The ongoing 'isolation' of Russia took another turn for the un-isolated-er today when, as Bloomberg reports, China will build a 7,000-kilometer (4,350-mile) high-speed rail link from Beijing to Moscow, at a cost of 1.5 trillion yuan ($242 billion), Beijing’s city government said. The rail-link - which will bring travel time between Beijing and Moscow down from 5 days to 30 hours - signals a 10-year partnership between the two nations and follows the dropping of the French company, Alstom, from the project.
While the rest of the developed world, flooded with re-exported deflation as a result of now ubiquitous money printing, scrambles to print even more money in hopes of stimulating the economy when all it is doing is accelerating a closed deflationary loop (at least until the infamous monetary helicopter drop), China - which still has the most centrally-planned economy in the world even if the US is rapidly catching up - has a more novel way of dealing with the threat of deflation: a massive wage hike across the board for all public workers. Two days ago, at a press conference, the Chinese vice minister of human resources and social security Hu Xiaoyi said that China’s 39 million civil servants and public workers will get a pay raise of at least 60% of their base salaries as part of pension plan overhaul.
- ECB to decide on bond-buying plan to revive euro zone (Reuters)
- Draghi Is Pushing Boundaries of Euro Region with QE Program (BBG)
- Investors Wonder Whether ECB Will Do Enough (WSJ)
- Treasuries Drop With Bunds Before ECB; U.S. Futures Rise (BBG)
- European shares hit seven-year high (Reuters)
- At least eight civilians killed in shelling of Ukrainian trolleybus (Reuters), both sides blame each other
- OPEC Will Blink First in Battle With Shale Drillers, Poll Shows (BBG)
- China Injects $8 Billion Into Banking System (WSJ)
- New York says Barclays not cooperating in 'dark pool' probe (Reuters)
- Obama Targets Income Gap in Address That Shapes 2016 Election (BBG)
- Republicans Reject Obama’s Main Economic Proposals (WSJ)
- Senate’s Shelby Says White House Bank Tax Is Dead on Arrival (BBG)
- Is Dollar Next? Investors Reassess After Swiss Shock: Currencies (BBG)
- Bank of Japan Cuts Price Forecast, Maintains Record Stimulus (BBG)
- Pound Weakens After BOE Policy Makers Drop Call to Raise Rates (BBG)
- Putin not flinching on Ukraine despite economic crisis (Reuters)
- Indonesia will not make public full preliminary AirAsia crash report (Reuters)
- Party Hasn't Stopped for Russians at Davos Even With Ukraine Sanctions (BBG)
China's broad stock indices were flip-flopping between gains and losses from the open (although securities firms continued to get monkey-hammered on more tightening by regulators) heading into the avalanche of data that hit at 2100ET. GDP growth - which was estimated at sub-7% based on real-time hard-date - was released/leaked 10mins early - rising 7.3% YoY in Q4 (just beating expectations of a 7.2% rise) but grew only 1.5% QoQ (missing the 1.7% expectation). Then came Retail Sales - beating by the most since May 2014 with a 11.9% YoY gain (against 11.7% expectations). Industrial Production grew at 7.9% YoY (beating expectations of 7.4% by the most since July 2013). Of course the fact that Chinese GDP growth of 7.4% YoY was the weakest since 1990 was entirely ignored as the immediate reaction was Yuan and Chinese equity strength.
Market Wrap: Chinese Stocks Crash As Financials Suffer Record Drop; Commodities Resume Decline; US ClosedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/19/2015 07:12 -0500
Following last week's Swiss stock market massacre as a result of a central bank shocker, and last night's crack down by Chinese authorities, it almost appears as if the global powers are doing what they can to orchestrated a smooth, painless (as much as possible) bubble deflation. If so, what Draghi reveals in a few days may truly come as a surprise to all those- pretty much everyone - who anticipate a €500 billion QE announcement on Thursday.
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory debate. Regardless of whether you argue for it, or against, there are times when suddenly the ramifications for plausible truth are realized that overshadow the conspiracy. This is where the plot of truth can get far more sinister than the imagined conspiracy ever could.
When an accounting 'fudge' accounts for $300 billion of a nation's Balance of Payments, you might suspect something is amiss. And sure enough, as Goldman notes, the growing 'error and emission' items in China’s balance of payments may reflect a pickup in hidden cash transfers as China's anti-corruption probes encouraged the corrupt oligarchs to get their money out of dodge. As Goldman warns, "such outflows may be harder to contain with regulations, a continuation of their recent acceleration could start posing tangible financial stability concerns."
"I'm not sure how long this rally will last," warns one Chinese securities analyst, but adds, Chinese investors "tend to ignore important fundamentals" anyway. When even mainstream media is reporting on the epic farce that is the explosion of retail interest in Chinese stocks (and the concomittant surge in stock prices), perhaps it is time for the 'greater fool' to pull back a little. Perhaps the 'exuberance' is best summed up by the following from a security guard for Beijing's subway system, "low-priced stocks are less risky - big drops won’t result in huge losses for me - I don’t know much about investing, but the stocks my friends recommended have been soaring." Trade accordingly...
Here is why I think the BRICS challenge is eroding.
The last session in China on Friday provided an epic roller-coaster as exuberant retail BTFD'ers met their match with fading inflation and surging default risk concerns. The Monday session has opened to more of the same - with the Shanghai Composite opening down another 1.3% and erasing all the year's gains. As Shanghaio Daily reports, the Chinese property developer Kaisa Group Holdings (that we have discussed in detail here and who's next here) failed to repay a US$26 million bond coupon, making it the first Chinese property firm to default on dollar bonds.
- Global Debt Crisis II – Total Global Debt to GDP Ratio Over 300% - Risk of Bail-Ins in 2015 and Beyond - Currency and Gold Wars - $1 Quadrillion “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Derivatives - Cold War II and New World Order as China and Russia Flex Geopolitical Muscles - Enter The Dragon – Paradigm Shift of China Gold Demand - Forecast 2015: None. Forecast 2020: Gold $2,500/oz and Silver $150/oz
- Police Surround Paris Terror Suspects Near CDG Airport (BBG)
- ECB Said to Study Bond-Purchase Models Up to 500 Billion Euros (BBG)
- How OPEC Weaponized the Price of Oil Against U.S. Drillers (BBG)
- German Industrial Production Falls Amid Plunge in Energy Output (BBG)
- Car Loans See Rise In Missed Payments (WSJ)
- Jim O'Neill threatens he will replace BRICs with ICs (BBG)
- Oil heads for seventh weekly loss as supply glut drags (Reuters)
- Armed man takes hostage in kosher grocery in Paris (AFP)
- Janus Chairman Didn’t Know Details of Gross’s Investment (WSJ)
- Kaisa Bondholders Dream of White Knight as Default Becomes Real (BBG)
To question money-printing as the one-size-fits-all solution to every economic problem is to question the power structure of the status quo.
Hope springs eternal that 2015 is the year that the US economy stretches its escape velocity growth as consensus growth expectations at 2.9% are still at their highest since 2005 (although world GDP expectations are falling rapidly). However, as Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone explains, with 5 of the Top 10 economies in the world in or near recession, the wall of worry can be constructed as follows...