As we detailed previously, the first USD-denominated Chinese corporate bond default last week - of developer Kaisa Group - signals considerably deeper problems in China's economy as one manager noted, "everyone is rethinking risk right now." As Bloomberg reports, Chinese companies comprised 62% of all U.S. dollar bond sales in the Asia-Pacific region ex Japan last year, issuing $244.4 billion and that huge (and illiquid) market "has been too complacent," according to one credit strategist who warned, investors would be “rational to adopt a cautious approach in view of the fact that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime. It would be irrational to continue thinking that after Kaisa none of the companies will see a similar fate."
Major central banks claim to be independent, but they are totally under the control of politicians. Many developed countries have tried to anchor an independent central bank to offset pressure from politicians and that’s all well and good in principle until the economy spins out of control – at zero-bound growth and rates central banks and politicians becomes one in a survival mode where rules are broken and bent to fit an agenda of buying more time. What comes now is a new reality...
Hours after the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast yet again (which for the permabullish IMF is now a quarterly tradition as we will shortly show), now expecting 3.5% and 3.7% growth in 2015 and 2016, both 0.3% lower than the previous estimate (but... but... low oil is unambiguously good for the economy) and both of which will be revised lower in coming quarters, and hours after China announced that its entirely made up 2014 GDP number (which was available not 3 weeks after the end of the quarter and year) dropped below the mandatory target of 7.5% to the lowest in 24 years, it only makes sense that stock markets around the globe are solidly green if not on expectations of another year of slowing global economies, which stopped mattering some time in 2009, but on ever rising expectations that the ECB's QE will be the one that will save everyone. Well, maybe not everyone: really only the 1% which as we reported yesterday will soon own more wealth than everyone else combined and who are about to get even richer than to Draghi.
China's broad stock indices were flip-flopping between gains and losses from the open (although securities firms continued to get monkey-hammered on more tightening by regulators) heading into the avalanche of data that hit at 2100ET. GDP growth - which was estimated at sub-7% based on real-time hard-date - was released/leaked 10mins early - rising 7.3% YoY in Q4 (just beating expectations of a 7.2% rise) but grew only 1.5% QoQ (missing the 1.7% expectation). Then came Retail Sales - beating by the most since May 2014 with a 11.9% YoY gain (against 11.7% expectations). Industrial Production grew at 7.9% YoY (beating expectations of 7.4% by the most since July 2013). Of course the fact that Chinese GDP growth of 7.4% YoY was the weakest since 1990 was entirely ignored as the immediate reaction was Yuan and Chinese equity strength.
Top ten things that investors will likely be watching in the week ahead.
What we see now is the recovery of price discovery, and therefore the functioning economy, and it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it doesn’t come in a smooth transition. Six years is a long time. Moreover, it was never just QE that distorted the markets, there was – and is – the ultra-low interest rate policy developed nations’ central banks adhere to like it was the gospel, and there’s always been the narrative of economic recovery just around the corner that the politico/media system incessantly drowned the world in. That the QE madness ended with the decapitation of the price of oil seems only fitting.
As the world’s number one energy consumer China is enjoying the low prices while they last. Never one to settle however, China is finding still more ways to take advantage of the dire straits gripping several oil producers...
At the very least, the ‘great recession’ seems likely to continue. A serious recession or depression will likely collapse the already fragile banking system, especially in Europe, and the savings of ordinary people and companies will become exposed to bail-ins.
- U.S. Index Futures Decline on Commodities Slump, Growth Concerns (BBG)
- Al Qaeda claims French attack, derides Paris rally (Reuters)
- Charlie Hebdo With Muhammad Cover on Sale With Heavy Security Precautions (BBG)
- How an Obscure Tax Loophole Brought Down Obama's Treasury Nominee (BBG)
- ECB’s bond plan is legal ‘in principle’ (FT)
- Charlie Hebdo fallout: Specter of fascist past haunts European nationalism (Reuters)
- DRW to acquire smaller rival Chopper Trading (FT)
- Oil fall could lead to capex collapse: DoubleLine's Gundlach (Reuters)
'After two days of sharp intraday and vicious reversals, the BTFD algos are suspiciously missing overnight, when as reported earlier, a bout of margin calls and stop loss selling meant not crude but copper would crash in today's episode of "guess the crashing commodity", on what Goldman dubbed a Chinese demand collapse which for those confused is different than an OPEC supply glut, and is also the reason why the entire commodity complex is trading at a decade plus low. As a result copper plunged to a five and a half year low, in the process halting the market due to the severity of the plunge. But the big event overnight was the farcical announcement by the European top court, which as everyone expected, rejected the German rejection of the OMT as illegal, stating it was not only legal (with certain conditions) but greenlighting the way for the ECB's QE in one week, a move which sent the EURUSD crashing to a fresh 9 year low!
Today's prime time event hasn't even arrived, that would be the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivering its final opinion on the legality of the ECB’s previously announced OMT program, in less than an hour, and already the fireworks have begun, most notably out of Asia where after yesterday's epic commodity drubbing many were caught with their pants down and margin calls up, and what followed was a classic liquidation puke, when Copper prices crashed over 8% on the LME, to fresh 5 year lows and below USD 5,500/T in London.
COMEX Copper crashed to as low as $242.35 (from $261.70 before China's open). The catalyst for the move is unclear but between technical level breaks at $250 (and support at 2010 lows), World Bank global growth forecast cuts, and capitulation on CCFD rehypothecation deal hedges... massive volume is pushing through futures markets... LME prices are as low as $5,500/mt... Crude prices are also tumbling (WTI back below $46)
"We have to rethink our world just about from scratch. Or else. We’ve lived chasing the recovery carrot for years now, but the economy won’t recover; it can’t. There hasn’t been any real growth since at least the 1980s, the only thing there’s been is increasing debt levels that we mistook for growth." We need to do a lot more thinking, and take a far more critical look at ourselves, than we do at present. We’re not even playing it safe, we’re only playing it easy. And that’s just not enough.
"This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar." Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit from low oil prices; but what the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up...
2014 is in the bag and there's something for everyone to celebrate. Here are the narratives that painted the past year - what’s real about them versus what we’re being told they are about.