Earlier today we casually wondered whether the US stands to lose more by supporting China or Japan in their escalating diplomatic spat, considering the threat of a US Treasury sell off is certainly not negligible, a dilemma complicated by the fact that as today's TIC data indicated both nations own almost the same amount of US paper, just over $1.1 trillion. In a stunning turn of events, it appears that China has taken our thought experiment a step further and as the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports, based on a recommendation by Jin Baisong from the Chinese Academy of International Trade (a branch of the commerce ministry) China is actively considering "using its power as Japan’s biggest creditor with $230bn (£141bn) of bonds to "impose sanctions on Japan in the most effective manner" and bring Tokyo’s festering fiscal crisis to a head." I.e., dump Japan's bonds en masse.
The implications of this are severe. However, the first question we have to ask is, “why now?”
Much has been said about Apple's recent victory over its key component supplier, Samsung, in a recent US court decision the direct result of which has been the halt of sales of several Samsung products which are already obsolete in cell phone year terms. The paradox here is that AAPL's victory is quite pyrrhic: if and when Samsung feels sufficiently threatened, it can just pull a Gazprom and halt the supply of mission critical components to the world's biggest publicly traded company. Alternatively the Chinese politburo can one day decide to pull FoxConn's operational license, in the process bankrupting AAPL overnight. But these are of course M.A.D. scenarios which in rational, non-centrally planned market would never take place, and so we have no reason to worry about them. That said, it is increasingly becoming clear that patent warfare fought in partial domestic judicial systems, will be the next form of protectionism as pertains to that most faddy of technology: the ubiqutous smartphone. And while Apple may have won the first battle, the outcome of the war is still very much unclear: in fact, the return salvo after Samsung's big defeat on US soil may come quite soon, this time courtesy of another Chinese Apple "clone", HTC Corp, which if it goes against the Cupertino company, could have a large impact on revenues.
Where is the bacon, Mrs. Clinton?
After many instances of prodding from readers, I finally bought and read The Fourth Turning, and I'm sorry that I waited so long.
According to the IMF’s “official” analysis, EU banks as a whole are leveraged at 26 to 1. I would argue that in reality many of them are well north of 30 to 1 and possibly even up to 50 or 100 to 1. The reason I can claim this with relative certainty is because the EU housing bubbles dwarfed that of the US. In the chart below the US housing bubble is the lowest line. After it comes Britain (blue) and Italy (orange) then Ireland (green) and finally Spain (dark blue).
We’ve recently published a report showing investors how to prepare for this. It’s called How to Play the Collapse of the European Banking System and it explains exactly how the coming Crisis will unfold as well as which investment (both direct and backdoor) you can make to profit from it.
With minutes left until the output of the =RAND() cell better known as China GDP is announced to the world, the US has decided not to wait and take matters into its own hands. Just as an FYI to all countries out there, this is how you escalate a simmering trade war right into the next level:
FBI probes Chinese telecom giant ZTE over alleged sale of U.S. technology to Iran - RTRS
You mean to say that those same Chinese who have had bilateral, USD-bypassing relations, with Iran, and who got a direct exemption from the Iran oil export embargo from Hillary herself, have been playing by their own rules? You have to be kidding. And now what: the US will sell the $1.2 trillion in Chinese debt is owns? Oh wait...
Last week it was the Fairness Distributor In Chief threatening China with WTO action over its unfair duties on US car imports. Before that it was Europe trying to protect its crumbling trade at all costs with its primary trade partner. Now, it is China's turn to retort to the world's beggars, and all those who just happen to ravenously import its iWares with the reckless abandon of a gadget junkie. FT reports: "Beijing has threatened swift retaliation against a range of European Union industries if Brussels presses ahead with an investigation into government subsidies granted to two Chinese telecoms equipment companies. The Chinese threat was delivered at a meeting with EU trade officials in Beijing late last month that was arranged at the behest of Chen Deming, China’s commerce minister, to try to defuse a brewing trade dispute that is straining commercial relations between the two sides. Instead, it collapsed into acrimony, with the Chinese warning their EU visitors that they would respond to any investigation of Huawei and ZTE Corp by probing subsidies granted to European agriculture, automotive, renewable energy and telecoms companies. “Put it this way: it’s not like they went for a beer after and watched football,” one person briefed on the meeting said." None of this is new: recall China Lays Out Conditions Under Which It Will Bail Out Europe; Does Not Want To Be Seen As "Source Of Dumb Money" in which Li Daokui "added that Beijing might also ask European leaders to refrain from criticising China’s currency policy, a frequent source of tension with trade partners." Looks like we can scrap those "China bails out Europe" (ignore the fact that the Chinese economy itself is imploding for a second) rumor in perpetuity.
