With Chinese authorities clamping down on the shadow-banking system, taking action of their bubble-bursting reforms, and now increasing the trading bands on the Yuan (to increase volatility and hopefully unwind, in a controlled manner, the biggest and most one-sided carry trade in the world's markets), we thought it perhaps surprising that growing numbers of Chinese are using UnionPay - a state-backed bank card - to illegally funnell billion of dollars out of the country. As Reuters reports, its unclear why the PBOC has not clamped down on this as documents show they are well aware of it... and as one clerk noted "don't worry... everyone's doing it."
In the aftermath in the recent surge in China's renminbi volatility which saw it plunge at the fastest pace in years, many, us included, suggested that the immediate next step in China's "fight with speculators" (not to mention the second biggest trade deficit in history), was for the PBOC to promptly widen the Yuan trading band, something it hasn't done since April 2012, with the stated objective of further liberalizing its monetary system and bringing the currency that much closer to being freely traded and market-set. Overnight it did just that, when it announced it would widen the Yuan's trading band against the dollar from 1% to 2%.
"The best way to define the mood in the market right now is panic," warns one commodity broker, adding that "everyone understands why we are going down, but nobody can tell where the bottom is." As the WSJ notes, the economic slowdown in China is hammering prices of some raw materials, driving down industrial commodities from copper to iron ore and coal - exacerbated by the vicious cycle of credit-collateral-contraction. So what is the cheapest way to play continued stress (with potentially limited downside)? The diversified natural resources company Glencore has a huge $55 billion of debt, is drastically sensitive to copper (and other commodity) prices, and its CDS remains just off record tights...
China is the reason so many companies tell you how great their prospects are.
It would appear that 1.39 EURUSD is the line in the sand for Mario Draghi. As pressures build on European competitiveness, Draghi appears to have finally got sick of China buying EURs to diversify its FX reserves away from USDs. This time "whatever it takes" is to drag the EUR lower - on the back of suggestions that OMT 2.0 (new measures - double the effectiveness and just as non-existent) and guarding against deflation (not worried about inflation). The jawbone is working for now as EUR breaks down through 1.39.
At the onset of the derivatives collapse in 2007/2008 it would have been easy to assume that most of America was receiving a valuable education in normalcy bias. As much as we are for people waking up to the nature of the crisis, there comes a point when those who are going to figure it out will figure it out, and the rest are essentially hopeless. The cultism surrounding the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar is truly mind boggling, and by “cultism” we mean a blind faith in the fiat currency mechanism that goes beyond all logic, reason and evidence.
The profane alliance between big banks, big corporations, and big government has created the Big Brother surveillance society we are living under today. And 95% of the populace is either willfully ignorant or perfectly happy with a boot stomping on their face forever. We have willingly become hopelessly enslaved while believing we are free. A population unable or unwilling to think critically doesn’t comprehend the extreme danger to our civil liberties from the unwarranted intrusion into our private lives by a surveillance police state bent on bribing, coercing and silencing dissent, truth and First Amendment rights.
For the 2nd day in a row, US Treasuries and precious metals were well bid as it seems safe-havens were in strong demand. EUR strength (repatriation flows after risk-aversion in Europe from Ukraine - EURUSD closed at highest since Oct 11) drove the USD Index lower (-0.15% on the week) and while gold and silver benefitted from that modest weakness they are now up 2% on the week (with gold above $1365 and at 6-month highs). Oil slipped (on SPR release talk) and copper lifted modestly (as Yuan strengthen very mildly). Credit markets have lost all gains from Putin. Once again the magic elixir of the US day-session open spiked AUDJPY and supported stocks up to unchanged from overnight weakness but once Europe close (well in DST terms) US equities drifted sideways to lower leaving the Dow and S&P red into the last hour. Another late-day scramble to sell VIX managed to get the S&P just green!
