We've discussed Jiangsu before (dead pigs, TBTF Solar companies, and bird flu) but the Chinese province (that is big enough to be a Top 20 global economy with GDP greater than that of G-20 member Turkey and 79 million people) is on the brink of collapse under the weight of its own debt (cough Detroit cough). As China's leaders attempt to rein in over-capacity industries, tamp-down residential real-estate bubbles, and generally unwind "...the greatest misallocation of capital the world has ever seen, which was China’s 2009 stimulus," Jiangsu stands head-and-shoulders. With debt far higher than its peers, its mainstay industries (shipbuilding and solar panel manufacture) drowning in over-capacity, and massive 'empty' property developments now starved of funding, Jiangsu "can potentially pose a systemic and macro economic risk to the country."
For the second consecutive day futures have drifted lower following a drubbing in the Nikkei which was down nearly 3% to just above 14K (time to start talking about the failure of Abenomics again despite National CPI posting the first positive print of 0.2% in forever and rising at the fastest pace in 5 years) and the Shanghai Composite which dropped to just above 2000 once again, after PBOC governor Zhou saying that China has big economic downward pressure and further reiterated prudent monetary policy will be pursued. This is despite Hilsenrath's latest puff piece which pushed the market into the green in yesterday's last hour of trading and despite initial optimism which saw stocks open higher following forecast-beating EU earnings gradually easing and heading into the North American open stocks are now little changed. It may be up to the WSJ mouhtpiece to provide today's 3pm catalyst to BTFATH, or else it will be up to the circular and HFT-early released UMichigan confidence index to surge/plunge in order to push stocks on any red flashing news is good news.
With earnings season in full swing as some 20% of the S&P is expected to report, the quieter macro picture moves to the backburner especially with the Fed now silent for a long time. Looking at key central banks events, at the Turkey central bank meeting this week, Goldman expects that the bank is more likely to deliver a moderately hawkish “surprise” and hike the lending rate by 100bp to 7.5% (7.0% for primary dealers), and leave the key policy (1-week repo) and the borrowing rates unchanged at 4.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Among the other central bank meetings this week, benchmark rates are expected to remain unchanged in New Zealand, Philippines and Colombia, in line with consensus, while a 25bp cut is expected to be announced at the Hungary MPC meeting.
At this point any sane person would scream, “STOP.” The driver is clearly a madman and shouldn’t be let anywhere near the driver’s seat. Moreover, he’s totally lost all credibility and isn’t to be trusted.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said this week that inflation in the United States needs to be higher. It almost seems as if Bernanke is trying to purposely hurt the middle class. But what Bernanke will never admit is that the official inflation rate is a total sham. The way that inflation is calculated has changed more than 20 times since 1978, and each time it has been changed the goal has been to make it appear to be lower than it actually is. If the rate of inflation was still calculated the way that it was back in 1980, it would be about 8 percent right now and everyone would be screaming about the fact that inflation is way too high...
The only story this morning remains Bernanke's after hours speech, which solidly trumped the FOMC minutes in market impact, and which, in addition to ramping US equity futures to just about new all time highs, sent the EURUSD soaring by almost the same amount (+300 pips) as the actual QE1 announcement on March 18, 2009. Such is the power of verbal currency warfare, when Bernanke hasn't acutally done anything and merely hinted the Fed is as confused as ever about what to do. Of course, as Commerzbank notes this morning, the U.S. economy would have to lose a lot of momentum for the Fed to cancel tapering, and the central bank would only expand the purchase program if the economy collapses, but none of that matters to the "wealth effect" for the 1% where economic destruction simply means more wealth.
The overthrow of President Mohamad Morsi by popular demand and supported by the army inaugurates yet another volatile episode in Egypt’s long and turbulent transition. Macro stabilisation in Egypt hinges on a swift and cohesive transition, and given the current bloodshed, that appears unlikely - which leaves Barclays 'muddle-through scenario' - where political/religious divides delay formation of civilian government - as the most likely; postponing fiscal reforms indefinitely, and undermining further the fiscal and debt sustainability of the already-troubled nation. This is a major problem, since, after all; among the main reasons behind the mass protests of 30 June were the continued deterioration in most socioeconomic indicators, faltering public services (notably provisions of fuel and electricity), rising risks of macroeconomic instability and slow progress in implementing socioeconomic and fiscal reforms over the past year.
And now a few words from Cognitive Dissonance's better half on creating a lifestyle change we can live with.
At an incredible $9.98 per gallon, Turkey has the most expensive gasoline in the world - almost triple that of the US - closely followed by Norway at $9.97. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the US can celebrate its good fortune at being only the 51st most expensive country in the world for gasoline. So why is it then that so much is made of a rising gas price in the US? Why do we fear $3.80 when Turkey shows us things could be a lot worse? The simple answer lies in the chart below. The US spends the 7th most in the world on gasoline as a percentage of income and is by far the largest among developed economies as a percentage of income. At 3.06% of income, and being that the US is a consumption-based, low-quality-job, unaffordable-housing-means-driving-to-work nation, the possibility of $4 gas in the not-too-distant future (as Egyptian instability leaks into WTI prices) has a far greater impact on the US than any other of the world's large economies. But then again, we are sure it is all transitory.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,232.75, EUR 957.40 and GBP 822.55 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,249.50, EUR 961.15 and GBP 819.67 per ounce.
Increasing concerns over deflation will limit any QE tapering in the second-half and set the stage for bonds to outperform stocks once again.
Is the global economic downturn going to accelerate as we roll into the second half of this year? There is turmoil in the Middle East, we are seeing things happen in the bond markets that we have not seen happen in more than 30 years, and much of Europe has already plunged into a full-blown economic depression. Sadly, most Americans will never understand what is happening until financial disaster strikes them personally. As long as they can go to work during the day and eat frozen pizza and watch reality television at night, most of them will consider everything to be just fine. Unfortunately, the truth is that everything is not fine.
As the mainstream media shows endless scenes of celebration in Tahrir Square following last night's military ouster of democratically-elected President Morsi, the tensions with his supporters grows more widespread. Perhaps, what is more worrisome for the future of Egypt, which we noted last night was definitely on a path on instability, is the reaction of world governments - from "deeply concerned" America to Turkey's "unacceptable" perspective to Saudi Arabia's "congratulations" and Russia's "democracy is not a panacea"- it seems not everyone is behind the second coup in 3 years (but everyone is calling for calm as the middle-eastern turmoil ripples into their markets) but is a "setback for democracy."