The plight of the infamous, and quite inflammable, Fisker Karma (not to mention its now defaulted battery vendor A123) has been extensively documented on these pages in the past. Today, we bring it up again, to observe a curious extra feature which its proud buyers may have been unaware of. It appears that, as Jalopnik reports, the car only free government loans with a 0% (or even negative) IRR hurdle rate could conceive, is now the first one to proudly announce it is the only one of its type that merrily burns down... while submerged underwater. We fully expect that the next generation of Fiskers will charge at least $995 for this non-optional standard feature. In other news, perhaps it is time for Karma to issue yet another comprehensive total recall of all of its cars due to "fire risk" - the last one seems to have missed a spark plug or two: they can say this is a recall for the risk of "burning down alive while fully submerged undewater."
It was only yesterday that we pointed out the ever decreasing halflives of central bank interventions. We are grateful that none other than the biggest intervention basket case of all came out and proved us 100% correct, when the BOJ announced none other than QE 9 just one month after the impact from QE 8 fizzled about 8 hours after it was disclosed. This time around, the destructive "benefit" to the JPY was negative from the first second, resulting in the first instance of monetary easing that.. wasn't. Japan just came up with a brand new New Normal concept: tightening through easing, when its ¥11 trillion intervention proved to be woefully insufficient for a market addicted to ever more liquidity injections.
With the stock markets of the "developed world" in limbo for the second straight day and leaderless as New York is paralyzed, and the US was set to be closed for a second straight day, and with futures tumbling to their lowest level in over 2 months overnight, it was time for the East to step up. And step up it did! First, it was China's turn, which while still refusing to ease outright, conducted a massive 395 billion yuan reverse repo - this operation is the biggest on record, according to Bloomberg data going back to 2004, which in turn sent China's seven-day Repo rate plunging the most since January. And because this whopping injection would prove to be promptly internalized, a few short hours later Japan followed with nothing less than QE9! Just around 2 am eastern, the BOJ announced the 9th installment in its neverending monetary farce, when it said it would proceed to monetize an additional Y11 trillion in assets. From BusinessWeek: "The BOJ expanded its asset-purchase program by 11 trillion yen ($138 billion) to 66 trillion yen, the central bank said after a policy meeting today. The range of forecasts in a Bloomberg survey was from 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen." Of course, in this bizarro world in which intervention is the only thing left, the latest Japanese QE had an immediate and opposite effect of that planned, sending the USDJPY lower the second it was announced, as the amount announced was disappointing to most who had expected even more easing, and the halflife was for the first time in recorded monetary intervention history, absolute zero! But at least this failed intervention for Japan, helped America, sending ES from 1393, a full 13 ticks higher, where they are now. And so the epic defense of 1400 (and 1.2900 in EURUSD) continues for a 5th straight day!
The actions of the world's central banks, from driving rates to the limit or beyond ZIRP into the unconventional moeny-printing (or more acquiescent QE), there is little doubt that the currency wars are under way. As SocGen notes, the spillovers from advanced economies' actions (exporting inflation) into EM currency appreciation create subsequent needs for EM bank actions at times when inflationary concerns remain high. With the Yuan at 19 year highs and suffering from outflows, the potential for QE-based inflows this time could be welcome by the CCP.
So with world central banks printing paper money day and night it is no surprise that Gold is now emerging as the ultimate currency: one that cannot be printed. Indeed, Gold has broken out against ALL major world currencies in the last ten years. The below chart prices Gold in Dollars (Gold), Euros (Blue), Japanese Yen (Red) and Swiss Francs (Purple):
- Markets Go Dark Ahead of Storm (WSJ, RTRS, BBG, FT)
- MF Global Problems Started Years Ago (WSJ)
- Major Greek daily reprints Swiss accounts list, editor who published list to go on trial for violating data privacy laws (RTRS)
- Coming soon to a USA near you: Hong Kong government imposes a property tax on overseas buyers (Bloomberg)
- The pain in Spain is endless: Spain’s Pain Seen Intensifying as Slump Deepens Plight (BBG)
- Las Vegas Sands Discusses Possible Settlement With Justice Department (WSJ)
- Why Does the SEC Protect Banks’ Dirty Secrets? (BBG)
- Honda slashes forecast on China territorial spat (AFP)
- UBS shares jump on expected radical overhaul (Reuters) ...so if UBS cuts 150% of workforce, shares will hit +?
- CEOs Seeking Global Range Tilts Market to 8,000-Mile Jets (Bloomberg)
That's another $190.1 Bn available to spend on IPad Minis and IPhone 5s in the Appleconomy!
Watching the 3000 line on the Nasdaq, and AAPL.