Another Energy Company Nationalized As Bolivia Follows In Argentina's Footsteps; More Pain For SpainSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/01/2012 13:50 -0400
Two weeks ago, when commenting on the (first of many) nationalizations of energy companies (yes, the collateral shortage we have been discussing over the past year is particularly in effect when it comes to energy assets, although one does not need superficially complicated theories to explain it), in this case of Spanish YPF assets in Argentina we said "How soon until any and every government follows suit in a world in which excess liquidity sloshing around makes expropriation of vital energy producing assets a key prerogative? And how long until the resultant (accelerating) collapse in faith of the monetary system, leads government to declare "monetary self-sufficiency" and confiscate everything that is not nailed down. In exchange for worthless pieces of paper of course. Just to make it "fair"." The answer: two weeks. As of a few hours ago, Bolivia has followed in Argentina's footsteps and has just announced it is nationalizing yet another Spanish company's domestic assets, in this case Red Electrica.
Nothing dramatic here, but the Chairman of the fermentation committee just has that unique flair in explaining things so simply, even an economics Ph.D., a caveman, or the other kind of 'Chairman', would understand...
If there is one thing that can be said about Obama's previously noted announcement at 11 am Eastern highlighting "new efforts" to enforce our "trade rights" with China (aka launch the stray inaugural .22 calibre bullet into the China-US DMZ) is that the algos in charge of the market will love it and send stocks soaring just because. Oh, and if China were to just incidentally make live for FoxConn products that little bit more difficult in retaliation, so be it. That will be bullish as well, certainly for the NASDAPPLE.
As markets replay the same identical reaction to the same identical Greek news that we saw back on July 21, 2011 (and we all know where that went), something else entirely and more troubling is going on behind the scenes. Because as the world was transfixed on regurgitated news out of Greece, which will without a shadow of a doubt end up with a far worse 2020 debt/GDP scenario than the IMF's downside case per the sustainability report (first posted in its entirety here on Zero Hedge last night, and which assumes just a 1% decline in Greek 2013 GDP), China just escalated currency wars into outright trade wars. Because as China Daily reports, "Chinese exports are set to get a tax boost." Translated: even as China pushes the CNY higher in infinitesimal and irrelevant increments to appease US Congress, it has just taken out the trade stimulus bazooka. Why? "Export tax rebates will be increased this year in response to an export decline triggered by the European debt crisis. The move, which Commerce Ministry officials said will be implemented when the time is appropriate, will be the first increase since 2009." Still think Europe is fixed? China's answer: nope.
History is replete with the carcasses of failed currencies destroyed through misguided intentional debasement by governments looking for an easy escape from piling up too much debt. James Rickards, author of the recent bestseller Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, sees history repeating itself today - and warns we are in the escalating stage of a global currency war of the grandest scale. Whether it ends in hyperinflation, in the return to some form of gold standard, or in chaos - history is telling us we can have confidence it will end painfully.
Labor Unions Demand Escalation Of Trade War With China, Ask Obama To Restrict Chinese Auto Part ImportsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2012 15:52 -0400
Because the last time the administration got involved in the car space the results were so positive (for the unions if not so much for creditors), it appears we may be approaching another episode where central planning will make the decisions in the US auto space. Only this time instead of creditors, the impaired party will be China. Reuters reports: "Midwestern U.S. lawmakers and union groups on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to restrict imports of auto parts from China that they said benefited from massive illegal subsidies and threatened hundreds of thousands of American jobs. "We need to stand up to the bully on the block," U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said, referring to Beijing. "The bully on the block continues to take our lunch money and we need to stop that," she said." Odd - China was not complaining when the Obama administration was providing massive subsidies (whether or not illegal remains to be seen - surely Holder is all over it) to the solar and other "green" industries. In other words, just like Solyndra and Ener1, who are merely the first of many artificially subsidized entities, provided such great if highly transitory results for US employment, let's recreate the experiment at the wholesale level, by implicit subsidies and while also angering America's biggest creditor. Something tells us this proposal has a definite probability of passing. In the meantime, central planning for everyone.