A funny thing happened when US slapped a major tariff on China's steel exports... prices exploded higher. But the almost 50% surge in steel prices since mid-December back to 15-month highs have left traders equally split on what happens next. Will record production levels exaggerate a global glut amid tumbling exports and rising tariffs, or will China's trillion-dollar surge in credit fuel yet more so-called "iron rooster" projects driving domestic demand even higher. For now, it appears the former is more likely as US Trade reps suggested further protectionism looms.
In the aftermath of dramatic tarfiffs imposed on China's steel exports in December, we asked how long until it responds with it own protectionist response: a necessary and sufficient condition for fully symmetric trade wars. It did so earlier today when, accused of flooding world markets with cheap steel, it imposed its own anti-dumping duties as high as 46.3% on electric steel products imported from Japan, South Korea and the European Union, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.
- Belgium hunts 'third man' after Islamic State bombings (Reuters)
- Number of Attackers, Key Details of Brussels Assaults Remain Unclear (WSJ)
- Surviving Paris attacks suspect wants to return to 'explain himself': lawyer (Reuters)
- Brussels Suicide Bomber Slipped Terror Net (WSJ)
- Dollar rise hits commodities as Fed talks of tightening (Reuters)
The timing of the Russian withdrawal could not be more fortuitous, as it occurs at the very pinnacle of the European refugee crisis, a crisis that was caused by Europe’s backing of the Saudi-Turkish attempt to overthrow Assad. Is Russia gambling on receiving some modicum of European gratitude for helping to stem the flight of refugees to its borders, with the pay-off in terms of easing sanction and enabling its long stalled pipeline projects to be completed.
Capitalism requires World War because Capitalism requires profit and cannot afford the unemployed. The point is capitalism could afford social democracy after the rate of profit was restored thanks to the depression of the 1930’s and the physical destruction of capital during WW2. The underlying nature of Capitalism is cyclical.
While the market has had its share of bogeymen to worry about so far in 2016, mostly along the lines of the "Four Cs", namely China, Crude, Credit and Currencies, it has so far largely ignored one letter: the Big D, for Donald, as in how would a Trump presidency affect the market. And, as Reuters writes, it is time for Wall Street to add "the juggernaut that is Donald J. Trump to the list of what-ifs that is worrying Wall Street."
Given the vicious downward spiral of competitive devaluation that is washing around the world's economic bathtub, it appears - just as we saw during The Great Depression - that currency wars have given way to mal-investment-fueled protectionism as US launches the first missile in the trade wars with a massive 266% tariff on imports of cold-rolled steel. “There’ll be a short-term benefit,“ said John Packard of Steel Market Update. ”However, in the long run, the U.S. mills are always going to want more tariffs, and it’s questionable how much more [protection] they can get."
There is one thing that could dramatically slow down China's metal exports - tariffs, anti-dumping duties and other forms of protectionism. “What may slow down the exports is anti-dumping and protectionist measures that several countries have taken against cheap imports,” said Ernst & Young’s Agrawal. In other words, a trade war... which is precisely what the U.S. just launched by hiking tariffs on Chinese steel imports by a whopping 256%.
- Central Bankers Urge Fed to Get On With Interest-Rate Increase (WSJ)
- Bond Market Casualties Leading Biggest S&P 500 Revival Since '11 (BBG)... on hopes of more easing
- U.S. Patrols to Test China’s Pledge on South China Sea Islands (WSJ)
- Merkel Under Fire: German Conservatives Deeply Split over Refugees (Spiegel)
- Assault Weapons Ban Before U.S. Supreme Court (NBC)
- Hedge Funds Are Playing 'Dangerous Game' With Copper (BBG)
We're beginning to believe the nation will not be unified behind a common cause when the coming financial eruption unleashes molten lava of chaos, punishing economic distress, civil strife, class warfare, race wars, and ultimately global war. As Strauss and Howe foretold, the establishment (aka corporate fascist military industrial surveillance state) has seen a sequential loss of popular trust as their blatant corruption, sociopathic stranglehold on the levers of power, and unrelenting greed have angered the critical thinking aware citizens of this country. The next leg down in this Greater Depression will sever the remaining trust, disintegrating any remaining support for the existing civic order. What comes next will be heavily dependent upon whether the 5% to 10% of liberty minded believers in the Constitution are able to gain the trust of the masses.
Of course, with Goldman's desk making millions in commissions executing AAPL's weekly, if not daily, buyback orders, the last thing Goldman would dare to do is issue a report that angers Tim Cook. But another problem may be emerging for AAPL: China. As a reminder, China recently became the biggest end-market for iPhone demand and any hints this may be jeopardized could have severe repercussions on the stock price. Which is why we paid particular attention to the report overnight from China's finance ministry, which accused a China unit of Apple of underpaying taxes in 2013 by 452 million yuan ($71 million), "which comes as China toughens its stance on tax payments by foreign firms."
Spontaneous combustion. Alien invasion. Zombie apocalypse. What do these have in common? Their likelihood is next to impossible. So why worry? This is how people tend to think about the financial system. Mentioning even the possibility, for example, that the US could default on its debt is met with so much scorn and contempt it would be safer to stand on the street corner warning about an alien invasion. The same goes for the imposition of capital controls. Or a collapse in the banking system. Or a currency crisis. And yet the most casual glance at the headlines proves that these events not only can happen, they do happen... and for one underlying reason...
"...If the S&P500 were to come down by 50% look at the bright side. The Millennial generation can finally buy into America’s future at a good price. Look at what they are facing right now: very little return on their savings and very lofty prices that they have to pay to invest in their future. So we often forget that these wrenching dislocating financial events, particularly for older generations, can create opportunities for the young, and often create space for something more durable for the times to be built. So I’ll just summarize it with Schumpeter’s phrase: creative destruction. That’s how I prefer to see what happens in a Fourth Turning."
During “normal times” – an economic growth phase accompanied or generated by rising systemic leverage – central banks have incentive to promote nominal growth and inflation, which make banking systems profitable and their free-spending political overseers happy. In such times, commercial banks have fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders to constantly increase their market values, which they do by expanding their balance sheets. Now that economies are highly leveraged, extinguishing debt would require banks to reduce the sizes of their loan books, which would shrink their market values. Thus, it seems economic policy makers never have incentive to promote debt extinguishment in the banking system, regardless of economic conditions or prospects.