Almost exactly a month ago, the BOJ surprised most analysts with an unexpected increase in its asset purchase agreement by JPY10 trillion bringing the total to JPY80 trillion. There was one small problem though: the entire impact of the additional easing fizzled in under half a day, or 9 hours to be precise. This was, as Art Cashin summarized the following day, Japan's failed QE 8. It is now a month later, and with nothing changed in the global race to debase status quo, the time has come for the BOJ to attempt QE 9. Or that's the case at least according to the toothless Japanese government, which has formally demanded that Shirakawa do a nine-peat of what has been a flawed policy response for over 30 years now, this time with another JPY 20 trillion, or double the last month's intervention. Because according to Japanese Senkei, it is now Japan's turn to pull a Chuck Schumer and demand even mor-er eternity-er QE out of monetary authority of the endlessly deflating country. In reverting to the Moore's law of failed monetarism, we expect that a QE 9 out of Japan will have the same halflife as QE 8, if indeed the program size is double the last. At which point it will again fizzle.
Readers may recall that Ron Paul once surprised everyone with a seemingly very elegant proposal to bring the debt ceiling wrangle to a close. If you're all so worried about the federal deficit and the debt ceiling, so Paul asked, then why doesn't the treasury simply cancel the treasury bonds held by the Fed? After all, the Fed is a government organization as well, so it could well be argued that the government literally owes the money to itself. He even introduced a bill which if adopted, would have led to the cancellation of $1.6 trillion in federal debt held by the Fed. Of course the proposal was not really meant to be taken serious: rather, it was meant to highlight the absurdities of the modern-day monetary system. In a way, we would actually not necessarily be entirely inimical to the idea, for similar reasons Ron Paul had in mind: it would no doubt speed up the inevitable demise of the fiat money system. Control can be lost, and it usually happens only after a considerable period of time during which their interventions appear to have no ill effects if looked at only superficially: “Thus we learn….to be ignorant of political economy is to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the immediate effect of a phenomenon."
What few seem willing to acknowledge is the solipsistic, narcissistic nature of this reliance on public display of consumerist fantasy for self-identity. All consumerist fashion is based on superficiality and self-indulgence, of course; but if we look at the energy, money and attention "invested" in fashion lifestyles in Japan, we might conclude it is strong evidence that there is plenty of "money and time to burn" in Japan. While that is certainly true, this reliance on consumerist excess for self-identity and pastime is also evidence of a deeply troubled economy and society. Young people have money and time to burn on outlandish costumes because few earn enough to have their own families or flats. They work part-time for low wages and live at home or in tiny one-room apartments. Few own cars because they 1) don't earn enough to support a car and 2) they're uninterested in acquiring status symbols or prestige signifiers. This is not just a generational shift: it reflects a realistic understanding that opportunities for secure, high-paying employment have diminished over the past 20 years. There are plenty of low-level jobs, but few with the guarantees that their parents took for granted.
Playing in the market, with Phil.
If you want to know how the Keynesian Cargo Cult's grand experiment in borrowing money to fund bloated fiefdoms, rapacious cartels and bridges to nowhere ends, just look west (from California) to Japan. The Japanese State, partly because they seem to believe in the Cargo Cult, and partly to avoid exposing the insolvency of their crony-capitalist financial sector, has been borrowing and spending money on a vast scale for two decades. Rather than face the fraud and corruption at the heart of American (and Japanese) finance and governance, the Keynesians just want to leave the predatory, parasitic crony-capitalist Status Quo intact and create an illusory world of bogus "demand" and grotesque malinvestment funded by ever-increasing debt. Does anyone seriously think this is the "road to recovery"? If you want a look at the fiscal future of the U.S., look west to Japan, a nation that sits precariously on a fiscal cliff a thousand feet high.
The Japanese Yen has been one of the strongest currencies among the developed nations of the world since the end of LTRO (up 6%). This strength (repatriation flows and or carry unwind?) combined with a dismal domestic economic growth environment appears to have pushed Japanese firms to spend spend spend for growth. The latest and greatest Softbank/Sprint deal will shift this year's Japanese corporate acquisition of foreign companies to near-record levels. As Bloomberg Briefs notes, this will be the country's largest overseas acquisition on record - exceeding Japan Tobacco's $19bn acquisition of the UK's Gallaher Group in 2007. However, this growth-buying-spree does not come cheap as ratings are under pressure and while LBO-style financing might make the deal 'cheap' at first, at some point the cycle will re-emerge; but for now - it appears the BoJ (who we are sure are watching intently) should maybe leave intervention off the table until Japan owns it all again and becomes even more too-bigger-to-fail.
After starting the overnight trading at its lows, the EURUSD has once again seen the now traditional overnight levitation, this time with absolutely no economic news, in the process raising equity futures across the Atlantic, even as unfounded Chinese optimism for more liquidity has waned leading to the SHCOMP closing down 0.3%. Perhaps the most notable event in the quiet trading session so far has been the surge in 10 year Greek debt whose yield has tumbled to post-restructuring lows, driven by more and more hedge funds piling in to piggyback on Dan Loeb's recent public GGB purchase announcement (strength into which he has long since sold), and hopes that Greece will somehow see an Official Sector Initiative (OSI) to make recovery prospects for Private Investors more attractive: a capital impairment the ECB has said would happen only over its dead body. But in the new normal, facts and rules are for chumps, and only exist to be broken. More on this amusing stupidity here. Amusingly, this comes just as Greece’s Staikouras says the economy’s downward spiral is not over yet. But, again, who cares about fundamentals.