Between AUDJPY and and VIX slamming, the S&P 500 is pushing back up towards green. However, a glance at gold prices (at six-month highs $1365), Treasuries (retraced all of Friday's non-farm-payrolls losses), and Swiss 2Y rates shows a safe-haven bid is alive and well. Yuan offshore rates are modestly strengthening and copper prices are bouncing as hopes remain that the unwind of the multi-trillion-dollar inflation of the Chinese shadow-banking system has run its course and all is well again. Perhaps the algos are confused once again that Europe does not close for another hour.
Unlike most trading sessions in the past month, when the overnight session saw a convenient algo assisted USDJPY/AUDJPY levitation, tonight there has been no such luck for the permabullish E-Trade babies who are conditioned that no matter what the news, the next morning the S&P 500 will open green regardless. Whether this is due to ever louder fears that what is happening in China can not be swept under the rug this time will be revealed soon, but as of this moment both the USDJPY, and its derivative, US equity futures, are looking at a sharp lower open, as gold continues to press higher, while the traditional tension points such as Russia-Ukraine, and ongoing capital flight from some of the more "fringe" emerging markets, continues. Expect more of the same today as people finally peek below the Chinese surface to realize just how profoundly bad the situation on the mainland truly is. And while we realize macro news are meaningless, especially in Europe where the ECB is now the sole supervisor of all asset classes, the fact that Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia and Portugal, are all in deflation, and many more countries lining up to join the club, probably means that absent a massive global credit impulse, we have certainly reached the upward inflection point from the most recent $1+ trillion injection of liquidity by the Fed, not to mention the ongoing QE by the BOJ.
Following a triumvirate of macro misses from AsiaPac (South Korea unemployment surged, Aussie confidence plunged, and Japanese inflation tumbled), the credit concerns running riot through the collateral underlying China's shadow banking system continue to crush Copper (and iron ore) prices. Copper is limit down in Shanghai at its lowest since July 2009 - these size moves have only occurred twice in history (Lehman and the US downgrade). Japanese stocks are ignoring any ramp efforts in USDJPY and US equity futures are fading qucikly with AUDJPY....
Copper futures prices are plunging once again, back under $3.00 back at the lowest levels since July 2010. The last 3 days have seen prices drop over 7.5% as China credit contagion concerns surge and letters-of-credit from last summer's cash-for-copper financing deals roll-off and businesses need the cash. The vicious circle of tumbling collateral values (copper and Iron ore) is exacerbating the tightening financial conditions in China as banks hoard liquidity, unwilling to lend to the over-capacity industries that the government has deemed unworthy. Rumors today of further defaults triggered this latest drop, and as we noted previously, there are a lot more to come.
Stocks in Europe failed to hold onto early gains and gradually moved into negative territory, albeit minor, as concerns over money markets in China gathered attention yet again after benchmark rates fell to lowest since May 2012. Nevertheless, basic materials outperformed on the sector breakdown, as energy and metal prices rebounded following yesterday’s weaker than expected Chinese data inspired sell off. At the same time, Bunds remained supported by the cautious sentiment, while EUR/USD came under pressure following comments by ECB's Constancio who said that financial markets misinterpreted us a little, can still cut rates and implement QE or buy assets. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly API report after the closing bell on Wall Street and the US Treasury will kick off this week’s issuance with a sale of USD 30bln in 3y notes.
One month ago, when we last looked at the incredible amount of Chinese new loan issuance, a topic which even the mainstream media is slowly starting to circle in on as the primary source of hot money flow creation in the world, we found the highest loan notional issued by the country's semi-sovereign banks since 2009, and the largest one-month ever monthly total in the largest aggregated, Total Social Financial, series, which rose by an unprecedented CNY2.6 trillion, or over $400 billion in one month! That was just before the tremors surrounding first the potential defaults of several Chinese shadow-banking Trusts, and certainly before the first official corporate bond default which took place last week. Overnight, the PBOC released its latest, February, loan data. As expected, it reveals something else entirely.
Everyone knows the dollar is unstable, and falls alarmingly over long periods. And yet we still presume to use this paper to measure the value of gold! Amazing.