainians everywhere. Two recent energy deals that Ukraine has reportedly made, one with Russia and the other with Slovakia, however, show that the reality of the situation is slightly more complex.
Japan is likely to launch even more QE in early 2014 and a much lower yen may result. That'll have dramatic consequences, perhaps greater than US tapering.
The "aggregate demand is God" Keynesian Cargo Cult fetish of focusing on holiday sales is worse than meaningless--it is profoundly misleading. Counting on strong holiday retail sales to "boost the economy" is like eating triple-paddy cheeseburgers and fries to lose weight. The last thing a debt-dependent economy needs is more borrowing to buy excess consumption, and the last thing an economy that imports most of the junk being purchased needs is empty-headed economists declaring that the purchase of more low-quality, mostly needless junk is anything other than a waste of money and resources.
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), "we've got to stop this, this is going to be bad." He adds, on the incoming QEeen, "she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn't believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good." However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, "eventually the markets will just say, "We're not going to play this game anymore", and we'll have a serious collapse." The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes "if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it's blue because I have found that most people won't even bother to look out the window..." Rogers concludes, "everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy," because as he ominously warns, when 'it' collapses, "there will be big change.
Dispassionate view that Italy poses the biggest risk for the euro area and it will not wait for the German elections.
Last week's liquidity crunch and market panic is a reminder that Beijing is playing a difficult game. Regardless of what happens next, the consensus expectations that China's economy will grow at roughly 7 percent over the next few years can be safely ignored. Growth driven by consumption, instead of trade and investment, is alone sufficient to grow China's GDP by 3 to 4 percent annually. But it is not clear that consumption can be sustained if investment growth levels are sharply reduced. If Beijing can successfully manage the employment consequences of decreased investment growth, perhaps it can keep consumption growing at current levels. But that's a tricky proposition. It's likely that the days of the super-powered Chinese economy are over. Instead, Beijing must content itself with grinding its way through the debt that has accumulated over the past decade.
France vetoed the launch of free-trade negotiations between the EU and the US (forgot that it racked up a big trade surplus with the US)
Just one month after we discussed ArcelorMittal's 'demand' that Europe seek sanctions against China's steel tariffs (following unfair 'tit-for-tat-wine' Chinese trade practices, after EU solar panel tariffs), Reuters reports that the EU is indeed to press the WTO to rule against Chinese duties on imported steel. While history never repeats, it merely rhymes, this episodic collapse in economies, markets, and trade is now showing signs of the same desperation as during the Great Depression as intervention, devaluation, and now protectionism are brought to bear to save the domestic economy at all costs. The EU joins Japan in this rapidly escalating trade war with Beijing as they believe "retaliation by the Chinese is now recognized," something not allowed under WTO rules, "and so they have a good chance to win." This will not help either trade relations with the world's 'growth' engine or the credit-crunched nation's massive glut of commodities (and commodity-backed credit lines).
We reported yesterday that Europe, in a surprising escalation of global trade wars, announced it would impose solar-panel duties against China in one week, with the terms rapidly deteriorating over the next three months. It took China less than one day to retaliate. What's worse the retaliation is aimed at Europe's already weakest - the PIIGS - by targeting not hard German machinery exports but something far more prosaic: French, Spanish and Italian wine.
Recent price action amid the heavily shorted solar stocks has seemingly been predicated on hope that late May chatter of negotiated settlements in the industry would occur and everyone could go happily about their business. While hope remains for a settlement - and tariffs have been delayed 2 months, as the WSJ reports - the EU is set to announce drastic anti-dumping levies on Chinese solar panels in a move that could trigger a trade war between two of the world's largest economies:
- *EU SAYS SOLAR-PANEL DUTY TO START AT 11% ON JUNE 6
- *EU SAYS SOLAR-PANEL DUTY TO RISE TO 47.6% IN AUGUST
- *EU'S DE GUCHT SAYS NOT CLOSE TO SOLAR-PANEL PACT WITH CHINA
Sadly this is playing out very similarly to the Great Depression period as tariffs and protectionism replaced domestic focused fiscal and monetary policy and escalated problems rapidly. China rejects the EU's price-dumping allegations, but the problem is not new for Beijing. The U.S. last year imposed punitive tariffs on solar panel imports after finding that China's government was subsidizing companies that were flooding the U.S. market.
A cruel twist for an already threatened industry.
One more treacherous rift across Europe.
There is a reason why in Europe, no matter how much some want to deny it, the Cyprus deposit confiscation "resolution" has become the norm. Quite simply, as BofA summarizes, "Europe's economy struggles with too many banks, too much debt and too little growth. A long history of empire, trade, war and commerce means a long history of banking. The world’s first state-guaranteed bank was the Bank of Venice, founded in 1157, and the world’s oldest bank today is also Italian, Monte Paschi di Siena (founded 1472). In many European countries, bank assets dwarf the size of the local economy and are far in excess of other regions in the world. This is similarly reflected in the local stock exchanges: even now financials account for 42% of the Spanish stock market and 31% of the Italian stock market versus ust 16% in the US."
Currency wars are so pre-"QE eternity." At least that is the opinion of Indian multi-billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, and owner of the world's biggest steelmaker, who urged Europe to embrace protectionism and erect trade barriers to "protect" its manufacturers (benefiting one ArcelorMittal among others), while at the same time bashing austerity, saying "the futures of EU manufacturing depended on politicians in Brussels helping industry face what he said was unfair competition from China." In other words, it's time for Europe to escalate into full blown trade warfare with China. It is unclear if Mr. Mittal had any thoughts on how China would, in turn, escalate to this progression in trade warfare: whether with tariffs, subsidies, or outright dumping. What does appear quite clear is that the owner of ArcelorMittal, who on Friday posted a net loss of $345 million (down from a $92 million profit a year earlier) on Q1 sales plunging by 13%, whose stock is just off its 52 week lows, and who said he may close plants in Eastern Europe if the "economy continues to slump", may have some ulterior motives in asking that Europe fight his war for him.
Rogoff-Reinhart's failure functionally legitimizes debt levels that are measured in multiples of GDP. I think they should be stripped of their credentials.