Earlier today, Bloomberg TV blasted an amusing snippet from an article that was based on some deep revelations about what is happening in the bond market: It says: "China sells $180 billion of US Treasuries but no one notices." Which is ironic considering the following ZH headlines:
May 18: Revealing The Identity Of The Mystery "Belgian" Buyer Of US Treasurys
June 15: China Dumps Record $120 Billion In US Treasurys In Two Month Via Belgium
July 17: China Dumps Record $143 Billion In US Treasurys In Three Months Via Belgium
and of course July 22: "China's Record Dumping Of US Treasuries Leaves Goldman Speechless"
As China's anti-corruption crackdown continues, the crony-capitalists are slowly exposed. As EJ Insight reports, the son-in-law of former PBOC governor and former Tianjin mayor Dai Xianglong bought millions of dollars of shares (via offshore entities) ahead of Beijing's decision to allow mainland residents buy Hong Kong stocks directly. It appears the Chinese have learned a lot from the West.
The Single Most Important Issue For the Power Elite In China… And What It Means For the Global EconomySubmitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 04/02/2014 23:13 -0400
The reason for the economic gimmicking pertains the political perspective of China’s economic data. As a communist regime, China’s government has one focus and one focus only. It’s not economic growth for growth’s sake, nor is it improving the quality of life for China’s population...
China's Epic Offshore Wealth Revealed: How Chinese Oligarchs Quietly Parked Up To $4 Trillion In The CaribbeanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2014 21:02 -0400
"Close relatives of China’s top leaders have held secretive offshore companies in tax havens that helped shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, a leaked cache of documents reveals" the ICIJ's latest offshore weawlth expose begins. In addition to the usual list of who, what, where, why and when, we learn that once again the two largest Swiss banks are about to be embroiled in yet another money laundering scandal, this time involving the parking of wealth belonging to China's aristocracy - including its princelings - in various Caribbean, mostly British Virgin Island, tax havens. What is notable, if not unexpected, is just how pervasive the parking of offshore capital has been, and confirms that it is not inflow of money that the PBOC has to be afraid of when its internationalizes the Yuan, it is the outflow that will be far more worrysome. But the biggest stunner is the sheer size of the wealth transfer: according to ICIJ estimate, up to $4 trillion in "untraced assets" may have left China since 2000. These are truly epic numbers.
With manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs disappointing, and the nation's banking system still stuck in the thralls of a liquidity crisis (each time the PBOC removes the punchbowl), Michael Pettis' warnings are becoming increasingly likely (even though consensus remains that China will save the world somehow - as it transitions 'smoothly' to a consumer-based economy). Ironically, he notes, GDP growth rates of 7% or more, on the other hand, will suggest that credit is still rising too quickly and that China has otherwise been unable to implement the reforms, in which case China is likely to reach debt capacity constraints more quickly. Growth of 7% for the next few years, in other words, is almost prima facie evidence that China is not adjusting.
Allegations of JP Morgan’s use of clever tactics to bribe Chinese officials recently received mainstream attention when Salon journalist Alex Pareene mentioned it in a comical and classic interview on CNBC (you need to watch the video before reading this) with presstitute Maria Bartiromo. When Mr. Pareene mentioned these claims against the TBTF bank, CNBC mocked him. Howeverer, this article from the New York Times details how JP Morgan paid $75,000 a month to an obscure consulting firm called Fullmark Consultants, which had only two employees. The firm was run by a woman named Lily Chang, which in reality was the alias used by Wen Jiabao’s only daughter Wen Ruchun. Wen Jiabao was the Prime Minister of China at the time.
Rising home prices, especially in major cities, are prompting a growing chorus of discontent among ordinary Chinese. Our Japanese friends would no doubt feel more than hint of nostalgia should they visit Beijing. For just like the famous Japanese “bubble economy” of the late 1980s, Beijing has been virtually turned into one big construction site with constantly changing streetscapes. The real estate industry may have played a role in China’s economic development, but it appears to have been for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many. In the long term, the trade-off seems poor. For that, not just the general manager, but the premier too needs to take responsibility.
