With violent protests springing up like mushrooms, following recent appearances in North Korea and Vietnam, and following last weekend's failed attempt at a Jasmine Revolution, China's authoritarian regime is about to be put to the supreme test. Bloomberg reports that "Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to punish abuse of power by officials and narrow the growing wealth gap as police blanketed Beijing and Shanghai to head off planned protests inspired by revolts in the Middle East." In other words, beatings (and disappearances) will continue until morale finally improves. As for the beatings, Bloomberg's Stephen Engle managed to experience one up close and personal: "Security officers also detained several foreign journalists, including
Stephen Engle, a reporter for Bloomberg Television. The Wall Street
Journal saw Mr. Engle being grabbed by several security officers, pushed
to the ground, dragged along by his leg, punched in the head and beaten
with a broom handle by a man dressed as street sweeper." Yes, China may be the most repressive regime when push comes to shove, but should 1+ billion angry and hungry Chinese decide there is nothing all that unique about China compared to Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, North Korea, Djibouti and countless more to come, not even the most convincing "blanketing" by police forces will do much of anything to prevent the only revolution that matters.
As we pointed out earlier, the upcoming week will be quiet on economic and market events. What it, however, will be heavy on is revolutions, riots and the good old ultraviolence. Below is a useful primer from Stratfor for what is becoming an increasingly more complex geopolitical chess game, for the time being confined in the Maghreb, but soon spreading all across the Muslim crescent and soon thereafter into East Asia.
China continues to joust with windmills as its latest attempt to counter inflation, a 50 bps RRR hike, is now history, and will be just as successful as all of its previous RRR, and interest rate hikes at rebuffing gentle Ben's attempt at genociding a few hundred million additional serfs. Luckily for now the "silver for rice" trade continues, keeping a lid on rice prices. Indicatively, as we showed previously, neither interest rate hikes nor RRR have any impact on the Chinese market whatsoever, confirming that the only source of global liquidity that matters resides in the Marriner Eccles building.
As the Greater Depression continues along a parallel pathway with the Great Depression of the 1930s, Congress is about to commit the same blunder it made in 1930. The rocket scientists in the House of Representatives in September passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which aims to crack down on Chinese currency manipulation by targeting imports from China and other countries with currencies that are perceived to be undervalued. The vote was 348 to 79, with more than 100 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. It died in the Senate before the mid-term elections, but Representative Sander Levin, Representative Tim Ryan and Representative Tim Murphy are expected to reintroduce the bill when the House returns in February from a congressional district work break. Senators Shumer and Casey are also planning legislation to punish the Chinese for unfair trade practices.
The latest letter by Absolute Return Partners' Niels Jensen is a must read for anyone still on the fence about the Chinese "thesis." With many prominent pundits pitching either side of the China bull/bear case, often times covering up weaknesses in their arguments with extended and superfluous rhetoric, sometimes it gets easy to get lost in the noise: here is where Jensen's ability to create signal shines through. Jensen starts off with the official revelation that Chinese GDP is a made up number, discussed previously on Zero Hedge. "In a leaked 2007 cable Li Keqiang, who is the favourite to become the next premier, confided that official Chinese GDP figures are “man made” and “for reference only” (surprise, surprise), and that one should rather look at alternative measures such as electricity consumption, rail freight volumes and bank lending, if one wants a true picture of economic growth in China." It is all downhill from there.
Numbers may be rigged or "smoothed out", but can't fool the regular Chinese Joe's and smart money. I believe if China stays on its current "prudent course", the real consumer inflation could hit double digit by early next year.
Markets mostly bullish this AM following the holiday weekend in the US. Friday’s CPI print seemed reflective of inflation, showing increases in core and non-core metrics, while retail sales was mixed relative to expectations. We fear the real demand rally might well be short lived. Today’s Empire Manufacturing and November TIC flows will be watched closely for forward indications in the US, while the story out of Europe continues to be the market’s focus.
