The past 10 days have seen the Japanese Yen strengthen 3% against the USD - its largest such move in two years - with today's rally prompting a rather painful 'crash' in the Nikkei 225 at the open and envoking the anger of Abe:
- *ABE SAYS CURRENCY CORRECTION HELPING EXPORTERS COMPETITIVENESS (except that there is no evidence of this in any macro data at all)
- *ABE SAYS IT'S POSSIBLE BOJ WILL FAIL TO REACH INFLATION TARGET (like for the last two decades)
- *ABE SAYS ECONOMY SUBJECT TO UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES (unpossible)
- *ABE SAYS BOJ MUST EXPLAIN IF IT FAILS TO REACH INFLATION TARGET (not my fault!)
It seems that perhaps the wise investing public is waking up to the fact that words do not speak louder than actions, that macro fundamentals are bad and getting worse, and that 36,000 target for the Nikkei may be a stretch goal here.
With Europe and the UK closed today, it was unclear if the traditional overnight futures levitation would take place as scheduled. To nobody's big surprise, it did, driven as usual by the EURUSD, which rose from an overnight low in the mid 1.27s following news that the Cypriot parliament head wanted to pull his country out of the Eurozone as reported here, but more importantly as that second ramp funding carry pair of choice, the USDJPY fell to the lowest in a month following yet another miss in the Japan Tankan big manufacturer index, touching under 93.30 for the first time since March 6, pushing the Nikkei 225 lower by over 2% - has the magic of Japanese rhetoric finally worn off and is the market finally demanding action instead of hollow promises, threats and simply, words? In China we got a miss in the official PMI data setting up yet another Schrodinger PMI split in Chinese economic growth indicators where the official details once again deteriorating while those tracked by HSBC/Markit are mysteriously improving. Also in Asia, rumblings out of South Korea, which continues to miss on key export and economic growth indicators, that it should cut rates mean the export-driven country is on the verge of joining the global currency warfare at which point the free Japanese lunch is over.
Overview of the major central bank meetings and data preview as well as the latest from Cyprus and Italy.
An oveview of the technical condition of the major currencies. Offered as a compliment to macro analysis.
Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...
Gold rose 1.1% in March, its first monthly rise in six.
For the quarter, gold was 4.5% lower in dollar terms and 1.4% lower in euros. However, signalling that the demise of gold is greatly exaggerated, gold is 3.7% higher in Japanese yen and 2.6% higher in sterling.
As one astute financial journalist said to me “ ‘cash in the bank’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it anymore.”
The BTFD mantra is alive and well in a market, where futures overnight briefly dipped to a low of -0.5% only to be set to open at record high, following the biggest one day drubbing in China in months, where the Shanghai Composite closed -2.82% after new rules were issued by the Chinese banking regulator to limit the expansion and improve the transparency of so-called “wealth management products”. The products, which are marketed as higher yielding alternatives to bank deposits, are often used to fund risky projects including property developments, short-term corporate lines of credit or for speculative purchases of commodities and have been identified as contributing to the rise of shadow-banking in China’s financial system. As Deutsche reports, Fitch estimates the total amount of outstanding wealth-management products was around 13 trillion yuan at the end of last year—equal to about 15% of total banking-system deposits. Japanese equities were also weaker overnight (Nikkei –1.3%) and the yen is 0.3% firmer against the dollar after BoJ Governor Kuroda told parliament that he has no intention of buying foreign bonds because doing so could be seen as currency intervention. Finally, South Korea informally entered the currency wars after it slashed its GDP forecast from 3% to mid-2%, announcing it would use "interest rates" to boost growth, which naturally means use of monetary means and directly challenging the BOJ.
The Japanese yen is the strongest of the majors today, where the focus remains on Europe and the re-opening of Cypriot banks. Capital controls are in place. Sure its a contradiction, but may not prove to be fatal, despite the EMU eulogies.
If we shed our fixation with the Fed and look at global supply and demand, we get a clearer understanding of the tailwinds driving the U.S. dollar higher. I know this is as welcome in many circles as a flashbang tossed on the table in a swank dinner party, but the U.S. dollar is going a lot higher over the next few years. In a very real sense, every currency is a claim not on the issuing central bank's balance sheet but on the entire economy of the issuing nation. All this leads to two powerful tailwinds to the value of the dollar. One is simply supply and demand: as the global economy slides into recession, trade volumes decline, and the U.S. deficit shrinks. (It's already $250 billion less than was "exported" in 2006.) That will leave fewer dollars available on the global market. The second tailwind is the demand for dollars from those exiting the euro and yen. The abandonment of the euro is already visible in these charts.
The present confusion is legitimate: it is far too early to be projecting much from Cyprus except a continued erosion of faith in Eurozone banks and leadership, and by default, the euro as a placeholder of purchasing power.
Another session in which the market continues to be "cautiously optimistic" about Europe, but is confused about Cyprus which keeps sending the wrong signals: in the aftermath of the Diesel-Boom fiasco, the announcement that the preciously announced reopening of banks was also subsequently "retracted" and pushed back to at least Thursday, did little to soothe fears that anyone in Europe has any idea what they are doing. Additional confusion comes from the fact that the Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus moments ago submitted his resignation: recall that this is the bank that is supposed to survive, unlike its unluckier Laiki competitor which was made into a sacrificial lamb. This confusion has so far prevented the arrival of the traditional post-Europe open ramp, as the EURUSD is locked in a range below its 200 DMA and it is unclear what if anything can push it higher, despite the Yen increasingly becoming the funding currency of choice.
Importantly, Cypriots and other Eurozone citizens who own gold saw the value of their holdings rise 2% in euro terms.
The demise of gold and the "death of the gold bull market" is "greatly exaggerated" says Mr. O’Byrne.
He said that while the risk from Cyprus has abated, in the light of capital controls in EU country and the treatment of Cyprus, there are now huge question marks over the future of the European Union itself.
Forget Cyprus. A much bigger story in the coming weeks and months will be in Japan, where one of the greatest economic experiments in the modern era is about to begin.
An overview of the technical condition of the major currencies. See why we anticipate a heavier US dollar in the week ahead.
Those wondering why the overnight ramp has not yet materialized despite promises from BOJ's new governor Kuroda to openly-endedly monetize Fukushima radiation if necessary in order to reflate the economy, will have to look at Europe where a raft of horrifying PMIs confirms what most have known: the relapse into a multi-dip European recession is progressing nicely, and the hoped for rebound in the core economies of France and Germany is once again on track to not happen, but at least there will be Cyprus to blame it all on this time. The specific reason this time was French and German Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI for March, all of which came far below expectations: German Mfg PMIs printed at a contracting 48.9 vs Exp. 50.5 (back from 50.3), while Services came at 51.6, down from 54.6 on expectations of a rise to 55.0, while French Mfg PMI stayed stubbornly flat at 43.9, despite hopes of a "bounce" to 44.3, even as the Service number ticked even lower from 43.7 to 41.9, below expectations of 44.3 and the lowest since February 2009. End result: Eurozone March Services PMI down from 47.9 to 46.5, vs Exp. of 48.2, while Manufacturing slid from 47.9 to 46.6 on hopes and prayers of a bounce to 48.2. Which then takes us back to Cyprus, where things are not fixed yet, where the parliament is not expected to vote for a revised Bailout proposal yet, and where we got a cornucopia of brilliant one liners, such as these from the new Eurogroup head, who is filling in the shoes of his predecessor Juncker in style, and proving quite well that "things are serious."