Overnight China reported April exports and imports, both of which dropped after a strong pick up in March, and missed consensus expectations, confirming "weak demand at home and abroad and cooling hopes of a recovery in the world's second-largest economy."
The following exercise in truth-seeking is intended to inoculate you from the Big Narrative Lie coming soon to a status quo media megaphone near you, that this resurgence in risk assets is caused by a resurgence in fundamental real-world economic factors. We know you want to believe this is true. It’s unpleasant, 8 years after the crisis, to accept the reality that we are mired in a policy-controlled market.
Zimbabwe is set to print its own version of the US dollar, as an ailing economy fuels a severe cash shortage in the southern African nation. John Mangudya, Zimbabwe’s central bank governor, said Thursday the so-called bond notes will be backed by $200 million in support from the Africa Export-Import Bank. The specially designed dollar notes will come in denominations of two, five, 10 and 20. They will also have the same value as their U.S. dollar equivalents. The bond notes are an extension of so-called bond coins of one, five, 10 and 25 cents which the central bank introduced in 2014 and are pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar.
While markets remain relatively subdued ahead of tomorrow's nonfarm payrolls report, after several days of losses in US stocks which pushed the S&P500 to three week lows, overnight markets ignored the latest weak data out of China where the Caixin Services PMI was the latest indicator to disappoint (dropping from 52.2 to 51.8), and instead focused on crude, which rebounded from yesterday's post inventory-build lows and briefly printed above $45/bbl over uncertainty related to the impact of Canada wildfires on production and how long will last. The bounce in WTI has meant Brent briefly traded at parity with West Texas for the first time in 6 weeks.
While there was no unexpected overnight central bank announcement unlike yesterday's surprise by the RBA which unleashed volatility havoc in the FX market, which promptly spilled over into all asset classes, overnight stocks around the world saw another leg lower without a tangible catalyst, while EM currencies fell to a one-month low after two Fed presidents raised concern investors had become too complacent in their belief that U.S. interest rate raises will stay on hold. Or perhaps all that is happening is that after ignoring Trump, the market is starting to finally price in the possible reality of the Donald in the White House (although as Jeff Gundlach pointed out, Trump would be a far better president for the economy and the market than Hillary or Bernie).
The 'odd' regime shift in the relationship between USDJPY and US equities continues overnight. Following some visible-handedness and follow-through momentum, Yen is weakening against the USD - normally a big flashing green sign for risk-on pajama traders but China's biggest Yuan devaluation in 9 months (since the August turmoil) seems to have stolen the jam out of the bull's donut as US equity futures extend losses, AsiaPac credit risk jumps, and USD strength is weighing on crude prices.
China's military is out with a new recruiting video, although it isn't what some may envision. The People's Liberation Army (incidentally the world's largest military force, with a strength of approximately 2,285,000 personnel, or 0.18% of China's population) released an online recruiting video, which however was anything but your average, army stock filler with a beating bass line or a cherubic choir in the background: it was just the testament to demonstrate China's militant yet "cultured uniqueness" as it sets off to dominates the world. In other words: a "culturally unique" rap video.
While in the US and the rest of the free world, anyone who holds a less than bullish view of things is simply marginalized as a conspiracy theorist, ridiculed by establishment economists and pundits, is the recipient of mainstream media hit pieces, or denigrated by the president as "peddling fiction", China has decided to take a more blunt approach: "securities regulators, media censors and other government officials have issued verbal warnings to commentators whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with the government’s upbeat statements."
Either The BoJ steps in soon and intervenes (even by just "checking levels") or Kuroda-san is truly terrified of The G-20. USDJPY has now crashed 7 handles since last Thursday's shock BoJ disappointment crashing to within 5 pips of a 105 handle tonight for the first time in 18 months...
Interestingly, the BoJ’s attempts to achieve its price inflation target continue to end in failure with unwavering regularity. While the central bank’s astonishing ineptness in this respect is a blessing for Japan’s citizens (at least for the moment, their cost of living doesn’t increase further), it harbors the danger that even crazier monetary experiments will eventually be tried.
In light of what has taken place right before, during, and since The Fed's "emergency meetings" and Obama's chit-chat with Yellen; along with what has recently been released for public consumption (and especially by other governments and officials) capped off with the sudden declaration via Treasury of "currency manipulation warnings" - Is it really that much of a stretch to think that just one wrong move whether intentional or not – can set everything we’ve come to know as “business” into complete and utter disarray? If not worse? As in much worse?
The most important fact investors need to know about the Forex market - The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States of America has a Big Red Forex Button that can halt all US Dollar denominated commerce.
China’s historic post-2009 debt binge flew largely under the radar - fooling most observers into thinking the global economy was recovering rather than just re-leveraging. Now Beijing is back at it, borrowing over $1 trillion in this year’s first quarter, buying up commodities and creating the illusion of global growth. But this time the scam hasn’t gone unnoticed. Reporters, editors and money managers seem, at last, to be catching on. So think of today’s relative calm as the eye of yet another storm, and what’s coming as a return to the hyper-leveraged new normal.
While the Arab countries floated themselves on oceans of petro-dollars forty years ago, they have little need for them now. So we must now turn our attention to China, which is well positioned to act as white knight to Saudi Arabia. China’s SAFE sovereign wealth fund could easily swallow the Aramco stake, and there are good strategic reasons why it should. A quick deal would help stabilise a desperate financial and political situation on the edges of China’s rapidly growing Asian interests, and keep Saudi Arabia onside as an energy supplier. China has dollars to dispose, and a mutual arrangement would herald a new era of tangible cooperation. The US can only stand and stare as China teases Saudi Arabia away from America’s sphere of influence.