After the PBoC raised the RRR for the fourth time in two months (and 6 times in 2010), and following the Christmas Day interest rate hike, Chinese stocks once again find themselves reacquainted with gravity as the SHCOMP was trading down 1.3% at last check. The hike will be effective January 20 and will bring the RRR to a record 19%. And this most ineffective of monetary interventions will certainly not be the last: according to Bloomberg, "China may boost reserve ratios by more than 200 basis points in 2011, according to HSBC Holdings Plc economist Qu Hongbin. Industrial Bank Co. economist Lu Zhengwei estimates the ratio may reach 23 percent." Unfortunately, this latest move is too little too late, as Chinese food prices are already starting to make the politburo uneasy about what the world central bank cartel's actions mean for rice prices (remember the 3Rs as predicted by ZH - as we predicted in October, the next bubbles are Rare Earths, Rice, and Rubber).
Zero Hedge is happy to announce a new collaboration with the precious metals experts at Gold Core. We look forward to posting periodic industry updates, notes, analysis and commentary in conjunction with GC on all matters of topical significance in the PM space. As an introduction, we would like to present GoldCore's review of 2010 and Outlook for 2011. A sample from the analysis: "Should the dollar and other debt laden currencies and government bonds fall sharply in value due to a panic and wholesale liquidation we could experience hyperinflation. In this scenario paper assets will be shunned and people will protect themselves by buying hard assets such as real estate, commodities and gold and silver bullion. In such a scenario, gold and silver surge would quickly reach their inflation adjusted 1980 high of $2,300/oz and $130/oz before overshooting to much higher levels as was seen in Weimar Germany and more recently in Zimbabwe."
The market ran today like Ben Bernanke was giving out free money (which um, he kind of is, as long as...
Of course we felt that last week's zero-volume move higher was fake, Fake, FAKE but, when the acting is that good, there's nothing else you can do but sit back and enjoy the ride.
Somehow the China Daily story we pointed out yesterday morning that China and Russia are expanding their trading terms and will conduct all bilateral trade exclusively in local currencies, thus dropping the dollar as an intermediary, is only today starting to make the rounds. Alas, this story is nothing but more posturing for several reasons: Bloomberg notes: "China and Russia will drop the U.S. dollar for bilateral trade and use their own currencies for settlement, China Daily reported, citing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin." Oddly enough this is an identical overture from June 2009: yet very little has happened in terms of actual dollar lock out since then. Note the following story from June 17, 2009: "The leaders of Russia and China agreed to expand use of the ruble and yuan in bilateral trade to lessen dependence on the U.S. dollar a day after they took part in the first summit of the so-called BRIC countries." And judging by the market's reaction, and the dollar resurgence overnight it appears that everyone has read through this as just posturing. Furthermore, keep in mind that Russia was not even a top 10 trading counterparty of China in 2010. If China does the same with any of its top 10 partners then there may be a reason to worry. For now, China is merely testing the waters, and has absolutely no intent on isolating the US, nor making its nearly $3 trillion US FX reserves lose a double digit percentage of their value overnight.
China Is In a Self-Imposed Bubble That Has Nowhere To Go But Bust! You Don’t Get Something (Growth Through Stimulus) For Nothing (No Economic Consequences)Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/23/2010 11:13 -0400
The bubble know one wants to admit is priming to pop just in time to massage the European issues.
Kind of a drab hum drum day in the market yesterday as no new countries were close to defaulting, no new IPOs of shitty companies were being sold (and yeah Harrah's, Money McBags is looking at you), and no new news on whether Milla Jovovich will be joining her country's burgeoning Femen movement.
Bernanke is like the Sorcerer's Apprentice: Given the magic hat - he commands his broom army to fetch buckets of dollars to inflate the economy the easy way but his lazy solution quickly turns into disaster as the waters start rising and he finds he has no way to stem the rising tide