Abandon all hope for China's equity markets ye who enter here...
By surprising markets with a move to a negative deposit rate, the Bank of Japan gave investors temporary reprieve, providing a much needed opportunity to pare portfolio risk at better prices. Unfortunately, the improvement in financial asset prices will be short-lived; except, of course, for long-maturity Treasuries.
According to a Goldman report, so far in January "there has been around $USD 185bn of intervention (with the recent intervention predominantly taking place in the onshore market)" split roughly $143 billion on the domestic side and $42 billion on the offshore Yuan side
According to the head of financial markets research Asia Pacific at Rabobank, Michael Every, not only has China not begun to delever at all, but since McKinsey's update, its debt has risen by another 70% of GDP! According to Every, China's 2015 debt-to-GDP might be as high as 346%, and while that is in line with wealthier developed economies but is “vastly higher” than any EM peer.
Following the Fed's disappointing "dovish, but not dovish enough" statement which effectively admitted Yellen had committed policy error by hiking just as the US economy "was slowing down" which in turn lowered the odds of a March rate hike to just 18%, it was up to oil to pick up the correlation torch, and so it did, rising in an otherwise mixed session which has seen European stocks slide on continued weakness surrounding Italian banks, many of which have been halted limit down, while Asia was treading water following news of the resignation of Japan’s "Abenomics" minister Akira Amari to over a graft scandal, and yet another day of Chinese stock dropping.
The PBOC FX intervention team continue to be busy in offshore Yuan this week as for the 4th time in 3 days, a mysterious panic-buyer lifted CNH between 5 and 10 handles higher for no good reason other than to show George Soros (and Bill Ackman) who is boss (i.e. drive away the shorts). In keeping with the recent "stability" the Yuan fix was flat but another 340bn Yuan was injected - except China CDS pushes to Aug 2015 wides indicating severe stress and suggesting devaluation looms.
Even the staunchest cynics will be stunned by the latest development out of the Shanghai government where starting next month, venture capital firms which invested in high-tech startups since the beginning of 2015 can apply for government compensation if their investment loses money.
"So why do speculators make claims that run counter to reality? Analysts said it is because either the short-sellers haven't done their homework or that they are intentionally trying to create panic to snap profits."
In concert with denial and obfuscation, pride and hubris may be clouding the image the Chinese have of themselves and their economy. What they are trying very hard NOT to communicate is how much pain their Ponzi debt burden has put them in. It’s not even fully clear to what extent Xi himself is aware of this, but he knows at least enough to keep his mouth shut on the topic. It’s quite possible that some of his top aides dare not reveal the real tally to their boss for fear of their jobs and heads. Beijing might solve some of these problems by devaluing the yuan by 30%, or even 50%, but it would invite a large amount of other problems in the door if it did. Like a full-blown currency war. Still, it’s just a matter of time till Xi and Li either do it voluntarily or are forced to by ‘the market’.
This is the first meeting we can remember where serious and important market participants differed so strongly on the issue of what they ought to do. It’s not just hold or raise, cut is very much in the mix.
- Global stocks, dollar struggle ahead of Fed as oil falters (Reuters)
- Bond Bulls Bank on Fed Mention of Market Chaos as Drag on Growth (BBG)
- Fees on Mutual Funds and ETFs Tumble Toward Zero (WSJ)
- China Climbs Back Up Janet Yellen's Worry List (BBG)
- The World’s Favorite New Tax Haven Is the United States (BBG)
- New Jersey Gov. Christie backs Atlantic City takeover plan (Reuters)
"While it is impossible to know for sure, we believe that our continued negative outperformance in the first few weeks of the year relates primarily to forced selling of our holdings by investors whose stakes overlap with our own."
"Nobody is really sure where we go from here, and nobody is brave enough to make the call,” Peter Dixon, Commerzbank AG’s global equities economist in London told Bloomberg. “Corporate earnings season won’t provide much of a support - markets may find a floor if the Fed is extremely dovish tonight. At least investors will have time to think and reassess valuations."
Dow futures are down 100 points and Chinese stocks are pressing new 14-month lows, extending last night's carnage after Chinese Industrial Profits tumbled. With a dismal 4.7% drop year-over-year, led by a near 60% collapse in the mining industry, early strength (after some jawboning from Abe) gave way to fresh lows and US equity futures are also responding. Offshore Yuan refuses to drop since Xinhua wrote a 3rd hit piece against George Soros and his "speculative snap profits."
“Soros’s war on the renminbi and the Hong Kong dollar cannot possibly succeed — about this there can be no doubt. Reckless speculations and vicious shorting will face higher trading costs and possibly severe legal consequences. And just as proved in the yuan exchange rate case, the Chinese government has sufficient resources and policy tools to keep the overall economic situation under control and cope with any external challenges.”