Crashing Australian and a miss in South Korean PMIs, following days of weak Japanese data, and a divergence in the official and HSBC Chinese manufacturing indicators to a 15 month high (HSBC PMI sliding to 11 month low) was just the bad news Asian market needed to break out higher from the recent range and thanks to the return of overnight USDJPY levitation as well as a modest reverse repo liquidity injection by the PBOC overnight, not only did the Nikkei and Shanghai rise 3% and 1.8% respectively, but US futures are right back to where they were before yesterday's dramatic turnaround in the market following a strongly dovish FOMC statement and just shy of the 1700 once more. As for Europe, while there a smattering of noise following the release of final PMIs which did not change the preliminary picture much (Spain 49.8, vs 50.6 exp; Italy 50.4 vs 49.8 exp; France 49.7 vs 49.8 exp; Germany 50.7 vs 50.3 exp) it is all up to the ECB today to preserve the myth of a European improvement coupled with a EUR currency at or near multi-month highs.
Today’s bizarre confluence of negative real interest rates, money printing, eurozone sovereign default, aberrant asset prices, high unemployment, political polarization, growing distrust… none of it was supposed to happen. It is the unintended consequence of past crisis-fighting campaigns, like a troupe of comedy firemen leaving behind them a bigger fire than the one they came to extinguish. What will be the unintended consequences of today’s firefighting? We shudder to think.
Is there such a thing as a ‘safe’ fiat currency? The term itself is as intellectually disingenuous as terms like ‘fair tax’ or ‘government innovation’. But as we’ve been exploring recently why modern central banking is completely dysfunctional, it does beg the question – is any currency ‘safe’? Let’s look at the numbers for some data-driven analysis. But which is the safest major currency?
Hopes that Kuroda would say something substantial, material and beneficial to the "three arrow" wealth effect (about Japan's sales tax) last night were promptly dashed when the BOJ head came, spoke, and went, with the USDJPY sliding to a new monthly low, which in turn saw the Nikkei tumble another nearly 500 points. China didn't help either, where the Shanghai Composite also closed below 2000 wiping out a few weeks of gains on artificial hopes that the PBOC would step in with a bailout package, as attention turned to the reported announcement that an update of local government debt could double the size of China's non-performing loans, and what's worse, that the PBOC was ok with that. Asian negativity was offset by the European open, where fundamentals are irrelevant (especially on the one year anniversary of Draghi FX Advisors LLC "whatever it takes to buy the EURUSD" speech) and renewed M&A sentiment buoyed algos to generate enough buying momentum to send more momentum algos buying and so on. As for the US, futures are indicating weakness for the third day in a row but hardly anyone is fooled following two consecutive days of green closes on melt ups "from the lows": expect another rerun of the now traditional Friday ramp, where a 150 DJIA loss was wiped out during the day for a pre-programmed just green closing print.
While many draw comparisons to 1994's Fed actions, rate rises, and the subsequent economic and equity market performance, UBS' commodity team examines the five main drivers of that mid-90s disinflationary boom and how (or if) they are applicable in the US' current new normal. Their findings "this may be a 1994 redux, but it ain't no 1995 replay," as they note, in fact, it's a bear market waiting to happen. Every one of these processes is deflationary, not disinflationary. And they are self reinforcing. And deflation, in direct contrast to disinflation, is very bad for asset prices (with a serious equity and credit bear-market). So just as we have noted previously any taper will likely eventually lead to an 'un-taper' reflation effort (which will see gold once again strengthen) along with the exposure of the fallacy that the Fed really has become.
The performance of the JPY (strengthening) and Nikkei (falling notably) over the last few days suggests a market that is expecting to be disappointed by tonight's BoJ Governor Kuroda's speech. However, as Citi's Steve Englander notes, given the recent Bernanke-Carey-Draghi actions, we suspect there will be some temptation for Kuroda to speak out whether ex cathedra as BoJ Governor or with his personal view Bernanke style so as to get the NKY-JPY train back on track.
We take a new look at Japan from the 1980s to today in order to decipher what “Abenomics” might do to this fragile nation. We argue that moving Japan from its current stable, but unsustainable equilibrium, through activist monetary policy risk a run on the sovereign. We present part I and part II here today. We hope you enjoy it.
A brief discussion of the technical condition of the major currencies going to what is a week packed with fundamental developments.
Over the past several decades, people around the world have become so brainwashed that few people really give much thought anymore to the safety of their currency. It’s not something people really understand... there’s apparently some Wizard of Oz type figure at the top of the hill pulling all the levers of the monetary system. And we just trust them to be good guys. This power rests primarily in the hands of four men who control roughly 75% of the entire world money supply. So, how are they doing?
‘Vote For Gold’
"You have to choose, as a voter, between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability and intelligence of the members of the government. And with due respect to these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold."
Today, to much fanfare, the FT and other media blast that "Japan posts highest inflation rate since 2008" using this as evidence that Abenomics is once again working (i.e., that the Nikkei 225 has resumed its upward nominal path). Unfortunately, as usually happens, there is a problem here: this is simply not true.
A troubling trend has emerged among Japan’s elderly – who represent around a quarter of its 128 million citizens – which is closely bound up with the nation’s greater demographic problems at hand. For the first time ever, Japanese aged 65 and up account for a higher percentage of shoplifting cases than do the country’s teens. Abe's upper-house election win this weekend makes the situation worse. Facing the reality of increasing strain on a shrinking workforce, Abe plans to cut welfare in August, rather than increase government help for the nation’s burgeoning elderly population. With this cut, theft among the elderly could very well increase.
“We welcome the ruling party’s victory,” said one of the faces of Japan Inc. Others chimed in. They’d been handed a huge gift.
Plunging Chinese manufacturing and an 11 month low PMI got you down? Don't worry: there's a Europe for that, which overnight reported that manufacturing and service PMI in Germany and, don't laugh, France soared far above expectations (German Mfg and Services PMIs of 50.3 and 52.5, up from 48.6 and 50.4, and above expectations of 49.2 and 50.8; French Mfg and Services PMIs of 48.3 and 49.8, up from 47.2 and 48.4 and an 11 and 17 month high, respectively, blowing away expectations of 47.6 and 48.8). The result was a composite Eurozone Manufacturing PMI of 50.1, above 50 for the first time since February of 2012, up from 48.8 and at a 24 month high - reporting the largest monthly increase in output sunce June 2011, as well as a composite Services PMI of 49.6, up from 48.3, and an 18 month high. In other words, European Composite PMI is expanding (above 50) for the first time since January 2012.