China! Honestly, it comes to something when China jumps on the accusatory band-wagon asking the US administration to provide some comments about its monitoring programs and answer up to the international community.
China’s Government knows it's on thin ice and so is doing three things to try to mollify the Chinese population:
- Launching a very public campaign to crack down on corruption (to mollify the populace).
- Taking steps to tame inflation (slowing financial speculation and importing massive quantities of commodities to attempt to control prices).
- Curbing its stimulus efforts.
Many commentators have spent a great deal of ink proclaiming China to be the next great economic power. While it is true China has seen dramatic improvements in its economy over the last 30 years, my view has been and remains that most of the “growth” of the China “miracle” is just a debt-fueled bubble built upon a loose foundation of Government corruption and fraud.
Consensus suggests India is a basket case while China is recovering. We think both views are incorrect and therein lies opportunities for contrarian investors.
The most notable overnight event was the release of the Chinese Government Work Report as part of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress which kicked off today and runs until March 17. This is the Chinese equivalent of the US State of the Union address, delivered in this case by the outgoing premier Wen Jiabao. In it, Wen summarized his administration’s achievement in the past ten years in some detail, but still voiced a sense of crisis when talking about existing social and economic problems. The key highlights were the closely watched economic targets for 2013, which while not surprising, were at the lowest levels in the past decade, confirming that the Chinese slowdown in both economic and loan growth is likely here to stay as the economy downshifts from its mercantilist approach, even while pesky inflation pressures persist.
Earlier we reviewed the overnight plunge in China stocks, especially those related to the real-estate market in the aftermath of the latest move by the State Council to be far more hawkish than expected, in its effort to curb property inflation. The economic and market weakness that resulted has followed through to overnight US and European futures, even as peripheral bonds are trading roughly unchanged, surprising many who thought this weekend's Beppe Grillo statement on the future of Italian debt and presence in the Eurozone would be market moving: it wasn't as Grillo said nothing that he had not already made quite clear. In other, more recent economic news, UK construction PMI imploded to recession levels, plunging to 46.8 from 49.0, far below expectations and the lowest print since October 2009, setting the stage for much more Goldman-led reflation by the BOE. Also negative was the drop in the Eurozone Sentix Investor Confidence index which tumbled to -10.6 from -3.9 on expectations of -4.3, sending the EURUSD deep into 1.29 territory. It appears the Sentix excludes the soaring German confidence, which two weeks ago was the sole driver of all upside, not once but twice in one week. Today we get the first day of the sequester being digested by the market - this togetger with an empty macro calendar in the US means rumors and headlines will determine how far GETCO's algo push the stop hunts during the first and last 30 minutes of trading.
This week's events show that the Chinese government realises that its stimulus efforts have got out of hand and its economy is in trouble.
- Bersani's lead over Berlusconi continues to erode, now just 3.6 Pts, or inside error margin, in Tecne Poll
- Spain gears up for U.S. debt investor meetings (Reuters)
- PBOC Set for Record Weekly Liquidity Injection (WSJ)
- RBS Trader Helped UBS’s Hayes With Libor Bribes, Regulators Say (BBG)
- ECB, Ireland reach bank debt deal (Reuters)
- AMR-US Airways Near Merger Agreement (WSJ)
- Monte Paschi says no more derivatives losses (Reuters) ... remember this
- Harvard’s Gopinath Helps France Beat Euro Straitjacket (BBG) - by sliding into recession?
- Obama Relents on Secret Drone Memo (WSJ)
- Brennan to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaks (Reuters)
- Wall Street Success With Germans Boomerangs (BBG)
- Khamenei rebuffs U.S. offer of direct talks (Reuters)
- Boeing Preps Redesign to Get 787 Flying (WSJ)